The Seminar, exclusively devoted to the young change-makers, offers a series of plenary lectures, participatory workshops, brainstorming sessions, working groups, and cultural activities. It is articulated around three main thematic streams:
1. Geopolitics and leadership;
2. Good governance, policy making, and citizenship;
3. Cultural narratives.
The working groups, an important part of the Summit’s unique methodology, are led by a team of experts from the region, with diverse experience in different fields. They guide the participants through a facilitation process that supports the creation of a safe space for open dialogue, brings the discussions to a deeper level and identifies ideas that are elaborated during the Summit and beyond.
The aim of the Seminar, exclusively devoted to the young change-makers, is to facilitate discussions and exchange of ideas among young participants considered to be innovators, by providing a favourable environment and neutral guidance for thinking outside the box, finding common grounds, and exploring solutions beyond national boundaries. Challenging questions are posed to prompt bold answers and the quality of debate is ensured by emphasising mutual respect and self-reflection. Learning is believed to be about sharing experiences, active participation and social encounters.
The Seminar offers a series of plenary lectures, participatory workshops, brainstorming sessions, film screenings, and cultural activities. Participants are encouraged to reflect on and discuss topics from the following three streams – New Dynamics of the MEM region; Governance, Administration, and Policy Making; Cultural Narratives.
A fourth stream, called ‘Horizontal Stream’, engages young change-makers to work, with the support of a team of facilitators, on project-proposals with a cross-borders approach. In the past two years, the main areas of these project-proposals included: education, culture, political participation, the refugee crisis, job creation, social cohesion, mental health. For more information, see the Lugano Initiative documents (The Lugano Initiative – MEM Summer Summit 2019 and The Lugano Initiative – MEM Summer Summit 2018).
This year due to the Coronavirus pandemic and its consequences, the Summit cannot be held as planned. The circumstances have understandably imposed a review of the format of the MEM Summer Summit 2020. The Seminar did not take place and was replaced by a series of online and onsite events in the MEM region.
This stream aims to give an overview of the complex geopolitical situation and the challenges facing the Middle East Mediterranean region, focusing on topics of current relevance. The analysis ranges from the Levant ravaged by continuing conflicts and torn apart by protests, to North Africa, where the political systems of countries affected by the 2011 uprising have dissolved, and new ones have emerged.
This stream familiarises participants with diverse traditions of state administration, providing an overview of analytical patterns and practical dynamics. It also focuses on complex issues that affect the Middle East Mediterranean region in terms of administration and governance. It introduces participants to the Swiss political system and to the Swiss government’s foreign policy agenda, programmes and activities as a regional partner.
This stream explores the role of narratives in capturing various realities in the Middle East Mediterranean region as well as the emergence of new expressions in the figurative arts, cinema, and literature, and the concern for cultural heritage. Creativity and culture are powerful instruments to develop new narratives and achieve a better understanding of Middle East Mediterranean societies. They are also socio-economic driving forces.
A fourth stream, called ‘Horizontal Stream’, engages young change-makers to work, with the support of a team of facilitators, on project-proposals with a cross-borders approach. In the past two years, the main areas of these project-proposals included: education, culture, political participation, the refugee crisis, job creation, social cohesion, mental health. For more information, see the Lugano Initiative document. and (The Lugano Initiative – MEM Summer Summit 2019 and The Lugano Initiative – MEM Summer Summit 2018).
Seminar Speakers 2022
Associate Programme Officer (Mediation), swisspeace, Switzerland
H.R.H. RYM ALI
Royal Film Commission Jordan, Jordan
H.E. MASSIMO BAGGI
Ambassador of Switzerland to the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, Switzerland
Ambassador Massimo Baggi holds an MBA in Economics from the University of Zurich (1988). He then became a research assistant at the Graduate Institute of Public Administration at the University of Lausanne (1989-1990) and completed his academic studies with a diploma training program at the Faculty of International Relations at the University of Geneva. (1993). From 1991 to 1992, he was assistant director of the Institute of Economic Research at the University of Italian Switzerland. In 1992 he joined the Swiss diplomatic service in Bern. After a training period at the Swiss Mission to the UN in New York, he was posted to the Swiss Embassy in London. From 1994 to 1998, Baggi held the post of Diplomatic Collaborator for European Integration Issues in the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs and the Federal Department of Economic Affairs in Bern. From 1998 to 2003, he was an advisor in charge of economic affairs at the Swiss Embassy in Delhi before taking up the same position at the Swiss Embassy in Moscow between 2003 and 2006.
Back in Switzerland, Baggi is head of the Asia and Pacific Division at the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) until 2010. He then acts as Consul General of Switzerland in Milan until the end of the World Expo, in 2015.
Baggi took office as Ambassador of Switzerland to the Kingdom of Morocco at the end of January 2016 and was appointed as Ambassador of Switzerland to the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain as of September 2019.
After studying at ESAV film school in Marrakech/Morocco, Adnane graduated in directing in 2011. He is a Moroccan independent filmmaker born and lives in Mar- rakech. In 2010, he directed his first short documentary «Talbanine”, a sensitive film about a remote and isolated school in the mountains, enlivened by the pupils and their teacher. Awarded in FIFE Casablanca. In 2019, he finished his first documentary feature «Wandering stars», about three blind young Moroccans defying countless obstacles in order to survive in their pa- rallel world and find true meaning in their lives.
Particularly, «Fragments from heaven» is a film that Adnane has been working on since 2014. The film has been shot in several periods between 2017 and the end of 2019. It is a long path of creation and reflection, which now begins to reveal hope. He is also a musician, researching in acoustic and synthetic sounds through InCave and SENT projects.
HERMAN BASHIRON MENDOLICCHIO
Researcher and Project Manager, University of Barcelona
PhD in “Art History, Theory and Criticism” from the University of Barcelona. He is currently teaching in different Universities and academic programs internationally: He is Lecturer at the Cultural Management Programme of the University of Barcelona, where he is coordinating the Postgraduate Course on International Cultural Cooperation, and the MA in Management of cultural institutions and companies (blended learning version). He is also a faculty member and advisor at Transart Institute (NY-Berlin-Liverpool), and Professor consultant at UOC (Universitat Oberta de Catalunya) in the MA “Humanities: Contemporary Culture, Literature and Art”. He is the Project Manager of CHARTER (2021-2024), an EU-funded project on cultural heritage skills and competences.
His current lines of investigation involve the subjects of intercultural processes, ecology, participation and mobility in contemporary art and cultural policies, art in public space and the cultural cooperation between different world regions. He has participated in several international conferences and developed projects and research residencies in different countries and world regions.
He combines academic research, cultural management, curatorial practices and artistic methodologies, collaborating with a wide range of networks, projects and organisations internationally.
Full Professor, University of Naples “L’Orientale” (UNIOR), Italy
Michele Bernardini is full professor of Persian Language and Literature and History of Iran and the Ottoman Empire at the University of Naples “L’Orientale”. From 2016 to 2019 he was the director of the Department Asia, Africa and the Mediterranean in this University. He is the editor in chief of the journal Eurasian Studies, jointly published by the Istituto per l’Oriente in Rome and the University of Halle-Wittenberg. Member of the scientific committee of the Series Catalogorum, devoted to the cataloguing of unknown manuscripts collections in Arabic writing, he published, together with Roberto Tottoli in 2011 the Catalogue of the Kahle Collection in Turin.
Among is main interests there is the Turco-Persian relations in the pre-modern and modern times. He published various monographies on this subject as Storia del mondo islamico (VII-XVI secolo), II. Il mondo iranico e turco, Turin, 2003; Mémoire et propagande à l’époque timouride, Paris, 2008 ; Together with Donatella Guida, I Mongoli. Espansione, imperi, eredità, Turin, 2012 and Tamerlano, Rome, 2022. He is the President of the committee for the International Congresses of Turkish Art, and in 2015 he promoted the 15th International Congress of Turkish Art in Naples. Recently he participated to a European project “Justice” on Jihadism and Prison, whose results were published in the volume edited by him and Ersilia Francesca, Jihadismo e carere in Italia. Analisi, strategie e pratiche di gestione tra sicurezza e diritti, Rome 2021.
Global agricultural heritage program specialist at FAO, Iran
Amin was born in Iran and currently lives in Berlin. Throughout his life journey, he has lived in 6 countries. He considers himself an athlete with an extensive sense of humor. He has an academic background in civil and environmental engineering and currently working as an agricultural heritage system specialist at the FAO. He is also a food systems and climate activist, and the most consistent way he tries to contribute to reducing climate impacts, is to convert to a plant-based diet since 2018.
Professor of Islamic History, University of Naples “L’Orientale” (UNIOR), Italy
Ersilia Francesca is full Professor of Islamic History at Univ. of Naples “L’Orientale” (UNIOR), Dep. Asia Africa and Mediterranean (DAAM), where she teaches Gender Studies in Islamic Context and Contemporary History of Economics in the MENA region. She is director of CeSMI (Centro Studi sul Mondo Islamico) at DAAM and of Studi Maġrebini (class A journal) publ. by Brill. In 2015 she was visiting scholar at SOAS, and in 2018 she was Directrice d’Études at École Pratique des Hautes Études. She is member of the Scientific Committee of the Intern. Association on Ibadi Studies and chief editor with A. al-Salimi of the series Studies on Ibadism and Oman, Olms.
Her scholarly activity focuses on Islamic law, gender studies in the Islamic context, and history of Islamic economics. She published 5 books and 3 edited books; and wrote over 20 articles in PR journals and contributions in edited books in the last 10 years. Her 2002 book titled Teoria e pratica del commercio nell’islam medievale is considered a milestone in the field of studies on Ibadism and early Islam. Her book Economia, religione e morale nell’islam (Carocci 2013) is the first attempt of a comprehensive reconstruction of the Islamic economic thinking in Italian.
In the field of gender studies she participated in the project “Musulmane d’Italia”; she co-edited the special issue of Studi Maġrebini titled Emerging Actors in Post-Revolutionary North Africa. Gender Mobility and Social Activism (2017), and published several articles; the most recent is “Gender and Economics in Mediterranean: Looking for New Opportunities for North African Women” Palgrave (2021). She is in the scientific board of the series Donne, fedi, culture
Independent consultant in sustainable development, cultural and creative economies and media, Switzerland
Carole Guertler is an independent consultant in sustainable development, in arts, cultural & creative economies, and media. She specialized in organisational development & capacity building, project and programme work, grantmaking and communication in the fields of philanthropy, NGO / NPO, social impact entrepreneurship and CSR.
She has been trained in culture/arts, journalism/communication and NPO management/leadership, and has been primarily working in the Mediterranean & Middle East Region as well as in Western and Southeast Europe. Thanks to her previous work for a private foundation and development organisations as well as a journalist, she maintains an international network and collaborations.
Advisor to the Swiss Special Envoy MENA, MENA Division, Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA), Switzerland
Mathieu Heinzmann has been working as an advisor to the Swiss Special Envoy MENA since February 1, 2022. In parallel, he is an Israel/Palestine Program Specialist at the Peace and Human Rights Division (PHRD) of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) in Bern.
Previously, he was based in Ramallah as an academic intern at the Representative Office of Switzerland in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
During his studies in international relations, Mathieu Heinzmann had the opportunity to do academic exchanges at Saint Joseph’s University in Beirut and at the American University in Cairo.
Environmental scientist specialised in food systems, Switzerland
Laurence Jeangros is an environmental scientists with a master’s degree from the Swiss Federal Institut of Technology in Zurich. During her studies, she has spent a year in Chile as an exchange student and explored power dynamics within tomato food systems in Ghana for her Master’s thesis. Laurence has spent a year interning at the Permanent Mission of Switzerland to the United Nations organizations in Rome, where she became actively involved in the project “Bites of Transfoodmation”. She is currently working at the Center Enterprise for Society (E4S) at the Swiss Federal Institut of Technology in Lausanne on projects related to food.
Manager of the Leading House MENA, HES-SO University of Applied Sciences and Arts Western Switzerland, Switzerland
Michael Krieger is a scientific officer at the HES-SO University of Applied Sciences and Arts of Western Switzerland. He is the manager of the Leading House for the Middle East and North Africa.
Michael has been active in the field of university administration for more than ten years. He has held various positions in international relations, student services, and management of study programmes at the University of Lausanne (2010-2016), the University of the West of Scotland (2016-2018) and the HES-SO University of Applied Sciences and Arts Western Switzerland (2018-present). He also worked as a research assistant at the Swiss School of Archaeology in Greece (2010-2014).
Michael holds a Master of Arts in Ancient History of the University of Lausanne. He has published several works as an author and as an editor in the field of archaeology, ancient and contemporary history.
Deputy of the Swiss Special Envoy MENA, Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA), Switzerland
Until taking up his current position in February 2022 as Deputy of the Swiss Special Envoy MENA, Antoine Laham, on secondment by the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) – worked in the capacity of Senior Political Affairs Officer at the Office of the UN Special Envoy for Syria in 2013. Earlier, he was the first Country Director – Lebanon for the Geneva Center for Security Sector Governance (DCAF). In the latter capacity, he was associated as Senior Advisor to the joint Berghof Foundation / UNDP Lebanon – Peace Support Office on Consensus Building, Constitutional Empowerment and Civil Peace.
From 2007 to 2011, he contributed to the set-up and organization of the Inter-Lebanese Dialogue that took place in Switzerland and Lebanon. From 1999 to 2001, Antoine – seconded by the FDFA – worked as Regional Administration East-Kosovo with the United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) entrusted the implementation of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244 (1999). Previously, from 1996 to 1998, Antoine Laham – seconded by the FDFA – worked as Deputy Director for Human Rights and Democratization with the OSCE Mission in Bosnia & Herzegovina tasked with the implementation of the Dayton Agreement.
Antoine Laham holds a Diplôme d’Etudes Supérieures (DEA) in Finances, a Master degree in Economics a Bachelor degree in Sociology; a Diploma in Public Relations; and a Diploma in New Public Management from the Geneva University. He has published a number of studies covering the domain of Human Rights, Democratization, Governance and Decentralization.
Professor, University of Macerata, University of St. Benedict and St. John, Italy
Martino Lovato holds a PhD in Comparative Literature from the University of Texas at Austin. He teaches Arabic literature at the University of Macerata, and Italian literature at the College of St. Benedict-University of St. John. His research focuses on the Mediterranean as a site of interdisciplinary enquiry between Italian, Arabic, and French literatures and cinema. Appearing in venues such as The California Journal of Italian Studies and The Cambridge Companion of Slavery and Global Literature, his published and forthcoming essays range from medieval subjects such as the rebellion of the Zendj black slaves in Abbasid Iraq and the renaissance cosmographer Leo Africanus/Al-Wazzan, to contemporary migration, border crossing, and social justice in writers and filmmakers such as Francesco Rosi, Tareq Teguia, Merzak Allouache and Abdelmalek Smari.
ESG Analyst, General Atlantic, United Kingdom
Giacomo Molteni has been a member of the Bites of Transfoodmation food movement since its inception. Having combined his studies in finance and environmental policy, Giacomo’s work, currently in private equity, focuses on driving environmental and social sustainability in food systems, and beyond. Living in the USA, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and France has allowed him to experience different parts of global food systems, develop tremendous respect for unique and local food cultures and agriculture systems, and has further solidified his optimism for the role young people can play in transforming food systems.
Post-doc researcher, Università della Svizzera italiana, Switzerland
Dr. Mugellini is member of the Public Integrity Research Group (GRIP), and post-doc researcher at USI. Her expertise concerns the definition of accountability problems, the measurement of corruption, and the evaluation of anti-corruption policies. She has been involved in several international projects related to the abovementioned topics. Among the most recent, a project funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada on “Determinants of sustainable Citizen-State relationships: A survey of trust, satisfaction, and organizational deviances” and another one funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation on “Assessing the nature and impact of transnational corruption through the lens of Swiss businesses”. She is lecturer of two courses on “Qualitative research” and “Accountability and Corruption” MA in Public Management and Policy (PMP).
Deputy Head of the MENA Division, Head of Section Northern Africa, Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA), Switzerland
Rascha Osman has been Deputy Head of the MENA Division and Head of Section Northern Africa at the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs since August 2020. Prior to this position she has been posted as a Head of Cultural Affairs at the Swiss Embassy in Berlin (2016-2020) and in the Section Foreign Policy at the Swiss Mission to the European Union in Brussels from 2012 to 2015. She also served in diplomatic postings in the MENA Division from 2008 and 2012, at the Swiss Embassy in Ljubljana and in Switzerland’s Permanent Representation to the UN in NY.
Before joining the Swiss Diplomatic Service in 2007, she worked at the Swiss Federal Office for Refugees (now Swiss State Secretariat for Migration), where she was among others responsible for international migration dialogues. Rascha Osman has received her M.A. from the University of Berne and has studied English and American Literature, Political sciences and Islamic science.
Ambassador of Switzerland to Tunisia and Libya, Switzerland
Ambassador Josef Renggli is since October 2021 the Swiss Ambassador to Tunisia and Libya. Before that, he was the Acting Deputy State Secretary for Europa and Deputy Head of the Directorate for European Affairs in the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs. From 2014 to 2017, Mr. Renggli was the Deputy Head of the Swiss Mission to the EU in Brussels. From 2010 to 2014, he was the Head of the Economic and Financial Affairs Division of the Embassy of Switzerland in Washington, D.C.. From 2006 to 2010, Mr. Renggli was Head of the Financial Affairs Section of the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs in Berne where he was in charge of the foreign policy coordination in the field of international tax matters, financial crime and financial regulation. From 2001 to 2006, Mr. Renggli was the Counsellor for legal and political affairs at the Swiss Embassy in Rome, Italy. Before entering the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs as a career diplomat, he had worked as a tax consultant for KPMG and as an administrator for the International Red Cross.
Head of Section Arabian Peninsula and Iran, MENA Division, Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA), Switzerland
Angelica Schempp is currently serving as Head of Section at the Middle East and North Africa Division of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs of Switzerland, where she is responsible for the coordination of bilateral relations between Switzerland and the countries of the Arabian Peninsula and Iran.
Ms. Schempp was born in 1982 and completed her BA in Politics and Administration at the University of Hagen. She later obtained a MA in International Affairs from the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy in Boston, focusing on international security, international law and state building. Ms. Schempp has also an academic background in PR, marketing, economics, business administration and tourism management.
After several years of professional experience in the tourism industry, she started working for the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs of Switzerland (FDFA) in 2011. As a PR Manager for the FDFA’s unit “Presence Switzerland” she promoted Switzerland’s presence at the London Olympic Games 2012. Later she supported the Swiss OSCE chairmanship as an Attaché at the Swiss Delegation to the OSCE in Vienna. In 2015 she joined the Swiss diplomatic service and was sent to the Embassy of Switzerland in Cuba. From 2016 to 2019 she worked at the Mission of Switzerland to the European Union in Brussels, where she covered EU foreign policy issues, including the MENA region.
Ambassador of Switzerland to Lebanon, Switzerland
Dr. Marion Weichelt Krupski is currently the Swiss Ambassador to Lebanon. She holds a master’s degree in law from the University of Zurich, Switzerland, and wrote her doctoral thesis in the field of international humanitarian law. After her studies, she worked as a court clerk at various courts before joining the diplomatic service in 1994. Her first assignments led her to Tel Aviv (1994-1995) and Berne (1996-1998, Directorate of Political Affairs, humanitarian and refugee policy) before working for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Butare, Rwanda and in the regional delegation in Tunis, Tunisia, for two years. Back at the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA), she was responsible for Eastern and Southern Africa within the Directorate of Political Affairs.
In 2003 she was transferred to Washington, USA as legal advisor. Back in Berne, she held the position of Deputy Head of Human Resources FDFA from 2006-2009. Subsequently, she was appointed Vice Director of the Directorate of International Law with the title of Ambassador. In 2010, she was appointed Ambassador to New Zealand, Cook Islands, Fiji, Samoa, Tonga and Tuvalu. From 2014-2017, she served as Deputy Chief of Mission in Berlin, Germany, and from 2017-2021 as Ambassador to Senegal, Mali, Gambia, Mauritania, Guinea-Bissau and Cabo Verde before assuming her current position in 2021.
Associate Professor, University of Lyon, France
Fabrice Balanche is an associate professor at the University of Lyon in his native France. Formerly a visiting fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (2015-2017) and the Hoover Institution (2017-2018), is a political geographer specializing in the Middle East. He was previously the director of the Urban Observatory at the French Institute of the Near East in Beirut from 2003 to 2007, the director of GREMMO (Research Group on the Mediterranean and the Middle East) at the University of Lyon from 2010 to 2015. Fabrice Balanche received a doctorate in political geography from the University of Tours in 2000 and accreditation to supervise research from the University of Lyon in 2013.
He spent ten years in Lebanon and Syria, his main areas of study, since first engaging in fieldwork in the region in 1990. He was one of the first academics and observers who accurately predicted the evolution of the Syrian crisis, thanks to his deep knowledge of the Syrian society and his method of analysis.
His publications include Geopolitics of the Middle East (2014, in French), Atlas of the Near East (2011, in English, French, and Arabic), the book version of his thesis, The Alawite Region and Syrian Power (2006, in French), Sectarianism in the Syrian Civil War (2018, in English), Syria Lebanon : sectarianism and power (2022, French) and many articles on Syria and Middle East,), has been published in February 2018.
Post-doc researcher, Università della Svizzera italiana, Switzerland
Dr. Barreca is a post-doc researcher at Università della Svizzera italiana (USI, Lugano) in Switzerland, where she received her Ph.D. in Economics in 2016. She is a senior lecturer in several courses for the master’s program in Public Management and Policy, a project part of the Swiss Public Administration Network. Her teaching experience is in public management and governance, strategic management, human resource and leadership, accountability, social reporting, and sustainability in the public sector. Since 2013, she has been actively involved in the IIAS network as coordinator of the XIX PSG on Public Network Policy and Management for the European Group of Public Administration (EGPA). She is also, co-chair of the IIAS track on Social Innovation, Commons, and Administration. In the last few years, she has developed a strong interest in developing digital learning and teaching. She represents USI in the IASIA project e-Learning collaborating platform.
She is involved in several international projects. DEeP-GOV – Digital Education Partnership for Effective and Sustainable Governance funded by swissuniversities within Switzerland and the MENA region. Cross-border project, funded by the European Union “INTERREG Switzerland and Italy” on strengthening territorial governance.
Lecturer and Researcher, Sustainable Agroecosystems (SAE) group, ETH Zürich, Morocco
Kenza Benabderrazik is a lecturer and researcher in the Sustainable Agroecosystems (SAE) group at ETH Zürich. For her doctoral research, Kenza studied the complex interplay between agricultural production, farmers’ economic welfare and ecological preservation, using system dynamics modelling tools. More specifically, she looked at the case of tomato producers in Ghana and Morocco and has a special focus on ways of achieving a more sustainable and resilient production system. Her research is now shifting towards power relations, political ecologies and pathways to food systems transformation.
Kenza is now a lecturer within the SAE group contributing to the development and the implementation of undergraduate and graduate curriculum at the Institute of Agricultural Sciences. In conjunction with her teaching activities, Kenza coordinates art-science projects to open and foster dialogues between artists, scientists and various actors with regard to food systems and agroecological transition, as well as food systems transformation.
Kenza completed her studies in environmental engineering in 2012 at EPFL. For 4 years, she worked as an environmental consultant on various projects related to environmental impact assessment, resource efficiency and circular economy in several countries including Morocco, Tunisia, Switzerland, India and Burkina Faso.
WOLFGANG A. BRÜLHART
Ambassador, Swiss Special Envoy MENA Division, Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA), Switzerland
Ambassador Wolfgang Amadeus Brülhart serves as Swiss Special Envoy MENA since February 2022. Previously, he was Head of the Swiss Mission to the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), to the United Nations and other International Organisations in Vienna. From 2012 until 2019, he was Assistant State Secretary and Director of the Middle East and North Africa Division (with the title of ambassador) at the Swiss Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Berne (Federal Department of Foreign Affairs FDFA in Bern). Between 2008 and 2012, he served as Swiss Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates, and from 2003 until 2007 he was Head of the Human Rights Policy Section and Head of the Task Force “Human Rights Council” at the Swiss Department of Foreign Affairs in Berne.
Brülhart was always committed to culture and its role in peace processes, as his assignments as Cultural Counsellor at the Swiss Embassies in London (1999-2002) and Sarajevo (1996-1998) testify. At the beginning of his career, he worked as Private Secretary to the former Swiss President, Swiss Minister of Foreign and former Swiss Minister of Home Affairs, Flavio Cotti, and served as Head of Studies and Planning for the General Secretariat of the Christian Democratic Party of Switzerland.
Brülhart attended “Mediation and Negotiation Courses” at the UN and at the Swiss Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In 2016, he was facilitator, during a 14-months negotiations period, between US and Iran on the exchange of prisoners, and in the same year he was recipient of the “Honorary Heart of Sarajevo Award” from the Sarajevo Film Festival, for his “cultural achievements in 1996-1998” in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
FIRAS ABOU FAKHER
Director, Writer and Composer, Lebanon
Firas Abou Fakher is an award-winning composer, director, and writer. As a composer, Firas’ work has been streamed over 100 million times worldwide. His work spans a wide range of genres, from hit Arabic pop anthems, to solo piano works for museums, and from fully fledged orchestral soundtracks to ensembles with 4 clarinets for an award winning film. His composing credits include: It Gets Darker (2022), Jameel Jiddan (2022), FIXER (2020), Al Shak(2020), Dunya’s Day (2020), Love (2019), Les Saints de Kiko (2019), Meshkal (2016) and others.
As an artist working on engaged art Firas has taught at NYU and Dartmouth University, conducted talks at Concordia University, Columbia University, SciencesPo in Paris and various other universities across the globe as well as worked with humanitarian organisations like Greenpeace, UNHCR, Artasfoundation, and many others.
Firas has been a member of the Recording Academy, New York Chapter since 2018, and is an advisor for the MDLBEAST festival. Apart from being a composer, Firas has been directing and writing since 2019.
In 2019, Firas founded Last Floor Productions, a production house that aims to put Arab talent on the global stage. Last Floor Productions focuses on projects that bring diverse voices into the global entertainment industry, and projects that can reconfigure the Arab narratives worldwide. Last Floor Productions has produced several acclaimed TV series, an award-winning short and cultural films for Apple and the Victoria & Albert Museum.
In 2022, Firas’s debut directorial effort, a horror short entitled ‘It Gets Darker’, is garnering acclaim and awards around the world, with awards and selections from renowned festivals in Japan, Canada, the US, Korea and more.
Ph.D. Senior Researcher, Educational Programme Manager, MEM Freethinking Platform, Università della Svizzera italiana, MEM Summer Summit Project leader, Switzerland
Federica Frediani, Senior researcher and lecturer at the Università della Svizzera italiana, is currently Educational Programme Manager of the Middle East Mediterranean Freethinking Platform. She is a member of the Project Committee and Project Leader of the Middle East Mediterranean Summer Summit. She holds a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from Università di Siena. Her research interests focus mainly on representations, narratives, cultural productions and political and intercultural dynamics of the Middle East Mediterranean region. She published books and articles on travel writing. In particular the women travel literature, and on the relationships between Northern and Southern shores of the Mediterranean.
Project Manager, Institutional Development Service, Università della Svizzera italiana, Switzerland
Monica Gugolz graduated in 2002 with a degree in International Relations from the Graduate Institute of International Studies in Geneva. After finishing her studies, she began her career in the international field, managing development cooperation projects and consultancy mandates in emerging contexts such as Bangladesh, Rwanda and Vietnam. Monica specialised in the management and critical analysis of interventions on behalf of the United Nations, the European Union, Swiss Cooperation and NGOs, with a particular interest in issues of gender equality, women’s rights and women’s economic empowerment. In 2013, Monica co-founded a women’s cooperative in Kigali, Rwanda, which provides employment for more than 50 vulnerable women. She returned with her family to Lugano in 2017 and collaborates with the Federation of NGOs of the Swiss Italian region and the Federation of Women’s Associations of Ticino. Since 2021 Monica has been working as a Project Manager within the Institutional Development Service of the Università della Svizzera italiana.
Head of International Affairs, HES-SO University of Applied Sciences and Arts Western Switzerland, Switzerland
Luna Iacopini works at the HES-SO University of Applied Sciences and Arts of Western Switzerland where she leads the International Affairs division. In this role, she oversees the international development of the HES-SO Rectorate. As the HES-SO focal point for international programs, she leads strategic partnerships with public, governmental, and academic institutions.
Prior to joining the HES-SO, Luna worked for four years at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva as Head of the Executive Master in Development Policies and Practices (DPP) for Southeast Asia. In this capacity, she managed the DPP team in charge of Southeast Asia in Geneva and Hanoi.
Luna also worked for four years at the University of Geneva and gained professional experience on educational policies and programmes at the International Labour Organisation in Geneva and various international NGOs and think tanks in Europe. She also worked for two years as an international consultant at the International Labour Organisation Office in Vietnam.
Luna holds a Master of Arts in Political Sciences and International Relations from the University of Florence (Italy), and an Interdisciplinary Master in Development Studies from the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva. She has received her PhD from the University of Geneva.
Professor, PLS Paris Sciences et Lettres-École normale supérieure, France; Adjunct Professor and Scientific director of the Middle East Mediterranean Freethinking Platform, Università della Svizzera italiana, Switzerland
Gilles Kepel is a French political scientist and Arabist, specialised in the contemporary Middle East and Muslims in the West. He is Adjunct Professor and scientific director of the Middle East Mediterranean Freethinking Platform. He is also Professor at the Université Paris Sciences et Lettres (PSL) and director of the Middle East and Mediterranean Chair at PSL, based at Ecole Normale Supérieure.
Originally trained as a classicist, he started to study Arabic after a journey to the Levant in 1974. He first graduated in Philosophy and English, then completed his Arabic language studies at the French Institute in Damascus (1977–78), and received his degree from Sciences Po in 1980. His research interests focus on the current geopolitical configurations and conflicts in the Middle East Mediterranean region, including the impact of Jihadi terror in the wake of the Massive attacks on French and European soil.
He investigated the developments of Islam as a social and political phenomenon in France, with an innovative approach in Islamic studies in the West. He researched on the 2005 French Banlieues riots in the Clichy-Montfermeil area, north of Paris, whence the events sparked. He also carried out comparative studies of political-religious movements in Islam, Judaism and Christianity. His two latest books are titled: Away from Chaos, Columbia University Press (2020) and Le prophète et la pandémie. Du Moyen-Orient au jihadisme d’atmosphère, Gallimard (2021).
Amine Landoulsi is a Tunisian photographer. He graduated from the IHEC of Carthage, with a master’s degree in hotel management. In 2010, after a brief career in hotel management, he finally chose photography as a profession.
He describes himself as a self-taught artist, a man who lives and a photographer who observes his environment. His photographs are mainly the result of a synergy between life experience and a singular artistic sensitivity. At a very young age he met the Tunisian photographer Jacques Perez for a reading of his portfolio and it is at this moment that Mr. Perez saw in him the eye of the photographer. Since this meeting, he has maintained the photographer in him, living the joy of being an amateur and the lucidity of a photojournalist. In 2011, he channeled his know-how for the benefit of the Tunisian revolution. Witness of the first riots that took place in the capital, he continues to share his photographs with the international press.
He was co-founder and general coordinator of the Tunis Photo Club for the year 2010/2011. His first experience as a professional photojournalist began with the Associated Press news agency and continued as a photo reporter for the “Anadolu Agency”. To his credit we can count several collective exhibitions in Tunisia and also internationally. He was selected for the Biennale of Photographers of the Contemporary Arab World in November 2015, at the Institut du Monde Arabe, in Paris.
In 2018 he returned to his status as a freelance photographer and held his first personal exhibition “AMEN”, produced by Maison de l’image, an institution that later offered him the opportunity to be involved as a trainer in social projects such as “Vision solidaire”.
Today he is one of the co-founders of the cultural start-up “Art Culture Studio”.
Country Director for Morocco and Tunisia, Drosos Foundation, Switzerland
Fyras Mawazini graduated from the Institut Universitaire d’Etudes du Développement (IUED) in Geneva. He has more than 15 years’ experience as head of mission for several international NGOs in various countries in Africa and the Middle East. He has been the director of the Drosos Foundation office in Casablanca since 2016.
He joined the Foundation in 2011 and was the country director for Egypt until 2014, after which, in 2015, he was responsible for developing the Foundation’s programmes in Tunisia. He is currently in charge of Morocco and Tunisia and closely follows the transformation of the civil societies through an important network of almost 50 partners in both countries. He participates actively in their dynamism and their role as actors of change by accompanying and supporting them with the implementation of development programmes that address social challenges.
Managing Director, HASA Energy, Oman
Dr. Talal Al-Aulaqi is from the fifth generation of the Al-Aulaqi family who moved from Yemen to Oman post the Al-Aulaqi Sultanate in 1967. His experience spans from Foreign Affairs and global diplomacy to technology advancement and education support. He is interested in supporting peace and reconciliation in Yemen and in supporting Oman’s diplomacy in the region.
Previously, Al-Aulaqi was also involved in various policy drafting activities in Oman. He contributed to the Oman Vision 2040 in the fields of private sector, investment and international cooperation as well as natural resources and environmental sustainability. He has also supported the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the drafting and submitting of the first national implementation plan of the Sustainable Development Goals, with a focus on energy efficiency related topics. Moreover, he has worked with supreme council of planning on the tenth five-year plan, with a focus on economic diversification.
Programme officer, International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), UAE
Divyam Nagpal is presently working as Programme Officer for Energy Access with the International Renewable Energy Agency’s (IRENA) Knowledge, Policy and Finance Centre. Prior to this, he was an independent consultant with the MIT Energy Initiative-led Global Commission to End Energy Poverty, the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development and REN21.
He has extensive experience with renewable energy policy assessment, off-grid renewables for energy access, socio-economic impacts of the energy transition, the water, energy and food nexus, and regional market analyses. He has also worked in the United Kingdom and India focusing on techno-economic and financial assessments of large-scale and off-grid renewable energy projects, as well as on sector-level energy efficiency benchmarking.
Head of Section Middle East, Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA), Switzerland
Vincent Pasquier serves since July 2020 as Head of Section Middle East at the State Secretariat, Federal Department of Foreign Affairs of Switzerland in Bern.
After working for the Swiss Embassy in Damascus and the Temporary International Presence in Hebron, Pasquier joined the Swiss diplomatic service in 2009. He was part of the political section of the Embassy of Switzerland in Washington before working on European Affairs. From 2013 to 2016, he headed the Justice and Home Affairs Section in the Directorate for European Affairs in Berne. From 2016 to 2020, he served as Deputy Head of Mission in the Embassy of Switzerland in Abu Dhabi.
Pasquier holds a Master in Communication Systems from the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), a Licence in Political Science from the University of Geneva and an MSc in International Relations from the London School of Economics.
Artist, Founder and director of A.M.I., France
Ferdinand Richard has been the founder and director of A.M.I. (since 1985), multi-sectorial cultural development local platform, including extensive international cooperation programme and the first incubator for Cultural micro-businesses in France. He is a founding member of La Friche Belle-de-Mai (since 1992), he was its deputy director for 8 years, under the presidence of architect Jean Nouvel. Ferdinand Richard was the first coordinator and expert of the International Fund for Cultural Diversity, UNESCO experts panel. He was president of The Roberto Cimetta Fund since 2009 till 2019 and founding member and executive supervisor of The Fanak Fund since 2019, funding mobility projects for artists and cultural activists in the Euro-Arab-Middle East area.
In 2013 he worked as expert for the french Cour des Comptes (High Court in charge of reviewing public expenses) on the international cultural actions of the French Governement. From 2016 till 2019 he was a member of the governing instance of the Institut du Monde Arabe in the Hauts-de-France Region/France from 2016 to 2019.
He also worked as an expert for Asia-Europe Foundation’s “Mobility First” programme from 2017 to 2020. He is a founder-member and president of Global Grand Central, global internet platform for artists and cultural activists for projects, archives, and narratives since 2017. From 2002 till 2020 he was a board member of the Observatoire des Politiques Culturelles in France.
He also worked as a musician and producer from 1971 to 2000, and he is distinguished Arts and Litterature Knight of the French Republic.
Lecturer, Università della Svizzera italiana, Switzerland
Graduated in Foreign Languages and Literature (artistic and literary track) in Milan and in Italian language, literature and culture at the Institute of Italian Studies at USI (Alma Bacciarini Prize). She gained her PhD at USI. She held a post-doctoral fellowship from the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) at the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz (KHI, Max-Planck-Institut). She has worked on the poetic production of Charles Olson, on Lalla Romano’s photo-texts, on the literary and filmic oeuvre of Marguerite Duras, Pier Paolo Pasolini and Andrej Tarkovskij, as well as on the writings and works of art of the photographer Luigi Ghirri and the artist Claudio Parmiggiani. She has also been working on translation of poetry, notably of authors such as Robert Creeley and Paul Blackburn. She is a contributor to “Antinomie. Writings and Images” (www.antinomie.it). She is a member of IAWIS/AIERTI (International Association of Word and Image Studies), AWB (Associazione italiana Walter Benjamin), ADI (Associazione degli Italianisti) and of NECS (European Network for Cinema and Media Studies).
Her research interests focus primarily on the links between the visual and audiovisual arts, literature and philosophy, with a particular attention on time and space related issues.
She is the author of critical studies (En suspens. Scenari di tempo. Marguerite Duras, Claudio Parmiggiani, Luigi Ghirri, preface by Antonella Anedda, corsiero editore, Reggio Emilia 2018) and literary texts (Come, postface by Fabio Pusterla, Cronopio, Napoli 2018).
Permanent Representative, Permanent Mission of Switzerland to the United Nations organisations in Rome, Switzerland
Ambassador Pio Wennubst, an agro-economist specialised in systemic approaches by formation, is an experienced development diplomat with extensive fieldwork. After a period as managing director of a Swiss chemical company, he joined the public sector. Between 1992 and 2008, Wennubst moved first to Nepal to work for the UN and later to different countries, such as Bolivia, Madagascar and Tanzania, to work for the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).
From 2008 to 2011, he was the deputy permanent representative of the Swiss Mission to the Rome-based UN agencies and from 2010, he was also in charge of reforming the SDC’s Global Programme Food Security. He later joined the Swiss permanent mission to the UN in New York as head of the economic and social development team where he facilitated several resolutions, including the QCPR 2012 in which the United Nations Development System reform is rooted. Subsequently, Wennubst managed for almost six years the Global Cooperation Department as assistant director general of SDC and was in charge of the Swiss support to multilateral funds and programs such as UNDP, Green Climate Fund, UNWOMEN, UNICEF, UNCDF and others.
Currently, Ambassador Wennubst is representing Switzerland at multilateral agencies based in Rome that deal with food security and agricultural development, namely FAO, IFAD, WFP and CFS. In the context of the United Nations Food Systems Summit that took place in New York in September 2021, Wennubst launched the project “Bites of Transfoodmation”, which engages youth to transform food systems through a unifying common vision.
Professor and Director, Institute of Communication and Public Policy, Università della Svizzera italiana, Switzerland
Permanent Representative, Permanent Mission of Switzerland to the United Nations organisations in Rome, Switzerland
The MEM Summer Summit welcomes applications from candidates:
- aged between 25 and 35
- from the Middle East Mediterranean region and Europe with a proven interest in the region and engagement in the society
- with diverse educational backgrounds and work experience (business, media, human rights, non-governmental organisations, politics, technology, culture, art, entertainment, creative industries, social entrepreneurship, education, and research)
- interested and willing to collaborate on across border projects with participants coming from all over the region
- with a strong knowledge of English; knowledge of French is an asset
Applicants must submit a complete application on the online YCM platform.
In addition to completing the forms on the platform, applicants must upload the following documents:
- an up-to-date curriculum vitae
- a motivation letter of no more than one page describing current interests in the MEM region and the MEM Summer Summit
- a short introduction video in English (up to two minutes long), in which the applicant introduces themselves, briefly state why they are the right candidate and how they can contribute to the Summit
A limited number of partial or full grants, offered by sponsors, are available for participating in the MEM Summer Summit 2022. The full grants cover participation and accommodation costs, and travel expenses; partial grants cover participation and accommodation costs. Grant request must be submitted with the application on the online YCM Platform.