Archive for the ‘Middle East’ Category

Rick Santorum and his family (credit: Santorum for President website)

The new year certainly kicked off with a bang as Rick Santorum surged in the Republican primaries. His “faith, family and freedom” (in that order) platform translates into his party’s retro view that America can avoid decline only by returning to the days when religion (think Christian prayers in school) was central, families (think Mom home with many kids) were the cornerstone of society, and freedom (think heterosexual GI Joe) kept America “strong.”

What Santorum and his followers fail to grasp is that change is inevitable and happening, here and around the world. The rise of the Millenials, those 50 million American twenty-somethings born after 1980, is profoundly changing our global society, and there is no going back.


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Esraa Abdel Fattah (photo credit: Vital Voices)

I had the honor of introducing Esraa Abdel Fattah at the Middle East Institute’s 65th annual banquet dinner this week.  Esraa, 33, now famous as Egypt’s “Facebook Girl,” helped mobilize the January 25th demonstration in Cairo which sparked the Egyptian revolution that brought down President Mubarak.  In recognition of her efforts, Esraa was considered for the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize.

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In 2003, I came home one evening and announced to my family over dinner that I had been offered an opportunity to move to Qatar. Turning to their Dad for some explanation, all 3 of my kids basically asked “What the hell is she talking about?” Caroline, who had just been elected president of her senior high school class, didn’t miss a beat in saying “I’m going with you.” Her twin brother, Andrew, reluctantly agreed with conditions, which, as I recall, included something about buying him an ATV.

Qatar is the small peninsular country jutting into the Arabian Gulf, wedged between Saudi Arabia to the south, and Iran to the north. Its rapid growth has been fueled by its large reserve of natural gas and its dedication to becoming an internationally renowned knowledge-based economy. By now, we all know Qatar as the home of the popular satellite TV station Al Jazeera, and host of the 2022 FIFA World Cup soccer games. Although a conservative Islamic culture, Qatar is transforming the region by hosting US university branch campuses with co-ed classes and aligning with NATO against Gaddafi in support of the Libyan rebels. (more…)

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