M. Shafik Gabr is a prominent Egyptian businessman and philanthropist. He has established charitable foundations in Egypt and the United States to perform good humanitarian works of various sorts. In 2013, he began a fellowship program that encourages East-West dialogue. Each year, the fellowship brings 20 young professionals together for a month of travel, dialogue, and stimulating meetings with top leaders in Egypt and the United States.
I am a 2015 fellow. In this article, I share my notes from the fellowship to record my learnings from my participation and hope that these notes might help future fellowship applicants understand what they are signing up for.
My notes are as comprehensive as I could get them, but the most meaningful learnings came, of course, from the person-to-person interactions that the fellowship facilitates. Please forgive any typos, grammatical errors, or incomplete sentences. Again, these are just notes. If you would like more information about the fellowship, feel free to leave me a comment below this article, contact me or visit the Shafik Gabr Foundation website.
East-West: The Art of Dialogue Fellowship, Part 1 (Egypt)
The first segment of the fellowship takes place in Egypt. During these 12 days, we visited Cairo, Giza, the Suez Canal, Alexandria, and Luxor. We had audiences with leaders in politics, the military, education, business, culture, and religion at each location.
Friday October 16, 2015 (Cairo)
Mr. Rob Riemen, Founder, President & CEO of the Nexus Institute
Topic: Culture and Civilization: The Return of Political Extremism in the 21st Century Location: Ramses Hilton Hotel
Saturday October 17, 2015 (Cairo)
Mr. Karim Haggag, Deputy Director of Policy Planning at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Topic: Shifting Middle East Landscape Location: Ramses ARTOC HQ
A reaction to the cries for freedom away from authoritarianism.
The youth population drove this.
They were striving for democracy.
Within one year, the paradigm shifted.
Authoritarianism reaction to the Arab Spring to try and maintain the tradition.
This was a dismal display of power: Tunisia and Libya failed to restructure.
Arab Spring / Uprisings
Began to be regionalized—Syria, UAE, Lebanon, etc.
2005 - 2011
Terrorism was not common in the Middle East but made a return in the form of ISIS
Options: worse → much worse
There are shimmers of hope in the Middle East:
A trendsetter in the Middle East
1st parliament, constitution. Modern government
1st to pursue peace; signed an Israeli Peace Treaty
Role of the USA
Given all of the questions, turmoil, and other factors in Egypt / Middle East, in the USA even relevant?
What role should the USA play?
Effective Counter-messaging does not come from the government. It comes from other related players in the same sector as the source of the extremism. i.e., non-radical Islamists were fighting radical Islamists.
Terrorist objectives have moved beyond bombs and 9/11 events. Now they want Statehood in the region an opportunity to be legitimate.
Muslim Brotherhood - oldest and most well-organized of the Islamist Movement leaders
Adel El-Adawy, Assistant Professor at The American University in Cairo
Topic: U.S. - Egypt Think Thank: Egyptian Foreign Policy Location: Ramses ARTOC HQ
The past four years have seen a lot of turnover and instability within high government roles
Egyptian Foreign Policy Circles
Regional Neighbors: Arab Circle
African Circle: re-emerging now as an African leader
Mediterranean Circle: Italy, France, Spain are big players
International Circle: USA, U.K., Russia, China
Israel / Palestine
Immigration (Mediterranean issue)
Think tanks that Egyptian leaders listen to most are government departments’ official think tanks: not independent. Private think tanks are weak, under-resourced, and have little influence.
Mix of Military in Politics:
US / UK - clear division - however, the military does regularly advise politicians and lobbies for funding and authority
Egypt - blurred lines - during all political changes, the military was the only institution that remained stable enough to run the country while all the other areas fell apart. Because the military stepped in, Egypt has not failed the way that Libya and Syria have.
Mr. Hisham El Khazindar, Managing Director of Citadel Capital
Topic: Egypt’s Economic Development: Moving Forward Location: Ramses ARTOC HQ
Dr. Mohamed Salmawy, President of Writers’ Union in Egypt
Topic: Understanding Egypt’s Constitution Location: Ramses ARTOC HQ
Egypt has always been a secular government. The people have always been very religious (invented 1st concept of religion) but never accepted a religious government.
Public perception of the Muslim Brotherhood is that because they had a religious base in ideology, the people supported them because they believed the Muslim Brotherhood would enforce social justice, fight corruption, and have high moral and ethical standards. Within just months of the election, they turned radical with their policies and claimed that others could not challenge any presidential decision. It also became clear that despite the Muslim Brotherhood’s high education, they had no idea about governing.
Ousting of Morsi
Not a coup d’etat - this was a military action by request of the people to toss out the government, not a military decision to act independently to take over the government and rule Egypt for themselves.
Without this military action, Egypt would be in a civil war.
Role of Youth
They are essential and won’t change quickly.
They drive sentiment for action, and because of social media and willingness to be vocal, they force accountability.
They don’t unrealistically demand change tomorrow, but they do demand evidence of progress today.
Mr. Paul-Gordon Chandler, Founder and President of Caravan
Topic: Six Pillars Builds a Bridge: Creative Peacebuilding between the Creeds of the Middle East and West Location: Ramses ARTOC HQ
“If you have a monkey for a friend, you’ll never get your loincloth stuck in a tree.”
6-Pillars of Islam (instead of the traditional 5)
Belief in the existence and unicity of Allah.
Belief in the existence of Angels.
Belief in the books of Allah.
Belief in Allah’s messengers and that Muhammad is the last of them.
Belief in the Day of Judgment.
Belief in the Qadhaa’ & Qadr (Doom & Divine Decree)
Jihad - fighting an internal struggle. We should jihad peace on Islam.
The sliver is so bright that we can’t see all we have in common on the dark side of the moon.
Radical Islam vs. Islam
Watch the new Omar Sharif Video (ask the speaker what video this is)
Ms. Lina Alorabi, Designer
Topic: A Journey through Design in Egypt Location: Ramses ARTOC HQ
Traditional Ornate vs. Modern Minimalist furniture design
Ambassador Mohamed Anis Salem, Head of Development Works
Topic: Restarting the US-Egypt Relationship: a future-based approach Location: Ramses ARTOC HQ
Mr. Hussein Fahmy, Actor and Ambassador of Goodwill
Topic: Bridge Building through Art Location: Ramses ARTOC HQ
Regional ambassador of Goodwill to the Special Olympics, Former president of the Cairo International Film Festival, and leading movie star
“Never compromise your ethics.”
Sunday October 18, 2015 (Cairo)
Topic: Open discussion Location: Ramses ARTOC HQ
Visit the Regional Center for Strategic Studies in Giza (including Lunch)
Mrs. Karen Aboul Kheir, Executive Manager at The Regional Center for Strategic Studies - Cairo
Topic: Introduction about The Regional Center for Strategic Studies Location: The Regional Center for Strategic Studies - Cairo
Mr. Hossam Hassan
Topic: Egypt’s foreign relations Location: Ramses ARTOC HQ
Egypt is 90 M people
Coalition between Egypt and Gulf Arab countries
Election monitoring issues. Understanding that elections here might not look orderly from American standards but they are vastly improved every time
During the Mubarak period, many talks about Egypt played a lesser role in the Middle East. USA moved to weaken this relationship to increase instability and make it easier for the USA to influence the region
Obama does not care so much about Egypt. Just not too concerned about the positions here
The current American election has new interests from the last time. Last week, the democratic debate didn’t talk about strategic relationships with the Middle East but focused on Asia relationships.
U.S. Congress …
Trying to make the balance between Russia-US-Egyptian relationship
Egypt is Africa but has not spent a lot of effort pursuing African relations. They are trying to improve that now.
Egyptian public opinion of America is damaged by Egyptian media perception of American policy
Mr. Aboul Fadl
Topic: Egypt’s parliamentary elections Location: Ramses ARTOC HQ
Parliamentary elections began abroad yesterday; today in Egypt
This is the very first multiparty election in Egypt. In the past, it was always mono-party.
Based on three rounds:
1st round 14M registered voters
2nd round, 28M registered voters
Parliamentary elections are usually about local issues where family politics play an essential role. Therefore, tribal politics are essential
The church plays a significant role because they can rally many Christian voters getting to the polls
how much participation to expect? Some say no more than 30% in the 1st round. But this will vary based on region, as much as 45%. In a general election, it could be as much as 85%.
Mr. Mohamed Abass
Topic: US-Iran Agreement and its Repercussions Location: Ramses ARTOC HQ
Mr. Ahmed Kamel
Topic: Egypt: The War Against Terrorism Location: Ramses ARTOC HQ
In the 1970s, terrorism was pursuing Shia law and only attacking government buildings and people. They sought a change in the political atmosphere. Also attacked police.
Now it’s different because they attack random places to cause harm to just any person and to strike terror by people coming to know that any site could be a target
Also, today, the military is a target.
A result of the war
Most terror events take place in Cairo but with the least amount of casualties
Sinai Peninsula alone represented 12% of terror deaths.
Terror spiked since the 2012 constitutional referendum. Many more infrastructure attacks. 600 military and police casualties since then. Now Sinai has 40% terror deaths
Egypt has massive borders that are hard to control. But the military has become much better at guarding them and identifying breaches, especially tunnels. Over 200 tunnels have been destroyed in recent years
Mr. Ali Bakr
Topic: The Muslim Brotherhood: A Historical Perspective Location: Ramses ARTOC HQ
Started as a peace-oriented political movement
Were able to create a belief that they are Islam and anyone against them is against Islam. Therefore many support them for this purpose but the brotherhood abuses this blind following by supporting terror groups and giving them credibility. The very vast majority of people do support this but also don’t want to turn against the brotherhood because they believe that they are Islam
Eventually, the military wing of the brotherhood grew too powerful to the point that they were ousted and became something else
Mr. Khaled Abdel Aziz, Minister of Youth and Sports
Topic: Developing Young Egyptian Leaders Location: Ministry of Youth and Sports in Mohandessin
H.E. Mr. Amre Moussa, Former Secretary-General of the Arab League and Chairman of the Constitutional Committee
Topic: Egypt-US Bilateral Relations: Challenges and Opportunities Location: ?
The Arab Israeli Conflict (the Arab Peace Proposal)
The Prolonged Occupation of Palestine
The US-Iran agreement and the expected shift in the balance of power in the region
The Syrian situation
Israeli / Palestine
1-state / 2-state solution
Writing the constitution
Why he left the Congress Party
“We need a new regional order.”
With culture, regional security, laws, and actionable plans
Optimistic about Egypt
Will be 120M people in Egypt very soon. All plans must factor in this scale (education, infrastructure, energy)
If the region is to be more stable, then it is necessary that all the factions in the region be part of the discussion
It is good that we have made a deal and that it’s this deal. It must go forward. But, now that one nation has a nuclear deal in the area, other countries must be given the same consideration. The military side should be prohibited, not the civil and energy side.
Israel / Palestine
There is a perception that Israel is getting __ because of everyone talking now about Syria. This is false.
Israelis ought to reconsider their regional policies, but they won’t; they only want to draw out endless talk with Palestine, which will never end.
If a 2-state solution can’t be worked out, fine, then make 1-state with rights for all.
Regardless, they must come to work together to live together.
Of course, the other impacted countries have rights that need to be respected, but so does Egypt.
“It takes two to tango, and we can tango if we have the right music.”
Egypt is a country in distress. Not yet out of the bottleneck.
Eng. Mohamed Shamel Hamdy, Senior Vice President Operations & Projects at Trident Petroleum
Topic: The Secrets of Egypt’s Energy Map Location: ?
Monday October 19, 2015 (Cairo)
Mrs. Lisa Anderson, President of the American University in Cairo
Topic: American University in Cairo and education in Egypt Location: AUC New Campus
AUC was founded in 1919. The original Campus is now the Greek Campus (we will visit here later.
3rd University in Egypt
New Campus built in 2008
AUC is unique for its career services department. Not common in Egypt
Education of facts is no longer relevant because all the world’s facts are in your pocket. What is critical is education, which promotes critical thinking.
AUC is the most expensive University in Egypt by a lot. However, the financial aid packages are excellent
Mr. Alaa Hashim, Chairman of Transcendium Limited Advisory For Independent Corporate Transformation, Advisor
Topic: Open discussion Location: AUC New Campus
Highlights of economics and development in Egypt
Very dynamic speaker, would be happy to be in contact with us in the future
Mr. Hafez Al Mazari
Topic: Open discussion Location: AUC New Campus
3 Nationalized Newspapers ($3-8B USD in debt)
Since 1934 government owns all broadcast frequencies (every terrestrial medium)
1952 Military Revolution of Egypt
Germany was 1st to organize Arabic language outlets
Controlled media? No. Not in the USA (FOX) or Egypt. Why? Because.
No one “sitting in a dark room” directing media censorship. The media self-directs themselves to do as they believe they must. If they aren’t sure what to say, they just say nothing until the global news covers a topic, then the Egyptian media will slowly report information, cautious not to overstep, education is critical, starts with ethics
Shorouk Newspaper is very harsh against the government, and they don’t have any problems. However, this may also be because their readership is small, and it allows the government to point to them and say, “see? we don’t censor!”
Dr. Ahmed Hassanien, Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies and Administration, and Dr. Ayman Ismail, Director of the AUC V-Lab
Topic: Open Discussion Location: AUC New Campus
Dr. Ibrahim Awad, Director of the Center of Migration and Refugee Studies at AUC
Topic: Open Discussion Location: AUC New Campus
H.G. Bishop Moussa, Bishop of Youth Affairs
Topic: Open Discussion Location: Cathedral in Abbaseya
Spoke a lot about the unity of Coptic Christians and Muslims in Egypt. That they have always had a good relationship and will continue to in the future, they work jointly on my community projects and have a high level of respect for each other.
Tuesday, October 20, 2015 (Cairo)
Dr. Hala El Said, Dean of School of Economics and Political Science at Cairo University
Topic: Overview on Political-Economic Landscape Location: Cairo University
Why so many military presidents? Because they are known to be the strongest leaders of the country and have the strongest discipline. They have the least corruption and do the most for the people. Because of this, civilians like military leaders. Also, the military is the most organized, and the people see this and vote for it.
No K-12 education about what a democracy is. Only at university. K-12 only as national history education, which includes information about the importance of the military.
Mr. Abdel Ghaffar Shokr, Vice President at NCHR, with NCHR member: Mr. George Ishak, Mrs. Ragia Omran, Mrs. Neveen Mosaad, Mr. Kamal Abbas
Topic: Open Discussion Location: National Center for Human Rights in Giza
National institution created by law, but independent of all other agencies. Oversees and studies all Human Rights issues in Egypt and advises policy on the Topic. Monthly and annual reports of violations. There are 120 researchers on the council from all political, racial, religious, gender, and other viewpoints.
U.N. H.Q. advises and assists
Secretary-General of African Societies
Tries to be a bridge between Arab and African countries while maintaining EU-US-Asia-Russia-Egypt balance
When I asked about citizen journalism, there was a lot of confusion. The answer revolved around social media, but this is, of course, unmonitored. There was mention of a radio station, but no details. UNESCO has activities here, and I should reach out to them.
The Supreme Council for the Regulation of Media
The National Press Organization
The National Media Organization
“Different between citizen and community journalism.”
Amb. F. Awad, the Arab League
Topic: The Effect of the Arab Spring on the M.E. Political Scene Location: The Arab League
1944 - established the Arab League. Oldest multi-national league in the world, even before the League of Nations.
$65M budget only
Iran - Arab nations are not the only players
Arab League - Just helps the member states implement the decisions they make
Palestine / Israel
Everyone is tired of talking about it, but it’s a shame we can overcome it.
Politicians have to decide on this, and they are too tired of a dead dialogue to get the voters to pressure American (for example) politicians
Will take another 70 years - marketing efforts to middle America to count the Israeli lobby
Honorable Mona Markram Ebeid, Former Parliamentarian, and Speaker
Topic: Open discussion Location: The Arab League
Youth complain about the government, but then they don’t vote because they see no benefit
“Thank goodness, the Islamists also don’t vote.”
Reasons for the Revolution
Rigging of the 2010 elections
Burning of the Two Saints Church in Alexandria, where 20 Christians were murdered
20 days and the revolution started by a rally of youth in social media
Hopes for the future
Dignity is the issue. NOT democracy. The west forgets this. Egypt used to be #1 in the Arab world with soft power: respect, allies, etc., but they lost that over the years
President Sisi’s popularity
Mubarak’s overthrow after one year by 30M Egyptian citizens who asked the military for help
Military agreed and gave a 1-week notice to Mubark to either call for elections or step down. When the clock expired, and Mubarak had not complied, the military moved in and took over their plan. The military stated the plan, followed the plan, held elections, and the people were very thankful and voted the military leader into the presidency because they trusted only him.
West was against this at first because Mubarak was the democratically elected president, and the west wanted the president to have his term and be removed democratically. Egypt doesn’t care about this, reminding that Hitler was also democratically elected.
Dr. Mostafa El Fiky, Political Expert
Topic: Egypt from Revolution to Reform Location: Ramses ARTOC HQ
1952 - political revolutions had the rhetoric of “Best Egypt Ever,” which is, of course, not true. Revolution comes as a result of the worst of times and only makes more divisions
Egypt is not the same as the Arab Gulf States on the Syrian issue
Different from Yemen
Disagreements with Saudi Arabia et al. about what to do w/ Syrian president
Egypt not in a position because the military is occupied in Sinai, Western border and anticipate Southern aggression
Egypt does not have diplomatic relations with Iran
To restore relations does not signify love for Iran, but it is important to be speaking and building mutual understanding in hopes of forming relations
Must disengage from religion and politics—sectarian state essential.
Muslim Brotherhood: 2 problems
1 - shared state secrets with broader Muslim Brotherhood organization in other countries
2 - Blurred lines of state to the Islamic World
Mr. Ziad Aly, CEO, and Founder of Alzwad for Economic Development
Topic: Entrepreneurship for a New Egypt political changes in Egypt Location: Ramses ARTOC HQ
Believes there is a huge opportunity to work with youth and the media
Dr. Noah Bakr
Topic: Open discussion Location: Ramses ARTOC HQ
Political Science Professor at the American University of Cairo (AUC)
Literacy rate is based on a 3rd-grade level and above. This is a problem because the statistics show high literacy in Egypt, but it’s at a very low standard with little critical thinking skills.
January 25 Revolution wasn’t because of the economy; it was because of the Egyptian identity being threatened by Islamist extremists (Muslim Brotherhood)
1.1:1 M/F Ratio
Population grew in 1981 - today from 44M - 90M. Wow! This is due to increasing unemployment, so Egyptians had more free time to make families, returning to traditional values that larges families bring prosperity, but it hasn’t worked out that way (doesn’t work in modern economies)
Youth engagement is critical
Dr. Tarek Ragheb, Founding Chair of the African Business Aviation Association
Topic: Open discussion Location: Ramses ARTOC HQ
Egyptian-American. Served in USAF and was in high-ranks at CENTCOM.
Special Envoy to Uganda
“Arab Spring” is a term coined by the west. It doesn’t make sense!
Prefers dealing with republican insults than leftist over accommodation because political Islam is not the type of thing to become moderate by exposure to liberals
Political Islam is the single greatest threat to the West and the Modern World
Inclusion breeds moderation = True (for ordinary people) BUT with people whose supreme doctrine is a 1400-year-old document, they will not compromise, and you are wasting your time trying to negotiate with them or moderate them
“If you dialogue with and accommodate these people, they will exploit you until they are strong, and then they WILL kill you. This is a fight for your survival. Understand that first.”
“The Middle East doesn’t need democracy at this stage. They need governance to bring order. Democracy will come later. America took ~250 to get to today, and for the first 200 years, African Americans and women couldn’t vote. Why does the Middle East have to evolve overnight? Give them 200 years too!
Terrorism is not in all of Sinai; only three cities there
Question: Any efforts to reach out to USA voters about Egypt’s reality?
Answer: Not able to do. Only a few in D.C. care about Egyptian politics. Experience shows that USA Media just looks to prove their views and opinions.
Military plays a 1% role in large construction projects, only to supervise, but not manage or conduct the work. Keeps projects on schedule and prevents corruption
Egypt - U.S. vs. Egypt - Russia in Syrian policy
Egypt does not intervene in other nation’s affairs at this time because they are busy focusing on their recovery for the last three years. However, if there is an internal/civil Call to Action to go to Syria, they will maybe. But all is complicated there, and Egypt must focus on its anti-terror initiatives
Lessons learned from Saddam Hussein means Egypt must reconsider what to do differently in Syria.
Wednesday, October 21, 2015 - Visit to Suez Canal
Meeting with Vice Admiral Mohab Mamish, Chairman of the Suez Canal Authority
Topic: The New Suez Canal: The Opportunities to revive Egypt Economy Location: Suez Canal Authority Headquarters
Original open date in 1869 - 1M Egyptians built the canal, 100k died making it
$8.92B provided by the citizens in 192 days via bonds to build the new canal
The canal is not just about the revenue. It is also for the future opportunities for redundancy, added industry, manufacturing, and strategic viability of the whole region
Building the new Suez Canal was said to take 5-years by engineers’ assessment. The admiral overseeing the project was ambitious enough to say he could do it in one year. President Sisi came to the admiral’s announcement event and told him in advance that he would be making a small request but didn’t mention what it was. Then, when the admiral announced the 3-year project, President Sisi requested it is done in an impossible 1-year! But they succeeded in precisely one year, and they are open for business!
Thursday, October 22, 2015 (Cairo)
Topic: Open discussion Location: American Resource Center in Egypt
Also has an office in San Antonio, Texas
Humanities research. No science unless as part of archeology
M. Shafik Gabr Foundation For Social Development (Egypt)
An essential part of heritage preservation is the people, not places, artifacts, monuments, or architecture (as is often manifested in work performed)
Originally was mandatory to have an even split between Islamic, Coptic, and Pharaonic sites. This is laxer now, but it’s essential to try to maintain this
Socioeconomic value, historical value, and archaeological significance as well as future economic value.
Socially useful purpose which will hopefully be maintained in the future (mosque/church)
Or: “adaptive reuse” to be useful in the future. “the pyramids were not built as tourist attractions, but there is a clear economic value there.”
Egyptology research and books are 30% German, 30% English, 30% French, 10% all other languages
H.E. Amb. Hamdi Sanad Loza, Deputy Foreign Minister for African Affairs
Topic: Open discussion Location: Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Question: Efforts of the Ministry’s press office to work with the foreign media?
Answer: Perception internally is that the Egyptian government spends too much time speaking with each other and not enough time talking with the rest of the world. They do work with the foreign media, but it seems too impossible to impact American Media’s views, especially in the USA.
Welcome to discuss suggestions for improved EN-US Media relations
Arab world skeptical about the USA in Syria because the USA has promised to invade Iraq and make it a model of freedom and democracy in the region. USA failed and is making dismal efforts, so the USA’s credibility is very low. The region doesn’t want the USA involved in-part because the USA breaks promises, fails goals, and creates situations that breed terrorism.
Counter Messaging Activities
ISIS’s message is very attractive to youth with troubled backgrounds who prefer to see a man with a gun, 2-3 women, and speaking of fighting for a new caliphate. Especially youth already in trouble. These youth are not scholars and don’t have the advantage of better life options, so it becomes a great chance. The fight to counter this will be long and hard.
Question: If the MFA could assign one task to the Gabr Fellows to improve Egypt-West relations, what would it be?
Answer: Find and create professional means to share Egypt’s realities in the west. How to grow this and how to scale it.
I suggested a media relations organization with Government advisement. He suggested that the government not be too close to any such efforts to avoid suspicion and lack of credibility.
Ambassador R. Stephen Beecroft, US Ambassador in Egypt
Topic: Egypt – U.S. Bilateral Relations Location: U.S. Embassy in Cairo, Ambassador’s Residence
Iran / Nuclear Middle East (UAE, Turkey, etc..)
Shared values we want to protect
Factors of Extremism
Internal pressures to participate
Iran / Syria - feels suppressed for 1400 years and think that now it’s their time
American Interests Here
Location - the center of so many conflicts; airline paths, Suez Canal.
Population (¼ Arab world, we don’t want that radicalized)
Voice of America, NY Times, Washington Times, the Economist all have offices here. There are dialogue and an international media presence, but I couldn’t speak to details.
Mr. Ahmed El Alfi, Founder & Chairman of Sawari Ventures
Topic: Transforming the Startup Ecosystem in Egypt Location: Greek Campus
Mr. Alfi lived a few years in Austin
It is similar to Capital Factory / WeWork but doesn’t offer V.C. or mentorship. They are strictly a facility that builds culture and encourages collaboration and relationships to develop.
V.C. firms also have offices here, but the Greek Campus, as an organization, does not get involved in that because they find it would be a conflict of interest for them.
800 employees here
“Therapy for entrepreneurs.”
Tech Wadi - event between Cairo and Silicon Valley, sponsored by Google.
What are the trends in successful startups?
ROE Optimization - Return on Effort
Middle East V.C. - Egypt, Saudi Arabia, UAE
Smartest: Egypt by far
Saudi: Most CEOs for startups, especially women, are highly educated and have the time.
UAE has the best work-life environment
“We don’t rent to jerks.”
$300/mo for 10’x10’ space
Dr. Ahmed Darwish, Chairman, IEEE Egypt Section & Former Minister of State for Administrative Development
Topic: The Future of Smart Governments in Egypt in the era of Smart Phones Location: The Greek Campus
He is an M.P. and career bureaucrat but is innovative and passionate about utilizing mobile devices in the democratic process.
Friday October 23, 2015 (Cairo)
Topic: Visit popular tourisim sites Location: Cairo and Giza
Tour at Giza Pyramids and Sphinx
Walking Tour at El Moez Street and Khan el Khalili
Saturday, October 24, 2015 (Cairo and Alexandria)
Topic: Visit popular tourisim sites Location: Alexandria, Egypt
Visit to the Roman Amphitheatre
Mr. Hany el Missery, Governor of Alexandria
Topic: Open discussion Location: Alexandria Governorate
Appointed in February 2015
Egyptian - American. He grew up in Alexandria. Degree from UCLA. He spent most of his life in the USA and Switzerland. He was CEO of a major petroleum company. The Egyptian government asked him to serve and agreed, but only if it was in Alexandria.
Governors in Egypt are not elected but are appointed by the Prime Minister
Alexandria has 30% of the cotton industry and 40% of the petrol industry in all of Egypt
5M residence + 3M seasonal workers in summer. 33km of shoreline
Goals: Health and Education. Everything else is extra
Proposal to build a series of 3km x 1km islands, each dedicated to different sectors (education island, medical island, etc.) Similar to the UAE.
Need to create tourism operations reality that the best tourist sites are elsewhere in Egypt. Alexandria has only 1-2 places, starting to attract ex-pats in other ways (like conferences), but this means building hotels and other infrastructure.
Women - 1st deputy governor and district director ever in Egypt to be women are now here by this governor’s appointment
Alexandria doesn’t view people by gender, faith, or race. They are Alexandrians and very proud of their diversity and this identity being maintained at all costs.
Converted trams into cafes, and now they earn 10k L.E. / day instead of the 3k L.E. / day they were receiving a year ago. Tons of other innovations in public facilities, services, authorizations/startups (Microsoft), etc.
Youth Parliament - youth aren’t being constructive. They just want. They have this forum, but they only come with problems and not suggesting solutions, but the governor is trying to engage them.
Sewage: City is growing too fast, and sewage is overflowing. The Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) model is the way to address this. Not common in Egypt, but it’s a proven model in the rest of the world and should be used here.
Buildings: taking down buildings in violation of codes. “sweet grandmother problem.”
Trash: 100k of 15M / month is being paid by the government to the trash contractor. Big deficit problem.
lol: he fired a district head via WhatsApp
Has 13k employees but has only met 12 of them because the governor’s office was burned down and everyone is scattered. He only needs ten people to get the job done.
Sunday, October 25, 2015 (Alexandria)
Dr. Ismail Serageldin, Director of Bibliotheca Alexandrina
Topic: Egypt: 2011 To Date Location: Bibliotheca Alexandrina
Showcasing the work of Bibliotheca Alexandrina
Revolutionary thinking about the future of libraries generally and the B.A. specifically.
Ms. Al Zahraa Adel, Egyptologist
Topic: Alexandria: a Cosmopolitan City Location: ?
Monday, October 26, 2015 (Luxor)
Dr. Ahmed El Tayeb, Grand Sheikh / Grand Imam of Al Azhar
Topic: Open Discussion Location: Al Azhar
The institute reaches
2M k-12 students
10k university students
~50 institutes in Africa and Asia
~80 University faculty
40k foreign students
Education is free (tuition, fees, room/board, books, etc.)
“There is only 1 Islam. Is teaches love, acceptance of others, accepting and co-existing with others, no matter who you are.”
“To see violence and harm caused by others in the name of “Islam” is confusing and outrageous.
132 countries represented in these schools. Scholarships available for all students
Funded by the endowment, the Egyptian government, private donors, and several other nations, including Saudi Arabia and the UAE
The Grand Imam is the top scholar at the Al-Azhar
Believes it is programs like the Gabr Fellowship, which creates the dialogue necessary to lead to better East-West understanding and cooperation and bringing down the walls that are dividing us.
There is no room in Islam for struggle or the imposition on to others for how they should be
The Grand Imam is from the west bank of Luxor
Question: Some Imams say things on Friday prayers that incite violence and fear. What is Al-Azham doing about this?
Answer: Of 90k mosques in Egypt, maybe 10 speak radical things. This is a low statistic, but it does cause a problem. Every 6-months, Christian priests and Imams come together to discuss this and then take a stance on the streets together to discuss with the public what has been discussed
Question: Does the Grand Imam represent Sunni or Shia Islam?
Answer: There is only 1 Islam. The sects of Islam still have the same one God and believe the same things, just express it in a different way
Christians are members of one church, and this builds community and understanding. In Islam, a mosque is a mosque, but you can also pray where you are, which means that this strong sense of community Christians have doesn’t exist in Islam. Probably this is the cause of some perception problems.
Judgement Day’s role in Radicalization: >1% believe in this ideology, but this is what fuels radicalism’ (kill infidels and get 21 virgins, etc..) It’s ridiculous.
Tuesday, October 27, 2015 (Luxor)
Topic: Visit popular tourism sites Location: Valley of the Kings, Valley of the Queens, Hatshepsut Temple
Mr. Raymond Johnson, Director of the Oriental Institute
Topic: Showcasing the Work of Chicago House Location: Chicago House in Luxor
Karnak Temple Sound and Light
Topic: Visit popular tourisim sites Location: Karnak Temple, Luxor
Wednesday, October 28, 2015 (Luxor and Cairo)
Topic: Visit popular tourisim sites Location: Karnak Temple, Luxor
Guided Tour at Luxor Temple
Guided Tour at Luxor Museum
East-West: The Art of Dialogue Fellowship, Part 2 (USA)
The second segment of the fellowship takes place in the United States of America. During these 14 days of the fellowship, we visited New York, New Jersey, Atlanta, and Washington, D.C. Again, in each location, we met with prominent leaders in politics, the military, education, business, culture, and religion.
Topic: Pursuing Freedom in America Location: The King Center, Atlanta GA
Pursuit of Civil Rights in America
Dr. Lawrence E. Carter Sr., Director of the Martin Luther King Jr. College of Pastoral Leadership
Topic: Open discussion Location: ?
Meeting with Dr. Lawrence E. Carter Sr. - Dean of the Chapel, Professor of Religion, College Archivist & Curator, Founder, Gandhi, King, Ikeda Institute for Global Ethics & Reconciliation
Director of the Martin Luther King Jr. College of Pastoral Leadership Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel
Friday November 13, 2015 (Atlanta)
John Jazzman, Resident Managing Director and Nolan Wilson, Cyber Security
Topic: How should companies consider risk in international investment in an era of persistent conflict? Location: Aon Risk Solutions (One Piedmont Center, Suite 700, 3565 Piedmont Road, Northeast, Atlanta, GA 30305)
Mark T. Kimmitt, 16th Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs
Topic: Implications for the Middle East in the Advent of the Iranian Nuclear Deal and the Russian Military Intervention in Syria Location: ?
Breakfast with Mark T. Kimmitt, 16th Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Middle East, both serving under the George W. Bush Administration. Retired Brigadier General, U.S. Army
The Health of the Military to Military Relationship
Advice to the next president - must be candid about our foreign policy, especially in the Middle East
To be an influence in the region, we must engage
Lead from the front
MG Khaled Mogawer
Topic: View on Conflict and Instability Analysis Location: Egyptian Embassy in Washington D.C.
Topic: Enabling U.S. Partners in the Middle East Location: ?
What is going on in the world? “A clash of civilization against chaos.”
the U.S. is like the boyfriend that says, “I love you” on Monday and then doesn’t answer your calls on Wednesday. Then, you call the ex-boyfriend who beats you (Putin), and maybe he gets drunk every day and beats you, but at least he shows up when you call!
US, Israel, and Saudi policies in the last five years have caused significant damage to the Middle East situations and policies
No reconciliation because of the “kill or be killed” struggle post-coups between Sisi, military, and Muslim Brotherhood
George Selim, Rob Malley, and Andrew Miller, Presidential Advisors
Topic: Open discussion Location: The White House
Question: How can we make an impact?
Answer: Our generation has a new perspective on how to utilize technology for making a significant impact in the areas of speech, media, entrepreneurship, etc. but also has an evil side, so be careful.
Seize every opportunity to travel, learn languages
If you don’t see the opportunity in front of you, make your own opportunity.
Question: what is your Perspective on Snowden?
Answer: Our government does not spy on American people to spy on American people but rather through massive data mining; American data got caught up in that. Snowden pointed out the potential for abuse.
CVE - Countering Violent Extremism Task Force
Andrew Miller, director for Egypt and Israeli Military Issues
Can the U.S./Egpyt reset the relationship on stronger footing? What it will take
Evolving Political U.S./Egypt Relationship: Can Egypt be the key United
States partner for engagement in the Middle East and North Africa?
Responsible to the staff of the National Security Advisor and the president on these issues
Coordination of all government agencies to be working in the same direction
OBE - overtaken by events when events unfold to derail or shift policy decision-making process before the decision can be made.
Sub IPC (Inter Policy Council)
Deputies Committee (all #2s at agencies)
Principals (cabinet members)
NSC (principals and president)
Countering Violent Extremism
4th time to work in the White House
This is his last week at the White House, shifting to the Department of Homeland Security.
Is a Buckeye (Ohio)
This guy is passionate about Gabr and dialogue and the importance of working together.
Why is the U.S./Egypt bilateral relationship now Tactical in nature rather than Strategic?
Answer: In power since 2002, won every election. Free but not fair elections. West fears that Turkish democracy is lost because the state now controls almost all media, the judiciary, and much of the government.
Question: Is it a good deal? What is the outlook?
Answer: It is a 15-year agreement, so much can happen. It will be complicated and bumpy, but it’s at least a framework. Iranian hardliners are only 15% of the population, but they are the ones with the guns. 85% want reform and stability with their neighbors and reengagement with the west.
It was a revolution, followed by a coup (re Egypt), but you can’t call it a coup because then all Aid to Egypt from the U.S. has to stop.
Aid was suspended but reestablished after 17(?) months
Egyptian Ambassador Yasser Reda
Topic: Open discussion Location: Residence of the Egyptian Ambassador to the United States
Dinner hosted by the ambassador
Friday, November 20, 2015 (Washington, D.C.)
Christi Fallon, Egypt Desk, Secretary of the Air Force, International Affairs
Topic: How my Fellow Experience informed my Professional Work Location: ?
Coffee with 2013 Gabr Fellow Christi Fallon
$1.3B aid is invested into U.S. industry on behalf of the Egyptian military
U.S. government can not make or lose money on these transactions (bt the manufacturers do, of course)
Has a division specializing in leveraging technology to solve global issues
Egyptian Revolution - youth wanted to change; older wanted stability. The youth got their way but then elected the Muslim Brotherhood. Parents said, “we told you so, be careful what you ask for!”
Egyptian Counter-Revolution - youth and parents revolt together against the Muslim Brotherhood, but then the parents influenced the youth to vote for stability, and nothing was more stable than the military leaders.
Artic oil - no access to western frilling technology or financing
Defense - no access to western military technology or support (as they had been doing with Ukraine, which is getting stronger).
Rate of Syrian refugees has only increased since Putin started bombing “ISIS.”
G7 (not G8) because Russia invaded Ukraine and does not want to play by the international rules
The Peace Institute doesn’t work with the state actors. More the lower levels, mid-career, mid-socioeconomic groups. More grassroots. More institutions and NGOs, not the State Department.
Electorial and Civic Education
Not doing this in Egypt (too difficult for the U.S.)
Programs: how it works, conflict resolution, case studies, and comparative research (search for understanding)
He is the Senior Vice President, Zbigniew Brzezinski Chair in Global Security and Geostrategy, and Director, Middle East Program
Implications of the Iranian Nuclear Deal and Stability in the region.
Aid is the wrong place for a relationship.
You should have a relationship because you do things together that are constructive.
Non-zero confidence-building measures
The new generation can solve problems because we aren’t afraid to do something new. The world’s problems are unlikely to be fixed by 70-year olds in suits meeting at conferences.
Question: Why didn’t the Egyptian revolution succeed in achieving their post-revolution goals?
Answer: Revolutions didn’t truly win over the elites. Businesses were pro-revolution, but once the economy stabilized a little, their appetite for rocking the boat disappeared.
“If you’re going to be an analyst, you can’t ban advocate. If you’re going to be an advocate, you can’t be a judge.”
Choose one. Builds credibility.
There are many suggestions for reading throughout these notes. Some of the suggestions are for news articles, trade papers, and literature. Here are a few books that topped the list of must-reads for all Gabr Fellows: