Philanthropy in the Arab world can never be the same again. No longer will it be possible to smooch up to authoritarian governments by performing charitable acts. Foundations will have to play their full part in the transitions to peace and democracy by supporting civil society and governance reform. That was the central message of the Alliance Breakfast Club, held to follow up the December issue of Alliance on ‘Responding to the hopes of the Arab Spring’.
A three-person panel composed of Atallah Kuttab, guest editor of the December special issue and founder chairman of SAANED, Zina Jardaneh, a board member of the Welfare Association, and Salah Khalil, an Egyptian businessman and founder of the Alexandria Trust, were united in their optimism that the transitions will take root. Although they acknowledged risks, such as the potential for prolonged civil conflict and the rise of radical Islam under leaders unwilling to share power with secular political parties, the panel felt that democracy and peace will eventually prevail, and Arab states will join a community of enlightened peers.