To celebrate 4 December, Arab Expatriates Day, Project Officer and proud Arab expatriate Hala Tarabay, puts the spotlight on the meaningful initiatives we have undertaken to support diaspora engagement in her home region…
The significance of diaspora engagement in the Arab region has come into sharp focus recently. Over the past decade, declarations from Arab summits have consistently referenced Arab expatriates, underscoring the profound interest in promoting their role in the development of their countries of heritage. As highlighted in the diaspora engagement regional overview, the League of Arab States (LAS) has been at the forefront of these efforts, implementing programs to foster connections between the diaspora and their home countries through cultural trips, studies, reports, conferences, and various engagements.
In the past three years, I have had the privilege of collaborating with Egypt and Lebanon, pioneers in the region. Arab Expatriates Day is the perfect occasion to celebrate these two collaborations and the enormous potential of diaspora engagement for development in the region.
Egypt: Attracting diaspora investment
The action with the General Authority for Investment and Free Zones (GAFI) and ANIMA Investment Network was a two year partnership to enhance GAFI’s capacity to attract expatriate investments into Egypt. During the closing meeting in Cairo on 23 November, we celebrated the outcomes that included an operational roadmap for the Egyptian Expatriate Investment Unit within GAFI, aimed at attracting expatriate investments. This initiative not only strengthened Egypt’s capacity but also fostered collaboration on the subject within the Arab world through a peer exchange between Egypt and Morocco.
Lebanon: Diaspora boost the tech sector’s export potential
Beginning in April 2021, a one year collaborative initiative involving the Association Franco-Libanaise des Professionnels de l’Informatique (AFPI) and Berytech resulted in the creation of a training manual and a promotion plan tailored for Lebanese small and medium enterprises (SMEs), focusing on the export of tech services. As AFPI continues supporting the Lebanese tech sector with the materials generated during the action, Berytech has embarked on new ventures targeting the diaspora building on the opportunities identified during our collaboration. One such initiative, Lebanon Innovate, is designed to nurture innovation by supporting Intellectual Property (IP) and knowledge transfer, and positions diaspora as key facilitators for international market access.
As I look back on these two actions at the end of EUDiF’s involvement, but the beginning of new chapters for expatriate investors in Egypt and the Lebanese tech sector and its diaspora champions, I am grateful for the passion and dedication of all partners which allowed us to achieve so much in a relatively short space of time.
I look forward to seeing how the results will propel each country’s diaspora engagement journey. As the Middle East continues to endure severe challenges, as an Arab expatriate myself, I hope that there will be more and more partnerships between governments, private sector and diaspora to drive collaborations and support the development of the region of my heart.