Citizen participation in the Middle East

Facilitating dialogue between stakeholders and empowering citizens to have their say in decision-making processes is a key mission for Prospex Institute. On 18 February 2018, we invited Mr Dirk Tieleman, Belgian journalist specialised in the Middle East, for a public talk about his experience in the region and recent evolutions regarding citizens’ participation in civic life.

In an informal setting, Mr Tieleman briefly presented his understanding of the contemporary history of the region based on his own experience as a journalist, to set the basis for an informed discussion on the contrasted situation in the area and the role of citizen engagement in future socio-political developments of the region. The talk was then followed by a session of questions where participants reflected on the state of peacebuilding and democracy in the Middle-East.

Among the many questions that came up, the participants tried to understand the reasons that had led citizens to the streets during the Arab spring in 2011. Participants also attempted to put the regional unrest in context, discussing the role of European countries in the crisis. Finally, the discussion focused on how citizens’ participation could transform the political and social landscape in the coming years.