BEIRUT: The 6th Lebanese American University Model Arab League kicked-off on Saturday, with the intent of creating an educational journey for middle and high school students who would spend the weekend considering contemporary issues facing the Arab world.
Through three training sessions students become acquainted with the committees, bodies, members states and main objectives of the Arab League. A two day final conference will simulate the Arab League’s committees, with students acting as ambassadors and representing all 22 Arab countries.
Each year, winners of the final conference are granted scholarships to pursue their education at the Lebanese American University. Over 104 Lebanese schools are registered within the program, divided between private, public and semi-public schools. This year, for the first time, the program will also conduct training sessions for Palestinian students that attend the UNRWA schools in Lebanon.
With an audience comprised of secretariat members of the Model Arab League program, students and school advisors, the attendees of the inauguration ceremony created an ambience filled with excitement. The event featured a range of prominent guest speakers, including Marlene Atallah (representative from the Ministry of Labor), Carine Azkoul from FransaBank and the Chinese, Egyptian, UAE and Indonesian ambassadors.
Under the patronage of Member of Parliament and former Minister Bahia Hariri, the program conducts training sessions on both the LAU Beirut campus and the Outreach and Leadership Academy in Sidon, in partnership with the Hariri Foundation for Sustainable Human Development.
In his welcoming words, LAU President Dr. Joseph Jabra stressed the importance of incorporating youth into the cause of making the world a better place. He highlighted the role of institutions of higher education in providing opportunities for young people to grow up and change the world, and stressed that LAU is doing exactly that. “We, the youth of Lebanon and the region, are here to reject violence, war, and discrimination. We are here to promote justice, for my dear students, if there is no justice, there is no peace,” Jabra noted.
Hariri added, “Never stop dreaming, ever. Happiness and hope are non-existent without dreams.”
Being the program director of the Global Classroom’s LAU Model United Nations and the Model Arab League Program, Professor Elie Samia has dedicated 12 years of his career to the success of both the LAU Model United Nations and the Model Arab League. ” When we came up with the idea of MAL, we decided to simulate an aspirational Model Arab League. We simulate the Arab league in what it does and in what we would hope it would do,” Samia said.
The event also included keynote guest, Olga Kavran, the head of the Outreach and Legacy, for the Special Tribunal for Lebanon.
A senior student majoring in Banking and Finance at LAU, Youssef Taher has been selected to assume the position of the 6th LAU MAL Secretary General. “I believe what makes this program special is its exclusivity; the relevance it has to the whole team’s daily lives. At a time where regional leaders lack constructive communication, it’s necessary to show future generations the proper methods of conflict-resolution,” Taher said.
Mohammad Abdel Ghani, a Biology pre-med student and an MAL scholarship winner in 2015, is amongst those student leaders. “I was in love with MAL since day one – specifically in love with what my trainers did. I wanted to join LAU to inspire (other) young minds because of this program.”
Amid the geopoltical upheavals, warfare, and mass migration that have struck the Arab world during recent years, this program is tasked to simulate how things could have been handled better at the multilateral level, including by the Arab League.
Planners also note, the program aims to enrich Lebanese students on the significance of Arab culture and identity