A need for dialogue

American and Western European painters came to the Arab world in good respectable numbers in the 18th and 19th century.  They did not travel or fly by British Airways, Air France or Delta Airlines but by sea; an exhausting 6 to 8 weeks journey. There were no photographed records of the places they were about to visit.  It was, therefore, a complete visual mystery to them.  They had landed in a totally unknown land.

They came carrying their paints, canvases and brushes.  They were interested in painting what they were about to witness, but before they could do that they had to understand the customs, learn the tradition and be familiar with the ways to communicate and understand the people with the utmost respect keeping in mind they all did not know anything about the language of the region they were visiting to start with.  That was their understanding of what is “required” in order to succeed in their goal and objective.

These people can only be described as the “early pioneering globalist.” They simply provided the news reel of their time and the social media of that era.  Needless to say it was not the “easiest” of times between the occident and the orient as suspicions were very high between the East and the West due to very bloody histories of colonization that resulted in complete distrust.  It can be safely said that even back then the effectiveness of the East-West dialogue through has something symbolic as art and the orientalist movement provided much more influential mode of communication than it is today with a much more sophisticated manner and ways of technology and communication.  Today there is a more need for understanding of East and West than ever before.

The failure of many governmental institutions to bridge the “trust gap” between East and West means it is high time to give in to people in times through sports, art, music and media.  As someone familiar with this thorny subject says “bring reasonable men and women together that can put forward an alternative vision to radicalism and to politicians who are unable to make the right decision.”

While the world is definitely shrinking and is surely becoming a smaller place in terms of border erosions due to the vast amount of information we are bombarded with on an hourly basis and the ability to communicate very rapidly, the relationships are simple absent although today we have various ways to communicate such as telephone, Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, emails and internet it means we are communicating but we are not knowing each other.  Not knowing each other immediately creates misperception and causes bad decisions to be made.  If there is a relationship and we add the technological abilities to communicate effectively then the leverage and positive impact would be huge and massive.


Hussein Shobokshi

Source: Saudi Gazette