Ninth annual Sir Bani Yas Forum concludes in Abu Dhabi

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(Abu Dhabi) – The ninth annual Sir Bani Yas Forum, organised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation in collaboration with the Washington-based Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), concluded at the Qasr Al Sarab resort in the Liwa Desert of Abu Dhabi.

The annual high-level retreat is the initiative of H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.

The Forum, which ran from 16th to 18th November, brought together leading policy and opinion-makers to discuss vital issues relevant to peace and security in the Middle East. The setting of this retreat fostered open dialogue about difficult yet essential issues and allowed new ideas to be debated and developed.

The participants were current and former foreign ministers from around the world, as well as a select number of international policy experts. Over the course of three days, they shared their expertise and understanding of regional issues. The presentations and panel discussions addressed a wide host of pressing matters facing the region, including Yemen, Syria, Libya, the Middle East Peace Process, and changing regional trends and demographics.

With regard to the value the forum brings, Terje Rod-Larsen, board member and President of the International Peace Institute, said, “There is no place like the Sir Bani Yas Forum to have serious discussions with serious people about the most pressing issues in the Middle East.”

Emma Sky, Director of Yale University World Fellows Programme and Senior Fellow at the Jackson Institute for Global Affairs, remarked, “There was real discussion of the challenges facing the region; and plenty of opportunities for sidebar conversations to go further in depth. Sir Bani Yas provides the environment for frank and open conversation. It was clear that strong relationships and trust have been built up over the decade of participation of some delegates.”

Ahmed Aboul Gheit, Secretary-General of the Arab League, said, “The agenda is full, but the discussions are invaluable.”

Dr. James Zogby, President of the Arab American Institute, also conducted exclusive polling for the Forum. He surveyed thousands of people across the region from Arab states to Turkey and Iran, gathering their attitudes toward key issues facing the Middle East. This polling allowed the participants to understand how citizens of the region are reacting and responding to these issues.