In this file image Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Abdullatif Al Zayani standby prior to signing the Abraham Accords at the White House in Washington, US Image Credit: AP

“Sharaka,” which means ‘partnership’ in Arabic, was established after the signing of the Abraham Accords in 2020.

It is a non-profit, non-partisan organisation founded by young leaders from Israel, the UAE and Bahrain to transform a vision of peace into reality through citizen diplomacy.

When “Sharaka” was established in the Arab Gulf, its main objective was to enhance cultural communication between people of the Abraham Accords countries.

Therefore, its efforts since its inception have been focused on cultural events that reacquaint people with one another, as when it hosted a virtual “Sharaka” event to commemorate the Holocaust in the Arab world.

The organisation has also held joint events in the UAE, Israel, Morocco and Bahrain to celebrate Islamic and Jewish events, and sent Arab Gulf delegations to Israel and Israelis to the Arab Gulf.

They have also sent delegations from “Sharaka” to the United States to strengthen relations with American Jewish organisations with a view to promoting the peace process, which is in everybody’s interests, and to create opportunities for cooperation at all levels.

Deeper than cultural cooperation

One of the outcomes of the historical Abraham Accords was the establishment of “Sharaka”. But the goals of these agreements go much deeper than cultural cooperation and in light of the recent political tensions and security events in the region, those in charge of "Sharaka" were motivated not to limit their ambitions only to cultural events among citizens, but to develop links across academia and research as well; hence, the “Sharaka Scholars Forum” was born.

It is a scientific forum that will study the impact of the Abraham Accords on the region’s development, discussing a range of aspects, most notably geopolitical and economic affairs as well as media, international law, technology, and even defence, security, and the military.

The mission of the “Sharaka Scholars Forum” is to offer an academic dimension to the Abraham Accords and other peace agreements in the Middle East, with the aim of positively impacting on the development and stability of the region.

This will be achieved by enriching relationships among the region’s citizens through discussion rooted in science and reasoning, regardless of religion, race or historical conflicts. The vision of the forum is to influence opponents and those reluctant to believe that the Abraham Accords or other peace agreements in various fields such as security, stability, economy, technology, etc, can be effective instruments in peace-building.

The forum will demonstrate how these agreements can play a pivotal role by solving long-lasting conflict through the sharing of scientific facts and compelling recommendations based on research shared in the Forum.

“Sharaka Scholars Forum”

By defining this mission and vision, the “Sharaka Scholars Forum” might be classified as a form of “science diplomacy”, which is diplomacy that uses scientific research to contribute to resolving political conflicts and overcoming foreign policy crises and long-standing conflicts such as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Therefore, the focus is not so much on the political conflicts, but on scientific cooperation that might contribute to resolving those conflicts. Science diplomacy can also be used to overcome cultural and religious differences, and thus is an important bridge between countries.

Science diplomacy can be used in two ways: The first facilitates international scientific cooperation even among countries that do not have political diplomatic relations. The second is where science is used as a diplomatic tool and international relations are improved through scientific cooperation. The role of the “Sharaka Scholars Forum” will be to convey the results of this diplomacy to the public through various media platforms.

The ultimate goal is eventually to transform “Sharaka Scholars Forum” into a think tank specialised in promoting peace in the region through research and study in various fields, to explain the benefits of peace to the Arab world, specifically from a scientific and academic perspective. For these reasons, the majority of participants in the Forum will be researchers, academics and policy makers from the Arab world.

When peace processes enter a phase of stagnation, changes need to be made and out-of-the-box thinking is required to create new opportunities. This is how the Abraham Accords came about; they emerged from a peace process that had stagnated for decades.

The “Sharaka Scholars Forum”, through “Science Diplomacy” approach, will advance the peace process by shifting the focus from political conflict and disputes to scientific cooperation that might contribute to resolving these conflicts.

Dr. Najat Al-Saied is the Media Affairs and Academic Advisor of Sharaka and Adjunct Assistant Professor at AUE specialised in political media and communication