The 20th Beirut Exchange (Virtual)
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.
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.I
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 History & Purpose:
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.
Journalists & Media Professionals
Who Should Apply:
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.
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
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) one month prior to the opening of the 20th Beirut Exchange, as well as readings pertinent to the sessions. A partial list of confirmed speakers will additionally be available on our website by October 11.
07:00pm – Opening Orientation & Security Briefing
09:30am – Nicholas Noe, Mideastwire.com
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):
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.
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.
Application Deadline I: October 31, 2021
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
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.
Phd. candidate at UC Berkley
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.
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.
Who should register?
Journalists & Media Professionals
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.
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
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
(Applications are now open)
(Applications now closed)
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