UAE Businessman and Philanthropist Dr Khalaf Al Habtoor announced 'Pathways to Peace' with distinguished guests former US Jimmy President Carter and the Honorable Paul Findley at Illinois College in October. The initiative is Al Habtoor’s idea for a realistic solution to the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian crisis. Joanna Andrews was at the historic event.
Khalaf Al Habtoor launched ‘Pathways to Peace’, an ambitious new initiative aimed at bringing fresh ideas to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict resolution, at Illinois College with his friends, former US President Jimmy Carter and former Congressman Paul Findley on hand to share in the momentous occasion.
Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor is a proud Arab who respects the culture and tradition of his region, while embracing Western practices. He is vocal and stoic with his beliefs, and he abhors injustice. Furthermore, he knows what it feels like to be lacking some of the most basic human rights. He came from humble beginnings. Today, he sits on an empire worth billions. His rags to riches story perhaps has shaped him into the man he is - a philanthropist and humanitarian caring for all humankind, and his success in business has put in a position to be able to help causes close to his heart.
Al Habtoor has long voiced his support for an Israeli-Palestinian conflict resolution, and he has been vocal about his disappointment of the lack of concrete action by world leaders. This is why he has taken the bull by the horns to play an active role in helping to find a lasting solution to the crisis. He has put a lot of time and energy into finding practical and realistic ways to help secure lasting peace between Israel and Palestine. He proposed his idea to the faculty at Illinois College in the US, and the Honorable Paul Findley, and he invited Jimmy Carter, the 39th President of the United States to attend. Carter and Al Habtoor had met twice previously in Dubai over their joint passion for a resolution to the Middle East conflict.
‘Pathways to Peace’ is centred around a semester-long seminar in which some of Illinois College’s most impressive students and faculty will dedicate themselves to better understanding historical examples of cultural, religious and ethnic conflicts, and the steps taken to resolve those problems. Participants will draw on their learnings to propose new innovative approaches to addressing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and will have the opportunity to travel to the Middle East at the conclusion of the seminar to meet with peers in the region and share their ideas.
“My generation has failed to come up with durable solutions to this conflict and yet I remain optimistic that peace is achievable in my lifetime,” said Al Habtoor. “I have every belief that with fresh thinking and energy of the talented faculty and students at Illinois College, new approaches will be pioneered that will one day lead to a lasting peace.”
In addition to course readings and guided study with Illinois College faculty, the 12 students participating in the seminar will have the benefit of workshops and guest lectures. Meeting weekly in the Al Habtoor Leadership Library, students will study a wide range of conflicts and get to engage with foreign policy practitioners who will lead a discussion of obstacles to the peace process in the United States.
The goal is to provide students and faculty with examples of methods used to resolve examples of ethnic, cultural and religious conflicts, which the seminar participants can apply to the Israeli-Palestinian conflicts as potential ‘Pathways to Peace’. Students and faculty will present the ideas they develop to Al Habtoor in Dubai with the collaboration of The Carter Center.
“Young people have this inspiring energy and unwaveringly optimistic world view that allows them to think creatively and overcome political hurdles politicians are sometimes unable to surmount. I want to unleash this power on the Middle East peace process and give the promising students here at Illinois College a chance to make a real contribution to the global dialogue,” said Al Habtoor, who both conceived of and funded the project.
“We are excited to launch this new program with generous support from Dr Al Habtoor. Our students aspire to be global citizens and are brimming with enthusiasm for the opportunity to make their voices heard,” remarked President of Illinois College, Dr Barbara A. Edwards Farley.