By Kholoud Mansour
The last day in Paris was very intensive with heavy rain and tight schedule. The fellows had their first meeting at the Ministry of Foreign Affaris of France – Quai d’Orsay to meet with Mr. Joseph Maila who works as a Director of the prospective of the Ministry with French Diplomats in the Middle East.
Mr. Maila explained the establishment of the new section of religion as an attempt to shape the pattern of behavior in the globe. He continued talking about the French stance toward the Arab revolutions especially with the historian relation with the Arab countries. Mr. Maila explained the three Arab worlds and their sensitivity, the importance of shaping new kind of legitimacy when it comes to political order, Islam and democracy, interreligious dialogue, and how to build a community of democracy while respecting human values. He also responded to the several questions of our curious UNAoC fellows who addressed their questions in regard to their countries.
The second meeting and a lunch were hosted by Pacale Thumerelle, vice president of the sustainable development and her team at Vivendi Company. The debate developed on how Vivendi is trying to accompany the youth in their cultural and media practices while building a more secure digital world, promoting cultural diversity as a necessary manifestation of human dignity and social cohesion, and encouraging the sharing of knowledge in order to strengthen a spirit of openness towards others and mutual understanding. We thank Viveni for hosting a lunch and lending us some Vivendi Umbrella!
The fellows headed to a visit at France 24, the country TV channel in French, English, and Arabic. It was interesting to meet with some of the France 24 team members who covered the events and revolutions in the Arab countries facing many challenges particularly where journalists have limited or no accessibility in some countries.
Alumni fellow Cédric Baecher, a co-founder and Director of Nomadéis, kindly accompanied the fellows in their following visits during the day and generously arranged the setting for meeting with Babel Café team.
The next meeting with Mr. Jacques Godfrain, political and economist and was the Minister of Cooperation, now in charge of the Charles De gaulle Fondation in Paris. The meeting included a discussion and a tour in the building where the fellows got the chance to see the office of Charles de Gaulle as well as all the archives of his work.
The long day ended with an informal meeting with the team of Café Babel. The team shared their experience and gave a brief on Café Babel which is the first multilingual European current affairs magazine, designed for readers across borders. The Café Babel revolutionises European media through participatory journalism, providing a unique platform of expression for the eurogeneration, the internet and an increasing level of mobility. It aims at stimulating and developing European public opinion offering daily coverage – from YOU – of political, cultural and social trends from a uniquely pan-European perspective. The Café Babel team also instigated some partnership and cooperation with similar initiatives in the Middle East.
The journey ended with an exhausting, yet inspiring, day. Our fellows are to travel back to their home countries on the next day holding their reflections, lessons, hopes, and their personal perspectives. The program not only shaped the different intense experiences, but also shaped a new friendship among the future MENA leaders themselves.