DOHA, Qatar - Leaders from religious groups, academic institutions, governments and nongovernmental organizations from 50 countries attended the 11th Doha Interfaith Conference on 25-26 March in Doha, Qatar. The event was sponsored by the Doha International Center for Interfaith Dialogue (DICID).

Chaplain (Col.) Jonathan C. Gibbs III, USARCENT Command Chaplain, attended the conference, which had the theme "The Role of Youth in Enhancing the Value of Dialogue." Conference participants discussed initiatives involving youth in four working groups: religious perspectives on youth; opportunities and challenges facing youth today; interfaith dialogue for youth; and youth contributions to interfaith dialogue.

"This is the second year that I have attended the Doha Conference," said Chaplain Gibbs. "As a result of the good working relationship that we have developed with DICID, this year I was invited to serve as moderator for the day 1 working group on religious perspectives on youth. This was a wonderful opportunity to engage in discussion and dialogue with other religious leaders and members of academia from many countries."

DICID has been a leading international organization in the region, promoting interfaith dialogue as a means to counter the rise of violent sectarianism in nations around the world. DICID's primary mission is to promote the culture of interfaith dialogue, the peaceful coexistence of humanity and the acceptance of others of different religious traditions. The Center sponsors interfaith workshops, seminars, youth programs, academic research and publishes a professional journal.

"Our Office first made contact with DICID in September 2012 as part of our religious leader engagement initiative to develop relationships with civilian religious, academic, and cultural affairs leaders in the USARCENT Area of Responsibility." Chaplain Gibbs continued. "Since then we have collaborated with them on several interfaith programs for our personnel stationed in Qatar."

His attendance at the conference as a guest of DICID resulted in contacts with numerous participants that will be followed up to explore further opportunities for constructive engagement with area civilian and military religious leaders.

Religious leader engagements promote mutual respect, contribute to the chaplain's core task of advising the commander on religious affairs issues, and support the USARCENT campaign plan by building relationships that help foster common capabilities with partner nations in the region.