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  • Author: Christophe Abi-Nassif, Haneen Sayed, Alain Bifani, Nasser Saidi
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Video
  • Institution: Middle East Institute (MEI)
  • Abstract: Lebanon’s financial and socio-economic crises have been unfolding for nearly 18 months. The Lebanese pound is hitting all-time lows against the US dollar. Food prices have soared more than 400% in just one year. In the meantime, foreign currency reserves at the central bank are dangerously depleting. Citizens have lost access to their life savings and more than half now live below the poverty line. The country’s entire financial system is in dire need of restructuring. Amid the worsening financial collapse and growing civil anger, unrest and poverty, an end to the meltdown is yet to be seen. Where does Lebanon stand today, a year after the first sovereign debt default in its history? How did we even get here? What are immediate monetary and fiscal policy priorities to course-correct? What social policies and programs are needed in the immediate term? What can still be saved? Four Lebanese experts with frontline experience will tackle these issues and shed more light on Lebanon’s uncertain financial, economic, and social future as part of the Middle East Institute’s (MEI) Lebanon program’s events series.
  • Topic: Debt, Finance, Economy, Crisis Management
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Lebanon
  • Author: Mirette F. Mabrouk, Abla Abdel Latif, Sarah El-Battouty
  • Publication Date: 12-2020
  • Content Type: Video
  • Institution: Middle East Institute (MEI)
  • Abstract: Climate change is slowly stamping an imprint on Egypt’s environment, culture, and economy. The most obvious of these challenges is the rising scarcity of water. Egypt is already one of the world’s most water scarce countries; while the UN assesses water scarcity at 1,000 cm3 per person annually, Egypt has less than 560 cm3 per person. Rapid population growth, urbanization, desertification, and unpredictable weather patterns are all taking an unrelenting toll on the country’s strained water resources, while fear is climbing over loss of water from the Nile if the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam holds back water during droughts. Just as worrisome is rising heat. This threatens health, water supplies and, in a country where over 30 percent of the labour force is directly involved in agriculture, Egypt’s harvests. While there has been much work done on water conservation, climate change mitigation policy is unclear. Much of the action is handled by the private sector which is not always invested in the strictest environmental standards. Is it possible to tackle the oncoming threat while balancing mitigation with the need for development?
  • Topic: Climate Change, Environment, Natural Resources, Water, Culture, Economy
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Egypt
  • Author: Paul Salem, Ishac Diwan, Fadlo Khuri, Maha Yahya
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Video
  • Institution: Middle East Institute (MEI)
  • Abstract: Lebanon is going through one of the most acute crises in its modern history. A complex economic collapse is driving hundreds of thousands into poverty and the risk of hunger, and shuttering an already wounded economy. A large cross section of the population revolted in October of last year and has created a standoff with a corrupt and sectarian oligarchy. The government is unable to chart and implement a way out of the crisis, and state institutions stand on the brink of failure. The multiple crises have threatened all sectors, including the critical education sector, previously one of the success stories of the country; universities, like other institutions, have been hard hit.
  • Topic: Poverty, Sectarianism, Hunger, Economy, Protests, Crisis Management, Higher Education
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Lebanon
  • Author: Darin LaHood, Paul Salem, Edward M. Gabriel, Jean AbiNader, Mona Yacoubian
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Video
  • Institution: Middle East Institute (MEI)
  • Abstract: Lebanon is on the brink of collapse due to its domestic economic and political crises, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Another failed state in the Middle East would negatively impact strategic US interests. Lebanon requires a thorough reorientation towards stability and renewed socio-economic sustainability, which entails fundamental domestic reforms and targeted international support led by the US. The Middle East Institute (MEI) and the American Task Force for Lebanon (ATFL) are pleased to co-host the public launch of a joint policy paper, Recommendations for a Sustainable Bilateral Relationship. What are the strategic interests the US has in Lebanon’s stability, and how can the US support Lebanese prosperity? Is the Lebanese government’s new financial recovery plan sufficient for the US to initiate support for the government? In what ways can the US best support a strong future for Lebanon?
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Economy, Political stability, Crisis Management, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Lebanon
  • Author: Laith Al Ajlouni, Sara Kayyali, Oraib Al Rantawi, Rana Husseini
  • Publication Date: 08-2020
  • Content Type: Video
  • Institution: Middle East Institute (MEI)
  • Abstract: The start of the new decade in Jordan has been marred by unrest. In January, thousands of Jordanians took to the streets to protest both President Trump’s Middle East peace plan and the gas deal signed between Israel and Jordan. This wave of dissent came on the heels of the 2019 protests against increased austerity measures, a follow up to the 2018 movement that saw the resignation of Hani Mulki’s government. Though Jordan quickly adopted stringent measures to combat the virus, the economy will suffer a huge blow, exacerbating Jordan’s existing development challenges and popular discontent. Furthermore, the pandemic prompted troubling restrictions on freedom of speech, with an April decree stating that sharing anything that may “cause panic” about the pandemic is punishable with up to three years in prison. How have protest movements in Jordan been impacted by Covid-19, and what do recent protests over honor killings and gender based violence portend for progress in this area? How do these long standing grievances meet the current moment of the impending Israeli annexation? What will be the long term impact of the pandemic on Jordan’s economy and human rights, especially for the country’s millions of refugees?
  • Topic: Refugees, Economy, Political stability, Protests, Austerity, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Jordan
  • Author: Huda Kanoo, Ernesto Ottone Ramirez, Raed Asfour, Eckhard Thiemann, Neda Ulaby
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Video
  • Institution: Middle East Institute (MEI)
  • Abstract: Cultural festivals play an important role in expanding and enriching the communities and cities that host them, providing platforms for artists, and contributing to economies. But given the enduring impact of Covid-19 in the Middle East and globally, festivals are having to rethink their models and innovate to find new ways to reach audiences while remaining engaging and relevant. How might these new challenges impact broader cultural production, audience engagement and more, in a region where platforms and opportunities for the performing arts are already so limited? Join leading festival directors and thought leaders for a discussion about the challenges and opportunities faced by cultural festivals in this new environment. Speakers include H.E. Huda Kanoo, founder of the Abu Dhabi Festival, Ernesto Ottone Ramirez, assistant director-general for culture at UNESCO, Raed Asfour, director of the Al Balad Music Festival, Eckhard Thiemann, CEO and artistic director of the Shubbak festival. Moderated by NPR culture reporter Neda Ulaby.
  • Topic: Arts, Culture, Economy, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arab Countries, North Africa
  • Author: Ron Peeters, Micah Loudermilk, Chris Kubecka, Maya Horowitz
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Video
  • Institution: Middle East Institute (MEI)
  • Abstract: The cyber threat landscape and economic composition of the Middle East are unique. Operational technology threats are a critical risk in the region, both because of its heavily resource-based economies and its high reliance on electric and water infrastructure. This panel will explore the unique components of the cyber security landscape in the Middle East, and seek to determine the best practices for operational cyber security professionals working in the region. The Middle East Institute (MEI) is pleased to welcome a group of industry experts to discuss cyber security challenges, opportunities, and courses of action facing companies in the Middle East. This panel is sponsored by Synack, a leading cyber security company who combines the world's most skilled and trusted ethical hackers with AI-enabled technology to create a scalable, effective security solution. What is the cyber threat environment like in the Middle East today? What types of threat actors and tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) are most common? How does the environment differ from other regions of the world?
  • Topic: Security, Science and Technology, Cybersecurity, Economy, Artificial Intelligence, Industry
  • Political Geography: Middle East