The Tangier Dialogue: In Search of a New, Shared Enlightenment in the Spirit of Medieval Andalusia

Eighty senior government officials, academics, journalists, business leaders and intellectuals from around the world launched the Tangier Dialogue to discuss pathways to better relations between the Middle East, Africa and the West in a series of Jalsas (“session” in Arabic), in the style of free and open discussions among scholars, philosophers and theologians in medieval Andalusia.

At the invitation of Project Aladdin, in partnership with the Moroccan Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations, a group of opinion-makers and thought leaders from Africa, Europe, the Middle East, and North and South America gathered in Tangier, Morocco, on June 9, 10 and 11, 2022, to discuss the future of relations between the West and the regions of the world with Muslim-majority populations.

The Tangier Dialogue is an annual meeting that seeks to explore how economic and geopolitical factors, technological disruption, and cultural developments are shaping trends and policies that directly impact the relations between the West and the Arab-Muslim world. The objective is to propose strategies, frameworks, and multilateral initiatives that could contribute to international and regional cooperation on tackling the drivers of extremist violence, conflict, and hate.

The launch conference was opened by Leah Pisar, Chair of Project Aladdin, Nasser Bourita, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Morocco, and Miguel Angel Moratinos, United Nations Under-Secretary General and High Representative of the UN Alliance of Civilizations, in the presence of more than 80 senior representatives of governments, Ministers, heads of international and regional organizations, and intellectuals, entrepreneurs, scholars, artists, and journalists from 30 nations in Africa, the Middle East, Europe, and North and South America.

Moussa Faki, Chairperson of the African Union Commission and former Prime Minister of Chad, delivered the keynote address on behalf of his organization, while Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa, Advisor for Diplomatic Affairs to His Majesty King Hamad bin Issa Al Khalifa of Bahrain; Sheikh Dr. Ali Rashid Al-Nuaimi, Chairman of the Defense, Interior, and Foreign Affairs Committee of the Federal National Council of the United Arab Emirates, and Gambian Minister of Foreign Affairs Mamadou Tangara spoke on behalf of their respective governments. The Crown Prince of Oman and the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia sent their ambassadors in Morocco to represent them during the two-day discussions.

The dignitaries who took part in the 2022 edition of the Tangier Dialogue included André Azoulay, Advisor to His Majesty King Mohammed VI of Morocco; José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, former Prime Minister of Spain; Enrico Letta, leader of Italy’s Democratic Party and the country’s former Prime Minister; Nasser Kamel, Secretary General of the Union for the Mediterranean; Amr Moussa, former Secretary General of the Arab League and Foreign Minister of Egypt; Mohamed Abdelsalam, Secretary General of the Higher Committee for Human Fraternity and Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Elders; former Israeli Minister and parliamentarian Ephraim Sneh; Nadia Fettah, Moroccan Minister of Economy and Finance; Leila Benali, Moroccan Minister for Energy Transition and Sustainable Development; Eric de Rothschild, Project Aladdin cofounder and President of Shoah Memorial; Armin Laschet, former Prime Minister of North Rhine Westphalia and leader of the Christian Democratic Union of Germany who is now Vice-President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe; Michaëlle Jean, former Governor General of Canada and Secretary General of the International Organization for Francophonie; Nabil Fahmy, Dean of the American University of Cairo and former Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs; Abe Radkin, Executive Director of Project Aladdin, and Ahmed Abbadi, Secretary General of the Mohammadia League of Scholars of Morocco.

Among the business leaders present at the Tangier Dialogue one could mention Ylias Akbaraly, President of Thomson-Sipromad Group; Frederik Paulsen, Honorary Chairman of Ferring Pharmaceuticals; Makonnen Asmaron, President of the Piccini Group, and Meridiam’s Omri Gainsburg and Amy Sloane-Pinel, who represented CEO Thierry Déau.

Former UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova; Sheikh Khalid bin Khalifa Al Khalifa, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the King Hamad Global Center for Peaceful Coexistence; Washington Institute executive director Robert Satloff; Adama Dieng, former Special Advisor to the Secretary General for Genocide Prevention, and Malcolm Hoenlein, Executive Vice Chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, were also present, as were Ambassador Lee Wolosky, President Obama’s special envoy and until recently Legal Counsel to President Biden; senior Conservative Peer and former British Minister of Justice Lord Wolfson, and acclaimed Franco-Moroccan author Tahar Ben Jelloun were among the participants in the discussions.

The journalists who took part in the Tangier Dialogue as participants included veteran Saudi Editor in chief of Elaph and former Editor in chief of Al-Sharq AL-Awsat, Othman Al Omeir;  Roger Cohen, New York Times; Tony Barber, Europe editor of the Financial Times; Renaud Girard, Chief international editorialist of Le Figaro; Naoufer Ramoul, Journalist and anchor at Dubai TV; Yves Kugelmann, Editor in chief of the Swiss weekly Tachles; Hatim Betioui, Journalist at Ash Sharq Al-Awsat, and Mauritanian media executive and Sahel specialist Abdullah Mohamedy Bah.

More than 60 Moroccan and international news outlets covered the conference and the event received particularly wide coverage in Arabic-language television and radio networks and newspapers.