||Posted: June 11 2004,04:59
A Prince's Vision: A Message of Peace, Love and Friendship to the World
By HRH Prince Tala M. A. Al-Faisal Al-Saud
Every four years, the world celebrates its humanity through The Olympic Games. This summer, the eyes and ears of the world will focus on Athens, Greece, as Athenians welcome these nations united at the 2004 Summer Olympic Games.
For two weeks, nations from every corner of the world take pride in the strengths and abilities of their athletes who are experiencing the diverse cultures of the host city and its multinational guests. The ideal embodied in the Olympic flame, the lauding of extraordinary achievements in sport, combine to unite the world in hope for a peaceful tomorrow. Undeniably, the message of the Olympic Games is universal.
It is with this spirit of "Peace, Love and Friendship" that the Road to Athens has been created. Amidst the backdrop of tumultuous world events, in the Middle East and in Saudi Arabia, the worldwide view of the Arab world has suffered and opened a chasm between truth and distortion. These worldwide opinions are misshaped by a prism that projects the behavioral aberrations of a select few, and casts them as the defining characteristic of our people. In a world where cultures struggle to find understanding and co-existence, the message of "Peace, Love and Friendship" is a constructive and universal theme that the entire world can appreciate now and in the future.
Born spontaneously by Saudi youth, such ideas and projects should be enhanced and encouraged for the greater good of humanity. The competition will embark on reshaping these distorted views by presenting the reality that defines Arabs on the world stage and in conjunction with The Olympic Games.
Twenty-one young Arab men representing seven different countries such as Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and Turkey will unite to compete in a vigorous and epic journey to pass on the philosophy of the Road To Athens to the world. The competition will challenge them physically, mentally and spiritually, as they traverse six countries and 57 cities, spanning over 3400 kilometers by foot, camel, horse and bicycle, during which they will gain a first-hand understanding of a variety of cultures.
The starting point of the race begins in Tabuk, in northern Saudi Arabia, on June 26 and continues through rugged landscapes and cities rich in the history and culture of Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Turkey, and finally Greece, where they will arrive at the threshold of the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens.
The winning team will have the world - Olympiads, foreign dignitaries and mass media alike - as their audience to speak a message of peace during the opening ceremonies. They will have the opportunity of a lifetime to represent all Arabs as peaceful, loving and friendly people. By virtue of competing in the Road To Athens, these young Arab and Islamic men will act as goodwill ambassadors for their individual countries.
Through the strength, agility and heart of these young men, will come the message that their desires, dreams and visions may not be so different than those of young men from the streets of New York or Paris or the villages in Italy and Indonesia.
Please join us in celebrating and following each team and each individual athlete, as they follow the Road To Athens. For just like the Olympic Games, this event belongs to the world.
For further information please see the website at www.road2athens.com or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 973.400.5213.