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HomeThe 2nd Festival of the Civilizations and cultures of the World Deserts, Dubai – April 2005

In collaboration with the World Deserts Foundation and the United Nations Environment Program, the Zayed Prize organized the "Second Festival of the Civilizations and Cultures of World Deserts" during the period of 16 – 22nd April 2005. This was an outstanding event gathering Ministers, scientists, activists, artists, journalists and folklore performers from desert countries of all continents including the Eskimos from the cold deserts. Groups from the American Indians, Mongolia, Northern Europe, Australia, New Guinea and southern Africa were quite special to so many of the participants who never saw these indigenous people before. A very spacious and luxurious camp was erected for them in the Dubai Desert at Bab Al Shams Desert Resort where they set up their traditional tents and houses and organized a unique exhibition. A comprehensive UAE village was also set up showing all traditional life in Arabian Desert and serving traditional food for the guests free of charge.

The opening of this festival was a special event by itself showing the traditional desert life and how it has been transformed into modern society in the UAE while preserving the natural and cultural heritage. It was attended by two heads of states, the honorable Abdulaziz Boutafliqua of Algeria and the honorable Thabo Mbeki of South Africa, who delivered speeches on behalf of the Desert Nations. It was also attended by Dr. Ma'asouma - the Vice President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Hon. Lakhdar Brahimi – special adviser of the UN Secretary General and over 40 Ministers of Environment, Culture and Tourism, in addition to the UAE dignitaries and diplomats.

The festival was actually organized for the following objectives:1. To draw attention of the desert peoples and governments to the model of fast and steady socio-economic development in desert regions, being presented by Dubai;2. To promote Cultural and scientific exchange between the people and governments of the world deserts;3. To promote tourism and trade between countries of the world deserts;4. To assess sustainable development strategies in desert regions and to identify constraints encountering their implementation;5. To develop a set of recommendations for collaboration between the governments, intergovernmental organizations, non-governmental organizations and the UN agencies, in environmental, socio-cultural and economic aspects of sustainable development in desert regions;6. To develop joint programs of capacity building and raising awareness for sustainable use of natural resources in desert regions.

The festival was very rich in activities, around the clock, which were organized in collaboration with the World Deserts Foundation, including:

A Ministerial Conference for Ministers of Environment, Culture and Tourism on "Integrating Efforts towards Sustainable Development in Desert Regions", Jumeirah Beach Hotel - 16th April, 2005. This was attended by 40 ministers from different Desert countries.

Theme of the Conference Integration of Government Sectors and Civil Society efforts towards sustainable development of Desert Regions.

They addressed four main issues:

  • Global, regional and national strategies, policies and prospects of development and desertification control in desert regions.
  • Legislative and institutional aspects of integrating efforts in the fields of Culture, Tourism and Environment towards sustainable development in desert regions.
  • The program of the "Year of Deserts and Desertification Control" in 2006 and the commitment of countries
  • The "Dubai Charter for Sustainable Development in Desert Regions".

The main outcome of this ministerial conference was "the World Deserts Charter" which was printed in Arabic and English and submitted to the United Nations Environment Program and the Secretariat of the United Nations Convention on Combating Desertification for adoption and distribution.


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