Next week, Senegal will host the 11th Summit of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), an event expected to attract several heads of state and thousands of guests. The theme of the meeting is “The Challenges of [the Muslim Community] in the 21st Century.” OIC members will also use the occasion to explore lowering trade barriers among member states and improving the sharing of scientific information. Other topics likely to be discussed are tensions in Iraq, the Middle East, and East Africa.
VOA correspondent Nico Colombant says there is an effort to hold a little side summit between the leaders of Sudan and Chad. “That border region has been very unstable, so any meeting between governments of those two countries could…help solve the problems in that region.”
OIC meetings are held every few years. According to correspondent Colombant, the date “has already been pushed back several times because the preparations were not ready. And it has been an opportunity for the government here because it received a lot of money to improve its infrastructure. But it’s also highlighted a lot of problems here because a lot of money seems to have been spent, but a lot of the construction is still taking place and a lot of the projects have not been finished.” He says Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Qatar dominate the Organization of the Islamic Conference and have spent a lot of money on preparations for the meeting.
Colombant says politics is not necessarily the issue before the summit: “It’s more about economic [cooperation], he said, “sharing oil wealth [among] Muslim-dominated countries, improving economic infrastructure, starting up new networks of business environments. They call it the Islamic “ummah,” or “the community of Islamic countries,” so this community can be strengthened and do business in a separate way – not necessarily the American, French or Chinese way…. This is the Islamic way, another way, and Africa basically takes all the help it can get. This is why Senegal is very happy to be hosting this conference. “
The last time the summit was held in Dakar was in 1992.