Saudi Ambassador to the US Prince Turki Al-Faisal delivered the keynote address titled “My Observations as an Arab in America” at the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) banquet in Washington last night. The banquet was part of the ADC’s 26th Annual Convention, which took place from June 15-18.
In his address, Prince Turki noted that during his travels throughout America, he has found the country to be a true melting pot and an open system in which everyone can thrive and excel.
“The only limits I have seen are those of one’s imagination. It is a nation of great innovation and productivity, grounded in faith and fairness and justice,” he said. “While it may stray from its principles from time to time, it always returns to its proper balance.”
And while Arab Americans have an important place in American society – including significant contributions to the automotive industry and medical research – they are holding back, Prince Turki noted.
He outlined two objectives that Arab Americans must achieve. First, Arabs need to become more involved in the American political process, he said. While there has been progress and there are more Arab American officials than ever before, Arab Americans are still underrepresented relative to their numbers, economic status and achievements. Second, Arab American groups in the US must cooperate more and coordinate their resources and capabilities in order to better serve the community.
Building bridges between America and the Arab world is also important, Prince Turki remarked.
“It has also become apparent that as Americans and Arabs interact more and learn more about one another, we are realizing that we have more in common with each other,” he said. “ Despite the cultural differences, we all share a basic belief in faith and family, and a desire for peace and opportunity. Though common, these principles underscore a great deal about how we can connect on many issues.”
To that end, Prince Turki said he has undertaken a listening tour of America to talk to Americans and listen to their questions and concerns. This outreach is only part of a larger effort by Saudi Arabia to focus on people-to-people contact.
The Kingdom is also encouraging more American officials, business leaders and women to come to Saudi Arabia to exchange views and learn about Saudi culture. In addition, a government-sponsored scholarship program is sending more Saudi students to the US to form the next generation of friendship and bonds between the two countries.
“Speak with your friends and family. Get involved in the political process. Build on the strong foundation that exists and the momentum that is carrying forth,” he concluded. “And through this we will be able to build those bridges between America and the Arab world.”