Princess Ameerah: “Religion is used to raise controversy. This is wrong”

HH Princess Ameerah Al-Taweel, Chairwoman of Alwaleed Bin Talal Foundation was the featured speaker at a thought-leader dinner in Boston in the presence of President HRH Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz Alsaud, Chairman of Alwaleed Bin Talal Foundation-Global (registered in Lebanon) and Former President Jimmy Carter. The Gala dinner hosted by Prince Alwaleed, honored the dedicated work of the six prestigious Prince Alwaleed Centers for Intercultural Understanding at leading Universities across the world including:

Harvard University: The Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Islamic Studies Program Headed by Director Ali Asani
Georgetown University: The Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding Headed by Director John Esposito.
Cambridge University: The Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Centre of Islamic Studies Headed by Director Yasir Suleiman
Edinburgh University: The Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Centre for the Study of Islam in the Contemporary World Headed by Director Hugh Goddard.
American University in Cairo: The Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Abdulaziz Alsaud Center for American Studies Headed by Director Magda Shahin.
American University in Beirut: The Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz Alsaud Center for American Studies and Research Headed by Director Alex LuBin

Princess Ameerah expressed her view about the negative way religion has been used: “Religion is being used as a tool to mobilize people in a very negative way. It is very appealing for influential people, in politics, media, and business, to use religion to capture people’s emotions. Religion is used to raise controversy and serve certain agendas. This is wrong and we should work together to stop it.”

Princess Ameerah addressed a distinguished audience: “It was once said that a committed group of people can change the world. Let us be this committed group, let’s stand up, take a step forward every day, and we will see a world in which justice prevails, and love is spread..”

Moreover, during the event, the Well-known and highly regarded TV Journalist Riz Khan who is the author of “Alwaleed Businessman Billionaire Prince” book moderated an insightful and engaging discussion between Prince Alwaleed and President Carter that served as the keynote of the evening. The discussion focused on the recent momentous developments in the Arab world, their impact on American Foreign Policy in the Middle East and the future of relations between Islam and The West.

Highlight comments from the discussion:

President Carter was asked if relations between the Islamic world and the West had improved:

“There has been a great and positive change in the work of these six centers (the Prince Alwaleed academic centers) that have been established. I don’t believe I could think of a single greater issue that will affect the next generation and bring more cooperative understanding, mutual trust and peace.”

Mr. Khan followed up with HRH Prince Alwaleed asking how the Alwaleed academic centers can help East and West move forward from negative legacies of the past:

“In establishing these academic centers, we believe that in the world of academia, peace will prevail and under that umbrella of peace, at very reputable universities, dialogue and discussion will take place and it is. We believe this work is important and is doing our part to bring both sides together.”

The two leaders discussed the role religion can play to be a positive and uniting force instead of a divisive one. President Carter noted how all major religions share the common morals of peace, justice, humility, service to others, compassion for the poor and love for fellow man. Prince Alwaleed described lessons to be learned by all religions including his own:

“There is a verse in the Holy Quran that says ‘Allah will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves.’ (Surat Ar-Ra`d; verse 11) I think it is very important we all look inside. We all have to work [together] to change these issues.”

After the dinner President Carter was gracious in praise of the evening’s events:

“I was glad to be part of this worthwhile conference, focusing on the faiths and beliefs the East and West share, advancing the understanding and friendship among peoples.  Prince Alwaleed and Princess Ameerah’s sponsorship of this conference and the six Alwaleed Centers on Faith and Religion are an important contribution to global efforts to further understanding and scholarship between the East and West. I congratulate them for their caring and commitment.”

The Gala dinner provided the capstone of an invigorating two-day conference dedicated to the critical and scholarly work of bridging East and West by the Prince Alwaleed academic centers.

The event was also attended by a delegation that included Eng. Nadia H. Bakhurji, Secretary General of Alwaleed Bin Talal Foundation, Ms. Heba Fatani, Senior Executive Manager, Corporate Communications Department, Dr. Samir Anabtawi, Academic Advisor to HRH the Chairman, Dr. Nahla Alanbar, Private Executive Manager to HRH the Chairman and Ms. Noor Aldabbagh, Executive Manager, Strategic Studies Department from Alwaleed Bin Foundation Ms. Najla Tarabzouni, Assistant PR Manager, Alwaleed Bin Talal Foundation.

As an extension of Prince Alwaleed’s commitment to improving the world the “Alwaleed Bin Talal Foundation” was institutionalized and obtained its license in 2009 from the Ministry of Social Affairs. In the past 30 years of charity and humanitarian work HRH has donated approximately $3 billion to this cause.

The “Alwaleed Bin Talal Foundation” encourages and supports organizations, studies, and academic centers focusing on empowering Saudi women, alleviating poverty, upgrading services provided to the population, and other social infrastructure issues that face the country. The foundation is also directly involved in major projects that provide direct aid to the citizens of Saudi Arabia ranging from medical aid to housing where hundreds of housing units have been provided to poor families as part of a 10 year project. Other projects the foundation is involved in include the distribution of electric generators to remote villages and, printing and the translation of the holy Quran into13 languages.

Alwaleed Bin Talal Foundation – Global works to provide women and youth in the MENA region with economic and educational opportunities, through strategic philanthropic investments in sustainable projects of the Foundation’s various partner organizations. It tackles poverty and provides rapid aid in cases of natural disasters internationally. One of the many donations for rapid aid includes a substantial donation to South East Asia’s Tsunami victims. The foundation also reframes perceptions of Islam and the West through dialogue, programs and educational centers around the world in order to promote a greater understanding between the different faiths and world views, part of which includes an endowment to the Louvre Museum in support of its collection of Islamic art.

The “Alwaleed Bin Talal Humanitarian Foundation”, is vice chaired H.E. Ms. Leila El Solh covers all the Lebanese humanitarian issues and provides medical and health assistance, social assistance to orphanages, infirmaries, prisoners and the disabled and educational and cultivation assistance for the development of projects in the economical and agricultural sectors across all communities in the Lebanon. The foundation was awarded the Pontifical Medal by Pope Benedict XVI during a ceremony to mark the occasion held at the Vatican in 2008. The medal was in recognition of the achievement and efforts made by the Alwaleed Bin Talal Humanitarian Foundation for encouraging tolerance between the different religious faiths and social groups in Lebanon, and promoting religious dialogue. Moreover, the medal acknowledged the foundation’s philanthropic activities and support to those in need regardless of their background and creed. Ms. El Solh personally received the medal from the Pope at the Vatican.

Since 2003, The Alwaleed bin Talal Foundation has worked in close collaboration with The Carter Center on critical Humanitarian, Global Health and Democracy Initiatives around the globe. Grants from The Alwaleed bin Talal Foundation have supported various Carter Center programs around the globe, such as the Global Health and Peace Initiative, the Democracy Program in the African Union, the Palestinian Peace and Democracy Program, the Mental Health and Democracy Programs in Liberia, and the Onchocerciasis Elimination Program in Brazil, Guatemala, Colombia, Venezuela, Mexico, and Ecuador.

Princess Ameerah\’s full speech