December 19, 2016 Print

Dr. Tom G. Palmer (Atlas Network) and Dr. Nouh El Harmouzi (Arab Center for Scientific Research and Humane Studies).

The second annual Arab Liberty Festival, held from Nov. 28 through Dec. 5 in Rabat, Morocco, focused on promoting economic freedom and classical liberal values throughout the Middle East. Hosted by the Arab Center for Scientific Research and Humane Studies and sponsored by Atlas Network, the Arab Liberty Festival brought together more than 110 senior members of free-market think tanks and organizations from across the Arab world.

The conference launched with a discussion on the findings of the 2016 Economic Freedom of the Arab World report, and featured two days of interactive sessions on how the think tanks, scholars, and activist throughout the Arab world can achieve strategic reforms that raise the level of economic freedom in each country.

At the Arab Liberty Festival’s gala dinner, Atlas Network presented its Regional Liberty Award for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region to the Arab Center for Scientific and Humane Studies, for its Averroes Academy project. The Averroes Academy is an advocacy training program created with the goal of building new capacity within civil society organizations, so that their members can more effectively advance and advocate for economic reforms in their countries. The program specifically focuses on advocating reforms and insightful ideas for change, with the aim of improving the business climate, promoting entrepreneurship, and empowering a strong and competitive private sector throughout MENA and beyond. The program has had 39 participants to date.

Participants in the Averroes Academy receive a six-day training that includes lectures, workshops, and networking. Each of them identifies a key economic issue to focus on as part of a longer-term project and then spend six months working with a mentor to develop a policy paper on the issue. The program concludes with a three-day training and presentation of the completed papers at an international conference.

The Arab Liberty Festival concluded with a presentation by Tom G. Palmer, Atlas Network’s George M. Yeager Chair for Advancing Liberty and executive vice president for international programs. Palmer spoke about the themes covered in his book Peace, Love, & Liberty, in which he explains why the best way to foster peace and social cooperation is to increase free trade.

As a part of the Arab Liberty Festival, Atlas Leadership Academy (ALA) hosted a two-day workshop on project management, facilitated by ALA director Cindy Cerquitella. The training included participants from Lebanon, Tunisia, Turkey, Senegal, and Egypt. Participants used the two days to draft an extensive plan for an upcoming or existing think tank project, and left the training with a thorough audience analysis, action plan, and fundraising strategy for executing this project.

Back row: Ahmet Arpa, Association for Liberal Thinking (Turkey); Hakan Sahin, Istanbul Network for Liberty (Turkey); Adel Dhari, Impact Foundation (Tunisia); Souade Adnane, Arab Centre for Research and Policy Studies (Morocco); and Abdourahmane Sarr, CEFDL (Senegal).
Front row: Elisa Martins, Atlas Network; Kristelle Mardini, Lebanese Institute for Market Studies (Lebanon); Mai Sami Mohamed Ahmed, the Egyptian Center for Public Policy Studies (Egypt); and Cindy Cerquitella, Atlas Network.