MENA » Overview

Following the so-called "Arab Spring" in 2011, Salzburg Global Seminar developed a series of meetings and program activities focused on Reform and Transformation in the Middle East and North Africa. The series provided a forum in which to explore systematically the key elements needed for building more open democratic societies in the region, notably by examining models that have been tried in other regions and countries where major political and social transformations have occurred within the last few decades, including central and eastern Europe, Indonesia, Latin America, South Africa, and Turkey.

Working in partnership with a number of institutions in the region, Salzburg Global facilitated an examination and comparative analysis of various reform models to help expand knowledge and understanding, among those seeking to bring about change in the MENA region; of how these models were implemented and what were the results - positive and negative, intended and unintended. What questions do those who worked for change in these other countries wish they had asked, what information do they wish they had drawn on, what might they caution reformers in the MENA region against doing or encourage them to consider doing? What was, or might have been, the role of a surrounding regional community, and of the international community? What technical support might policy-makers, civil society activists, philanthropists or academics receive from their counterparts in other countries?


Beyond the Schloss Gates
Beyond the Schloss Gates
Patrick Wilson 
Salzburg Global Seminar challenges current and future leaders to solve problems of global concern. Our dedicated team at Salzburg Global share in this mission, not only by leading programs in Salzburg, but also by partnering with other globally-conscious organizations and facilitating events across the world. Singapore Founded by three young Harvard men as place for fresh intellectual exchange, Salzburg Global Seminar has long been engaged in issues surrounding the future of education. In this vein, President Stephen L. Salyer visited Singapore for the first International Liberal Education Symposium, hosted by Yale-NUS College at its new permanent campus in the city-state. The event brought together more than 30 global education leaders to discuss the future of international higher education and dialogue on obstacles and trends in education in an increasingly interconnected world. Hong Kong Salzburg Global’s long-running program Philanthropy and Social Investment entered a new phase in 2015 in anticipation of the adoption of new climate change goals, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and the funding needed to support these new initiatives. Marking the start of this new phase, Vice President and Chief Program Officer Clare Shine together with US Development Director Andrew Ho travelled to Hong Kong for the session Philanthropy in the Global Age.  The session was co-convened with The Global Friends, a consortium of global philanthropists leading values-driven social innovation, and focused on the philanthropic innovation needed to support transition to a climate-balanced economy and foster US-China collaboration to this end. Gwangju and Seoul, Korea Building on our work with the Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators (YCI Forum), Program Director for Culture and the Arts Susanna Seidl-Fox travelled to Gwangju, Korea for the Asia-Europe Foundation’s conference Cities: Labs for Culture? Seidl-Fox, who has been leading programs on culture and the arts at Salzburg Global for almost 20 years, moderated a panel focusing on leadership in the cultural sector. She also met with creatives and cultural leaders in Seoul at the World Culture Open, a network which invites people to engage in intercultural exchange and collaboration. While in the capital, Seidl-Fox was also able to attend a gathering of local YCI Fellows from the Seoul hub. Florence, Italy Intercultural exchange and conflict transformation were also key themes for Susanna Seidl-Fox when she traveled to Florence, Italy, to discuss the pressing need for Western societies and global Muslim communities to build comprehension and communication. New York University’s John Brademas Center for the Study of Congress brought together 20 artists, conveners, practitioners, and funders to identify opportunities for positive action and collaboration. Seidl-Fox brought insights from the 2014 session Conflict Transformation Through Culture: Peace-Building and the Arts and discussed the need to promote capacity-building in the Middle East-North Africa region. Minsk, Belarus Program Director Charles E. Ehrlich furthered Salzburg Global’s conflict transformation work when he traveled to Belarus to speak at the International University on Conflict Transformation in Minsk – an apt location, as the city had recently hosted the OSCE-led Russian-Ukrainian peace talks. Ehrlich presented two topics drawn from his own professional experiences in Kosovo and Catalonia, examining the causes of disputes, reconciliation, and lessons learned for peaceful transformation. The program brought together young professionals from Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, and Georgia, including Russian-occupied territories (Abkhazia and South Ossetia), to look beyond regional conflicts and frame constructive dialogue for exchanging new ideas. Berlin, Germany Drawing on her own professional background in biodiversity and climate and water issues, as well as Salzburg Global’s own extensive work in the fields of international trade, governance, transboundary cooperation, and conflict prevention, Salzburg Global Vice President and Chief Program Officer Clare Shine moderated a discussion entitled (Mis)understanding of Climate – China, India, and the EU at the Public Diplomacy Forum in Berlin, Germany. The event was hosted by the Charhar Institute, Clingendael Institute, and ifa, and supported by Robert Bosch Stiftung.  Cape Town, South Africa Red Bull’s Amaphiko project is a founding partner of the YCI Forum. Through this partnership, Vice President and Chief Program Officer Clare Shine was invited to Cape Town, South Africa to speak at the Red Bull Amaphiko Academy, a launch-pad event for grassroots social innovators and entrepreneurs who are making a positive difference in their community. As well as strengthening the Red Bull Amaphiko partnership, Shine also acted as a talent scout, meeting STEM education innovator Varaidzo Mureriwa and inviting her to participate in Untapped Talent: Can Better Testing and Data Accelerate Creativity in Learning and Societies? WANT TO HOST A SALZBURG GLOBAL FELLOWSHIP EVENT IN YOUR CITY? To find out when Salzburg Global Seminar staff might be in your city and to inquire about hosting a local Salzburg Global Fellowship event, contact Salzburg Global Fellowship Manager Jan Heinecke: fellowship@SalzburgGlobal.org 
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New edition published - Youth, Economics, and Violence: Implications for Future Conflict
New edition published - Youth, Economics, and Violence: Implications for Future Conflict
Louise Hallman 
The second edition of the report from the April 2015 session Youth, Economics, and Violence: Implications for Future Conflict is now available online to read, download and share. The new edition now features interviews with many Salzburg Global Fellows, as well as specially commissioned op-eds. Download the report as a PDF
The session Youth, Economics & Violence: Implications for Future Conflict was held in partnership with the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation and the Carnegie Corporation of New York. For more information, please visit the session page: www.salzburgglobal.org/go/549 
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Supporting Thoughtful, Committed Citizens
Supporting Thoughtful, Committed Citizens
Louise Hallman, Alex Jackson and Sudeshan Reddy 
Nearly 70 years after Margaret Mead praised the first Salzburg Seminar in American Studies and its “committed citizens,” Salzburg Global continues to provide a safe space for current and future leaders to tackle burning issues in their homelands. This distance can enable them to listen to and learn from each other, and find solutions across geographic and ideological boundaries. “Civil society is the society of citizens—but citizens are not just those who have a passport but who actively work to make a country better… The more active citizens we have, the stronger and better the country will be,” said one veteran Russian civil society activist during the Salzburg Global program Russian Civil Society: Building Bridges to the Future. His sentiments echoed Margaret Mead, faculty of the first-ever Salzburg Seminar in American Studies who famously stated: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” Ever since that first session, Salzburg Global Seminar has sought to support civil society and strengthen democratic processes and engagement. While civil society is represented at almost every Salzburg Global program – in addition to building the next generation of “thoughtful, committed citizens” with the year-round Global Citizenship Program – three 2014 programs in particular sought to support Fellows in their struggles toward democracy, stability, and inclusivity in the “post-revolution” Middle East and North Africa, against the increasing restrictions in Putin’s Russia, and for LGBT rights the world over. Civil society has an important role to play in tackling all these issues. Countries in transition, such as Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, and Yemen (the four focus countries of Salzburg Global’s ongoing Reform and Transformation in the Middle East and North Africa [link to mena.salzburgglobal.org] series), face deep-rooted problems, which politicians or “official” representatives alone will not solve; all stakeholders need to be engaged and included. “Ignore who is in charge and address the issues,” advised one Libyan Fellow to her Egyptian counterparts at the March program Strengthening Diversity and Inclusion in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, and Yemen. The fluidity and complexity of the situation in the countries facing extreme transitions or increasing restrictions can sometimes thwart the plans made by well-intentioned civil society activists, academics, donors, and policymakers. Indeed, between the November 2013 program Getting Transition Right: A Rights-based Approach to Diversity and Inclusion and the follow-on program in March 2014, participants spoke of a sense of inertia at best and deterioration at worst. Following the participation of its founder Belabbès Benkredda in the November session, the Munathara Initiative, a Tunisia-based multimedia public debating platform, was inspired to expand to the four focus countries, launching a series of debates on human rights, inclusion, and diversity. But outside of Tunisia where there had been some progress, Fellows were much less positive. One Egyptian Fellow, who had been outspoken at Salzburg Global programs in 2012 and 2013, asked to have his name withheld from the 2014 program report for fear of reprisals. Two Libyan Fellows had to flee and seek asylum in Europe following attempts on their lives in retaliation for their work. Although progress had been made by March, the outbreak of war in Yemen had led many of those Fellows who could, to leave. For the Russian Fellows who attended the Russian Civil Society Symposium, the situation could also be bleak and dangerous. Oleg Kozlovsky, a seasoned political activist, was detained at the airport on his return from Salzburg; he was released after officers took his photo and fingerprints. So if the situation is changing too quickly to formulate long-term plans and Fellows can even face detention for their participation, why come to Salzburg? “The [November program] was quite significant in two major ways,” explains Egyptian Fellow Sherine El Taraboulsi. “One, it allowed us to ask questions at a distance. While we are aware of the different dimensions of the problems that face the region, we are too close to it to be able to analyze it. Salzburg brought that distance while providing a platform for us to freely discuss our ideas. “Two, it managed to bring together academics and practitioners, and that is very unique, because we rarely speak to one another.” This bringing together of disparate views is a hallmark of Salzburg Global. Even within civil society, there is not necessarily a homogeny of opinion or approach. Within Russia, a great level of distrust exists among various sectors of civil society. The political activists (who want to change or even overhaul the entire system) accuse the direct aid groups (who provide disaster relief or services not offered by the state) of being short-sighted and state collaborators, especially those receiving state funding. But the political activists’ clashes with the state earn them the distrust and ire of direct aid and civic activist groups who blame them for provoking the government crackdowns that affect the whole sector. They are also frequently characterized as foreign-backed, disrupting the development of civil society, and the lives of ordinary Russians. It thus became clear in Salzburg that bridges need to be built not only between civil society and the state, but also within civil society itself. After the session, Sarah Lindemann-Komarova, founder of the Siberian Civic Initiatives Support Center, said: “A summary of [the program outcomes] is simple: no easy answers, more questions. But that does not mean it was a failure. It is no small accomplishment to capture an accurate description of the status of civil society in Russia today… “The identification of questions that need answers and the clarification of internal fault lines provide an essential foundation for a step forward in this 25-year-old work-in-progress. It is not clear if that step will be taken; it is only certain that, if it is not, there is no hope of improved status, increased bargaining power, and self-determination for civil society actors.” Outside Schloss Leopoldskron, positive bridges were built in Berlin, where members of the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum met in May 2014 to examine how LGBT issues are addressed by ministries of foreign affairs and their embassies, and how LGBT rights organizations, embassies, and other actors can build closer networks and more effective relationships. During the two days of discussions between the Fellows and representatives from agencies including the German and Dutch Foreign Ministries and the European External Action Service, German Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights and Humanitarian Aid, Christoph Straesser said: “The question before us, as societies, organizations, and persons wishing to protect and promote human rights, is how to halt negative developments and further advance positive developments. There is no simple answer to this question. “To help us identify answers, we work with the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum in order to establish a global space to reflect upon and advance LGBT and human rights discussions around the world.” As Klaus Mueller, founder and chair of the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum, wrote in the session report for Creating Long-Term Global Networks to Sustain LGBT Human Rights Organizations: “There are no easy answers and no ‘short-cuts’ to supporting, enhancing and sustaining LGBT rights. What does make a difference is ongoing networking, engagement, and dialogue between German diplomatic missions and LGBT human rights organizations… “For a network to truly live and thrive, there is no substitute for face-to-face interaction. The momentum of Salzburg was sustained in Berlin through the processes of discovery, empathy, and learning. It must now continue.” Continuing the spirit of Margaret Mead, Salzburg Global’s programs on strengthening democracy and civil society will support and expand the networks of thoughtful and committed citizens for generations to come.
Download the Salzburg Global Chronicle 2015 in full (PDF)
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Getting Transition Right: A Rights-Based Approach to Diversity and Inclusivity
Getting Transition Right: A Rights-Based Approach to Diversity and Inclusivity
Tanya Yilmaz 
The report for our 2013 session on “Getting Transition Right: A Rights-Based Approach to Diversity and Inclusivity” is now available online.The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region has long since been more than just “Arab” or “Muslim” and since the revolutions of 2011, opportunities have now arisen to make these diverse societies more inclusive. Joining together 40 civil society activists, academics, donors and budding politicians, the session allowed the opportunity to retreat from the hectic work in post-revolution Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and Yemen, and to take stock and formulate plans of how to make their countries more inclusive and accepting of their long-established diverse communities.   You can read all about the discussions in the session report.
The report is also available for download as a PDF: Download Report
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“Diversity is what we have. Inclusion is making diversity work.”
“Diversity is what we have. Inclusion is making diversity work.”
Louise Hallman 
“Diversity is what we have. Inclusion is making diversity work,” so said one Salzburg Global Fellow last year. The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region has long since been more than just “Arab” or “Muslim” (despite the oft-made assumption by many outside of the region); and since the revolutions of 2011, opportunities have now arisen to make these diverse societies more inclusive. But how?   That was the question that faced over 40 civil society activists, academics, donors and budding politicians who came together in Salzburg, Austria last November for the session “Getting Transition Right: A Rights-based Approach to Diversity and Inclusion.” Over the course of five days, they took the opportunity to retreat from the hectic work in post-revolution Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and Yemen, and to take stock and formulate plans of how to make their countries more inclusive and accepting of their long-established diverse communities.   This week, a dozen of this original cohort, plus a number of experts who were unable to join the original program, meet again at Schloss Leopoldskron to continue structuring their plans to create and build support across civil society for policy recommendations and related measures that demonstrate respect for diversity and foster inclusion.   The two-day program will review and refresh their project goals, agree key objectives for each of the four countries’ projects, and set realistic steps and outputs. Their work will then be further continued through online and in-country work with the wider cohort.  Interviews, reviews and the summary report from Session 508 are available on the session page: www.salzburgglobal.org/go/508 Discussions can be followed on Twitter #SGSmena.  
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Naila Farouky: "People Would Say Our Region is Not Ready For Democracy"
Naila Farouky: "People Would Say Our Region is Not Ready For Democracy"
Alex Jackson 
“I can tell you with certainty that over at least ten years, those of us who were in tune enough, either because we were actively working within the socio-cultural situation or the economic situation or the class divide, we saw it [the revolution] coming.” Naila Farouky is extremely intense as she recounts her experience of the Egyptian revolution when we meet at the recent “Value(s) for Money” session in Salzburg. Of course, her fiery passion is testament to her dedication for social change in the Middle East region as a whole; but Egypt, where she has lived and worked, has a special resonance for her that cannot be denied. “I can’t say with any certainty that we saw it coming in January 2011, but we knew there was something.” Egypt’s revolution is still an ongoing crisis in the country. Government ministers are likely to resign or be ousted from one day to the next and the fragility of the country is no better emphasized than the continued malaise that shrouds Egyptian life. “There was a bottle neck: you know how you can feel and physically be in a space, and recognize the energy of that space will no longer be able to sustain, and there was very much that feeling,” says Farouky. “The fact that it was revealed so quickly that such big numbers went out into the streets was a shock and it continues to be a shock. We did it once [brought down a regime], it happened, February 2011. But then less than one year later in terms of elections – elections were in June 2012 – by June 2013, we brought somebody else down. That is a double shock; it is even triple the shock.” Farouky, who was recently appointed the CEO & Executive Director at the Arab Foundations Forum, is certainly still coming to terms with the magnitude and sheer scale of this overwhelming sentiment in Egypt. When the revolution really took hold, she quickly returned from the US to be a part of one of the most defining moments of her generation. “There had been this kind of settling complacency in Egypt,” she reminisces with a haunting concern. “Given the fact that we had been ruled for 30 plus years by the same man, with all the corruptions, and rotting from the inside that tends to take place in regimes that are akin to dictatorships, there was this acceptance that this was our lot in life. Then to see in my lifetime, in my relative youth, that this sort of change could happen overnight – something that we expected to take a hundred years – literally happened in two weeks.” The drive and force was unprecedented, even for those who, like Farouky, had kept an eye on the developments. It was not so much that the people were asking for the rights to which they were entitled, but a sudden rousing from a sense of lethargy that was widespread. “In a country where we sustained and accepted this kind of repression for 30 plus years to have all of a sudden felt this sense of freedom and of empowerment and this entitlement to the empowerment, which is very important, because for a lot of us who were critical of our own country and our country’s complacency, a lot of it was questioning ‘how are people not taking their rights and not standing up and demanding them?’” Identity, and identity crises, were drivers here: suddenly through social media, through television and through print, voices of the youth, the marginalized and the minorities found they were able to speak out against a regime that had driven Egypt to the brink. The revolution was, in many ways, long overdue, and outside aid that doesn’t recognize that is something that annoys Farouky daily. “People would say, and it is a phrase that I despise from foreigners or Arabs alike, that our region is not ready for democracy. That is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard because I don’t think there is such a thing as being ready to be an empowered individual or empowered citizen.” Empowerment has certainly been a mantle of Farouky’s life. (Even her mother was once dubbed the "Jane Fonda of Egypt" in New York newspapers thanks to her booming fitness centers.) She is not one to take such gross slurs about her country and the region as a whole lightly, and suggests that philanthropy should play its part in boosting and shouldering the Egyptian revolution effort to better foster a transformation. “There are tools that need to be put in place, there are rights that need to be in place to utilize those tools, but you cannot say that a person is not ready to be empowered! “The Arab Foundations Forum can play a very important key role and that is to help the sector and guide the sector and learn from the sector on how to better frame the strategies that you are putting towards utilizing these resources, that you’re putting towards a better philanthropic strategy for a region. I think the philanthropic field or the sector has kind of been playing catch-up: there are several different social issues that confront the region, but then to suddenly face this reality that you now have a generation of citizens who are empowered enough to topple regimes, it scared the bejeezus out of a section of the region [investors].” Returning to Egypt meant that Farouky could use her persuasive rhetoric to engage in local reporting and philanthropy promotion. She helped a friend launch a new round-up of the situation in the country, the bi-lingual news review called Midan Masr. In a country where the revolution was based on sources of information to spark continued demonstrations, the resource was invaluable in reflecting on the progress made across the state, as the first bilingual newspaper in the region. “It covered everything having to do with Egypt and tangentially with the region in respect to the current and immediate political situation we found ourselves in.” Of course, Farouky was not new to the media discipline. Her previous work has included extensive media production projects and project management for Sesame Workshop, the company that owns and produces Sesame Street. Her experience there facilitated a better understanding of strategic communications and creative project planning; things she believes are key skills in innovative philanthropy planning, which she has put into play in her new role as CEO at the AFF in Jordan. “We think the things that we can offer [at AFF] to really enrich this sector the most with are networking opportunities that allow intersector and extrasector opportunities to allow people to come together and collaborate, a sharing of knowledge and research and resources and to be able to make information accessible to our members.” The collaborative efforts are at the heart of AFF planning. But Farouky is all too aware of the fragility of interlinked, international philanthropic efforts when she considers the role of American philanthropy in Egypt and in the Middle East region as a whole: “A lot of times when an American entity comes into not just the Arab region, because I have worked in South East Asia, and I have even worked in Australia with American money, the question is always: 'What’s the ulterior motive?' “Even if this money is coming with very few strings attached and even if this money is coming for a cause that is primarily the cause of the grantee and not the grantor. There is always this question: 'It is American money. What does it really want?' And that is the reputation it has.” Prejudging American finance in this way limits the scope of international philanthropy in the region. Mistrust of foreign aid sources has grown substantially, and, whilst it is understandable that the Egyptian government want more local investors, their sometimes provocative approach has the potential to sour international relations further. “The US suffers from the reputation that their foreign policy is so not in harmony with what the region feels it needs that it clouds the judgment and it clouds the way we are able to collaborate in giving. So my response has always been it is a two-way street, and I honestly think that the onus of responsibility relies on both the giver and the taker. “[Countries] will take it [aid] when it’s convenient and then something like the Arab Spring will happen, this big implosion politically will happen, and [the country] will be threatened with that money being pulled away. But it’s not about your ego now; you can’t come now to me [after all these years of accepting the aid and using it] and say this money was useless after all these years and you can’t exclude them [America or other foreign investors] from a process that they are willing to be a part of.” International philanthropy then is not just about monetary donations or creating sustainable growth; rather, it is bound in ideas of culture and cultural norms. To be truly invested in an area, you need to foster a greater understanding of the habits, social activities and cultural events of the people there, suggests Farouky. Philanthropy is not one-size-fits-all, but America often fails at this hurdle. “What America lacks the most in any of its approaches, whether it’s political, whether it’s economic, whether it’s philanthropic, whatever, it lacks the capacity to truly absorb nuance. It is not a nuanced culture; it is a very straight forward culture. If it is not spelled out, it is very difficult to collaborate because they don’t always understand what the underlying factors are.” Wider implications are all too clear for Farouky, who recognizes that politics and philanthropy are often a grey area for crossover. “When philanthropy starts to get involved in politics, there is mistrust surely on a personal level I feel, and a lot of it has to do with governments versus governments and not necessarily people versus people, and not necessarily even philanthropy versus philanthropy.”     Naila Farouky was a participant at the Salzburg Global Seminar session "Value(s) for Money? Philanthropy as a Catalyst for Social and Financial Change", which was sponsored by Hivos. You can read interviews with a number of the other speakers and participants of the session on the webpage: www.salzburgglobal.org/go/530
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Salzburg Global 2014 Program now available online
Salzburg Global 2014 Program now available online
Oscar Tollast 
Salzburg Global’s 2014 Program will feature over 25 distinctive sessions and workshops inspired by three interdependent values: Imagination, Sustainability and Justice. The three values underpin Salzburg Global’s new program ‘clusters’ and aim to form the foundations for global citizenship. Under these ‘clusters’, a number of topics will be discussed. For example, participants will be asked how societies can renew their education, how to improve life chances for present and future generations, or examine how societies can reframe responsibilities. The 2014 Program brings together distinctive multi-year projects and partnerships with the common goal of promoting vision, courage and leadership to tackle the most complex challenges of a globalized society. The Salzburg Academies – covering Global Citizenship, Media and Global Change, and the Future of International Law – will continue to prepare outstanding young people with the skills to drive change. Salzburg Global Seminar remains determined in breaking down barriers separating people and ideas. It spans the world’s regions and challenges countries at all stage of development and institutions across all sectors to rethink their relationship and identify shared interests and goals. The program is available for download as PDF. 2014 Program Brochure
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VIDEOS

Libya, NATO and the Arab Spring
Perspectives from Ambassador Lakhdar Brahimi

Perspectives on the Arab Spring protests
Maja Daruwala; Executive Director, Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, India on the significance of the Arab Spring in Asia.


Perspectives on the Arab Spring protests
Saad Eddin Ibrahim on, founder Ibn Khaldun Center for Development Studies & Trustee, Arab Democracy Foundation.