Can communications solve the clash of cultures?

This was a fascinating debate moderated by Mike Wooldridge, world affairs correspondent for BBC News.

It is impossible to capture the full flavour of the debate, but it certainly struck a chord with delegates eager to ask questions and make a contribution.

It was apparent that most thought that there was a role for PR people and professional communications. There was perhaps less consensus on what this role should be.

Abdel Bari Atwan, editor in chief of Al-Quda Al Arabi, made a passionate contribution that appealed to some and clearly aroused anger from others. His theme was that the media was responsible for much of the culture clash because it failed to report Christian extremism in the same way as it reported Muslim extremism.

UPDATE: Mohammed A. Tahlawi, senior member research and advisory group, Saudi Aramco Affairs made the important point that every PR person can play a role today. That is to remind clients and employers about the importance of understanding and being sensitive to different cultures.

Abdel Bari Atwan also emphasised the importance of blogs and how we all – PR professionals and journalists – need to start thinking about how we will cope with this change.