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The Arab world’s future diplomats

LAU inaugurated on February 15 its Third Model Arab League (MAL) program, designed to teach students the power of conflict resolution and communication.

Around 800 students from 80 schools across Lebanon will participate in this year’s MAL, which is accredited by the National Council on U.S.–Arab Relations and held in partnership with the Hariri Foundation for Sustainable Human Development.

The program, which is delivered by trained LAU students, gives students a glimpse into the world of Arab diplomacy. Over the course of the next four months, participants will receive training in the mechanisms of the Arab League, including rules of procedure, resolution writing and negotiating. The culminating conference on May 10 and 11 will see them put their skills to the test at a simulated session of the Arab League, representing one of the League’s 22 member-states.

The opening ceremony was attended by LAU President Dr. Joseph G. Jabbra, several diplomats and MP Bahia Hariri, who is also president of the Hariri Foundation for Sustainable Human Development. The program was officially launched by Ali Sibai, MAL secretary general and LAU student.

Established in 2011, LAU’s MAL program was born out of the university’s belief in the power of young people to contribute to positive change in the world, as well as the potential of the Arab League to unite a divided region, said Jabbra. “The best hope we have in life for human beings is peace and freedom based on respect for the rule of law,” he said, promising that LAU will always remain an institution committed to young people and civic engagement.

“Empowering Arab youth is at the heart of Model Arab League, where decisions are taken for the sake of stability and peace,” said Elie Samia, ‎executive director of LAU’s Outreach and Civic Engagement, which runs the program.

Since its inception, LAU’s MAL teams have proven to be highly gifted. At the 2011 Model Arab League conference in Paris, it received Best Delegation Award and three Honorable Mention Awards.

MAL is a “unique opportunity” for students from across Lebanon to learn more about the rules and procedures of diplomacy, said Hariri, recalling Lebanon’s proud role in contributing to the drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

LAU also runs a successful Model United Nations program, which likewise develops youth leadership through coaching students in project management, team building, non-violent communication, diplomacy and conflict transformation.