Letter from our Executive Director
International conferences, policy dialogues, and multiple publication series… 2018 was among the busiest years ever at the Arab Reform Initiative, marking the end of one work cycle and acting as a bridge to our next four years of work. Over the course of the year, we defended and grew our community of democrats within ARI’s consortium. We continued to draw on our vast network of partners based in the region to provide insight on issues as they develop and as they are experienced by societies and local communities. And we maintained as ever our independent analysis, providing an institutional home and international platform for scholars and activists of the Arab world as the space for freedom of expression continues to shrink.
ARI’s impact in 2018 can be seen in the individuals and institutions we empowered to formulate their own policy solutions and build new coalitions for change. Through research and workshops with youth and human rights activists across the region, we defined new strategies for achieving political change. Through our work on the Syrian diaspora, we launched a new initiative to leverage its assets to serve the reconstruction of the country. We trained hundreds of young professionals in skills related to post-conflict governance and transition through our one-of-a-kind Tahdir e-learning program. And we contributed to the rehabilitation of the Syrian judiciary through the development of an online legal forum.
2018 also saw us lay the foundations for new programming lines, including increasing the role of women in peacebuilding processes, promoting cyberspace as a new domain of autonomy and active citizenship, and exploring social mobilization around the environment as new entry points for civic engagement to challenge governance systems. We also adopted in 2018 the objective to nurture an ecosystem of like-minded institutions across the Arab world. These new strategic lines all fulfil ARI’s role as a regional hub of expertise and exchange but also our ability to develop ground-breaking activities that respond innovatively to the evolving challenges of the region.
Beyond our research and programming, 2018 saw us set up an editorial committee to guarantee the highest scientific quality of our policy papers, and define a new communications strategy, including the development of new audio-visual tools for disseminating research results and increased visibility on social media.
Thanks to this year of work, ARI starts 2019 with new tools and stakeholders, new programs and methods. But we remain committed as ever to our mission: to lead the process of democratic transition by harnessing the Arab region’s knowledge and know-how to articulate a homegrown agenda for change.
The views represented in this paper are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Arab Reform Initiative, its staff, or its board.