Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Like most of the world, the financial crisis hit Dubai. Particularly, its banking and real estate sectors. International media speculated disaster for Dubai, claiming it was done. The Government failed to respond to what Ms. Al Hashemy called exaggerated accusations.
As the US Consul General had told us a few days earlier, the UAE works closely with the US to combat terrorism. Dubai has the largest US Navel monitoring fleet and 100% of shipments that leave Dubai are checked by US Costumes agents. Mrs. Al Hashemy spoke of how little the global public, particularly Americans, new of this. Surprisingly, in 2006, the UAE was the only Middle Eastern country to deploy Special Forces in Iraq. Her Excellency spoke of the difficulties of trying to get Americans to realize the UAE matters. She has spent much of her career lobbying in the US for better opinions toward their country. Many public diplomacy efforts have been implemented to this aim. At one point, a group of Rabbi's from the Simon Wiesenthal Center in LA visited the UAE.
Although it is not an important issue to the Emirate public, the Sheik of Dubai has introduced an effort towards green technology for his city. This includes the construction of the world's first completely green city. The UAE also won the bid for the headquarters of IRENA. This will be the first multinational organization in the global south. (I highly suggest this 60 minutes piece on Dubai for more information.)
Watch CBS News Videos Online
"Arab culture is super sensitive about others telling us what to do." (A point the US will learn the hard way.) "Instead, the UAE says, 'Here is what we've done, look at how successful it has been. Maybe you'd be interested in trying it."
"Are we democratic? Hell no! And there is a long way to go to be more democratic. But we are aware of this and working to address it."
"Dubai is seen as very welcoming and successful on the 'Arab street.'"
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
AUD professors and local media. The topic focused on understanding and influencing Arab publics. A television personality, Majid Mohsen and his colleague, Hafidh Aman. The two set up a workshop for us about managing a public diplomacy speech to the Arab world -- much like Obama's Cairo speech. It was an interesting exercise, particularly having two influential Arabs who were very frank with us about what the Arab public needs and wants to hear.
Later that day we met up with a group of AUD students. About 12 of these students will be coming to visit us in California the first week in April, as the second phase of this exchange program. The students had planned a desert safari for us. We piled into a caravan of jeeps and headed towards the desert. I have been to the desert before, in Egypt, but it was still surreal that just outside this booming city -- what I compare to the Las Vegas, or even LA, of the Middle East -- was a vast and desolate desert. The red sand dunes were absolutely gorgeous as camels trekked across them. It was like a film of an exotic, far- away place. THIS is what you expect to see in the Middle East. Not a Coco’s and Chilies, and yes, Dubai is full of American chain restaurants and shops. I seriously don’t feel like I’ve left LA.
Once we arrived at an even more desolate patch of sprawling desert, it was time for the real fun to begin. The jeeps let some of the air out of the tires so that they wouldn't pop a tire. We strapped ourselves into the jeep and our driver hit the gas, heading straight for the steepest sand dunes he could see. Sand dune riding is very popular here and can be done in dune buggies, jeeps, dirt bikes, etc. Each time we hit the top of a 20ft dune I was thrown up off my seat. I was very grateful for seatbelts at this point. It was an intense and exhilarating ride. The AUD students in my jeep turned up Egyptian dance music and were clapping their hands and singing between screams of excitement as we hit dune after dune. It was probably the most fun I'd ever had.
sheesha "lounge," camel riding, and sand boarding. It was a very cool set-up, everything a tourist would think of the Middle East. Sand boarding was really fun. Basically you get on a snow board and "ski" down a 20 foot sand dune. Dinner was served after sunset. It was a Middle Easter feast.. and then Chinese and Italian food? Then we took to the rugs and pillows in the sand and watched a very talented, but rather old, belly dancer. I don't hate though, I hope I can move like that when I'm 50! ;)
Overall, it was a lot of fun. And the AUD students we met were interesting as well. A much needed break after an intense few days of meetings.
The Grand Mosque "is probably the most imposing religious and national landmark in Abu Dhabi to date. It is also arguably one of the most important architectural treasures of contemporary UAE society."The mosque was awe-inspiring to say the least and easily the most beautiful I have ever seen.
Afterward, we skipped back to Dubai for a visit to the Middle East Broadcasting Center (MBC). This huge broadcasting group consists of many television stations, one of its most well known being Al Arabiya. We got a very thorough tour of the station and spoke with the Executive Editor, Dr. Nabil Khatib about Middle East media. One of the highlights, Dr. Khatib pointed out how public relations and public policy does very well in the US and yet we fail miserably in Foreign Policy. The US public is very watchful and critical of US domestic policies but it doesn't devote the same scrutiny to their country's foreign polices. Which I completely agree is true. I would say we fail miserably in public diplomacy as well, though maybe this falls under the rubric of foreign policy. Although, considering the health care drama, many would argue public policy isn't at its best at the moment either.
Sunday, March 14, 2010
Today, we started with a trip to the American University in Dubai- our hosts on this trip. We met with the AUD President, Dr. Lance de Masi, who talked about what makes the university American. According to Dr. de Masi, the school has an American approach to education, which is apparently unique. Public universities in Dubai are government run and free. AUD is one of several private universities. With 3,000 students, it is a tiny school in comparison to USC. The students come from all different countries and backgrounds, which is obvious by the various dress- burqas to sundresses. I guess I really could've packed anything. Many of the international students are sent to school in Dubai, while their parents work elsewhere. AUD only offers undergraduate programs for now, with the exception of their MBA program. The school is pretty westernized, as is the rest of Dubai, as I later discovered. I find myself almost disappointed that it doesn't feel more Middle Eastern- whatever that means. Though I have been told that the other Emirates are less Western.
Next, we visited the American Consul General of Dubai. As it happened, the Public Affairs officer that escorted us was a good friend of my mentor at the State Department this summer- small world indeed. The Consul General spoke of the close relationship the United Arab Emirates has with the U.S. -- a relationship that is only getting stronger under the Obama administration. Large numbers of Emirates study in the US, which is great for public diplomacy. The two countries cooperate in both oil interests and national security. After all, US companies, primarily those in Texas, built Dubai’s oil infrastructure. There are 750-900 US companies in Dubai, many being the top fortune five companies. In terms of corporate diplomacy -- basically the role of corporations in foreign policy -- these companies seem aware of their brand image as a US brand in a Middle Eastern country.
The UAE, with its main political hub in Abu Dhabi, is becoming increasingly important in international relations. However, because it is so small – it only has 6 million people in all 7 Emirates, (much less than the city of LA and Saudi Arabia, which has 24 million) – the UAE has to be careful about its alliances. Iran, in particular, is its greatest threat. In some instances it is good for the country to be seen as close to the US. From what I have learned so far, it seems the UAE is a very unique Middle Eastern country. It is both Islamic and not democratic – being run by a network of royal families – but is very modern, open and friendly with the US. I can’t wait to see more…
Saturday, March 13, 2010
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
So I leave in 3 days for a very exciting trip to Dubai and Beirut. This has proved more than challenging. First of all, I always over pack for trips and forget something important like pants. To add to my dilemma, my travels take me to largely Islamic countries in the very warm desert. Luckily, my summer in DC prepared me with a business wardrobe that will make due in hot climates. But I am receiving mixed messages about how conservative my dress should be. One article offered this advice:
Golden Rule: Ladies, if you show too much skin, everyone will think you're a prostitute.Certainly not wanting to be arrested for solicitation, I promptly took my tank tops and skirts out of my suitcase. I am told by many that Dubai is a very modern city and that the dress code is very relaxed. But then I read this article on tourists who were cited for public indecency in the mall. The best part of the article is the Russian business women who said she doesn't own anything but mini-skirts and tank tops.. must be a long Russian winter for her and her mini.
Needless to say I am rather perplexed.. maybe I should just pack my burqa and my toothbrush.
Saturday, March 6, 2010
Photo by Shadee Malaklou
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
PD Interactive is a virtual space, launched by the Public Diplomacy Corps (PD Corps), where people can connect and share ideas about public diplomacy.
We hope you'll use this this network as a resource to connect with counterparts around the world and tackle important issues. The best way to do this is by joining groups relevant to your interests, such as the Cultural Diplomacy group, or the group on Iran. If you don't see a group that fits your interests, we encourage you to create one!
We can't wait to hear about your PD projects and experiences, so please post pictures from your travels, articles, videos, blogs and events relevant to your PD projects and interests. Pose any questions or challenges you may have, or just share an interesting story.
Ultimately, this is your network, so have fun with it. And don't forget to invite your friends to join in the collaboration. Also, visit our Facebook group and even our LinkedIn group, we want to help you connect with the world in every way possible. We would love to hear your feedback about the site, so please don't hesitate to "friend" the PD Corps Board and stay in touch!
Thanks and we look forward to seeing what you are up to!
Monday, March 1, 2010
“It is a simple fact that no country can get ahead if half its population is left behind. We know from an accumulating body of studies and research from governments, multilateral organizations, corporations and think tanks that investing in women is the single most effective development strategy that we have for poverty alleviation, economic growth and a country’s general prosperity."This is a common theme in the study of gender and development, but the "Girl Effect" is being discussed in a more broad context, like this article about supporting women as a national security issue. seems so obvious to me, how can a country develop fully if one half of the population is unable to participate. I was so thrilled to see Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nicholas Kristof amplify this point in his book “Half the Sky.” This Thursday, March 4th, International Woman's Day, theaters around the world will be showing a documentary version of the book.
"International Women’s Day and be inspired to help women and girls everywhere turn oppression into opportunity. Featuring musical performances, celebrity commentary and the world premiere of “Woineshet,” a short film by Academy Award® winner Marisa Tomei and Lisa Leone. Also with appearances from, India.Arie, Maria Bello, Diane Birch, Michael Franti, Dr. Helene Gayle, Angelique Kidjo, Nicholas Kristof, Marisa Tomei, Sarah, Duchess of York and others."
Click here for the events page for details and to find a theater near you participating in this amazing ONE NIGHT ONLY event.
The USC Center on Public Diplomacy website has a great feature for those interested in PD. Public Diplomacy in the News (PDiN) aggregates all the relevant PD articles. The Center now has a new Monthly publication called PDiN Monthly. If you don't have time to read the PDiN roundup everyday, this is a great way to stay in the loop.. and yours truly made a short contribution, as well.
From the Center on Public Diplomacy:
"As part of its PDiN news aggregation service, the USC Center on Public Diplomacy collects and tags countless articles and op-eds on nation branding each week and we are pleased to present a closer look at some of these headlines in the latest issue of PDiN Monthly.
In this issue:
In Nation Branding: Not Just a Logo, Jian 'Jay' Wang offers a concise overview of the ever-evolving field of nation branding with a particular emphasis on some of the breaking stories this month.
In Lost in Explanation, Naomi Leight and Paul Rockower delve into Israel's newly launched program of "brand ambassadors," presenting all sides of the argument for this controversial move by Israel's government.
Katharine Keith reviews relevant articles about the United States' ostensible negligence of its brand management in Welcome to the USA.
At least two dozen February stories tracked in our Science Diplomacy Monitor are summarized in Developments in Science Diplomacy.
PD in Print presents the latest blogs and publications from CPD and other sources and Upcoming PD Events of Interest brings together event information from a range of international venues.
To read the February issue, click here.
For previous issues of PDiN Monthly, click here."
This NPR report brings interesting insight on the subject.