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The East-West: The Art of Dialogue

posted on: Apr 22, 2020

The East-West: The Art of Dialogue

Shafik Gabr had a dream to build bridges of understanding between East and West. This dream came true in 2012.

Gabr created an international program to achieve his dream, “The East-West: The Art of Dialogue.” He is giving an opportunity for young emerging leaders, like you, to build bridges between the East and the West; specifically between Egypt and the United States.

It is a prestigious fully-funded 2020 Shafic Gabr Fellowship program.

The aim of the program is to promote greater mutual understanding by building bridges between emerging leaders from Egypt and the U.S., by instigating dialogue and the exchange of ideas between these two cultures. Established in 2012, in response to the increasing tensions building between the East and West, the Foundation sponsors and fosters exchanges between emerging leaders in arts, education, science, technology, law, media, and entrepreneurship–both business and social.

The East-West: The Art of Dialogue
Painting from M. Shafik Gabr’s orientalist art collection.

The image above is titled, “A Stree Scene, Damascus” and it was created by Gustav Bauernfeind; a German painter who lived from 1848-1904 bc. Bauernfeind’s work is mainly characterized by architectural paintings with Palestinian themes and his paintings pay close attention to detail. They are meticulous to the point where they are almost photographic depictions of the cityscapes, famous shrines, and other subjects he chose to immortalize through his majestic work.

It was orientalist art that inspired Mr. Gabr to start his Foundation. He came across orientalist art by sheer accident during a visit to a Paris gallery in 1990 and he was very impressed with what he saw. The journey these painters underwent to arrive in Africa and the Middle East without prior knowledge of what they would find intrigued him. He started the foundation to bring young emerging leaders from the East and the West to work together and get to know each other so they could talk to each other, instead of at each other, and understand each other’s traditions and values.

Each year, the Gabr Fellowship consists of at least twenty-two Fellows, with ten Americans and ten Egyptians, of which half are men and the other half women. Increasingly we have expanded each year beyond the two core countries, to the United Kingdom, France, Lebanon, Jordan, and Bahrain, and are on the trajectory to expand candidacy for more Western and Arab world countries. The exchange program consists of travel in Egypt (including Cairo, Alexandria, Ismailia, and Luxor) and in the US (New York, New Jersey, Atlanta, and DC).

Through seminars, working groups, discussions, and workshops, the participants build leadership skills and an understanding of the ‘other’, while immersing themselves in complex policy matters and familiarizing themselves with the processes they are embedded in. This, along with various social events, cultural visits, and activities, provides participants with an intimate glimpse into life on the other side of the Atlantic, something that we here at the Foundation believe is essential in developing the young leaders of tomorrow, who, as a result, will be dedicated to pursuing united, innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges.

After several weeks of travel in Egypt and the US including an intensive program consisting of high-level meetings and constant face-to-face dialogue with peers and distinguished speakers specialized in the fields of business and politics, art and culture, media and technology, religion and philosophy, the Fellows conclude the program with collaborative projects that take into account their new and expanded global views. After their ‘East-West: Art of Dialogue’ experience, the Fellows as a unified force are better informed to effect positive social change in East and West communities.

The focus of these action projects is a direct impact, whether that is on a grass-root level effort or on a national level. Thus they are accomplishing what national governments and international corporations often attempt but fail to do: they are closing the divide between regions, creating workable, sustainable model programs, improving their societies, and stemming from the erosion of public understanding.

The deadline to apply is April 30. Applicants must be between the ages of 23-35, and be citizens of the U.S., the U.K., Egypt, France, Lebanon, Jordan, or Bahrain. The Egypt portion of the Fellowship program will take place from August 28 through September 6, 2020. The United States portion of the Fellowship program will take place from September 19 through September 30, 2020.

The application is here:



Compiled by Arab America


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