Memorandum submitted by the British Council
THE SITUATION IN THE MIDDLE EAST
The memorandum draws the Committee's attention
to factors in the accessibility of educational and social opportunity
for young people and the area of cross-cultural understanding
which have a bearing on the issues addressed by the Inquiry (Global
Security in the Middle East).
Over the next three years, the British Council
will increase its work in the region, in particular in the areas
of expanding educational opportunity, fostering social development
and improving inter-cultural understanding and trust.
We will give priority to developing leadership
through community-based youth programmes; developing skills through
schools-based programmes, and developing partnerships with media
organisations for reporting on social issues. We will reach beyond
traditional elites to the broader mainstream of younger people.
Despite the evident lack of trust in the UK,
there is nevertheless a growing interest, particularly in UK,
in Arabic and Islamic culture, and a growing demand by sections
pf UK society for greater interchange on Arabic and Islamic culture,
and the fostering of a more equitable dialogue and improving mutual
The obvious locus of insecurity in the region
lies with the conflicts in Iraq, Palestine/Israel, Afghanistan
and Lebanon and with the national interests of the Western and
regional powers. However, behind the geo-political drivers of
current events lie the lives of ordinary people and professionals
whose views and actions moderate the policies of national leaderships
and who can either condone or exacerbate extremism within their
societies or oppose or resist it. Long-term security therefore
lies with the views and attitudes of citizens in both the region
and the West. These views and attitudes, as everywhere, are heavily
influenced by the availability of personal opportunity and quality
of life and by underlying perceptions of the motives and values
of the "other". At present, both these are challenged.
In particular, the common view in the region is that Western foreign
policy is driven by double-standards and therefore the traditional
role of honest broker no longer applies. For these reasons, the
UK's educational and cultural relationship with the region bears
directly on long term global security.
There are significant challenges. Over 70% of
the population of the region is under 30 and youth unemployment
and under-employment is high. There is a growing gap between rich
and poor with considerable disparities in wealth between rural
and urban areas. While economies are growing, access to opportunity
tends to be limited to social elites.
In the region as a whole 8 million children
do not attend primary school while 27% of adults are illiterate.
There are serious gaps between boys and girls in the education
system, and higher education is a rare privilege. At the same
time, developments in technology have led to a proliferation of
TV and radio broadcasters, there has been a rapid growth in internet
access in urban areas and e-communications are driving investment
An attitudinal survey of young people carried
out by the British Council in the Near East (Egypt, Palestinian
Territories, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon) shows distinct variations
in aspiration between those of low/middle income who aspire to
financial security, a sense of identity and stability and those
of middle/high incomes who, while equally valuing social and family
stability, aspire to self development and career progression.
The former tend towards local media, while the latter to regional
and international media. The former tend to travel little and
value mutuality in engagement; the latter tend to aspire to engage
in international networks and value leisure and recreation; they
are driving the current growth of blogging, pod casting and online
Evidence suggests that societies are polarising
on faith lines. There is an overall growth of conservative religious
practice and in many countries also greater support for political
Islam with an increased influence of radical Islamic opposition
parties, legal or illegal. There is increasing discontent within
more secular sections of society in reaction to this and a growing
separation in political outlook between secular and faith based
ideologies. Among secular groups there is a developing perception
that the West is not interested in the cause of building society
on citizenship principles.
Participation in society is generally increasing,
while at varying pace. Media freedoms are restricted in most countries,
and censorship of the internet occurs in some. There is a slow
increase in women's political participation but general support
among governments for campaigns to bring women into public life.
There is progress to develop and implement legislation to support
women's entry to the labour force although in general positive
indicators on women's representation in education are not yet
carried through to the labour market.
International human rights organisations are
frequently critical of the performance of governments in the region
in upholding human rights. There are growing immigrant populations
with limited rights and security in some countries (Syria, Jordan,
Egypt). In Jordan, refugees from Iraq are not formally registered
as refugees and therefore lack access to Jordanian education.
This context presents significant challenges
for young people in terms of fulfilling their aspirations for
economic and social security. British Council research in the
Near East shows that a high proportion of young people at all
levels of society are seeking greater access to education and
skills, including to English which has become critical to career
progression. They are also seeking avenues to contribute to their
communities and societies. A consequence of being unable to fulfil
these aspirations is dissociation from and dissatisfaction with
society or attraction to more radical ideology.
UK AND THE
In general, the UK has not until recently prioritised
building social, cultural and educational relationships with the
region to the same extent as other regions such as Europe, East
Asia, China and Russia. This is despite the UK's economic and
security interests in the region which have been present for some
time. To some extent this can be explained by challenges of language
and the "middle income status" of many countries. Recently
perceptions of the region have been affected negatively by media
coverage emphasising violence. On the other hand, in reaction
to events of the past four years, there is clear and growing interest
by sections of UK society to gain access to the region and greater
understanding of it.
This is particularly apparent within the arts
and the creative community who are showing interest in collaborative
projects and unpacking stereotypes through film, theatre, visual
arts, literature and music. This interest is matched by that of
the sector in the region which wishes to promote Arab and Islamic
culture in the UK and foster more equal dialogue and understanding.
There is a feeling amongst sector specialists
and art audiences in the region, both young and old, that Arab
culture is poorly represented, if not misrepresented in the West.
While historical links and francophone policies in the region
have lead to more representation of Arab culture in France and
some other francophone countries, this representation remains
limited in the UK. This is interpreted by people in the region
as lack of interest from the UK side in contemporary Arab life.
This is an unfortunate message as the reality in the UK is otherwise:
our work in the UK has shown that a huge interest in Arab culture
is starting to develop. This feeling of a culture being marginalised
by another, can lead to isolation, anger and protectionism towards
the other culture. Attempts to address this feeling are welcomed
and grasped especially by young people in the region.
Given the lack of individual freedoms in the
region, art is often seen as a tool for political and social expression
and many young people are turning to the arts. Artists and intellectuals
are figures that people look up to for opinions not only on their
specialised sectors, but on society as a whole. Arts and politics
are interlinked with most artists on the side of opposition groups.
Government sponsored artists exist and occupy positions in government
ministries, but they have not won credibility and respect among
wider audiences. The independent artists' opposition to government
does not necessarily make them supportive of the West. On the
contrary, most of them are critical of Western policies in the
The challenge of responding to interests in
UK culture and UK interest in Arab culture is considerable. Areas
of growing cultural engagement between young people include some
sub-sectors of the urban music scene, particularly in North Africa.
However, in general there are currently few opportunities for
young people in the UK and the region to meet, connect and communicate
and this is perpetuating a sense of difference and alienation.
Young musicians in the region surf the web and
try to find out about UK music. They are eager for more East/West
musical dialogue that would enable them to modernise Arabic music
and through it, their own identity and voice. They see benefit
from engaging with UK experience in using music a tool for self
expression and wish to open up UK publics to the wealth of Arabic
The picture is little better in the field of
literature, theatre and film. There is little literature from
the region available in translation in the UK and equally little
from the UK available in the region. What exists tends to be limited
to the classics. UK publishers are reticent to engage with the
regional market and regional publishers lack understanding and
skills necessary to engage with the UK. While UK publishers do
well in delivering contracts for the English school curriculum
in a number of countries, there is little further penetration
of the market.
Theatre is one of the art forms in the region
which is less subject to censorship and is becoming a platform
for expression for many young people, who are pushing the boundaries
on stage and addressing taboos of sex, religion and politics.
Exchange in theatre between the UK and the Arab world is limited
to showcasing British creativity in the region or to the few theatres
in the UK that run active international programmes. For example,
while Tunisian theatre, the most distinguished amongst Arab theatre
today, has found its way to the stages of France, it remains almost
unknown in Britain. Arab theatre practitioners are eager to make
their voice heard in the UK and young practitioners to develop
their skills through workshops and collaborations with UK artists.
Perhaps least exchange is happening in film,
although both the UK and the region have a very interesting film
scene and interest in both is considerable. The regional film
scene is vibrant in its challenging of social taboos and questioning
of many sensitive issues in contemporary life. New digital film
technology is making film-making accessible to young people who
are using it as a means of free self expression and experimentation.
There is also huge demand for more engagement
in education at all levels. Governments in the region seek support
in areas of education leadership, teacher development, curriculum
design, e-learning and ICT, quality assurance, work life skills
etc. They seek partnerships with UK education institutions, whether
schools, universities or colleges and access to UK systems, models
and practices. Capacity is a problem, and therefore they are keen
to exploit new options for provision such as private or distance
options or devising new methods of delivery.
There have been more links and contacts established
in education. In addition to the work of the British Council,
much of this has been through DFIDincluding the Higher
Education Links Programme. However, in the past three years, UK
bilateral development funding in the region has greatly decreased
with the exceptions of the Palestinian Territories, Yemen and
Iraq, the Higher Education Links programme has ended and UK support
is largely delivered through the EU. Opportunities for UK sector
engagement now lie through the programmes of the Euromed Partnership
and the World Bank.
While there remains a healthy interest from
UK universities for regional engagement, particularly in specialist
areas, UK schools are responding slowly to opportunities presented
by the British Council to link with schools in the region. Where
these links are occurring they have proved to be remarkably effective
in delivering both pedagogical and intercultural outcomes. Amongst
the most successful models for linking are those which use sport
or the arts as a medium for communication.
The region is a secondary rather than major
education market for the UK in terms of joint programmes, distance
learning, publishing or qualifications (aside from Egypt and Saudi
which have significant qualifications portfolios). However there
are significant opportunities for UK exporters in Libya, Egypt
and Jordan and countries in the Gulf which can be nurtured, and
they can capitalise on the growing interest from the business
community in learning and development opportunities for their
staff. There are growing numbers of students going to the UK from
the region as well as growth in transnational education. The Ministry
of Higher Education in Iraq has recently signalled that they will
be sending up to 400 Phd students a year to the UK and Saudi Arabia
sends around 4,000 students on undergraduate and post-graduate
programmes. In the Gulf in particular a number of UK universities
are establishing programmes and in some cases campuses.
The UK's strongest brand in the region is perhaps
"UK English" which stands out as an area where there
is an overriding perception that the UK offers the better language
model. This in turn enhances the reputation of UK education as
a whole. Offering access to English is often the most effective
way to open relationships with new partners.
All engagement is currently taking place within
the context of insecurity and conflict in Iraq, Lebanon and the
Palestinian Territories. Perceptions of the UK are heavily and
negatively influenced by UK foreign policy involvement and have
led to apprehension and scepticism on the part of some British
Council partners. There is a clear decrease in trust and understanding
between people in the region and the UK, even though a distinction
is usually made between UK foreign policy and wider UK society.
There is a general resistance towards Western
models of democracy and suspicion of the desire to "engage
with the Moslem World" especially within areas of governance
and social change. Equally, there appears to be some donor fatigue
around support aiming to promote "good governance",
democratisation and reform due both to the extent of impact, concerns
about possible dangers of legitimising radical Islamist groups
through elections and the suspicion in which the initiatives are
held by wider society.
Language and rhetoric such as "radicalisation",
"extremism" can be seen as reviving colonial approaches
and dividing the region on the basis of religious sects. The "Broader
Middle East" language comes under most criticism.
The media in the region also follows UK domestic
debate on issues of multiculturalism and the integration of Muslims
in the UK and has brought an impression that new legislation impacts
negatively on Muslims in UK.
The picture of perceptions of UK lifestyles,
ways of life and values is complex and varied. The UK is recognised
as having many areas of strength, eg luxury/elegance, democracy,
freedom, science and technology, fashion, movies, tourism, traditions/heritage,
modernity, sports (especially football), cars and education. However,
in almost every area, the UK is thought to be outperformed by
another country most notably the US.
For those who have not been to the UK before,
which is the majority, what they know is based on secondary sources
(media, word of mouth, etc). As such, many of their views are
stereotypical. There is, therefore, an opportunity to present
them with an alternative perspective, for instance in terms of
inventions in technology often attributed to the US but in fact
from the UK.
Whilst the picture of current contact and perceptions
and the scope of opportunity available to young people in the
region may appear gloomy, there are a number of effective avenues
for greater and more effective UK engagement and support.
The main opportunity is to respond to the ambitions
of young people for educational and social opportunity. The priority
is for the UK to work in partnership with governments within their
programmes of education development, providing young people with
skills for employment and contributing to economic growth and
social development. Equally important is to respond to the massive
demand for English as the portal for access to global competitiveness
and opportunity and to reach larger numbers of learners.
In the context of suspicion of recent Western
intervention it is vital that mutuality informs all initiatives
and programmes built around local agendas and models. This is
particularly true in areas of governance and social developmentthat
programmes are designed in partnership to meet needs and interests
of both parties and with openness to learning and exchange on
both sides. We should promote effective local models rather than
import our own. This does not imply that we should engage from
the position of a values-free arbitrator or broker of different
positions. In this tricky terrain we need to be clear about the
non-negotiable set of values which we believe can and should have
Freedom of expression under the rule
Freedom of academic inquiry based
on empirical evidence.
The right to democratic representation
and government by consent.
Freedom from persecution and the
right of minorities to participate fully in the wider societies
in which they live.
Freedom to engage in peaceful protest.
Freedom to pursue and realise quality
of life opportunities.
Within this context, the UK has considerable
opportunity to support young people and professionals, particularly
in civil society, to develop their skills and opportunities to
participate in public life, and to promote wider acceptance and
practice of the principles of EO, diversity and social inclusion.
It is vital though to reach beyond the traditional elite to the
mainstream of young people, in other words to the demand rather
than the supply side of social change and to engage through practical
programmes such as volunteering, leadership development or debating.
Finally, it is clear that a safer world can
only be built on increased understanding and improved levels of
trust. Here again, we need to reach out to the mainstream and
to those moderate voices and institutions who influence them.
Whilst we will work with relatively privileged young professionals,
aligned to current leadership, we will also link up with young
people through schools. Universities and youth clubs are an example
of a catchment area in society where we may be able to engage
"mainstream" young people effectively in a range of
A STRATEGY FOR
The response will require new partnerships with
organisations in the region including seminal institutions of
religious significance such as Al-Azhar University as well as
with the media both for wider influence and to address the question
of reporting on social issues. Organisations in the region are
open to such partnerships where there they perceive a genuine
interest in their contribution to a relationship between equals.
There are major skills gaps which will require
effort to develop capacity over generations. The interest in UK
experience as a world renowned education provider and leader in
educational reform at many levels is there.
2012 is the opportunity for a major initiative
in international youth dialogue which can reach beyond the obvious
to look at social issues and build leadership skills. Working
through sport and other creative areas can be a very powerful
way for young people who lack sufficient English to engage with
their UK counterparts.
In all areas, a long-term strategy is needed
to build trust and demonstrate commitment; trust cannot be created
instantly and "quick fixes" would engender distrust.
From the start, it is vital to bring together capacity building
with networking and exchange of ideas. Imagination is necessary
in using new media and in creative partnerships, including considerable
scope for partnership with the private sector. Large, ambitious
programmes will be necessary.
In the Middle East, the British Council is active
in Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Iran, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco,
Palestinian Territories, Syria, Tunisia, Bahrain, Iraq, Kuwait,
Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Yemen. We have a 75 year track
record in the region in the field of cultural engagement, education
reform and institutional and individual capacity building. We
know from partner feedback and customer surveys that people in
the region have recognised the British Council presents the UK's
good intent and desire for collaboration across the region, within
the more complex set of factors which influence perceptions of
the UK in the region.
Our high level mission is to work for the long-term
benefit and security of the UK; and we do this by growing strong,
open, working relationships between the breadth of UK society
and societies in the region. We participate robustly in the region's
agenda for educational reform and skills building, and substantiate,
particularly through professional collaboration, the drive for
continuously improving intercultural understanding.
Tackling environments which give rise to alienation
and religious radicalisation amongst young people and promoting
intercultural dialogue and a sense of shared values will be a
principle objective of the British Council's work over the next
three years. We will focus on delivering:
Increased opportunities for young
people through education development and cultural exchange.
Strengthened understanding of the
principles of social inclusion and human rights and empowering
their participation in open and civil society.
Increased understanding and trust
between young people in the region and the UK.
International networks that influence
intercultural dialogue and positive social change.
These priorities fit squarely with the UK's
priorities, particularly "making the world a safer place"
and the Supporting Democratic Development Theme of the Public
IN ISRAEL: THE
Whilst there remain a number of practical constraints
to joint working between Israel and neighbouring Arab countries,
the strategic focus of our work in Israel is still very much in
step with our work across the rest of the Middle East and countries
in the wider European neighbourhood.
|British Council Target Outcomes
||British Council products that support delivery of these outcomes in Arab countries of the Middle East
||British Council products that support delivery of these outcomes in Israel and wider European neighbourhood
|Increased opportunities for young people through education development and cultural exchange
||Reconnect Education||Skills @ Work
|Strengthened understanding of the principles of social inclusion and human rights and empowering their participation in an open and civil society
|Increased understanding and trust between young people in the region and the UK
||Reconnect Dialogue||Youth Sports Action!
|International networks that influence intercultural dialogue and positive social change
||Reconnect (all product strands)||Creative Collaboration
Many of the young people we are working withbe
they from the urban Jewish mainstream or the Palestinian Arab
minoritysee their relationship with the British Council
as a way of bringing them out of isolation and connecting them
with the outside world. This opportunity for intercultural dialogue
is particularly valued given Israel's troubled community relations.
Our strong focus on community relations/co-existence with
Israel's large Arab community (1.4 million people, 20% approx
of population) is an important feature of our work and makes us
well networked with an influential minority and this is particularly
appreciated by FCO colleagues.
eg our "Youth Sport Action" initiative is a major
new programme to share the passion of the London Olympics and
realise its ambitious vision of sport and community service by
building trust between different ethnic communities and then through
youth exchange programmes to connect them with counterparts from
the UK, mainland Europe and other Middle Eastern countries.
Despite the continuing shadow of conflict, Israel's
government is seeking to modernise and meet the challenges posed
by its complex multicultural society. British Council is playing
an important role here in connecting Israelis with UK experience
around migration, diversity and equal opportunity.
In response to strong commercial competition in English language
teaching and education promotionespecially from the USAwe
have developed new approaches to English to build capacity specifically
amongst disadvantaged youth in Israel's periphery eg Bedouin communities
or new immigrants from Ethiopia and the former Soviet Union. We
are also using English to enhance our community relations initiatives.
eg Our new "Living Together" programme will offer
a networking and think-tank approach for young leaders from Israel's
various communities to influence policymaking, respond to the
challenges of multi-culturalism and encourage greater dialogue
and cooperation between government and civil society.
Israel's knowledge economywith its high
outputs in science, high-tech and creative industryis driving
economic growth and British Council's support for helping young
people to benefit from this whilst nurturing economic and business
relationships between Israel and the UK is much appreciated by
eg our Skills@Work Programme will engage with the Lisbon and
Copenhagen agendas on skills for employability. It will bring
together learning, work and enterprise across 17 countries in
Europe and the Mediterranean rim area. It will do this by promoting
links between education and industry, partnering with British
institutions and business. In this way, the programme will place
the UK centre-stage in developing aspects of the EU's Neighbourhood
Calls for an academic and cultural boycott of Israel have
had an adverse effect on bi-lateral relationships and so through
our programmes like BI-ARTS, a professional development and exchange
programme we are encouraging a nuanced approach to support longer-term
connections between UK and Israel higher education institutions,
especially in relation to the arts and creative industry community.
Over the next three years the British Council will build
on current work and deliver it through our "Re-connect"
programme, a multi-strand initiative which sets out to address
the issues described above. This programme will enable us to realise
our greater aspirations for UK engagement in the region and the
region's engagement with the UK. It will fundamentally change
the levels and degree of relationship that the British Council
has been able to achieve in the past.
We will scale up our current level of education work to enable
real change to take place in state education systems at both school
and further education levels. Our work will focus on linking policy
makers to their UK counterparts and sharing expertise and practical
experience. The objective is to improve employability and life
opportunities for young people. We will facilitate networks of
UK-regional practitioners through school links and e-communities
which support leadership, teacher and curriculum development.
In response to the massive demand for English we will greatly
increase the reach of UK support in terms of geography, social
breadth and numbers, working both in support of government teachers,
priority partners and general learners. Increasing access to availability
of English plays a pivotal role in facilitating international
engagement and communication for political economic and social
endsfor commerce, for presentation of society's or an individual's
point of view or cultural perspective.
Our main focus is on young people, working to provide them
opportunity and skills to participate in public life, promoting
debate and wider acceptance and practice of principles of EO and
diversity and social inclusion. We support the formation of networks
of professionals with internationals perspectives (and shared
values) on social reform and link them with peers in the UK and
elsewhere. This work addresses the UK's objective of strengthening
open civil society.
We will greatly increase the volume and impact of our work.
We will reach beyond the traditional elite to the mainstream of
young people, many of whom will not be able to communicate in
Englishtherefore we will work through arts, media and sport
and to embed communication and language skills development within
our work. We will develop new partnerships in the region and in
UK with those who share our values and are able to extend reach
to these young people and to organisations with particular influence
We will prioritise:
Leadership through community based youth programmes:
volunteering and sport including possible focus on science and
Schools based programme of skills development
Media partnership and development for reporting
on social issues.
Working with young leaders in government and civil
society on issues of inclusion EO and diversity.
Our work will help raise the level of debate and public understanding
around the notion of social inclusion and participation and of
concepts such as freedom of expression, freedom of academic inquiry,
equal rights and opportunity, transparency and accountability.
We will work across a range of sectors and partners to build alliances
for deeper understanding and to facilitate change.
In the medium term, a safer world will only be built on increased
understanding and improved levels of trust between young people,
who are the people who will influence future governments and social
change. Working solely with privileged young professionals aligned
to current leaders and secular voices will not create this influence.
Therefore our focus will be on creating broader and more challenging
Dialogue between young people in schools and universities
and between artists and publics.
Dialogue with institutions of religious influence
such as Al-Azhar University, Cairo and the Ministry of Religious
Affairs in Jordan.
Dialogue with young Muslim leaders in UK and Europe.
This will include focus on:
Arts in Education and involvement in 2012.
Dialogue through music, visual arts, film and
literature (with Arab World as Guest of Honour for LBF 2008) and
Capacity building for important institutions leading
to wider engagement in areas such as English and communications.
Pan-regional working with European regions.
In response to UK priorities, the British Council is moving
additional resources to the region. We are also developing our
capacity in terms of our organisational partnerships, ability
to design and deliver larger, more ambitious projects and use
new technologies, our capability in marketing and communications
and our skills.
ICT in Education
Over the past two years we have worked with over 750 English,
Maths and Science teachers to develop their skills and confidence
in using ICT in the classroom as part of a regional project with
the Ministries of Education and ICT in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon,
Syria and Palestine and UNRWA and the Gulf. Building on the teachers'
skills, we have together developed and cascaded a training programme
in each country and set up a regional online teachers' community.
We have also provided a forum for policy makers and managers to
discuss educational leadership in ICT. We ran a major regional
conference funded by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Transforming
Learning for 140 delegates involved in the project from Ministers
to teachers to share experience in the region and beyond.
Just over a year since go4english.com celebrated its launch,
this free English language learning site helps over 100,000 learners
and teachers of English across the Arab world take to English
like a duck to water. The unique, no-charge website has grown
into one of the most popular English language learning websites
in the Arabic speaking world; offering visitors of all ages and
levels the chance to improve their English while having fun. There
is more to go4english.com than just online activities; throughout
the year over 5,000 teachers from across the region have visited
the site as part of British Council teacher training programmes
to develop their ICT and teaching skills.
Women at Work
As a contribution to gender equity agendas in participating
countries, our new Women at Work project aims to enable young
women across the Middle East, Near East and North Africa and the
UK to make career choices beyond gender stereotypes. We are setting
up a series of shadowing visits between female professionals and
their counterparts in the UK. Working in a range of professional
fields in seven countries, our aim is to raise awareness of the
extent of women's contribution to working life and to break down
entrenched stereotypes of those professions. The project was launched
on 8 March 2007, International Women's Day, with two video conferences
in which British parliamentarians linked with senior women from
the region to raise some of the key issues facing women seeking
to venture into non-traditional professional areas.
In Saudi Arabia we have introduced in the last year pioneering
training and development programmes for Saudi women (the Springboard
course), used Global Opportunities Fund support for Saudi women
journalists to train in the UK and have established a countrywide
network of women's alumni groups. This activity is unique and
has been accompanied by considerable investment in our three women's
centres, thus considerably extending our reach and impact amongst
a previously neglected group.
The recent Nazra Festival in Cairoorganised by the
British Embassy and the British Council with the support of BP
Egyptexplored the life and lifestyles of Muslims in Britain
today and it celebrated their outstanding contribution to British
society, culture and ways of life. Nazra included a range of artistic
and intellectual events, including concerts in Alexandria and
Cairo by Sami Yusuf and a superb photographic exhibition by Peter
Sanders depicting the life of British Muslims today. Central to
Nazra was the visit of a delegation of young British Muslims who
were typical in their enthusiasm for their professional, personal
and spiritual life in the UK.
This two year regional programme which commenced in October
2006 provides the space for mutually beneficial creative collaboration
between young people from a diverse range of musical backgrounds,
enabling them to develop their skills and increase their understanding
of each other's cultural environments.
The British Council is working with a range of UK and overseas
partners to bring the most accomplished and innovative young Arab
musicians to the UK for a three-week long residency in May 2007.
The artists from the Near East and North Africa region will join
forces with Britain's brightest new musical talent to create new
work, drawing on a range of contemporary influences and performing
work-in-progress in a variety of UK locations. The project will
provide participating artists with new opportunities for personal
and professional development and international engagement. It
includes performances at major festivals in the UK and the Near
East and North Africa.
"1001 School Links Programme"/Connecting Classrooms
We are creating links over the next three years between 200
schools in the UK and 400 schools in the region, forging links
between over half million young people.
The UK-Middle East School Partnerships programme aims to
enhance mutual awareness and understanding amongst student peersparticularly
the 11-14 age groupand their schools and families, and
to break down stereotypes and uninformed negative perceptions
between the region and the UK. The programme involves the UK,
and Bahrain, Iraq, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), Kuwait, Oman,
Qatar, United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Yemen.
The programme will enable more schools in the region to link
with UK institutions and will be framed by our wider educational
activity in the region, including school leadership training and
ICT in Education.
Vocational Education and Training is a main strategic issue
for the Middle East. It is driven by burgeoning populations and
concerns for greater social inclusion in the work place for young
people of both sexes and a desire to place them as economic stakeholders
and drivers of the economy. We are developing our vocational education
capacity and work in response to this through a regional programme
called "Youth Works!" programme brings together policy
makers and practitioners from across the region and covers inspection
training programmes; linking colleges in the region and the UK;
occupational skills development and technical capacity building.
In Saudi Arabia we are working very closely with the Ministry
responsible for vocational training (GOTEVOT) to develop Sector
Skills Councils. This is in co-operation with major UK partners
including City and Guilds and Edexcel.