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Middle East Economic Engineering Forum

Middle East Regional Economic News

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2nd Middle East Waste and Environmental

Management Congress - Dead Sea
17-19 February, 2009


أخبار الشرق الأوسط الاقتصادية - Middle East Regional Economic News - 共發現


Held in conjunction with Muslims on Screen and Television (MOST), aimed at

promoting understanding of Islam and Arabs

Abu Dhabi, 16 October 2008: In line with the aims of MEIFF to encourage dialogue between industry key players across cultural divides, the Middle East International Film Festival (MEIFF) will host a discussion panel in conjunction with the USA’s Muslims on Screen and Television (MOST) on Saturday 18th October, 12pm at Emirates Palace.

“At a time of great tension and mutual suspicion between the United States and the Muslim world, there remains a critical need for increased understanding and accurate representation on both sides,” said Mohamed Khalaf Al Mazrouei, Vice Chairman of MEIFF and Director General of the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage (ADACH).

MOST is a joint initiative between Washington DC thinktank - the Brookings Institution - and Film and Education NGO Unity Productions Foundation; Gallup; and the One Nation for All Foundation; MOST provides valuable resources and accurate information on Islam and Arabs for the US entertainment community.

As Arab and Muslim themes and characters increasingly appear on television and film, they present an especially complex challenge to those writers and producers seeking to present nuanced portrayals, not stereotypes. Recognising the power of the arts to increase knowledge and impact society, MOST seeks to create and maintain a relationship with the creative community in American film and television.

“This inaugural MEIFF / MOST panel discussion will hopefully play a vital role in balancing portrayals of Arab and Muslim characters and themes on American film and television, with MEIFF providing the ideal platform to commence meaningful dialogue on the topic,” said MEIFF’s Director Nashwa Al Ruwaini.

Addressing the topic Challenging stereotypes – what film can and cannot do, and the role of the US-Muslim world partnerships”, the panel will be moderated by Cynthia Schneider and includes panellists Omar Amanant, Kerem Bayrak, Chip Johannessen, Abdullah Bjad Al Oteibi, Mishari Al Oteibi, Kamran Pasha, Leena Al Ali, and Pelin Turgut with the participation of Nashwa Al Ruwaini, Ovidio Salazar and Bader Ben Hirsi.

Panelists will discuss the following questions – 1. How can film effectively challenge the negative stereotypes of Muslims and Islam that dominate Western popular culture?

2. What are the most effective ways for western filmmakers and industries, particularly in the US, to engage with filmmakers in the Muslim world? 3. What are ‘best practice’ examples of programmes or collaborations? 4. How does a filmmaker from the Muslim world ‘make it’ on a global scale?  5. What does ‘making it’ mean for today’s filmmakers from the diaspora, or from Turkey, Egypt, or other Muslim majority countries?

In keeping with the Brookings Institution’s original mandate and with Unity Production Foundation’s, Gallup’s and One Nation’s missions, Muslims on Screen and Television aims to inform the public debate, not advance a political agenda.

The MOST initiative importantly keeps in mind that millions of Arabs and Muslims are also American citizens - living, working and raising families in the United States.


For all press inquiries, images and for more information, please e-mail  

or contact

Doha Al Wazany, Action UAE – Abu Dhabi

mobile:  +971 50 662 7930


Moderator biog: Cynthia P. Schneider

Cynthia P. Schneider teaches, publishes, and organises initiatives in the field of cultural diplomacy, with a focus on relations with the Muslim world. She received her B.A. and Ph.D. from Harvard University. For the Brookings Institution she leads the Arts and Culture Initiative within the Saban Center for Middle East Policy. She teaches courses in Diplomacy and Culture at Georgetown University, where, from 1984-2005, she was a member of the art history faculty, and published on Rembrandt and seventeenth century Dutch art. From 1998-2001 she served as U.S. Ambassador to the Netherlands. During the 1980s Dr. Schneider curated exhibitions at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and the National Gallery in Washington. She serves on the Boards of Directors of Wesley Theological Seminary and the Institute of Cultural Diplomacy.

Panellist biogs

Kerem Bayrak

After graduating from the London International Film School in 1998, Bayrak worked as a story editor for New Line Cinema/ Fine Line Features, London, where he took up several projects including The Sleeping Dictionary, Ripley’s Game and Dancer in the Dark. He moved to in NYC in 2001 where became consultant for Cinetic Media. In NYC he worked on numerous award winning features and documentaries including Napolean Dynamite, Super Size Me, and Before Sunrise before moving back to London in 2004 to take up the position of business affairs executive at Artists Independent Films. Bayrak currently works for Zefram Productions Ltd as research executive and writes as a freelance reporter for IndieWire.

Abdullah Bjad Al Oteibi

Born in 1971 in Saudi Arabia, Al Oteibi is a researcher and writer, focusing on issues relating to political Islam and terrorism. He published several articles and studies in leading Arab magazines and newspapers including Al Hayat newspaper. Currently, he works as a consultant in MBC group and as a general supervisor on the show Death Industry on Al Arabiya channel. He is also the General Manager of Al Mesbar Studies and Research Center in Dubai and writes articles for the Saudi journal “Al Reyadh”, the Emirati newspaper Al Itihad and Fawasel magazine.

Kamran Pasha

Kamran Pasha is a writer and producer for acclaimed TV series including NBC’s Kings and Bionic Woman, and Showtime Network’s Sleeper Cell. An expert on the Middle East, he is one of the few successful Muslim screenwriters in Hollywood. In 2003, he set up his first feature script Taj Mahal at Warner Brothers. He is currently writing an epic film entitled The Voyage of Ibn Batutta. Pasha will soon publish two novels, Mother of the Believers, and Shadow of the Swords. Pasha holds a JD from Cornell Law School, an MBA from Dartmouth and an MFA from UCLA Film School. He worked as a journalist in New York City for three years, and interviewed prominent figures including Shimon Peres and Benazir Bhutto.

Chip Johannessen

Chip began writing series television on Beverly Hills, 90210 and went on to become a contributor to the X-Files and Executive Producer on Millennium. Prior to the 2007-08 Writers Guild strike he was Executive Producer of Moonlight, with producer Joel Silver. This year he returned to Fox's real time drama 24 as a Consulting Producer. Before working in TV, Chip was a guitarist in New York City and wrote for the Harvard Lampoon.  

Pelin Turgut biog

Pelin Turgut writes about Turkey for publications like TIME magazine and The Independent on a variety of political and cultural issues. She is also co-founder of the !f Istanbul International Independent Film Festival, the region’s premier festival dedicated to cutting-edge local and international independent cinema, which celebrates its eighth edition in February 2009. The festival is attended by some 70,000 people and hosts leading filmmakers, actors and producers from around the world. Turgut holds a BA from Bryn Mawr College. She lives in Istanbul, Turkey.

Leena Al Ali biog

Leena El-Ali grew up in the Middle East, West Africa and Europe, and studied Economics at the American University of Beirut and Oxford University. For the past 20 years, she has been living and working in the United Kingdom and the United States where she spent over a decade as a fund manager and debt strategist before turning to an entrepreneurial career. She is Senior Programme Director at Search for Common Ground, an international non-profit organisation in the field of conflict transformation with offices in 18 countries. She manages the organisation’s Partners in Humanity programme. She also runs a programme for Lebanon, working through the Ministry of Education as well as the leading television channel, the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation.


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