5th West Africa North Asia Forum: “The Uprooted”

Amman, Jordan

Your Royal Highness Prince El Hassan bin Talal, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen: It is a great honor to participate in this fifth West Asia North Africa (WANA) Forum and to have the opportunity to address such a distinguished group.

I would like to begin by expressing my deepest admiration and gratitude to the host of this forum, Your Royal Highness Prince Hassan and the members of the International Senior Advisory Board for elaborating the WANA vision with your wisdom and experience. And to the participants, I would like to express my appreciation for your efforts to tackle challenging issues facing the region.

Five years have passed since His Royal Highness and I started the WANA Forum in 2009. Over the course of our long friendship, I have been moved many times by the genuine vision of His Royal Highness and his determination to develop the WANA region. I convey my deep respect to His Royal Highness for successfully organizing the WANA Forum for five consecutive years against the backdrop of a dramatic socio-political transition in the region.

There is no question that WANA is an important region to the world. The recent revolutionary wave that swept the region forced challenging issues to rise to the surface; these include poverty, human security and political instability. It is highly commendable that the WANA Forum had foreseen these issues prior to the transition and I have great respect for the amazing foresight of His Royal Highness.

In my many years of humanitarian work, I have encountered countless people around the world who have been uprooted for reasons such as conflict, climate change and economic and political instability. Currently, in Myanmar, we are working to support the close to half a million people who have been uprooted from their communities. Myanmar is a nation diverse in its culture, ethnicity, and religion. Taking this into account, we are listening closely to the demands of the different ethnic nationalities and trying to figure out ways in which we can help them rebuild their communities.

The WANA region is a finely woven tapestry of different cultures, ethnicities, and religions. As beautiful as it may be, various issues are also woven in to form complex knots that are difficult to entangle. Against this complicated pattern, it is vital for the people of the WANA region to address these issues and search for homegrown solutions. I am confident that the WANA Forum shall continue to play an important role in this effort. 

All of you are leaders representing various sectors of the region. You have gathered, not for your own benefit or the benefit of your country, but for a much greater purpose of attaining a prosperous future for the entire WANA region. It is highly significant and meaningful to have such a platform where participants can openly discuss complex challenges.

In this time of uncertainty I hope that this WANA Forum will help to bring tangible change that will open a path to a brighter and more prosperous future for the people of WANA. 

I hope that the two-day forum will be very successful and filled with lively and fruitful discussions.

Thank you.