Now in its sixth year, the Project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World and the Government of Qatar’s U.S.-Islamic World Forum has become the foremost meeting for positive cross-cultural engagement among leaders from the United States and the Muslim world. The forum is designed to bring together key leaders in the worlds of politics, business, media, academia, and civil society from across the Muslim world – including Muslim communities in Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Middle East – and the United States.
Such institutionalized dialogue between leaders and opinion-shapers is an urgent necessity, in order to help prevent a fault line from forming between the West and the Muslim world. The forum is also designed to serve as both a convening body and catalyst for positive action. Its focus is on a dialogue that leads to the development of actionable programs for government, civil society, and the private sector.
The 2009 forum was held on February 14-16 in Doha, Qatar, featuring the theme, “Common Challenges.” The forum boasted a thought-provoking and in-depth agenda strengthened by an excellent cadre of speakers and participants from over 30 countries around the world, including: Abdullah Bin Hamad Al Attiyah, deputy prime minister and minister of energy of Qatar; David Petraeus, commander of the U.S. Central Command; Barham Salih, deputy prime minister of Iraq; Madeleine Albright, former U.S. secretary of state; Anwar Ibrahim, former deputy prime minister of Malaysia and leader of the opposition; Hala Lattouf, minister of social development of Jordan; Keith Ellison (DFL, MN-5) and Brian Baird (D, WA-3); David Rubenstein, co-founder of the Carlyle Group; Ismail Serageldin, director of the Library of Alexandria; Thomas Fingar, former chairman of the National Intelligence Council; Aitzaz Ahsan, president of the Pakistani Supreme Court Bar Association; and many more.
The forum provides the foundation for a range of complementary activities designed to enhance the effectiveness of the dialogue. These include the assembling of task forces of policymakers and experts, and associated outreach, research, and publications. Collaborative media, education, and youth-centered programs help expand its impact.
Three task forces were convened during the forum, each focusing on different topics, including governance, security, and human devlopment. The conveners worked with members of their task forces to come up with a list of recommendations to confront issues identified prior to the forum, which were then published as papers:
Oil, Globalization, and Political Reform
Shibley Telhami, Nonresident Senior Fellow, Foreign Policy, Saban Center for Middle East Policy
Benjamin Smith, Associate Professor and Associate Chair, Department of Political Science, University of Florida
Michael Ross, Associate Professor of Political Science, UCLA
Steven Heydemann, Vice President of the Grants and Fellowships Program and Special Adviser to the Muslim World Initiative, United States Institute for Peace
Global Trends and Security in the Muslim World: Dilemmas for U.S. and Regional Policy
Stephen R. Grand, Director, U.S. Relations with the Islamic World
Tamara Cofman Wittes, Director, Middle East Democracy and Development Project
Thomas Fingar, Payne Distinguished Lecturer, Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, Stanford University
Jamal al Suwaidi, Director General, Emirates Center for Strategic Studies and Research, UAE
Displacement in the Muslim World
Hady Amr, Director, Brookings Doha Center
Elizabeth Ferris, Co-Director, Brookings-Bern Project on Internal Displacement