Okaz/Saudi GazetteTHUWAL — The idea of “Messengers of Peace” project stemmed from the strategic vision of King Abdullah, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, aiming to instill the values of open dialogue and principle of coexistence among people, to serve humanity and to renounce hatred, according to Prince Faisal Bin Abdullah, Minister of Education and President of the Saudi Arabian Boy Scouts Association (SABSA).
The ‘Messengers of Peace’ project will be launched Wednesday at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) and the event will be graced by the presence a number of international figures. The project, which will be launched alongside the ongoing National Day Celebrations in Thuwal, will feature a scouts camp where thousands of scouts from all over the world will conduct volunteer activities in Makkah region and Jeddah’s historical area, said Prince Faisal in an exclusive interview with Okaz/Saudi Gazette while he was on his way to KAUST.Q: Your Highness, how did the idea of the ‘Messengers of Peace’ project come up and who came up with it?
A: Actually, the idea emanated from the message of King Abdullah, who represents a nation which Almighty Allah has honored with the trust for the world.
On this blessed land, during a scouts meeting with the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques following the 9/11 events, he told them, “This world is being destroyed and blasted. What we need is to explain and convey our message for building and dialogue which is the message of Islam.” King Abdullah repeated this in 2006 when he told scouts, “You are the messengers of peace.”
I was honored after taking over the responsibility for Saudi scouts, as Minister of Education, to carry the Kingdom’s gift, which was a contribution to support volunteerism under the name of King Abdullah to world scouts in Boston, USA, in 2009. This was my first mission outside the homeland and was called “Peace Gift” Program. Following positive results and effective role through this support, which was provided to us by over 40 representatives of world scouting, the World Scouting Organization proposed developing and supporting the program and King Abdul Aziz Center for National Dialogue played a big role in linking the concept of volunteerism with dialogue and extending a hand to others.
Q: How did the idea of “Peace Gift” develop?
A: As a supporter of volunteerism, “Peace Gift” was linked to the concept of dialogue and its message for getting to know others and understanding them. The result was finding solutions for man to help his fellow human being in “Messengers of Peace” as a program bearing a vision and name, which was honored by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques to Saudi scouts. In this regard, the Monarch issued an order to support it for the next ten years so as to reach over 30 million scouts worldwide.
Q: Who are the effective elements in the project?
A: Actually, the greatness and strength of the project lies in its foundation – the young men and women – who represent world scouts, as the program enables them to achieve their message in volunteerism in helping others with support from the ‘Messengers of Peace’ program so as to realize their humanitarian work. Here comes the role of the program, which will provide scouts with financial support to provide services to the society.
Q: Is the ‘Messengers of Peace’ Program time-bound?
A: Actually, the program will extend for ten years, as the Kingdom is committed to this in line with the orders of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and his support for this project to continue through building the bases so that it lasts long.
Q: What are the objectives of the project? Is ‘Messengers of Peace’ project complementary to the inter-faith dialogue initiative?
A: The main objective is to help others by giving for Allah’s sake. This is what our religion and the other religions as well have called for. Also, the goal is to instill the concepts of dialogue through integration with public service through dialogue of all kinds, training scouts, chief scouts and scouting personnel in different countries of the world during international, regional and local events.
Q: What is the strategic vision and the global message of the project?
A: The strategic vision of the project is to relate volunteer work with scout work to deliver the message of the program of the Messengers of Peace, which is to help others. The global message is for the human beings to help their fellow beings. As a human being who belongs to the land from which a peaceful message started, I hope the messengers of peace follow the same footsteps.
Q. Is there any coordination between you and the international scout organizations to enhance the program of the Messengers of Peace?
A: Yes, the program is run by the International Scout Organization, the International Scout Fund in conjunction with the Saudi Arabian Scout Association. We all work together to form global board of directors to run the international project through scout associations all over the world. In this way, the program will be enhanced around the world.
Q. Is the participation in the program of the Messengers of Peace restricted to the international scouts only?
A: No, it is a global program for all Gulf, Arab, Islamic and western countries.
Q. What are the activities of the project of the Messengers of Peace and when and where will they be launched? Are there any persons of repute who will participate in the ceremony?
A: The project will be launched this year since we are celebrating the National Day of the Kingdom. It will be organized every year in a certain region of the Kingdom and will focus on a historical area. This year Makkah region and Jeddah’s historical area were selected to celebrate the Kingdom’s National Day. The project will be launched Wednesday at King Abdullah University for Science and Technology (KAUST). So the official starting point is the KAUST, Thuwal. The ceremony will be graced by the presence of a number of important figures. Over two hundred internationally-known scout figures from 97 countries will be there in the ceremony.
Q. What are the global reactions and responses to the program of the ‘Messengers of Peace’?
A: As for the global reactions and responses to the program, I was satisfied by what a Swedish scout said in response to the program. He said that “The program gave us a cause.” He said this over the launch to which we were invited by the King of Sweden. The program reflects the message we want to deliver to the world through linking volunteer work with dialogue. A small amount of money can make honest volunteers do a lot to help the other. It is a global great message which reflects the visions of King Abdullah, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques.
Q. What are your plans for the program of the ‘Messengers of Peace’ after its launch? What are the future programs to enhance the role of Saudi scouts and the civil society?
A: The program is from human beings and also for human beings. The volunteer scout work is the main focus of our support because through such support a scout can reach to another human being and help him find a solution to his problems through the support provided by the program. Here lies the strength of the program. Millions of scouts can make plans to help millions of people. It is an interactive program. Each scout will have his own program to help others.
Locally speaking, Saudi female scouts and guides should register their names in the program and suggest initiatives that enhance development in their society. The role they play will give the civil society and Saudi businessmen an opportunity to contribute to serving their country through scouts.
Q. Is there a team to operate the program inside and outside the Kingdom?
A: Yes, here will be a global team of international and local scouts to run the program.
There will also be a temporary committee with members from the Kingdom and other countries and will be responsible for coordination work. We relied on the successful experience of “The Gift of Peace”. But as I said, we are focusing the most on volunteer work from the civil society.
Most importantly, each scout association all over the world will choose its own projects and the program of the Messengers of Peace will support it.
Q. Being the President of the Saudi Arabian Scout Association, what is the role of the Saudi scout in serving the society and the national programs and protecting the environment (serving pilgrims and Umrah performers)?
A: Let me state a fact for you. We are proud of the role of Saudi scouts and governmental and non-governmental authorities and their effective contribution to serving Haj and Umrah pilgrims and protecting and preserving the environment. We are also proud of the humane role scouts play by helping others and standing by the needy. Islam, has instilled these values in Saudi scouts.
Q. What is the extent of the role of scouts in schools and what is the role of the ministry in developing scout work in the future?
A: I am not satisfied with the ministry’s performance and do not see sincere, honest work measuring up to instilling these concepts and making the best use of all capabilities. We need to exert more efforts at all levels in the society.
Q. What is your future vision for Saudi scouts and do you have any thoughts about making the scout association an independent general organization?
A: I’m very hopeful and I believe in Allah’s destiny. Destiny played a major role in making me responsible for the human mission and volunteer work. Today, I’m a peace messenger and I feel proud and I take pride in the role played by Saudi scouts who adopted King Abdullah’s vision, which focuses on linking volunteer work with dialogue to promulgate the message of our peaceful religion. It is the message which all noble Saudis support and seek to promote internationally.
I hope to see the Saudi scout association as an independent organization. We’ve worked over the two years to complete the necessary procedures and requirements and we will put forth the matter to King Abdullah and wait for his approval to bring the organization to light.