Forging the future of the Arab world

Raghida Dergham
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It is time to take a lead in shaping the future of the Arab world.

For too long, there has been a sense of frustration and resignation among even the brightest, young and old, when it comes to reversing the untenable status quo in the region.

It is for this reason that I started developing the Beirut Institute in 2010. I was pained by the sense of disillusionment in the region – something manifested in either nonchalance or complaint.

We have organized this timely and imperative summit to take the lead in contemplating the future of the Arab region.

Raghida Dergham

With the advent of 2011, the Arab region experienced a renewed impetus for change. And now, more than ever, we need to step up. We will no longer be idle bystanders; we will repeal past patterns of submission and resignation and replace them with ambition and enthusiasm to engage among ourselves and with the wider world.

Sustainable impact

The foundations for the Beirut Institute have taken shape with the help of brilliant firms and strategists, who understood the value of a cutting-edge Arab think tank that is indigenous, forward looking, solution-driven and intent on achieving a sustainable impact on local and global policy.

Independent and non-partisan, with activities and events in multiple locations across the Arab world and globally, the Beirut Institute will be a catalyst for inter-generational, innovative, solution-oriented thinking for current and future policy opportunities and challenges affecting the region and its place in the world.

Designed as a collective of expertise, the Beirut Institute will provide a dynamic platform for enlightened thinkers to shape the debate and develop influential strategies pertaining to global policy, governance, innovation, women, youth aspirations and education, to name a few.

The Beirut Institute will not dwell on failures or handicaps. Instead, our task is to think of innovative solutions to the current challenges and to devise strategies for future opportunities. We will not simply settle in predictions; we will instead take on the challenge of thinking thoroughly through all options and means.

Collective brilliance and passion, coupled with persistence and resilience, can enhance Arab discourse towards moderation locally, and place Arabs on the map as effective and influential players globally.

Beirut Institute will achieve this through strategic partnerships with like-minded institutions globally, and intends on becoming a pivotal destination for those interested in transforming the Arab region and its relations with East and West.

Abu Dhabi summit

All the building blocks are in place. While sustaining the Institute is ultimately dependent on securing the necessary funds, the official inauguration of the Beirut Institute will take place in early spring, in Lebanon.

Before that, today marks the start of the Beirut Institute Summit in Abu Dhabi, entitled ‘Reconfiguring the Arab Region and its Global Space beyond Political Economy and Security Threats’.

Arab and international leaders will offer their intellectual input on transformations that the region is undergoing, with the two-day summit ending with The Beirut Institute Abu Dhabi Declaration. That declaration will relay policy options and recommendations generated during the summit to decision-makers in the region and beyond.

We have organized this timely and imperative summit to take the lead in contemplating the future of the Arab region – a region that is undergoing rapid and historic change. Interactive open plenary sessions will discuss critical matters of transformation occurring in the region.

This two-day summit has the potential to crystallize ideas, aspirations and the needs of the Arab region. For there is a great deal we can learn from one another – and a great deal we can achieve together.

Raghida Dergham is Columnist and Senior Diplomatic Correspondent for the London-based Al Hayat, the leading independent Arabic daily, since 1989. She writes a regular weekly strategic column on International Political Affairs. Dergham is also a Political Analyst for NBC, MSNBC and the Arab satellite LBC. She is a Contributing Editor for LA Times Syndicate Global Viewpoint and has contributed to: The New York Times, The Washington Post, The International Herald Tribune and Newsweek Magazine. She serves on the Board of the International Women's Media Foundation, and has served on the Advisory Council of Princeton University's Institute for Transregional Studies of the contemporary Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia. She was also a member of the Women's Foreign Policy Group. She addressed U.N. General Assembly on the World Press Freedom Day when President of The United Nations Correspondents Association for 1997 and was appointed to the Task Force on the Reorientation of Public Information by U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan. She moderated a roundtable of 8 Presidents and Prime Ministers for UNCTAD at Bangkok in 1991. Dergham served as Chairman of the Dag Hammarskjold Fund Board in 2005. She is also Founder and Executive Chairman of Beirut Institute, and tweets @RaghidaDergham.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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