Dubai is once again set to be the focus of positive change and progress in the region as the Non-Violence Project (NVP), a global initiative that works to counter the use of violence as a method of conflict resolution, prepares to open its first office for the MENA region in the Emirate.
In an evening entitled ‘Tomorrow' s Leaders: Warriors or Peace Negotiators?’ The Capital Club, Dubai’s premier private business club and member of the ENSHAA group of companies, welcomed NVP for a discussion that saw internationally acclaimed TV presenter and author, Riz Khan talk to Jan Hellman, one of the founders of the Non-Violence Project, about what is that NVP does, where they came from, and what their plans are for the UAE and the MENA region at large.
Speaking about their expansion into Dubai, Hellman commented:
“From Dubai we would like to spread out to the rest of the region. There are a lot of ideas to be changed – fortunately there are also a lot of different ways to help the younger generation understand that there are alternatives to violence.”
He went on to remark that it would be wonderful to see Dubai take the lead and become a guiding example of non-violent conflict resolution in the region and the world.
Expressing his support for the Non-Violence Project, Riz Khan said:
“When I first came into contact with NVP, I was immediately fascinated, especially since from a media perspective organisations like the Non-Violence Project often slip under the radar. The industry is simply too focused on reporting ‘bad news’ and the idea of spreading the message of non-violence seems at first glance an intangible ideal. After spending some time with NVP it became clear, however, that the work that they are doing operates on many levels and that it has real potential to make a perceptible difference in peoples lives. Dubai has always been very good at setting the example for other to follow and I look forward to the Emirate taking up the non-violence torch and leading the way to lasting peace in the Gulf and the Middle East."
Emma Cullen, Capital Club General Manager commented:
“With so much focus on the negative in the media today, it is wonderful to be able to contribute to an initiative that is working to encourage positive tangible change. The saying ‘children are the future’ is often bandied about without much thought; yet it remains true. If we want to create a world of peace, where people are valued and mutual respect reigns, we need to instil these values into children’s lives from the earliest instance. The Capital Club is therefore extremely pleased to be able to welcome NVP, and hope that the people of Dubai will join in supporting their work in the region."
With its symbol ‘Non-Violence’, the sculpture also known as ‘the knotted gun’ which was created by the artist Carl Fredrik Reuterswärd to commemorate the death of John Lennon, the Non-Violence Project’s programmes run on three main levels – training teachers, training sports coaches, and most recently training university level students, who in turn then apply that training to run localised programmes among the youth. Through the implementation of their various non-violence focused programmes, they aim create a paradigm shift about violence amongst the younger generation. NVP has over the past twenty years successfully educated and trained more than five million students, teachers, and sports coaches in 20 countries across the globe to embrace non-violent solutions to today’s challenges.
When asked what NVP’s focus will be in the UAE and the region, Hellman pointed out that today’s youth are confronted with violence on a daily basis from and early age, which can skew their perception of the acceptability of violence as a method to solve their problems. NVP’s aim is to cause a shift in mindset and encourage children and young adults to find positive ways to deal with their peers and the community at large. He also remarked that multiculturalism, with the conflict and tension that often accompanies interaction between individuals and groups of different cultures, would be one of the topics their programmes will be addressing. Another vital focus point would be bullying, which is one of the biggest issues NVP works with and a problem faced by young people all over the world.
Speaking about NVP’s success in addressing these issues across the globe, Hellman commented, “A year ago NVP’s bullying programme became mandatory in every middle school in Mexico. We have trained about 25,000 teachers who before the end of 2014 will in turn have trained in the region of 1,000,000 young people in schools all over Mexico on how to effectively resolve conflict in a non-violent way, specifically focussing on bullying and multicultural differences.”
Addressing the issue of how NVP would be adapting their programmes to best fit the UAE, the Gulf, and the greater MENA region, Hellman stated, “The message of non-violence is universal. NVP’s programmes have run in areas across the world ranging from Scandinavia to Brazil and, even though the on the surface it would appear that these regions are very different, the same core programmes work across the board. There are of course small adaptations that have to be made to better communicate with the youth of each area a programme is run, which is where the input of local schools become vitally important. NVP works closely with the school and sporting communities and when starting in a new area schools are always involved in piloting and testing the NVP programmes.”
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The Capital Club is owned by Capital Club Limited, a single-purpose company registered under the DIFC. The major shareholder of the company is Signature Clubs International, which is responsible for the development and operation of the Club. Capital Club Limited is owned by the Dubai-based investment and development firm ENSHAA, and managed by Signature Clubs International, founded in 2005 by Vice Chairman Guy Guillemard and Russell Matcham. The current CEO of Signature Clubs International is Sandra Tikal and the group has sister properties in Bahrain Financial Harbour’s East Tower and a soon-to-open Capital Club (East Africa) located in Westlands, Nairobi.