arab world

Soft power refers to the ability to change what others think and do through attraction and persuasion rather than compulsion and coercion. Scholars are still divided and failed to agree on an exact definition of soft power which remains loose and vague.

Cultural diplomacy takes political diplomacy a step further. It is a more three-dimensional approach, where there is vastly more investment in understanding the background, culture and history of a group of people, while simultaneously focusing on using love to achieve lasting peaceful negotiations.

Though some museums shy away from the politics of art, hoping to keep them in separate realms, AMOCAH does no such thing. The museum’s opening exhibit directly addresses its community-oriented role. Titled "HIWAR," the word translates roughly into English as “dialogue,” but more precisely denotes a conversation between two plus people or parties working together toward a positive resolution without animosity.

As hundreds of millions of young Arabs watch the world around them, they see the Saudis ordering a thousand lashes and ten years in prison for a blogger who encouraged online debate about religious and political issues... They see a mass murderer running what little is left of Syria, using barrel bombs and chemical weapons against his own people. And what are the Western powers doing? Next to nothing. 

The popularity of the World Cup is making for some unexpected relationships in Egypt, especially after a mooted deal to show the games on Egyptian TV fell through. As Algeria takes on Germany in the second round of the World Cup in Brazil this evening most Egyptian fans will be rooting the Algerians, an incredible happenstance when one considers the enmities around the Egypt v Algeria match in November 2009 which saw attacks on Algerians in Cairo and on the Egyptian embassy in Algiers.

No matter how entrenched animosities in the Middle East may be, one principle is upheld by all: never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity. The controversy over access to broadcasts of World Cup matches makes that clear. Pricing by Qatari entities holding World Cup rights for the Middle East and North Africa, including Al Jazeera's belN Sports channel, puts broadcasts beyond the reach of many football fans in the region. Inevitably, that is a public issue in a soccer-crazy part of the world. 

Over the past decade the Arab world has witnessed a shifting of not only hard power -- which saw the traditional armies of the Arab world in Syria, Egypt and Iraq consumed in internal turmoil -- but also of what Harvard professor Joseph Nye termed "soft power," which has moved from these countries to the resource rich Gulf states.