The Symposium was organized by the Library under the patronage of King Abdullah Bin Abdul-Aziz, when he was Crown Prince over 21-23 November 2000, on the occasion of the selection of Riyadh as the Capital of Arab Culture for the year 2000.
The Symposium was attended by a group of Arab intellectuals, academics and specialists. It sought to distil a vision more inclusive of the cultural constants and variables of the Arab world, and from there future directions and possibilities for Arab culture.
Objectives of the Symposium:
1. To achieve a better awareness of the current state of culture in the Arab world.
2. To deepen the sense of the importance of culture in Arab societies, and to encourage everybody to share in developing it.
3. To examine the most important problems currently facing Arab culture and find suitable solutions.
4. To develop a deep and comprehensive vision of the future of culture in the Arab world.
Themes of the Symposium:
The themes of the seminar were selected to move from present to future and from local to international along three main axes:
- Axis 1: Studies that present in-depth examinations of the current state of culture the Arab world:
This axis tries through facts and figures to read this reality in such a way as to provide a basis for future readers.
- Axis 2: Prospects for the future (looking ahead):
Its features can be seen in the divisions of the present and by looking closely at the most striking aspects of Arab culture beginning with research into problematic issues and then going on to look at the main aspects of any civilizational-cultural formation.
- Axis 3: Aspects of Global Culture.
This axis includes a different and unfamiliar way of presenting the customary Arab cultural narrative, as we call upon the "other" to be different to us on the one hand, and to meet with us on the other.
1. The Islamic dimension of Arab culture should be emphasised, as well as openness to other cultures.
2. The importance of the Arabic language in spreading culture should be emphasised, as well as the way it functions as a vessel for science and education.
3. A media strategy should be adopted that serves Arab culture, including opening the media space for more diverse cultural programmes.
4. A website should be created to put vessels of Arab culture in the hands of all.
5. The Arab child should be deeply rooted in his culture and strongly linked to his heritage, identity and native values.
6. The role of the book in spreading culture should be given more importance, raising cultural awareness among the nation's citizens. Printing and publishing activities should be encouraged, and the Arab reader’s access to books should be increased.
7. Awareness of the effects of globalization and its international institutions must be increased, because their programmes and projects are being used to enshrine the domination of Western culture and marginalize cultural diversity. We also need to call on all Arab states to help in drafting the legislation and agreements of those institutions and organizations.
8. More should be done to encourage the private sector in the Arab world to participate in cultural activities, and more opportunities should be provided for businessmen to contribute to cultural projects in Arab countries.
9. More libraries, information centres and cultural institutions should be established in order to promote cultural awareness.
10. Scientific research institutions should be developed and nurtured in the Arab world.
11. Diversity in the plastic arts should be increasingly developed and what is still held in museums and galleries should be preserved.
12. Emphasis should be given to caring for the Arab heritage and using it in the service of Arab culture.
13. The Arab Organization for Education, Culture and Science should be called on to reformulate the comprehensive plan for Arab culture in accordance with contemporary data.
14. Care should be given to the spreading of Islamic culture, and the teaching and study of the Arabic language in Islamic countries, as well as Muslim minority areas.
Praise be to God the Lord of the Worlds, and prayer and peace be upon the faithful Prophet.
Your Royal Highness Prince Abdul-Aziz bin Sattam bin Abdul-Aziz..
Dear guests.. Honourable attendees.
The peace, mercy and blessings of God be upon you.
As we welcomed you a few days ago, so this evening we invite you with love and sincere prayers to return to your home countries and your families in the best of health, and to luxuriate in the clothes of health and happiness, always remembering how happy we were to have you among us.
This Symposium was a great opportunity for us to meet you, and to enjoy your contributions, deliberations and pertinent opinions on an important cultural issue that concerns us all. What you presented at this seminar was, of course, a great addition to Arab culture and a great achievement that the library can be proud of, bringing together these bright minds gifted with intellect, culture and creativity, leading our Arab Islamic Umma into more serious work and constructive beneficence.
It is my hope, dear friends, that this Symposium will achieve its goals and that it will contribute to stimulating dialogue and opening the horizons of debate in a way that will restore to our Arab culture its dignity and distinctiveness. This should help us to step into the future with confidence and with well thought out programmes that will result in more gatherings such as this one, which I hope will be repeated so that we can gain further benefit and deepen the sense of productive work.
I also hope that my colleagues on the committees working on this Symposium have done their duty towards you. We apologize to you for any shortcoming due to some mistake committed by our hard-working staff. This library, so amply endowed by its founder, should indeed be highly organized and extremely efficient, in accordance with the capabilities and counsel available to us, and this Symposium along with the other cultural and scientific programmes witnessed by this library in the course of its various programmes and plans should be crowned with success.
On this occasion, I would like to extend my warmest thanks and appreciation to the Custodian of the two Holy Mosques, His Highness the Crown Prince, and His Highness the Second Deputy for their support and sponsorship of culture and intellectuals. I also extend my sincere thanks and appreciation to His Royal Highness Prince Salman Bin Abdul-Aziz, Emir of the Riyadh region, and to His Royal Highness Prince Sultan Bin Fahd Bin Abdul-Aziz, President-General of Youth Welfare and Chairman of the Supreme Committee for the celebration of the selection of Riyadh as the Capital of Arab Culture for the year 2000, for their backing and support of the programmes of various cultural institutions.
In conclusion, I reiterate my thanks and how proud I am in the presence of this distinguished cultural gathering in our fair city of Riyadh.
Peace, mercy and blessing be upon you all,
Faisal bin Abdul-Rahman bin Mu'ammar
General Supervisor of the Library