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Building Bridges Symposium 2018 Success

Following a day of engaging discussions, shared knowledge and high levels of community spirit, the Al-Maktoum College of Higher Education’s “Building Bridges Symposium” brought yet another year of success.

The Symposium took place on November 15 and ran in conjunction with Scottish Interfaith Week 2018.

In line with the College’s approach to diversity and multicultural ethos, the Symposium was a free event and open to all members of the community- religious or not. The day consisted of presentations, discussion panels and workshops, led by a number of prominent guest speakers.

“Lonely as a Cloud”- Tim Robertson

Tim Robertson, Chief Executive at The Anne Frank Trust UK, was the first speaker of the day and opened with a presentation entitled “Lonely as a Cloud: Anne Frank the Wordsworths and the cross-cultural power of the solitary imagination”.

Mr Robertson says, “I’m honoured and very excited to have been asked to give the opening talk… It’s been a privilege and pleasure to be part of today’s Building Bridges Interfaith Symposium on the theme of connecting generations, at the wonderful Al-Maktoum College”.  

Following a talk by the Executive Director of Children and Families Service for Dundee City Council, Paul Clancy adds

“[the Symposium] featured a range of speakers covering important issues of tolerance and supporting our society understand the evils of prejudice and bigotry”.

The Al-Maktoum College’s very own senior lecture in Islamic Studies, Dr Alhagi Drammeh, also offered his expertise on the day, in a presentation discussing the Qur’an and its contemporary relevance in societies.


Event attendees were encouraged to engage in positive interfaith dialogue and were given the opportunity to share their own thoughts throughout the day. Discussions between the interfaith panel especially, led by  Dr Dirk Hartwig, sparked audience discussions with a number of members presenting challenging yet important questions to the panel.

Interfaith Panel

The panel included (from left), distinguished researcher Dr Dirk Hartwig, Associate Professor in Islamic Studies at Al-Maktoum, Dr Alhagi Drammeh, College Council Member and Chair of Faith in Community Dundee Reverend Leslie Barrett,CEO at The Anne Frank Trust Tim Robertson, & Dean of Brechin Diocese The Very Reverend Dr Francis Bridger.

Following a enlightening morning, the Symposium afternoon sessions consisted of three workshops. The College was firstly joined by writer and Verdant Works tour guide, John Quinn, who spoke about Dundee’s jute industry: past, present and future. Audience members were given a small insight in to the museum, the history behind it, and were even given the opportunity to hold some of the historical objects from the works.

Murray Nicoll, from Tay Valley Family History Society, also joined the event to give an introduction to Genealogy and prepared audience members to be able to begin mapping their own family trees.

Bringing the event to a close, Ruth Barrett led the final workshop and discussed the importance of storytelling. Inviting audience members to the stage to read story passages from the Bible, the workshop focused on morals and the purpose of storytelling in religion.

Storytelling- Ruth Barrett (second from right)

Overall, the Symposium was hugely successful in bringing members of different faith groups and communities together- to share, learn and expand their knowledge. When asked what the best part of the event was, one attendee said, “meeting people- some new and some familiar but with similar interests regarding how people can learn to live in harmony and to ‘build bridges, not walls!”

The College is immensely grateful to all of its guest speakers and event attendees for their participation. The Al-Maktoum College is honoured and proud to be at the forefront of bringing communities together and building bridges of friendships.