Rabat – The Diversity in National Security Network, a US coalition of security and foreign policy professionals, has selected Moroccan-American Ph.D. student Sarah Alaoui among 30 “next generation leaders.”
US think tank New America published the “2020 Middle Eastern and North African American National Security & Foreign Policy Next Generation Leaders” list on September 8.
Sarah Alaoui is currently a Ph.D. student in the Middle East Studies department at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, D.C.
The Moroccan researcher focuses on the intersection of international affairs, political communication and media, and diplomacy. She is particularly interested in how Arab governments use public diplomacy and communication to amplify their policies and narratives.
One of Sarah Alaoui’s recent papers focused on Morocco’s religious diplomacy efforts in Africa and the West. Her ongoing research at Johns Hopkins tackles how governments use the media industry and platforms to project their geopolitical ambitions and compete with other states in the region.
Sarah Alaoui previously worked on democracy and governance issues in North Africa at the National Democratic Institute. She also worked as a visiting researcher at the Center for American Progress, where she focused on the connection between national security and diplomacy.
Several research institutes and media have published Alaoui’s papers, including the Brookings Institution, the Atlantic Council, the USC Center on Public Diplomacy, and Al Jazeera.
In addition to conducting research, the young Moroccan works as a public affairs consultant. She also served on the board of the Network of Arab-American Professionals.
Prior to pursuing a Ph.D., Sarah Alaoui obtained a Bachelor of Arts in political science from the University of California, San Diego, and a Master of Arts in public affairs from Sciences Po Lille, in France.
Insight on MENA policies
Commenting on the recently-published list, Sarah Alaoui expressed her hope and optimism that it will inspire others of Arab heritage to pursue careers in public policy and international affairs in the US.
“I specifically encourage other Moroccan-Americans to embark on this path as well, as we are an underrepresented group within an underrepresented group,” she told Morocco World News.
According to the Moroccan researcher, it is important that policies in the MENA region include input and expertise from individuals with a deep understanding of the region.
One of the main issues among policy makers targeting the Arab world, Sarah Alaoui told MWN, is the lack of innovation and creativity.
“I have often found that the same handful of faces, with the same backgrounds, and the same viewpoints are at the table brainstorming and implementing policy in [the MENA] region,” Alaoui said.
“Old ideas are recycled, and the same issues continue to persist. Fresh thinking and fresh ideas are needed,” she added. “It is not enough to understand policy, but one must understand the people, the culture, and history of this rich region as well.”