Ashraf Hegazy, executive director of the Dubai Initiative
"Dubai Initiative Conference Encourages Middle East Adaptation, Innovation"
Belfer Center Programs or Projects: Dubai Initiative
"Innovation and Adaptation in the Middle East" -- the Dubai Initiative's annual conference in May -- explored unique responses to the challenges facing the region. Prominent researchers and practitioners from the public, private, and non-profit sectors contributed expertise and ideas to the dynamic gathering. Following an opening address by Tarik Yousef, dean of the Dubai School of Government, the keynote address was delivered by Ambassador Nicholas Burns, professor of the practice of diplomacy and international politics, and member of the Belfer Center's board of directors.
The research of Dubai Initiative fellows and faculty affiliates was highlighted throughout the event's ten panels. Topics covered included state formation and the role of political Islam, the challenges of the "youth bulge" in the region, and the changing financial markets and global economies. The conference included a workshop on adaptation to climate change that was co-sponsored by the Center's Harvard Project on International Climate Agreements and Duke University's Nicholas School of the Environment.
The aim of the conference, said Dubai Initiative Executive Director Ashraf Hegazy, was "to provide a platform for relating research to practice on Middle East issues, and act as the launching point for new multidisciplinary, cross-institutional initiatives."
The climate workshop, which included top academic experts, policymakers, and practitioners, proved to be a valuable venue for the exchange of new insights and expertise to inform future research and policymaking. It is expected to result in a comprehensive publication in fall 2010, and a new collaborative initiative among most of its 20 participants.
Similarly, a meeting of urbanization experts from several institutions is expected to lead to the creation of a consortium to study the various dimensions of urbanism in the Arab world.
Discussion of multi-disciplinary integration, policy, research, and practice during the two day event provided numerous practical anchors to the theories behind the practice. Policy reforms were also given consideration with an eye toward effectively meeting upcoming challenges in the Middle East and North Africa.
For more information about this publication please contact the The Dubai Initiative at 617-496-3694.
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