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Last Updated: Monday, 18 February 2008, 14:45 GMT
Cultural exchange in Omani desert

Picture: John C Smith

A team of young women from Europe and the Arab world has spent five days travelling through the desert in Oman, in a project aimed at encouraging cross-cultural dialogue.

Picture: John C Smith

The women represented 10 countries, including Saudi Arabia, Oman, Jordan, UK and Spain. The trip was aimed at promoting face to face dialogue via short wilderness journeys.

Picture: John C Smith

The few trees in Oman's desert provided valuable shade for organised group discussions. Participants debated the causes of extremist behaviour and cultural misunderstandings.

Picture: John C Smith

The group crossed the enormous dunes of Oman's Sharqiya Sands on foot and by camel. One woman, Fatima Abuidrees, said the trip helped her see the "equality in our humanity".

Picture: John C Smith

The women toast marshmallows around the fire. Temperatures at night fell to just above 0C.

Picture: John C Smith

Taking time to reflect, during a rare moment of privacy. Group members were encouraged to challenge any stereotypes they may have held about each others' cultures.

Picture: John C Smith

Back at base, the women share what they have learnt. The trip was organised by the educational charity, Connecting Cultures. www.connectingcultures.co.uk





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