The Academy for Cultural Diplomacy: Turning soft power into smart power

Mark Donfried, the founder of the Institute for Cultural Diplomacy (ICD). (Supplied)
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Mark Donfried, the founder of the Institute for Cultural Diplomacy (ICD). (Supplied)
The Academy for Cultural Diplomacy has a major campus in Berlin and a second outside of the former capital of Germany, Bonn. (Supplied)
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The Academy for Cultural Diplomacy has a major campus in Berlin and a second outside of the former capital of Germany, Bonn. (Supplied)
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Updated 12 April 2021

The Academy for Cultural Diplomacy: Turning soft power into smart power

The Academy for Cultural Diplomacy: Turning soft power into smart power
  • Over the past two decades the ICD has grown to become one of Europe’s leading cultural exchange organizations, with programs extending to every continent of the world
  • The academy, quickly expanded to a major campus in Berlin in 2014, and then in 2020 opened its second campus in a castle, Schloss Bornheim, outside of the former capital of Germany, Bonn

LONDON: During a childhood trip to Israel and Palestine, Mark Donfried witnessed, for the first-time, serious violence between peoples who share their roots within one culture.

From that moment on, he decided to commit his personal and professional life to building cultural bridges with the goal of preventing further conflicts – and in 1999 he founded the Institute for Cultural Diplomacy (ICD) in New York, before moving it to Berlin.

“At the time when the ICD was founded, cultural diplomacy had fallen by the wayside and had been thrown away by most governments who did not see the benefit of using it,” Donfried told Arab News.

Over the past two decades the ICD has grown to become one of Europe’s leading cultural exchange organizations, with programs extending to every continent of the world.

Read the full report co-published with the Academy of Cultural Diplomacy on Arab News Research & Studies here

In that time, the organization has dedicated its time to running research projects and hosting forums around the world to promote the strategies of cultural diplomacy among the current and next generation of global leaders.

“With the emergence of digital revolutions and rapidly evolving social network platforms, the simple private citizens were able to now immediately publicly critique any politician, government, or corporation,” Donfried said.

“Suddenly governments and corporations started to look for new tools to build better relations with their citizens and their consumers.”

It was no wonder that, parallel to the evolution of the social media, “corporate social responsibility” departments have emerged in almost all major global companies, he said.

In 2011, Donfried decided that cultural diplomacy needed to break into mainstream academia – and so the Academy for Cultural Diplomacy was established offering first ever master programs in cultural diplomacy resulting in training thousands of students from around the world including ambassadors, members of parliament, CEOs and academics.

Read the full report co-published with the Academy of Cultural Diplomacy on Arab News Research & Studies here

The academy, quickly expanded to a major campus in Berlin in 2014, and then in 2020 opened its second campus in a castle, Schloss Bornheim, outside of the former capital of Germany, Bonn.

“Cultural diplomacy can ease and slow the deterioration of human and international relations and can serve as a kind of ‘vaccine’ to help protect individuals, nations and companies from attacks or conflicts,” he said.

“Cultural diplomacy cannot directly save lives; however, indirectly it has proven over the last decades that it does have the power to transcend international borders, tear down walls and change the way the hearts and minds of entire groups and nations think and act.”


Google Doodle celebrates Algerian artist Mohammed Racim's 125th birthday

Google Doodle celebrates Algerian artist Mohammed Racim's 125th birthday
Updated 16 min 11 sec ago

Google Doodle celebrates Algerian artist Mohammed Racim's 125th birthday

Google Doodle celebrates Algerian artist Mohammed Racim's 125th birthday
  • Racim’s art helped revitalize Algerian pride, playing an instrumental role in the North African country’s independence movement

DUBAI: Google has created a doodle to celebrate the life of Algerian artist Mohammed Racim Thursday, marking 125 years since his birth on June 24.

The doodle can be seen in Morocco, Libya, Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Oman, Lebanon and Algeria.

Born in 1896, to a family of established artisans in Algiers, Racim’s first exposure to art was a stint working in a colonial drawing office when he was 14, where he copied the designs of carpets, Arab embroideries, copper ornaments, and wood sculptures.

He is buried with his wife in the Thaalibia Cemetery of the Casbah of Algiers.

While these helped develop his art, it was an introduction to the ancient form of illustration -  Persian miniatures – that became the foundation for his work.

From then onwards he developed his own personal hybrid form of expression through miniatures – combining traditional materials, classical arabesque and calligraphic styles - but used them to frame figurative inserts that had modern features.

He was still a teenager when he became established, decorating with calligraphic plates.

Racim’s main customers were businessmen and government officials.

By 1930, Racim's vibrant miniatures were making the rounds, elevating him to a major figure in Algerian culture.

Racim reinvigorated Maghrebi cultural customs while redefining the global perspective of the Arab world through art. 

Racim’s art helped revitalize Algerian pride, playing an instrumental role in the North African country’s independence movement.

As with most of his work, Racim's “Women at the Cascad” illustrates an imagined past, before the arrival of the French colonizers at a time when the indigenous people ruled their lands freely.    

His memory lives on today, with much of Racim’s personal collection displayed at the Museum of Fine Arts in Algiers. 

And the Algerian School for Miniature Painting he founded with his brother, Omar – remains open.


ABG leads first global diversity, inclusion census in GCC

ABG leads first global diversity, inclusion census in GCC
Photo/Supplied
Updated 23 June 2021

ABG leads first global diversity, inclusion census in GCC

ABG leads first global diversity, inclusion census in GCC
  • Census represents biggest global cross-industry collaboration across 27 markets

DUBAI: In a move to assess the scale of the diversity challenge facing the marketing and advertising industry, the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) has launched the first-ever global diversity, equity and inclusion census.

The census is a collaboration between the WFA, VoxComm, the European Association of Communication Agencies (EACA), Campaign, Kantar, Cannes Lions, Advertising Week and The Effies, with the goal of generating the largest and most representative sample possible.

“This is an unprecedented act of unity by the global marketing industry. With over a hundred participating organisations, this is the biggest industry collaboration ever,” WFA CEO Stephan Loerke said in a statement.

In the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), the effort is being led by the Advertising Business Group (ABG), a non-profit organization advocating for responsible advertising and communication​.

People from across the marketing industry — including brands, agencies, media, tech, consultancies and marketing services providers in 27 countries — can fill in the survey until July 2 by providing socio-demographic data about themselves and perceptions of their workplace.

“The data from so many markets will be incredibly powerful in helping the industry focus its efforts on where they are most needed, helping us become a better, more diverse and more inclusive industry,” said Tamara Daltroff, director general of EACA and president of VoxComm.

The survey will assess where the global advertising and marketing industry stands in relation to diversity, equity and inclusion by investigating workforce composition across the industry as well as people’s perception of diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

The findings will be presented at leading global industry events in October this year, and published publicly for the benefit of global, regional and local groups.

The results will also be used to inform an action plan devised and led by the WFA’s Diversity and Inclusion Task Force, which is a global platform of the world’s top marketers.

A follow-up survey will be conducted after 18 months to track progress.


Facebook expands Shops to WhatsApp, Marketplace in commerce push

Facebook said it would introduce personalized ads in its Shops service based on users' shopping behavior. (File/AFP)
Facebook said it would introduce personalized ads in its Shops service based on users' shopping behavior. (File/AFP)
Updated 23 June 2021

Facebook expands Shops to WhatsApp, Marketplace in commerce push

Facebook said it would introduce personalized ads in its Shops service based on users' shopping behavior. (File/AFP)
  • Facebook Inc (FB.O) is expanding its "Shops" feature to its messaging app WhatsApp in several countries.
  • Users will be able to use this search from content on the app or on photos on their own camera rolls.

Facebook Inc (FB.O) is expanding its "Shops" feature to its messaging app WhatsApp in several countries and to Facebook Marketplace in the United States, the company said on Tuesday as it announced changes to its commerce tools.

Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg said it would also introduce personalized ads in its Shops service based on users' shopping behavior.

The social media giant, which launched Shops last year as a way for people to find and buy products on Facebook and Instagram as part of its push into ecommerce, said it has more than 300 million monthly Shops visitors and about 1.2 million monthly active Shops.

Zuckerberg said during Facebook's last earnings release that e-commerce is one of the company's three key areas of focus, along with working on augmented and virtual reality and helping content creators earn money on Facebook's platforms.

The company said it would in the coming months test an artificial intelligence tool called 'visual search' so users shopping on its photo-sharing site Instagram can click on items and find similar products in Shops.

Users will be able to use this search from content on the app or on photos on their own camera rolls, Zuckerberg said.

Facebook is also working on ways using augmented reality that shoppers can try on items, including from ads, Zuckerberg said, speaking in a live audio room on Facebook.


Twitter opens applications to test new content subscription features

Twitter will focus on individuals who apply for the features, but will also consider brands, publishers and nonprofit organizations. (File/AFP)
Twitter will focus on individuals who apply for the features, but will also consider brands, publishers and nonprofit organizations. (File/AFP)
Updated 23 June 2021

Twitter opens applications to test new content subscription features

Twitter will focus on individuals who apply for the features, but will also consider brands, publishers and nonprofit organizations. (File/AFP)
  • Twitter users can apply to get first access to "Super Follows," which will let them sell exclusive content to paying subscribers.

Twitter Inc said Tuesday it will seek applications from users who want to be the first to test new content subscription and ticketing features, as the social platform works to build more ways for users to earn money. 

Twitter users can apply to get first access to "Super Follows," which will let them sell exclusive content to paying subscribers, and "Ticketed Spaces," to charge for entry into audio chat rooms they host on the platform.

Both features are part of Twitter's plan to compete with other social media companies to attract more influential content creators by letting them earn money from fan followings.

Users must have at least 10,000 followers on Twitter to be eligible to apply for Super Follows, and at least 1,000 followers to apply for first access to Ticketed Spaces.

The company aims to select "a diverse set of voices," from the applications, said Esther Crawford, senior product manager at Twitter.

The company will take a 3% cut of a creator's revenue until the user hits $50,000 in earnings, after which Twitter will keep 20%, in order to help up-and-coming creators earn more money at the start, Twitter said.

Crawford added that Twitter will focus on individuals who apply for the features, but will also consider brands, publishers and nonprofit organizations which have built an audience on Twitter.


British minister urges same rules for streaming services, broadcasters -Times

British minister urges same rules for streaming services like Netflix, Amazon and Disney+. (File/AFP)
British minister urges same rules for streaming services like Netflix, Amazon and Disney+. (File/AFP)
Updated 23 June 2021

British minister urges same rules for streaming services, broadcasters -Times

British minister urges same rules for streaming services like Netflix, Amazon and Disney+. (File/AFP)
  • British government draw plans to make streaming services follow the code of British regulator Ofcom, says Culture Secretary.
  • The government will consult on whether it is time to set the same basic rules for video-on-demand services as is done for traditional broadcasters

June 23 : Britain’s streaming services and broadcasters should be on a level playing field, as traditional broadcasters now compete with “one hand tied behind their backs,” Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said on Wednesday.
Dowden is to unveil plans for a white paper on broadcasting that aims to make streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime and Disney+ follow the code of British regulator Ofcom, he said in the Times newspaper “Every “linear” broadcaster — BBC, Sky and so on — has to comply with stringent content and audience protection standards,” Dowden said in an article published on Wednesday.
“You might assume the same is true of video-on-demand services such as Amazon Prime and Disney+. You’d be wrong.”
The government will consult this summer on whether it is time to set the same basic rules for video-on-demand services as is done for traditional broadcasters, he added.
“The white paper will also set out proposals on how we ensure public service broadcasters are given sufficient visibility...online, and ensure viewers can continue to find and watch original and high-quality British programs.”
Separately, Britain’s Conservative government said it plans to sell Channel 4, launched 39 years ago as an alternative to the BBC and ITV, to help secure its future as a public service broadcaster.
“In summer I will consult on the sale of Channel 4,” Dowden wrote, adding that he would proceed on the lines that an alternative ownership model retaining the broadcaster’s public service remit would better serve both it and Britain.