Arab conference in Boston’s Harvard to shed light on refugees, healthcare and governance

The conference will run from April 5 to 7 in Harvard’s campus in Cambridge. (Screengrab)
Updated 01 April 2019
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Arab conference in Boston’s Harvard to shed light on refugees, healthcare and governance

  • Keynote speakers at this year’s event include American University of Beirut President Fadlo Khuri, real estate tycoons Mohamad Hadid and Mohamed Morshedy
  • Among the panelists are Emirati Middle East Art expert Sultan Sooud Al-Qassemi, Mashrou’ Leila front man Hamed Sinno, Lebanese graffiti artist Yazan Halwani and a host of United Nations ambassadors and advisors

CAMBRIDGE: The Arab Conference at Harvard, the largest pan-Arab conference in North America, will shed light on obstacles the Arab world faces in terms of identity, healthcare and governance, on Friday in the US’s Cambridge, Massachusetts.

The conference, which runs for three days, is titled (Re)Imagining Home and will be split into three main subthemes: (Re)Imagining Identity, (Re)Imagining Influence and Governance, and (Re)Imagining Healthcare.

“The theme (Re)Imagining Home speaks to every Arab. It speaks to the Arab in their homeland trying to imagine a better future, the Arab-American who is working through questions of identity in their new home, and pushes both the Arabs in their home land and the diaspora to discuss what home means to the millions of displaced Arab refugees in the region,” co-chair of the Arab Conference at Harvard, Dina Masri, told Arab News.

Throughout the three-day event, panels and keynote speeches will be given, as well as networking events that will allow attendees to mingle with panelists.

Keynote speakers at this year’s event include American University of Beirut President Fadlo Khuri, real estate tycoons Mohamad Hadid and Mohamed Morshedy.

Among the panelists are Emirati Middle East Art expert Sultan Sooud Al-Qassemi, Mashrou’ Leila front man Hamed Sinno, Lebanese graffiti artist Yazan Halwani and a host of United Nations ambassadors and advisors.

The track (Re)Imagining Identity, would focus on refugees and human rights and includes panels titled: My Forced Identity: What’s next for refugee youth in the region?, Palestinians of ‘48, Undocumented Citizens in the Arab World, and Libya – Current and Future.

The track (Re)Imagining Influence and Governance, which will discuss influences of individuals as well as government officials, would have a series of panels on topics such as the Muslim Ban, the impact of Urban Planning on governance, and Women in Development.

The (Re)Imagining Healthcare would be hosting five panels namely, Health in Conflict, Technology and Innovation in Healthcare, Mental Health in the MENA and the Future of the Healthcare Workforce and Medical Research in the Arab World.

“The conference is intended to empower the Arabs in their homeland to continue to work towards a better future, as well as foster a sense of responsibility to the region in those that are part of the diaspora. We hope that through this conference our attendees will meet others who are understanding of their identity struggles and who will push them to do better for our part of the world,” Masri said.

The conference will run from April 5 to 7 in Harvard’s campus in Cambridge.


Emirati astronaut prepares to join elite Arab space club

Updated 58 min 19 sec ago
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Emirati astronaut prepares to join elite Arab space club

  • Hazza Al-Mansoori 'living a dream' as he and backup astronaut train for space mission in September
  • Soyuz-MS 15 launch could be the beginning of a bold new era of Arab exploration of space

DUBAI: More than 30 years after an Arab first journeyed into space, an  Emirati is preparing to become the latest Arab space traveler when he joins a team of astronauts at the International Space Station (ISS) in September.

For months, Hazza Al-Mansoori and backup pilot Sultan Al-Neyadi have been undergoing intensive training in Russia, Germany and the US to prepare for the mission. The first Emirati to travel into space will make the historic journey on board a Soyuz-MS 15 spacecraft due to take off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Sept. 25.

During the eight-day mission, he will conduct a tour of the ISS for Arabic viewers on Earth and carry out 15 experiments for the Science in Space schools competition conducted by Dubai’s Mohammed bin Rashid Space Center.

The crew, who will include an American and a Russian, are allowed to take up to 1 kg of personal items with them on the mission.

“I will take my family photo and share the experience of being in space with them,” Al-Mansoori said. There will also be an image of Sheikh Zayed, the UAE’s founding father, meeting American astronauts in 1976.

“I am also going to take an Emirati flag. I am living my dream and want to give something back to my country.”

‘I will take an Emirati flag into space. I am living my dream and want to give something back to my country.’

Emirati astronaut Hazza Al-Mansoori

Al-Mansoori will join an elite space club comprising Saudi Arabia’s Prince Sultan bin Salman and Syria’s Muhammed Faris. Prince Sultan became the first Arab to travel to space as part of space shuttle Discovery’s crew in 1985. Faris was a crew member of USSR’s Soyuz spacecraft in 1987.

The Emirati astronaut is aware that history is resting on his shoulders. Speaking to the media recently during his training program in Houston, Al-Mansoori  said it is a huge personal honor to be the first Emirati chosen for space exploration.

“I’m excited about the whole mission, but especially to experience the microgravity and be living in the ISS, and conducting daily experiments and working with the amazing group on board,” he said.

Al-Mansoori and Al-Neyadi have been undergoing rigorous training at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. The program includes familiarization with NASA equipment on board the space station, and handling emergency situations, such as ammonia gas leaks and depressurization.

The Emiratis have been trained to fend for themselves if the return goes off course and they land in the wilderness of Russia.

Speaking of the Soyuz-MS 15 mission, Yousuf Al-Shaibani, director general of the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Center, said: “We strive to see the UAE Astronaut Program achieve its objective of preparing generations of Emiratis who will contribute to enhancing the country’s position in space science and research to serve the ambitious aspirations aimed at building a national knowledge-based economy.”

The September launch could prove to be the beginning of a bold new era for Arabs and space. Al-Neyadi, the backup pilot, has been promised a seat on a future mission, and the UAE and Saudi Arabia are drawing up ambitious plans for the development of the region’s space industry.