YaLa Academy Peace Institute in Honor of Nelson Mandela final project: Imagine what the MENA region would look like in 10 years, if peace was established today? How did it happen? What practices and institutions were put into place in order to establish this peace? Remember to draw on the skills we’ve learned from our lecturers throughout the semester. You can write a blog, make a video, write a song, create an infographic… Feel free to get creative!
By Rachid Gareh, Morocco
The term MENA is an English-language acronym referring to the Middle East and North Africa region. The term MENA covers an extensive region, extending from Morocco to Iran, including all Middle Eastern, Mashriq, and Maghreb countries. The term is roughly synonymous with the term “Greater Middle East.” The population of the MENA region is considered to be around 381 million people at least – about 6% of the world’s total population. The MENA acronym is often used in academia, military planning, disaster relief, and business writing.1
In this special region of the world, known already for its rich resources, such as petroleum and oil, we find a special atmosphere that is longing for peace and good living conditions. This atmosphere was the reason for the birth of Arab Spring in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, and Yemen. The citizens were and still are combating poor life conditions and dictatorships of their ex-presidents. As we can see in those countries, today they have new governments and presidents, and they are waiting for a miracle to happen to make this region and the lives of the citizens better, even exemplary. Huge changes have happened in the last 5 years, which will surely influence the future of the region in different ways.
We learned a lot from the YaLa Academy Peace Institute in Honor of Nelson Mandela course this year, and were inspired by the beautiful and inspirational experiences of the lectures from many countries, where they had the power to help make peace in their countries. We talked about African and Eastern European countries, and the Israeli-Palestinian case too. Peace is the key to creating a better life, it is an essential tool and a hugely important part of building good governance and a good state where people can live. Not only that, but they can live their dreams and achieve their goals. Countries in conflict face far higher levels of malnourishment, educational deficits, child mortality, single female-headed households with young children, as well as lack of basic day-to-day needs, bad health care, and an overall feeling of insecurity. An example of this can be seen today in some countries of the MENA region after Arab Spring.
“Peace is a daily, a weekly, a monthly process, gradually changing opinions, slowly eroding old barriers, quietly building new structures.” ~ John F. Kennedy.
My vision of peace is to build, today in the MENA region, a beautiful region, where people will live comfortably because of the resources the governments in the region provide. The MENA Region is a strategic geographical zone, which is rich in diversity of religions, cultures, weather, and history. In terms of economics in the region, if peace is established, we will have a very strong partnership of exchange, which is will be more effective than the EU model due to the various resources we have, in areas including nutrition, textiles, fish, phosphate, oil, etc.
In the terms of culture, we have a variety of cultures – between Amazigh’s, Arabs, Christians, Jews, and Muslims. If peace is established, a very beautiful harmony will be born. It will open a space for culture exchanges and development, which is an important tool in peace building.
In order to achieve these results, we need to first establish a plan of action, which will be already based on essential and basic points and conditions. This is the bridge we need today in the MENA Region – we have to hear each other, and to work together to bring bright solutions that will make the lives of millions of people better.
Drawing on what we saw throughout the course this semester, the best tool was hearing each other’s problems and points of view. With the intervention of great people like us at the YaLa Academy, the future leaders that want to see the world better one day. They had the courage and the magic to make this happen in their countries, like The Iron Ladies of Liberia for example.
We also need to create special organizations and departments that will take on these cases with good intention. Like I said in one of the online discussions, in my country of Morocco, for example, the organization called “Instance equity et reconciliation” is the name of a Moroccan organization set up on 12 April 2004 by King Mohammed VI. The aim of this commission is to reconcile the Moroccan people with their past, during the years of leadership under the reign of King Hassan II. It’s a true example of the good governance on the MENA Region. The creation of this organization is a step towards building the bridge to new destiny and to reestablish the links between the people and the King.
In conclusion, I want to make some final points and to restate my vision for creating peace among people in the MENA Region:
Assalamu Alaykoum – Shalom – Peace.
To learn more about the YaLa Peace Institute in Honor of Nelson Mandela, click here.
To view more final projects, click here.