RIYADH (Rahnuma): The Saudi Arabian Scandinavian Association on Monday hosted an evening of cross-cultural dialogue titled “Why the caged bird sings; a story of self, a story of all.”
Keynote speaker Heyla Selim, a professor of social and cultural psychology at King Saud University, highlighted the importance of diversity and inclusiveness in society, and explored the use of social media in the formation of identity and integration. Using her own experiences as an example, she told how studying abroad and subsequently traveling the world helped her to realize the value of cultural diversity.
“We look different, we eat different foods, we wear different clothes, we talk different languages, we practice different culture — and yet when it comes to basic values of life, how similar we are,” she told Arab News on the sidelines of the event. “We are living in a global village and should learn to respect shared values and ideas, because with diversity comes richness and inclusiveness.”
Referring to the ongoing Vision 2030 reforms in Saudi Arabia, she said the Kingdom is undergoing a process of transformation in a variety of fields, which presents an opportunity to interact with people from a diverse range of cultures. She also raised the question of identity and the difficulty in defining people in a changing world, and discussed the influence of modern technology, in the form of social media, with a focus on the changes in the Kingdom.
The event was opened by Marie Louise Sodemann, chairwoman of the executive committee at SASA, a nonprofit and nonpolitical organization for Saudis and Scandinavians. She said that its mission is to create opportunities for the exchange of values and ideas, to help build cross-cultural bridges of friendship between individuals and groups.
Ibrahim Azizi, a member of SASA’s executive committee, said: “We have gathered to learn more about each other, about the two worlds we live in, the ways we think, and because we believe in the power of dialogue. It is an opportunity to come together and learn from each other by sharing experiences.”