x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Warriors or Peace Negotiators? Dubai hosts first nonviolence event in Middle East

A global pacifism project supported by international stars such as Paul McCartney and Lionel Messi is to host its first Middle East event in Dubai.

A global pacifism project supported by international stars such as Paul McCartney and Lionel Messi is to host its first Middle East event in Dubai.

Organisers hope it could lead to a permanent presence in the emirate for the Non-Violence Project, a non-profit organisation established in Switzerland in 1993 that now has offices in 17 countries.

The project aims to “inspire, motivate, and engage young people on how to solve conflicts peacefully”.

“In a world where conflicts are graphically depicted on our TV screens 24 hours a day, and where Hollywood has made a remarkable art form of violence in movies, the influences on our children are more challenging than ever,” said the British-Pakistani TV journalist Riz Khan, who will moderate next week’s event and speak about the project, its purpose and history, and how to get involved.

“I do genuinely worry that children younger and younger are exposed to violence as something that is cool and does not have any real consequences.

“The Middle East is a region where conflict is considered, by many people around the world, a part of everyday life. These people are generally unaware of the diversity of the region and how conflict is more focused than they realise.

“Sadly, many of the people one meets in the Middle East have been touched in one way or another by violence – whether through knowing family or friends who have come from conflict zones, or through directly having been exposed to them. The work of the Non-Violence Project is of extreme value to this region.”

The event, called Tomorrow’s Leaders: Warriors or Peace Negotiators?, will take place at the Capital Club in DIFC.

“The global prevalence of violence, particularly among the youth, is one of the biggest challenges that the world faces today, which is why empowering the younger generation to find non-violent solutions to the countless conflict ridden situation they face is so vitally important,” the club’s general manager Emma Cullen said.

“For this reason we are both extremely pleased and excited to be able to welcome the Non-Violence Project to Dubai. Their programmes are making a tangible difference in the way young people interact with each other and the world at large and we look forward to seeing their positive influence on the people of the UAE and the region.

“For us it’s very topical and a lot of people have a lot of opinions but getting to the heart of the matter is important. They have a message which is well needed in our region.

“And it’s interesting how they work. It’s not just all talk – it’s action.”

The event takes place from 6.30pm until 8.30pm on September 22 and is open to the public.

The Non-Violence Project was inspired by the eponymous sculpture of a .357 Magnum revolver with a knotted barrel that was created in memory of John Lennon. One of the three originals stands outside the United Nations headquarters in New York.

In the past two decades the project has helped more than five million students, teachers, and sports coaches in 20 countries through educational programmes to teach them how to deal with obstacles and challenges without resorting to violence by reinforcing the principles of trust, compassion and judgement.

halbustani@thenational.ae