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Press Release On 'The Second Festival Of The Cultures And Civilizations Of World Deserts', Cairo

Monday 24th of January 2005

His Excellency/ Mr. Hamad Abdulrahman Al Midfaa,
UAE Minister of Health, Representative of H.H. the Patron
His Excellency/ Mr. Sherif Rahmani,
President of the World Deserts Foundation
His Excellency/ Dr. Klaus Topfer,
Executive Director, United Nations Environment Program
Excellencies the Ministers and Diplomats
Ladies and Gentlemen

It gives me great pleasure to welcome you and to thank you for being with us today. Thanks to those who kindly organized this meeting.

The "Second Festival of the Cultures and Civilizations of the World Deserts" will be held in Dubai, United Arab Emirates next April Under the Patronage of His Highness General Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai - U.A.E Minister of Defence – Founder and Patron of the Zayed International Prize for the Environment. The Festival is an initiative of the World Deserts Foundation which will spearhead the organization in collaboration with the Dubai Tourism Department and the Dubai Police. Many other National, regional and international organizations will be collaborating or participating in the organization of this festival.

Founded in 1999 by H.H. General Sheikh Mohamed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown prince of Dubai – UAE Defence Minister, the Zayed International Prize for the Environment is now in its third cycle. Zayed Prize is a foundation, which spares no effort to promote sustainable development through various environmental initiatives and activities, especially in Arid Regions. Hence, it is just natural that the Zayed Prize is the main umbrella for organizing the "Second Festival of Cultures and Civilizations of World Deserts" in Dubai.

I would like to assure you that this grand festival will become a land mark on the map of festivals and development oriented events worldwide. Six heads of states have confirmed their participation in the Opening Ceremony, including the Patron of the World Deserts Foundation, the Honorary Mr. Abdulaziz Butafliqa, Algerian President, together with the Presidents of South Africa and Nigeria their Majesty the Kings of Jordan and Bahrain, His Highness the Amir of Qatar and His Royal Highness Prince Sultan Bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud, Second Deputy Prime Minister – Minister of Defence and Aviation, Saudi Arabia. The United Nations Secretary General, Mr. Kofi Annan and Mr. Koshiro Matsura, Director General of UNESCO have been invited. This is in addition to Dr. Klaus Topfer, Executive Director of UNEP and over 70 ministers of Environment, Culture and Tourism.

A Ministerial Conference on "Sustainable Development in Desert Regions" will be held on April 16th, 2005, in collaboration with the United Nations Environment Program and the UNCCD Secretariat. The Ministerial conference will be held under the Theme of: "Integration of Government Sectors and Civil Society efforts towards sustainable development of Desert Regions". The most important outcome of the festival, which is "The Dubai Charter for Sustainable Development in Desert Regions", will be addressed by the Ministers in this conference;The Charter has been drafted by several organizations and will, after its approval, be signed by countries and presented to the United Nations and other International and Regional Organizations for adoption and integration into conventions and agreements to implement sustainable development in desert regions.

The Scientific Program of the festival is not limited to this Ministerial Conference but it also includes: A Regional Roundtable on Harnessing Science, Technology and Innovation for Sustainability" to be held in collaboration with the Third World Academy of Science of the UNESCO (TWAS).

A Media Conference on Promoting Sustainable Development in Desert Regions; to be organized in collaboration with the Ministry of Information and the Jordan Environment Society.

A Program of Public lectures and seminars covering:

Desert environment and water resources
Desert cultures and traditions
Desert Architecture
Desert Arts and Poetry

This is in addition to the very rich and exciting cultural program.

A magnificent "Desert Village" will be set up for the activities and exhibitions that will continue for 5 days. Groups of known excellence in the areas of desert arts, folklore, traditions, heritage and Desert sports have been invited through the embassies from different countries of the desert regions of the world in the UAE to participate in this grand event.

In addition to the Dubai Charter, the objectives of the Festival include the following:

1. To draw the attention of the desert people 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.

You can visit the web sites of the Zayed Prize or World Deserts Foundation for Further Information or contact:

Zayed International Prize for the Environment
P.O. Box 28399 Dubai, UAE
Tel.: +971 4 3326666 Fax: +971 4 3326777
E-mail: zayedprz@eim.ae
Web Site: www.zayedprize.org.ae / www.desertsdumonde.org/

Before closing, I would like to extend our gratitude to the President of the World Deserts Foundation, His Excellency/ Mr. Sherif Rahmani for his active role in initiating and promoting this event. The government of Algeria has been very helpful and generous in supporting this endeavor to make this event a success.

Thanks to His Excellency/ Dr. Klaus Topfer, the Executive Director of United Nations Environment program for his continuous support to all Zayed Prize activities.
Thanks to the United Arab Emirates Ambassador and the diplomatic mission in Nairobi for all the facilitation. Thank you all and we look forward to welcoming you to the Festival.

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