Her Majesty Queen Rania of Jordan travelled to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on Wednesday to speak at the Misk Global Forum (MGF) in the Saudi capital. Her Majesty was at the event alongside Saudi Arabian officials (including Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman bin Abdulaziz), established global innovators and young leaders under the 2017 theme, ‘Meeting the Challenge of Change.’
Queen Rania used technology as an example of a way to close the “hope gap” that is in the Arab region as well as the rest of the world. She specifically cited her recent trip to visit Muslim Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, who had fled their homes from across the border in Myanmar, explaining how people she spoke to were “hollow from shock” and added, “War has overwhelmed their lives, just as it has overwhelmed the lives of millions in the Arab region.”
She went on to speak about how those in such difficult circumstances, like the refugees in Bangladesh and other places around the world, have the “boundless ability to dream” but that this only lasts so long; after a while, their positive dreams of the future begin to diminish.
Her Majesty said, “Through their dreams, and armed only with their imaginations, they wage war on their reality. Their dreams are a bridge, allowing them to cross the hope gap, and transporting them to a place where they are valued, and their future is bright.
“As they grow older, their horizons narrow, closing up due to fear, obstacles, and helplessness. After all, a mind full of fear has no room for dreams.”
She later asked, “Is it not a paradox for people to starve in the age of abundance? For millions of children to be out of school in an era of free education? For us to become disconnected from our most critical humanitarian ideals in the age of connectivity? And for us to turn our backs on and even fight diversity instead of building tolerant and safe societies?”
Her Majesty also questioned how they would reap the benefits of the Fourth Industrial Revolution when they [the Arab world] has one of the highest unemployment rates in the world. She explained her belief that “we need to reevaluate our motives behind acquiring technology. Rather than a race to the top for the privileged few, our priority should be employing technology to empower entire societies.
“What we need is technology with a heart – one that beats for us. We need technology that is not measured in bits and bytes, but by its ability to close the gaps that stand between us and the self- realisation of our people – the security gap, the education gap, and the hope gap.”
She would go on to call for the “adoption of technologies that add value to our lives and keep hope alive in our Arab youth. Let us broaden their horizons, and provide them with opportunities to realise their potential and achieve their ambitions.”
Queen Rania cited the divisions along the lines of religion, ideology, group and sect and expressed the need to have value in the lives of others and the life of one’s self. She then added that if the world only looks to differences and recognises those first, the world will never be secure. To grow and learn, we must be willing to partake in essential dialogue and accept our differences, the Queen emphasised.
Other notable speakers at the MGF were Bill Gates, Jonas Kjellberg and Allen Blue.
According to the Office of Her Majesty, Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman bin Abdulaziz founded the Misk Global Forum in 2011 as a non-profit organisation to “cultivate learning and leadership in Saudi Arabian youth and empower them to become active participants in the knowledge economy.”