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Young Leaders from Sweden and Middle East in Dialogue

On November 16-18, the Young Leaders Visitors Programme of the Swedish Institute hosted a meeting in Paris of 26 opinion leaders from Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine, Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria and Sweden to mark the conclusion of a 3-week workshop to improve dialogue between Sweden, the Middle East and North Africa.

Global Voices in French attended the meeting, and below are links to some of the reflections of participants during and after the eventful meeting. There is also a YLVP Flickr photostream, several videos on YouTube. And a #YLVP hashtag on Twitter on twitter.

Stockholm-based journalist and media researcher from Jordan, Rami Abdelrahman, reflects on the program on a series of videos he uploaded on his blog Rami's Wall:

Another Jordanian blogger who participated, was Mohammad Azraq who in August summed up the first part of the program in Sweden in a post on Global Voices. The focus was largely leadership and teamwork with a component of training in social media tools.

In addition to the Arab participants, five Swedish journalists took part in the program. Among them, was Alexandra Sandels who described in an article on Lebanon news website, Menassat, how participants were divided into small groups and given the task to develop an idea for an innovative project using social media tools. Ideas ranged from web portals for alternative musicians in the Middle East, to an online graffiti network, and a web-based recruitment agency for volunteers interested in working with human rights organizations in the Arab world.

Panel Discussion: Europe and MENA – Connected or not ?

Global Voices in French participated in a panel discussion in the closing seminar for the program “EU-MENA, Connected or not?” hosted by Javeria Rizvi Kabani, Project Manager of YLVP, and Mikael Jönsson, Director of the Swedish Institute in Paris. The debates were streamed live, and are now archived on bambuser.com. Alice Petrén, from the Swedish Public radio moderated the discussion.

- Ozan Sunar, founder of the Re-Orient Festival in Sweden who migrated from Turkey to Sweden at age 6: “We are well-connected, not only by curiosity, also by fear.”

- Jan Henningsson, Senior Advisor to the MENA department, Swedish ministry of Foreign Affairs. As tweeted by @ahmal: “There must be a way out! an amazing story about Saudi and Swedish poets! As a poet and a writer I am speechless!!!”

- Claire Ulrich, editor of Global Voices in French, introduced Global Voices Online and its mission of translating the words of global bloggers, not just related to news, conflicts, but also many glimpses of daily life: such as the cup cake rage in the Middle East, or a high-society murder in Egypt. Middle East and North Africa stories are particularly well-represented on the Global Voices in French website, with over 100 posts translated in September and October 2009.

MENA countries featured in 100 GV in French posts

MENA countries featured in 100 GV in French posts over 2 months

- Lucas Welsh, Director of Soliya.net, explained how his non-profit is developing media and communication tools and skills to enable students to share and distribute perspectives from around the world.

The contributions from the room steered the panel's conclusions to the issue of identity, or identities. What about Westerners accepting their Muslim fellow-citizens’ culture beneath their own varnish of human rights, asked a young Swedish-Palestinian journalist. No doubt guidelines for further discussions on this topic will be useful to politicians of the European Union. The topic of the second panel discussion was: “How can leaders of tomorrow capture the opportunities provided by new technology to create a more open, connected and equitable word.”

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