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IBB Update: Empowering Minds and Championing Change
We're translating "Whats our Problem", have released a few fascinating interviews, spoke with some brave Innovation Hub recipients and some even braver women's rights advocates
Welcome back to the IBB Update!
Exciting news! We've secured the rights to translate Tim Urban's profound book, "What's Our Problem?" into Arabic, addressing brain-rooted societal issues and sparking critical thinking in the Middle East! Meanwhile, in war-torn Sinjar, Kamiran Khalaf has built an oasis of knowledge, creating a library of over 6,000 books, against all odds. Faisal has also released two recent interviews with a secret source engaged in Afghan-Taliban peace talks and Zach Van Meter on defending Taiwan from potential Chinese threats. We also interviewed Dr. Tom Palmer on the importance of self-governance and dignity in development, turning the lens on how prosperity can be truly fostered in the Middle East. And, last but not least, we spotlight courageous female leaders across the MENA region who, despite systemic and societal hurdles, continue their relentless fight for women's rights and empowerment.
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Next Translation: What’s Our Problem?
We have acquired to right to translate Tim Urban’s book, What's Our Problem?, into Arabic! Urban argues that our society is facing a number of problems, including political polarization, economic inequality, and environmental degradation. He also argues that these problems are interrelated and that they are all caused by the same underlying problem: our brains. This message is particularly relevant to readers in the Middle East. The region is facing a number of challenges, and it is important for people to be able to think critically about these challenges and come up with solutions. In addition, the book is written in a clear and engaging style. It is not a dense academic text, but rather a book that anyone can read and understand, with plenty of interesting graphs, cartoons, and images. This makes it accessible to a wide range of readers, including those who may not have a background in science or economics. We are extremely grateful that Tim has allowed us to translate his book for the hundreds of millions of Arabic speakers around the world and we can’t wait to get started.
Sinjar’s Lone Librarian
“Living in the camp was hell. For me having books was a lifeline, even when I lost education I could still gain culture and experience by reading.”
Kamiran Khalaf, a Yazidi native of Sinjar, Iraq, has dedicated himself to fostering a culture of reading in his war-torn region. Having found solace in books while living in a refugee camp following ISIS's devastation of Sinjar, Khalaf established a library in his tent. Upon returning to Sinjar in 2017, he founded the Orshina Library, which now houses over 6,000 books, providing an essential resource in a region where access to education is scarce. Despite ongoing political harassment and threats to his operation, Khalaf persists in his mission. His efforts have received support from Ideas Beyond Borders, enabling him to improve his record-keeping and secure the library's financial future. His aim is not only to spread knowledge and culture but also to inspire resilience and hope in a community struggling to rebuild after years of conflict.
The International Correspondent
“Regimes like the Taliban have never survived throughout history. As dark as the current situation looks, as grim as it is— it's going to pass. Society will walk out of this. We're going to get through…”
Faisal has interviewed two fascinating subjects over at his Substack, The International Correspondent. First, he spoke with an anonymous source who was involved in the negotiations between the Afghan government and the Taliban. Faisal and his source reflect on the peace process and the United States' withdrawal from Afghanistan. They both acknowledge that the Afghan government was not an ideal partner for the US, but they believe that better coordination and transition planning could have been done. He also spoke with Zach Van Meter about the necessity of defending Taiwan from a potential Chinese invasion due to its significance in the global supply chain, particularly in the semiconductor industry. Safeguarding Taiwan is essential for national security, upholding democratic values, and maintaining the global democratic order. The defense of Taiwan goes beyond protecting sovereignty; it is about preserving the global economy, technological innovation, and the principles of freedom and democracy.
Dignity First with Dr. Tom Palmer
“Speakers of Arabic are heirs to great civilizations and they have every right to participate in the same material advances as others by embracing the dignity at the core of self-governance and democratic deliberation.”
We recently interviewed IBB Board of Advisor member Dr. Tom Palmer on his book, Development with Dignity, which we have translated into Arabic. By emphasizing local knowledge, self-governance, and the removal of bureaucratic obstacles, the book challenges the unintended consequences of development interventions led by outsiders. It provides examples of successful local solutions, highlighting the importance of valuing people as self-governing agents in promoting prosperity. In the Middle East, the book suggests that cultural, contextual, and local institutional factors play a crucial role in ending poverty, and it encourages NGOs, multilateral institutions, and donor countries to support liberal democracy by respecting local autonomy and facilitating self-governing initiatives. Ultimately, the book seeks to empower individuals and communities to embrace their dignity, secure better futures, and actively participate in the development process.
Peace on Paper
“The Syrians worked hard to rebuild their lives in Turkey. Most of them work long hours to buy just enough food to survive. Now their lives have been destroyed again, and many have given up hope,” Hani Hammadeh says. “I’ve seen this in humans, after long exposure to tragedy, they start to feel nothing – they aren’t sad or angry or hungry. Nothing shows on their faces. They are just numb.”
In 2014, Iraq took a significant step forward for women's rights by developing a National Action Plan to implement UN Resolution 1325, which aimed to address the impact of war on women. This plan promised to elevate women's status and empower them as equal participants in shaping a peaceful future for the country. However, almost a decade later, the situation for Iraqi women has worsened due to ongoing struggles faced by the nation, including the aftermath of ISIS, the COVID-19 pandemic, economic crises, and political challenges. The pressure on women's rights has intensified, making it unlikely for the resolution to be effectively implemented. Similar challenges are faced in Lebanon and other countries in the MENA region, where conflict hinders the protection and participation of women in peacebuilding efforts. Despite commitments on paper, women continue to be sidelined and face obstacles to improving their status. The influence of patriarchal power structures, such as tribal law in Iraq, further erodes women's rights, with forced marriage, domestic abuse, and gender-based violence prevalent. Implementation of women's rights legislation is often inadequate and under-resourced, hindering progress. Lack of cooperation and resources across countries also presents a significant barrier. Nevertheless, there are opportunities for change through building alliances and exchanging experiences among countries in the region. We spoke with the female leaders who are driving change forward across the MENA reason by raising their voices against injustice and for enhanced feminist solidarity.
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