A number of participants emphasized that the Arab countries have the tools to stand on equal footing with the West. After all, the current Western civilization has its roots in Arab civilization. They emphasized the importance of reinforcing confidence in the Arab Islamic civilization and the importance of teaching Arabic in schools and universities. Author and media personality Tayseer Abdullah raised the question of whether Arabs can move their focus toward the east, particularly China, given that Western dominance has only resulted in Arab weakness and ineffective development. He wondered if focusing on the east would result in a new form of dependence. Dr. Abdul Wahab Al-Afandi asserted his rejection of any form of dependence on foreign powers, Western or Eastern. He offered, “Instead of dependence, we need to become on the same footing with others. The Arab countries have the tools to establish equal partnerships.” He called for maintaining communication with knowledge producers, particularly that Arabs have made significant contributions to knowledge production. He also called for the development of Arab social media platforms.
Hanadi Zaynal posited the possibility of a cultural hybrid that mixes Eastern and Western cultures. Dr. Jassim Al-Jazzaa responded by stressing that the Arab World is proud of its own Arab and Islamic culture, and that Arab culture, unlike Zionism for example, does not harbor animosity toward others. He added that the moral aspects of Arab and Islamic culture are more deeply rooted than in Western cultures, as can be clearly seen in the Western response to the war in Ukraine compared to the Western attitude toward the Arabs in general, and the Palestinian issue in particular.
During the question-and-answer session, a member of the audience asked about the negative consequences of Western hegemony and the cultural aspects that Arabs need to maintain. Dr. Al-Jazzaa responded that the problem in the Arab World has to do with leadership and strategic policies. The absence of clearly defined strategies resulted in government institutions that favor brute force over good governance. He asserted that these institutions need to be led away from dependence on foreign powers and into true sovereignty.
In response to comments from the audience regarding the importance of the Arabic language, Dr. Abdul Wahab Al-Afandi stressed the importance of teaching Arabic and Islamic Studies in Arab universities. It is critical, in his view, that Arab students study Islamic Studies in the Arab World rather than in Western universities, particularly in the UK.
Author Abdullah Al-Adhaba warned against forming Arab alliances with the “Zionist entity” because such alliances can drag Arab countries into war. Besides, such alliances would constitute a direct threat to the Arab League of Nations. Dr. Abdul Wahab Al-Afandi agreed with this view and denounced the alliances some Arab states are forming with the “Zionist entity.” He emphasized that anyone who believes that such alliances can offer protection is delusional.
Author Abdul Aziz Al-Khatir proposed to deconstruct the word “we” in the title of the discussion session. He commented, “If we deconstruct that “we,” we will be able to answer a lot of questions. For example, we often hear expressions such as “we and heritage,” “we, the state, and nationalism,” “we and cultural minorities,” and “we and the other.” That “we” is quite fragile because we cannot talk about the Arabs as a centralized entity. We have to, first of all, figure out who “we” refers to.”
Amal Arrab wondered about specific ways to promote and support confidence in Arab and Islamic civilization. Poet Shabib bin Arrar Al-Nuaymi, Director of Qatar Center for Poetry (Diwan Al-Arab), raised the question of what the Arabs have offered to the Arabs. Dr. Jassim Al-Jazzaa responded by reiterating that the current Western civilization was built on Arab foundations, as it was the Arabs who introduced the scientific study of medicine, history, sociology, and many other fields of study.