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Thursday, 26 September 2013

Arab Spring, Islamist Harvest?

Many writers have suggested that the recent developments in the Arab world constitute more than uprisings, but are actually full blown revolutions, or thawrat to use the Arabic term. SAIIA hosted a members' only meeting addressed by Yacoob Abba Omar on this very topical issue.

Abba argued that these developments need to be examined within the framework of the ideologies of Arabism, nationalism and Islamism. This would lead to the conclusion that sweeping generalisations would be difficult and that the more enlightened approach would be to examine the experience of each country on its own terms.

Event details

Date:      Thursday, 26 September 2013
Time:      17:45 for 18:00 – 19:30
Venue:    Jan Smuts House, East Campus, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg

This was the first in a new series of events entitled “In Conversation With” provided by the Institute to offer its members insights into current issues. These events are for members only.

Speaker Biography

Yacoob Abba Omar is Director: Operations of the Mapungubwe Institute (MISTRA), a Johannesburg-based research institute focussing on socio-economic, political and scientific challenges being faced by South Africa.

Before that he served as South Africa’s Ambassador to Oman 2003-08, and then to the United Arab Emirates 2008-12. Prior to his diplomatic postings he was the Deputy Director-General of the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS). Earlier in his career he had spent almost 5 years as the General Manager: Corporate Affairs of the Ministry of Defence’s procurement wing, Armscor. He has held board positions on the New Media Institute for South Africa and the South African National AIDS Council, and also headed up the Presidency’s Scenario Project in 2002 and then in 2007.

Before South Africa’s first democratic elections in 1994, Abba spent many years fighting against apartheid as a student leader, community organiser and as an underground operative of the ANC. He was detained on several occasions and eventually went into exile in 1985 to escape imprisonment. He continued serving the African National Congress on a full-time basis until the 1994 elections.

He is currently reading for his PhD on ‘Sovereignty and National Identity in South Africa’ through Wits University. He graduated with an MPhil in South African Political Economy through the Nelson Mandela University and completed the Advanced Executive Programme through the School of Business Leadership of UNISA.