Follow us on
Or combine different search criteria.


Sep 26, 2017 / 0 Comments
Tags: / / / / / / / / / /


“It is possible!”. With these words and a lot of smiles, the first forum of the Syrian International Business Association (SIBA) ended. “SIBA” has made it possible to unite, promote and represent the voices of Syrian business men and women living abroad.


On July 12th and 13th 2017 and after several months of preparation, SIBA was formally established. About 80 participants representing different generations of Syrians living across 17 countries as well as several development partners were hosted in Marseille by the Center for Mediterranean Integration for the first forum of the Syrian International Business Association (SIBA)


With high hopes and enthusiasm, participants presented the projects they have built to create opportunities for their fellow Syrians—now refugees in the countries hosting them, by reinvesting in these countries and their businesses there. They have done so in Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt, as well as in the Gulf countries and Europe.


During this forum, the role of SIBA was defined; the association will be supporting the business community and will help Syrian refugees adapt to their host countries.  


Since the first meeting in Eschborn, back in February 2017, Syrian businessmen have been working intensively to bring SIBA to life. During the forum, concrete actions were taken.  The constitution of SIBA was unanimously voted, a board of seven directors was elected and Mr. Samer Shamsi Basha was named president.


“Every Syrian has his own problem. With SIBA, Syrians will support others Syrians”, stated Mr. Mumtaz Daboul, member of the steering committee.


SIBA, the next chapter!


As SIBA sets its foundation, participants expressed their optimism regarding the future of the association and what it can bring to the Syrian diaspora around the world. 


“I am optimistic about the future of SIBA. Its members have a common objective and share a feeling of responsibility towards the Syrian people. I fully trust that they will work for its success” said Mr. Fadi Haddad. Mr. Haddad delivered a clear message; “we want to establish a forum that can unify all Syrian businesspeople and be at the service of Syrian refugees living in host communities.”


Despite the pain and the heavy losses, Syrians still fight to achieve their dreams and offer help to their fellow countrymen and women. Mr. Haddad expressed his hope that “SIBA will become a shield for all Syrians”. “It will provide many services to refugees, such as finding funds, facilitating banking procedures, assist in obtaining diplomas equivalences, and providing professional training” he added.


Optimistic about SIBA’s future, Yara, a young entrepreneur was enthusiastic to be part of a project that could be “useful for her country”.


For Yara a lot of young people have ideas and projects to realize but don’t have the funds nor the capacity to do so. The role of the business community should be to support them and SIBA can become the place they can find this support.


Regardless of their political differences, Syrians living all over the world came together to talk about investing in the future of their country. This is what makes SIBA a unique experience for the Syrian diaspora. 

Sep 26, 2017 / 0 Comments
Tags: / / / / / / / / / /



Over the five years of the Syrian conflict, municipalities of Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey hosting 89% of Syrian refugees have developed extraordinary resources and solutions to this humanitarian and developmental crisis. Today, some of them have surpassed their response towards strategizing on how to turn the burden into opportunities for local shared growth. Host municipalities across the region learnt from this experience about “Improving local economic opportunities for host communities and refugees”.


During the 2nd Annual CMI Peer- to Peer learning workshop of Mediterranean Host municipalities network (Beirut, May 9 -12, 2017) representatives from more than 40 municipalities from Jordan, Lebanon  and Turkey have gathered under the umbrella of the Center for Mediterranean Integrations’ Mediterranean Host Municipalities Learning Network, to discuss their best practices in hosting refugees. They emphasized on of their biggest challenges- creating economic opportunities for both communities.


One important solution lies in identifying opportunities to develop local growth and to attract investments from entrepreneurs and the private sector. Change is notable in the starting outreach and actions of host municipalities : Sarhan municipality in Jordan took an avant-gardist step by reaching out to closely 50 private companies, offering them incentives such as land facilitation and simplified procedures to attract the private sector. Central government also played a primordial role, particularly on the level of financial and administrative regulations.


Such policy and regulatory support has allowed three plants to get established in Sarhan, including Syrian-led businesses, and among which the pickle industry is generating 250 jobs for Jordanians and Syrians.


“There are 550 Syrian industrial facilities in Jordan employing 14,000 workers of which 4,000 are Syrians” tells us Mohammed Al-Shaer, a Syrian businessman managing Sigma Detergents in Amman. “Only through the easing of restrictions on industrial investment in general, and for Syrians in particular, can we leverage the labor markets, locally and nationally”.  


When relocating their businesses to host countries, Syrians are not only transferring capital, but also knowledge and experience. Municipalities’ increased awareness of Syrian entrepreneurs’ role in strengthening local economic development, social cohesion and livelihoods for both Syrian and host communities is yet another reality changing the response of municipalities to the crisis.  

In Turkey, the 51% of relocated businesses from Syria multiplied employment opportunities and widened market opportunities. The resources and know-how have even helped reviving dormant and forgotten industries, such as handmade shoe-making in the city of Gaziantep.


Senior advisor at the World Bank, John Speakman explains the importance of host countries seizing the abundance and closeness of Syrian human and financial capitals. “The closer your investors are, the better it is. Syrians live near you, and there lies infinite potential of investment”, he said.

Changing the vision and action of local authorities towards Syrians’ participation in the labor market, is therefore key. According to Rami Sharrack, deputy executive director of the Syrian Economic Forum in Gaziantep, Turkey, the first step is “establishing working groups in each municipality in charge of local economic development, involving the Syrian private sector as an active member”.


Moreover, gender is emerging more clearly as the new face of the municipal responses to the crisis as Syrian and local women are becoming the breadwinners. In fact, women’s access to the labor market continues being a chronic and common issue in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.


Several municipalities are becoming more aware of benefits female workers can bring to local economic development. They are building, through their networks of private and Non-Governmental Organizations, the skills and employability of both Syrian and local women, linking them to their labor market needs. Zarqa’s municipality in Jordan provided training to 60 women including Syrians in the production of pickled products, and followed up by providing them permit for home-based businesses.

While in Saida, Lebanon, a private restaurant chain, called Tawlet, defied an even more complex challenge, and is hiring today Palestinian, Syrian and Lebanese women as cooks.


One major limitation to municipal action remains the limited financial resources, particularly in Lebanon where basic services and infrastructure have always been defaulting in rural areas. Haneen El Sayed, Program Leader tells us how the World Bank is starting a 200 million dollars’ project to rehabilitate roads in Lebanon: “This is one example of many  on how the World Bank helps support countries affected by the crisis, and helps generate jobs and incomes to both Syrian and Lebanese workers”.


Following the European Union-Jordan compact, adopted in December 2016, it was also agreed to simplify rules of origin requirements to Jordan exports to the EU, provided job opportunities are offered to Syrian refugees, alongside Jordanians.


Jordan will also make it possible for over 165 000 Syrian children to access education and increase opportunities for Syrian youth to receive vocational training.


Learning from these examples highlighted the many ways for host municipalities to turn the presence of Syrian refugees into economic opportunities. The host municipalities network participating to the Beirut workshop want to learn more on how to better attract the private sector and leverage Syrian workforce and businesses.


A compendium capturing some of those good practices was also discussed and shared among them, as one of the many tools the municipalities wills use to exchange and learn through their Host Municipalities Network. Going forward the Network will continue to facilitate peer-learning within the community of practice on local economic development in the forced displacement context.  


Jun 21, 2017 / 0 Comments
Tags: / / /

“The fact is that given the challenges we face, education doesn't need to be reformed -- it needs to be transformed. The key to this transformation is not to standardize education, but to personalize it, to build achievement on discovering the individual talents of each child, to put students in an environment where they want to learn and where they can naturally discover their true passions.” 

-Sir Ken Robinson


In a recent World Economic Forum report on global competitiveness, Egypt ranked 137 in the world out of 144 countries in primary education meeting the needs of a competitive economy, with only 20% of children from the poorest 20 percent enrolled and completed the basic education level. In addition to enrolment issues, disparities in students’ academic and social achievement, cultural gender biases and the poor quality of teachers and school infrastructure have been impacting students’ ability to interact and learn.


A persistently marginalized population, primarily of young people in rural Upper Egypt, remains highly disadvantaged in accessing education. This dates to multi-faceted challenges, some of which are:


  • Over half of youth (especially female) listed parental disapproval, father disagreement, or customs and traditions as reasons for not entering school.
  • Schools in rural communities are usually placed in the main village or destitute, which could take students over 1 hour of walking to reach. A valid reason for parents to not send their girls to school and for boys to dropout due to the tiredness caused by long walking distances, especially during winter time.
  • erosion of social capital due to out-migration to suburban or urban areas


Most rural communities do not have the resources to address all of these challenges with separate initiatives. However, what if all could be addressed simultaneously? A Community School run collectively by individuals from the community.


Since 2007, Man Ahyaha has been diligently working on sustainable development projects in some of Egypt’s most underserved and impoverished areas in different governorates that suffer severe percentage of underprivileged villages in Upper Egypt, Old Cairo and Alexandria.

We have been working in Aayat destitute (60 km away from Giza) for more than 2 years on various developmental projects including alternative education program for children and teenagers, Microfinance for women and young ladies and building concrete infrastructure for poor households.

By June 2016, we decided to conduct needs assessment, human-centered observations and multiple focus groups discussions with the community there, the necessity of an elementary school for the children in elementary school was brought to our attention.


In Baharwa Village in Aayat, the nearest elementary school is 3 km away, which keeps the younger children only enrolled on papers, but have no access to any actual learning. Moreover, the distance coupled with the lack of transportation leaves most of the children unable to go to school.

Conditions are worse during winter, with the muddy road and the rainy weather.  These are all factors that affect the enrollment of children in schools and contribute to the drastic dropout rate, especially for girls.


At Man Ahyaha, we believe that any project should be initiated to fulfil a real need that the community we are working with has and not re-create a solution for a fictional need, therefore we started building a community school with the villagers and for villagers.


Community schools are a viable alternative to public schooling, yet it abides by the formal education system’s curriculum alongside the informal education techniques. One of its main pillars of uniqueness lies in its ability to enhance enrollment and completion rates of children from age 6 to 14 (class1-6). In our classes, we allow for creative informal education techniques such as building skills and personal development, especially that children in rural areas are more open to activity-oriented learning.


Our schools became centers of the community and are open to everyone – all day, every day, evenings and weekends; with a variety of services to provide medical and social help along with monthly community meetings.

Teachers in community schools are more of knowledge facilitators, ensuring the factor of hiring high quality teachers who can impact students’ ability to interact and learn in a safe space and an intellectually stimulating environment.


Most importantly, community schools create a concrete alternative for the far-away built schools that drastically affect girls’ enrollmentand prevent the completion of their education.


Right now, Man Ahyaha is trying to execute its vision of “Support Community Engagement through Education”. Considering our efforts and success in Baharwa, we are now replicating the community school module in another village in Aayat District.

Our approach encompasses an all-levels development for the whole rural area through education, sustainable infrastructure, Access to healthcare and community center.




Jun 20, 2017 / 0 Comments
Tags: / / / / / / / / / / /

June 20 is an international day to salute the resilience of refugees worldwide. Five years into the Syrian crisis, refugees have proved strength, courage, and perseverance.


We tell here some stories on their status and lives.


The Three Neighboring Countries


A young Syrian girl playfully hides from our camera at an adhoc compound for refugees in Saida, Lebanon. Lebanon hosts more than 1,011,366 Syrian refugees*, with limited official camp management regulations.



Young "Rouya" posing for our camera, at the Harran Camp, Şanlıurfa, Turkey. "She likes taking photos" told us her mother. Turkey hosts 2,992,567 Syrian refugee, registered with UNHCR. 



While in Jordan, 660,785 Syrian refugees are registered with UNHCR, and teenagers aged 12 to 17 constitute 13.5%.



Learning, Working and Singing!


"There is a pleasure in sharing creative moments with the children that come through here" says Khawla Omar Mekhlef, who's an Arabic language teachear the IMPR Urfa Community Center (Şanlıurfa, Turkey) while teaching young Syrians how to prevent bullying. Khawla is herself a refugee.



“I love to paint, my teacher always says that I am good at it” tells us Youssef Kashaam, 11 years old at the Art and Peace center, Gaziantep, Turkey.



And in Saida, Lebanon, Lebanese cook together with Syrian and Palestinian refugees, revisiting recipes and opening the doors of a touristic restaurant in the portal city, Tawlet.



Sana Suleiman, another resilient refugee in Turkey, explained to us how she joined her husband in winning bread by learning and working in sewing. She's also looking forward to build more capacities by learning Turkish language. "My husband and I urgently need to work, but in order to work we need to learn Turkish and that takes a long time” (IMPR Urfa Community Center, Şanlıurfa, Turkey).



Nothing can stop young Syrians from integrating and showcasing their talents! Tali Julak, the 12 years old in the center of the below photo has not only joined a Turksih/Syrian choir, but also dreams of fame. “I want to become good as Beethoven was in playing the Piano” (The Art and Peace center, Gaziantep, Turkey).



Returning Home


All of these stories and more, much more, are ones of individuals making the best of their refugee status. Individuals fighting everyday for dignity and respect. A common wish that the young and old had shared with us, is the wish of returning home. 79 y.o. Abd Allah Mahmoud Kasem wisely smiled to our camera, telling us: “I have spent 5 years in this camp, we are free to move and live in decent conditions but the best would be for us to go back to Syria” (Harran Camp, Şanlıurfa, Turkey).


Jun 12, 2017 / 0 Comments
Tags: / / / / / / / / / / /

Les espoirs que nous plaçons depuis longtemps dans les immenses ressources dont font preuve les jeunes femmes du monde arabe en termes de volonté, d’ingéniosité et de résilience ont une nouvelle fois été justifiés. Au Caire, Yara Yassin et Rania Rafie sont de véritables actrices du changement. Ces deux jeunes femmes travaillent avec des artisans locaux pour transformer les sacs plastiques en articles de mode d’excellente qualité qui se vendent dans le monde entier.


Continuez à lire cet article sur le site de la banque mondiale, ici.

May 03, 2017 / 0 Comments
Tags: / / / /
Humans of New York

Exactly a year ago, families from across Europe and the Middle East gathered in the heart of Paris to make a stand against violent extremism. Fathers of terrorism victims sat next to mothers of jihadists at the conference organised by Families Against Terrorism and Extremism (FATE). When Karolina Dam, a Denmark-based mother, started speaking about losing her son to Daesh, the simultaneous French interpretation suddenly stopped. Initially it was assumed a technical problem had occurred, but then the interpreter stepped out of his booth, tears running down his face.


The power of family members to deter their loved ones from engaging in terrorism cannot be overstated. For too long, families have been left to the way side as policy and security officials grapple at the issue alone. This must change. The family unit can play both a positive and, indeed, negative influence in relation to violent extremism and must now be at the forefront of discussions. Families are often demonised and victimised - seen as both part of the radicalisation problem, but also as victims of terrorism. Their potential to make a vital contribution in resolving some of today’s most pressing security challenges remains vastly underexplored. Proximity, Prestige and Passion are the three P’s that may, in fact, position families better than any other stakeholders to counter violent extremism.


Proximity to individuals vulnerable to recruitment into violent extremist networks is key to terrorism prevention efforts. Especially within the MENA region, where family bonds are critical, parents and siblings of at-risk-youth can help to identify and disrupt radicalisation processes. A study of young people’s attitudes towards violent extremism in the West Bank found that family influence was even more important than peer guidance. Research also shows that religiously inspired self-starters  often exhibited ‘leakage’ to family members, either in expressing extremist views or in sharing their plans to engage in an act of terror.


The prestige that family members enjoy as intervention providers and counter-messengers puts them in a better position to prevent violent extremism than governments. Policymakers are frequently viewed with suspicion or lack contextual understanding. Military- and law-heavy responses to terrorism threats have undermined their credibility to engage in soft-end prevention efforts. Some countries additionally have ‘competing national security priorities’, and so the onus falls to civil society. The family, as the smallest unit of civil society, can benefit from its members’ roles as educators, role models, protectors and authorities to complement the role of the state in countering violent extremism.


As families are directly concerned by the consequences of violent extremism, they also have the passion that many other stakeholders lack. Policy makers, security forces and professional frontline workers can only respond to radicalisation with logic. Family members are uniquely placed to communicate emotionally to protect their loved ones from the social harms of extremism, and the security threats of terrorism. Their messages are visceral and intuitive, their voices credible and compassionate and their networks organic and self-sustaining. As a result their efforts tend to be more effective in the long run.


Parents are in an excellent position to provide education, guidance and counter-speech that resonate with their children, whilst humanising the impact that engaging in terrorism can have. While civil society empowerment initiatives have traditionally targeted mothers, our research in North Africa suggests that different family members can play different roles in prevention, intervention and deradicalisation efforts. Our focus groups with Moroccan and Tunisian family members stressed that mothers are best placed to act as safeguarders and intervention providers thanks to their intimate, regular contact with their children and their sensitivity and intuition to changes in behaviour. Fathers, often respected as the head of the family, may be able to positively shape youth behaviour and act as role models. Siblings, on the other hand, are excellent peer-to-peer counter-speech agents. Their closeness in age, shared interests and knowledge of social media equips them well to engage in counter-speech. In particular, older siblings can play a vital role as they are often idolised by younger offspring.


The notion that families can be frontline practitioners against violent extremism can be a daunting one for those involved, and so training is essential. Most of our survey respondents confirmed the need for more training to fill the gaps in their knowledge about radicalisation processes and extremism dynamics. To fully exploit the potential of family-led approaches, we will need to provide them with the tools, courage and motivation to safeguard their sons, daughters and siblings from being lured into violent extremist networks. Furthermore, building bridges between governments, civil society organisations and families will also be necessary. Once empowered, families can counter violent extremism with non-violent means and challenge hatred with compassion. Maybe they can even fill the gaps where intelligence and security forces are powerless.


Apr 18, 2017 / 0 Comments
Tags: / / /

Ils sont originaires des quatre coins de la Syrie, dirigent des entreprises diverses et sont disséminés à travers le monde. Ils représentent toutes les sensibilités politiques de leur pays et sont de tous âges. Qu’en ont-ils en commun ? Ce sont essentiellement des dirigeants ou créateurs d’entreprise issus de la diaspora syrienne.


Depuis 2011, date à laquelle le conflit syrien a éclaté, ils s’emploient à créer des opportunités en faveur de leurs compatriotes réfugiés, en réinvestissant dans les pays qui les accueillent et dans les entreprises qu’ils possèdent dans ces territoires. C’est-à-dire en Jordanie, en Turquie, au Liban et en Égypte, mais aussi dans les pays du Golfe et en Europe.


Près de six ans après le début du conflit, ces membres de la diaspora syrienne se sont réunis (a) pour la première fois, en Allemagne, fin février 2017. Une rencontre placée sous le signe de l’enthousiasme et de la motivation, et rythmée par les applaudissements et les friandises orientales confectionnées par des réfugiées syriennes dans un magasin syrien de Jordanie. Comme l’a lancé l’un des participants à l’auditoire, ils se sont rendus à ce forum parce qu’ils étaient « en quête d’espoir ». « C’est un moment important pour nous. Pour la première fois, nous sommes en mesure d’agir », a salué un autre participant.


C’est ainsi qu’a été créée la Syrian International Business Association ou SIBA.


Ce jour-là, tous ont décidé d’unir leurs forces pour améliorer à court terme les perspectives économiques des réfugiés syriens. À court terme, ils entendent jouer un rôle dans la reconstruction de la Syrie, une fois la guerre terminée.


« Nous pensons cette organisation de manière à la pérenniser, nous en sommes très fiers », a déclaré le rapporteur d’un groupe de travail qui a réfléchi à l’organigramme de la SIBA. « Oui, nous voulons porter une voix forte afin de travailler ensemble pour la Syrie », a ajouté un autre collaborateur.


Force est de constater que les diasporas prennent souvent les devants lorsqu’il s’agit de relancer une économie ou de prendre part à la reconstruction d’un pays en pleine crise ou au sortir d’un conflit. Comme en témoignent les exemples du Népal, de la Palestine, d’Haïti et du Rwanda.


Une fois la paix rétablie, leur aide prend diverses formes : envois de fonds, transferts de compétences, investissement direct étranger, entrepreneuriat, tourisme patrimonial, commerce d’objets jouant sur la fibre nostalgique (artisanat), philanthropie, bénévolat et défense des intérêts des populations concernées. « Pour [les membres de la] diaspora, la motivation va de soi, et ils savent ce qui fait défaut », explique Gervais Appave, conseiller spécial auprès du directeur général de l’Organisation internationale pour les migrations. 


L’association va promouvoir et représenter les milieux d’affaires syriens dans le monde. 


La création de la SIBA n’est qu’un premier jalon. L’association va promouvoir et représenter les milieux d’affaires syriens dans le monde. Outre l’élargissement de son réseau et des activités de suivi, elle se donne cinq priorités :


  • éliminer les obstacles réglementaires (climat de l’investissement, mobilité, commerce et législation du travail) ;
  • promouvoir l’autonomisation des jeunes, l’égalité hommes-femmes et l’éducation (inclusion sociale, éducation primaire et secondaire, formation professionnelle, programmes de promotion de la femme) ;
  • accroître les possibilités d’investissement et rapprocher les investisseurs et les entreprises (identifier les secteurs et les marchés) ;
  • résoudre les difficultés liées au secteur financier (accès au financement, opérations de change et transactions monétaires) ;
  • systématiser les liens étroits entre milieux d’affaires et philanthropes.


Ces priorités font écho aux conclusions tirées de consultations menées par le Groupe de la Banque mondiale dans treize villes de dix pays pour identifier les facteurs qui incitent la diaspora à s’impliquer dans le développement et ceux qui freinent cet engagement. « Les pays d’accueil comme les réfugiés ont tout à gagner de cette coopération étroite », résume John Speakman, qui a mené les consultations pour la Banque.


Le Groupe de la Banque mondiale et le Centre de Marseille pour l’intégration en Méditerranée s’attacheront à faciliter le dialogue de la SIBA avec les responsables publics en matière de réglementation du travail, de climat des affaires, d’échanges commerciaux et d’investissement, en particulier dans le cadre des zones économiques spéciales mises en place dans les pays accueillant de larges contingents de réfugiés syriens. Cette démarche s’inscrira dans le Programme de la Banque mondiale pour la promotion de l’emploi en faveur de la population jordanienne et des réfugiés syriens.


« La Jordanie a déjà réussi à attirer 240 millions de dollars d’investissement syriens », souligne Mukhallad Omari, secrétaire général de la Commission d’investissement de Jordanie. « C’est la raison d’être de cette commission : servir de guichet unique à tout investisseur. »


L’exemple jordanien pourrait servir de modèle aux autres pays de la région qui accueillent des réfugiés syriens.


« Nous sommes disposés à tout mettre en œuvre pour soutenir l’investissement syrien, l’économie jordanienne et nos compatriotes », a conclu Yarub Al Qudah, ministre jordanien de l’Industrie, du Commerce et des Approvisionnements.


Apr 10, 2017 / 0 Comments
Tags: / / / / / / / /

Over the past six years, at least half of Syria’s 30,000 physicians—perhaps more, no one knows for sure—have fled the country. Like other Syrian refugees, they have gone wherever they can: Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Europe, and, in much smaller numbers, Canada and the United States.


Continue reading this article on The Brookings website 

Apr 03, 2017 / 0 Comments
Tags: / / / / / / / / /

The year 2016 saw a spate of global terrorist attacks in United States, Ivory Coast, Belgium, France, Pakistan, Turkey and Nigeria, which has led to an increased focus on ways to combat terrorism and specifically, the threat of Daesh (Arabic acronym for ISIS, Islamic State of Iraq and Syria).


Continue reading this article on The Brookings website 


Mar 29, 2017 / 0 Comments
Tags: / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / /

For the World Water Day, the CIHEAM supported and participated to the event “Youth Innovating with Wastewater for a Sustainable Mediterranean” organised in Marseilles by the Center for Mediterranean Integration (CMI), the World Bank and Switch-Med, and in presence of the Global Water Partnership Mediterranean, the World Youth Parliament for Water and WAMDA.



Continue reading this article on CIHEAM website