The Beirut Exchange is an immersive research conference that offers participants a unique exposure to leading intellectuals, politicians and activists representing a range of different points of view on Lebanon.

Our upcoming Beirut Exchange is aimed at NGO practitioners, foreign diplomats, academics, journalists and professionals in general who are interested in gaining a deeper understanding of Lebanon.


The 20th Beirut Exchange Conference

Upcoming virtual event organized by the Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies and The Exchange Foundation

November 29 - December 3 & December 6-10, 2021

*Application Deadline I October 31/Deadline II November 15

*35 slots only/Rolling acceptance

After an almost four-year hiatus, the 20th Beirut Exchange Conference will take place online over 10 days, November 29-December 3 (Monday - Friday) and December 6-10 (Monday - Friday) from 4pm-7:30pm (Beirut Time) via Zoom. During the 35 hours of sessions, participants will have the opportunity to listen to and engage with leading academics, analysts, activists and politicians representing a wide spectrum of views on Lebanon.


Our History & Purpose

The first Beirut Exchange took place in June 2008, only a few weeks after sustained violence across Lebanon led to a political settlement known as the Doha Accords. It was our belief at the time that Lebanon was in dire need of more direct and diversified understanding, especially for those who are studying the country, influencing public opinion and discourse, or shaping their own country's foreign policies. Given the current situation that finds Lebanon slipping in terms of international focus even as its citizenry is immiserated further by the day, this is - regrettably - more true than ever.

In the years following our first Exchange, and given the evident need regionally, we steadily expanded our efforts, hosting more than 40 different Exchanges across the Middle East and North Africa - including in Tunisia, Iraq, Syria and Turkey and on Libya as well as Yemen. Thirteen years later, over 1,000 people from 51 different countries have attended an Exchange, with many alumni returning in later years to join sessions once (or several times) again.

In 2019, in order to transparently organize and further professionalize our work, we were finally able to establish The Exchange as a US-registered non-profit, under the aegis of The Foundation for Global Political Exchange, with the mission of promoting professional and academic enrichment through a variety of small group, direct engagement conferences in Western Asia and North Africa.

Our Funding

Crucially - and since our beginning - all funding for the Exchange comes from only two sources: First, the participants who pay the participation fee and, second, scholarship recipients who benefit from individual, charitable contributions designed to broaden the social, political and geographic diversity of each Exchange table. As such, there is no government, commercial or non-profit support, an aspect that we believe provides a relatively independent platform for dialogue and understanding.

Who Should Apply

NGO Practitioners

& Peacebuilders

Foreign Diplomats
& Analysts

& Researchers

Journalists & Media Professionals

Who Should Apply


NGO Practitioners

& Peacebuilders

Foreign Diplomats
& Analysts

& Researchers

Journalists & Media Professionals

Who Should Apply


Our Format

In order to promote small group dynamics (this time via Zoom), the number of accepted participants will be capped at 35. Sessions themselves will be almost exclusively conducted on an individual rather than a panel basis for our speakers and will generally allow opportunity for question time (simultaneous translation into English will be provided when necessary). All sessions will also be held under the Chatham House rule, although we customarily work with our speakers to approve any quotes/references that participants may need for their own work whilst also facilitating direct connections between participants and speakers.


Among the themes that we will delve into during The 20th Beirut Exchange:

The October 17 revolt

The Syria War and its implications for Lebanon

The Special Tribunal for Lebanon

The United Nations role in Lebanon and the region

The July 2006 Lebanon War

The state of Human Rights in Lebanon

The deployment of sectarianism in Lebanese history

Hezbollah’s role in the state and outside of the state

Understanding the history of US - Lebanon relations

The role of the Lebanese Army

Impact of the Syrian Refugee crisis

Anti-establishment movements and prospects for electoral change

Lebanon’s political party divisions: Past and current

The IMF, World Bank and Lebanon's recovery

Women in Lebanese politics

Energy challenges and prospects for resolution

The August 4, 2020 explosion: Responsibilities and Impacts

Unraveling Lebanon’s financial “House of Cards”

The politics of the Lebanese diaspora

Lebanon's Neoliberal project in crisis

Regional state competition and rivalry in Lebanon

Media politics in the Lebanese context

The best immersion course on a country in transition I’ve seen.

Dr. Alfred Stepan

Dean of the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University

Time-tested technique and tactful diplomacy enables The Exchange to achieve an environment conducive to attention, dialogue and reflection.

Dr. Jalel Harchaoui

Research Fellow of the Conflict Research Unit of the Clingendael Institute

There could not exist a more thorough and intensive immersion into Lebanese history and politics than The Exchange.

Nathan Wexler

PhD. Candidate at UC Berkley

The Speakers

Marie-Noelle abi Yaghi

Centre for Social Sciences Research and Action

Joelle Abou Farhat


Jawad Adra

Information International

May Akl

Notre Dame University

Mustapha Alloush

Future Movement

Alain Aoun

Member of Parliament

Mike Azar

Financial Advisor

Habib Battah

Beirut Report

Alain Bifani

Former Ministry of Finance

Lara Bitar

The Public Source

Karim Emile Bitar

Saint Joseph University

Nick Blanford


Monika Borgman

UMAM Documentation and Research

Aurelie Daher

University of Paris-Dauphine

Karma Ekmekji

Issam Fares Institute

Inaya Ezzeddine

Member of Parliament

Lama Fakih

Human Rights Watch

George Ghali

Humanitarian Advocate

Nizar Ghanem

Triangle Consulting

Jamal Ghosn


Antoine Habchi

Member of Parliament

Mohannad Hajj Ali

Carnegie Middle East Center

Sami Halabi

Triangle Consulting

Partial List of Confirmed Speakers For The 20th Beirut Exchange:

Laury Haytayan

Natural Resource Governance Institute

Yassine Jaber

Member of Parliament

Ibrahim Jouhari

128 Lebanon

Shadi Karam


Fayssal Karame

Member of Parliament

Marie Kortam

French Institute of the Near East-Beirut

Lynn Maalouf

Amnesty International

Karim Makdisi

American University of Beirut

Ussama Makdisi

Rice University

Fouad Makhzoumi

Member of Parliament

Ayman Mhanna

Samir Kassir Center for Media and Cultural Freedom

Rouba Mheissen

Sawa Foundation

Charbel Nahhas

Citizens in a State

Omar Nashabe

Lebanese University

Nicholas Noe

The Exchange Foundation

Nicolas Pouillard

French Institute of the Near East

Bashir Saade

University of Stirling

Lara Saade

Legislative Expert

Faysal Sayegh

Member of Parliament

Maya Sukkar

Lebanese Forces

Wissam Yafi

Civil Society Advocate

Paula Yaacoubian

Ex-Member of Parliament

Lea Yammine

Centre for Social Sciences Research and Action

Although limited by the constraints of an online format where our participants span several time zones, we have nevertheless attempted to assemble a diverse group of speakers that we believe represents the wide spectrum of thought and action characteristic of Lebanon itself. It should be noted that The Exchange pays an honorarium to those speakers that do not serve in an official or party capacity and who are also able to accept funds from our foundation.

Accepted applicants will receive the precise order of sessions with confirmed speakers (always within the daily 4pm-7:30pm Beirut time window, Monday-Friday) three weeks prior to the opening of the 20th Beirut Exchange, as well as readings pertinent to the sessions.


07:00pm – Opening Orientation & Security Briefing


09:30am – Nicholas Noe,

12:00pm – Ghattas Khoury, Minister of Culture

12:45pm – Lunch (at the participants discretion)

02:00pm – Karim Makdisi, American University of Beirut

04:00pm – Nour Samaha, Journalist

07:00pm – Ahmad Fatfat, Future Movement


09:30am – Ammar Moussawi, Hezbollah

12:00pm – Bassam Khawaja, Human Rights Watch

01:30pm – Yassine Jaber, The Development & Liberation Bloc
03:00pm – Lunch

04:00pm – Lea Yammine, Lebanon Support

05:30pm – Nicholas Blanford, Journalist


09:30am – Jihad Yazigi, The Syria Report

11:00am – The International NGO Safety Organisation

01:00pm – Lokman Slim, Umam Documentation & Research (w/Lunch)

03:00pm – Sami Gemayel, Kateab

04:30pm – Omar Nashabe, Consultant for Defense Counsel, STL

06:30pm – Walid Jumblatt, Progressive Socialist Party


09:30am – Antoine Habchi, Lebanese Forces

11:30am – Ali Fadlallah, Mabarrat Foundation

01:00pm – Lunch

02:00pm – Imran Riza, UNIFIL

03:30pm – Alain Aoun, Free Patriotic Movement

05:30pm – The Syrian Social Nationalist Party

07:30pm – Nicolas Pouillard, IFPO


09:00am – Claudio Cordone, UNRWA, & Camp Visit

01:30pm – Osama Hamdan, HAMAS

03:00pm – Lunch

04:00pm – Ayman Mhanna, Samir Kassir Foundation

06:00pm – Shadi Karam, Former Senior Adviser to the Prime Minister


11:00am – May Akl, Free Patriotic Movement

01:00pm – Lunch

02:00pm – Malek Al-Shaar, Mufti of Tripoli & The North

03:30pm – Faisal Karami, Arab Liberation Party

05:00pm – Achraf Rifi, Former Minister of Justice

07:00pm – Mustapha Alloush, Future Movement


11:00am – Marwan Maalouf, Menapolis/#YouStink

01:00pm – Sami Moubayed, The Damascus History Foundation

The Completed Program Of The Last Beirut Exchange (January 2018):

Participation Fee Levels

Participation Fees



For undergraduate and graduate students, unaffiliated researchers and freelance journalists


For private enterprise, government or UN staff




For affiliated researchers, academics, journalists, NGO staff



Accepted Lebanese organizations and Lebanese individuals who can demonstrate need will be able to cover the participation fee at their current Bank rate governing non-external USD conversion to Lira.

Request an Application

Application Deadline I: October 31, 2021

Application Deadline II: November 15, 2021

*35 slots only
(Rolling acceptance)


The Foundation for Global Political Exchange currently has a total of five Scholarship slots (covering the participation fee) available in two categories: A) The Lebanese/Lebanese Origin Researcher Scholarship for three Lebanese researchers who additionally demonstrate a lack of institutional or self-funding ability; B) The Global Exchange Researcher Scholarship available for two researchers who will deepen the social, political and geographic diversity of the Exchange and who can demonstrate a lack of institutional or self-funding ability.

Upcoming Exchanges

The Exchange Foundation is an effort by the non-profit, 501 (C)3 Foundation for Global Political Exchange to promote professional and academic enrichment through a variety of small group, direct engagement conferences in Western Asia and North Africa.

During their stay, typically lasting five days to one week, participants from around the world listen to and question leading intellectuals, activists and politicians representing an array of different points of view in a specific country.

The first Exchange was launched in June 2008 in Beirut, Lebanon. Now, thirteen years on, more than 850 people from 51 different countries have attended 40 different Exchanges in the region.

Crucially, all funding for the Exchange comes from only two sources: The participants themselves who pay the participation fee or scholarship recipients who benefit from individual, charitable contributions designed specifically to broaden the social, political and geographic diversity of each Exchange table. As such, there is no government, commercial or non-profit support, an aspect that we believe provides a relatively neutral platform for dialogue and understanding.

Listen to and question leading intellectuals, activists and politicians from the Arab world

Broad social, political and geographic diversity of speakers

Creating a neutral platform for dialogue and understanding

More than 850 participants, 51 countries, 40 different Exchanges

A well-oiled program that brings you an impressive number and selection of speakers from across the spectrum. Worth every penny!

I learned more in my 10 days at the Beirut Exchange than in any university course! This was a wonderful experience filled with fascinating speakers.

Oliva Holt-Ivry

Nicole Sganga

Senior Programs Advisor on Women, Peace, and Security, U.S. Department of State

CBS News reporter

Illuminating and life changing experience. I will recall the Exchange as one of the most authentic educational experiences of my life.

Sahar Rizvi


Who should register?

NGO Practitioners

& Officers

Foreign Diplomats
& Analysts

& Faculty

Journalists & Media Professionals

Past Exchanges

Intensive & Immersive Courses on Western Asia & North Africa

Unique access to information, perspectives, updates and analysis.

Access to information

Gain direct insight and rare first-hand knowledge about the country from a wide range of perspectives.

First-hand knowledge

Engage with speakers during the sessions and connect with them after the Exchange.

Connect with speakers

Participants will have the opportunity to meet, listen and engage leading social, political and economic actors from across the spectrum in Lebanon.

Dialogue with Leaders

Upcoming Exchanges

After an almost four year hiatus, the 20th Beirut Exchange Conference will take place online over 10 days, November 29-December 3 (Monday-Friday) and December 6-10 (Monday-Friday) from 9am-12:30pm (Eastern Standard Time) via Zoom.

November 29 - December 3 & December 6 - 10, 2021

To be held virtually over eight Thursday and Saturday mornings (EST time), in partnership with Georgetown University's Democracy and Governance Center.

May 27-June 19, 2021

(Application period ended)

(Applications now closed)

Join our network

Receive updates about The Exchange Foundation and upcoming Exchanges.

Farea Al-Muslimi is chairman and co-founder of Sanaa Center for Strategic Studies and a non-resident fellow at both the Carnegie Middle East Center and Middle East Institute in Washington, D.C. In August 2016, UN Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon appointed Al-Muslimi to the Advisory Group of Experts for Progress Study on Youth, Peace and Security, a study mandated by UN Security Council Resolution 2250 to examine the positive contribution of youth to peace processes and conflict resolution and effective responses at local, national, regional and international levels. Al-Muslimi’s writings and analysis on Yemen and the wider region have been published in Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, New York Times, The Independent, The Guardian, Al-Hayyat, As-Safir, Al-Monitor, as well as several other publications. In 2013, Foreign Policy named him to its list of Top 100 Global Thinkers, and in 2014 The Guardian named Al-Muslimi to its Top 30 under 30 list of young leaders in digital media around the world.

Monica Marks is a Rhodes Scholar and PhD Candidate at Oxford University, and a doctoral fellow with the European Research Council’s WAFAW program. Her work, which focuses on politics, institutional reform, and Islamist movements in Tunisia and Turkey, has appeared in peer-reviewed books and journals, news outlets including The Guardian, The New York Times, Foreign Policy, and The Washington Post, and for think tanks including the Carnegie Endowment, the Brookings Institute, and The Century Foundation. A former Fulbright Scholar to Turkey, Ms. Marks has taught as a Visiting Professor in the Politics and International Relations Department of Istanbul’s Bogazici University. Recently she has been a Visiting Fellow at Columbia University’s SIPA school and at the London-based European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR). She speaks Arabic and Turkish.

Nicholas Noe is a political advisor for the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue in Geneva. In 2016, he served as Regional Organizing Director for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign in Michigan where he managed the Get Out The Vote (GOTV) operation. Previous to this, Mr. Noe lived in Beirut (2004-present) and in Tunis (2012-2014) where he was a co-editor of the Heinrich Boell Foundation’s journal on the Middle East, Perspectives, and co-founder of the news translation service (2005-Present) covering the Middle East media. He regularly provides analysis and commentary for Al-Jazeera International, BBC and several US and European publications and is the author of a White Paper for the New America and Century Foundations entitled: “Re-Imagining the Lebanon Track: Towards a New US Policy.” He is also the editor of the 2007 book “Voice of Hezbollah: The Statements of Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah” and was a visiting fellow with the European Council on Foreign Relations in 2014. Mr. Noe graduated with honors from Cambridge University (MPhil, International Relations, 2006) where he was elected a scholar of Selwyn College and Magna Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa from Brown University (1999). In 2020, he was awarded a Policy Fellowship at the European University Institute in Florence.

Safa Belghith is an International Relations graduate from the Higher Institute of Human Sciences at Al-Manar University where her work focused on the intersection of media and politics. She also has a degree in English Linguistics, Literature and Civilization from the University of Manouba and works as a freelance journalist and research consultant on issues related to Tunisian politics and women’s rightsArthur Quesnay is Assistant Researcher and PhD Research Fellow in Political Science at the ERC-funded Sociology of Civil Wars program at the Panthéon-Sorbonne University (Paris 1) since 2015. He was previously (2010-2014) a Junior Research Fellow in Iraq at the Institut français du Proche-Orient (IFPO). His doctoral thesis focuses on sectarian conflicts in Northern Iraq, where he conducted extensive fieldwork since 2009. He has also conducted parallel fieldwork in Libya (2011-2012) and Syria (2012-2013 and 2016) with insurgent groups. Taken together, his work highlights social and political transformation through the Middle East Civil Wars. As co-director of Noria MENA Programme, Mr. Quesnay calls for social scientists to adopt new methodological and conceptual approaches to understanding these extreme situations and for combining micro and macro analyses.

Yamen Soukkarieh graduated in 1999 with a Communication Media Degree from the Lebanese American University in Beirut. Since that time, he has worked as a producer and cameraman for numerous Lebanese and international media organizations, including with CNN, Arte and Al-Jazeera, among others.

Karma Ekmekji is a Mediation Advisor with UN Women and Senior Policy Fellow at the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs at the American University of Beirut and the Lead Advisor on their Women, Peace and Security initiative. Karma is also an adjunct instructor in International Affairs and Women Peace and Security, a member of the Executive Board of the Intisar Foundation and a member of the Mediterranean Women Mediators Network. Stemming from a strong interest in empowering women in the field of diplomacy, peacemaking, mediation and negotiation, Karma founded the #Diplowomen initiative to share knowledge, develop mentorship opportunities and strengthen networking in this field. Prior to this, she was the International Affairs and Relations Advisor to former Prime Minister of Lebanon Saad Hariri, where she served as the focal point for all international dossiers. Karma has also worked at the office of the UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon and at the Department of Political Affairs and the UN Secretariat in NY.

Alison Tahmizian Meuse is veteran foreign correspondent, spending the past decade reporting for AFP, the world’s third largest news wire, NPR and most recently as regional editor for the Asia Times. She is a newly appointed Senior Fellow at the Regional Studies Center (RSC) in Yerevan and a Strategic Advisor at DeepStrat consultancy out of New Delhi. Her research focuses on Armenia's evolving global alliances and strategies for navigating the regional power negotiations between Russia, Turkey and Iran.

Co-founder, Nicholas Noe: +961.81.797.943 (Beirut/WhatsApp)

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