Queen Rania in China - Day Four - Inaugural Annual Meeting of the New Champions

Queen Rania urges international community to engage in a new global conversation using the “moral language of the conscience”

September 08, 2007

(Office of Her Majesty, Press Department - Dalian) Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah  called on international corporations and members of the global community to adopt a new and global ‘moral language of the conscience’ to help bridge the growing divide between the Muslim world and the West, and create a global conversation within which all citizens can be a part regardless of their cultural differences.

 “…as an Arab, a Muslim, and a member of the global community, the schism that worries me most is the growing gulf of fear and misunderstanding between the Muslim world and the West …our failure to speak the same language…our failure to find common ground in our conversations…our failure to see eye to eye,” she told a crowd of the audience, including international CEOs, government leaders and members of the Forum of Young Global Leaders, taking part in this year’s Inaugural Annual Meeting of the New Champions, in Dalian, the People’s Republic of China, which is organized by the World Economic Forum (WEF), in partnership with the Chinese government.  Speaking at a time when Jordan and China are celebrating the 30th anniversary of relations between them, Queen Rania drew on the commonalities between the two countries, while emphasizing the achievements of the latter: “Humanity has long been in debt to China for innovations from paper to the compass. Today, the people of China are writing a bold new chapter in their history – and navigating one of the most exciting journeys in the course of human development,” she said. Queen Rania went on to commend the WEF and its Founder and Executive Chairperson, Professor Klaus Schwab, “for bringing the spirit of Davos to Dalian”, noting that while it is true that the “the center of global gravity is shifting East…, the real shift in power we are witnessing today is about much more than geography… Today, it is about the power of the individual”.  That power, according to the Queen, and in the words of the WEF, is evident in the ‘new generation of companies that will fundamentally change the global competitive landscape’. “You have been called the “New Champions” – companies with the vision, leadership, and determination… to push the boundaries… re-imagine reality… and reinvent the way we live and work…,” she stated. Hoping that these champions will use their success to help build an “innovative future [that] will reflect the timeless wisdom of the past – especially the notion of harmony and respect for one another’s dignity that lies at the foundation of Chinese culture”, Queen Rania challenged them to rescue “our global conversation [which] is falling behind”.Queen Rania then gave several examples as to how the ‘global conversation’ is lagging, illustrating the prevalent misperceptions and the lack of common understanding between the Muslim world and West. Speaking of the veil, Her Majesty asserted that while "we see it as an expression of piety and devotion to God", too many in the West mistakenly perceive it as a sign of "oppression and compliance”. Citing the controversy that has followed the cartoon drawings of the Prophet Mohammed, she again highlighted the differences between both sides: “To Muslims it signaled blatant disrespect of our faith; to the West, an attack on their freedom of expression.” As a final example, she spoke of the long-term impact of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and the differences in opinion that have evoked “where, too often, the West just sees terrorist attacks against Israelis, while the enduring image in Arab minds is one of generations of Palestinian boys and girls growing up with no country, no rights, and no future – an image that has not changed for 50 years”. Insisting that she does not “claim to speak for the Muslim world at large, and certainly not for the West”, Her Majesty asserted that such misconceptions are due to the fact that “we are missing the moral language of the conscience. We are missing the graceful conversation of the heart. We are missing the humanitarian perspective that helps us to see through another person’s eyes... and to empathize – person to person… neighbor to neighbor… us to them”.  Queen Rania charged the young leaders in the audience to help address this ‘perception gap’ and create a positive impact: “I am convinced that your voices can help change the global conversation…and reassert the basic values that are at the heart of our common humanity – the ABCs of a common language,” adding: “You can be New Champions not only of commerce, but of conciliation; not only of trade but of tolerance; not only of profit, but of peace and understanding”. Her Majesty reflected on the strides firms have taken to bridge the differences amongst cultures, saying that many are “already doing business in a variety of places and markets – including the Muslim world”, forging “strong lines of communication—across boundaries of distance and experience”.  Because they know they must understand other cultures, “or lose out in the race for new markets;” listen as well as talk; and ask questions before assuming the answers”, Queen Rania added, highlighting the need for corporations to help bridge the East West divide and become the ‘New Champions’ of what she refers to as Corporate Multicultural Responsibility (CMR).  According to the Queen, “Corporate Multicultural Responsibility is more than sending some of your overseas executives on cultural competency training. It is about insisting that all your staff get as much time learning about global diversity as time management and communication skills.”  She went on to add that CMR is as much “about ensuring that your company’s strategies reflect cultural challenges alongside market, distribution and pricing considerations” as it is “about breaking down cultural barriers within and out-with the firm”. Her Majesty underscored the fact every citizen “has a role to play…Because the more our world community pulls together, the more chances every nation and every individual will have to prosper”, as, she noted, is symbolized by ‘the official slogan of the Beijing Olympics – ‘One World, One Dream’.  Queen Rania concluded her address by urging members of the audience to carry the spirit of the Beijing 2008 Olympics with them: “I hope that when you leave Dalian, and return to your countries, you too are infused with the Olympic spirit, and will join your voices with those of 1.3 billion Chinese people all calling for ‘One World, One Dream’… so that Beijing’s legacy to the world is more than a wonderful Olympic arena…more than words of harmony and hope, but the foundation of a new world team – one that is joined together by mutual respect, common goals, and shared understanding.”