From the violence and bloodshed in Syria to Egypt’s presidential elections, developments across the Middle East continue to dominate news headlines around the world. During this time of unprecedented transformations that we commonly characterize as the “Arab Spring”, the South Korean public’s interest in the region continues to grow. As Koreans increasingly look beyond their immediate neighborhood, the Middle East, with all of its troubles and opportunities, beckons.
The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Program at the Asan Institute for Policy Studies is tasked with addressing this growing demand for knowledge about the Middle East’s importance and relevance to South Korea and the East Asian region. Yet, in the globally interconnected world we live in, knowledge and insights are developed across borders and disciplines. In this vein, the MENA program is actively collaborating with partners across East Asia and the Middle East to expand our collective understanding of the forces that are shaping the future of this long-neglected interregional relationship.
(Dr. Michael Hudson, Director of the Middle East Institute, opening the 2012 Annual Conference on “The Arab Uprisings One Year Later: Examining the Possibilities and Risks”.)
As part of its active expansion and pursuit of greater cross-institutional collaboration in both research and events, Dr. Jang Ji-Hyang, Director of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Program at the Asan Institute for Policy Studies, and Peter Lee, a MENA Program Officer, attended the annual conference hosted by the Middle East Institute (MEI) at the National University of Singapore from May 24~25. Titled “The Arab Uprisings One Year Later: Examining the Possibilities and Risks,” the conference looked at the diverse processes that have constituted the Arab Uprisings and the trajectories that the different countries are likely to follow. With distinguished speakers including Singapore’s Minister of State, Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Masagos Zulkifli and Dr. Ergun Ozbudun, Professor of Political Science and Constitutional Law at Bilkent University in Ankara, the conference sought to situate the developments in individual countries in the broader regional changes.
The purpose of the trip was also to deepen ties with one of Asia’s few other Middle East research centers. Led by Dr. Michael Hudson, one of the world’s foremost Middle East experts, the Middle East Institute has rapidly emerged as a leading Southeast Asian think-tank on the Middle East and North Africa. Consequently, the MENA Program at the Asan Institute discussed opportunities for closer future collaboration as part of its goal of becoming a Northeast Asian and global hub for Middle East research. From joint research to shared publication distribution and increased exchanges and visits, there exist enormous scope for mutually beneficial cooperation and growth. The trip marked the beginning of this investment in new relationships and partners that will enrich our collective understanding of the Middle East and East Asian relationship.
(Dr. JANG Ji-Hyang at the second day of the Middle East Institute’s Annual Conference)
For more on the Middle East Institute’s Annual Conference, please visit: http://www.mei.nus.edu.sg/mei-annual-conf/conference