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D66 Day of the Middle East

Zaterdag 26 november 2016 in Utrecht

The fourth edition of the D66 Day of the Middle East will be held on Saturday 26 November 2016 in Utrecht. The event is open to everyone: attend and join the discussion!

Beyond Hostility: Seeking Opportunities and Creating Commitment

Check the PROGRAMME now!

The Middle East continues to be a region in turmoil. Every day reports of the region’s conflicts make the news, but what about the stories of average people? Can this silent majority make lasting changes by speaking out?

We will explore opportunities for development in the Middle East and we will find out how local and international engagement can be a tool for change. Security, immigration and economic development pose challenges that are intertwined and far reaching.

During the fourth edition of the Day of the Middle East, these issues will be addressed with a score of international experts. Join the discussion in Utrecht on 26 November!

Online registration for the Day of the Middle East has now been closed. Please be advised that it is still possible to join our event on Saturday the 26th, with direct payment at the door. This will be possible between 10:00-10:30 AM at the Academiegebouw in Utrecht.

Normal – 17,50 EUR
Student – 12,50 EUR (please bring your student ID)
The ticket price includes lunch, coffee & tea, drinks and snacks.

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Plenary programme:

Petra Stienen (Host & Speaker)
Petra Stienen will be the host of the Day of the Middle East this year and will furthermore share lessons learned from women activists in the Middle East on citizenship and gender equality. She is an author, independent advisor and Senator for D66. Petra Stienen has previously worked as a human rights diplomat at the Netherlands Embassies in Egypt and Syria from 1995-2004. After leaving the Foreign Ministry in 2009, she established her own business as an independent advisor for various clients in the field of democracy, diversity and diplomacy to the government, NGO’s and companies. Ms. Stienen is one of the thought leaders in the Netherlands on European relations with the Arab world. She is an established public speaker and has won a number of prestigious awards for her work.

Speech by Tarek Osman
Tarek Osman is the senior political counselor for the Arab world and Turkey at the European Bank for Reconstruction & Development. He has lectured extensively on the Arab world and Islamism at leading universities in Europe and is a regular contributor to major newspapers and magazines worldwide.  Mr Osman is the author of many books on the relation between Islam and public life in the Middle East. His latest work, “Islamism: What It Means for the Middle East and the World” was published earlier this year.

Opening Remarks by Sjoerd Sjoerdsma
Sjoerd Sjoerdsma is a Member of Parliament for D66 and spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, Immigration & Asylum, Human Rights and International Criminal Justice. He is also D66’s Campaign Manager for the upcoming parliamentary elections in March 2017. Before becoming a politician in 2012, he has worked as a diplomat in the Palestinian Territories and was involved in the Dutch military missions in Sudan and Afghanistan. Sjoerd Sjoerdsma will provide the Opening Remarks at the Day of the Middle East.

Roundtable on the Influence of the USA in the Middle East
Just recently, Donald Trump was elected in the US. How will the new presidency shape US foreign policy in the Middle East? We will use this opportunity at the Day of the Middle East to both reflect on Obama’s policies with regard to the Middle-East, and look forward to what Donald Trump could and might do in the next four years. This analysis will take place in consideration of EU action also: In what cases were the US and EU successful? When were they not? What can the influence of political decision-making of worlds’ superpowers be on the political, economic and societal environment of one single country such as Iran or Libya? These and other questions will be discussed in depth by a panel consisting of amongst others the following experts:
– Matt Steinglass – Europe Editor at ‘The Economist’
– Herman Schaper – Senator for D66 and Former Diplomat
– Marietje Schaake – MEP for D66
– Bente Scheller – Director of the Heinrich Böll Foundation’s Middle East Office

Cultural Interlude: Protest Literature
Dr. Mariwan Kanie is a Kurdish intellectual, writer, and political scientist. At the Day of the Middle East, Dr. Kanie will speak about protest literature in the Middle East. A subject he has not only studied, but practised as well: in January 2011 dr. Kanie was indicted in Iraqi Kurdistan for an article in which he criticized the Kurdish president, Massoud Barzani. Many of his books have been published in Kurdistan. He won the Kurdish Regional Government’s Ministry of Culture and Youth’s prize for best non-fiction twice; in 2004 with his book ‘Complex Identities’ and again in 2015 with his work “Cruelty and homelessness: on literature in the Middle East” (published in Kurdish). Since 1993 he has lived and worked in the Netherlands, where he writes and teaches about the interaction between literature, religion, culture and politics (in the Middle East and the Arab World), at the University of Amsterdam. He also regularly publishes in the Dutch daily newspaper Trouw and appeared on television in the news commentary programs Nova and Netwerk.

Fringe Sessions:

People on the Move for a Better Life
This session will offer the audience a broad view of the international laws that apply to immigrants and refugees, as well as the responsibilities of the international community to help people who are fleeing their countries and are ‘on the move’. We will focus on the situation in Libya, as Libya is an important hub for many people on their way to safety and stability in Europe. Thousands of people have already perished in the Mediterranean Sea in their search for a better life and the number of casualties is only increasing. How can change be affected? The following experts will provide us with their experience and insights:
– Othman Belbeisi – IOM Libya
– Simone Filippini – Former Director of Cordaid
– Tarak Bach Baouab – Docters without Borders

Workshop: Fighting for Peace – Dos and Don’ts of Interventionism
During many international crises, especially those in the Middle East, the moment arises when the international community asks itself: should we intervene? Especially as civilians who suffer from the crisis call for help. But the real issue at hand is: what can we do to help? To answer this question we will talk with military historian and international affairs expert Christ Klep. He will discuss the range of intervention ‘tools’ the international community actually has it’s disposal, and consider their strengths and weaknesses. After this preliminary explanation, all participants will join in a simulation-game of a current crisis and apply these lessons learnt, to come up with possible scenario’s for solutions. The simulation will be supported by Bart Hogeveen, from the Netherlands Institute of International Relations.

Responsible Entrepreneurship in the MENA Region
With media reporting from the Middle East and North Africa often focusing on the negative, it is easy to overlook the region’s many contemporary successes. One of these successes is entrepreneurship. Indeed: the MENA region is replete with  innovative and creative entrepreneurs, ranging from start-ups to SMEs (‘MKB’) to multinationals, who all manage to balance their economic objectives with socially responsible business management – thereby simultaneously contributing to income growth and a sustainable planet for present and future generations. These success stories comprise both local and Dutch entrepreneurs. The Arab Spring movement asked for greater personal freedom and social justice from a generally accountable State. Whilst this call has been muzzled in many places throughout the region, young local entrepreneurs and expats alike provide continuity to the Arab Spring’s social and liberal values in the way they set up and run their companies throughout the MENA. The following highly knowledgeable specialists will highlight a number of success stories from a start-up, SME, multinational, public sector and Islamic economy perspective:
– Désirée Bonis – Dutch Ambassador in Rabat
– Arthur Steiner – Chair of NewSilkRoads Foundation & Project Manager at Hivos
– Fiona Kirubi – Partner at Awal Consulting Nairobi
– Giovanni Angiolini – Former Chair Netherlands Business Council Dubai
– Mauritius Wijffels – Moderator, Lawyer and MENA Expert

Mixed Perspectives: How Do Dutch with Foreign Backgrounds View Developments in the Middle East?
In this session six Dutchmen and -women with roots in both the MENA region and the Netherlands will discuss how their roots have influenced their views of the current state of affairs in the Middle East. The speakers, acclaimed voices in the Dutch integration debate, will address the differences between their perspective and that of the ‘average’ Dutch person without foreign roots. In this session, we will analyse how gaps can be bridged. Also, speakers will examine to which extent tensions in the Middle East are cause for parallel tension in The Netherlands. As a result, attendants will have a clearer vision on the different realities that inevitably exist in a multicultural society. The speakers will be:
– Naema Tahir – Writer
– Shervin Nekuee – Dutch-Iranian Journalist
– Birgül Özmen – City Councillor in The Hague for D66
– Raheil Aziz – Spark ‘Entrepreneurship and Education for Post-Conflict Societies’
– Matthijs den Otter – Diversion – Bureau for innovation

A Filmmakers Guide to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
During this session, we will focus on the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict from the perspective of three local filmmakers. These renowned directors will discuss their films and messages through showing clips of their award-winning documentaries. Throughout this showing, they will provide us with background insights and context. They will share how their personal vision on the conflict and their surroundings led them and inspired them to create these films.  We will raise the question: how does this film contribute to the local and international discussion on the conflict, and how does it contribute to raising awareness and enhancing cooperation and mutual understanding? The following acclaimed film directors will join us at this session:
– Shimon Dotan – Director of Film ‘The Settlers’
– Netaya Anbar – Producer and Editor
– Ehab Tarabieh – Director of Film ‘The Forgotten’
– Maurice Chayut – Moderator






26 november

10:00 - 17:00

Academiegebouw (Domplein 29), Utrecht