Frankly Speaking: Senior EU aid official denies Europe is selective on refugees, says Syrians were treated same as Ukrainians

Short Url
Updated 16 May 2022

Frankly Speaking: Senior EU aid official denies Europe is selective on refugees, says Syrians were treated same as Ukrainians

Frankly Speaking: Senior EU aid official denies Europe is selective on refugees, says Syrians were treated same as Ukrainians
  • Michael Koehler, deputy director general of ECHO, tells Arab News that Assad regime atrocities ‘have not been forgotten’
  • Claims EU takes principled position on Palestine but explains cuts in EU development assistance to Palestinian Authority
  • Koehler names and shames EU member countries that did not pay their share of promised aid

JEDDAH: Denying that the European Union discriminates between refugees Michael Koehler, the deputy director general of the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO), has claimed that Syrians were welcomed in the same way as Ukrainians and that the crimes of the Bashar Assad regime will not be forgotten.

In a wide-ranging interview with Arab News, Koehler also reiterated Europe’s commitment to supporting Palestinian humanitarian needs, stating that any cut in EU aid relates solely to financial transfers for development assistance, not humanitarian aid.

Koehler denied that Europe’s treatment of Ukrainians fleeing their country because of the war with Russia and those from the Middle East has revealed racism, double standards and hypocrisy. “The only difference that I see is that refugees from Ukraine have, on the basis of a decision of the European ministers of interior, immediately been granted work permits,” he told the host of Arab News’ “Frankly Speaking” interview show, Katie Jensen. “But apart from that, the treatment is not different from refugees from other parts of the world.”

“Frankly Speaking” features in-depth discussions with leading policymakers and business leaders, diving deep into the biggest news-making headlines across the Middle East and around the world. During his appearance on the show, Koehler spoke on a number of issues, including what the future holds for displaced Ukrainians and whether the EU plans to pull funding from Middle East crisis zones to make up for the humanitarian aid gap. 

Koehler said one needs to look back at the arrival of the Syrians and Iraqis in 2015 and 2016 when slightly more comparable numbers of refugees were pouring into Europe. “The million Syrians that poured into (Germany) were very much welcomed,” he said. “It is not quite fair in a way to compare the welcome that now Ukrainians are receiving two months into the crisis, with the situation of other refugees that have been in Europe for four years, five years, six years or seven years, and where certain problems have arisen.”

“We are absolutely not yet there in the Ukraine crisis, but it’s a very general phenomenon. Structurally, this is a very well-known phenomenon,” he said, pointing to instances where the initial warm welcome given to refugees by the host population gave way to problems that “led sometimes to populist reactions.”

Still, Koehler expressed regret at comments such as those made by Bulgarian Prime Minister Kiril Petkov (“These are not the refugees we are used to, these people are Europeans, intelligent, educated people”), and the implication that countries have the right to choose refugees based on race, religion or politics.

“No, absolutely not. Absolutely not,” he said. “It is, however, of course, normal that if you are a direct neighbor of a country that is in the situation Ukraine finds itself in, then of course there is perhaps a slightly bigger emotion. There’s a slightly bigger readiness of private persons to help, but we’ve seen the same thing in other scenarios.”

Alluding to the insensitive remarks of European politicians, Koehler said: “We shouldn’t take the statements of this or that individual politician as the kind of policy line of European member states and of the EU. Politicians can voice their personal opinions, but this doesn’t mean that the legal order that settles the way refugees are welcomed, the support they receive and so forth, that this would be changed.”

Koehler disagreed with the notion that with the Ukrainian humanitarian crisis holding the spotlight, the atrocities committed by the Assad regime in Syria, where 6.2 million people remain internally displaced, have been forgotten. “No, they have not been forgotten,” he responded. “In fact, I shared via Twitter part of the ministerial meeting on Syria in the region that we are hosting here at Brussels for the sixth time. This is the annual meeting of the international community.

“The international community has put together a record pledge: €6.4 billion for 2022-2023, which is half a billion more than the equivalent pledge of last year. So, what this tells us is that there is no fatigue in the international community when it comes to assisting Syrians. The donors are there, there is no donor fatigue and the international organizations are mobilized.”

But what about all the complaints of humanitarian agencies that they are running out of money? Koehler says he does not deny there is a problem of “donor insufficiency.”

“If you look at the amount of money that’s mobilized every year for humanitarian aid, you see an increase of money. This is totally outpaced by the needs, because every year we have more crises. The existing crises unfortunately don’t go away and the number of people that are suffering keeps increasing.”

Asked how the humanitarian funding gap could be filled, Koehler said the solution is a mixture of elements, starting with more donors, especially those in the EU. “Look at the clubs of rich countries. There are 38 members of OECD or the G20,” he said. “Not all of these countries have already started to deliver humanitarian aid. Some do, but not very consistently. There may be a year where they may put a lot of money on the table, and in other years they are a bit more (tight-fisted) with their resources.”

Among the many ways the Middle East is exposed to the vagaries of the Ukraine war, Russia has hinted at vetoing the renewing of the mandate that allows the UN to use the Bab Al-Hawa crossing in northern Syria when it expires on July 9. This means that EU aid might have to go through Damascus and thus be under the control of the Assad regime. “If Bab Al-Hawa was closed, there would be a huge supply problem and we have seen what it means already in the northeast of Syria,” Koehler said.

“However, we are also very much in favor of cross-line cooperation, so we have no problem with bringing aid from Damascus to the northeast, for example, or the northwest. Unfortunately, this is happening only on a small scale, which has to do with political but also logistical problems.”

According to Koehler, there is a new system by which aid is always delivered through specialized partners, never through governments, “so delivering aid, for example in the part of Syria that is controlled by the authorities in Damascus, does not mean to give money to the Assad government.

“It is implemented through specialized owned organizations, NGOs, UN agencies and so forth. For that we have monitoring, we have audits, we have independent audits by third parties,” he said. “We have our offices on the ground. ECHO has an office in Damascus that can monitor what’s going on, and as soon as there is some kind of suspicion of diversion of aid, we stop. We stop, we enquire and we only resume aid once we are sufficiently, let’s say, reassured about the way the aid is implemented.”

Koehler said ECHO was using the same modus operandi in Afghanistan. “As I said earlier, we never work through governments. So, we work with the local NGOs. We work with the Red Crescent, we work, for example, with UNICEF and other organizations and we make sure that this money comes to the benefit directly of the population concerned,” he said.

However, he acknowledged that with more restrictions announced by the Taliban, many of them targeted at women, “we are frankly disappointed with the way things are developing in Afghanistan.”

Last April the EU pledged €525 million of humanitarian aid to Afghanistan, and according to Koehler, as a consequence of the developments in Afghanistan since the Taliban takeover of the country last year, the international community, in particular the EU, have stepped up humanitarian funding.

“The Taliban came up with a number of assurances, concerning, for example, girls’ education and women’s rights. However, we now see that many of these assurances have proved questionable or even formally revoked. and this of course creates major problems.”

Moving on to another humanitarian hotspot, Koehler played down fears that humanitarian aid funding will stop despite a UN warning this month that more than five and a half million Palestinian refugees may no longer have access to basic services such as food, education and health care due to a drop in contributions from member states, the EU in particular.

“We support UNRWA and we continue our assistance,” he said, referring to the UN agency that supports the relief and human development of Palestinian refugees.

With regard to the EU’s contribution, he said this is “not a cut in funding. This is about negotiating the conditions for the 2021-2022 installments.”

He added: “What has stopped for a short while is not humanitarian aid but direct financial transfers that EU development assistance is making available for the benefit of the Palestinian National Authority. And this is not a stop for good, but this is about agreeing to a certain number of conditions, under which this money would be made available.”

But amid concerns over possible closure of UNRWA, what is the EU’s position on the right of return? “The EU has a principled position in this regard and we stand still behind the two-state solution. We want a negotiated solution between the parties,” Koehler said. “We see the occupation of Palestine as something that has to be brought to an end, in accordance with relevant UN resolutions on the basis of bilateral negotiations that we are ready to incentivize and support as much as possible.”

Koehler concluded by saying that aid agencies and donors must unite and “speak with one voice” for effective humanitarian relief efforts in crisis zones. “Wherever the international community, the donors from the US to the UK, to the EU, to Sweden, to Germany, to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, wherever the donors speak with one voice, this one voice has an effect,” he said, citing the example of the failed attempt in 2020 by the Iran-backed Houthi militia to impose a 2 percent tax on humanitarian aid deliveries in Yemen.

“The international community said ‘no way.’ Also, the World Food Programme said ‘no way.’ We said, ‘If that is what you want to do, we will simply discontinue our operations in the territory that you have control over.’”

Air India plans more UAE, Qatar flights as FIFA World Cup frenzy picks up

Air India plans more UAE, Qatar flights as FIFA World Cup frenzy picks up
Updated 9 min 53 sec ago

Air India plans more UAE, Qatar flights as FIFA World Cup frenzy picks up

Air India plans more UAE, Qatar flights as FIFA World Cup frenzy picks up
  • About 1.5 million fans are expected to arrive in Qatar for the world’s biggest football tournament

DUBAI: Tata-owned Air India plans to offer more flights to the UAE and Qatar as the FIFA World Cup frenzy culminates with the opening of the quadrennial football event in November, UAE daily Gulf News reported.

About 1.5 million fans are expected to arrive in Qatar for the world’s biggest football tournament.

The carrier said it will add four weekly flights between Dubai and Kolkata once the winter schedule starts Oct. 22.

Air India will deploy its Airbus A320Neo single-aisle aircraft, which has a capacity of 12 business-class seats and 150 economy seats.

It is currently operating 69 weekly flights to Dubai.

Additional frequencies to Qatar meanwhile could be determined later this month when flight slots to the World Cup host become clearer.

Air India is currently selling discounted one-way flight fares for passengers departing from its Gulf network to celebrate India’s 75th Independence Day. These seats are available until Aug. 21 on a limited basis and are valid for travel until Oct. 15 this year.

India’s aviation authority meanwhile is lifting the caps on air fares in the country from Aug. 31 as the domestic segment continues its recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

“After review of the current status of scheduled domestic operations viz-a-viz passenger demand for air travel… it has been decided to remove the fare bands notified from time to time regarding airfares with effect from 31.08.2022,” Satyendra Kumar Mishra, joint secretary for civil aviation ministry, said in his order issued on Wednesday.

“The airlines/operators shall, however, ensure that the guidelines to contain the spread of COVID-19 are strictly adhered to and COVID-19 appropriate behavior is strictly enforced by them during the travel,” he added.

The limits on capacity and fares were imposed in May 2020, as air travel was reopened after a nationwide lockdown, mainly to prevent a spike in ticket prices due to increased demand for flights as movement restrictions were eased.

Under the existing policy, tickets sold in 0-15 days on a rolling basis must be priced within the minimum and maximum band, although airlines are free to set their own fares for journeys beyond 15 days.

Saudi markets starts higher as wave of earnings reports lift stocks: Opening bell

Saudi markets starts higher as wave of earnings reports lift stocks: Opening bell
Updated 15 min 42 sec ago

Saudi markets starts higher as wave of earnings reports lift stocks: Opening bell

Saudi markets starts higher as wave of earnings reports lift stocks: Opening bell


RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s benchmark index started the week’s final session higher as investors digest another wave of corporate earnings results for the first half.

TASI edged 0.39 percent higher at 12,479, while the parallel Nomu market added 0.15 percent at 22,261, as of 10:07 a.m. Saudi time.

Astra Industrial Group climbed 4.39 percent to lead the gainers, after its first-half profit soared 202 percent to SR318 million ($85 million).

Saudi Co. for Hardware slipped 3.56 percent to lead the fallers, after it turned into losses of SR19 million during the first half of 2022.

ACWA Power added 1.15 percent, after it recorded a 21 percent jump in profits to SR542 million for the first half of 2022.

Saudi Arabian Mining Co., better known as Ma’aden, gained 2.18 percent, after its first-half profit soared 232 percent to SR6.2 billion.

Saudi Vitrified Clay Pipes Co. declined 1.53 percent, after its net losses widened by 661 percent to SR9 million during the first half of 2022.

Saudi Industrial Services Co. shed 1.39 percent, after earning SR3.9 million in the first half of 2022, down 93 percent from the same period last year.

Saudi Electricity Co. rose 0.39 percent, after it obtained an international syndicated loan of $3 billion.

Eastern Province Cement Co. gained 0.55 percent, despite a 41 percent drop in profit to SR72 million in the first half.

Savola Group added 0.59 percent, after it entered an SR459 million agreement to sell its shares in Knowledge Economic City Co. and Knowledge Economic City Developers Co. Limited.

Following the announcement, shares of  Knowledge Economic City increased by 1.10 percent.

The Kingdom’s largest valued bank Al Rajhi added 1.03 percent, while the Kingdom’s oil giant Saudi Aramco started the day with a 0.25 percent increase.

Gamers8 launches $3m PUBG MOBILE World Invitational

Gamers8 launches $3m PUBG MOBILE World Invitational
Updated 23 min 34 sec ago

Gamers8 launches $3m PUBG MOBILE World Invitational

Gamers8 launches $3m PUBG MOBILE World Invitational
  • Hopes high for hometown heroes Team Falcons to reach final

RIYADH: Gamers8 enters the fifth and final phase of its calendar as the second annual PUBG MOBILE World Invitational gets underway on Thursday live from Boulevard Riyadh City.

First introduced in 2018 by world-famous video game developer Lightspeed & Quantum, PUBG MOBILE has since gone on to become a global gaming phenomenon. It is published in over 200 countries and downloaded over a billion times, with 50 million daily active users and an envious status as the most watched mobile esports game on the planet.

Over the next nine days, elite PUBG MOBILE teams will enter the state-of-the-art arena and battle it out for their share of the $3 million prize pool. Split into two parts, the main tournament — running for three days beginning today — welcomes 17 regional champions and one homegrown representative, with $2 million in waiting for the victors. The objective is to parachute onto the remote island and remain as the last player or team standing — competing alone or in teams of two or four to secure victory and glory.

Ahmed Albishri, chief operating officer of the Saudi Esports Federation, said: “Gamers8 thus far has been nothing short of remarkable, captivating attendees, inspiring audiences, crowning new champions, and making dreams come true for the latest generation of world-class Esports competitors. This journey has, however, by no means reached its conclusion because, as promised, PUBG Mobile has made its way to Riyadh for the biggest esports and gaming event on the planet.

“Expectations are understandably high among players, teams, and fans alike, not least due to the unprecedented success of the competitions held recently. And crucially, all the foundations are in place for the second PMWI to emulate the success of late while etching its place in esports history.”

Heading into week one of the main tournament, hopes will be high for hometown heroes Team Falcons, who have regularly competed throughout Gamers8 — reaching the final of Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege — and now go up against 17 of the world’s best. Meanwhile, the Afterparty Showdown — the week two tournament taking place from Aug. 18 to 20 — will see teams competing for the remaining $1 million on offer. The Afterparty Showdown lineup will comprise the top five teams from week one, alongside six teams chosen from different regions, and one given a special invitation to compete.

James Yang, director of PUBG MOBILE, Global Esports, commented: “This year’s PUBG MOBILE World Invitational is set to be the biggest and best yet. This is our second annual world invitational, and we are excited to bring a new format of the event to the region which showcases the unique community spirit that PUBG MOBILE Esports and its talented teams have created.”

With the world’s best teams set to compete in front of a live crowd at the PMWI, fans around the world are excited for the event kickoff. Fans in Saudi will be able to enjoy the thrilling gameplay and electric atmosphere live and in-person from Boulevard Riyadh City. Alternatively, the event is being live streamed on official Gamers8 channels.

Taiwan holds military drill after China repeats threats

Taiwan holds military drill after China repeats threats
Updated 25 min 48 sec ago

Taiwan holds military drill after China repeats threats

Taiwan holds military drill after China repeats threats
  • Taiwan accused China of using US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's visit as an excuse to kickstart drills
  • Military played down Taiwan's exercises’ significance, saying they were not in response to China’s war games

TAIPEI: Taiwan’s army held another live-fire drill Thursday after Beijing ended its largest-ever military exercises around the island and repeated threats to bring the self-ruled democracy under its control.
Beijing has raged at a trip to Taiwan last week by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi — the highest-ranking elected American official to visit in decades — staging days of air and sea drills around the island that raised tensions to their highest level in years.
Taiwan has accused China of using the Pelosi visit as an excuse to kickstart drills that would allow it to rehearse for an invasion.
Lou Woei-jye, spokesman for Taiwan’s Eighth Army Corps, told AFP its forces fired howitzers and target flares as part of the defensive drill on Thursday morning.
The exercise in Taiwan’s southernmost county Pingtung began at 0830 am (0030 GMT) and lasted about an hour, he said.
Artillery tucked in from the coast was lined up side by side, with armed soldiers in units firing the howitzers out to sea one after the other, a live stream showed.
Taiwan held a similar drill on Tuesday in Pingtung. Both involved hundreds of troops, the military said.
The military has played down the exercises’ significance, saying they were already scheduled and were not in response to China’s war games.
“We have two goals for the drills, the first is to certify the proper condition of the artillery and their maintenance condition and the second is to confirm the results of last year,” Lou said, referring to annual drills.
The latest exercise came after China’s military indicated its own drills had come to an end Wednesday, saying its forces “successfully completed various tasks” in the Taiwan Strait while vowing to continue patrolling its waters.
But in the same announcement, China added that it would “continue to carry out military training and prepare for war.”
In a separate white paper published Wednesday, China’s Taiwan Affairs Office said Beijing would “not renounce the use of force” against its neighbor and reserved “the option of taking all necessary measures.”
“We are ready to create vast space for peaceful reunification, but we will leave no room for separatist activities in any form,” it said in the paper.
China last issued a white paper on Taiwan in 2000.
Taiwan’s foreign ministry on Thursday joined its top policymaking body on China in rejecting the “one country, two systems” model that Beijing has proposed for the island.
“China’s whole statement absolutely goes against the cross-strait status quo and its reality,” ministry spokesperson Joanne Ou told a press conference.
“China is using US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit as an excuse to destroy the status quo and taking the opportunity to make trouble, attempting to create a new normal to intimidate the Taiwanese people.”
“One country, two systems” refers to the model under which Hong Kong and Macau were promised a degree of autonomy under Chinese rule.
Taiwan routinely stages military drills simulating defense against a Chinese invasion, and last month practiced repelling attacks from the sea in a “joint interception operation” as part of its largest annual exercises.
In response to the Chinese military revealing it was bringing drills to an end Wednesday, Taiwan’s army said it would “adjust how we deploy our forces... without letting our guard down.”
Since the late 1990s, the island has transformed from an autocracy into a vibrant democracy, and a more distinct Taiwanese identity has solidified.
Relations between the two sides have significantly worsened since Tsai Ing-wen became Taiwan’s president in 2016.
Tsai and her Democratic Progressive Party do not consider Taiwan a part of China.
Their platform falls under China’s broad definition of Taiwanese separatism, which includes those who advocate for the island to have an identity separate from the mainland.

UAE-born actress Yasmine Al-Bustami ‘proud’ to be Arab as she stars in ‘NCIS’ spin-off

UAE-born actress Yasmine Al-Bustami ‘proud’ to be Arab as she stars in ‘NCIS’ spin-off
Updated 39 min 26 sec ago

UAE-born actress Yasmine Al-Bustami ‘proud’ to be Arab as she stars in ‘NCIS’ spin-off

UAE-born actress Yasmine Al-Bustami ‘proud’ to be Arab as she stars in ‘NCIS’ spin-off
  • The star of ‘NCIS: Hawai’i’ struggled to embrace her roots as a child in Texas, but that’s all changed now

DUBAI: There are few television franchises as mammoth in reach and longevity as “NCIS.” For nearly 20 years, the crime series, which follows the US’s naval criminal investigative team, has brought in tens of millions of viewers a week, with new franchises regularly blossoming across the country. Now, in Yasmine Al-Bustami, “NCIS” has its first Arab star—and she’s already inspiring young girls across the world.

“I'm always taken aback whenever I find out that I've reached people,” Al-Bustami tells Arab News. “I didn’t really think about the capacity for something like this show to reach people all over the world. Now, I'm seeing these responses all the time, I’m getting messages constantly. When I finally sit down, take some time to read them and take them in, it can be overwhelming. I see that people are taking notice, feel represented and feel seen, and suddenly I know for sure that I can contribute to that in some way. And I’m so grateful for the people who like it. 

Yasmine Al-Bustami on thes set of ‘NCIS: Hawai’i.’ (Supplied)

Al-Bustami — who plays Agent Lucy Tara on “NCIS: Hawai’i,” the second season of which begins in September and will air on Starzplay in the Middle East — was born in Abu Dhabi to a Palestinian-Jordanian father and Filipina mother, but moved to Texas at a young age. There, she struggled to embrace her identity, surrounded by people who didn’t understand her heritage, and had never heard of the place on the other side of the world that she came from. 

To fit in, she did what a lot of people in a position where there are no strong role models in pop culture to anchor their identity to — she buried her identity inside her.

“In Texas, I didn't personally grow up with a bunch of Arabs around me. We had some Arab families that we knew that were in school with us, and they all kind of flocked together, once they find out that they were also Arabs. I would hang out with them, but (there weren’t) a lot, really. I tried very hard to fit in with the majority white folks at our school, and tried really hard to just fit in and just be a white person. Whatever that means,” Al-Bustami says. 

Vanessa Lachey as Jane Tennant, Tori Anderson as Kate Whistler and Yasmine Al-Bustami as Lucy Tara in ‘NCIS: Hawai’i.’ (Supplied)

That led to turmoil at home, as her Arab father worked to instill in his daughter the cultural and religious values that he held so dear, knowing that he was the only strong influence in her life that would do so. It was a mission she rebelled against. 

“Whenever I would approach my dad with the things that I wanted to do, that my friends who were not Arab were doing, we would butt heads. He’s very big on culture, very old-school, and  would just not allow me to do some things. He was just trying to teach us about or faith and our culture,” Al-Bustami says. 

When Al-Bustami went to her father to tell him she wanted to be an actor, he was against the idea, which pushed them even further apart.

“When I expressed to him that I wanted to act, that was something that became a point of contention between us — depending on the project and the role. Honestly, it still is sometimes. That all led me, at the beginning of my career, to not wanting to embrace my identity,” says Al-Bustami.



Ironically, even as she tried to escape who she was and where she came from, it was acting that brought her closer to her identity. 

“It was only through storytelling and being thrown into stories where I was forced to embrace it because of how I look and because of the opportunities that were given to me,” she says.

But as she got to know other Arab actors, she also started to learn the boundless beauty that her heritage contained, and the amazing stories and true adversity that her colleagues had endured to get to where they are today.



“The roles I started playing were stories of Arabs and Arab-Americans being surrounded by other Arabs and Arab-Americans. The other actors were so proud, and they taught me so much as I heard their stories and their journeys. It was that motivation that I felt like I needed — that I didn't have growing up. It pushed me to want to learn more. And thankfully, now I’ve built up a strong place in that community, especially in the acting world,” says Al-Bustami.

That love for who she was grew even stronger when she saw how much it meant to people, and when she witnessed what she could accomplish when she wasn’t trying to fit in with the majority, and instead embraced her differences.

“It’s been such a journey. I don't think I’ve ever been prouder to be Arab,” she says. “I now understand how important representation is, and without the ups and downs I’ve been through, I don't think I would have understood that to the depth that I do.

“It’s made me want to learn more about my heritage and my culture and just be more openly proud,” she continues. “I feel like I'm not doing it alone. I feel like there's so many people who are also helping me do it. And it's all Arabs, and Arab-Americans. All of that truly inspires me.”

Most importantly, she’s also learned about diversity within the Arab experience, and as representation increases in Hollywood, the world can see that being Arab means many different things, both in America and across the world. And that there are an endless number of stories to tell.

“The important thing is to make people open-minded, and stop them from being closed-off in terms of understanding the different kinds of stories that I think are important to tell in the Arab world and the Arab-American world. That's helped me so much,’ says Al-Bustami.

Yasmine Al-Butsami in ‘I Ship It.’ (Supplied)

On “NCIS: Hawaii,” Al-Bustami is pushing herself like never before. While her breakout roles in “The Originals” and “I Ship It” prepared her for the grind of weekly television, the stunts and physicality of her current role require intense training and choreography, something she’s worked hard at and is proud of what she’s accomplished, especially in the fight scenes.

More than anything, though, what she’s happiest about are the relationships she’s built on set, and the found family that has made her breakout moment something she can truly be proud of on every level.

“It makes such a big difference when you really enjoy the people. Thankfully, the people that I'm surrounded with every day are amazing. They make it super fulfilling in so many more ways than just work,” she says. “This is such an enjoyable experience for me, and I can’t wait to continue that, and keep trying to make the Arab community proud across the country, and world.”