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Wednesday, January 29, 2003

World Economic Forum 2003

Queen Rania stresses the need for a "Peaceline" to bring benefits of peace to regions in conflict

(The Jordan Times, By Rana Awwad - Davos) A "peaceline" that pumps much-needed tranquility to conflict-ridden regions and brings along advancement, prosperity and growth stands as a critical tool to re-build trust and provide for better lives for generations to come.

This was Her Majesty Queen Rania Al-Abdullah's message to 800 top delegates meeting at the World Economic Forum (WEF).

"Today, just as a pipeline connects areas rich in resources like water or oil, with areas that lack these essential resources, a 'peaceline'is needed to bring the benefits of peace to regions in conflict," said Queen Rania, in the presence of Former American President Bill Clinton and Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Perez.

Taking the podium at the annual gathering, perceived as a rich venue for distilling and courting ideas among peoples of various ideologies and backgrounds, Queen Rania stressed that peace, opportunity, and tolerance are not luxuries, but rather essential values for humans to survive.

Queen Rania, who spoke on her first day as a serving member of the WEF Foundation Board, described these values as "the very bread of life, the fuel that is needed, right now, for a safe, free, and prosperous world." Decades of war and conflict have sown seeds of skepticism, cynicism and distrust among nations and diminished prospects of hope, she explained. "People who are trapped by failed hopes can easily become disillusioned and cynical about values like peace and tolerance. And cynicism is contagious," Queen Rania warned, adding that cynicism "can also affect those looking from the outside in and diminish their will to make ours a better world."

One important challenge, Queen Rania stressed is to "bring our values to bear on the worst 'hope gaps' … the gap between regions that have enjoyed the benefits of peace, and those that are paying the terrible price of ongoing violence and conflict."

In her 3rd participation in WEF Meetings, Queen Rania said that despite regional turmoil, cynicism did not obstruct Jordan's reform-oriented vision.

"It might seem easy for Jordanians to be cynical about their prospects, to shift to low gear, to lay low, to put off our crucial reform plans until the political storms around us subside."

Instead, under the leadership of His Majesty King Abdullah, Jordan has pushed forward an accelerated model of achievement and excellence, and strengthened trust in values of hard work, peace and equal opportunity, Queen Rania told the 33rd annual gathering that converged at this Alpine resort.

Queen Rania spoke of how the Late King Hussein held tight to his hope for peace against all odds at a time when voices of cynicism prevailed and spoke of his commitment when he left the cancer unit to work for peace at the Wye River saying "he looked so frail from his battle with cancer, but his eyes foretold a story of moral passion that will live on long after his death".

She also highlighted that a global commitment to creating peace and affecting new realities where nations feel the fruits of non-violence and re-gain trust should be a priority.

"We have to keep the hope alive, continue the dialogue and top it all up with plenty of hard work" she said.

Following her speech, Queen Rania answered questions from the audience in an interactive dialogue moderated by Professor Klaus Schwab, President of the WEF.

When asked about her reference to His Majesty the Late King Hussein in her speech, Queen Rania characterized the Late King as her role model and highlighted his commitment to peace, especially during his last days.

Her statement that she admired him for the person he was rather than for his title was received by a loud round of applause by the 800-member audience.

Queen Rania also spoke of the misconceptions surrounding women in the Arab world, where she spoke of the progress that women in Jordan have made, emphasizing that Jordanian women have taken great strides in various fields and hold high positions in private and public sector institutions, as well as the military and armed forces.

She also stressed that although women in Jordan have made tremendous progress, there is still a lot that needs to be achieved and that we have to work very hard to achieve it.

The dialogue was wrapped up with one member of the audience commending Queen Rania for her thoughts, principles, and values that were reflected in her speech, and said, "You give monarchy a beautiful face".

Queen Rania also launched a dialogue between Arab and Western women and urged them to carry forward a spirit of communication and to engage in intercultural exchanges as a vital step towards building trust between each other.