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Inter-religious dialogue on diversity, tolerance and social cohesion addresses the role of religious leaders, scholars and civil society organizations in the Arab region

02 November 2016

Amman, 2 November, 2016 – More than 100 participants from 25 countries convened in Amman over the past two days to discuss the instrumental role of religious leaders and religious institutions in enhancing diversity, tolerance and social cohesion to counter the roots of extremism. Entitled “Interreligious Dialogue on Diversity, Tolerance and Social Cohesion in the Arab Region” this gathering meets at a critical time when young people can be manipulated by extremist organizations.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and International Dialogue Centre (KAICIID) jointly organized this meeting.

Historically known for its rich social fabric and multi-faceted political and cultural dynamics, the region has been witnessing more recently an increased rise in extremist narratives and narrow interpretations of religious text to serve opportunistic political and destructive ends at the expense of tolerance, pluralism, social cohesion and inclusivity.  A concerted response to this rising trend at all levels is an urgent priority rooted in the concerns of the people of the region and available platforms for engagement.

 “Pluralism is a natural component of life and it adds beauty to the world; people need each other to survive, to learn and to be able to live. In order to benefit from diversity, it needs to be managed and maintained. Dialogue is an effective tool to do that; it prevents conflict and is an effective tool to enhance social cohesion through engaging followers of different cultures and religions in a process whereby they can reach an understanding through focusing on common values.” said H.E. Dr. Wael Arabiyat, Jordan’s Minister of Endowments

The gathering provided a forum for exploring new partnerships and mechanisms. It serves to build consensus on methods to reinforce the vital role of religious leaders, ministries of endowments and leading scholars from all segments of society across the Arab region to work together to achieve sustainable development as a common response that speaks to all people of different faiths or beliefs. This common effort to achieve equitable and lasting development will also address the rising trend of extremism.

“The Arab region has suffered much from imposed simplistic and one-sided narratives, that depict it as home to sectarian violence,” said Zena Ali Ahmad, Country Director of Jordan and Chief Country Support Division at UNDP’s Amman Regional Hub. “In recognition of the relevance of religious leaders and faith-based organizations to the achievement of the globally agreed Sustainable Development Goals, UNDP has been working closely with many partners through our 18 offices across the region. We strongly believe in the importance of reviving interfaith and intercultural dialogues at the regional level to leverage the impact of collective action for development, stability and peace.”

KAICIID Senior Advisor, Dr. Mohammed Abu-Nimer, said: “Together with our partners, KAICIID  works with local organizations and religious leaders in the Central African Republic, Nigeria, Myanmar, and the Middle East. We are also very proud to work closely with our UN partners such as UNDP, UNESCO and the UN Office for Genocide Prevention in our effort to support the UN in advancing progress in attaining the sustainable development goals. Religious leaders make a vital contribution in finding and implementing sustainable solutions for peace, thus we advocate an inclusive approach to ensure that we can focus all the talent available to address these challenges.”


For further information, please contact:

Farah Choucair

Social Cohesion Specialist and Project Coordinator, RBAS Regional Programme

United National Development Programme

Phone: +9613918672

Email: [email protected]

Photos from the event by UNDP can be viewed on UNDP's Flickr page here


Peter Kaiser

Director of Communication

International Dialogue Centre (KAICIID)

Phone: +43 1 31322

Email: [email protected]


About UNDP

UNDP partners with people at all levels of society to help build nations that can withstand crisis, and drive and sustain the kind of growth that improves the quality of life for everyone. On the ground in more than 170 countries and territories, we offer global perspective and local insight to help empower lives and build resilient nations.


The International Dialogue Centre (KAICIID) is an intergovernmental organization that promotes dialogue to build peace in conflict areas. It does this by enhancing understanding and cooperation between people of different cultures and followers of different religions. The Centre was founded by Austria, Saudi Arabia and Spain. The Holy See is the Founding Observer. Its Board of Directors comprises prominent representatives from five major world religions (Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism). The Board designs and supervises the Centre’s programs.