By Sarah Mac Donald - 23 June, 2018
“Hers is a voice that we need to hear in an age when reasoned discussion is at a premium."
The most senior woman in politics in the Arab world will give an address in Christ Church Cathedral Waterford at noon today at an event which will also hear from former Irish president, Dr Mary McAleese.
Dr Amal Abdullah Al Qubaisi was the first woman to take a seat in the United Arab Emirates Parliament and the first female deputy speaker of the Federal National Council.
An architectural engineer by training, Dr Al Qubaisi is a long-time advocate of education and the empowerment of women, the parliamentary process and the conservation of cultural heritage.
The event at Waterford’s Church of Ireland Cathedral has been organised by Dean Maria Jansson, who said of Dr Al Qubaisi, “Hers is a voice that we need to hear in an age when reasoned discussion is at a premium and this is a rare occasion to hear an inspiring speaker of such standing in person, with something truly meaningful to say.”
Dr Mary McAleese, former President of Ireland, will respond to Dr Al Qubaisi’s address.
Music for the gathering, which begins at 12 noon, will be provided by the National Youth Orchestra of Ireland, which performed in the United Arab Emirates on St Patrick’s Day 2011 with young Emirati musicians at a multicultural concert.
Dr Al Qubaisi was conferred with an honorary Doctorate of Philosophy at DCU on Thursday.
In a tribute, DCU’s chancellor, Martin McAleese, described her as “a figure of great historical significance”.
He welcomed Dr Al Qubaisi as “a woman of faith” who knew “how important it is that inter-religious dialogue opens us up to one another so that mutual understanding and respect can flourish”.
Last year, Dean Jansson and Dr Mary McAleese relaunched Waterford Cathedral’s ‘Joy Bells’, after 18 months of repairs, in an ecumenical, anti-sectarian “show of solidarity with all desperately seeking welcome and new lives among us.”
At the time, the Dean told NCR that the bells initiative was aimed at protesting “against racism and xenophobia in all its forms. It seeks to add a different voice to the public realm, one where communities are committed to respect, the dignity of all persons under God and to welcome.”
Dean Jansson added, “Scapegoating is very dangerous but politically expedient. Pinning economic woes and cultural disaffection on Muslims, immigrants and refugees serves to detract from complex issues of corporate greed, political atrophy and social disintegration.”