Students Provide A Model For Arab Nations In The 2000 Model Arab League

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - On Saturday, Mar. 4, high school students from across the southwest will gather with teacher advisors and University of Arkansas students, faculty and staff to participate in the 2000 Model Arab League, an effort sponsored by the College of Education and Health Professions, the Kind Fahd Middle East Studies Program in the Fulbright College of Arts and Science, and the South Central States Committee on U.S.-Arab Relations. More than 150 high school students from Northwest Arkansas, Little Rock, Russellville, Oklahoma, Texas and Wisconsin will be in attendance.

The program, now in its fifth year, is a gathering of student "diplomats" from 22 Arab countries on North Africa and the Middle East. The students, who have spent several months learning about the politics, economics and social conditions of the regions, will have the chance to debate one another on the agenda issues of the actual Arab League.

During the day, students will tackle a variety of difficult issues in parliamentary fashion including the negotiation of a peace treaty between Syria, Lebanon and Israel, the management of water reserves in the Arab world, and the need for religious tolerance in the region.

"The Model Arab League is a manifestation of the public service we provide to schools and the public," said Mounir Farah, associate director of the King Fahd Middle East Studies Program. "It's a way for students to break down the complex issues that plague the Middle East, discuss their history and perhaps even find solutions to some of the problems. The main idea, however, is to educate high schools students on an issue that seems quite distant—with the Model Arab League, we bring the Middle East into focus for young people right here in Northwest Arkansas."

Farah stresses that the students learn to develop their own leadership skills through the process—they elect officers, conduct meetings, negotiate conflict resolution issues, propose resolutions debate and apply parliamentary procedures. Farah notes that the Model Arab League has recruitment benefits as well—many of the students who previously participated in the Model League have now enrolled in the University of Arkansas. "This activity raises the profile and reputation of the University among parents and public school educators," he said.

Keynote speaker Dr. Khalid Abdalla, chief representative for the League of Arab States in Washington, D.C., will address the students from 8:30-9:15 a.m. in the Graduate Education Building auditorium. Following Dr. Abdalla's address, students will break up into smaller committee sessions from 9:30-12 p.m. and again from 1-3 p.m. and will have a final summit session from 3:15-5 p.m. An awards dinner, from 5:30-7:30 p.m. will recognize outstanding student delegates from the day's activities.

Mounir Farah, associate director, King Fahd Middle East Studies Program, (479) 575-4771,

Montez Farah, committee director, Model Arab League, (479) 575-4771

Christine Phelan, public relations coordinator, College of Education and Health Professions, (479) 575-3138,


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