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Houston, TX. – The Bilateral US-Arab Chamber of Commerce hosted its 10th annual Model Arab League (MAL) on February 17-19, 2017, in partnership with the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations, hosted at the University of Houston- Clear Lake for the first time. Students from across Texas gathered to partake in a debate simulation based on the League of Arab States.
Every year, students are assigned a country featured in the League of Arab States and not only research the history, politics and diplomatic stances of that country but also of the other countries in the League so that they can be familiar with how their counterparts will approach certain resolutions. These brilliant students put a lot of work in preparation for this project so that the simulation can be as realistic as possible.
Student delegations represent a country from the League of Arab States and split into different councils to debate specific topics with the aim of debating and drafting resolutions. The councils follow a pre-set agenda that reflects real time issues that are being discussed by the League of Arab States. Councils debate which topics to discuss when, where to hold conferences, and of course solutions and courses of action. The students are supposed to step into the shoes of the country they are representing and respond to issues and propositions as their country would. In addition, councils can feature crisis simulations. Crisis simulations are intended to confront the delegates with an immediate challenge outside of the original parameters of the Agenda, while under extreme pressure and time constraints just as in real-world emergency situations. Only one crisis simulation was delivered this year due to the efficiency and complexity of the agenda points already at hand. In order to resolve crisis situations, or come to mutually beneficial resolutions, the students are encouraged to negotiate and create joint coalitions so they can realise combined goals and utilize multilateral diplomacy while keeping their interests intact.
Debated topics varied, but included: “evaluating the economic impact of inequality and exclusion of women in certain sectors of Arab economies” and “addressing the impact that religious leaders have on radicalization” to “reviewing the capabilities of League members to combat extremism in the Arab world” and “reviewing current education systems within Palestine.”
The Opening Summit included introductory remarks from Dr. William A. Staples, President of the University of Houston Clear-Lake. Dr. Staples emphasized the benefits of MAL as it pushes students to view the world from a different point of view and realize we are all not so different after all.
At the conclusion of the council session, the Closing Summit featured Oni K. Blair who is a Senior Advisor for the Houston Mayor’s office of Trade and International Affairs on loan from the U.S. Department of State. Ms. Blair offered remarkable advice to the students as she shared stories of her career path and encouraged students to always be their truest self. Several students received awards for best delegates and honourable mentions.
Represented countries at the Bilateral MAL 2017 included: Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Palestine, Syrian National Coalition, Bahrain, Morocco, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Libya, Lebanon, Iraq and Oman.
2017 Participating Universities Included:
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