Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor, Chairman of Al Habtoor Group, recently hosted President and Mrs. Carter while they were on a whirlwind visit to Dubai in January. Joanna Andrews witnessed the meeting...
The former US President and his wife were in the region in January 2014, with a delegation from the Carter Center as part of their efforts to help drive peace in the Middle East. President and Mrs. Carter arrived in Dubai for a 24-hour visit on invitation of Mr. Al Habtoor. President and Mrs. Carter stayed at the Waldorf Astoria Dubai Palm Jumeirah, the latest addition to the Al Habtoor Group’s growing portfolio. They were among the first high-profile guests at the luxury five-star hotel - which recently opened its doors to the public.
President and Mrs. Carter held a closed-door meeting with Khalaf Al Habtoor at his office on Al Wasl Road. The meeting was followed by talks with Carter Center staff, which included John B Hardman (MP) - President and CEO, Hrair Balian - Director, Conflict Resolution Program, Curtis Kohlhaas - Chief Development Officer and Beth Davis Scheduler, from the Carter Center. Present from the Al Habtoor Group were Sultan Al Habtoor, President, Al Habtoor Motors, Mohammed Al Habtoor, Vice Chairman and CEO, Al Habtoor Group, Ahmad Al Habtoor, CEO, Al Habtoor Motors, and Paul Rayner - Advisor to the Chairman of the Group. The high-profile guests discussed the ongoing cooperation between the Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor Foundation and The Carter Center. They thanked Al Habtoor for his valued contribution towards efforts to finding a peaceful resolution of differences between the Palestinians and Israelis. They also discussed regional issues including Lebanon and Syria as well as global issues and the US policy towards the Middle East.
Al Habtoor said, “It was lovely to see President Carter in Dubai again. The former President and his wife were impressed with how much the city of Dubai has grown since their last visit. I am proud to show off the achievements of our country. We have come so far in such a short period of time.”
President Carter congratulated Mr. Al Habtoor on his best-selling autobiography, which was released in 2012, in which President Carter wrote the Foreword. He praised Mr. Al Habtoor on the autobiography becoming research material for educational purposes. The Preface and first two chapters of ‘Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor - the Autobiography’ are to be used as part of the syllabus at Zayed University in Dubai.
President Carter, who was the 39th President of the United States of America, also congratulated Mr. Al Habtoor on Dubai’s recent success to host the Expo 2020 - beating off the likes of Russia, Turkey and Brazil. The President said, “I hope I get the chance to visit Dubai then. I will be 96 in 2020.”
Al Habtoor is a big supporter of the US-based Carter Center, which is led by President Jimmy Carter. The Center seeks to prevent and resolve conflicts, enhance freedom and democracy and alleviate human suffering. Al Habtoor is one of the Center’s ‘Donors with Cumulative Lifetime Giving of $1 million and above.’ His donations help to support The Carter Center efforts to promote the peace process in Palestine.
The President reiterated thanks for Mr. Al Habtoor’s ongoing cooperation between the ‘Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor Foundation’ and The Carter Center and thanked him for his hospitality. He told Mr. Al Habtoor that he wanted to hear his opinion on pushing through the Middle East Peace Process and said, “Depending on your direction we will shape The Carter Center’s policies for the future.”Al Habtoor added, “I am always ready to support such important causes. We will not relent and ensure there is adequate funding to find a lasting solution. I urge everyone to donate whatever they can to help mankind. The Carter Center does a tremendous job around the world. I am proud to support this worthy cause.”
Al Habtoor stressed the need for a two-state solution and for unity among all the Palestinian parties. He added, “I suggest The Carter Center put more pressure on the Israelis because they are the stronger side. The Palestinian cause is very important to us.”