Shafik Gabr's East-West - The Art of Dialogue Fellowship Notes

M. Shafik Gabr's charitable foundation encourages East-West dialogue by engaging young professionals in dialogue with top leaders in Egypt and the United States.

Posted by Judson L Moore

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

  • No notes

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

  • Arab Spring
    • 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.
  • Muslim Winter
    • 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
  • Recovery:
    • There are shimmers of hope in the Middle East:
    • Egypt
      • 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
  • Major Issues
    • Israel / Palestine
    • Ethiopian Dam
    • Immigration (Mediterranean issue)
    • Climate change
  • 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

  • No notes

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

  • Alternate Futures
  • Status quo
  • Deterioration
  • Recommended reading: The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable, by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
  • Driving Component
  • National Interests
  • Military / Security Dimensions
  • Regional dynamics, broader alliances
  • Global changes
  • Focus on essentials
  • Convergence
  • Need to maintain Israel / E.G., peace

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)

  • No notes

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

  • No notes

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
    • 3rd round?
  • 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

  • No notes

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

  • No notes

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
    • Four Issues:
      • Israeli / Palestine
      • 1-state / 2-state solution
      • Sudan Dam
      • 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
  • Iran Deal
    • 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.
  • Sudan Dam
    • 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: ?

  • No notes

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
  • Q.A.
    • 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

  • No notes

Dr. Ibrahim Awad, Director of the Center of Migration and Refugee Studies at AUC

Topic: Open Discussion
Location: AUC New Campus

  • No notes

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.
  • Google:
    • 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
    • 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
    • Police brutality
    • 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
  • Jobs
  • Food
  • 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

  • 70k followers on Twitter @ziadaly
  • Would take us on a cross-Egypt bike tour, seeing the real life of people.
  • Problems with your engagement post-Mubarak. They led a revolt against him and then stopped participating
  • Website built by youth: yadaweya
  • Visit the Center for Independent Music in Zibaway (spelling?)
  • Madamasr (independent media)
  • 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!
  • De Birs Yachts ← 100% Egyptian
  • “Turkish president Erdoğan is ISIS in a suit.”

Wednesday, October 21, 2015 - Ismailia

Gen. Mohamed Keshky, Assistant to the Minister of Defense and a Welcome Reception by Gen. Sedky Sobhy, Minister of Defense

Topic: Egypt – U.S. Military Cooperation
Location: Egyptian Ministry of Defense

  • Role of Egyptian Armed Forces in leading U.N. Peacekeeping Mission
  • Egypt in 1945 signed the U.N. charter (1 of 50)
  • 1st U.N. Peacekeeping mission was in Egypt in 1949 for an Egypt / Israel mission
  • Egypt trains many of the African Union troops
  • Egypt is the largest troop force of U.N. peacekeepers
  • 1st peace treaty in history was signed in Egypt (Egyptian–Hittite peace treaty, 1259BC)
  • 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)

Unknown speaker

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)
  • Selection Criteria:
    • 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
  • ISIS Situation
  • 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

  • U.S. Mission
    • Energy Dependence
    • Terrorism
    • Iran / Nuclear Middle East (UAE, Turkey, etc..)
  • Shared values we want to protect
    • Israel
    • 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)
  • Springboard for business in Africa
  • “Egypt writes, Lebanon publicizes, Iraq reads” - Amb. Beecroft
  • Grassroots efforts? (ask Mark)
  • USAID - Direct / Indirect Efforts
    • Education efforts (education institution partnerships), Fulbright, other exchange programs
  • Google: International Security Watch (independent reports)
  • Relationship with Egyptian media?
    • 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?
  • Tech, agrotech
  • 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
    • Facebook: Live Alexandria
    • WhatsApp Groups
    • 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.
  • Infrastructure
    • 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: ?

  • No notes

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

  • No notes

Mr. Raymond Johnson, Director of the Oriental Institute

Topic: Showcasing the Work of Chicago House
Location: Chicago House in Luxor

  • No notes

Karnak Temple Sound and Light

Topic: Visit popular tourisim sites
Location: Karnak Temple, Luxor

  • No notes

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.

Sunday, November 8, 2015 (New York City, NY)

Monday, November 9, 2015 (New York City, NY)

Diana Patch, Curator in Charge of Egyptian

Topic: Metropolitan Museum of Art Tour
Location: Metropolitan Museum of Art

  • Art Tour of the ancient Egyptian Art Galleries and then walk through the newly installed exhibition Ancient Egypt Transformed: The Middle Kingdom

Ambassador Ahmed Farouk

Topic: Open discussion
Location: Consulate General of Egypt

  • Egypt’s identity as an African Leader in light of its seat as the African representative on the Security Council?

Dina Powell, President, Goldman, Sachs Foundation

Topic: Investing in developing markets
Location: Goldman Sachs Headquarters

  • Goldman, Sachs & Co-Impact Investing Business (NYTimes Article)
  • Is the Middle East and North Africa at Dead or an Emerging Market?

Unknown speaker

Topic: Open discussion
Location: The Huffington Post

  • News media Answer: Is there a need for new professional standards and ethos?
  • Meeting and Interview with Huffington Post (wiki)

Ambassador Ahmed Farouk

Topic: Buffet Dinner
Location: Ambassador’s Residence

  • No notes

Tuesday, November 10, 2015 (New York City, NY)

General (Ret) David H. Petraeus

Topic: Strategic Considerations for International Investment
Location: Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. L.P. NY City Office

  • Discussion on Iran, 2016 U.S. Elections, U.S.
  • Member and Chairman of KKR Global Institute
  • MENA Policy and U.S. Economy

Herb London, President of the London Center for Policy Research

Topic: Open discussion
Location: ?

  • No notes

Scott Carpenter, Director of Google Ideas

Topic: How does Google posture itself in a chaotic world?
Location: Google office NYC

  • The non-linear business environment: How does Google posture itself in a chaotic world?
  • Google Ideas(wiki)
  • Meeting with Scott Carpenter (LinkedIn, video, NYTimes Article), Deputy Director of Google Ideas, and Workshop with Google Engineers and Managers

Dr. Richard Haass, President of the Council on Foreign Relations

Topic: Can we re-build a global strategic consensus in U.S. Foreign and Defense Policy?
Location: The Council on Foreign Relations

Dr. Jonathan Golden

Topic: American education
Location: Drew University

  • CFR Campus - New Initiative to educate youth and college students (vs) about foreign relations (Jan 2017)
  • Model Diplomacy: like the Harvard Core Method (ex: MUN)
  • The World 101 - A starter guide to the world and its foreign affairs.
  • Drew Institute on Religion and Conflict Transformation
  • 25-40 years of faith leaders (primarily) where inter-faith dialogue is generated
  • Inclusive of secular/humanists/atheists
  • Conflict mapping
  • Coders4Africa
    • Maybe they can submit a #selfie4peace?
  • “Victimhood is a finite resource” = false
    • Not a pie that you can’t give a piece away of
  • “When two elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers.” - African proverb
  • Interfaith encounters as a result of globalization
  • Org: I am Your Protector - a community of people who speak out and stand up for one another across dimensions of religion, ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientation.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015 (New York City, NY)

Mr. Ron LoRusso

Topic: Impacts of global financial market interdependence and risk sensitivity on long-range business strategic planning? Location: Cushman & Wakefield, Inc. NYC Office

  • 2ns largest company in commercial development
  • 80/20 rule
    • Poor door controversy

Brian Sullivan

Topic: The Role of Business Media in America
Location: CNBC

  • Tour CNBC, Lunch and Q&A with Brian Sullivan
  • Was the keynote speaker at the MET for the Gabr Fellowship 2013 kickoff announcement.
  • Close friends with Shafik and Gigi.
  • Has been to the Gabr home in Cairo
  • Quotes by Brian Sullivan
    • “We all have money in common” - Brian Sullivan
    • “Countries with McDonald’s don’t go to war with each other” - Brian Sullivan
    • “I’m the oil geek” - Brian Sullivan
  • Recency Bias - because something has been a certain way recently, people think it should be this way forever.
    • In relation to oil prices
    • 25 years ago, oil prices in today’s USD was $48, “so maybe this is where oil wants to be”
  • Brian is committed to making content designed for digital consumption
    • 30-90 seconds
  • CNBC is the Business News-Leader
  • Sawiris - richest family in Egypt

Mr. Michael A. Sheehan, Former Deputy Commissioner of Counter-Terrorism, New York City Police Department (NYPD), Counter-Terrorism; Intelligence Analysis; Community Affairs

Topic: Faith and Social Justice
Location: Saint Patrick’s Cathedral

  • Tour of Saint Patrick’s Cathedral and talk with Catholic Clergy
  • How to live and operate in an era of persistent threat?
  • New York City is a target for terrorists because:
    • Density of people
    • Financial district
    • Culture
    • Media headquarters and top reporters
    • Jewish population
  • 1993 World Trade Center bombing
  • Federal government is slow
  • NYPD is fast / overnight
  • NYPD Shield
    • How police communicate with the private sector and the public
    • Anyone can join
    • Crowdsourced intel gathering
  • Libya - the only country with an Interpol red-notice on Bin Laden pre 9/11
  • We’ve won the counter-message with our way of life. Why do you think Syrians are headed to the west?
  • ISIS is terror, but why fight them just to defend Assad? So people leave.
  • Caritas - refugee resettlement, “best single source” project
  • Meals on Wheels and more
    • More than just meals
    • Big budget and are always hiring

Evening out on the town

Topic: Visit popular tourisim sites
Location: Manhatten

Thursday, November 12, 2015 (Atlanta)

Bernice King - CEO of the King Center

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)

  • Breakfast Speaker: Aon Risk Services South, Inc.
  • AON is the primary sponsor of Manchester United
  • Insurance clearing house with global companies - risk assessment
  • $15B global. $60M Atlanta.
  • Marsh & McLennan - biggest competitor
  • Cyber risk
    • Online - what we hear about when someone steals a bunch of data
    • Offline - hard copy papers in the trash, lost/stolen phones, laptops, etc.
  • Middle East presence?
    • Six or so offices in the Middle East, but not in Egypt
    • Lots of clients in Egypt, and they do work in-country a lot
  • Political risk management
  • How is risk determined? (Political map)
    • Scholarly data
    • Transactional frequency and quantity
  • Government to mitigate risk?

Mr. Tim Langmaid

Topic: The Responsibility of Truth in Reporting
Location: CNN Headquarters, Atlanta, GA

  • CNN meeting with Mr. Tim Langmaid and Tour
  • Perspectives for United States Multinational Corporate Investment in Egypt and the broader Middle East
  • Headline News (HLN) “Must see, must share” stories of the day, but the internet has changed the need and the delivery for this.
  • Great Big Story - a standalone network that does more in-depth
  • Layers of journalism
    • Surface facts
      • News/press releases, speeches
    • Reporting practices
      • Fact-checking and investigation
    • Interpretation and analysis
      • Community and opinions
      • CNN does this, but Fox “leads” the market in this area
  • Triad:
    • Legal - can we do it?
    • Standards - should we do it?
    • The row - How do we do it?
  • Anonymous Sources Test
    • CNN doesn’t broadcast news without two names sources that are willing to be named.
    • Also considers these factors when working with a source:
      • Track record
      • Confirmable
      • Proximity (1st hand vs. 2nd hand witness)
      • Context
      • Motive
      • Believability
      • Risk
      • Allegation of wrongdoing
      • Response (what is the official response to the allegations?)

Jennifer Ragland, Director of International Government Relations & Public Affairs

Topic: VIP Tour of the AOC of Coca-Cola
Location: Coca-Cola Headquarters

  • Carlos A. Pagoaga, Group Director of Partnerships of the Coca-Cola Foundation
  • Sustainability at Coca-Cola
    • World’s largest beverage company
    • 200+ countries
    • 700k employees
    • 20M business outlets
  • Women’s Economic Empowerment Initiatives
    • Sustainability is good for their business
      • Trust driver
      • Social
      • Value
      • Cost
  • Golden Triangle (partnerships help leverage their scale)
    • Business, civil society, government
  • Middle East - Enhancing personal well-being
    • low-to-no calorie beverages
    • Transparent nutrition information
    • Active, healthy living programs
    • Marketing responsibility
      • Do not market to children under the ages of 12
  • Question: Any plans to reduce manufacturing/bottling in California because of the drought?
    • Answer: No plans, but will followup
  • Stieva-driven beverages
    • R&D in sweeteners
  • 5by20 Initiative
    • Women do 66% of the world’s work but only earn 10% of the world’s income. They invest 90% of their income in the community and family.
    • Business skills
    • Training courses
    • Financial services and assets
    • Network of peers and mentors
    • 865k women to-date (since 2010)
  • World - Protecting the environment
    • water, package recovery, carbon, agriculture
  • Rain - Replenish Africa initiative
    • $65M from 2009-2020
  • Plant bottle packaging
  • Recycling
    • Recovery - to recover and recycle the bottles from the trash
    • Ekocycle - initiative with William to make recycling cool and hip. Amazing and surprising products made from these PETs.
  • Project Unnati - South India productivity of Mango Farms
  • Coke Foundation - 1% of annual operating profits, roughly $128M
  • Disaster Relief Fund
  • Curtis Ferguson - Coke “B.U.” Chief in Cairo overseeing MENA


Topic: Dinner
Location: Maggiano’s Little Italy

Saturday November 14, 2015 (Atlanta)

Unknown speaker

Topic: Visit popular tourism sites
Location: Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum

Unknown speaker

Topic: The Struggle for Freedom in America
Location: Historic Ebenezer Baptist Church

Sunday, November 15, 2015 (Washington, D.C.)

Unknown speaker

Topic: Visit popular tourisim sites
Location: Around D.C.

Monday, November 16, 2015 (Washington, D.C.)

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.

  • No notes

Mr. Glen E. Howard, president of The Jamestown Foundation (wiki)

Topic: The Nexus of Security Challenges to the U.S. and its partners in the Middle East
Location: The Jamestown Foundation

  • The Jamestown Foundation is 20 years old
  • Started dealing with the Soviets
  • After 9/11 started addressing terrorism
  • Works in Eurasia (all of it)

Dr. Jennifer Jefferis and Dr. Gawdat Bahgat

Topic: Near-East South Asia (NESA) Roundtable
Location: ?

  • No notes

Thomas M. Sanderson, Director and Senior Fellow, CSIS Transnational Threats Project

Topic: Open discussion
Location: The National Defense University

  • Speaker bio at the National Defense University
  • Two of the most charismatic, happy, optimistic people we have met. Will make great allies on any project.

Dr. Paul M. Severance

Topic: Tour of key historical sites on Fort NcNair
Location: Fort McNair, DC

  • It starts in the South Atrium of Lincoln Hall.

David Hamod, President & CEO, American Chamber of Commerce

Topic: Egyptian Bilateral Relations, U.S. Middle East Policy and the Iranian Nuclear Deal
Location: ?

  • See this NYTimes Article
  • For 20 years
  • 25,000 companies
  • 22 countries
  • $71B in 2015
  • Conducts certification of American exporters into the Arab world
  • Enthusiastic to learn about my team’s action plan (Cleopatra to Coretta)
  • Building bridges
  • Dispelling stereotypes

Dr. Osama Abi-Mershed of the National U.S.-Arab Chamber of Commerce (NUSACC)

Topic: Arab Spring or Arab Winter?
Location: National U.S.-Arab Chamber of Commerce

  • No notes

Tuesday, November 17, 2015 (Washington, D.C.)

Alexander Gallo (HASC) and Dana Stroul (more) (SFRC)

Topic: Conflicting Agendas in U.S. Military Cooperation Efforts in the Middle East between the Defense and Foreign Relations Committees
Location: ?

  • Breakfast

Brigadier General Michael Fantini

Topic: The U.S./Egypt Military Relationship in the aftermath of the Strategic Dialogue
Location: The Pentagon

  • Briefing and Q&A by Brigadier General Michael Fantini, Principal Deputy Director for the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Middle East Affairs
  • Followed by a briefing by DASD Andrew Exum
  • Tour of Pentagon

Congressman Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R)

Topic: U.S. and Egypt – Combating Terrorism Together
Location: United States Capitol

  • No notes

Congressman Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D) and Rep. Congressman Chris Gibson (R)

Topic: U.S. and Egypt Cooperation on Counter-Terrorism
Location: United States Capitol

  • The Syrian Civil War – And the Threat of Spillover Effects in the region

Meeting with Rep. Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R)

Topic: Can the U.S. Cover its Security “Bets” in the Middle East and Asia?
Location: United States Capitol

  • No notes

Meeting with Rep. Congressman Bradly Byrne (R)

Topic: Political Gridlock in Washington – Is there hope?
Location: United States Capitol

  • No notes

Dr. Steve Grand, Atlantic Council

Topic: How the West can help its Arab Partners Secure the Region
Location: ?

  • Breakfast Meeting
  • Dr. Steve Grand is the Executive Director of the Middle East Task Force (MEST) at the Atlantic Council
  • Chaired by Madeline Albright

Mr. Ahmed Masood

Topic: The Egyptian Economy – A View from the IMF
Location: International Monetary Fund

  • VAT (Value Added Tax) - an excellent way to increase Egyptian revenues
  • Egypt has a history of trying to fix its exchange rate, especially against the USD, which is very costly for exporters.

Rep. Congressman Darrell Issa (R)

Topic: Perspective on the 2016 Presidential Elections and U.S. Foreign Policy towards the Middle East
Location: United States Capitol

  • No notes

Senator Edward J. Markey (D)

Topic: How can U.S./Egypt Trade Relations Improve?
Location: United States Capitol

  • No notes

Briefing by Assistant Administrator of the Bureau for the Middle East USAID

Topic: Role of USAID (wiki) in Education
Location: USAID and Institutional Building

Unknown speaker

Topic: The Impact of festering U.S./Egypt Relations on the region
Location: Center for a New American Security

  • National Press Building

Thursday, November 19, 2015 (Washington, D.C.)

Brigadier General (Retired) Tom Cosentino, Vice President for Policy, Business Executives for National Security

Topic: Enabling U.S. Partners in the Middle East
Location: ?

  • Breakfast
  • What is going on in the world? “A clash of civilization against chaos.”
  • Perception:
    • 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
  • “It’s not too late for Lebanon.”

Dr. Eric Trager (more), Fellow

Topic: Muslim Brotherhood: Facts and Fiction – the view from D.C.
Location: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy

  • “It was a coup” (re Egypt)
  • He was in Tahrir Square during the revolt
  • 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

  • Colin Cole
    • 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.
    • Policy workflow
      • Sub IPC (Inter Policy Council)
      • IPC
      • Deputies Committee (all #2s at agencies)
      • Principals (cabinet members)
      • NSC (principals and president)
  • George Selim
    • 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)
    • Egyptian American
    • This guy is passionate about Gabr and dialogue and the importance of working together.
  • Rob Malley
    • Why is the U.S./Egypt bilateral relationship now Tactical in nature rather than Strategic?

Assistant Secretary Patterson

Topic: Open discussion
Location: US Department of State

  • No notes

Deputy Assistant Secretary Richards; Bureau Near Eastern Affairs

Topic: Open discussion
Location: US Department of State

  • No notes

Multiple speakers

Topic: Challenges to Peace and Security in the Middle East
Location: Middle East Institute (wiki)

  • Speakers:
  • Question: How long can Ardwan stay in power?
    • 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.
  • Iran
    • 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)
  • Call/email her to meet up at any time.

Greg Copley, President of the International Strategic Studies Association

Topic: What are the Strategic Imperatives for a More Secure and Prosperous Middle East? Has Egypt moved on from its bilateral relationship with the United States?
Location: Hotel

  • RedMed (Egypt is the linkage place)
  • Suez Canal is central to this geographic political dynamic
  • Water - how to desalinate and purify water without high costs ($$ energy) while also leaving essential minerals in the water? Pure water will kill you if you drink it for too long of a period.

Unknown speaker

Topic: Innovation and the Start-Up Culture
Location: 1776 Start-Up Incubator

  • Competing Strains of Instability in the Middle East – Is There a Fix?
  • Partnerships with other incubators (Cap Factory in Austin)
  • V.C. Criteria
    • Needing to have patience
    • Looking for V.C. that can wait for the startups to get to the ROI level because the industry of focus here is the types of areas that take time for you.
  • Founders
    • Even _____ (MBA Harvard) and Donna Harris (startups in Michigan, saw her sitting in the corner, her b-day is 11/16)
    • approached in 2009 by the White House to start engaging the tech sector in the core industries
    • “We need an incubator that focuses exclusively on these industries and sectors.”
    • Mayor Gray (ret.) initiated with a $300k grant
  • Locations:
    • D.C.
    • S.F. (The Hattary)
  • Dana Chino and Megan _____ at White House are partners/contacts. W.H. hosts a tech summit every year, and 1776 is a part of that.
  • Chelsea Clinton was here a month ago giving a speech. She comes often.
  • Events events events (founder’s lunch), lots and lots of pitch practice opportunities.
  • EdBacker - crowdfunding platform for education
  • CommonLit - Middle - High school for literacy education online
  • Numbers alive - teaching math without numbers
  • Founder Gender ratio: M-8 F-2 (industry) here: M-6 F-4
    • Industry problem, they are trying to work to make this better.
    • Internal group that works exclusively with female founders
    • Mentors are much more diverse
    • Recent college grads are tending to be more female, but it’s a slow-shifting trend.
    • Much more women in the D.C. area than in Silicon Valley
  • Google: Split (ridesharing platform based out of 1776)
  • Operational Services
    • We are cheerleaders for our members:
    • P.R. branch connects with Tech Crunch, Re/Code, etc.
    • Connect with legal teams
    • Connect with hr teams and resources
    • Can connect with engineers around the world via the 1776 network
  • Seed fund investments range from $
    • Self series - fundraising by founders from friends and family
    • Seed series - trade $ for equity (1776 is here)
    • A series - 1776 partners
    • B series - 1776 partners
    • C series - 1776 partners
  • 1776 Challenges
    • Convincing startup founders that they need to do due diligence and to what scale. Many founders don’t get this (correctly), but the successful companies are the ones who understand this foundation
    • Space challenges
    • Operational challenges

Dr. Alexander Mirtchev, President and Founder of the Krull Corporation

Topic: Open discussion
Location: ?

  • He is a Senior Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars

Mr. Bill Taylor, Executive Vice President of The University Club of Washington D.C.

Topic: Middle East Peace, What will it Take?
Location: The University Club of Washington D.C.

  • No notes

Multiple speakers

Topic: Implications of the Iranian Nuclear Deal and Stability in the region
Location: United States Institute of Peace (wiki)

  • William B. Taylor - Executive Vice President (ex-ambassador to the Ukraine)
  • Linda Bishai - N. Africa
  • “Peace Corps with a budget.”
  • Independent Federal Government Institute
  • Non-violent dispute resolution
  • Funded by State Department
    • Works in partnership
    • Not part of the embassy system
  • Has a division specializing in leveraging technology to solve global issues
  • Thoughts on:
    • 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.
    • Russian sanctions:
      • 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
    • MENA:
      • 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)

Dr. Jon Alterman

Topic: Open discussion
Location: Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) (wiki)

  • 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.

Reading List

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:

Judson L Moore
Judson L Moore

Travel addict. Ambitious about making the world a better place. Writing what I learn along the way.

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