The Society has supported Connecting Cultures since its inception. Its initial participants were from Saudi Arabia and the UK; now they are from various Middle Eastern countries and from the UK. There is more on their website www.connectingcultures.co.uk.
Established in 2004, Connecting Cultures is a unique educational initiative that promotes face to face dialogue with young people from the western and Arab world via short wilderness journeys. The aim of this dialogue is to celebrate cultural diversity, break down stereotypes, identify shared values and in so doing promote understanding and help reduce the polarisation of cultures. Based in the Sultanate of Oman, Connecting Cultures works in partnership with governmental, corporate and charitable sectors. It is endorsed by UNESCO and works to support the key aims of the United Nations Alliance of Civilisations. DHL are the main corporate sponsors of the Connecting Cultures programme.
My Connecting Cultures experience by Norah Alkhamis
I was honoured to be chosen to represent Saudi Arabia in this year’s Connecting Culture’s expedition in Wadi Al–Abyad, Oman. Other young ambassadors who joined me represented Japan, Lebanon, UK, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Oman, Morocco and Netherlands. We all came together to discuss our cultural misunderstanding of each other’s country, in the middle of the Omani desert, with no technology to distract us.
Everyday, we gathered in a circle and each representative had to share her country’s stereotypes that people believed in. Gradually, we all began to understand each other’s cultures. Personally, I learnt that we all could discover new lessons from other cultures, we all can depend on each other and stereotypes can be broken in matter of days.
Overall, Connecting Cultures is a precious experience that all young people should encounter. Meeting inspirational women from other cultures in 5 days to discuss and get to know each other in the middle of the desert is enriching and inspiring. I will always treasure the moments I had with my fellow ambassadors in Oman.
I’d like to thank the Saudi–British Society for making my trip possible.