Dear colleagues and friends,
Thank you very much for taking the time to read our newsletter. It is the end of the summer for many, and we look forward to a new start following almost two full years of lockdowns and interrupted living. It is not joy for all. Colleagues from across the world reading this piece may have fallen ill themselves or had close friends or relatives affected by the pandemic, some severely. Covid-19 continues to pose major challenges to social policies across MENA countries making clear yet again the need for solidarity and political will to build social protection systems that can deliver on essential services and enhance social welfare in the long-term.
If you are new to the work of the MENASP network, we hope you find useful ideas for your field of practice whether this is in research or policy. For colleagues who have supported the network over the years, I hope that like me, you take pride in what we have achieved together. It is always an honour for me to be part of this space and to continue to open up dialogue across different subject groups and professional fields to further the broader goals of supporting social justice and social protection in the MENA region. This is a region that shares many similar challenges to other middle-income regions of the world, and we are keen for colleagues to share comparative regional experiences and for those interested in theoretical work to look to this region for new insights. We have come some way since the late 20th century when oil defined the study of states in the MENA region. There is still some way to go if we are to reimagine the future.
As has been widely reported, recently, the secretary-general of the United Nations, António Guterres, addressed world leaders about the multiple emergencies humanity faces (by its own doing) and gave them an F grade for ethics! He reminded them that comprehensive social protection should remain a top priority for all nations in fighting widening social, political, economic, and environmental inequalities. We do not want these high-level discourses to remain goodwill speeches. We can begin by producing knowledge that is based on sound premises and we then move towards building coalitions of action.
In this issue we are sharing with you the fruits of our network member’s labours – some of them set the stage for our work such as Professor Valentine Moghadam, others have joined us in giving new shape to the work such as Dr Hicham Ait Mansour and a new generation of scholars will hopefully carry the torch forward, such as Tamara A. Kool and Noor Al-Abbas, our MENASP ECR Representatives. Thank you all!
I am especially excited in this newsletter to mention the launch of two major events: the AHRC-GCRF Research Fund Call which aims to promote new research and policy practice on conflict prevention in the MENA region, and the MENASP network webinar series. This is one good thing that came out of the pandemic for us. Let’s remain hopeful for social policy.
Last but not least, big thanks to Islam and Olivia for always making this newsletter not just a pleasure to read, but a pleasure to look at…
Valued reader: please stay in touch, get in touch, and do pass this newsletter on…