Dubai: Stemming from the belief that promoting dialogue is the key to peace-building and fostering greater understanding, the World Forum is set to launch in Dubai.
The organisation, under the patronage of Shaikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and UAE Minister of Finance and Industry, was set up to provide an international platform for discussions on global issues, bringing together world leaders, politicians, intellectuals, academics, business figures, journalists and young people.
Javed Malek, the Dubai/London based-director of the Forum, says its main focus is to "promote peace and understanding".
"Basically, the whole concept is to provide a platform for people-to-people contact. Without dialogue there can be no peace," he told Gulf News.
"We, as a group of concerned individuals, realised that there was a greater need to promote dialogue, particularly in a post-September 11 world. Building bridges of understanding had never been more important."
Although the Forum is headed largely by political figures, the organisers are keen to stress that it is a "citizen's initiative" and strictly non-politically affiliated.
Members of the advisory council include Lord Thomas McNally, leader of the Liberal Democrats Party in the UK's House of Lords; Lord Merlin Hay, Lord High Constable of Scotland and member of the House of Lords; Lord Ahmad of Rotherham, member of the House of Lords; and Gary Titley, member of the European Parliament. UAE businessman Khalaf Al Habtoor serves as a special adviser and Senator Roger Ellis of the US state of Texas is another committee member.
Overseen by the council, the Forum was spearheaded by Lord Ahmad of Rotherham and Malek, a journalist and lawyer, both of whom worked extensively with minority communities in the UK.
Following the strain that events such as September 11 caused between the Arab and Muslim world and the West, the London bombings of July 2005 was the real wake-up call, says Malek.