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Speeches
Remarks by His Majesty King Abdullah II
At the Closing Session of the World Economic Forum
Dead Sea, Jordan
22 June 2003

Your Excellency, Secretary General Annan,
Professor Schwab,
Your Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

The end is a beginning. Today, we close this extraordinary meeting of our forum. But an extraordinary journey has just begun; a journey of healing and new hope; of global creativity and justice.

Together we have worked on some of the world's most difficult challenges – as well as its most important promises. A new beginning for the Palestinian people. A new life in peace for Israelis. A new future for Iraqi children. And new hope for people throughout this region and around the world: that there will be a better tomorrow; that prosperity will be global; that the promise of this century is for all.

Are these goals futuristic? Not if we are realistic. Profound change can come – but only if we confront the old, accepted continuities head-on. In these meetings, we did face the hard truths. We confronted the global divisions that blight peace and prosperity. We explored the root causes of today's cycles of violence and injustice.

Our meeting has succeeded in bringing Palestinians and Israelis together to talk. They spoke about peace and reconciliation, but they also discussed the environment and water. The dialogue affirmed their shared humanity and shared destiny. These and other discussions helped spur renewed faith among the friends of peace – faith that is needed to usher a new day in this Holy Land, a day when trust and forgiveness replace discord and animosity.

Our meeting witnessed the global support for the road to peace in the Middle East. It reiterated the milestones agreed at Aqaba: to end the conflict, renew hope, assure security, and fulfill Palestinian nationhood. By seizing this historic moment, this forum has helped to seize the international conscience, reminding the world of the need to serve justice and meet the expectations of the young.

Our meeting also discussed human development in the Arab world. It is an issue that you, Mr. Secretary General, have championed during the last two years, and it is an issue at the forefront of regional concern. The pillars of all Arab civil society actively participated in our gatherings. They deliberated here on reform and progress on ways to fulfill young people's expectations for knowledge and freedom, protect the human rights of men and women and respect the sanctity of free expression to all those whose opinions will undoubtedly contribute to strengthening our political and social culture.

Allow me to say, these principles are not new in our religious culture. Indeed, they are part of its deepest promise. Islam calls for a dynamic process of discourse and interpretation, based on reason, keen in the pursuit of knowledge, and dedicated to excellence. It stands for tolerance and respect for human life.

These are the building blocks of freedom and peace. And so is the dialogue among peoples that we have witnessed here in the Jordan Valley. In the words of the Holy Quran,

  • O Mankind! We created you from a single
  • pair of male and female
  • and made you into nations and tribes,
  • that ye may know each other.

Distinguished guests,

For Jordan and Jordanians, the last three days have been filled with pride and gratitude. We hope we succeeded in demonstrating our emerging civil society. We hope you had a chance to meet some of the people, from every sphere of life, who are building our dynamic country. We strove to provide an opportunity for the women of Jordan to fully participate in setting the global agenda. And we hoped to give young Jordanians a chance to express their dreams and aspirations: for a peaceful region, open to the world, where their skills and talents can flourish.

I thank you for giving my country the opportunity to host this meeting. And I thank each one of you for contributing to its success. Your efforts are more important than you know.

The fact is that today, our global family finds itself on a storm front. In politics, as in economics and culture, our world is being torn between the winds of globalisation and the forces of isolation. To make our way forward requires a steady purpose and more. Friends, we must work together to keep to the path.

Over the last two days, here in the Jordan Valley, that is what we have achieved. We tackled difficult challenges. There are no answers yet, I'm afraid. But together, we have started the process; we have started the journey. A journey that will end with a better humanity, a richer morality, and a more peaceful reality.

Thank you very much.