Canadian Delegation to Saudi Arabia for interfaith and cultural exchange!
JEDDAH – David Ryan, Mayor of Pickering, Canada, and Alvin Curling, former speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, Canada, visited Jeddah recently as part of a trip to Saudi Arabia organized by the Canadian Dawah Association in Toronto.
“Basically the visit is one of cultural exchange with the hope of boosting the friendly relationship between our countries. We have been blessed with the fact that we have a Dawah association which invited us, and we have had a chance to see some parts of Saudi Arabia,” said Curling. “Though the visit is short, we have learnt much about the culture, the people and the food of the Kingdom,” he explained.
The Canadians visited Riyadh before coming to Jeddah and toured historical sites and museums to learn about the Saudi culture and people. “It was very hot, but the visit was really quite incredible. We have been given a very good introduction to Arab culture and the history of Saudi Arabia, but there really has not been enough time and we would like to come back again to learn much more about the Kingdom and its people,” he added.
Both men were inspired by the cultural history of Saudi Arabia. They visited different museums and the Nasseef house in Old Jeddah to learn more about Saudi and Islamic cultural values, traditions and civilization. They also visited Madain Saleh, the World Heritage Site, north of Madina.
“Of course, I knew about Saudi Arabia from geography books and I had also heard about it from people who have been here. But it is wonderful to be here for the first time and experience it for ourselves,” said Ryan.
“I express my appreciation to the Canadian Dawah Association for the work they are doing back in Canada and for giving us the opportunity to experience Saudi Arabia,” he said.
Ryan is looking forward to their visit furthering the ongoing exchange between Saudi Arabia and Canada “especially in the Pickering and Toronto area, as I think there is a lot of opportunity for both Canada and Saudi Arabia to work together,” he said. “I intend to write a letter to the Canadian government asking them to support a cultural exchange program,” he added.
Canada is a multicultural society with people of different religions and cultures living together, Ryan explained. “As a result it is important to have an appreciation of other people and their cultures, which is why we are so pleased to have had this opportunity to visit the Kingdom,” he said. “There is always more to learn and when you visit a place and experience things first hand you naturally want to learn more. Saudi Arabia can do a lot to increase the understanding between Muslims and non-Muslims,” he added.
Regarding interfaith dialogues, Ryan said that in Canada the community works together so that they can understand each other. “We have a common belief in God and based on that we are all working together,” he said. – SG