Promoting Liberal Values & Advancing Market Economy in the Arab World

First Arab

Liberty
Festival

Promoting Liberal Values & Advancing Market Economy
in the Arab World

Organized by

The Arab Center for Scientific Research & Humane Studies

in partnership with

The Friedrich Naumann Foundation (Germany)

and the

Atlas Network (USA)

and the

Fraser Institute (Canada)

Les Idrissides Hotel
Marrakech, Morocco

From November

25

to December

6,

2015

Promoting Liberal Values & Advancing Market Economy in the Arab World

Executive Summary
The Arab Center for Scientific Research & Humane Studies, in partnership with
the Friedrich Naumann Foundation and the Atlas Network, is pleased to announce a
five-day Arab Liberty Festival to be held in Marrakech, Morocco, Nov 25th – Dec 6th,
2015. The conference will convene an expected 150 regional students, scholars, think
tank leaders, and policy experts who will together identify major challenges to individual liberty, market economies and general prosperity in the Arab world, exchange
best practices, train emerging civil society leaders, and establish and coordinate policy
change priorities.

Background
Beginning with the revolution in Tunisia in December 2010, the world witnessed
widespread riots, demonstrations and protests throughout the Middle East and North
Africa. The pro-democracy uprisings of the “Arab Spring” in many cases successfully
confronted and deposed the dictatorships and corrupt leaders that had tyrannized and
impoverished their countries for decades.
In addition to widespread political oppression, human rights violations, and state
corruption, it is important to note, however, that the poor socioeconomic conditions
and general feeling of exclusion and disenfranchisement were also significant contributors to popular discontent with the rule of Arab dictators. The MENA region has historically been plagued by severe unemployment, inequality, and widespread poverty,
with the highest levels of youth unemployment in the world and female participation
in the workplace averaging a paltry 25%. Substantial state intervention in the economy
has strangled economic development, stifled the growth of competitive private sectors,
and mired the vast majority of their populations in intergenerational poverty.
Despite the optimism and hope for a more liberal and prosperous society that
emerged from the political successes of the Arab Spring, five years later these promises
have not been realized. Instead, intractable civil wars, political instability, economic
decline, and ongoing religious wars between Sunni and Shia Muslims produced an
“Arab Winter,” killing hundreds of thousands of people and displacing many millions
of refugees. Hardline government crackdowns throughout the Persian Gulf, deteriorating economic conditions and lawlessness, along with the Syrian civil war and failed
Iraqi state that created the political opening from which the ISIS menace rapidly emerged, have together created pessimism and the bleak outlook that the Arab Spring was
all for nothing.

Promoting Liberal Values & Advancing Market Economy in the Arab World

An open nostalgia for the old authoritarian regimes is being vocalized by conservatives who praise the supposed stability and security of the old regimes. Ongoing
turmoil, violence, and breakdown in the rule of law are cited as evidence of failure of
the democracy movements rather than as the inevitable consequences of the economic
interventions of the previous despotic governments.
Likewise, the lack of political and social institutions that characterized the authoritarian era has deprived citizens with any means or experience with peaceful articulation of popular demands. As a direct consequence, the regular people of the nascent
democracies in the region are now expressing their frustrations and grievances in an
extremist and violent, if disorganized, rhetoric and public outcry.
Without the traditions and institutions of liberal democracy, it is not realistic to
expect that the Arab Spring could immediately and miraculously reverse decades of
economic decline, magically eliminate unemployment and cleanse the state apparatus
from corruption. The enduring legacies of authoritarian regimes are too entrenched to
be replaced by functioning democracies and civil society overnight.
Despite these challenges, the conservative voices that would roll back the Arab
Spring and reestablish authoritarian order must be confronted, while civil society leaders in the region must deliberately build the institutions that are the best hope for Arab
political stability, liberal market economies, and general prosperity necessary—if the
Arab Spring promises of more democratic and tolerant societies are ever to materialize.
The Arab Liberty Festival is the first concerted effort for regional civil society
leaders to convene and begin the deliberate process of laying the foundations of more
democratic and tolerant societies. Over the week-long conference, five concurrent modules will educate, train, and share best practices among current and future civil society leaders. These modules include a three-day Think Tank Start-up Training course,
a knowledge-sharing Resource Bank, IT training presented by Google, presentations
based on the Arab Economic Freedom Report, and finally, a Gala Reception and Dinner to celebrate the opportunity and potential of free societies and the champions who
are striving to set the Arab world free.

Averroes Academy (Nov 25-30):
In the aftermath of the “Arab spring”, the strengthening and empowerment of
civil society actors have become a real necessity. Think tanks and research institutions
have an important role to play in advancing democratic values and fostering economic
and political changes. However, despite a real boom in their number in the Arab world,
these civil society organizations are generally not able to impact the political decision making processes or to create change in their respective communities. Through

Promoting Liberal Values & Advancing Market Economy in the Arab World

the Averroes academy, the Arab Center for Scientific Research and Humane Studies,
in partnership with the National Endowment for Democracy, will build the capacity
of youth from six MENA countries to effectively engage in economic policy reform
issues. Participants will receive training on advocacy techniques, writing policy briefs
and will be exposed to different case studies related to various economic issues in the
Arab world.

Think Tank Start-up Training (Nov 30- Dec 2):
Conducted by the Atlas Network, this three-day intensive training module of introductory courses on non-profit management and leadership for 20 selected young
leaders is designed to achieve two objectives: help participants identify and strengthen
the core purpose and identity of their organization while developing strategic thinking
skills, and equip participants with the fundamental concepts of effective marketing and
sustainable fundraising.
By the conclusion of their training, the participants will have developed:
• A clear idea of what they wish to achieve with their organization or project,
articulated through an effective and well-defined statement of purpose;

• An understanding of existing think-tank organizational models from around
the world;

• A strategic approach to their priorities with a better assessment of their local
environment and practical objectives for those priorities;
• An intimate understanding of their key target audiences and effective messaging;

• A fundraising grant proposal or business plan along with an understanding of
how to better pitch their mission to potential donors.

Knowledge Sharing Resource Bank (Dec 1-2)
This two-day workshop designed for one dozen, rather more experienced civil
society leaders, will work as a team to identify major challenges, trends, and opportunities to advance liberal democratic values in the Arab world.
Participants will first share the strategies, successes, and disappointments of projects they have thus far undertaken, explicitly drawing on the experiences of those who
may have also attended the Atlas Network’s Asia Liberty Forum, European Resource
Bank, or Liberty Forum in New York. The goal is to learn from the experience of
others in the MENA region, share what has worked, and benefit from lessons learned,

Promoting Liberal Values & Advancing Market Economy in the Arab World

in order to replicate policy change successes while avoiding the mistakes of others. The
alliances that naturally emerge from such a workshop prove invaluable to think tank
leaders who may feel isolated and beleaguered in hostile home country environments,
and at the same time find inspiration in the many freedom champions who have in
some cases made significant inroads with policy change achievements.
The theme of this year resource bank will be “Post-Arab Spring Era: what economic reforms for the region?” With the uprising and protests movements witnessed
in the MENA region, much of the attention of the international community and media
has been directed toward the region’s political transition from autocratic rule to democracy. Nevertheless, the economic transition is also critical for the future growth,
development, stability and prosperity of the region. The participants of this edition of
the resource bank will discuss the economic reforms needed in the region to create a
more business friendly environment, thus more job opportunities and ultimately more
globally competitive economies. Participants will come up with recommendations that
will be presented at the signature of the economic freedom of the Arab world report.

Arab Youth colloquium ( 1 and 2 Dec 2015):
During two days, 16 young researchers from the Arab world will meet to discuss
aspects of human liberty based on a rich preselected academic readings and articles
that they will receive beforehand. This scholarly conference, in the form of a focus
group, will only be attended by invitation. The roundtable discussion sessions will
be facilitated by moderators in a climate of open debate and exchange of ideas. This
intellectually challenging exercise is designed to make the participants engage in deep
reflection and analysis of ideas beyond dogmas. Free market, civil liberties, property
rights and Public Choice are the main themes to be addressed in this colloquium, within the context of the Arab world.

Information Technology Training Present by Google (Dec 3-4):
The world-famous Internet search engine company Google will offer a two-day
training session to 30 young leaders on how to best use information technology tools
and search engine optimizations strategies in order to promote liberal democratic values, build and communicate with target audiences and strengthen brand images in the
context of potentially hostile government intervention.

Gala Celebration (Dec 4)
After six days of intense exchange and education, we will end the training part
of the Arab Liberty Festival on Saturday, December 4th, with a much-deserved recep-

Promoting Liberal Values & Advancing Market Economy in the Arab World

tion and dinner, both to honor some of the heroes of liberty and their achievements in
MENA, and provide an opportunity for emerging leaders to meet potential donors and
promote their projects. Each organization represented will have an opportunity to give
their honed elevator pitch to the audience, with special prizes awarded to the best presented pitch and to other champions of the Arab world. Prizes will be awarded to the
“Best Arab think tank”, “Best Publication” and “Best video” promoting liberal values
in the region. Well established think tanks from Europe and the US will also present
their best practices in terms of diffusing liberal values and creating positive change.
We anticipate that 120 civil society leaders will participate, as well as several
dozen invited journalists and potential donors. Music band will close the event with
some nice and entertaining music.
The following is the general program for the Gala celebration:

Evening:

-- Opening speech/ presentation of the Arab Center
-- Presentation of the Averroes Prize 2014’ winner
-- Best publication prize (publication addressing the topic of liberty in the Arab
world)
-- Three Best Arab Think Tanks Prize
-- Prize awards for Freedom Champions (bloggers, video makers, civil society
activists)

Dinner:

------

Opening speech by a keynote speaker
Honoring a Liberty figure from the Arab world
Presentations by participating American and European think tanks
Elevator pitches
Music

Arab Economic Freedom Report (Dec 5-6):
Economic freedom is a reliable indicator of current and future general prosperity, and the main driver in improving the wealth, health, and education of the entire
population. Over the course of a day and a half, assessments on the economic freedom
situation in the Arab world will be presented, based on the Economic Freedom of the
Arab World report published by the Fraser Institute in conjunction with the International Research Foundation (IRF) of Oman and the Friedrich Naumann Foundation. We
anticipate that over 70 scholars, civil society leaders and public servants will present
and participate in the event.

Sponsorship Opportunities
Prominent placement of your organization’s logo on all event
banner, publications, and social media outreach.
• Ten free tickets to the Gala Dinner and Reception.
• Prominent participation in the press conference preceding the festival, including two media interviews
we will arrange for you.
• Receive a comprehensive activity and outcomes report
at the conclusion of the Festival, including copies of
all earned media, interviews and videos from the event.

• Prominent placement of your organization’s logo on all
event banner, publications, and social media outreach.
• Five free tickets to the Gala Dinner and Reception.
• Prominent participation in the press conference preceding the festival, including one media interview we
will arrange for you.
• Receive a comprehensive activity and outcomes report
at the conclusion of the Festival, including copies of
all earned media, interviews and videos from the event.

This amount will fund the participation of a Freedom
Champion from the MENA region to attend the event and participate in all trainings. Sponsor five Freedom Champions and
benefit from our Gold Sponsor package.

($15,000 +)

($5,000 $10,000)

($1,000)

• Prominent placement of your organization’s logo on all
event banner, publications, and social media outreach.
• Receive a comprehensive activity and outcomes report
at the conclusion of the Festival, including copies of
all earned media, interviews and videos from the event.

Expected
Media Coverage:

78 newspaper
articles

8 radio
interviews

4 TV
interviews