Rationale

Due to the historical interconnectedness of the peoples of the region; And due to the current waves of global, regional, and local political changes and geostrategic shifts; And as a result of the challenges ahead that need to be addressed to achieve peace, stability and prosperity; The Sharq Forum was established.

Vision and Mission

The Sharq Forum is an independent international network whose mission is to develop long-term strategies to ensure the political development, social justice and economic prosperity of the people of Al-Sharq. It will do this through promoting the ideals of democratic participation, an informed citizenry, multi-stakeholder dialogue and social justice.

Through bringing together politicians, social activists, intellectuals, religious leaders, youth leaders, businessmen and entrepreneurs, the Forum will serve as a rallying point to exchange ideas, foster expertise, develop agendas and build consensus amongst members. It will also serve as a bridge between its stakeholders and the international community.

The Forum aims to reflect the historical consciousness of the people within the region – the Arab world and the wider Middle East. This region has been undergoing a century long process of transformation that has been marked by trauma and upheaval. The Sharq Forum will chart possible scenarios and responses to this change, based on common values and the aspirations of its people.

As the region is interconnected, the Forum will facilitate dialogue between its members and amongst the constituent nations and peoples of the region. Recognising that these stakeholders share a common historical and cultural heritage, the Forum seeks to identify and serve the mutual and interconnected strategic, economic and intellectual interests of these nations.

From this broad and over-arching vision, it is hoped that a number of specialised sub-forums will emerge dedicated to various sectors of relevance including but not exclusive to youth, business and intellectual endeavour.

Membership

Membership to the Forum will be open to the political forces, intellectual vanguard, social and youth movements, civil society organizations, entrepreneurs and journalists in the region.

Organisation

The Sharq Forum is an international non-profit organisation. It is strictly non-partisan and does not serve or represent any particular ideological, ethnic or sectarian agenda.

The structure of the Forum will be drawn in a manner that is conducive to achieving the vision, mission and overall objectives thereof.

Forum Activities

This century has witnessed seismic change throughout the broader Middle East. Not since the immediate post-colonial era has the opportunity for new and enlightened forms of governance been within grasp of societies from North Africa to South Asia.

Leadership in Ideas: The aspirations of the public through the Arab Spring – their call for freedom from tyranny, the right to participate in public life and equality before the law – have by no means been met. The next phase involves ensuring that the initial democratic gains are solidified and built upon. Alongside political reform, concerted effort must be made to bring about economic, societal and technological transformations.

The Forum will convene working groups, seminars and publish position papers addressing issues of concern to and impact upon the region, the people and the dynamics.

Capacity Building: A major challenge facing the region is the transition that many opposition movements face in making the transition from working outside the political system, to full participation within the nascent democratic structures they are building.

The Forum will bring established and emerging leaders together to share experiences and build capacity. This will be conducted alongside a programme that fosters understanding these newly emerging social and political actors and their political agenda, while also enabling these groups build capacity through training and mentorship.

Regional dialogue: Through increased dialogue the Forum aims to foster regional co-operation on political, economic and cultural projects while shunning sectarian and exclusionist tendencies.

Global Outlook: While the Forum will focus its activities regionally, it has a global agenda given the interconnected nature of the world as well as the significant international interests in the region. The Forum will serve as an interlocutor between the region and those with an interest in it.