19 December 2006
Public Diplomacy for Middle Eastern & MEPI Affairs
U.S. Agency for International Development
Highlights of 2006
In the third year of formal Middle East outreach efforts by USAID’s Bureau for Legislative and Public Affairs, significant highlights of the year include:
The year started with office director Walid Maalouf by participating in and speaking at several outreach activities in California - including visits to the Muslim Community Association in Santa Clara; the Assyrian Aid Society in Turlock, where more than 600 Iraqi Americans were in attendance; the Lebanese Information Center in San Francisco; the Council on American Islamic Relations in Anaheim; the Assyrian American Association of Southern California; the Egyptian American community in Los Angeles; and the International Conference for the Lebanese Students of the World in Los Angeles. He also spoke to members of DC Lebanese American Professionals (DCLAP) in Arlington, Virginia. Several local media outlets covered the events and interviewed him regarding issues related to the broader Middle East.
We participated in major university conferences such as the 1st International Conference on Technology Development in Lebanon held at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and also spoke at the University of California at Los Angeles’ Center for Near Eastern Studies about U.S. foreign assistance and public diplomacy in the broader Middle East and North Africa.
We hosted the first leadership assembly of Middle Eastern American officials at USAID and the Department of State. We also hosted briefings and provided updates to the Lebanese American community on US foreign assistance after the July 12th war between Hezbollah and Israel.
During June Maalouf visited two Middle East countries:
– Egypt: In Alexandria, he visited the Egyptian Children’s Center, which had previously received a grant from MEPI to help children in Alexandria improve and excel academically. He attended a presentation at the Alexandria Business Association on USAID’s microenterprise program and met with members of the religious, academic, judicial, media and NGO communities at the American Center where he also made a presentation titled “An Arab American's Experience Bridging the Gap between Arabs and Americans”. In Cairo he had an open discussion with students at the American University. Additionally, Maalouf visited the facilities of USAID partners in the Agency’s micro-economic Poverty Lending Program and also addressed over 50 senior Egyptian decision-makers, editors and NGO leaders at the Ahram Regional Center.
– Lebanon: With the USAID/Lebanon mission director we visited top religious leaders of the country to inform them of USAID’s efforts in the broader Middle East and North Africa and also went on to visit four municipalities. The trip concluded with two speeches: “U.S. Foreign Assistance – The Challenges,” held at the Lebanese American University, Byblos campus, and “My American Experience – A Land of Equal Opportunity” at Notre Dame University, in Louezi.
In November Maalouf initiated and spearheaded the Lebanese American Renaissance Partnership conference in Beirut, following President George W. Bush’s call to help Lebanon after the July war. This partnership was among sixty Lebanese American entrepreneurs and community leaders who have joined to support the sovereignty of Lebanon in its reconstruction efforts, and to establish a link between Lebanese entrepreneurs and their immigrant counterparts in the United States.
It has been a successful year and USAID’s office of Public Diplomacy for Middle Eastern and MEPI Affairs hopes to continue make a difference by expanding support for the efforts of President Bush, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Director of U.S. Foreign Assistance Ambassador Randall L. Tobias.
We wish you happy holidays and great New Year.
Office of Public Diplomacy
Middle Eastern & MEPI Affairs
US Agency for International Development
1300 Pennsylvania Avenue NW Washington, DC 20523
Phone (202) 712-5161
Fax (202) 216-3237