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A century ago, only 10 percent of us lived in cities. According to the UN, 55 percent of the world’s population now lives in urban areas, a figure projected to increase to 68 percent by 2050. What does that mean for cities in the Arab world, and political and economic life in the future?


In the past, discussions on urbanization were often peppered with negative images of grossly overpopulated cities, endless grids of steel, concrete and glass, polluted, crime-infested and claustrophobic. This hy...

Photo: Mishaal Al Gergawi speaking at the 2017 Gaidar Forum in Moscow, Russia

The situation in West Asia may seem hopeless. Syria is in a civil war that has turned the country into a global breeding ground for extremism. Iraq continues to struggle under sectarian and secessionist tensions, weak governance and high levels of corruption. A resolution to the conflict in Yemen remains elusive with a looming humanitarian crisis. Bahrain’s internal tensions are far from resolved. Lebanon may have final...

June 24, 2016

As a result of Lebanon's open border policy, Syrian refugees now make up nearly a quarter of the country's population, placing an enormous strain on its limited resources. The government has responded with visa restrictions, placing new pressures on a vulnerable refugee population amid a prolonged political impasse, heightening Lebanese frustrations over a breakdown in services.

Against this backdrop, United Nations (UN) agencies in Lebanon are working to address refugee needs as well as the econ...

A Syrian refugee in Lesbos, Greece. CreditYannis Behrakis/Reuters

This article was originally published on January 12, 2016 in the Opinion Pages of the New York Times. It can be found here.

In the aftermath of terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, Calif., American support for accepting more Syrian refugees has withered. The Republican presidential hopeful Donald J. Trump has called for blocking all Muslims from entering the United States, saying we are at war with radical Islam. Other pol...

November 12, 2015

There is a debate within U.S. policy circles about Russian president Vladimir Putin's strategy in Syria. While all agree that Putin intervened to shore up the faltering regime of Bashar al-Assad, there are at least two interpretations of what Putin's ultimate objective is.

Secretary of State John Kerry seems to be in the camp that believes the Russian intervention is part of a strategy to strengthen the Syrian state’s hand at the negotiating table. This in turn could provide a pathway for Assad h...

In the tiny Lebanese village of Bar Elias, about two dozen Syrian women with solemn, worry-lined faces, some with infants in their laps, sat on floor mats in a dimly lit tent set up by the UNHCR. They had gathered for the “Women’s Group” meeting – an opportunity to share concerns and get advice on how to care for their families and cope with the overwhelming challenges of life as refugees.

But on this day, the conversation was not about the usual family issues. Every last woman who spoke expresse...

POMEAS OP-ED, 20 March 2015

When the Obama administration's ground-breaking effort to carve out a nuclear deal was in its initial phases, the process carried the potential to lead the region towards a more secure and stable future. With pros and cons of the talks, there was a general awareness that any rapprochement should not be limited solely to a nuclear-focused deal between the U.S. and Iran and should address the broader regional security concerns, which would otherwise pave the way for a ne...

July 2, 2014

As I write this from Beirut, Lebanon, the city is on high alert as the Lebanese army has set up check points across the country following a suicide bombing in Dahr al-Baidar on June 20th—an apparent attempt on the life of General Security Director Abbas Ibrahim. Lebanon’s Internal Security Forces (ISF) arrested 102 people in arguably the busiest neighborhood in Beirut, Hamra, linked to a potentially large-scale attack on a UNESCO summit. These events are not immediately related to the instabilit...

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The Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS)
The Johns Hopkins University