Shafik Gabr's 2015 East-West - The Art of Dialogue Fellowship Notes

November 23, 2015 | 0 Comments | 48 Min Read

Judson L Moore

By Judson L Moore Travel addict. Ambitious about making the world a better place. Writing what I learn along the way. Follow me on twitter. Find me on facebook.

Shafik Gabr's 2015 East-West - The Art of Dialogue Fellowship Notes

M. Shafik Gabr and his Foundation

M. Shafik Gabr is a prominent Egyptian businessman and philanthropist. He has established a foundation in Egypt and in the United States to perform good humanitarian works of various sorts. In 2013, he began a fellowship program which encourages East-West dialogue. Each year since, the fellowship has supported 20 young professionals to come together for a month of travel, dialogue, and stimulating meetings with top leaders in Egypt and the United States.

I am a 2015 fellow. Here are the notes from the sessions we had. They are as comprehensive as I was able to get them, but the deepest learnings came from simply listening and interacting.

Join the dialogue by leaving a comment below. Learn more about the foundation and fellowship here.


Friday, October 16 / Cairo

Guest Speaker: 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 / Cairo

Speaker: 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. Driven by youth. Strive for democracy. Within 1 year, the paradigm shifted.

  • Muslim Winter - Authoritarianism reaction to Arab Spring to try and maintain 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 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 trend-setter in the Middle East

    • 1st parliament, constitution… modern government

    • 1st to pursue peace; signed Israeli peace treaty

      • Role of the USA

        • given all of the questions, turmoil and other factors in Egypt / Middle East, is the USA actually even relevant? What role should the USA play?
      • Effective Counter-messaging does not come from government. It comes from other related players in the same sector as the source of the extremism. ie: non-radical Islamists fighting radical Islamists.

  • Terrorist objectives have moved beyond bombs and 9/11 events. Now they want Statehood in the region and opportunity to be legitimate.

  • Muslim Brotherhood - oldest and most well-organized of the Islamist Movement leaders

Speaker: Adel El-Adawy

Topic: US - Egypt Think Thank: Egyptian Foreign Policy

Location: Ramses ARTOC HQ

  • The past 4 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, UK, Russia, China

  • Major Issues

    • Israel / Palestine

    • Ethiopian Dam

    • Immigration (Mediterranean issue)

    • Climate change

  • Think tanks that Egyptian leaders listen to most are the official think tanks of government departments: 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 constantly advise politicians and lobbies for funding and authority

    • Egypt - blurred lines - during all of the political changes, the military was the only institution which remained stable enough to run the country while all the other areas fell apart. Because the military stepped in, Egypt has not fallen the way that Libya and Syria have.

Speaker: Mr. Hisham El Khazindar, Managing Director of Citadel Capital

Topic: Egypt’s Economic Development: Moving Forward

Location: Ramses ARTOC HQ

Speaker: 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 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 claiming no decision from the president could be challenged. It also became clear that despite high education of Muslim Brotherhood, 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 on their own to take over the government and rule Egypt for themselves. Without this military action, Egypt would be in civil war.

  • Role of Youth - They are important and want change quickly. They drive a 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.

Speaker: Mr. Paul-Gordon Chandler, Founder and President of Caravan

Topic: Six Pillars Builds a Bridge: Creative Peace building 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)

  • Jihad - fighting an internal struggle. We should jihad a 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 v islam
  • Watch the new Omar Sharif Video (ask the speaker what video this is)

Speaker: Ms. Lina Alorabi, Designer

Topic: A Journey through Design in Egypt

Location: Ramses ARTOC HQ

  • Traditional Ornate vs. Modern Minimalist furniture design

Speaker: 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

    • Black Swan

    • ??

    • ??

  • Driving Component

    • National Interests

    • Military / Security Dimensions

    • Regional dynamics, wider alliances

    • Global changes

    • Focus on essentials

  • Convergence

    • Need to maintain Israel / EG peace

Speaker: 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 / Cairo

Visit to the Regional Center for Strategic Studies in Giza (including Lunch)

Speaker: Mrs. Karen Aboul Kheir (Introduction about RCSS)

  • no notes

Speaker: Mr. Hossam Hassan (Egypt’s foreign relations)

  • 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 greatly improved every time

  • During Mubarak period there were lots of talks about Egypt playing a lesser role in the Middle East. USA moved to weaken this relationship so as to increase instability and make it easier for 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 totally new interests from the last time. The democratic debate last week didn’t talk anything about strategic relationships with the Middle East, but focused on Asia relationships.

  • Us congress …

  • Trying to make balance between Russia-US-Egyptian relationship

  • Egypt is Africa, but has not spent a lot of effort pursuing African relations. Trying to improve that now.

  • Egyptian public opinion of America is damaged by Egyptian media perception of American policy

Speaker: Mr. Aboul Fadl (Egypt’s parliamentary elections)

  • Parliamentary elections began abroad yesterday and today in Egypt

  • This is the very first multiparty election in Egypt. In the past it was always mono party

  • Based on three laws

  • 1 -

  • 1st round 14M registered voters

  • 2nd round 28M registered voters

  • Parliamentary elections are usually about local issues where family politics play an important role, therefore, the tribal politics are very important

  • The church plays a big role because they can rally many Christian voters getting to the polls

    • how much participation to expect? Some say not more than 30% in the 1st round. But this will vary based on region, as much as 45%. In general election, could be as much as 85%.

Speaker: Mr. Mohamed Abass (US-Iran Agreement and its Repercussions)

  • no notes

Speaker: Mr. Ahmed Kamel (Egypt: The War Against Terrorism)

  • In the 70s terrorism was pursuing Shia law and only attacking government buildings and people. They pursued change in 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 place could be a target

  • Also today the military is a target.

  • result of the war

    • Most of terror events take place in Cairo but with the least amount of casualties

    • Sinai alone represented 12% of terror deaths.

    • Terror spiked since 2012 constitutional referendum. Many more infrastructure attacks. 600 military and police casualties since then. Now Sinai has 40_% terror deaths

  • Egypt has massive boarders that are hard to control. But the military has become much better at guarding them and identifying breaches, especial tunnels. Over 200 tunnels have been destroyed in recent years

Speaker: Mr. Ali Bakr (The Muslim Brotherhood: A Historical Perspective)

  • Started as peace oriented political movement

  • Were able to create a belief that they are Islam and anyone against them are against Islam. Therefor many support them on 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

Transportation to the Ministry of Youth and Sports in Mohandessin

Speaker: Mr. Khaled Abdel Aziz, Minister of Youth and Sports

Topic: Developing Young Egyptian Leaders

Speaker: 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

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 in the area must be given the same consideration. 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 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.

  • Dam

    • Of course the other impacted countries have rights which 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=

Speaker: Eng. Mohamed Shamel Hamdy, Senior Vice President Operations & Projects at Trident Petroleum

Topic: The Secrets of Egypt’s Energy Map

  • no notes

MONDAY, October 19 / Cairo

Meeting with Mrs. Lisa Anderson, President of the American University in Cairo

Location: AUC New Campus

  • AUC founded in 1919. Original campus is now the Greek Campus.

  • 3rd University in Egypt

  • New campus built in 2008

  • AUC is unique for their career services department. Not common in Egypt

  • Education of facts is no longer relevant, because all the facts of the world are in your pocket. What is critical is education which promotes critical thinking.

  • AUC is most expensive University in Egypt by a lot. However, the financial aid packages are very good

Meeting With Mr. Alaa Hashim, Chairman of Transcendium Limited Advisory For Independent Corporate Transformation, Advisor

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

Meetings with Mr. Hafez Al Mizari

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

  • QA

    • Controlled media? No. Not in USA (FOX) or in 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 certain 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 key, starts with ethics

    • Shorouk Newspaper is very harsh against 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!”

Roundtable Discussion with: Dr. Ahmed Hassanien, Associate Dean for Undergraduate studies and Administration, and Dr. Ayman Ismail, Director of the AUC V-Lab

Topic: Open Discussion

  • no notes

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

Topic: Open Discussion

  • no notes

Speaker: 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 eachother.

TUESDAY, October 20 / Cairo

Speaker: 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 greatest discipline. They have the least corruption and do the most for the people. Because of this, civilians like the military leaders. Also, military is the most organized and the people see this and vote for it.

  • No k-12 education about what is a democracy. Only at university. K-12 only as national history education which includes information about the importance of the military.

Speaker: 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. 120 researchers on the council from all political, racial, religious, gender and other viewpoints.

  • UN HQ advises and assists

  • Secretary General of African Societies

    • tries to be bridget 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, 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”

Speaker: Amb. F. Awad, the Arab League

Topic: The Effect of the Arab Spring on the ME Political Scene

Location: The Arab League

  • 1944 - established of 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 with 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

Speaker: Honorable Mona Markram Ebeid, Former Parliamentarian and Speaker

  • 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 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 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 1 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 with their own 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 for the president to have his term and be removed democratically. Egypt doesn’t care about this, reminding that Hitler was also democratically elected.

Speaker: Dr. Mostafa El Fiky, Political Expert

Topic: Egypt from Revolution to Reform

  • 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 etal about what to do w/ Syrian President

    • Egypt not in a position because 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 is important to be speaking and building mutual understanding, in hopes of forming relations

    • Must disengage religion and politics. Sectarian state very important.

    • Muslim Brotherhood: 2 problems

    • 1 - Shared state secrets with wider Muslim Brotherhood organization in other countries

    • 2 - Blurred lines of state to Islamic World

Speaker: Mr. Ziad Aly, CEO and Founder of Alzwad for Economic Development

Topic: Entrepreneurship for a New Egypt political changes in Egypt

  • 70k followers on Twitter

  • Would take us on a cross-Egypt bike tour, seeing the real life of people.

  • Problems with you engagement post-Mubarak. They led revolt against him and then stopped participating

  • Website built by youth: yadaweya

  • Visit the Center for Independent Music in Zibaway (spelling?)

  • Zuma: vegan restauraunt (bring it to Austin!)

  • Madamasr (independent media)

  • Believes there is a huge opportunity to work with youth and the media

Speaker: Dr. Noah Bakr **get her deck**

Political Science Professor at American University of Cairo (AUC)

  • Literacy rate is based on a 3rd grade level and above. This is a problem because the statistics show that there is high literacy in Egypt, but it’s at a very low standard with little critical thinking skills.

  • 25 January Revolution wasn’t because of 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

Speaker: Dr. Tarek Ragheb, Founding Chair of the African Business Aviation Association

  • 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. 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 normal 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 / Ismailia

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

Topic: Egypt – US Military Cooperation

Location: Ministry of Defense

  • Role of Egyptian Armed Forces in leading UN Peacekeeping Mission

    • Egypt in 1945 signed the UN charter (1 of 50)

    • 1st UN 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 UN 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

  • Q: Any efforts to reach out to USA voters about Egypt reality?

    • A: Not able to do. Only few in DC care about Egyptian politics. Experience shows that USA Media just looks to prove their own views and opinions.

    • Military plays 1% role in large construction projects, only to supervise, but not to manage or conduct the work. Keeps projects on schedule and prevents corruption

  • Egypt - US 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 own recovery for the last three years. However, if there is internal / civil Call to Action to go to Syria, then maybe they will. But all is complicated there and Egypt must focus on their own anti-terror initiatives

    • Lessons learned from Saddam Hussein means Egypt must reconsider what to do different in Syria.

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

  • Original open date in 1869 - 1M Egyptians built the canal, 100k died building it

  • $8.92B USD 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 be done in an impossible 1-year! But they succeeded in exactly 1 year and they are open for business! Celebration Video, short documentary video

THURSDAY, October 22 / Cairo

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)

  • Most important part of heritage preservation is people, not places, artifacts, monuments or architecture (as is often manifested in the work performed)

  • Selection Criteria

    • Originally was mandatory to have an even split between Islamic, Coptic and Pharaonic sites. This is more lax now, but it’s important to try to maintain this

    • Socioeconomic value, historic 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

Speaker: H.E. Amb. Hamdi Sanad Loza, Deputy Foreign Minister for African Affairs

Location: Ministry of Foreign Affairs

  • Q: Efforts of the Ministry’s press office to work with the foreign media?

    • A: Perception internally is that Egypt Government spends too much time speaking with each other and not enough time speaking with the rest of the world. They do work with the foreign media, but especially in USA it seems too impossible to impact the American Media’s views.

    • Welcome to discuss suggestions for improved EG-US Media relations

  • ISIS Situation

    • Arab world skeptical about USA in Syria because 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 USA involved in-part because the USA breaks promises, fails goals, and creates situations which 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 options in life, so ISIS becomes a great chance for them. The fight to counter this will be long and hard.

    • Q: If the MFA could assign one task to the Gabr Fellows to improve Egypt-West relations, what would it be?

    • A: Find and create professional means by which to share the realities of Egypt in the West. How to grow this and how to scale it.

    • *I suggested media relations organization with Government advisement. He suggested that Government should not be too close to any such efforts so as to avoid suspicion and lack of credibility.

Meeting with Ambassador R. Stephen Beecroft, US Ambassador in Egypt

Topic: Egypt – US Bilateral Relations

Location: US Embassy, Ambassador’s Residence

  • US 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 feel that now it’s their time

  • American Interests Here

    • Location - 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 is a dialogue and an international media presence, but couldn’t really speak to details.

Speaker: 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

  • Similar to Capital Factory / We Work, but doesn’t offer VC or mentorship. They are strictly a facility which builds culture and encourages collaboration and relationships to develop.

  • VC 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 VC - Egypt, Saudi Arabia, UAE

  • Smartest: Egypt by far

  • Saudi: Most CEOs for startups, especially women, because they are very 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

Speaker: 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

  • Is an MP and career bureaucrat, but is innovative and is passionate about utilizing mobile devices in the democratic process.

FRIDAY, October 23 / Cairo

Tour at Giza Pyramids and Sphinx

Walking Tour at El Moez Street and Khan el Khalili

SATURDAY, October 24 /Cairo - Alexandria

Visit to the Roman Amphitheatre

Meeting with Mr. Hany el Missery, Governor of Alexandria

Location: Alexandria Governorate

  • Appointed in February 2015

  • Egyptian - American. Grew up in Alexandria. Degree from UCLA. Spent most of his life in USA and Switzerland. Was CEO of a major petroleum company. Was asked by Egyptian government 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% cotton industry and 40% 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 sites, so starting to work to attract expats 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 really doesn’t view people by gender, faith or race. They are Alexandrians and very proud of their diversity and of this identity being maintained at all costs.

  • Converted trams into cafes and now they earn 10k LE / day instead of the 3k LE / 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 just 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. 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 government to the trans contractor. Big deficit problem.

  • lol: he fired a district head via WhatsApp

  • Has 13k employees but has only meet 12 of them because the governor’s office was burned down and everyone is scattered. He only needs 10 people to get the job done.

SUNDAY, October 25 / Alexandria

Speaker: Dr. Ismail Serageldin, Director of Bibliotheca Alexandrina

Topic: Egypt: 2011 To Date

Showcasing the work of Bibliotheca Alexandrina

Revolutionary thinking about the future of libraries generally and the BA specifically

Speaker: Ms. Al Zahraa Adel, Egyptologist

Topic: Alexandria: a Cosmopolitan City

MONDAY, October 26 / Luxor

Speaker: 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 totally free (tuition, fees, room / board, books, etc..)

  • “There is only 1 Islam. Is teaches love, acceptance of others, accepting and co-existing with other, 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, Egypt 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

  • Q: some Imams say things on Friday prayers which incite violence and fear. What is Al-Azham doing about this?

    • A: 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
  • Q: Does the Grand Imam represent Sunni or Shia Islam?

    • A: There is only 1 Islam. The sects of Islam still have the same 1 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 also you can just 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 / Luxor

Valley of the Kings, Valley of the Queens, Hatshepsut Temple

Speaker: 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

WEDNESDAY, October 28 / Luxor - Cairo

Guided Tour at Luxor Temple

Guided Tour at Luxor Museum


November 7th – 21st, 2015 - New York/New Jersey/Atlanta/Washington, D.C.

SATURDAY, November 7 / New York


SUNDAY, November 8 / NYC

9:00-12:00 AM

Visit Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island via Staten Island Ferry

12:30-2:30 PM

Visit to 9/11 Memorial

6:00-8:00 PM

Cocktail Reception Hosted by Ms. Georgette Mosbacher


Metropolitan Museum of Art Tour

Diana Patch, Curator in Charge of Egyptian Art Tour of the ancient Egyptian Art Galleries and then walk through the newly installed exhibition Ancient Egypt Transformed: The Middle Kingdom”

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

Security Council?

Office Call Ambassador Ahmed Farouk

Consulate General of Egypt

Security Processing Window for entry into Goldman, Sachs, & Co.

Is the Middle East and North Africa at Dead or an Emerging Market?

Meeting with Dina Powell, President, Goldman, Sachs Foundation

Goldman, Sachs & Co Impact Investing Business (NYTimes Article)

News media: Is there a need for new professional standards and ethos?

Meeting and Interview with Huffington Post (wiki)

Buffet Dinner Hosted by Ambassador Ahmed Farouk

Ambassador’s Residence

TUESDAY, November 10 / New York

Strategic Considerations for International Investment

Discussion with General (Ret) David H. Petraeus

Member and Chairman of KKR Global Institute

Discussion on Iran, 2016 U.S. Elections, U.S.

MENA Policy and U.S. Economy

Roundtable Discussion with London Center for Policy Research, President Herb London

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

-Scott, director. Greg, PM. Mistrial, operations and development manager.

Can we re-build a global strategic consensus in U.S. Foreign and Defense Policy?

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

Peacebuilding and Interfaith Engagement in Conflict Zones

“We are in the business of producing and spreading ideas.”

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 it’s foreign affairs.

Dr. Jonathan Golden, Drew University

WEDNESDAY, November 11 / New York, NY

Impacts of global financial market interdependence and risk sensitivity on long-range business strategic planning?

Mr. Ron LoRusso, President/NY Tri-State Region

Cushman & Wakefield, Inc.

The Role of Business Media in America

Tour CNBC, Lunch and Q&A with Brian Sullivan

Faith and Social Justice

Tour of Saint Patrick’s Cathedral and talk with Catholic Clergy

How to live and operate in an era of persistent threat?

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

Dinner at Bubba Gump Shrimp Company

Phantom of the Opera

THURSDAY, November 12 / Atlanta

Pursing Freedom in America

Meeting with Bernice King - CEO of the King Center

Pursuit of Civil Rights in America

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 / Atlanta

How should companies consider risk in international investment in an era of persistent conflict?

Aon Risk Solutions (One Piedmont Center, Suite 700, 3565 Piedmont Road, Northeast, Atlanta, GA  30305)

John Jassman, Resident Managing Director

Nolan Wilson, Cyber Security

Breakfast Speaker – Aon Risk Services South, Inc.

The Responsibility of Truth in Reporting CNN meetings and Tour

CNN meeting with Mr. Tim Langmaid and Tour

Perspectives for United States Multinational Corporate Investment in

Egypt and the broader Middle East

Jennifer Ragland, Director of International Government Relations & Public Affairs

Carlos A. Pagoaga, Group Director of Partnerships of the Coca-Cola Foundation

VIP Tour of the AOC of Coca-Cola

Dinner at Maggiano’s Little Italy


Visit to the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library & Museum (441 Freedom Parkway)

Atlanta History Center (wiki)

The Struggle for Freedom in America

Visit Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site (wiki)

Visitor Center, The King Center, Historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, Birth Home, World Peace Rose Garden, Behold Monument, Historic Fire Station No. 6, and other sites.

Dinner at the Home of Mr. & Mrs. Dent, Parents of Fellow Elizabeth Dent

SUNDAY, November 15 / Washington, D.C.

Visit to Smithsonian Museums and National Mall (Washington Monument)

D.C. Monuments Moonlight Trolley Tour

Start Point – Union Station

MONDAY, November 16 / Washington, D.C.

Implications for the Middle East in the Advent of the Iranian Nuclear Deal and the Russian Military Intervention in Syria

Breakfast Speaker: Mark T. Kimmitt, 16th Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Middle East, both serving under the George W. Bush Administration.  Retired Brigadier General, U.S. Army

The Health of the Military to Military Relationship

Meeting with MG Khaled Mogawer, Egyptian Defense Attaché

View on Conflict and Instability Analysis

Mr. Glen E. Howard, President

The Jamestown Foundation (wiki)

The Nexus of Security Challenges to the U.S. and its Partners in the  Middle East

Near-East South Asia (NESA) Roundtable

Dr. Jennifer Jefferis

Dr. Gawdat Bahgat

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

National Defense University

Tour of key historical sites on Fort NcNair by Dr. Paul M. Severance

Starts in South Atrium of Lincoln Hall

Fort McNair, DC

Egyptian Bilateral Relations, U.S. Middle East Policy and the Iranian Nuclear Deal

Meeting with David Hamod, President & CEO (NYTimes Article)

National U.S.-Arab Chamber of Commerce (NUSACC)

Arab Spring or Arab Winter?

Discussion Session with Dr. Osama Abi-Mershed

Dinner at Thunder Grill

TUESDAY, November 17 / Washington, D.C.

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

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

The U.S./Egypt Military Relationship in the aftermath of the Strategic Dialogue

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 briefing by DASD Andrew Exum

Tour of Pentagon

U.S./Egypt – Combating Terrorism Together

Meeting with Congressman Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R)

U.S./Egypt Cooperation on Counter-Terrorism

Meeting with Congressman Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D)

The Syrian Civil War – And the Threat of Spillover Effects in the Region Meeting with Rep. Congressman Chris Gibson (R)

Can the U.S. Cover its Security “Bets” in the Middle East and Asia?

Meeting with Rep. Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R)

Implications for U.S. and Global Security resulting from continued U.S.

Political Gridlock in Washington – Is there hope?

Meeting with Rep. Congressman Bradly Byrne (R)

Dinner at Tony and Joe’s Seafood Place

WEDNESDAY, November 18 / Washington, D.C.

How the West can help its Arab Partners Secure the Region

Breakfast Meeting with Dr. Steve Grand, Atlantic Council

The Egyptian Economy – A View from the IMF”

Mr. Ahmed Masood, International Monetary Fund

Perspective on the 2016 Presidential Elections and U.S. Foreign Policy towards the Middle East

Meeting with Rep. Congressman Darrell Issa (R)

How can US/Egypt Trade Relations Improve?

Meeting with Senator Edward J. Markey (D)

Role of __USAID_ (_wiki_) in Education/USAID and Institutional Building_

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

National Press Building Leasing

The Impact of festering U.S./Egypt Relations on the Region

Center for a New American Security

Reception in Honor of 2015 Fellows

The McDermott Building

THURSDAY, November 19 / Washington, D.C.

Enabling U.S. Partners in the Middle East

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

Moslem Brotherhood: Facts and Fiction – the view from DC

Dr. Eric Trager (more), Fellow

The Washington Institute for Near East Policy

Meeting at White House with Presidential Advisors

George Selim

Countering Violent Extremism

Rob Malley

Why is the U.S./Egypt bilateral relationship now Tactical in nature rather than Strategic?

Andrew Miller

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?

Meeting at Department of State with

Assistant Secretary Patterson

Deputy Assistant Secretary Richards; Bureau Near Eastern Affairs

Challenges to Peace and Security in the Middle East

Middle East Institute (wiki)

Dr. Paul Salem, Vice President for Policy & Research; Dr. Gonul Tol, Founding Director, Center for Turkish Studies: and Mr. Alex Vatanka, Senior Fellow

Dinner Hosted by Egyptian Ambassador Yasser Reda

Ambassadorial Residence

FRIDAY, November 20 / Washington, D.C.

How my Fellow Experience informed my Professional Work

Coffee with Christi Fallon, Egypt Desk, Secretary of the Air Force, International Affairs

What are the Strategic Imperatives for a more Secure and Prosperous Middle East? Has Egypt moved on from its bi-lateral relationship with the United States?

Breakfast Remarks from Greg Copley, President

International Strategic Studies Association

Innovation and the Start-Up Culture

Visit the 1776 Start-Up Incubator

Competing Strains of Instability in the Middle East – Is there a Fix?

Partnerships with other incubators (Cap Factory in Austin)

VC Criteria

  • needing to have patience

  • looking for vc that can wait for the startups to get to the level of roi, because the industry of focus here are the types of areas that take time for roi.


  • 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 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


  • DC

  • SF (The Hattary)

Dana Chino and Megan ___ at White House are partners / contacts. WH 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 match without numbers (check this out…)

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 DC area than in Silicon Valley

Google: Split (ridesharing platform based out of 1776)

Operational Services

  • We are cheerleaders for our members:

  • PR 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; and

Senior Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars

The University Club of Washington DC

Middle East Peace, What will it Take?

Mr. Bill Taylor, Executive Vice President

United States Institute of Peace (wiki)

Implications of the Iranian Nuclear Deal and Stability in the Region

Dr. Jon Alterman

Senior Vice President, Zbigniew Brzezinski Chair in Global Security and Geostrategy, and Director, Middle East Program

Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) (wiki)


Reading List

  • Why Do Nations Fail?

  • The Journey of __

  • Black Swan

  • How to Start a REvolution - Jean Sharp

  • Unravelling - Emma ____

  • Sapiens (Gabr wished he read this 30 years ago)

  • Execute (written by former Honeywell CEO)

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