Paul-Lincke-Ufer 41, c/o Wildcorn GmbH
- Democracy and community development
- International/Cultural relations
Our main objective is to promote political education about the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) in Germany. We seek to cultivate a common ethos and sense of tolerance in the exchanges across the MENA-region and Germany that we support through journalism, research, and civil society cooperation.
Towards this end, we provide comprehensive, multi-perspectival and in-depth information about the MENA-region. This, we do in a participatory manner, where everybody can contribute, always in collaboration, where we learn from each other, and always motivated to capture the personal dimension of the political developments we cover. We have all lived or are living in different countries across the region, speak Arabic, Hebrew, or Farsi, and are well connected with our friends and partner in the different countries.
As part of our mission, we support the ensuing democratic transformation across the MENA-region. We want to inform about the possibilities and difficulties of those processes, drawing primarily on the role of civil society. In particular, we work to capture different perspectives from across the region and make them accessible to a wider audience in Germany. We thereby enhance the understanding for the recent developments in the MENA-region and contribute to the civic dialogue across the (equally real and fabricated) boundaries between Germany and the Middle East and North Africa.
Our main projects and activities are based on journalism and research about the MENA-region, as well as political study trips to different countries.
Our blog www.alsharq.de is the heart of Alsharq. On it, we publish a new article every two or three days for the past ten years already, which makes for almost 2000 contributions altogether. With the blog, we promote independent reporting as well as profound commentary about the MENA-region to contribute to the public debate about the region in Germany. As we have all lived or are currently still living in various places across the region, our comprehensive first-hand insights into the different facets of the region help to elucidate the personal, social and political dimensions of the topics we discuss.
In this way, we help to give voice to many different actors that otherwise struggle to be heard. And we pick up and reflect a variety of issues, topics and perspectives from the region – through our own reporting, feature articles from local personalities and frequent press-reviews from regional papers. Profound analyses, book-reviews and numerous interviews continue to qualify our blog as one of the most important sources of information and debate about the MENA-region in Germany. For our work, we enjoy both an ever-growing audience and critical acclaim. The Deutsche Welle user-award “Best of Blogs” in 2008 and the nomination for the “Grimme-Online-Award” in 2013 for example testify the high quality of our reporting.
As part of our political education, we also offer regular public seminars and workshops on political, economic and cultural events and developments in the Middle East and North Africa. For this, we regularly cooperate with universities, where we hold presentations or conduct seminars, and other institutions and organizations. Previous partner include for example the Heinrich-Böll-Foundation, the “Studienstiftung Villigst” or the “Staatspolitische Gesellschaft Hamburg”. In the past year alone, the panel-discussions we have initiated and led spanned from cross-border cooperation in Israel and Palestine, to life under the “Islamic State” in Syria, political re-conciliation in Yemen, and story-telling in Morocco. Moreover, we founded a network for young journalists working on the MENA-region, which serves as a forum of exchange of expertise. We also have published already a number of research series, for example on the possibilities and difficulties of reporting about the Middle East and North Africa and about the Oslo-process in Israel/Palestine. Furthermore, members of Alsharq regularly provide expert media-commentary, including for example at N-TV, Deutschland Radio Wissen, the Deutsche Welle or Detektor FM.
Finally, to better understand the Middle East and North Africa, we feel it is necessary to personally experience it. For many years, Alsharq has therefore been independently organizing and conducting political study trips to the region (Palestine/Israel, Lebanon, Egypt, Iran, Morocco). Our trips combine political education with cultural encounters in the most remarkable countryside. In this way, we provide for a unique opportunity to realize and actively engage with what it means to be living on either side of the wall between Israel and Palestine, explore Beirut along the scars from the Lebanese Civil War, or gaze at the beauty of Petra, the ancient city of rocks in Jordan. To grasp what the abstract news about the Middle East actually mean, our well experienced and locally acquainted team especially values personal meetings and conversations with many different locals. This not only helps local organizations and initiatives, but also serves to build bridges across the MENA-region and Germany.
We believe the participation in the ALF-network offers great opportunities for Alsharq. In the same time, we are highly committed to contribute to the network in Germany. As we have been doing in the past years, we value collaborative work, when different sets of experience are brought together in an inclusive and participatory manner to the mutual benefit of all participants. We believe that we can do more when we work together.
Towards this end, the members of Alsharq not only have different academic qualifications that we can all contribute to the network, ranging from Middle Eastern studies to political science, international relations, sociology and anthropology. We also have many different practical skills and experiences that we can add, which pertain to journalism, editorial processes, the organization of events, seminars, and political study trips, as well as the application for funding. Moreover, we are already very well connected not only with many different civil society actors in Germany, but also across the MENA-region. We consider it therefore a particularly important contribution to link different actors and organizations, facilitate exchange and foster constructive dialogue across Germany and the Middle East and North Africa.
As much as we believe we can contribute to the ALF-network, we also believe that we have a lot to gain from it. We have already come some way in the work we do, especially since it is voluntary and we started Alsharq from scratch. This makes for a great learning-opportunity for all of us as we make the transition from our university studies to the first career-steps. That is why we want to connect even more with other initiatives, actors and organizations to learn with and from them. We are only at the beginning and the ALF-network provides a unique opportunity to get together and work on our common goals, especially as it pertains to the many strong linkages we want to cultivate across national borders. This aspiration is not only important for us individually. We consider it especially pertinent with regard to the precedent for people-driven that was set by the popular uprisings that have captivated so many people in the MENA-region and beyond. We accordingly believe that the ALF-network can help us realize our collective responsibility in the democratic transitions, not only “there”, but also “here” – because, after all, that we are in it together. Towards this end, we would in particular hope for our membership in the ALF-network to provide us with information on how to better strategize our work, more successfully acquire funding, involve more actors and thereby contribute to sustainable civil society engagement and cooperation across Germany and the MENA-region.