WASHINGTON, DC – DECEMBER 9 – Tuesday at the convening of their Annual Conference, The Bridges of Understanding Foundation and Meridian International Center welcomed renowned speakers representing international media, policy, diplomacy, and activism, and honored Meridian President and CEO Ambassador Stuart Holliday with the Fourth Annual Building Bridges Award.
After an introduction by Ambassador Karim Kawar, the conference opened with an interview of three-time Pulitzer Prize winning author Mr. Thomas Friedman of The New York Times by The Atlantic columnist Mr. Jeffrey Goldberg on the state of affairs in the Middle East, following the Arab Spring.
Ms. Samia Farouki, of Bridges of Understanding, introduced the next panel, “The Arab Spring: Views from the Region,” which included speakers: H.E. Ali Aujali, Ambassador of Libya to the United States; Dr. Vali Nasr, senior fellow with the Brookings Institution; and Ms. Amira Yahyaoui, Tunisian rights activist and founder of the Tunisian Parliament Monitor. The panelists conveyed their views on the causes and effects of the revolutions in Libya and Tunisia, the geopolitical role of Iran, and the potential for different models of governance --from Turkish to Swedish-- to shape the region.
Ms. April McClain Delaney, Washington Director of Common Sense Media, moderated the following panel discussion on “The Evolving Role of Innovation and Media in the Middle East.” Mr. Hady Amr, Deputy Assistant Administrator for the Middle East at USAID, Dr. Abderrahim Foukara, Al Jazeera’s Washington Bureau Chief, and Ms. Marne Levine, Vice President for Global Public Policy at Facebook, discussed the power of digital connectivity and the optimism of youth, and their respective roles in the revolutions throughout the Arab region.
Subsequently, Ms. Marlene Malek of Bridges of Understanding presented the Fourth Annual Building Bridges Award to Ambassador Stuart Holliday, Meridian President and CEO. After expressing his gratitude for the honor, the panels and attendees moved to the luncheon, where Egyptian sociologist and rights activist Dr. Saad Eddin Ibrahim offered the keynote address discussing his ongoing efforts to monitor his country's elections and protect its emerging democracy.
About Bridges of Understanding: Bridges of Understanding is a not-for-profit, non-political organization devoted to supporting projects and efforts that foster better understanding between the American people and peoples of the Arab world. As facilitators of change we aim to create spheres of influence among future opinion leaders, inspiring them to affect positive change and to support initiatives that encourage better understanding, dialogue, and appreciation between peoples of different cultures. For more information, please visit our website at www.bridgesofunderstanding.org
About Meridian: Meridian International Center’s mission is to strengthen international understanding and serve as a center of innovation for engaging the public sector, private sector and diplomatic community in an exchange of people, ideas and culture. For more information, visit www.meridian.org