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  • 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
  • Author: Susanne Koelbl, Deborah Amos, Ben Hubbard
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Video
  • Institution: Middle East Institute (MEI)
  • Abstract: Saudi Arabia is a country in the midst of dramatic change. The fundamental pillars of its economic and social institutions have been upended, and a young generation is moving to the foreground. At the head of this dramatic shift is Mohammed bin Salman, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, known as MBS, who since 2015 has branded himself as a modern reformer and the face of a new generation of Saudi leadership. But who is the real MBS: the man who will lead Saudi Arabia into the 21st Century, or a dictator known for his retaliatory actions against members of the royal family and brutal restrictions on human rights? In the wake of the Khashoggi murder and in the midst of a war in Yemen, detention and torture of women’s rights activists, and repeated efforts to consolidate his own power, it is unclear to what extent bin Salman’s actions are driven by a strategy. Meanwhile, an increasingly connected Saudi population is confronting traditions and modernization initiatives which may open new conversations. The Middle East Institute (MEI) is pleased to host a book talk with two acclaimed journalists whose works draw from firsthand experience in Saudi Arabia to examine the rise of Mohammed bin Salman and the changing nature of Saudi society in the decade of Vision 2030. Ben Hubbard and Susanne Koelbl will be joined in conversation with Deborah Amos to explore the current and future obstacles facing reform and progress in Saudi Arabia.
  • Topic: Human Rights, Authoritarianism, Leadership, Modernization
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Saudi Arabia, Gulf Nations
  • Author: Marvin G. Weinbaum, Saad Mohseni, Anthony H. Cordesman, Muqaddesa Yourish, David Sedney, Ali Jalali
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Video
  • Institution: Middle East Institute (MEI)
  • Abstract: The future of Afghanistan’s constitutionally liberal democratic system is very much at issue. On its survival rests the aspiration of the greatest number of its people, the deep investment of the international community in the country’s stability and wellbeing, and ultimately the security of the region and beyond. Negotiations are beginning in what is certain to be a lengthy process that may in the name of a compromise trade away social and economic gains realized over nearly two decades. Afghanistan has additionally to cope with the disengagement of foreign forces just at a time when their leverage militarily and diplomatically could be critical. In the absence of a verifiable ceasefire, the country confronts a prospect of exploding violence and possible descent into chaos. Can Afghanistan pull itself together to not only protect its achievements but to overcome past errors? Should Afghans and their international partners think about formulating a Plan B to save the republic while striving for true reconciliation with the insurgency? The Middle East Institute is pleased to host a panel of experts to discuss these questions and more.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Political stability, Domestic politics, Violence
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States of America
  • Author: Ross Harrison, Amir Afkhami, Amira Roess, Omid Nikfarjam
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Video
  • Institution: Middle East Institute (MEI)
  • Abstract: COVID-19 has the potential to push public healthcare systems in the Middle East past their current capabilities.The number of coronavirus cases in the Middle East has risen to nearly 60,000, double the amount only a week ago. How will this current pandemic impact the region’s health care systems and preparedness for future crises? The Middle East Institute (MEI) will bring together a panel of experts to look beyond the immediate impact of COVID-19 on public healthcare systems in the Middle East. This group of experts will discuss the long term effects on the region's public health systems and if this will cause them to become more resilient in the face of future threats. What will this current crisis mean for the future of the region’s health care systems? What steps should public health services be taking now to ensure they will be better prepared for the next pandemic? What is the role of international organizations like the World Health Organization to help regional public health services build resilience into their systems?
  • Topic: Health, World Health Organization, Public Health, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Stephen Walt, Bilal Y. Saab , Barry R. Posen
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Video
  • Institution: Middle East Institute (MEI)
  • Abstract: Of all the internal obstacles and external challenges the United States is likely to face in its pursuit of its new foreign policy priority of great power competition, the Middle East might prove to be the biggest. If the region continues to command U.S. attention and resources, Washington will struggle in its efforts to effectively pivot and counter Chinese and Russian ambitions in Asia and Europe, respectively. How does or should the Middle East fit in America’s new grand strategy? Does the great power competition necessitate an entirely new U.S. approach toward the Middle East? Which U.S. approach best serves Washington’s new global plans? To answer these questions and many others, the Middle East Institute (MEI) is honored to host a conversation with Professor Barry Posen from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Professor Stephen Walt from Harvard University.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Grand Strategy, Strategic Competition
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, Europe, Middle East, Asia, United States of America
  • Author: Suzanne Maloney, Alex Vatanka, Aleksi Aleksishvili, Rauf Mammadov
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Video
  • Institution: Middle East Institute (MEI)
  • Abstract: The economic toll of COVID-19 around the world has been significant and the impact of this crisis will reverberate for the next few years. Iran is among the hardest hit economies but the fallout is also already felt among Iran’s immediate neighboring states, including the countries of South Caucasus and the Caspian Basin. With US sanctions severely limiting its international trade, Tehran has in recent years banked on trade with immediate neighbors as a stopgap remedy to its economic needs. This policy of prioritizing trade and other economic ties with immediate neighbors is now under even more pressure due to COVID-19. While Iran is expected to experience a sharp economic contraction in 2020, economic growth forecasts have also been cut in neighboring Caucasus states, requiring swift and decisive action from leaders and international partners. The Middle East Institute (MEI) will bring together a panel of experts to explore the economic impacts of COVID-19 on Iran, the South Caucasus and the question of regional economic cooperation and integration. Besides looking at what has driven Iran’s neighborhood policy in recent years, and how it is in danger of crumbling due to COVID-19 restrictions, the panel will focus on the specific case of the energy sector where regional integration was moving ahead, albeit slowly. Meanwhile, the role played by third-parties – including Russia and the US - will also be tackled by the panelists as they reflect on Iran-South Caucasus economic connections.
  • Topic: Economics, Sanctions, Trade, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Iran, Caucasus, Caspian Sea
  • Author: Randa Sim, Zaher Sahloul, Kieren Barnes, Aya Majzoub
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Video
  • Institution: Middle East Institute (MEI)
  • Abstract: As COVID-19 continues to devastate global economies and health systems with no end in sight, refugees and IDPs are among the world’s most vulnerable communities. Already facing tremendous challenges including loss of livelihoods, lack of citizenship, psychological trauma, and discrimination, displaced people in the Middle East must now contend with the pandemic and its devastation on the already-strained healthcare systems and economies of their host countries. Refugees are particularly susceptible to illnesses like COVID due to overcrowding in refugee camps, lack of proper sanitation, food, and water resources, and unprotected movement across borders. Meanwhile, the region’s conflicts, outbreaks of violence, and occupation continue, providing little relief in the most fragile environments. How are refugees in the Middle East withstanding the virus in countries such as Lebanon, Iraq, and Jordan? How does the impact of the virus expose existing fragilities in and create new challenges for the region’s healthcare services, particularly for refugee camps, which suffer from overcrowding and lack of proper sanitation? What are the new imperatives for governments and international organizations to provide assistance where it is needed most?
  • Topic: Health Care Policy, Refugees, Displacement, Sanitation, Humanitarian Crisis, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Roula Seghaier, Amir Ashour, Antoun Issa, Rasha Younes
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Video
  • Institution: Middle East Institute (MEI)
  • Abstract: Acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community is low across the Middle East, and LGBTQ+ individuals face a number of unique challenges due to their identity. The Middle East Institute (MEI) is pleased to host a virtual panel which will seek to explore the ways in which these communities have organized in the Middle East in order to raise visibility and advocate for greater rights, and how these efforts are under attack across the region. Panelists will discuss the impacts that governments, laws, and society have on the lives of LGBTQ+ people, and the ways in which grassroots organizations and initiatives strive to support this community in the face of backlash and the challenges of navigating the COVID-19 pandemic. What are the major challenges LGBTQ+ people face in the Middle East? In what ways have LGBTQ+ rights been integrated into broader social and political movements in countries like Lebanon and Iraq? How has COVID-19 impacted important advocacy work, and how are activists and organizations adapting to continue to protect these communities? Is there any hope for future protection of LGBTQ+ people in the wake of regional and global crises?
  • Topic: Human Rights, LGBT+, Advocacy, COVID-19, Identity
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Iulia Joja, Gonul Tol, Adam Eberhardt, Holger Fabian Sahl
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Video
  • Institution: Middle East Institute (MEI)
  • Abstract: COVID-19 has highlighted the vulnerabilities of refugees and migrants around the world, many of whom have been caught in transit as governments shut down borders. The virus is also placing increasing strain on migration pressure points, while enabling new migration trends to emerge. This has been particularly evident in Eastern Europe. Thousands of refugees gathered at the Turkey-Greece border at the beginning of the crisis, hoping to cross European Union borders. Meanwhile, many Ukrainian migrants living and working in Poland are leaving the EU to reach their homes and families. The Middle East Institute (MEI) is pleased to host a virtual panel in collaboration with the Centre for Eastern Studies (OSW) in Poland. The event will focus on the challenges facing refugees and migrants in Eastern Europe during COVID-19, as well as the response of governments and the European Union. What are the economic, political and security implications for the region? Are policymakers considering refugees in their COVID-19 preparations? Is the pandemic fueling anti-refugee sentiment in countries like Poland and Turkey? What is the role of the European Union in coordinating a regional response, and is it delivering?
  • Topic: Government, Migration, European Union, Refugees, Displacement, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East, Eastern Europe, Greece, Poland