Institute Presents Prestigious Scholar-Statesman Award To Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan
Event pays tribute to Institute Leaders Wendy and Jim Schreiber
(Washington, DC – November 18, 2021) At a gala event in New York City, The Washington Institute for Near East Policy presented its highest honor - the Scholar-Statesman Award - to Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, for his leadership in establishing a full peace between the United Arab Emirates and Israel and his commitment to religious tolerance.
Because urgent affairs of state prevented the crown prince from traveling to the United States for the event, Institute Executive Director Dr. Robert Satloff presented the medal to the Sheikh Mohammed in a special ceremony in Abu Dhabi in October.
Citing the crown prince’s decision to make peace with Israel through the Abraham Accords and to welcome a flourishing of religious diversity within the Emirates, Dr. Satloff said, “Our Scholar-Statesman Award recognizes leaders and public figures whose achievements are based on the ideals we value the highest: scholarship and statesmanship -- statesmanship being the ability to take your people, your country, your nation, your institution, places they have never gone; scholarship, a keen appreciation that to go where you want to go, you need to know where you have been, and a fierce understanding of the world around you. You, sir, have surely merited this award.”
During a rare interview with Dr. Satloff immediately following the award presentation, the crown prince discussed his motivations for making peace with Israel. “This is an important decision for many reasons,” Sheikh Mohammed said. “First, for the Palestinians themselves. Second, to send a clear message to the world and the region that we are striving for peace. Third, it is a mission that we have inherited from our founder, the late Sheikh Zayed, God rest his soul. He was a man of peace and compassion, since the days of the UAE’s inception. That is his vision, and we are committed to this path.”
Sheikh Mohammed said that his country understood the risks inherent in signing a breakthrough peace accord with Israel: “Every decision has risks, undoubtedly. We are also living in a complex region. But the rewards are an incentive, and the outcomes we will achieve together are far greater than the drawbacks. When we decided on this step, we were looking forward to a level of cooperation that goes beyond just peace itself. The UAE aspires to a greater peace, one that is for the benefit of all.”
Download a transcript of Sheikh Mohammed's remarks.
UAE Ambassador Youssef Al Otaiba, a key architect of the Abraham Accords,represented the crown prince at the New York gala and participated in a discussion of current Middle East affairs with Dr. Satloff.
Israeli President Isaac Herzog sent a congratulatory video to the event in which he lauded the crown prince saying, “The Abraham Accords and the steps taken by Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed to welcome members of all Abrahamic faiths to the UAE represent a historic turning point for our region, one which will lead to a brighter and more peaceful future, for all nations and peoples of the Middle East. It is a complete sea change, and I commend and congratulate all those who took part in bringing through the Abraham Accords.”
Download a transcript of President Herzog's remarks.
A special highlight of the event was the opportunity to pay tribute to Wendy and Jim Schreiber, the Institute’s chairman emeritus, for their decades of leadership, dedication, and commitment to the mission of the organization. Institute President Jay Bernstein praised the couple saying, “For 25 years, Jim has been a member of our Board of Directors, and then chairman of the Board of Trustees, a consistent source of insight and wisdom in everything we do. Together with Wendy, this is a couple who leads by example in everything they do – from their philanthropy at home, to their civic activism abroad, which most recently led them to help rescue hundreds of endangered Afghans from the Taliban.”
Now in its 15th year, the Scholar-Statesman Award has previously honored leaders in the United States and abroad, including King Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein of Jordan, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, U.S. President Bill Clinton, Prime Minister Tony Blair of Great Britain, and secretaries of state Condoleezza Rice, Henry Kissinger, and George Shultz.
Event co-chairs included Haim Saban, John Shapiro and Shonni Silverberg, Zach and Lori Schreiber, and James and Merryl Tisch.