GEMS World Academy – Dubai played host to its official Ambassador, Ban Ki-moon, the eighth Secretary-General of the United Nations, on 27 January as he took to the stage to open what was the IB school’s largest Model United Nations (MUN) Conference to date.
Speaking to a packed auditorium with more than 600 delegates from 50 schools across the UAE, the highly regarded statesman shared his message of global citizenship and a call to action, in line with the theme of this year’s Conference, ‘Envisioning innovative approaches to conflict mitigation’.
His Excellency Ban Ki-moon said: “War, the climate crisis, massive human rights violations by repressive regimes, a food crisis, fading trust in multilateralism, the rise of autocratic powers and social unrest all around the globe. There is an atmosphere of stress and fear.
“What we need is innovation for the social good. Young changemakers like you all around the globe are stepping up to the challenges humanity faces today. We need your passion, innovation and leadership.
“I ask all of you to act with passion and compassion, be innovative, creative, kind – to prevent conflict in your own families, within your circle of friends and communities and strive to find a job that gives you joy but also serves humanity – be a global citizen.”
Addressing the MUN delegates, Dr Saima Rana, CEO/Principal of GEMS World Academy – Dubai and Chief Education Officer at GEMS Education, said: “The world is in trouble. Conflicts are everywhere. Your work couldn’t be more important. And you’re going to have to be tough and you’re going to have to work incredibly hard if you’re going to stand any chance of succeeding.
“Innovation, making a difference, having a say – these things will be difficult. Most things that are worth anything usually are. Pace yourselves, toughen up and build those support networks that will sustain you through both the good and bad moments. You’re inspiring. I wish you all well.”
The annual three-day MUN Conference is an entirely student-led event – organised by and for student delegates of varying ages and backgrounds. Participating students are engaged in wide-ranging debates and discussions, which this year focused on how international and national bodies, states and organisations can cooperate efficiently to avoid the negative impacts of both natural and manmade conflicts.
Emphasis was placed on ideating new solutions to some of the most pressing problems in the current global political sphere, all aimed at simulating collaboration between the nations of the world and spurring meaningful action, dialogue and development.
The 2023 Conference was led by the current joint GWA MUN Secretary-Generals, Arnav Kedia and Sofia Faghihy, both Grade 11 students at GEMS World Academy – Dubai.
Looking back on his eight-year-long involvement in MUN, Kedia said: “Model United Nations has enabled me to gain a more perceptive understanding of our global political landscape, by exploring various pertinent issues that require effective international cooperation to resolve.
“Within my years immersed in this programme, I have been challenged to ideate innovative solutions to these pressing barriers and vocalise my insights through fruitful debate. It has been an enriching experience to serve as Secretary-General for GWA MUN and help unite like-minded students from across the UAE.”
Faghihy, who has been involved with her school’s MUN programme for the same duration as Kedia, said: “Throughout my years of MUN experience, I have been able to broaden my horizons of knowledge on various intrinsic global themes that pertain to the most pressing challenges faced by contemporary politicians. The abilities I have developed have been nothing short of life-changing, and they have enabled me to build a strong understanding of the world around me.”