Fall/Winter 2020 CCAS Newsmagazine

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Center for Contemporary Arab Studies

Georgetown University



newsmagazine Fall/Winter 2020

COVID-19 and the ARAB WORLD Reflections on the Local and Regional Impacts of the Pandemic



be the new director of the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies. I began this role on July 1st, succeeding Professor Rochelle Davis who held the directorship for three years. Stepping into this role virtually and in the midst of a pandemic certainly brings new challenges. These past months have required unprecedented creativity and flexibility as we have sought to maintain the high educational standards for which the Center is known, even as we have had to pivot to a virtual education environment. Yet with our incredible faculty and a most dedicated staff, we are not only rising to these challenges but also innovating new ways to ensure that our sense of community remains strong. am honored to

At the same time, CCAS has had much to celebrate. We welcomed 31 new students, a near-record cohort size, to the MAAS program this fall. Two of our faculty members were awarded endowed chairs at the Center. Dr. Rochelle Davis has been awarded the Sultanate of Oman Chair, and Dr. Marwa Daoudy is the new Seif Ghobash Chair in Arab Studies. In addition, two members of the CCAS Board of Advisors— Laurie Fitch (Chair) and Peter Tanous—were named 2021 Georgetown Alumni Service Recognition Award honorees for their outstanding leadership and service to the University. Lastly, we have been able to increase our scholarship offerings for MAAS students thanks to the generous support of members of our Board of Advisors. The spring term will be mostly virtual, but we can see the light at the end of the tunnel with a vaccine on the horizon, and we look forward to the day when we are back together in person.




The CCAS Newsmagazine is published twice a year by the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies, a component of the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University.

Core Faculty

Joseph Sassoon Professor and Sheikh Sabah Al Salem Al Sabah Chair; Director, Center for Contemporary Arab Studies

Fida J. Adely Associate Professor and Clovis and Hala Salaam Maksoud Chair in Arab Studies; Director, Master of Arts in Arab Studies Program Osama W. Abi-Mershed Associate Professor

Marwa Daoudy Associate Professor and Seif Ghobash Chair in Arab Studies

Rochelle A. Davis Associate Professor and Sultanate of Oman Chair Judith Tucker Professor

Affiliated Faculty

Mustafa Aksakal Associate Professor Mohammad AlAhmad Assistant Teaching Professor Belkacem Baccouche Assistant Teaching Professor Noureddine Jebnoun Adjunct Associate Professor Suzanne Stetkevych Sultan Qaboos bin Said Professor of Arabic & Islamic Studies; Chair, Arabic & Islamic Studies Department


Dana Al Dairani Associate Director Susan Douglass K-14 Education Outreach Director

The fall 2020 incoming MAAS students in their core course “History of the Arab World in the Twentieth Century,” co-taught by Judith Tucker and Graham Pitts

Maddie Fisher Events Coordinator Jacqueline Garner Office Manager Kelli Harris Assistant Director of Academic Programs Vicki Valosik Multimedia & Publications Editor

CCAS Newsmagazine Editor-in-Chief Vicki Valosik Design Adriana Cordero


Center for Contemporary Arab Studies - Georgetown University

An online version of this newsletter is available at: http://ccas.georgetown.edu

In This Issue

About The Issue

ALUMNI FEATURE 6 Coronavirus in the Arab World

Coronavirus, Our Community, and the Arab World For much of 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted nearly every facet of life for people around the world. In these pages, you’ll read about the ways our community has adapted over the past few months to the new norms of physical distancing—from virtual classrooms and Zoom social mixers to online public events and webinars that have attracted global audiences. You’ll also read about the ways our alums are responding to the pandemic, both professionally through their work with transnational, humanitarian organizations and academically through their knowledge production on the impacts and implications of

the pandemic. Our feature article by MAAS alum Haizam AmirahFernández provides an overview of the varied responses to and impact of the coronavirus in the Arab world. We also speak with first-year MAAS student Laila Jadallah about an exhibit she curated for the Middle East Institute featuring artwork created by Arab artists in response to the pandemic. Several of their works grace the pages of this issue. As we conclude this most unusual of years, we wish you all and your families health, safety, and a happy new year.

STUDENT SPOTLIGHT 11 Creativity in the Time of COVID REGULAR FEATURES 4 Faculty News 5 Center News

The Pandemic & Our Community

12 Public Events

The Impact of COVID-19 on Development in the Arab World

13 Education Outreach

Ed Outreach Moves Online and Spreads New Wings

14 Alumni News

MAAS Alums Respond to the Pandemic

Vicki Valosik, Editor

Mahmoud Al Haj Fragile V, 2020 Photography Courtesy of the A.M. Qattan Foundation, Ramallah

About the Cover Art Mahmoud Al Haj is a Palestinian visual artist and

arts teacher. Al Haj received a B.A. in Journalism and Media from Al-Aqsa University (2012) and has been a visual arts teacher at the Palestine Red Crescent Society since 2017. In 2019, he collaborated with artist Suzanne Groothuis on a land art workshop titled “Intimate Terrains” for the Palestine Museum. He has exhibited widely in Palestine and Europe, including recent participation in Within the

Vacuum at Shababek for Contemporary Art, Palestine (2019); Contemplative Contrasts at the A.M. Qattan Foundation, Palestine (2019); and Orient 2.0 at Pulchri Studio Den Hague, Netherlands (2017). This piece is part of the exhibit “Art in Isolation: Creativity in the Time of Covid-19” at the Middle East Institute. You can read more about “Art in Isolation” on page 11 and view more works from the exhibit on pages 6-9.

‫مركز الدراسات العربية املعاصرة – جامعة جورجتاون‬



Faculty News ‫أخبار هيئة التدريس‬

Associate Professor Fida Adely was elected president of the Middle East Section of the American Anthropological Association and assumed the position in December. She also served as a peer mentor for the Gender and Education section of the Comparative and International Education Society. Finally, Dr. Adely published a book chapter this fall entitled “Refusing to Settle: Migration among Single Professional Women in Jordan” in a volume entitled Waithood: Gender, Education, and Global Delays in Marriage and Childbearing edited by Marcia C. Inhorn and Nancy J. Smith-Hefner (Berghahn Books, 2020).

thored two book chapters—“Refugees in and from the Middle East: Teaching about Displacement in the Context of the International Refugee Regime” in Understanding and Teaching the Modern Middle East, edited by Omnia El Shakry (UWisconsin Press, forthcoming), and “Village Life in Palestine” in The Nakba Archive Book, edited by Diana Keown Allan and Mahmoud Zeidan (Pluto Press, forthcoming). This fall, Dr. Davis published four co-authored reports for the IOM-Iraqi Internally Displaced Populations project. She was recently named the Sultanate of Oman Chair at CCAS and was also awarded a Fulbright Grant to spend 2020-2021 teaching at Ahfad University for Women in Sudan, but the award was cancelled due to Covid-19.

Staff Updates ‫آخرأخبار الموظفين‬ Board Member Profile

In July and August, Associate Professor Marwa Daoudy spoke at panels on Climate Change, Conflict and Water Politics in the Arab World organized by the Arab Center Washington, and Reducing the Risks of Climate-related Water Conflicts at the Stockholm Water Week. She was interviewed about her book, Origins of the Syrian Conflict: Climate and Human Security (Cambridge University Press, 2020), by the Project SEPAD (Sectarianism, Proxies and De-sectarianization) at Lancaster University (UK). In November, Dr. Daoudy gave a talk about her book for the London School of Economics (LSE) Middle East Centre. She also spoke at the ISPI’s (Istituto per gli studi di politica internazionale)’s annual high-level Mediterranean Dialogues forum at the panel “Mare Omnium: a Shared  Approach to Mediterranean Security.” In September, her article “Water weaponization in the Syrian conflict: strategies of domination and cooperation” was published in the journal International Affairs (Vol. 96, Issue 5). Following this publication, she was interviewed by Chatham House’s podcast series Undercurrents about her article’s findings. Dr. Daoudy was awarded the Seif Ghobash Chair in Arab Studies at CCAS in October.


On July 1, Professor Joseph Sassoon became CCAS Director, a position he will hold for three years. His article, “The North Iraq Dataset (NIDS): Northern Iraq under Ba’thist Rule, 19681991,” co-authored with MAAS alum Michael Brill, was published in the Journal of Contemporary Iraq & the Arab World in Spring 2020. In October, he gave a talk on his forthcoming book Global Merchants for Oxford University’s Modern History Seminar. Dr. Sassoon also interviewed HRH Princess Ghida Talal of the King Hussein Cancer Foundation and Center and H.E. Dr. Saad Jaber, Jordan’s Minister of Health, for a panel on the regional challenges of COVID-19. The panel was part of the School of Foreign Service’s Global Challenges Symposium, a weekly discussion about how the pandemic is impacting the world order.

Dispatches ‫برقيات‬

Public Events ‫المناسبات العامة‬

Education Outreach ‫لتثقيف التربوي‬

In June, Associate Professor Rochelle Davis completed the final year of her three-year term as CCAS Director. She recently au-

Professor Yvonne Haddad Retires

Professor Judith Tucker’s two-year term as president of the Middle East Studies Association (MESA) ended in November 2019, but she continued to serve on the MESA Board of Directors as past-president until October 2020. She also serves as Board representative to the MESA Global Academy, a new initiative oriented towards sustaining research collaborations with MENA scholars who have been displaced by conflict and persecution. 

Congratulations to Professor Yvonne Haddad, who is retiring after two decades at Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service. As Professor of the History of Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations at Georgetown’s Prince Alwaleed Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding (ACMCU), Dr. Haddad has had a longstanding and fruitful relationship with CCAS and taught numerous MAAS students over the years.

thought and practice over time and space to this field, and set it on a serious scholarly course,” said Dr. Judith Tucker, a longtime colleague of Dr. Haddad’s at CCAS and in the History Department. “A much appreciated teacher, she has also been incredibly generous in the donating of her time and knowledge to a wide public.”

In the Headlines ‫في العناوين‬ CCAS extends our sincere thanks to Professor Haddad for her countless contributions to the work of the Center and to the academic careers of our students. We join our colleagues around the School of Foreign Service in wishing her all the best in her future endeavors.

Mabrouk! ‫مبروك‬

Dr. Haddad is the author or co-author of 11 books, 16 edited volumes, and more than 120 journal articles. “Yvonne has been a preeminent scholar of the history and present of Muslims in the West. She brought her vast knowledge of the history of Islamic


Faculty Research: ‫حاث هيئة التدريس‬

Center for Contemporary Arab Studies - Georgetown University


Center News ‫أخبار المركز‬

The Pandemic and Our MAAS Community News (Student News) Strengthening and Expanding our Community in a Time of Isolation By Vicki Valosik


2020 has been shaped by the unprecedented global challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. The necessity of physical distancing has completely altered the way universities, and our own Center, operate. Following spring break, CCAS and the rest of Georgetown quickly transitioned to a virtual learning environment, moving work, classes, and—where possible—our events online. CCAS faculty and staff adapted the video conferencing tool Zoom not only for online classes but also to create unique ways to virtually gather and keep our sense of community strong and vital. We even hosted the 2020 MAAS commencement, featuring musical performances and guest speakers, via Zoom and live streamed the event on YouTube for friends and family. Just as we had to say virtual farewells to the graduating class in May, this fall we welcomed a new cohort of incoming students virtually, hosting the fall orientation fully online. Despite the physical distances, we have found innovative ways to foster new connections. This fall, we hosted monthly Zoom “mixers” and a game night to provide students, faculty, and staff opportunities to mingle and have informal conversations. One of the most popular social events this semester, however, was a two-part virtual cooking class hosted by first-year MAAS student and food writer Antonio Tahan. Participants gathered the necessary ingredients in advance and then followed along, cooking at home, while Antonio demonstrated how to make yogurt, rice pudding, and Aleppan-style fatteh. The warmer weeks of early fall presented opportunities for students to gather safely outdoors in small, physically distanced groups. Several professors arranged class picnics or outdoor coffee chats with their students. In addition to these community activities, CCAS has hosted public events examining the global and regional impact of the ongoing public-health crisis. In November, the virtual event “The Impact of COVID on Humanitarianism and Development in the Arab World” featured a panel of three

Antonio Tahan

uch of

Visiting Scholar ‫باحث زائر‬ Faculty News ‫أخبار هيئة التدريس‬

MAAS alums whose work touches on governmental and humanitarian responses to the pandemic (See page 12 for more). “The Beirut Explosion: Context and Developments,” with American Druze Foundation Fellow Ziad Abu Rish and MAAS alum Maya Mikdashi, offered a discussion of the intersecting public health, political, and economic crises in Lebanon that set the backdrop for the devastating explosion in August. In October, Prof. Sassoon participated in the SFS Global Challenges Symposium. He interviewed HRH Princess Ghida Talal of the King Hussein Cancer Foundation and Center and H.E. Dr. Saad Jaber, Jordan’s Minister of Health, about Jordan’s early successes in containing the virus as part of a panel on the regional challenges of COVID-19. While the move to virtual events and online classes was made out of necessity, these new platforms have created unique opportunities to expand both our audience and our offerings. Hundreds of people have tuned in from around the world to join our live virtual events, with more than 200 people attending the September event “Race and Racism in Africa and the Middle East,” which was co-sponsored by the Department of African Studies. Our Education Outreach program

MAAS student Antonio Tahan leads an Arabic cooking class on Zoom and students show the dishes they made as they followed along.

Staff Updates ‫آخرأخبار الموظفين‬ found similar opportunities to reach teachers who might not be able to spare the time or expense to travel to Washington for multiday trainings (See page 13 for more). Presenters—who no longer need to travel for speaking engagements—joined us this fall from Lebanon, Algeria, Qatar, Kuwait, the Netherlands, France, and elsewhere. Professors have also taken advantage of the availability of global experts, who are just a Zoom call away, to meet with their students. For example, Prof. Dania Thafer integrated discussions with former members of the parliaments of Kuwait and Bahrain and authors of foundational texts into her “Oil and Politics” course. It has been a challenging time and we are anxious to be on campus with our students again, but we are also proud of the ways our community has maximized the potential of online learning and created spaces of togetherness during this unique and difficult period. 

Board Member Profile Dispatches ‫برقيات‬

Vicki Valosik is the Multimedia and Publications Editor at CCAS.

‫مركز الدراسات العربية املعاصرة – جامعة جورجتاون‬




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Alumni Feature

Coronavirus in the Arab World Passing storm, opportunity for change, or regional catastrophe?* ‫ﺑﺎﻷﻣﺲ ﻛﺎﻧـﻮا ﻫـﻨﺎ‬ By Haizam Amirah-Fernández (MAAS ‘01)

‫ﺑﺎﻷﻣﺲ ﻛﺎﻧـﻮا ﻫـﻨﺎ‬ ‫ﻣﻦ ﻣﻨﺸﻮرات ﻃﻼﺑـﻨـﺎ‬


mairomem elcitra tneduts

he COVID-19 pandemic is shaking Arab countries hard at a time when the region is already under great pressure. The responses of Arab states to the threat of the coronavirus, added to the uncertain international context generated by the pandemic, is aggravating existing problems in the Middle East and the Maghreb. This current global emergency and its ramifications has the potential to turn socioeconomic challenges into political crises and intensify demands for change that have spread through multiple countries in the region over the past decade. Until an effective vaccine against the pandemic is made available and widely accessible, the economic and social costs of the drastic restrictions being imposed by Arab governments during the successive waves of the pandemic may be overwhelming and, ultimately, unbearable.


Center for Contemporary Arab Studies - Georgetown University

Middle East Institute

Melissa Chimera The Promise, 2020 Oil on wood and acrylic Courtesy of the artist


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Alumni Feature

‫ﺑﺎﻷﻣﺲ ﻛﺎﻧـﻮا ﻫـﻨﺎ‬ ‫ﺑﺎﻷﻣﺲ ﻛﺎﻧـﻮا ﻫـﻨﺎ‬ ‫ﻣﻦ ﻣﻨﺸﻮرات ﻃﻼﺑـﻨـﺎ‬

An aggravating factor for existing problems For rentier economies that depend on income generated by the sale of hydrocarbons, the fall of oil prices in the middle of a pandemic poses a major problem for their public accounts. This directly affects not only energy producers in the Gulf, but also Algeria. Starting in February 2019, Algeria experienced widespread social mobilizations (known as hirak) that were unprecedented in terms of their duration (56 consecutive weeks) and the civic attitudes shown by the demonstrators. The demonstrations were suspended in March 2020 due to the increase in cases of COVID-19 and to avoid the risk of infection in a country with poor health infrastructure. There is a widespread feeling in Algeria that the political system is sclerotic and that building a civil state marked by the separation of powers and good governance will require profound reforms. When Algeria’s rulers were benefitting from high revenues from the sale of hydrocarbons, they could afford to buy social peace with subsidies and grants. However, with the sharp fall in revenues this year, along with the worrying decline in foreign exchange reserves, the outlook for Algeria over the next few years is far from reassuring. Moreover, Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune contracted COVID-19 in October, ten months after winning a dubious presidential election, and had to be flown to Germany to receive medical treatment. The referendum for a new constitution that he promoted was held while he was away from the country. The final result—with only 13.7% of registered voters supporting the new constitution—further exposed the regime’s deepening legitimacy crisis, even as difficulties posed by the pandemic and other factors continue to grow. Morocco is also facing a significant drop in revenues, the extent of which remains unknown. Morocco’s High Commissioner for Planning declared in March that 2020 would be the worst year for the Moroccan economy since 1999. In addition to the sharp decline in tourism, the global recession could significantly reduce the remittances sent by Moroccans working abroad, mainly in Europe, which

previously accounted for more than six percent of Morocco’s GDP. On the other hand, the significant fall in internal and external demand for goods and tourism, the extent of which will depend on factors beyond the control of the Moroccan authorities, has been compounded by a drop in agricultural production due to the drought that began in 2019. Against this backdrop, it is foreseeable that recent signs of social discontent caused by a lack of opportunities, economic inequalities, and disparities between regions will increase. For Tunisia, the COVID-19 pandemic is the first major test for the government that formed in February, following the elections held in October 2019. This Maghrebi country—and the only democracy in the Arab region—suffers from persistent economic problems that the pandemic is now exacerbating. The problems stem from a drop in tourism income (typically around 12% of Tunisia’s GDP) and decreased trade with Europe. The Tunisian government, like that of Morocco and others in the region, launched campaigns asking for donations from the population to meet the expenses that the state could not cover in the fight against the coronavirus. Since October 2019, both Iraq and Lebanon have experienced demonstrations calling for an end to corruption and for the states to fulfill their most basic functions. The multiple failures of these governments and the absence of legitimate political leaders with the capacity to resolve the enormous problems emerging from systems long corroded by sectarianism have only further deteriorated with the arrival of the pandemic. Iraq is suffering from a sharp drop in oil revenues, caused in part by the price war started by Saudi Arabia in March. Meanwhile, Lebanon is facing multiple simultaneous, deep crises, starting with the banking crisis that led the country to announce on March 7 the first sovereign debt default in its history. The severe devaluation of the Lebanese pound—a loss of nearly 80% of its value against the U.S. dollar since October 2019—and the shortage of foreign currency in a heavily dollarized economy are leading to business closures, job losses, hyperinflation, and major difficulties in importing basic goods, including medical and health supplies. The situa-

mairomem elcitra tneduts

* A longer version of this report was originally published in Spanish by the Elcano Royal Institute on March 31, 2020 (available here).

‫مركز الدراسات العربية املعاصرة – جامعة جورجتاون‬



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Alumni Feature

Jamila Rizgalla Worry, 2020 Pastel on paper Courtesy the artist ‫ﻛﺎﻧـﻮا ﻫـﻨﺎ‬of‫ﺑﺎﻷﻣﺲ‬


Center for Contemporary Arab Studies - Georgetown University

Middle East Institute

tion was already on the verge of a catastrophe before the outbreak of the COVID-19 crisis and has only been worsened by the massive explosion in the port of Beirut in August, which caused enormous human and physical devastation. Syria, Yemen, and Libya are all in the throes of armed conflict, each one subject to external interference fueling their civil wars. It is striking that these three countries have each declared shockingly low numbers of coronavirus infections. While it is true that the dangers of travel in these countries may have reduced the spread of the virus, their low reporting figures are most likely due to low testing levels as well as to the withholding of information. The consequences of outbreaks in these countries would be devastating, especially for the millions of people and internally displaced persons who lack healthcare and means of prevention. Even with international assistance, it would be difficult to contain the virus if complex emergencies occur in conflict areas or in refugee camps in neighboring countries. Egypt, which is the most populous country in the region (home to a quarter of the total Arab population), has recorded one of the highest numbers of

‫ ﻛﺎﻧـﻮا ﻫـﻨﺎ‬among ‫ ﺑﺎﻷﻣﺲ‬Arab mairomem infections countries. However, given the regime’s past records, there is no guarantee of ‫ﻣﻨﺸﻮرات‬ ‫ ﻣﻦ‬official data. elcitra tneduts the‫ﻃﻼﺑـﻨـﺎ‬ accuracy of the The economic impact of the pandemic in Egypt is reflected in its drop in tourism revenues, the decline in maritime traffic through the Suez Canal, and the reduction in remittances sent by Egyptians from oil-producing countries—each of which is crucial to the much-needed inflow of foreign currency and direct investment. Jordan set a successful example of combating COVID-19 during the first wave of the pandemic (March-September 2020) through a combination of strict closures and restrictions. However, the serious blow this dealt to the already reeling Jordanian economy has since led both the government and the public to neglect earlier, successful health measures in order to keep some economic sectors alive. As with other countries in the Arab region and beyond, Jordan has seen the numbers of infections and deaths soar during the fall of 2020. The pandemic has only intensified Jordan’s socioeconomic challenges and institutional malaise—and all within the context of growing regional shifts that are undermining Jordan’s geopolitical importance. The COVID-19 global crisis is also highlighting the interdependence between the populations and economies of Israel and Palestine. The spread of the coronavirus forced the leaders of Israel, the Palestinian Authority, and Hamas to cooperate with one another during the pandemic’s first wave in order to prevent large-scale infections in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza. One indication of the exceptionality of this cooperation is that the Israeli government allowed tens of thousands of Palestinian workers from the West Bank to settle on Israeli territory—something that was previously forbidden—for the duration of the health emergency to reduce the spread of infection. The risk of an outbreak is most worrying in Gaza, one of the most densely populated territories in the world. As a result of the Israeli blockade, mismanagement by Hamas’s local government, and the devastation left by three wars with Israel between 2008 and 2014, Gaza also lacks the health infrastructure, water, and electricity needed to support its 1.8 million inhabitants. The six members of the Gulf Cooperation Council—Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates—have greater resources and more efficient health systems than the


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Alumni Feature

Maysaloun Faraj Home #21, 2020 Acrylic on paper Courtesy of the artist

rest of the region. However, economic turbulence and the fall in oil prices have put pressure on their finances and public services as well. Virtually all GCC countries have implemented extensive restrictive measures to contain the spread of the pandemic. Even so, the risk of infection among foreign workers—in some Arab Gulf countries they make up the majority of the population—is high, especially among those working in the key construction and service sectors, who are more likely to live in overcrowded conditions without access to good health services. The pandemic has greatly impacted not only the tourism, international transport, and real-estate sectors in the Arab Gulf countries, but also major international events that were planned to take place in the region, such as Dubai’s Expo 2020, which had to be postponed for one year. Likewise, the COVID-19 pandemic dealt a blow to Saudi Arabia’s ambitions during its G-20 presidency. The Crown Prince had hoped to rehabilitate the country’s image on the international stage and focus on its plans to open up the Kingdom and diversify its economy. Instead, the activities and the closing summit of the G-20 were mostly virtual, and the presidency faced unprecedented challenges that made it difficult to successfully perform its functions.

Middle East Institute

Opportunities in the time of COVID-19 Arab countries are missing an opportunity to overcome their political divisions and to instead cooperate in the fight against regional spread of the coronavirus. However, it is not too late to initiate coordination within the region, or to launch initiatives for cooperation and mutual support at the material, technical, and financial levels. This is a unique opportunity for the Arab League, on the 75th anniversary of its founding, to demonstrate its usefulness by doing more than just issuing communiqués. The public health emergency should also serve to reactivate subregional initiatives like the Arab Maghreb Union, which was founded in 1989 to promote cooperation and integration among five Arab states of North Africa but is now in a state of semi-hibernation. There is also an opportunity to change the basis of international cooperation between regions that are likely to be hit hard by the global recession. The European Union should start thinking—even before

‫ﺑﺎﻷﻣﺲ ﻛﺎﻧـﻮا ﻫـﻨﺎ‬ ‫ﺑﺎﻷﻣﺲ ﻛﺎﻧـﻮا ﻫـﻨﺎ‬ ‫ﻣﻦ ﻣﻨﺸﻮرات ﻃﻼﺑـﻨـﺎ‬

mairomem elcitra tneduts

the health emergency has passed—about ways to revive Euro-Mediterranean cooperation, coinciding with the 25th anniversary of the Barcelona Process. Major efforts and resources will be required for postpandemic reconstruction on both shores of the Mediterranean. Now is the time for the Union for the Mediterranean to prove whether it can, with the support of other multilateral development institutions, pull the region out of a serious multidimensional crisis. Failing to do so will certify its irrelevance. Over the past decade, the Arab region has been experiencing mobilizations and revolts against several of its regimes due to their economic failures, inefficient management, corrupt practices, and authoritarian methods. The two waves of the Arab uprisings (2011 and 2019), which swept through most Arab countries, were propelled by the erosion of economic security and the deterioration of social protection systems. In some countries, the pandemic may further undermine what little economic security remains and dismantle the social protection systems that are still in place. Undoubtedly though, this same pandemic offers an opportunity to negotiate new social contracts in Arab countries at a time when the

‫مركز الدراسات العربية املعاصرة – جامعة جورجتاون‬


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Alumni Feature

coronavirus has put most anti-regime protests on hold. For the moment, however, there are no signs that this is happening. The final outcome of the COVID-19 crisis for Arab countries will be conditioned by several factors: the duration of the international health emergency, the effectiveness of state policies— where they exist—in mitigating the pandemic’s health and socio-economic consequences, and the perceptions that citizens hold of how their rulers managed the crisis. And yet, many of the factors that will condition the way out of this crisis are beyond the control of Arab governments, as they too

are impacted by rapidly changing global dynamics that, in turn, determine many of their sources of income—hydrocarbons, trade, tourism, transport—and the employment opportunities that ‫ﺑﺎﻷﻣﺲ ﻛﺎﻧـﻮا ﻫـﻨﺎ‬ their young populations may find.  ‫ ﺑﺎﻷﻣﺲ ﻛﺎﻧـﻮا ﻫـﻨﺎ‬mairomem Haizam Amirah-Fernández is a Senior Analyst for ‫ﻣﻦ ﻣﻨﺸﻮرات‬and Arabelcitra the‫ﻃﻼﺑـﻨـﺎ‬ Mediterranean World tneduts at Elcano Royal Institute in Madrid and Associate Professor of International Relations at IE University. He graduated from the MAAS program in 2001. You can find more of his work on Twitter: @HaizamAmirah

About the Artists The art illustrating this article is part of the exhibit “Art in Isolation: Creativity in the Time of Covid-19” at the Middle East Institute, which you can read more about on page 11. All works in the exhibit are for sale, with proceeds going to the artists.

of Art. She has exhibited internationally and her work resides in the collections of the Arab American National Museum, MI; the Honolulu Museum of Art, HI; and the Hawai’i State Foundation of Culture and the Arts, HI.

Artist, curator and conservationist Melissa Chimera is a Honolulu native of Lebanese and Filipino descent. Her work investigates globalization, human migration, and species extinction. Chimera studied natural resource management at the University of Hawai‘i and worked for two decades as a conservation manager. Her most recent project is “The Far Shore: Navigating Homelands” for the Arab American National Museum in Dearborn, Michigan (2018). The exhibition commemorates the 100th anniversary of the end of the Great War and concerns the contemporary issue of Arab immigration to America. Chimera is the recipient of the Catherine E. B. Cox Award from the Honolulu Museum

Jamila Rizgalla is a self-taught Libyan artist who works in pastel to achieve quick, emotive compositions. Rizgalla has participated in several exhibitions in Libya and Malta, recently “Take us on your journey through quarantine” at Art House, Libya (2020) and “Wings of my Soul” at Manoel Theatre, Malta (2008). Her work is featured in collections internationally, including Tempra Museum for Contemporary Art, Malta; Museo Tempra della Biennale de Malta, Italy; Museo della Grafica, Italy; and Istituto Italiano di Cultura, Libya. In addition to her visual arts practice, Rizgalla is a veterinarian by education and is currently a lecturer in the Department of Aquaculture at the University of Tripoli.

10 Center for Contemporary Arab Studies - Georgetown University

Maysaloun Faraj is an Iraqi-American painter, sculptor and curator living in London. Displaced by decades of war, Faraj creates work that is deeply rooted in her personal connection to Iraq, the intersection of place and identity, and overarching societal concerns. Faraj received a B.S. in Architecture from the University of Baghdad (1978) and studied ceramic sculpture at Putney School of Art and Design. Faraj was also a resident artist at the Cité Internationale des Arts, Paris (2015-2018). Her artistic career spans four decades, and she has become an integral figure in the rise of contemporary Middle Eastern art, curating “Strokes of Genius,” the first exhibition of Iraqi modern art that toured internationally (2000-3) and co-founded Aya Gallery, London to advance art from Iraq and the Middle East. Her work is in many major institutions, including The British Museum, London; National Museum for Women in the Arts, Washington, DC; and the Barjeel Foundation, Sharjah.

‫ﺿﻮء ﻋﻠﻰ اﻟﻄﻼب‬


student spotlight

Creativity in the Time of COVID ‫​ ﺧﺎص ﻣﻦ اﻟﺨﺮﯾﺠﯿﻦ‬

Q&A with MAAS Student Laila Jadallah By Vicki Valosik

Alumni Feature


the MAAS program this fall, Laila Jadallah spent much of her career in the arts—as an artist administrator, curator and producer for museum exhibitions, and as an artist herself. Her exhibitions have been featured in The Washington Post, AlHurra TV, The New York Times, and D.C. Modern Luxury Magazine, while her own art resides in the permanent collection of the Department of State Office of Arts in Embassies. Her most recent project was the curation of “Art in Isolation: Creativity in the Time of COVID-19”—an exhibition of 54 works from 39 artists from the Arab world—for the Middle East Institute (MEI). As the exhibit curator, Laila wrote the open call, researched and approached artists, helped select the final artwork, and curated the physical installation. The exhibit can be viewed online or at MEI’s gallery in Washington D.C. rior to joining

What was the vision behind this exhibition?

The vision for the exhibition was to include works of art by diverse artists (in terms of age, career experience, and medium) from the region to exhibit the multitude of ways artists’ practices were affected by the pandemic and how they chose to reflect it—whether directly or not—through their work.

Middle East Institute; Laila Jadallah

What do you hope viewers take away from the exhibition?

I hope viewers take away several things: One, that it humanizes the experiences of those who have been living in difficult conditions long before COVID, such as in places like Gaza and Yemen. In contrast, I hope that the depth and breadth of the work in the exhibition provides a lens from which artists from the region’s experiences avoid being essentialized. I believe artists provide us with a great amount of insight into what is happening in the world, whether or not they directly address socio-political issues in their work. We should support artists and consider

‫ﺑﺎﻷﻣﺲ ﻛﺎﻧـﻮا ﻫـﻨﺎ‬ ‫ﺑﺎﻷﻣﺲ ﻛﺎﻧـﻮا ﻫـﻨﺎ‬


‫ﻣﻦ ﻣﻨﺸﻮرات ﻃﻼﺑـﻨـﺎ‬

elcitra tneduts

The “Art in Isolation” exhibit at MEI’s gallery in Washington D.C.

their work a legitimate historical record. I hope that when looking back at this exhibition years after the pandemic has come and gone, people can view this exhibition as a sort of time capsule of the lived experience during this period in history. How did you and your colleagues at MEI select the pieces to include, and did you notice any themes among the submissions?

We received an incredible amount of good work from so many artists. It was very difficult to narrow down, but ultimately we chose works that could provide a variety of perspectives, stories, and experiences. Several themes emerged such as the exploration of interior spaces and “home,” as well as ongoing issues such as loss of life due to war or conflict, gender and sexuality, power, and more. What were the challenges or unique opportunities of producing an exhibit during a global pandemic?

The pandemic posed several challenges, including determining whether and how to install the exhibition physically and shipping delays that caused us to push back the exhibi-

tion’s start date. The unique opportunity of this period is the increased utilization by arts and cultural institutions to produce digital exhibitions. Utilizing an online platform allowed us to reach a much larger audience and to include more artists and artwork than the physical installation would allow. As a student at MAAS, how do you hope to merge your academic interests with your professional background in the arts?

I see my academic interest and professional background merging in having the foundation of knowledge required to really understand and explore cultural production in the region and the diaspora. I hope to contribute to the scholarly research and recording of the contributions and impact of artists from the Middle East to the history of the region. 

Laila Jadallah is a first-year student in the MAAS program and Managing Director of the Washington Studio School. She holds a B.A. in Integrative Studies from George Mason University and a certificate in photography from SPEOS Photographic Institute Paris.

‫مركز الدراسات العربية املعاصرة – جامعة جورجتاون‬


Public Events ‫المناسبات العامة‬


The Impact of COVID-19 on Humanitarianism and Development in the Arab World Education Outreach ‫قيف التربوي‬ MAAS alums discuss their work during a virtual panel By Maddie Fisher


In the Headlines ‫في العناوين‬

November, CCAS hosted “The Impact of COVID on Humanitarianism and Development in the Arab World,” an online event about how the COVID-19 pandemic is shaping both development initiatives across the region and humanitarian aid needs in conflict-affected areas. The event was held in coordination with Professor Fida Adely’s “Development in the Arab World” course. The three panelists were all MAAS alums who work with international organizations and governments responding to the COVID-19 crisis. The speakers were asked to speak about how their work and the work of their organizations has been shaped by the pandemic. Each reflected on both the immediate response to this unforeseen global crisis, and the ways humanitarian and development organizations are adapting and determining best practices as they continue to provide aid and push for reforms. On a wider scale, panelists shared how they anticipate the pandemic will alter the international landscape of humanitarian and development work in a world beyond the Coronavirus crisis. n

good must outweigh self-interest and profit at any price,” Bin Hamed remarked. Dickie Fischer (MAAS

‘16) is a program officer with Jesuit Refugee Services who works on projects in the Arab world and globally. Fischer shared his perspective on working with a small NGO that relies heavily on relationships with local partners to continue delivering aid, despite lockdowns and evacuations, to those in need. In looking at ways the sector will be different moving forward, he pointed to how local staff and field offices have been taking the lead to adapt programs after expatriates have left. He said this challenges traditional notions of Western expertise as we see the importance of localized knowledge.

Mabrouk! ‫مبروك‬


Faculty Research: ‫ث هيئة التدريس‬ Bin


(MAAS ‘16) works as a researcher and speechwriter for the office of HRH Prince Hassan Bin Talal, and as a consultant with the West Asia North Africa Institute in Jordan. He spoke about how even though people of all backgrounds are affected by COVID-19, it is the most vulnerable populations in the region who will feel its lasting effects long after there is a widespread vaccine. “Whether in the Arab world or elsewhere, if we are ever to move away from vulnerability and insecurity towards real security and stability, the common

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(MAAS ‘03), the Jordan Country Director for MercyCorps, shared insights on how “the COVID pandemic is a crisis layered on top of crises that were already here, such as the economy, low levels of participation in governance, and gender inequality.” Jogenson Diener unpacked how MercyCorp was responding to each of these crises before COVID-19, as well as how the pandemic has added additional stress to underlying key development challenges in Jordan.  You can watch a video of this event on the CCAS YouTube Channel.

Maddie Fisher is the CCAS Events Coordinator and a firstyear student in the MAAS program. Maddie Fischer

Want to catch up on this and other CCAS Events? Check out our Fall 2020 Events YouTube Playlist!

Kari Jorgenson Diener

Education Outreach ‫تعميم التثقيف التربوي‬


Education Outreach Moves Online and Spreads New Wings ‫في العناوين‬ In the Headlines By Susan Douglass


Georgetown’s campus closure in March was filled with postponements, then cancellations, of planned spring education outreach events. We instead put our efforts into updating the Education Outreach resources pages of the CCAS website with new and revised curriculum materials. As it became clear that the lockdown would be extended, events were again taken up, with an eye toward developing models for conducting events virtually. We hosted a webinar on the newly updated Islamic Spain website for more than 90 attendees and the virtual museum tour and workshop “Caravans of Gold, Fragments in Time” on West Africa in partnership with Howard University and the National Museum of African Art. Rather than 25 attendees, which would have been the maximum number the museum could have hosted on an exhibit tour, 127 participants joined us online. Our virtual model had to be ambitiously extended so that we could still hold our “Summer Teacher Institute 2020: Connected Histories of the Renaissance” the first week of August. Conducted in partnership with the Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding (ACMCU), the week-long summer institute hosted daily totals of 50-60 virtual attendees. Digital syllabi and readings, and pre-recorded lectures were made available to registered attendees in mid-July. During the week of the institute, we held two daily synchronous sessions featuring live discussions with the speakers, art exhibit viewings, and guided engagement with the teaching materials. he month following

We were excited to attract for the summer institute a lineup of wonderfully generous scholars from the disciplines of history, literature, music, and fine art, especially since the lockdown had also interrupted these scholars’ summer plans. Their talks demonstrated that the Renaissance should no longer be taught as a mainly European phenomenon. They illustrated how the Renaissance expressed the growing connectedness of Europe with the globe, opening new worlds of ideas and culture. Travelers from many walks of life and geographic origins moved over land and sea, carrying foods, clothing, and technologies, which changed the way they viewed themselves and the earth itself. Inspired by Sanjay Subrahmanyam’s concept of “connected histories,” teachers and scholars explored topics that illustrated the impact of movement on a global scale. We often hear of the “Zoom fatigue” that teachers are experiencing. Yet we found, to the contrary, that teachers were attending online outreach events in search of knowledge, ideas, and camaraderie during the difficult period of physical

Mabrouk! ‫مبروك‬

isolation. Dedicated attendees came online twice a day during the week-long institute and participated in intense discussions with the scholars, demonstrating that they had engaged with the lectures and readings. There were also rich discussions surrounding ways to support their students’ emotional, as well as intellectual, needs. By the end of the summer, we had planned a full roster of fall-semester events to take place virtually, including the launch of a Secondary Education Module for the Middle East Studies Pedagogy Initiative, a pair of workshops on children’s and youth literature for the College of Education at Virginia State University, and conferences for the U.S. Department of State, the National Council for the Social Studies, and others. As a serendipitous result of the pandemic, the Title VI National Resource Centers’ outreach professionals have banded together for monthly meetings to share upcoming events, offer cosponsorships, and exchange speakers. Everyone reports expanded attendance and engagement beyond their usual local participation. We hope to carry the momentum of collaboration forward, utilizing the new virtual structures—put into place out of necessity—to forge better outreach programs in the future. Visit the CCAS YouTube channel to view videos from the 2020 Summer Teacher Institute or to find past education outreach events. 


Faculty Research: ‫أبحاث هيئة التدريس‬

Top: Dr. Angela Ho discusses how the porcelain trade impacted the artistic practices of Europe and China. Bottom: Dr. Pamela Smith provides an overview of the Making and Knowing Project at Columbia University.

Dr. Susan Douglass is the K-14 Education Outreach Director at CCAS and ACMCU.

‫مركز الدراسات العربية املعاصرة – جامعة جورجتاون‬



Alumni News

‫أخبار الخريجين‬

Alumni Article ‫مقاالت الخريجين‬ MAAS Alums Respond to the Pandemic MAAS alums have been responding to the COVID-19 crisis in a New research variety of ways—from emergency response and humanitarian work, to fundraising for organizations in critical need, to contributing to the knowledge production surrounding the pandemic. We have gathered just a few examples below.

‫ابحاث جديدة‬



Faculty spotlight

Egypt’s Economy During and After COVID-19

The Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy, April 14, 2020 By Timothy Kaldas (MAAS ‘08) The Future of the Hirak Movement in Algeria

‫إضائة على الهيئة التعليمية‬ Interview with journalist Selma Kasmi on the future of the movement in light of COVID MERIP, April 27, 2020 By Muriam Davis (MAAS ‘06) The Pandemic Should Spur New Reforms in Egypt Dena Takruri (MAAS ‘08), Senior Presenter and Producer at AJ+,

was a correspondent on Al Jazeera’s investigative short film about the catastrophic COVID-19 outbreak at California’s San Quentin prison. Pandemic in Prison: The San Quentin Outbreak, Al Jazeera Fault Lines

Bloomberg, May 6, 2020 By Timothy Kaldas (MAAS ‘08)

Cross-border Aid, Covid-19, and U.S. Decisions in Syria

Center for Strategic and International Studies, May 8, 2020 By Will Todman (MAAS ’16) Assad Attempts to Weaponize COVID-19 in Syria

The Hill, May 27, 2020 By Will Todman (MAAS ’16)

Moving forward, falling back: What’s in store in the new normal?

Immigrantsrights.org, June 5, 2020 By Abrar Alshammari (MAAS ‘19) Will Todman (MAAS ‘16), Middle East Fellow at the Center for


Program and Business Development Manager, Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS) Foundation “Given SAMS’ experience as a provider of medical relief and education in Syria and other countries, we have been heavily involved in preparedness and response to COVID since it first emerged. I support development and management of programs, which has included establishing hospital-based isolation units in northwest Syria, procurement and distribution of PPE, provision of remote and in-person trainings for health workers on various topics related to

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Adrienne Haspel, Al Jazeera; CSIS

Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), is cohost of the podcast Babel and has produced several episodes dealing with the pandemic: • Economic Implication of Covid-19 in the Middle East • COVID-19 in Iran • Changing Gulf Economies During Covid-19 • Disinformation During Covid-19 • Jordan’s Economy During Covid-19


Alumni Article

BRINGING THE DISCO TO YOUR DOORSTEP In the early weeks of the pandemic, MAAS Alum (‘94) Dr. Bassam Haddad launched “In My House,” an innovative effort to support vulnerable communities while also making home quarantine a little more fun. In My House is a biweekly live-streamed dance music session hosted by Haddad, a George Mason professor and professional DJ, that offers those who tune in a different musical experience each week—from 80s Arabic dance music to dabkeh to techno. The proceeds from each session are donated to organizations supporting those suffering from the impact of the pandemic,

‫مقاالت الخريجين‬

New research

‫ابحاث جديدة‬ Bassam Haddad DJs a livestreamed house session as a fundraiser for vulnerable populations.

Faculty spotlight and listeners are encouraged to support the organizations as they are able. In My House has raised over $72,000 for Martha’s Table, ANERA (American Near East Refugee Aid), Los Angeles Food Bank, The Lebanese Red Cross, ACLU’s LG-

BTQ’s Rights Project, United Palestinian Appeal, MLB (Movement for Black Lives), Doctors of the World-Iraq, and multiple other organizations. Visit https://www. inmyhouse.live/ to donate, watch past house sessions, or learn more.

‫إضائة على الهيئة التعليمية‬

COVID (ventilation management, infection prevention and control, etc.), community health education, and psychosocial support.” Sacha Robehmed (MAAS ’15)

Digital Engagement Consultant, International Rescue Committee Bassam Haddad; PJT Partners; Lynx Investment Advisory

‫أخبار الخريجين‬

Alumni News

“I’ve been working with IRC’s Airbel Middle East Hub to test the use of a Whatsapp chatbot for the delivery of services remotely during COVID-19 and beyond. We’re learning about the best ways to deliver needed information to clients, leverage social networks to share information, and reach vulnerable communities. I adapted job search and legal information about employment rights under Jordan’s Defense Orders during lockdown into plain language, emojis, and graphics, so that clients can choose to learn more about their right to wages, their rights if their contract was terminated, and other useful information tailored to their circumstances.” Visit page12 to learn how MAAS alums Ghazi Bin Hamed (MAS ’16), consultant with the West Asia North Africa Institute in Jordan; Dickie Fischer (MAAS ‘16), program officer with Jesuit Refugee Services, and Kari Jorgenson Diener (MAAS ‘03), the Jordan Country Director for MercyCorps, are responding to the crisis through their work with international development and humanitarian organizations.

CCAS Board Members Receive Georgetown Alumni Honors

Laurie Fitch (left) and Peter Tanous (right)

Two members of the CCAS Board of Advisors have been named 2021 Georgetown Alumni Service Recognition Award honorees for their outstanding leadership and service to the University. Board Chair Laurie Fitch, who graduated from MAAS in 1994, has received the 1820 Graduate Award, and Peter Tanous, who earned his BA in economics from Georgetown in 1960, has received the William Gaston Alumni Award. The awards, designated by the Georgetown University Alumni Association, honor “individuals who embody the Jesuit ideal of living generously for others”—an apt description of Ms. Fitch and Mr. Tanous, each of whom have established endowments to provide critical scholarships to students in the MAAS program. Congratulations to both on this well-deserved honor!

‫مركز الدراسات العربية املعاصرة – جامعة جورجتاون‬





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