BY ERIC LEE
The Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government announced yesterday that it has agreed to assist the small Middle Eastern city-state of Dubai in establishing a school of government to train its next generation of leaders. Former United States Ambassador to Yemen Barbara Bodine will be the first Executive Director of the Cambridge-based Middle East Governance Initiative, a Kennedy School program.
Dubai, one of seven members of the United Arab Emirates, is hoping the Dubai School of Government will foster discussion about governance in the region. In addition to serving as a regional forum, the School will also ideally be a point of exchange for Middle Eastern scholars to learn about the latest studies from the Kennedy School and for Cantabrigians to benefit from intimate knowledge of the region.
“The goal is mainly about knowledge transfer, to learn as well as understand the intricacies of the region while sharing ideas,” said John Neffinger, Director of Communications of the Belfer Center. “It’s a great opportunity for the Kennedy School to assist leading regional actors in their efforts to improve public administration in the region.”
The Governance Initiative will be housed in the Kennedy School’s Belfer Center of Science and International Affairs, whose larger mission of promoting policy-based knowledge that relates to international regions and issues made it a good fit.
The announcement comes amidst the ongoing three-day Arab Strategy Forum held in Dubai, which notable world leaders and policy-makers from the region and from around the world, including former President William J. Clinton. The speech announcing the school, delivered by Mohammed Al Gergawi, Secretary General of the Executive Council of Dubai, highlighted the purpose of the Forum: to envision the future of the Middle East and what global role it will play.
Neffinger said he did not know about the status of physical facilities for the new school, but according to a Kennedy School press release, representatives of the school will begin working in Dubai next March.
Administrators of the program, including Bodine, were en route to Dubai and were not available for contact. But colleagues said Bodine’s 30 years in diplomacy will make her an effective leader.
“Ambassador Bodine brings tremendous depth of experience in the region to this new post,” said Juliette Kayyem, executive director of the Belfer Center. “We’re extremely glad to have her.”
Besides serving as the U.S. Ambassador to Yemen from 1997 to 2001, Bodine has served various posts related to the Middle East, inlcuding acting as the Deputy Principal Officer in Baghdad from 1980 to 1983 and as the Deputy Chief of Mission in Kuwait during the first Gulf War. More recently she was appointed coordinator for post-conflict reconstruction for Baghdad and the central regions of Iraq.