ARAB FUTURE the & ROLE OF EUROPE Report Lutfia Rabbani Foundation 27 | 11 | 2014 The Netherlands PeacePalace

Table of content Introduction 3 Sketches Khalid Albaih Understanding the Political Transition Economic Challenges, Opportunities and Employment Social Engagement: Education and Social Justice Conclusion 5 10 13 18 21 Watch the whole congress on Youtube

Introduction At a time when Europe and the Arab world are increasingly inward-looking on account of their respective crises, their ability to influence each other remains undiminished. Socio-economic turbulence, violent conflict and other challenges may constitute sound reasons for the increasingly local pre-occupations of societies north and south of the Mediterranean, but geography remains a permanent reality. Interaction between these two regions is almost as old as history itself, and at different points in time each has – for better and for worse – played a pivotal role in the development of the other. The present is another such juncture. The Arab world is in upheaval, Europe is redefining its identity, and each may for different reasons be facing an existential crisis of its own. In November 2014, the Lutfia Rabbani Foundation’s Euro-Arab Dialogue Forum convened a distinguished gathering of Arabs and Europeans to reflect upon this relationship and to specifically address “The Arab Future and the Role of Europe”. Under the leadership of BBC Chief International Correspondent Lyse Doucet and with a keynote presentation by senior United Nations diplomat Lakhdar Brahimi, panelists from a broad spectrum of fields and professions addressed the challenges of political transition, economic development, education and social engagement. In doing so they collectively provided insightful analysis and thoughtful reflections, as well as constructive prescriptions and recommendations. The purpose of the Euro-Arab Dialogue Forum is not to reach consensus on specific issues, but rather to illuminate the present state of Euro-Arab relations and generate ideas that can contribute to its improvement. This report presents a summary of the proceedings, and highlights key themes raised during the conference as well as questions that need to be further explored to promote a more constructive Euro-Arab relationship at the political, socio-economic and cultural levels. The report is divided into three sections that present the main issues and questions raised in each of the panels presented during the conference. In 1994 our organisation’s founder, the late Mahmoud S. Rabbani stated, “the EuroArab relationship represents an important challenge to both Europe and the Arab World. The most important step that can be taken towards meeting this challenge is to expand the Euro-Arab Dialogue.” It is a statement that resonates strongly in today’s context. This report is presented by the Lutfia Rabbani Foundation to further the cause of Euro-Arab dialogue and understanding that motivated the late Mahmoud Rabbani to establish our organisation. We hope you find it both interesting and informative. 3

“Politics require dialogue and dialogue never excludes anyone.” H.E. Lakhdar Brahimi, Key note speaker, former UN and Arab League Special Envoy to Syria “Now more than ever dialogue between Europe and the Arab world is important.” H.E. Bert Koenders, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, Opening speech 4

The Arab uprisings through cartoons. Khalid Albaih, Sudanese political cartoonist Through the grapevine We were perfect The first God fell Hopeless And we hoped the rest would follow But it all started with hands reaching out 6

It was as clear as math but we had to keep going The unwanted child was already born like a spring we had to keep coming But they still held on We were one since a very long time They fed off each other 7

And again We parted ways again But they came back Things got out of hand Called it reforms We were confused Democracy 8

We forgot why this started They are mad We tried again So they hunted us down But again they came But we still have our weapons And again We are almost there 9

Understanding the Political Transition As Lyse Doucet, the BBC’s Chief International Correspondent, remarked in opening the panel’s discussion, “If you think you can understand the political transition, it means you don’t understand the political transition.” Fawaz Gerges, professor of International Relations at the LSE, traced in broad strokes the current, turbulent moment in the Arab world, and its context: a “fierce struggle about the identity of the state”, with no consensus on what form it should take; a civil war between Islamists and nationalists which has been going on in one form or another since the 1950s, and which has led other groups including human rights advocates to “jump on the bandwagon of the military” against the Islamists; and a regional war by proxy – with Egypt, Saudi Arabia, UAE ranged against Qatar and Turkey – in which outside powers intervene and complicate local struggles. Two of the most influential states, Saudi Arabia and Iran, though they oppose each other as Sunni and Shia powers, are crucially, in Gerges’ words, “both counter-revolutionary forces”. And at the heart of all this is what Gerges calls an “organic crisis”: one of the world’s wealthiest regions beset with failed institutions, some 43% of the population on average living in poverty, massive youth 10 Speakers: Fawaz Gerges - Professor of International Relations at the London School of Economics, Bichara Khader - Founder of Study and Research Center on the Contemporary Arab World, unemployment (30-45%), the world’s worst food insecurity and greatest income inequality. In a theme that echoed throughout the conference, Gerges and Hugues Mingarelli, the European External Action Service’s first Managing Director for the Middle East, noted the similarities between Europe and the Arab world and the multiple ties that bind them, both emphasising the danger of assuming an “Arab exception”. There is nothing historically or geographically unique in the upheaval across the region; as Mingarelli put it, it would be “nonsense” to suggest that “Islam is not compatible with democracy”, or pluralism – Europe’s own similar transition took centuries and its results are still problematic. Where the panel disagreed was over what Europe’s role has been and should be. Mingarelli emphasised how much is already being done and the circumstantial problems preventing further cooperation, including the reluctance of some Arab countries to engage economically and the difficulty of reaching a European consensus on Israel. Gerges and others, though, as well as a majority of the audience, insisted that Europe can and must do far more, and for a very long time to come. Hugues Mingarelli - Managing Director MENA, European External Action Service, European Commission Klaas de Vries - Senator, Dutch Labor Party Moderator: Lyse Doucet - Chief International Correspondent BBC

Outcome: What Europe and the Arab world share far exceeds what divides them, and the key to the political future lies in a more vigorous and more equal dialogue between the two. Questions and challenges: - How can Europe engage better with civil society and the private sector in the Arab region, rather than focusing only on a governmentto-government approach? - Are there ways to improve trade and investment between the regions given the natural suspicion some nations have about the implications of a “European” single market? - What role should Europe take in “crisis management”, including the approach to ISIS, and how should it deal with its own part in the current upheavals? - How can Europe make use of its own experiences with constitutional issues, regional co-operation and institutionbuilding to offer guidance or support? - By what means can Europe and the Arab world best cooperate in dealing with the flow of migration within and between the regions? - How can Europe show more consistent and courageous political leadership in the world at large, especially with regard to Palestine? 11

”Europe obviously has no choice but to be involved in this transformation process… We have no choice. What is going on in the Arab world today is not foreign affairs for a European, it is a domestic issue.” Hugues Mingarelli ”Egypt in the 1950s was ahead of South Korea in terms of median income. Egypt could have been the Japan of the Middle East, Libya could have been the Norway! When a body has no immunity – when I am ill, all kinds of viruses can easily infiltrate my body. ISIS, the Nusra Front, tribalism, sectarianism: these are manifestations of a structural crisis.” Fawaz Gerges ”Europe has forged significant, coherent, declaratory policy with regard to the Arab-Israeli conflict… What is problematic is the gap between expectation and performance, between rhetoric and action.” Bichara Khader 12

Economic challenges, Opportunities and Employment In the economic realm too, it is clear that what Europe and the Arab region share is far more significant than what divides them. What emerged most strongly from the panel’s discussion was a sense of a huge and ambitious population of young people who have adapted with energy to repeated crises and setbacks, yet whose potential is still being stifled at every turn. Across the Arab world, 7.4 million young people are unemployed. Rabea Ataya, founder and CEO of the Middle East’s leading job site, Bayt.com, said it would take more than 100 million new jobs over the next decade simply to maintain this dire situation and prevent further unemployment. A key part of the problem is a lack of vocational training and work experience for young people: the vast majority are not getting the chance to develop management and other “soft” skills. The panel emphasised the crucial importance of entrepreneurship – which is vital, Bernard Wientjes and Salim Rabbani agreed, to stability as well as growth – and the enormous obstacles facing it. Ataya insisted that in the US, start-ups were creating millions of jobs every year, where older companies were destroying them. He cited polls showing that a huge number of young people in the Arab region would rather start their own business than be employed. Yet vast interest rates, corruption, and paralysing bureaucracy make forming a company cost more and take longer than almost anywhere else in the world. Speakers: Joumana Al Jabri - co-founder of Visualizing Impact Simon Andary - Sales Director Business Unit Baggage at Vanderlande Industries Rabea Ataya - founder and CEO of Bayt.com Salim Rabbani - Managing Director of RTC and Chairman of the Lutfia Rabbani Foundation Bernard Wientjes - Professor of Entrepreneurship and Leadership, Utrecht University Moderator: Mouin Rabbani - Independent Middle East analyst 13

Outcome: Fostering entrepreneurship in the Arab world will be the most effective way to address its economic challenges and the stifling of its talented youth, leading to greater social stability as well as growth. Questions and challenges: - How can we increase opportunities for young Arab entrepreneurs to network and exchange ideas with their contemporaries in Europe? - How can European investors be encouraged to partner with young entrepreneurs and businesses, rather than with more entrenched interests? - Are start-ups and SMEs the key to growth and reducing unemployment? What can be done to support businesses in the crucial second phase, when they must scale up? - How should private investors and the public sector cooperate when it comes to investment? How do we make such investment sustainable? 14

”The international community is very interested in redrafting laws, but predominantly in the interests of international business, or geostrategic interests… It’s not enough to think of common interests… How do you trickle that down to the small entrepreneurs locally?.” Leila Zoueni ”The core of doing business between two parts of the world is people develop a common interest… Both Europeans and Arabs have a lot to learn from each other and can benefit from each other. And that makes an economic relationship sustainable: it can become a true partnership, not a one-sided transaction.” Salim Rabbani 15


Visualizing Impact (VI) VI is a laboratory for innovation at the intersection of data science, technology, and design. VI creates impactful tools highlighting critical social issues around the world. VI's collaboration with the Lutfia Rabbani Foundation is part of a larger portfolio focused on youth and unemployment in the MENA region. Other VI portfolios include Visualizing Palestine and Visualizing Egypt. The multidisciplinary VI team is based in Amman, Beirut, Dubai, and Toronto, with a broad network of partners and volunteers contributing to research, translation, and dissemination. 17

Society: education and social justice Though civil society has suffered enormously in the political backlash of the last few years, here too there were signs of optimism: as Maryam Jamshidi put it, “this is a phase”. UAE-based writer Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi reminded us that the much vaunted explosion of social media worldwide has been different in its scale and implications for the Arab world: the number of internet users jumped from around 24 million (7 or 8% of the population) in 2006 to 135 million by December 2013; even since 2010, Facebook has gone from having 12 million users in the region to over 85 million today. Although he noted that online activism had been dampened since the “honeymoon period” of 2006-2011 by the fragmentation of online communities and harsh crackdowns by the authorities in several countries, it was clear that the numbers still represented a significant change, one that may be temporarily suspended but not reversed. Jamshidi described a similar pattern in what she terms “civic entrepreneurship” (any “citizen-driven effort to mobilise communities to respond to opportunities or crises in order to move the collective good forward”). Though many grassroots efforts have now been blocked or forced underground, they do persist, and must be supported by the most creative means available. For Filippo Grandi, former Commissioner-General of UNRWA, the need for an imaginative approach to education seemed equally urgent: he sees a worrying tendency to focus on rote learning and discourage critical thinking. He called for investment in education from primary level onwards, and a serious effort to help young people participate in their own development. 18 Speakers: Filippo Grandi - Former Commissioner General UNRWA Basma Al Husseiny - Founder Culture Resource Maryam Jamshidi - Founder of Muftah.org Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi - Political and Cultural Commentator on Arab Affairs Moderator: Lyse Doucet - Chief International Correspondent BBC

Outcome: In working towards greater social justice in the Arab world, the first step must be to support local youth and grassroots organisations, and help create a true dialogue with both. Questions and challenges: - How can we foster real dialogue and participation, especially with the young? Can organisations in Europe use social media to learn rather than broadcast? - Is it possible to take a more integrated approach to supporting communities, combining art, culture, technology with more tightly focused political or economic projects? - What can be done to invest in education, from the primary level onwards? - What are the best ways to support grassroots organisations operating in near impossible conditions, such as the Civilian Defense Force in Syria? - What steps can European entities take to ensure that their efforts are not counterproductive, benefitting those higher up at the expense of local civil society? 19

”Unfortunately, most analysts when they ’ve looked at the region have tended to ignore the grassroots. They’ve been very focused on those macro level indicators: is there institutional reform happening? Do we see economic progress? And if we don’t see those things we automatically conclude that the revolutions have failed. But it’s at the grassroots level that most of the really important transformations have occurred, and they’ve happened across a variety of sectors – in the realm of politics, in the realm of art and culture, and even in civically minded technology start-ups.” Maryam Jamshidi 20

Conclusion Among so many fresh voices and expert perspectives, so many ideas for change and for further debate, one message was overwhelming: young people must remain central to the discussion. More than 60% of the Arab region’s population is under 28, and the burden of poverty, unemployment, institutional failure and unceasing political turmoil falls disproportionately on them. At the same time, they continue to pursue entrepreneurial aims, work towards change at the grassroots level, and find ways to make their voices heard. It is from the young, from their ideas and their tenacity, that we should take inspiration, and it is towards them that new forms of help, investment and support must be directed. Politically, economically, socially, the fate of young people across Europe and the Arab world are intertwined: the work to be done must strengthen the connections between them, and nurture the potential of Arab youth who have been held back, but who nonetheless have offered the rest of the world an example of dynamism and courage that will continue to bear fruit. ”We are going through a dark period, but a lot of people said that the future is very bright, and I do believe that… I like to quote a political science professor from the UAE who said that we are in the first five minutes of the Arab Spring.” Sultan Sooud al Qassemi 21

The Lutfia Rabbani Foundation The Lutfia Rabbani Foundation was established in the Netherlands in 1979 by Mahmoud Salim Rabbani. The Foundation is a private, not for profit organization overseen by an independent board of trustees, and has no political or religious affiliations. The Foundation seeks to promote Euro-Arab understanding through education, dialogue and cultural exchange. Our activities The Lutfia Rabbani Foundation implements Euro-Arab Dialogue and understanding through: Scholarships: designed to enhance the post-graduate educational experience and promote intercultural cooperation by offering students from The Netherlands and the Arab world the means to study or research in each other’s respective countries. Euro-Arab Dialogue platform: through the bi-annual Euro-Arab Dialogue Forum, the annual Mahmoud Salim Rabbani (MSR) lecture series and the Roundtable Dialogue Workshops, the Foundation seeks to create a dynamic platform for mutual understanding, discussion and networking between both parts of the world. Cooperation: through its cultural and educational projects the Foundation aims to enhance mutual exchange, understanding and collaborations between Europe and the Arab world. Correspondence Address: Lutfia Rabbani Foundation P.O. Box 352 2501 CJ The Hague The Netherlands Visiting Address: Amaliastraat 3-5 2514 JC The Hague The Netherlands T : +31 (0)70 365 88 41 E: info@rabbanifoundation.org www.rabbanifoundation.org Support us: Lutfia Rabbani Foundation Account number: NL15 RABO 0184 8373 59 Swift Code or BIC: RABONL2U Please follow us on Twitter and Facebook Watch the whole congress on Youtube This event is co-sponsored by understanding euro arab 22 Travel partner Editing by Lidija Haas Photography by Jos van Leeuwen Graphic design by Wouter Stroo dialogue &


1 Online Touch


  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5
  6. 6
  7. 7
  8. 8
  9. 9
  10. 10
  11. 11
  12. 12
  13. 13
  14. 14
  15. 15
  16. 16
  17. 17
  18. 18
  19. 19
  20. 20
  21. 21
  22. 22
  23. 23
  24. 24

You need flash player to view this online publication