The Harvard Arab conference 2021 is North America’s largest pan-Arab conference, bringing together nearly 1,300 students and professionals to discuss key issues with the Arab region’s most prominent politicians, influencers, business people, and society leaders to have important and impactful discussions. This year, the ACH x HAWC is themed “Change by Design: Young Leaders Building the Future”. It is known that the Arab world today is ‘young, dynamic, and ready for evolutionary change’. In fact, many of the young Arabs that are speaking up are ready to shake the norms of the past, and settle new ones. Today’s Arabs and Arab-American youth are not like any one has ever seen, they are ready and have their eyes on the prize. They are ambitious, and so fed up with the norms. They want to set out, break free, and expand their horizons. With so much risk-taking, comes also its challenges. Majority of them being second generation children they are often set back from their parents’ stories, and the heavy past they need to carry, their ability to take risks makes their futures also very uncertain. Most importantly, as they are changing and constantly evolving, the Arab world, and society is too. What will become of their identity next? What are the necessary steps they need to take to achieve their goals? With their head held high, they continue to push past the negative thoughts, and continue their journey. They were recently all present at Arab Conference at Harvard, again with their eyes on the prize, and their stories woven in their hearts ready to be shared.
In case anyone has missed the incredible conference that took place March 25-28 we are presenting 4 panelist speakers that truly stood out to us, and one of them just happens to be one of the co-founders of Yalla! Let’s Talk. Here are a few of the speakers and a snapshot of what they talked about:
Amal is very active on social media, followed by more than half a million people distributed among Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat and TikTok. From a very early age Amal has been participating in many competitions that are related to literature, poetry, and fields of recitation. Growing up, she has always loved reading Arabic books thanks to her mother, and has even gone on to be a teacher of the beautiful language. She remembers when she was 13 years old, her mother gave her the book; The Days, by Taha Hussein, and she remembers highlighting its beauty and sharing it with an audience on her social media networking sites. She has recorded various Arabic language books, and her hopes for the future are to create an audio version of a whole Arabic library that highlights some of the most interesting Arabic literatures to date. She hopes that whoever does listen to her audio understands the beauty of the Arabic language, and she is keen on raising a generation that is proud of its identity, and heritage. At the Harvard Arab conference 2021 she talked about the beauty of the Arabic language and the it’s unfortunate decline to appeal to the younger generation. She also talked briefly about the pandemic and talked about the fact that the virus does not discriminate against individuals, no matter what their race, religion, or sexual orientation. She finally highlighted the importance of planning for the future, but also having a balance of living in the moment.
Hani is a social entrepreneur and lawyer who started Yalla! Let’s Talk. in 2017. During the conference he talked about the lessons he has learned throughout his journey with Yalla! Let’s Talk and the importance of purpose driven businesses. His belief was that the more knowledge a specific person’s story, the more empathetic they can become. His vision was to share the stories of these specific people and create a safe space for people to share. He wanted to make his contribution to a more inclusive world. Him, and co-founder, Mays Alwash, quickly turned their initiative to a global movement where people in the Arab diaspora and world could meet, talk and share about underrepresented issues in their community from mental health, racism, community issues, and much more. In the span of three years, Yalla! Let’s Talk has transformed into a full grown movement to amplify the voices of Arab zillennials. Aside from that, Hani is also a lawyer and is the co-founder of Emerge LLP, an innovative law firm that made legal services more accessible for startups and small businesses.
Hassan is the CEO of Memaar Al Morshedy development company in Egypt which is creating one of the worlds largest residential buildings in the world. Spanning an area the size of 30 football pitches on Cairo’s outskirts. Morshedy is all about being on a mission to create change, and make the lives of people with housing shortages better. He is providing up to 40,000 people with 13,500 new apartments all housed in what the Guinness Book of World Records claims to be the largest residential building on the planet. He has also worked with many mega celebrities including his good friend Mohammad Hadid. Hasan claims his new project is going to be one of the most iconic in the world, but also one that will help and change a lot of people’s lives. During the Harvard Arab conference 2021 he talked mostly about self development during the pandemic, and how it is important to identify the path you want to take and the goals you want to achieve. It is important to understand what personal skills you need to gain, such as public speaking and networking, to achieve those goals and work towards them accordingly. He also highlighted the importance of diversifying your portfolio in case the market falls down, and even advised youth that instead of buying a car, to invest in an apartment. He believes in educating and adding value to customers, quoting: “When you educate your client, then they’ll want to invest”.
Antonio was born in Venezuela to a Middle Eastern family growing up in Miami, and that is where he started drawing inspiration from a variety of cultures. He pursued degrees in Math, economics, and Spanish Literature from Cornell University. In 2010, Tony was awarded the Fulbright Research grant to Syria, where he studied the midday meal in three contexts: at homes, in restaurants, and in the streets. From cooking to eating, food was one thing he felt that was a natural way to explore others cultures. From his current home in Baltimore, Tony continues to document recipes and stories from Aleppo, his travels and the passion of bringing people together online and in person around the love for food.
The Harvard Arab conference 2021 is the perfect place to amplify the voices of young Arab entrepreneurs that are putting massive amounts of work to completely change the world that they live in. It takes people like the incredible individuals listed above to walk into life with a mission to shake things up, and truly touch the lives of people around the world. If you have missed the full Arab conference you can see the full list of speakers here. You are also able to listen to the full conference here. Every year the North America’s largest conference dedicated to Arabs leaves everyone inspired, motivated and ready to lead the world with change.
by Mariam Asif – YLT Staff