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26 January 2004

Davos Launches Initiative to Foster Western-Muslim Understanding
New council will include business, cultural and political leaders

Organizers of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland announced the creation of a new council aimed at promoting dialog between the Western and Islamic worlds as international leaders gathered in the Swiss resort town for the annual conference on global economic, business and political conditions.

The Council of 100 Leaders, or C-100 as the initiative has been dubbed, will draw together 20 leaders each from the fields of politics, religion, business, media and opinion, according to a January 22 WEF press release from Davos.

The C-100 will engage in projects designed to foster greater understanding and cooperation between the Western and Muslim worlds including the support of intercivilizational dialog programs, citizen exchanges, workshops, and cultural programs.

Prince Turki Al Faisal Al Saud, Co-Chairman of the new C-100 stated, "At this critical moment in human affairs, there is clearly an urgent need for the societies across both the Western and Muslim worlds to engage in dialogue to achieve mutual understanding as the basis for practical cooperation. At such a time, the decision of the World Economic Forum to establish the C-100 is to be warmly welcomed as a timely, much needed and potentially beneficial initiative."

Following is the text of the press release:

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World Economic Forum Launches Initiative for dialogue, action and understanding between the Western and Islamic World

Council of 100 Leaders to improve relations and propose concrete actions between the two worlds

Davos, Switzerland, 22 January 2004 - The World Economic Forum announced the official launch today of the Council of 100 Leaders. The group aims to become the foremost community of senior political, religious, business, media and opinion leaders to promote understanding and dialogue between the Western and Islamic worlds. The Council will have 20 leaders from each of the five sectors, representing the Western and Islamic thought, and the dialogue is intended to be a process that will engage cultures and societies at all levels along three core stands - dialogue of discourse, action and experience. It will be unique by virtue of its origins in the work and strengths of the World Economic Forum.

The Council will be co chaired by Lord Carey of Clifton, Former Archbishop of Canterbury, United Kingdom, and HRH Prince Turki Al Faisal Al Saud, Chairman, King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies, Saudi Arabia.

Speaking at the launch, Lord Carey said, "We've come to see one another not as enemies, but as friends and colleagues on a journey together. We want to get over the geographical; we want to overcome the clash of civilizations; we want to focus on what we can do together to make this a better world."

"At this critical moment in human affairs, there is clearly an urgent need for the societies across both the Western and Muslim worlds to engage in dialogue to achieve mutual understanding as the basis for practical cooperation. At such a time, the decision of the World Economic Forum to establish the C-100 is to be warmly welcomed as a timely, much needed and potentially beneficial initiative" added HRH Prince Turki Al Faisal Al Saud.

The C-100 will provide a platform for project-based concrete action aiming at strengthening the ties between Muslim and Western Societies.

Welcoming the setting up of the Council, Professor Klaus Schwab, Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum said "In a world of globalization, there is a particular need for cultures and religions to communicate openly in order to pave the way for peace."

The process will look especially to the pragmatic dynamism of the business community as a powerful aid and model for enabling the positive advances in development which it is intended to achieve.

It will also conduct a discourse on some of the most critical issues that impede mutual understanding on the basis that we need to understand each other's discourse without trying to define it.

In pursuit of these objectives the C-100 has decided to develop specific projects in four areas:

1. INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION

An information clearing house and news service will aim to enhance effectiveness through greater awareness and better information about the many cross-cultural, interfaith and intercivilizational dialogue centers and projects that are underway.

A Media and Film Initiative will engage the media, film and documentary makers in projects and productions exploring Islamic-Western understanding and the challenges that are faced.

2. EXCHANGES

Educational cultural and professional exchanges will be promoted at all levels with a particular concern to reach out to those not normally drawn in to existing programmes and dialogue.

3. DIALOGUE OF DISCOURSE

Workshops with focused groups drawn from key constituencies central to inter-civilizational issues. They will engage with issues ranging from the sources of misunderstanding and conflict through to such issues as participation and good governance.

A track within the WEF meetings for consultation with government and corporate leaders to address their most pressing concerns in the area of inter-civilizational issues.

A program of consultation and promotion of our shared values and the Global Ethic. This will focus on particular applications ranging from good governance and corporate responsibility through to the Millennium Goals and Rights based approaches to development. It will also embrace issues presented by the social and medical crises of our time including HIV-AIDS.

4. CULTURE

A program to promote the values of cooperation and understanding though Service announcements and leading sporting celebrities at major international sporting events.

A project with major museums to develop a traveling exhibition on the theme of past periods of notable cross-civilizational cooperation. This will use the latest resources of Information Technology.

A program involving the many members of the WEF who are engaged in the worlds of culture and the arts in inter-civilizational issues through the C-100 at Annual meetings.
Charter for an Initial Three-year Mission.

In the first instance, a three-year time frame will apply to the C-100 process but it is expected to launch the first phase of initiatives by the time of the upcoming meeting of the Forum in Amman, Jordan in May. It is hoped that Council members, who shall serve at the invitation of the World Economic Forum, will be able to serve for the full three-year period and that they will be able to commit to serious involvement with each strand of its work.

Additional participants from all sectors have expressed interest and we are working with them. In addition it is expected that many more organizations and individuals will be involved than simply the members of the C-100 itself.

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