Queen Rania Encourages Cross-Cultural Dialogue and Understanding Among Women During Visit to Mosque and Exhibition Painting a Clearer Picture of Islam

March 11, 2003

(Office of Her Majesty, Press Department - Paris) Fifty-one women artists from 21 Islamic countries gathered in an exhibition held in Paris with a common vision of promoting cross-cultural dialogue and painting a clearer picture of Islam.

The exhibition entitled “Breaking the Barriers: Women Artists from the Islamic World” was inaugurated by Her Majesty Queen Rania Al-Abdullah who has been outspoken on the need for cross-cultural dialogue aimed at dispelling misconceptions about Islam and at a better understanding between different civilizations.

Also present at the exhibition was Her Royal Highness Princess Wijdan Ali, President of the Royal Society of Fine Arts in Jordan Held in celebration of the International Women’s Day and International Peace, the exhibition was organized by the Royal Society of Fine Arts in Jordan and the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) with the aim of breaking the stereotypes of women in Islam through art created by Muslims, Christians, Buddhists and Hindus living in the Islamic world and who have contributed to preserving cultural heritage.

In a forum held as part of the exhibition, which attracted over one thousand women from the Islamic and western world, participants discussed the importance of promoting cross-cultural dialogue and understanding, and the need to break stereotypes of women in the Islamic world.

During the forum, at which Princess Wijdan Ali delivered a speech on the need to dispel misconceptions of Islam, participants also highlighted the need for women in the Arab and western world to educate themselves to understand one another and continue the dialogue between women in both parts of the world.

During the visit, Queen Rania met with Mr. Koichiro Matsuura, Director General of UNESCO, and discussed the organization’s programs in Jordan and the need to preserve cultural sites, especially in times of conflict.

Queen Rania, whose participation in the event is part of her efforts in addressing misconceptions of Islam in the west and advocating it as a religion of peace and equality, also visited the Paris Mosque and the Islamic Institute, where she met with religious figures and leading Muslim women from the political and social sectors in France.

During the tour of the mosque and the institute, Dr. Dalil Boubakeur, Dean of the institute, briefed Queen Rania on the institute’s activities aimed at furthering cross-cultural understanding.

The Queen launched the first such exhibition in Rhodes, Greece in September 2002 during which she paid tribute to female artists who have helped break the barriers of misunderstandings and ignorance that divide civilizations.

"Real art connects. It connects us with ourselves and with one another. It leads us to discover new truths, and helps to illuminate the humanity we share," Queen Rania said in remarks she delivered in Rhodes.

Queen Rania will also inaugurate the same exhibition in April in Valencia, Spain. The exhibition, which has contributed to bridging the cultural gap between east and west, will tour other countries in Europe and North America.

All 70 paintings featured at the exhibition were chosen from the collection of the Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts in Amman.

Women artists represent Algeria, Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Malaysia, Morocco, Oman, Pakistan, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen