The “Dream Deferred” Essay Contest on Civil Rights in the Middle East
Launched in 2005, this annual contest inspires young thinkers to share their dream deferred for the Middle East civil rights movement. With $10,000 in awards as well as 50 book prizes, the contest provides incentive for young Middle Easterners to express liberal ideas – and at the same time serves as a recruiting mechanism to identify emerging leaders. Indeed, past contest winners have gone on to play important roles in the “Arab Spring” and other grassroots efforts for individual rights. Outstanding essays from the first five years of the contest are collected in the anthology “Arab Spring Dreams” (Palgrave-Macmillan), featuring a foreword by Gloria Steinem and an afterword by Nobel Leaurate Lech Walesa.

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“From the Eyes to the Heart” Film Contest
A polite Arabic expression of thanks translates literally as “I show my appreciation by focusing my eyes upon you.” The phrase reflects a classic Middle Eastern concept that truths of the heart can be expressed by the focus of one’s eyes – and conversely that the eyes are the gateway to the heart. This nexus between sight and sincerity inspires this annual contest, which encourages young Middle Easterners to investigate key aspects of moral character through the creation of short films. Some viral videos have made a profound impact on young Middle Easterners’ perceptions of character – but these are suicide bombers’ glorifications of hatred and “martyrdom.” By offering $20,000 in prizes and film festival venues, the contest cultivates a new brand of short films that deepen appreciation of humility, curiosity, entrepreneurialism, future-mindedness, and diligence.

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