Previous Debate

Meet the Speakers

Daniel Gerlach (Moderator) Editor of zenith magazine

Daniel Gerlach holds a degree (licence d'histoire) from the Sorbonne University (Paris IV) and an MA in History and Middle Eastern Studies from Hamburg University. He co-founded and co-publishes zenith (, the leading German magazine on Middle Eastern affairs and the greater Muslim world. Daniel frequently publishes stories and analyses in leading German newspapers like Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung and Die WELT. In 2006, his monograph on Germany and the Middle East in contemporary history was published. Since 2005 Gerlach has written and directed various prime time documentary films for the German public TV station ZDF, mainly on historical and Middle East related issues.

Mahmoud Salem (a.k.a. "Sandmonkey") Egyptian blogger

Mahmoud Salem is a blogger, activist, writer and an investment banker. He is the most prominent English language Egyptian blogger and Twitterer, whose blog "Rantings of a Sandmonkey" won the best Middle East and Africa blog awards in 2006 and 2007 and has over 5.5 million unique views. His Twitter account has over 25,000 followers and he was one of the leading voices of the January 25 revolution that brought down the former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak. Mahmoud and continues to be involved in many development and transperancy projects and is currently creating a political party. His writings have appeared in the Christian Science Monitor, the New York Times, The Daily Star, The Guardian and various websites.

Mohammad Abu Obeid Al Arabiya TV Anchor

Mohammad Abu Obeid is one of the most prominent TV presenters in the Arab world today. In addition, he is well known across the Arab world for his Twitter and Facebook pages followed by several thousands fans across the region. Since 2005, Abu Obeid has been presenting the Morning Show, "Sabah Al Arabiya" on Alarabiya TV. Mohammad also is a poet, an author, and a calligrapher and he acted in two stage plays. His articles defend women rights strongly. Views expressed on reflect his own.

Lara Setrakian (via video) Dubai Bureau Chief, ABC News / Bloomberg

Lara Setrakian is correspondent for ABC News and Bloomberg Television, based in Dubai. She has covered the Middle East extensively, contributing stories from across the Arab world and Iran. Most recently, she reported from Cairo on the Egyptian revolution and tweeted regular updates from the scene in Tahrir Square. She covered Lebanon's violent unrest in May 2008 and reported from Saudi Arabia during the oil price crisis that summer. She filed an exclusive report on a $3 billion collection of modern masterpieces in the basement of Tehran's Museum of Contemporary Art, and was the only network reporter with the US Navy's counter-piracy task force when it caught its first band of suspected pirates in the Gulf of Aden. While on that assignment, Setrakian was the first American to interview the new president of war-torn Somalia, Sheikh Sherif Sheikh Ahmed.
Setrakian began her broadcasting career at WHRB-FM Radio in Boston, where she served as anchor and news director. Prior to joining ABC News, she worked as a business analyst with McKinsey & Company, focusing on finance and corporate strategy. She graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University with a degree in government and a certificate in Spanish.

Dr. Mohammed Ibahrine American University of Sharjah

Mohammed Ibahrine, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor at the American University of Sharjah, UAE. Before coming to AUS, he served at Al Akhawayn University in Ifrane, (Morocco), at Johnson County Community College in Kansas (USA), at the Universities of Hamburg and Erfurt (Germany). His reflexive interests are in the areas of 20Cs: eConomy, Commerce, Competition, Cooperation, Collaboration, Copy-right, Cybersecurity, Censorship, Communication, Computer, Connectivity, Companies, Consumers, Clients, Communities, Cities, Countries, Creativity,Content and Culture. Ibahrine started blogging in 2004 with

Helmi Noman (via Skype, via video message) Research Affiliate of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society, Harvard University

Helmi Noman is the Middle East and North Africa lead researcher for the OpenNet Initiative (ONI), a collaborative partnership of three institutions: the Citizen Lab at the Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto; the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University; and the SecDev Group (Ottawa).
Helmi leads the research on Internet, media and telecommunications laws and issues surrounding filtering and censorship in the Middle East and North Africa. Helmi's research also explores the impact of information and communication technologies on the Arab information societies, the Arabic Web content, how the use of the Internet defies the social and political structures in the region, and the potential systemic changes which cyberspace can bring to real space in the Arab world.
As a Fulbright Scholar, Helmi received a Master's degree in Communications, Computing, and Technology from Columbia University.