08/07/2011

Think Tank Development Dialogue: a model for Civil Society

The 1st Think Tank Development Dialogue in the GCC: Potentials, Challenges and Benefits was organized on 7th July in Crowne Plaza Salalah by Tawasul and Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS), a German Think Tank based in Abu Dhabi.

A second Dialogue on Research and the Making of Development: The Role of Think Tank was organized at Hilton Salalah in the evening. Numerous Think Tanks and Media Organizations working on GCC countries were present such as Brookings Doha, International IDEA, Silatech, RAND or Bridging the Gulf. Researchers and Academicians from different countries discussed the the potentials, challenges and benefits of Think Tanks at several levels in order to determine their status in the GCC region and identify their strengths, weakness, opportunities and threats. They also deduced a framework of action to synergize sustainable development of Think Tanks in the region, this will include legal, financial and advocacy aspects and developed support and guidance schemes by Think Tanks to CSOs in the region.

Dr. Mashael Al Hajri, Professor at Kuwait University’s Faculty of Law and Researcher, considers that the way to enhance Dialogue between the Think Tanks in the GCC to support their development would be first to identify these Think Tanks, which are still not visible. This lack of visibility is also pointed by Dr. Gidon Windecker, Project Manager of KAS, who advice to promote more the idea of Think Tanks as a bridge between the Civil Society and the governments.

Dr. Ettore Greco, Director of the Institute of International Affairs in Italy, highlighted that Civil Society and activists should become more aware of think tanks, which are the centers of gravity for independent research to help development. According to Mr. Justin Sykes, Manager of Social Innovation at Silatech, to overcome the challenges that think tanks face in the GCC, they need to increase openness of Stakeholders such as government, media and public in order to be more receptive of them and been more accepted.

Dr. Ibrahim Sharqieh, Deputy Director of Brookings Doha pointed that Think Tanks should emphasize the quality in the funding and educational aspect in order to promote them. In his opinion, it is important after such a brainstorming event to follow up in the future and create a better communication and coordination between the Think Tanks in the GCC.

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