Centre for Dialogue, La Trobe University
Between 12 April and 8 May 2009, Joseph Camilleri led a Centre for dialogue delegation to the Middle East. The other two members were Research Fellows, Dr Michális S. Michael and Dr Luca Anceschi.
The delegation visited seven countries: United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt and the Palestinian Authority. The visit was part of a larger project (Building an Arab-Australian Intercultural Dialogue) funded by the Council for Arab-Australian Relations at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
The main objective of the visit was to explore possibilities for establishing on-going collaborative projects and relations between the Centre for Dialogue and different institutions in the region. The Centre’s delegation held more than 35 meetings during the four-week trip. Highlights of the visit included a reception at the Australian Embassy to Kuwait – at which Camilleri delivered a lecture on the relevance of intercultural dialogue for international politics – a meeting with the Syrian Minister for Higher Education Dr Ghais Barakat, a roundtable on Middle Eastern Security at the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs and a colloquium with Shaikh Muhammad Sayyid Tantawi, Grand Imam of Al-Azhar al-Sharif in Cairo.
A number of Middle Eastern institutions agreed in principle to explore future avenues of cooperation with the Centre for Dialogue. The visit was a prelude to the possible development of bilateral dialogues between Australia and a number of Middle East countries, and a major research project reviewing US policy in the Middle East and , culminating in an international symposium.