Thank you all for joining us tonight, and Ramadan Kareem. For those of you who are observing this holy month of Ramadan, all of us at the U.S. Consulate General in Dubai are delighted to break your fast with you tonight. Ramadan is a time for purification, faith and reflection, self-discipline, sacrifice, and charity. All of us who call the United Arab Emirates our home are proud to share in these traditions during this holy month.
We are pleased to host this gathering tonight to highlight the strength of the people-to-people ties that bind the United States with the United Arab Emirates and the broader Arab world.
From movies to sports, art to education, our cultural and educational ties are stronger than ever. In fact, this year is one of firsts and records. We have more Emirati students–close to 3000–studying in the United States than ever before. And, we are very pleased that three Emirati students will be studying in the United States this coming academic year through the prestigious Fulbright Program, our flagship international educational exchange program established in 1947.
In our interconnected world where we continue to face problems and crises of increasing size and complexity, mutual understanding and respect for diversity, as well as partnership, are key to a peaceful and prosperous coexistence. The United Arab Emirates, a model of coexistence and diversity, is our long-standing and steadfast partner on a vast range of issues, including countering extremism, terrorism, and proliferation. Together we also are building a more prosperous and stable world through innovation and knowledge-based economies. People-to-people connections are the core of any bilateral relationship and we are very grateful to all of you for your partnership and friendship.
I would like to extend a special welcome to our friends and colleagues from the local and regional Arab media who have joined us tonight. Thank you for all you do to shed light on the stories that have shaped the region. The region continues to be rocked by terrible crises and bloody conflicts, and it is the journalists who live and work here who are best positioned to tell those stories to the rest of the world. You tell the stories of those who have endured unimaginable suffering, and you hold those in positions of power accountable. You do so often at great risk, sometimes even paying the greatest price, as we saw recently with the tragic deaths of National Public Radio photographer David Gilkey and his colleague Zabihulla Tamanna in Afghanistan. During this holy month of Ramadan, we are honored to host you and celebrate the important contributions you make to the public discourse in the Arab world.
Today we also celebrate World Refugee Day. The global refugee crisis has reached epic proportions within the past several years, with daily stories of lives lost at sea and mass migrations of internally displaced people. Much of this has been precipitated by conflict in this region; in Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Yemen. But, there also are many refugees from Afghanistan, Central African Republic, Somalia, and Sudan. Today, according to the UN High Commission for Refugees, there are more refugees and internally displaced people in the world than the population of the United Kingdom. 65 million individuals, many of them children, are seeking safety, security, and a better economic future because of war, persecution, and poverty. Let’s remember them today and during this entire holy month of Ramadan, which calls upon us to show compassion, generosity, and charity.
Thank you all again for joining us tonight, and Ramadan Kareem.