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GCC experts to meet in Oman

To discuss among other things the role and impact of think tanks

Gulf News

Muscat: A dozen experts from six GCC member states will gather from Sunday in Oman’s southern city of Salalah, about 1,000km south of Muscat, to discuss among other things the role and impact of think tanks in the region, according to a press release issued by the country’s only independent think tank Tawasul.

“The conference - AFKAR 3 [Idea] – will focus on discussions about think tanks’ role within their respective societies,” a spokesman for Tawasul said. AFKAR 3 is the continuation of a series of annual meetings of regional think tanks.

He said that the two-day dialogue will be an annual working meeting for active think tanks to strengthen their networking, effectiveness and impact in the GCC region. “The meeting will also aim to extend the existing framework of action to synergise their sustainable development,” he added.

The spokesman said that Tawasul had been working on the topic of the role and impact of think tanks in the region since 2011, starting with the first GCC Think tanks Dialogue.

“The exploration of this topic formed the basis for the first phase of the project which concluded in a first working draft paper that was presented at the second regional meeting of think tanks,” he pointed out.

He said that the research paper aimed to address the main issues and challenges and suggested a matrix of indicators and mechanisms of impact assessment for think tanks in the GCC.

“Throughout the course of the research, it became apparent that no comprehensive ‘impact assessment’ has been systematically conducted among think tanks in this region,” he said.

He says that GCC think tanks were potentially missing opportunities to enhance communication, access to constituencies, improve efficiency and develop better relationships with stakeholders.

“As a result, Tawasul is currently working on the revisions of the matrix and paper for part of the next phase of the project,” the Omani think tank’s spokesman said.

He revealed that there were plans to turn the research paper and revised matrix into a handbook or tool kit to measure policy impact that could be implemented by GCC think tanks and other non-governmental entities in an attempt to influence policy in the region.

Representatives from various regional think tanks such as the Arab Planning Institute, the Emirates Centre for Research, the Dubai School of Government, Brookings Doha, Rand Doha, Konrad Adenauer Foundation and other well-known and reputed regional researchers will be attending the sessions and sharing knowledge and best practices.