Middle East Conferences 2008
Rabat, Morocco Conference:
Cairo, Egypt Conference:
Amman, Jordan Conference:
Conference Representatives Message _____________________________In spring 2007, AID and POMED brought together 152 young Americans and MENA citizens (ages 18-28) in Rabat, Cairo and Amman to discuss democratization in the Middle East and the U.S. role in that process. Click here for more information.
Young Global Leaders Forum:
Democratic Development in the Middle East and North Africa
In Spring 2008, the Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED) joined with Americans for Informed Democracy (AID) and five regional partners to convene conferences in Jordan, Egypt and Morocco. Bringing together 150 young Americans and Middle Easterners, the conferences provided a forum for participants to discuss America’s impact on political reform in the region. Participants investigated this issue through panels and discussions on the U.S.-Middle East relationship, consequences of American policies in the Middle East, and how the U.S. could better support democratization in the region. Participants also jointly developed, debated and ratified policy recommendations for the U.S. government, regional governments, media and civil society organizations.
An open forum for young Americans and Middle Easterners, the conference offered an excellent opportunity for youth to directly engage consider and debate U.S. democracy promotion strategy, and also, a medium for young Middle Easterners to express their hopes and ambitions for political reform in their countries. The conferences included thematic panel discussions featuring regional experts, small group discussions to formulate policy recommendations, and a general session to debate, ratify and vote on the recommendations.
- Zainab Al-Suwaij, Executive Director, American Islamic Congress
- Scott Goodstein, the director of New Media for the Barack Obama presidential campaign
- John Groarke, Deputy Mission Director of USAID in Egypt
- Lucas Welch, president and founder of Soliya
- Gérard Latulippe, Representative of the Maghreb for the National Democratic Institute (NDI)
- Mark Parkison, Team Leader for Democracy and Governance programs at USAID Morocco
- Mbarka Bouaida, the youngest female member of the Moroccan Parliament
- Dina Shehata, researcher at Al Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies and Special Adviser for the Muslim World Initiative at the United States Institute of Peace
- Ashraf Swelam, Executive Director of Egypt’s International Economic Forum (EIEF)
- Ahmed Samih, Director of Andalus Institute for Tolerance and Anti-Violence Studies
- Houda Filali-Ansary, political correspondent for La Vie Eco
- David Ranz, Press Attaché at the U.S. Embassy in Rabat
- Osama Alshurafa, Director of Qasid Institute for Classical and Modern Standard Arabic
- Esra’a Al-Shafei , Director of Mideast Youth
The three conferences had about 150 Middle Eastern and American students and young professionals, between the ages of 21 and 28. The participants of the conference came from a wide variety of backgrounds, including students from Ain Shams University in Egypt; University in Amman in Jordan; Al Azhar University in Egypt; Al Akhawayn University in Morocco; and the London School of Economics. American students from Ithaca College, Colby College, the University of South California, and Swarthmore College also took part in the conferences. The participants also included Fulbright Fellows, civil society activists, journalists, young professionals, a district attorney from the Egyptian Ministry of Justice, and emerging leaders in political parties.
The three conferences were intended to foster a dialogue between Americans and Middle Easterners about how the U.S. can better support political reform in the region. The conferences offered a range of expert keynote addresses, panels, debates, and small-group discussion among the young professionals/students and senior representatives of the public policy sphere. Perhaps most important for the young participants, was the opportunity to draft concluding policy recommendations: on key domestic and foreign policy objectives to promote sound U.S. policies and national policies to strengthen and enhance democratic institutions, rule of law, and individual freedom.
- Al Jazeera vs. YouTube: Changes in Mass Media
- Dialogue of Civilization: Communication Through Art
- Egypt’s Role in Arab World
- U.S. Foreign Aid to Egypt and Its Implications
- The Role of Civil Society in Morocco
- Opportunities for Youth in Political Parties
- Media: Pick your Medium
- Electronic Journalism
Selected Policy Recommendations
- “The U.S. government should increase funding to support Moroccan university students’ participation in civil society programs.” (Morocco)
- “Recommend that the U.S. apply pressure on the Egyptian government to cease censoring Egyptian domestic media, including the banning and blocking of internet sites and journalists’ access to information.” (Egypt)
- “Encourage U.S. foreign aid to Egyptian society to support the establishment of local nongovernmental organizations (working on election transparency, freedom of expression, political participation and, more generally, establishing NGOs for human rights).” (Egypt)
- “The U.S. Department of State should double funding for international exchange programs between Jordanians and Americans, earmarking funds specifically for middle school, high school, and university levels. These international educational exchanges should include summer internships, semesters abroad, academic fellowships, and other related programs.” (Jordan)
- “Congress should increase appropriated funds to the Department of Homeland Security/Citizenship and Immigration Services (DHS/CIS) for fiscal year 2009. Additionally, DHS/CIS should increase the number of special immigrant visas allocated to Iraqi refugees.” (Jordan)
- Institut National de la Jeunesse et la Démocratie (INJD)
- The American Studies Center at the American University in Cairo
- The Annual Conference for Engineering Students (ACES) at Ain Shams University.
- Leaders of Tomorrow (LoT)
- The Center for Strategic Studies (CSS)