On February 15, 2009, His Excellency Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr Al-Thani, Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the State of Qatar, convened the inaugural Brookings Doha Center International Advisory Council meeting in Doha, Qatar. The Prime Minister serves as the Co-Chair of the Brookings Doha Center (BDC) International Advisory Council (IAC), together with Brookings President Strobe Talbott. The Prime Minister had inaugurated the Brookings Doha Center one year earlier in February 2008.
Carlos Pascual, Brookings Vice President for Foreign Policy Studies represented Strobe Talbott at this meeting.
Council members who attended the meeting included Madeleine Albright, 64th Secretary of State of the United States and Principal of the Albright Group LLC; Pervez Hoodbhoy, Professor of nuclear physics at Quaid-i-Azam University in Islamabad; Rami G. Khouri, Director of the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs at the American University of Beirut and Editor-at-Large and Former Executive Editor of the Daily Star; Atta-ur-Rahman, Federal Minister and Chairman of the Higher Education Commission in Pakistan; and Ismail Serageldin, Director of the Library of Alexandria.
Also present were H.E. Abdullah Eid Salman Al-Sulaiti, Acting Director of the Office of the Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs; H.E. Mohammed bin Abdullah Al-Rumaihi, Assistant Foreign Minister for Follow Up Affairs; Martin Indyk, Director of the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at Brookings; Hady Amr, Director of the Brookings Doha Center; and Shibley Telhami, Senior Nonresident Fellow at the Saban Center.
His Excellency Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim began the meeting by welcoming the IAC members. He was followed by Martin Indyk, who provided the overall context of the role of the Brookings Doha Center in the region and Hady Amr, who presented the specific mission of the BDC:
The Brookings Doha Center, a Project of the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution, undertakes independent, policy-oriented research on the socioeconomic and geopolitical issues facing Muslim-majority states and communities, including relations with the United States. The center is intended to be a hub for Brookings scholarship in the Arab and Muslim world, encouraging increased dialogue between policy makers and analysts from the United States and the Muslim world and promoting lasting partnerships among scholars and civil society members.
Hady Amr explained that the center’s research and programming falls under 3 main categories:
Amr further illustrated some of the topics that the center will be working on under these three categories:
A vibrant discussion followed, during which all International Advisory Council members offered comments on the Brookings Doha Center agenda and guidance on how to enhance it. Feedback included:
The meeting was followed by a private dinner hosted by His Excellency the Prime Minister. The dinner included a more informal discussion of wide ranging issues on Middle East politics and U.S. relations with the region.
Moving forward, the BDC plans to concentrate on its key areas of Governance, Human Development and International Affairs/Security. Through video-conferencing, the center will provide insights to the Washington policy community on the thoughts and feelings from the region and also provide the policy community in Doha with insights into the policy process in Washington. Finally, the Brookings Doha Center plans to build on its convening power to bring together thought-leaders for track-2-style discussions on key policy issues that affect relations between the United States and the Muslim World.
The next IAC meeting is planned to take place on the margins of the next annual U.S.-Islamic World Forum, in February 2010.