This year’s DERASAT FORUM focused on the role of think thanks on policy making in the Middle East. The goal of the Forum was to discuss how Think Tanks contribute to policy and how enhancing cooperation might enrich this contribution.

The Forum was divided into four sessions that discussed a number of perspectives from different organisations in the Middle East, the importance of the media and their relationship with Think Tanks, a Think Tank role in combatting radicalism and extremism and finally the role of research in pursuing national economic visions.

The program is attached here for more information.

Concept Note

Since their inception during the 19th century, think tanks have been proliferating, and today, western countries feature hundreds of think tanks, producing research on a diverse range of policy-relevant issues. By assembling groups of dedicated researchers, they have come to play an important role in shaping government policy, and in mediating between the government and other key stakeholders, most importantly the general public. The role of think tanks in policy is a well-studied phenomenon, spawning a rich, interdisciplinary literature examining their history, as well as their future trajectory.

Similar to western countries, the Middle East has a large number of think tanks, including homegrown organizations and branches of global think tanks. They have been contributing to debates concerning government policy for decades. However, there are significant cultural differences in the relationship between think tanks and policy in the Middle East vis-à-vis in western countries, and these differences are understudied.

The goal of the forum was to discuss the contribution of think tanks to policy in the Middle East and explore how enhanced levels of cooperation between them can enrich their contribution to policy during the coming years.

The forum convened current and past leaders of Middle Eastern think tanks. Key researchers were also invited, as were the Middle Eastern policymakers who most often engage with think tanks. There was media representation, too, as newspapers (print and digital) play an important role in linking think tanks to policymakers and to the general public. International organizations such as the UN and its sub-organizations were also invited to participate.

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