Skip to main content

Live from Fikr 9 Conference

President Sleiman while delivering his speech
(10:30 AM) Mohammad: The Arab Thought Foundation is having its 9th Fikr conference today in Beirut. The event started with the word of Dr. Soliman Abdel Moneim, Secretary General of the Arab Thought Foundation, as well as HRH Khalid Al Faisal, Chairman of Arab Thought Foundation and His Excellency Michel Sleiman, President of the Republic of Lebanon. Also attending the event was the Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri and Speaker of Parliment Nabih Berri.

(11:50 AM) Eman:  The first speech entitled “Arab’s Role in Shaping the Future”, his majesty Yousuf bin Alawi bin Abdelullah, the Minster of Foreigners Affairs in the Sultanate of Oman, was interviewed about his experience in various field concerning the future. The main questions lied within politics, economics and culture. (details follow later.)

(12: 35 PM) Mohammad: Parag Khanna, Expert in International relations and Director of the Global Governance Initiative in USA, is the second speaker. He spoke about "Geopolitical Changes and New Maps in the Arab World". About the Kurd issues, he said that resources should be facilitate not inhibited. Moreover, Khanna added that the Arab world should focus on the Arab Iraq. "Why is taking so long to rehabilitate Iraq, with or without Kurdistan?"

"Independence without infrastructure is redundant, we should not ask whether it would be allowed or not. We should just do it."

Eman Live Blogging
The Arab region is not connecting itself properly to the rest of the world. We should be connected to the Hijaz railway, to Cairo, to Iraq, to Tehran. Turkey, Iran, and Pakistan are doing it; Arabs should do the same.

The Arab World should also move into alternative energy. Others are doing so and their markets are growing enormously. Meanwhile, the Arab world is left behind.

(12:59 PM): In Sudan, referendum is best for the region, making different states that work in cooperation. All civil wars have a international face. What happened in European wars is different than what is happening in the Middle East.

A border-less Middle East is possible, having in mind Iran to be the main “nickname” of the problems in the middle east. Iran does not dominate this future, it is a geographical fact.

Unity is possible in the Arab World, but it failed because of the corruption and dictatorship. Now unity is based on Islam. It doesn't need the “old Arabs ” but a “new Arabilsm” .

What is the components for the “Neo-Arabism” about migration?
  • The need for Economic Integration
  • Cooperation
Terrorism is bounder-less in the Middle East. Terrriosm by definition is bounder-less. There is more fragmentation between states, but more Globalization. These should not prevent the integration. Terrorism is about resistance of political oppression and we will always have it. The West should not consider terrorism as being form a specific region.

Terrorism is 99% about politics. It is Afghanistan, in Pakistan... It is purely politics. That is why the West portrays it as Islam.
More photos from Fikr 9 here.
USA faces three major issues: 9/11 and military security, economic stability crisis, and electronic security (wikileaks).
The financial crisis originated in US. It was mainly a Western crisis and not a world crisis.

(1:20 PM) The speaker is Mr. Amin Al Nasser, Senior Vice-President for Exploration and Producing, Saudi Aramco in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. He is speaking about "Knowledge Economy". Al Nasser stated three factors that help develop the economy.
  1. Creativity
  2. Technology 
  3. Research.
(1:35 PM) Moderator speaking: The only thing that increases when you use it is knowledge. Knowledge is in every aspect in our life, everywhere. New technologies are give us the opportunity to gain more knowledge. 

Moudz Live Blogging from Fikr9
(1:40 PM) Nadhmi Al- Nasr, Executive VP of KAUST in KSA is speaking.
What lead to the Arab's success 1000 years ago and its absaccence now? We removed all obsticles, we had leadership decisions at the time of the Ma'moun, we accepted different people regardless of race and language, we accepted creativity more efficiently. Now we are in the lowest rankings, we have seen migrating brains that have left the Arab world like Ahmad Zweil and Mostafa al Sayid that did a great job.

Even with all this gloomy image, we see hope and hints of a positive project. It is about time for the Arab world to go back to the glory that we have lost (ex: Abu Dhabi project.) Change will be very big, but will be very low.

Al-Nasr thinks that the future will be positive.

Universities are the only entities that will lead the Arab world to the knowledge economy. We should let our graduates be the makers of work opportunities. They should be researchers that get ideas that will generate job opportunities.

Many of the studies ended on a shelf in a university and were not implemented. When we send the results to investors, then we can definitely make a change. We have started by building a bridge between the research institutions and economic industries. That is our main goal.

A center for social power, the biggest research center in the field in the Arab world, will be launched soon in KAUST. This research center needs to exploit a power that exists in the Arab world (so much sunny days) and they should be exported to Europe.

The sciences related desalination of salty water in the Arab world is nil and it a must to be improved due to the Arab world's need for water, especially in KSA.

(1:45 PM) Ahmad Nassef, VP and Managing Director of yahoo! Middle East in UAE is speaking.

We don't have enough Arabic content on the web. Should we teach everyone English? No, we want the 60 million Arab users to access the internet in Arabic.

Maxime Chayaa
(3:30 PM) Maxime Chayaa, Corporate Ambassador for Bank Audi in Lebanon is speaking about Toufoula, an NGO that works for the well-being of children with cancer or blood diseases. Chayaa was the first Lebanese to successfully climb the seven summits including Mount Everest. "The dreams are different. Dreams to stay alive," Chayaa said while speaking about Toufoula.

"My presence here today is to shed the light on this disease. It is part of our duty to find a cure for this disease, to turn the tear to the smile," Chayaa said.

(3:45 PM) Speaker is Dr. Burhan Ghalioun, Director of the Center for Contemporary Oriental Studies in France. Ghalioun will be speaking about "Social Innovation in the Arab World". Ghalioun has a blog:

"The problem is in Islam, the problem is in religion. It doesn't give a distinction between religion and politics," Ghalioun added.

"They are creating a whole debate, is Islam terrorism or part of terrorism?" "The development and shift in societies is linked to strategic political cultural choices that the elite take. All the explanations are to put the blame away from these elite."

"We don't want to acknowledge our responsibility as business people and academics. No one is really interested in the coming generations who feel marginalized and don't feel that they have a successful future in the Arab world."

(4:00 PM) "We are paying today the price of the tensions between the Arab countries."

Ghalioun is very critical of Arab intellectual elites, arguing they've shirked their responsibilities to society for the last 50 years

"If the blood only goes to one limb, then the whole body cannot go forward. What we need is the blood to circulate to all parts of the body to make the body move and be useful."

"There is neglect. 30 million registered unemployed people in the Arab world. This does not include those who are part-time or disguised unemployed or not registered at all,"

"We are threatened in our national security and we are going backwards."

"We are living in a society of monopoly. We monopolize the decisions, money and the governance."

Live Blogging have stopped here, a summary of Day 1 will hopefully be posted soon.
Keep checking this post for updates throughout the day from myself and Eman, and follow #Fikr9 tag on twitter (below) for live tweets from the several tweeps who are attending the event.


  1. Fantastic coverage! Thanks for taking the time to cover the event!


Post a Comment