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Real security goes beyond fences and walls: says Abdullah bin Zayed

posted on 05/12/2010: 741 views



Manama - Qatar's winning a bid to host the World Cup in 2022 could mean that real security goes beyond buffer zones, fences and walls, says H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al Nahyan, UAE Foreign Minister.

Addressing the IISS Security Dialogue Forum in Manama yesterday, Sheikh Abdullah said that openness and engagement with the international community was beneficial to everyone's security.

"I believe that it offers a positive, alternative, vision of the Gulf region's place in the world, and a recognition that real security comes not from erecting fences or walls," he noted.

The forum, organised by the International Institute for Strategic Security, opened in Manama yesterday and is being attended by senior political and military leaders from around the world.

"It is my firm belief that, firstly, the best guarantor of security is sustainable economic and social development. Extremism feeds on lack of hope and opportunity, particularly among our youth. And, secondly, that openness and engagement with the international community is beneficial to everyone's security. Whether through sport or trade, culture or political dialogue, international exchange gives people a shared stake in a positive and peaceful future," Sheikh Abdullah stated.

Below is the full text of the speech: Let me begin by saying how happy I am to be here. The Manama Dialogue has truly become an important forum for discussing Middle East security issues and a key meeting point on the regional agenda.

I must say the topic of this session is distinctive. But I want to talk today about a different approach to the security debate and one that is equally important as we look around a region in crisis.

I would like to start by congratulating Qatar on winning the bid to host the World Cup in 2022. It is a truly remarkable achievement and one that many thought impossible only a few weeks ago.

But their success goes beyond simply winning a bid to host a football tournament against difficult odds, or the fact that this will be the first time the World Cup will ever take place in the Middle East region.

Today, the region faces a whole set of challenges and crises - stretching from Pakistan and Afghanistan in the East, to Somalia and Yemen in the West.

But we are not only facing a physical security crisis but more frightening than that, we are facing an ideological conflict over the future of the entire region.

So what is the significance of Qatar's win amidst all this uncertainty? I believe that it offers a positive, alternative, vision of the Gulf region's place in the world, and a recognition that real security comes not from erecting fences or walls.

It is my firm belief that, firstly, the best guarantor of security is sustainable economic and social development. Extremism feeds on lack of hope and opportunity, particularly among our youth. And, secondly, that openness and engagement with the international community is beneficial to everyone's security. Whether through sport or trade, culture or political dialogue, international exchange gives people a shared stake in a positive and peaceful future Qatar's victory shows that nothing is impossible when a country is forward-looking and focused on development. Greater opportunity for citizens at home, combined with greater understanding and exchange between nations internationally, is the surest way to security.

We cannot win an ideological war except through changing mindsets. And in order to change mindsets in the region we must demonstrate to people that there are multiple reasons to be optimistic about the future. And we must provide positive opportunities for youth, and empower the role of women in society, to ensure that all are stakeholders in their society The UAE believes in this positive, alternative approach to security, and it is the approach we apply to security challenges across our region.

The Middle East Peace Process continues to be one of the major challenges facing the region. The Arab-Israeli issue is one that has been manipulated for decades by different agendas particularly the voices of instability, intolerance and violence. Resolution of this conflict must remain an essential priority for the international community - the UAE firmly believes that this will be the primary game-changer with positive spill over effects in the region. Alongside the Peace Process, Palestinians must be helped to develop their institutions, to transform their society, and to develop a prosperous economy in which its citizens can thrive. This is not a substitute for a political process, but it is an important parallel track.

In Afghanistan, the UAE believes that countries must continue to engage positively in support of Afghanistan. The UAE was among the first Muslim countries to provide military, financial and technical assistance to Afghanistan. But we also recognize that security must be underpinned by economic growth and prosperity Therefore, last week we hosted the Afghanistan International Investment Conference in Dubai - attended by more than 700 Afghan and international businesses.

In Yemen, the GCC states have consistently supported our Yemeni brothers in their fight for security and prosperity in their country. We do this through engaging through the Friends of Yemen - recognizing that overcoming Yemen's economic challenges will underpin a more secure future. And the

UAE will make Yemen a priority of its upcoming GCC Presidency.

It is this kind of positive action that is the real alternative to the more negative headlines that sometimes arise in our region. The GCC has been pivotal in implementing a positive vision of security; but can and must do more.

This is why we must work within the GCC to further align our strategic views and priorities taking into account the regional challenges around us. We therefore look forward to the GCC summit in Abu Dhabi next week - as the UAE takes on the GCC Chairmanship - and are confident that the GCC will continue to encourage this positive change in the region. The challenges remain, but we are determined to continue striving harder towards our goal for a stable and secure Middle East.

This alternative story I have told is the reason why I am hugely optimistic about the future security of the Gulf region. I am optimistic because I see the power of this message all around me in many examples: such as in the large number of people in the region who move across borders in pursuit of work or educational opportunities; or in the millions of foreign workers who chose to make their lives in the GCC states.

I see this in the way that women are playing a leading role in our societies - in business and in government. And, of course, I see it in the victory of Qatar's world cup bid for 2022.

These success stories represent the greatest asset to our security. And it is this vision that remains the foundation stone for future security and stability in the region and the rest of the world today.

Thank you. – Emirates News Agency, WAM

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