The University of Manchester Arab society is hosting the UK’s biggest model Arab League this weekend.
Arab societies from twelve different universities across the UK have organized for delegates to be sent to act as ambassadors and foreign ministers in the model league, based on the popular Model United Nations concept.
Besides one that has previously taken place in Birmingham, this will be the only model Arab League in the country.
The real Arab League is a regional organization of Arab states in North Africa, Northeast Africa and Southwest Asia. It seeks to improve relations between member states.
Ibrahim Olabi, Vice President of the University of Manchester Arab Society, will be chairing the event.
He told The Mancunion of the importance of the model league in getting people interested.
“Arabs themselves don’t get involved with politics a lot, enough Arabs don’t know about the politics in that area,” he said.
“After the Arab spring, things became a little more loosened and people are more willing to know what’s going on in that region.”
“More Arabs are going into politics, and non-Arabs are learning about the politics and widening their [knowledge] about an area that they’re not from.”
The selection process for the Manchester delegates was tough, says Ibrahim.
“Doing interviews will make you the most hated person on campus,” he said, “because you have to reject some people – and then they know your face.”
“It was an extremely difficult choice,” he continued. “Most people who applied were very passionate and very competent – but ultimately we had to give it to the best [candidate].”
Of the four candidates from Manchester, Ibrahim explains, “there is not one Arab between them”.
“It’s not based on experience, it’s based on passion and skills,” he said.
“I don’t want a guy [having done] a thousand model United Nations and for us to be a thousand and one. I want to give someone who doesn’t have that opportunity to put it on his CV and increase his skills.”
Topics discussed during the model Arab League will deal with real-life current issues – like the ongoing Syrian conflict.
“The Syrian government, given what has happened, has been banned from the Arab League,” Ibrahim explained.
“So one of the topics [discussed] is that the Syrian National Coalition have a seat.
“The Syrian National Coaltion is the opposition – they have a seat in the model arab league.”
Ibrahim hopes that the event will become an annual tradition.
“The agenda we have is based on what is going on now in the Arab world,” he explained, “and these things change every year.”
The model league will take place in Samuel Alexander building, from 11am to 8pm on Saturday 9th March. The event will take place in two-hour blocks, and is open to anybody interested.
“We’re planning to get as many students involved as possible.”