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OCIS has pre-eminent position in political, cultural circles: Sheikh Dr Mohammad

‘Kuwait global leader in cultural, charity work’

Sheikha Hussah Sabah Al-Salem Al-Sabah attends the ceremony.

OXFORD: Kuwait’s Sheikh Dr Mohammad Sabah Al-Salem Al-Sabah said Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies (OCIS) plays a growing role in improving the understanding of the political and literary top brass of the Islamic world through scholarly study. “The patronage of the center since its establishment in 1985 by Prince Charles, of Wales, shows that the politicians and intelligentsia in the United Kingdom hold the center in great esteem,” he said.

Sheikh Dr Mohammad, who is member of the OCIS Board of Trustees, made the comments on Tuesday in an interview held on the fringes of the opening ceremony of the OCIS new building. “The center, an affiliate of the University of Oxford, promotes dialogue between the Islamic and western cultures and serves as bridge between the Islamic world and the West through scholarly researches on the true portrait of Islam,” he pointed out.

“The idea to establish the center 32 years ago was first conceived by a group of Muslim scholars at the University of Oxford – the world’s most prestigious university.  “Their suggestion was approved by the two great leaders of the Muslim world – late King Fahad bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, of Saudi Arabia, and late Amir Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, of Kuwait,” he recalled.

“Today, as we celebrate the inauguration of the permanent premises of the center, we aspire for OCIS to double its effort to show the true nature of Islam which is away from extremism and violence,” Sheikh Mohammad said, adding that the relationship between Islam and the West matter more today than ever.

Meanwhile, Prince Turki bin Faisal Al Saud said the leaders of Kuwait and Saudi Arabia made praiseworthy effort to correct the unfair stereotypes about Islam in Britain and the west at large, and promote dialogue and understanding among people with different cultures. “The two sisterly countries work together to highlight the true value of Islam such as tolerance, amity, moderation and coexistence among people with different faiths,” he said in a statement.

Prince Turki, also member of the OCIS Board of Trustees, praised Kuwait’s humanitarian role and efforts to host conference on aid to needy people and dispute management.  The OCIS Board of Trustees, chaired by Dr Abdullah O Nasseef – former president of King Abdul Aziz University, Jeddah, includes Prince Turki – director of King Faisal Centre for Research and Islamic Studies, Riyadh (Co-Chair); Sultan Nazrin Muizzuddin Shah, Sultan of Perak (Vice Chair);  Sheikh Mohammad – former deputy prime minister and minister of foreign affairs, Kuwait (Chairman of Strategy, Planning and Building Committee); Khalid Alireza – Chairman of Xenel Industries Ltd (Chairman of Finance Committee); Professor Sir David Clary – president of Magdalen (Chairman of Academic Committee); and Dr Ali Al-Shamlan – former minister of education, Kuwait. It also includes Pehin Dato’ Abu Bakar Apong – minister of education, Brunei Darussalam; Professor Keith B Griffin, former president of Magdalen; Dr Abdullah Gul, former president of Turkey; Tun Ahmad Sarji – former chief secretary of Malaysian government; Professor Teresa Morgan; and Eng. Ali Suheimat – former deputy prime minister of Jordan.

At the behest of His Highness the late Amir Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Science (KFAS) offered essential support to the launching of the OCIS. The last contribution to the center, amounting to GBP 10 million, was made by His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah in 2010.

Global leader
Highness the Amir’s Representative Sheikha Hussah Sabah Al-Salem Al-Sabah said that the State of Kuwait is at forefront in supporting cultural, charity, and humanitarian work around the world. Sheikha Hussah made the remarks on sidelines of the 15th anniversary celebration of OCIS, under the auspices of OCIS’ Honorary President Prince Charles of Wales. Sheikha Hussah expressed her pleasure to represent His Highness the Amir in such culturally-rich occasion, noting that the such center represent a great opportunity to students completing their study due to its strong bond with the historic Oxford University. The representative added that her country support everything that benefits the human race, including the support by Kuwait to establish such modern center that support all kinds of cultural activities.

Regarding the role played by Heritage Preservation Fund in areas of conflicts, Sheikha Hussah added Kuwait’s huge support comes to preserve heritage in all critical areas and until normal life return back in various countries.  The fund’s council members include Kuwait, UAE, France, Saudi Arabia, Switzerland, Germany, US, and the UK. The fund is a non-profit fund registered in Geneva.

Important step
British Crown Prince Charles of Wales said that he was happy with opening of new building of OCIS, terming the move as “important and pivotal” in the Center’s history.  Prince Charles thanked a number of Arab and Muslim leaders for their generous funding of the establishment of the new building.  The new building, he added, would enable OCIS carry out its noble objective by teaching Islamic studies thus building bridges of understanding between cultures and civilizations.  Prince Charles called for boosting academic, social and humanitarian efforts to promote dialogue and understanding among cultures, as well as rejection of extremism.  He called for supporting all initiatives aimed at encouraging constructive communications and dialogue among civilizations.

Prince Charles said OCIS was an appropriate venue to lead this dialogue at a time social media were promoting fear among faiths. He said civilizations and cultures were complementing each other.  Prince Turki hoped the center would be a beacon to teach students the Islamic culture.  He thanked all professors and officials in Oxford University who contributed to the establishment of OCIS, as well as the leaders of Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Oman, Malaysia and Brunei for funding the new building.  Prince Turki also commended Prince Charles for his support of OCIS’s activities.  Dr Farhan Nedhami, OCIS Director, said the center would be a landmark for studies of Islamic and Muslim world from an academic view.  He said the OCIS witnessed great evolvement since its establishment in 1985 thanked to the funding of Arab and Islamic countries.

Nedhami said OCIS succeeded in expanding contacts with Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas. He said Queen Elizabeth II bestowed OCIS with Royal charter to be the first British academic institute focusing on Islamic studies. He added that OCIS would certainly build cultural bridges and be a center of dialogue and understanding among civilizations. – KUNA

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