The Issam Fares Institute of Public Policy and International Affairs.
Several commenters and bloggers have noted the dearth of high-profile think tanks and public policy institutes in Lebanon - high profile, meaning an institute that at least dents public discourse on certain issues. Some institutes do exist today. But, when was the last time you read an article that cited the Lebanese Center for Policy Studies?
The Issam Fares Institute will be housed in a newly constructed building (due to be completed in Oct. 2008) at the AUB campus. For those of you who have graduated from that university, the structure will be built on the spot where the infirmary is located at the Green Oval.
Structure aside, the question to ask is: will the institute carve a niche for itself in the Lebanese political field? [Keeping in mind that it is a field already saturated with people who are dying (and killing) to be heard?]
We'll have to wait and see I guess!
So mark your calendars boys and girls!!! October of 2008 is the month! (Don't hold your breath though!)
Addendum: Curiosity took me to the AUB website to see if the university released its own announcement. Lo and behold, it turns out that the institute already has its own website! Check it out by clicking here.
The site is quite basic, but it does provide you with a timeline for the project (how unLebanese!!!)
Here is a quote from the website that is attributed to Issam Fares:
“The study and promotion of informed public policy and international affairs is vital to the Middle East...With the creation of this public policy Institute at the American University of Beirut, which has long been the educational heart of Lebanon and the region, the University will be able to encourage more debate andresearch on international affairs and state policy. The Institute will provide a base where academics, policy makers, and experts from around the worldcan gather to respond to the region’s needs.”
Here is a picture (also from the website) of where the building is going to be built - to the right of the palm trees.