It was a bustling scene at Georgetown University in Washington, DC, with over 300 delegates assembling into the committee rooms of the National University Model Arab League (NUMAL) Conference hosted by the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations (NCUSAR).
The NUMAL Experience
The National University Model Arab League showcased a total of ten committees.
The Joint Defense Council, the Council on Palestinian Affairs, the Summit of Arab Heads of State, the Council of Arab Social Affairs Ministers, the Joint Cabinet Crisis, the Council on Political Affairs, the Arab Court of Justice, the Council of Arab Environmental Affairs Ministers, the Special Council on Arab Youth, and the Council of Arab Economic Affairs Ministers.
Addressed by the National Council on Arab-U.S. Relation’s founder and CEO, Dr. John Duke Anthony and receiving embassy briefings during the weekend, university students received immense exposure to Middle Eastern affairs from Washington experts.
More than twenty-five schools converged at NUMAL, with delegates originating from the Washington area to all the way from Cairo. This diverse population of delegates proved useful in each committee, with topics like “Iraq vs. Saudi Arabia” in the Arab Court of Justice, or the “Kurdistan Regional Government” and the “Iraqi National Government” in the Joint-Cabinet Crises.
In the Joint-Defense Council, delegates debated the manner in which to establish annual joint military exercises and research initiatives between member states. The Council on Palestinian Affairs devised means to ensure the accessibility of goods and restrictions imposed on Palestinian borders. The Council on Political Affairs moved to incorporate women into the political process and usher equal representation onto the Arab stage, while in the Council of Arab Social Affairs Ministers discussed the roles of foreign workers in host societies.
The Council on Arab Economic Affairs Ministers addressed strategies to attract foreign investment into the Arab world, the Summit of Arab Heads of State discussed the necessary means to establish an Arab Common Market by the year 2020 and free movement of labor between Arab countries, and the Special Council on Arab Youth investigated means to limit gender discrimination in the workplace for Arab women and expand their employment opportunities.
Selection of the Secretariat & Preparation Process
Each Model Arab League, National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations program directors, Josh Hildabrand and Kaylee Boalt, conduct intensive rounds of interviews and applications to effectively select the next secretariat members.
“This was my first experience organizing and conducting the National University MAL as a National Council employee – I was previously a delegate from Converse College for the last four NUMALs. I didn’t realize just how much organization and outreach went into making NCUSAR’s largest conference of the year a success. It was a humbling and joyful experience to reunite with the delegates I’ve met over the years and watching them excel at debate and diplomacy…that’s why we do what we do.” Boalt says.
Outside of the secretariat, the staff members apply to work at NUMAL throughout the year. They contribute to the writing and background guide process, and originate from all over the United States.
All committees – like Model United Nations – offer a background guide, along with preparative resources like research advice and parliamentary procedure guidelines. Secretary General, Tyler Swensen, acknowledged the NUMAL chair’s dedication and creative contribution to the program proved to be a solid foundation for success this year in Washington.
“The chairs and secretariat began prepping for the National Model Arab League in June of 2014 when each chair drafted the topics and background guides for their committee. During the conference every member of the secretariat worked tirelessly to ensure that the committees were as effective as possible.”
The Benefits of MAL
In addition to the opportunity to access leadership in Model Arab League, NCUSAR offers a slew of benefits to MAL alumnae. Immediately following registration, the National Council offers delegations an array of Embassy visits to the embassies of the country is representing, where they receive a briefing about the country and a chance to interact with diplomatic representatives.
At MAL conferences the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations educates delegates about their summer internship program, their Arabic language immersion programs, and their expense-paid study visits to a number of Arab countries. Some of these opportunities are only limited to those who have participated in Model Arab League, and initiates a relationship between delegates the Model Arab League program and the Council itself.
Staying continuant with the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relation’s mission to enable the United States to understand and engage in interaction with the Arab World. Model Arab League was created in 1983 to offer delegates a chance to gain insight on the affairs the Arab World faces – whether economic, political, environmental, or social.
Model Arab League is a phenomenon that attracts a large majority of the Model UN community, offering an experience much similar to that of general assemblies, specialized committees, and joint-committee crises in Model United Nations. MAL pertains to the Model UN delegate that wishes to hone in on the Middle East, going from a Model UN environment of 193 member states to just 22.
With an intimate environment, debate and resolve run fast in a typical Model Arab League committee – with multiple resolutions passed daily – and offers an atmosphere that any Model UN delegate could easily incorporate to improve their skill sets. A Model Arab League delegate, Sarmat Chowdury, believes Model Arab League is something all Model UN delegates should try out.
“As President of a Model United Nations organization, I recommend many Model UN delegates to try it out. It’s a great platform for those interested in the onto the collegiate circuit. For those that are crisis orientated, never fear; MAL incorporates crisis into their deliberations, even offering JCCs.”
The Model Arab League circuit and outreach is vast – holding over 24 conferences each year for both high school and university students all over the United States and the International stage. Model Arab League, while based in the Nation’s Capital, expands to regions where Model UN is not incredibly popular and offers university and high school delegates engagement in diplomacy at a very accessible location.
Sitting Down with NUMAL’s Secretary General
Best Delegate got the opportunity to discuss the long process that goes into the National Model Arab League with NUMAL’s Secretary General, Tyler Swensen, to discuss what makes NUMAL so special:
“MAL offers a truly unique experience compared to other Model governments in that the region is so different from what we as Americans experience in day to day life. Filling the shoes of diplomats from such a dynamic and troubled part of the world inspires empathy in each of us and fosters understanding of Arab history and culture, something sorely lacking in American news media and public opinion.”
Congratulations to the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations and the NUMAL secretariat for putting on another successful Model Arab League Conference, and to the delegations who won awards!
Distinguished Delegation Awards:
American University in Cairo for representation of Lebanon
Converse College for representation of Bahrain
Georgia State University for representation of Tunisia
Outstanding Delegation Award:
Northeastern University for representation of Jordan
For more information about Model Arab League, check out their website here.
(This Conference Recap was provided by Caroline Rose)