Late last year, while visiting with leaders from Asia and the Middle East to talk about the role of "smart communities" -- communities aggressively deploying information technology to transform their region for a global, knowledge-based economy and society -- I sensed two things: First, an urgent and compelling call for world telecommunications reform. Second, a message that the world needs America's help preparing its cities and its people for a fundamental shift in the basic structure of the world's economy.

America has a unique opportunity to work with other communities across the globe to develop a strategy to renew their cities and consequently create the sense of world community our planet so desperately needs.

In Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, at the conclusion of an international meeting on future cities in November, these were some of the initial findings, recommendations and conclusions of the participants:

- Islam does not contradict or conflict with globalization but is consistent with its ideals, and the Islamic civilization has been a model for that. Globalization should not affect negatively the principles and values.

- Full participation of all members of society, including women and children, must be ensured in the process of planning for future development, aiming to develop common perceptions conforming to the community's aspirations and ambitions, its cultural tenets and its aspiration for economic prosperity and social welfare.

- Arab cities should utilize digital technology in the various walks of life in future cities and provide the infrastructure necessary to incorporate and utilize new technologies.

- Cities should prepare to adopt the concept of smart communities by expanding applications of e-government, distant learning, e-commerce, etc., in ways that do not contradict the humanitarian aspects of future cities.

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