The 20th Beirut Exchange Conference (Virtual)

History and Purpose:

The first Beirut Exchange took place in June 2008, only a few weeks after sustained violence across Lebanon led to a political settlement known as the Doha Accords. It was our belief at the time that Lebanon was in dire need of more direct and diversified understanding, especially for those who are studying the country, influencing public opinion and discourse, or shaping their own country’s foreign policies. Given the current situation that finds Lebanon slipping in terms of international focus even as its citizenry is immiserated further by the day, this is – regrettably – more true than ever.

In the years following our first Exchange, and given the evident need regionally, we steadily expanded our efforts, hosting more than 40 different Exchanges across the Middle East and North Africa – including in Tunisia, Iraq, Syria and Turkey and on Libya as well as Yemen. Thirteen years later, over 1,000 people from 51 different countries have attended an Exchange, with many alumni returning in later years to join sessions once (or several times) again.

In 2019, in order to transparently organize and further professionalize our work, we were finally able to establish The Exchange as a US-registered non-profit, under the aegis of The Foundation for Global Political Exchange, with the mission of promoting professional and academic enrichment through a variety of small group, direct engagement conferences in Western Asia and North Africa.


Crucially – and since our beginning – all funding for the Exchange comes from only two sources: First, the participants who pay the participation fee and, second, scholarship recipients who benefit from individual, charitable contributions designed to broaden the social, political and geographic diversity of each Exchange table. As such, there is no government, commercial or non-profit support, an aspect that we believe provides a relatively independent platform for dialogue and understanding.

Who should apply?

About the format:

In order to promote small group dynamics (this time via Zoom), the number of accepted participants will be capped at 35. Sessions themselves will be almost exclusively conducted on an individual rather than a panel basis for our speakers and will generally allow the opportunity for question time (simultaneous translation into English will be provided when necessary). All sessions will also be held strictly under the Chatham House rule, although we customarily work with our speakers to approve any quotes/references that participants may need for their own work whilst also facilitating direct connections between participants and speakers.

20th Beirut Exchange Session Themes (partial list only):

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About the Speakers:

Although limited by the constraints of an online format where our participants span several time zones, we have nevertheless attempted to assemble a diverse group of speakers that we believe represents the wide spectrum of thought and action characteristic of Lebanon itself. It should be noted that The Exchange pays an honorarium to those speakers that do not serve in an official or party capacity and who are also able to accept funds from our foundation.

Accepted applicants will receive the precise order of sessions with confirmed speakers (always within the daily 4pm-7:30pm Beirut Time window, Monday-Friday) one month prior to the opening of the 20th Beirut Exchange, as well as readings pertinent to the sessions. A partial list of confirmed speakers will additionally be available on our website by October 7.

The Completed Program Of The Last Beirut Exchange (January 2018):

Participation Fees:

Send me an application link

Applying for a Scholarship:

The Foundation for Global Political Exchange currently has a total of five Scholarship slots (covering the participation fee) available in two categories: A) The Lebanese/Lebanese Origin Researcher Scholarship for three Lebanese researchers who additionally demonstrate a lack of institutional or self-funding ability; B) The Global Exchange Researcher Scholarship available for two researchers who will deepen the social, political and geographic diversity of the Exchange and who can demonstrate a lack of institutional or self-funding ability.

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