Oriental Hall, etc.

Happenings, speakers, and events at the American University in Cairo in Spring 2018.

The Saudi-born Lubna S. Olayan, CEO and deputy chairman of Olayan Financing Company, delivered some hard truths about the Arab World. Eighty-five million people in the region are illiterate. Poverty affects almost a quarter of an Arab population of 150 million, and 50 percent of the world’s refugees are Arab. And yet, young people can be agents of change, argues Olayan, delivering AUC’s Nadia Younes Memorial Lecture, established in honor of the Egyptian UN official killed in the bombing of UN headquarters in Baghdad in 2003. “How can we be surprised by the wakeup call young people are giving us?” she rhetorically asks, referring to the 2010–11 Arab uprisings, adding that “our young people are looking for the opportunity to contribute.” Education reform is the vital first step. As a child, Olayan remembers her father moving her and her sisters from Saudi Arabia to Beirut because there weren’t any schools available for girls in Saudi Arabia. Today, Olayan is paying back this opportunity by chairing Alfanar, the first venture philanthropy organization in the Middle East. Arab governments, she says, should match individual and company donations to encourage philanthropy. “What better way to start than by focusing on social impact?”

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