CAFCAW Meeting in Jordan: Working for the Renewal of Religious Thought in the Arab World

It’s a wrap! #CAFCAW meeting @Dead Sea Marriott Resort & Spa, Jordan, January 2019 
لتجديد الفكر والخطاب الديني في العالم العربي وتعزيز الوجود الفعال المسيحي والعمل من أجل مواطنة الوحدة في التنوع وكرامة الإنسان

Dr. Atef Gendy, Dr. Victor Makari, Maya Khadra, Dr. Mitri Raheb, Dr. Pamela Chrabieh, Mary Mikhael

Youth and Citizenship in the Arab World


Associate Professor of Middle Eastern Studies at AUD Dr. Pamela Chrabieh and a member of the Christian Academic Forum for Citizenship in the Arab World (CAFCAW) Executive Committee met her peers and presented a communication on the challenges of citizenship at a two-day conference and workshop held in Cyprus on Youth and Citizenship in the Arab World.

This initiative followed a series of academic gatherings, international conferences and youth workshops in 2014, 2015 and 2016 in Lebanon, Egypt, Cyprus and Turkey, co-organized by CAFCAW and Diyar’s Consortium – CAFCAW is one of Diyar’s initiatives. It gathered more than 60 young academics and activists and included trainings and conferences tackling the issues of citizenship and youth initiatives.

Four young activists and social change makers were awarded Best Citizenship Awards: Yorgui Teyrouz from Lebanon for ‘Donner sang compter’, a non-governmental organization which promotes responsible citizenship through raising awareness on and encouraging safe blood transfusions in Lebanon. The second place went to Randa Farah from Lebanon for Lebtivity, a social events calendar that gathers people from different socio-economic backgrounds and religions. Two projects shared the third place: Ghadeer Najjar from Palestine for her research and upcoming publication to preserve Bethlehem’s social and architectural history, and Peter Magdy from Egypt for empowering marginalized groups.

According to Dr. Chrabieh: “youth in the Arab World are facing numerous challenges, including unemployment with a 30 to 35% rate (compared to a global rate of 14%), political oppression in most countries, socio-economic disparities, gender injustice, corruption, forced migration, physical and psychological wars, etc. However, young Arabs positively engaged in their societies and in diaspora are many. They are change makers who offer an alternative to the disenchantment nowadays experienced at different levels. This alternative, as I mentioned it in previous publications and conferences, is about taking small, varied, contextual and diffuse but continuous steps, and about recognizing and appreciating the many lights that help us walk through the tunnel.’

President of Diyar’s Consortium Dr. Mitri Raheb comments: “one out of five youth in the Arab World belong to the creative class. The Arab world has seen a surge in the arts, encompassing film, visual art, poetry, and music.”

University enrollment in the occupation-torn Palestine exceeds that of Hong Kong. Female university graduates outnumber male graduates in the Arab world. In the UAE female count to 70% of the student body; 77 % of Emirati women are educated. Globally 10% of entrepreneurs are women, in Lebanon over 30%. 60-80% of the people in the Arab world used to work in the public sector. In 2012, 55% of Arab youth wanted a public sector job, in 2014 only 43%. The Arab world experienced a surge in higher education: since the early 2000s the number of universities in the Arab region has doubled from 178 to 398, if one adds colleges and institutes, the number rises to 1139. This is higher than the population growth. There is hope in spite of all challenges. It is imperative to combat the image of the violent Arab youth and to replace it with that of the creative class,” he continued.


Policy, Global Citizens and World Peace. Case studies: Lebanon, Canada and the UAE

Assistant Professor of Middle Eastern Studies Dr. Pamela Chrabieh was invited as a special guest speaker to give a lecture entitled “Policy, Global Citizens and World Peace: How can Governments influence policy to create better Global citizens and work towards World Peace? Case studies: Lebanon, Canada and the United Arab Emirates”.

Dr. Chrabieh introduced first her audience to the concepts of policy, glocal citizen instead of global citizen and the peace process as she defined it based on four interdependent dynamics: peacekeeping, peacemaking, peacebuilding and inner peace. She then identified the major core values that drive or should drive Lebanese and Canadian foreign policies such as interreligious dialogue, democracy, human rights and interculturalism. She also tackled the issue of internal policy while focusing on the social-political diversity management systems in Lebanon, Canada and the United Arab Emirates. Dr. Chrabieh concluded with the UAE Ministry of Tolerance as an important example of how peace can be adopted as the organizing frame for governments’ policies.

“Tolerance is one of the major pillars in preserving and expanding peace. Definitely, citizens and expatriates are called to be agents of peace, peace builders, and to help the government in its task, first internally, and second, in exporting the model outside of the Emirati boundaries. Dubai in particular, where hundreds of ethnicities, religious and cultural identities are learning to coexist and more, to live with one another – just like we are trying to do at the American University in Dubai -, where glocal identities are reshaping their belongings and relationships, promises to offer this model to the region, and to the world.”

The Harvard College in Asia Program (HCAP) is an initiative in which Harvard University partners with higher education institutions in Asia to tackle key issues relevant to today’s world of increasing challenges, while simultaneously expanding the cultural and educational horizons of participating student delegates. This year’s Conference theme organized by the HCAP at the American University in Dubai is “Equality, Tolerance and Freedom: the Effect of Culture and Policy on a Globalized World.”



AUD Professor Leads Discussion on Religion-State Relations in the Middle East

Dr. Pamela Chrabieh talks democracy, democratic institutions, citizenship and advocacy

Dr. Pamela Chrabieh, Assistant Professor of Middle Eastern Studies at AUD and a member of the Christian Academic Forum for Citizenship in the Arab World (CAFCAW) Executive Committee, met her peers during a workshop on Lebanese Youth and Citizenship held in Beirut recently.

Dr. Chrabieh comments, “The gathering of Middle Eastern Christian and Muslim scholars, religious leaders, media figures and politicians, initiates a regional dialogue between academicians from diverse backgrounds and identities, who debate issues related to religions-politics’ relations, interfaith dialogue, Christians’ roles and situations as well as theology of public life, and propose alternative worldviews, narratives and projects facing the culture of violence.

The CAFCAW forum was part of the ongoing academic work of the Executive Committee on the Religion-State relations in the Middle East, and on the roles of diverse stakeholders and activists in diversity management. The workshop gathered more than 25 young Lebanese and included trainings and conferences tackling the subjects of democracy, democratic institutions, citizenship and advocacy.


This meeting and workshop followed 4 previous events held in 2014 and 2015 in Amman, Istanbul, Beirut, and Cyprus. Future initiatives include a Middle-Eastern Youth Conference in Cyprus in April 2016 and the publication of the July 2015 Conference proceedings.

About the Christian Academic Forum for Citizenship in the Arab World (CAFCAW)
CAFCAW is a forum that aims to provide a more public voice for Christians and interreligious dialogue in the Arab world. The association was established at its inaugural meeting in February 2014 in Istanbul under the Diyar Consortium, a Lutheran-based, ecumenically-oriented organization serving the whole Palestinian community, with emphasis on children, youth, and women. CAFCAW convened its second meeting in Istanbul in June 2014. CAFCAW’s third conference held on 5 and 6 December 2014 in Beirut served to create broad support among Christian and Muslim academics, stakeholders in interreligious dialogue, civil society and policy makers.

For more information on CAFCAW please click on the following link



Because it’s 2015!

P.M. Justin Trudeau gives Canada a first cabinet with ethnically diverse ministers and an equal number of men and women, and in my home country, Lebanon, women can’t even confer their nationality to their husbands or children.

As a naturalized Canadian citizen, I am proud of the gender equality under the law in the land of maple, poutine and hockey, and as a native Lebanese, I am more than ashamed of the discriminatory laws that deny women their basic rights in the land of the alphabet, the cedars and the thousands of years of rich history.

I am ashamed of the mountains and rivers of trash, of the abysmal State, of the wasted opportunities for change, and more, of the non-recognition of women as full nationals and citizens.

“Because it’s 2015″, Trudeau said, when asked about why parity was important to him, but in Lebanon 2015, the denial of basic rights places women in a subordinate second class position, and leads to marginalization and social exclusion.

Citizenship “is both a status (or an identity) and a practice or process of relating to the social world through the exercise of rights/protections and the fulfillment of obligations” (Meer and Sever, 2004).  Citizenship should be inclusive, incorporating the interests and needs of all citizens, and an active concept, a relationship that promotes participation and agency, such as in Canada. But in Lebanon, the identity ascribed to women is in relation to men – passive, eternally immature and dependent – even if there are/were women who are/were able to re-shape their identities .

As long as most women are not able to make claims as citizens in their own rights nor to fully exercise political, economic, social and cultural rights, a Lebanese half-female cabinet is just a mirage in an expanding desert of ignorance.