U.S. Agency for International Development
Monday, July 10, 2006
USAID Official Visits to the Middle East June 11-18, 2006
Washington, DC - U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Director of Public Diplomacy for Middle Eastern and MEPI Affairs, Walid Maalouf, traveled to Egypt and Lebanon, June 11-18, where he met with religious leaders, influential civil society members, and students to discuss U.S. foreign assistance.
“[O]ur Arab speaking diplomats must tell America’s story, not just in translated op-eds, but live,” stated Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice. Therefore, as an Arab-American representing USAID, the opportunity to return to his roots and discuss life in America was a unique experience for both Mr. Maalouf and the participants. As an additional outreach element, all of his presentations were conducted in Arabic.
In Alexandria, Mr. Maalouf visited the Egyptian Children’s Center where he listened to the children discuss their hopes for the future and was honored with a dance and an art demonstration. The center previously received a grant from MEPI to help children of Alexandria improve and excel academically. Mr. Maalouf attended a presentation at the Alexandria Business Association on USAID’s micro enterprise program and separately spoke to members of the religious, academic, judiciary, media and NGO communities at the American Center. There, his presentation, “An Arab American's Experience Bridging the Gap between Arabs and Americans," was followed by a period of question and answer.
In Cairo, Mr. Maalouf enjoyed a lively, open discussion with students at the American University (AUC). Additionally, he visited the facilities of USAID partners in the USAID’s micro-economic Poverty Lending Program and also addressed over fifty senior Egyptian decision-makers, editors and NGO leaders at the Ahram Regional Center.
During his stay in Beirut, Mr. Maalouf and the USAID Mission Director for Lebanon, Mr. Raouf Youssef, visited His Eminence Patriarch Mar Nasrallah Peter Cardinal Sfeir, the Sunni Mufti of Lebanon Sheik Mohammad Kabbani, and the Chairman of the Shiite Higher Council Sheik Abdel Amir Kabalan. Throughout these meetings, Mr. Maalouf spoke about USAID’s efforts in the broader Middle East and North Africa, and reiterated the position of President George W. Bush on Lebanese sovereignty.
The two gentlemen also visited four municipalities of Zahleh, Douma, Becheley and Kfarkatra. Mr. Maalouf concluded his trip with two speeches; one at the Lebanese American University, Byblos campus, titled “U.S. Foreign Assistance – The Challenges,” and the other at Notre Dame University, in Louezi, entitled “My American Experience – A Land of Equal opportunity.”