Belabbes Benkredda is an award-winning social innovator and the founder of the Munathara Initiative, the Arab world’s largest online and television debate forum highlighting voices of youth, women and marginalised communities. Today, Munathara operates in 11 Arab countries and has a community of some 80,000 members on its online debate platform. Its monthly prime-time TV debates are the only civil society-run, independent political talk shows on Arabic television, syndicated across several channels.
Previously, Belabbes held roles in the German Foreign Office, the League of Arab States and the Council for Arab-British Understanding. After moving to Dubai in 2005, Belabbes became a government consultant specialising in public diplomacy in the Arab world, a frequent television commentator and an op-ed columnist for the region’s leading English daily newspaper.
In 2013, he was given the NDI Democracy Award for his work in fostering citizen participation in the Arab public sphere. In 2014, he was named a senior fellow of the Salzburg Global Seminar. Belabbes studied International Relations and Philosophy of Law in Frankfurt, and holds an MA in Middle East Politics from Exeter University.
The Munathara Initiative began as The Dubai Debates in January 2011, the first independent public debating forum in the Arab world. It was suspended in the spring of 2012 as part of the UAE’s crackdown on NGOs. Munathara was then founded in Tunis to replace Dubai Debates, and seeks to expand free debate to the entire Arabic-speaking world.
The Munathara Initiative has trained more than 800 youth, garnered several hundred thousand views on YouTube and reached millions of viewers through television broadcast debates. In 2013, Munathara’s founder was awarded the Democracy Award by the National Democratic Institute in the US, for his work with the Munathara Initiative.
Munathara organises both online debates and live panel debates throughout the Middle East and North Africa. Anyone can take part in the forum by submitting an opinion video of up to 99 seconds on current debate topics. Opinion leaders are chosen by voters; ratings and votes determine which videos move up in the ranking.
Contact The Speaker
This Talk was one of many at zenithTALK Casablanca
In Casablanca young social entrepreneurs came together, discussing new approaches of education, social development and start-ups.