A Guide for Middle Eastern Think Tanks to Accompaniment the Global Changes in Infrastructure and Behavior: COVID-19 as a Chance

Mohammad S. Alzou’bi

Mohammad S. Alzou’bi, MA candidate in International Policy and Diplomacy at UK Staffordshire University, a Researcher on Middle Eastern Affairs and Fellow at Rasanah.

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Human being has always been ambitious and seeking welfare; he employed whatever he can of available and valuable tools to reach the primacy over his thought in an extreme race for the top of knowledge. For over a century, the human-being had formed gatherings to share ideas, consult each other, produce a mixture of different and innovate swift new means of communication with the future. These deliberative assemblies then turned to organized entities, institutions, and tanks, which contain the matter, cause, solution, and forward-looking perspective; those Think Tanks became the path-breaking into the process of the “doer,” and successfully penetrated the hard walls of decision-making offices, not out of coincidence, but out of need. That need made Think Tanks develop their tools, expand their knowledge, diversify their archives, and attract experts of specific thoughts and specializations. Thus, these entities become take notice of the overall process of decision making on all levels, a matter that brings decision-makers closer to an almost accurate and briefed view of certain in question cases to resolute the right call in a healthy environment.

Nowadays, a vast transformation and significant change acquired in the internal process of think tanks. The ordinary behavior of the operation depended on the traditional collecting of inputs (information) with a chronological style, introduce the case and status quo with a comparative historical status that all put in the research process. The research process based on studying and analyzing the outputs, apply the theoretical measurement tools and relevant laws of nature. The outputs will be in the core of results, recommendations, and forward-looking that are the only concern and interest for decision-makers. As the crucial point centralized in the process of short, fast and accurate forward-looking think-tanked advice, they are now trying to shift to commentaries and brief analyses styles to attract the minds of DMs and marketing its content through mini-papers, where the long process of research kept inside the archives of the research institution.

In the Middle East, think tanks still suffer several obstacles that hindered their development, a situation that got more severed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Middle Eastern TTs still underfunding and lack attention to the aspect of expanded support and stimulation. Inadequate funding for ME think tanks can lead to the weak research process within them and thus diminishing their importance and increase their state of marginalization, as poorly funded think tanks will have to attract third-degree researchers who work in an outdated manner and that cannot enrich the research process or contribute to support and decision-making within the specialization. If think tanks in the ME are economically full, then it will be first and last full in terms of trust and reputation, as it will attract experts in the field of specialization, youth and energies who live in the campus and will use the latest and most effective methods in the research process, which will have a noticeable return on enriching decision-makers ’offices with consultations and comments required.

Every M.E. think tank has its political orientation, some of them are conservative, the others are liberal or neutral, and in most circumstances, the center’s direction is affected by the route of its administration, even if it contains different political currents. Think tanks should be politically neutral, conducting their research based on transparent principles and generally not containing any differences and representing a healthy environment for study. Also, political trends should not categorically affect the process of providing political advice to the decision-maker, but rather are based on a national basis for purely national interest. The ME think tanks should enjoy full flexibility in discussions among members of different directions, and the difference of opinion among them remains evidence of political, intellectual diversity, which gives the decision-maker a more extensive range of information and scenarios that enable him to make his political decision more accurate and comprehensive.

Think tanks and civil societies in the ME still considered exclusive to its pioneers, given its limited role in societal activities and the holistic view that it is only concerned in its fields of specialization and restricted to a specific category of specialists. But the new global techniques of these institutions in penetrating social media made the content available, attractive, more joyful, and easy even for the ordinary public. Thus, the platform for multi-field knowledge expanded. Think Tanks in the Middle East also can play a significant role on the social level by adopting the youth capabilities that inhabit universities and activating their role in the research process outside the limits of university specializations, which makes their societal part more effective. There is an opportunity to attract the capabilities of young people, activate their role, discover their talents and address their problems through comprehensive intellectual programs that bring together stakeholders in the specialized think tank, and this can be reflected on society as a whole and the formation of a connected network between TTs and community through its new pioneers.

The new methods of research in global TTs should be implemented in ME ones to ensure their development. The new methods depend on a lot of advanced techniques and means that have reached far beyond the imagination of the traditional researcher who uses traditional methods. It is useful for the research mechanism in TTs to shift to new technological ways through which it can increase the accuracy rate, reduce the error rate, expand the fields of research, perspectives, and dimensions, and nominate safer scenarios that create the healthy environment necessary for sustainable development. With the tremendous technological development in the world, think tanks started to adopt artificial intelligence technology in the research process. The creation of individual sections for artificial intelligence in Middle Eastern research institutions may lead to youth appetite for new technological disciplines and open a new job market that provides opportunities for talents and energies. It will also contribute, at the level of the research process in think tanks, to increasing research advantages and reducing the time required to conduct research and scrutiny on an issue and give the decision-maker the important summarizations and commentaries as are necessary for the case under study with a margin of error decreasing to zero.

New approaches in the Middle Eastern TTs should be created to focus more on the provision of a healthy and comfortable environment as one of the reasons for the success of the internal research and administrative process in think tanks. Those responsible for establishing think tanks in the Middle East should pay great attention to how the internal environment of TTs is organized and arranged, starting with the administrative environment that may disagree with the research environment in dealing with each other and providing comfort and defusing disputes among the members of think tank itself, in order not to affect the progress of the inter-research process. The superior interaction and administrative indifference, in addition to the ambiguity and underestimation of capabilities, can lead to job frustration, which disturbs the general environment of the research facility. New environmental approaches contain unique measurements of opening internal channels of dialogue and regular meetings that could establish closer relations between members of a think tank, besides, to pay more sensitive attention to the administrative treatment for the employees and pioneers in terms of their welfare.

Many other factors affect the work of ME new think tanks and impact the process of their development. Multinationalism within the research institution enriches the workflow and introduce broader brainstorming and attract different perspectives. The multiplicity of sources of research represented by translations and websites for measuring public opinion, expand the scope of external communication and outreach, analyze previous international archives of events and related issues, and build on past experiences. Moreover, building internal networks between researchers to obtain a stable and expert infrastructure in the joint research fields, developing human resource departments, motivation, and acclaim mechanisms, seeking for real external partnerships between think tanks that will enrich the collective research process and improve the work of universities in the field of scientific research and upgrade to the international level. Think tanks in the Middle East can develop the capabilities of the subconscious minds of universities’ pioneers and enable their involvement in the process of scientific research worldwide, which will lead universities to raise new advanced classifications globally, and be more involved in the process of sustainable development.

There are thousands of think tanks around the world on all levels and specialization that took the Middle Eastern conflict as mine resource for their work enriching the global knowledge and public opinion of it and have a tremendous amount of funding on several consultations and advice for decision-makers from within the Middle East. In contrast, the ME think tanks that should be more involved with their region’s conflicts and have full awareness of the multi-level situation, either hindered, suffering obstacles, marginalized or careless. It is an aspect that all Middle Eastern think tanks should know, a lot of knowledge needs to be uncovered, and a lot of capabilities should be exploited.

Nowadays, the collective mission of think tanks around the world amid the spread of COVID-19 is hugely significant in terms of crisis management to exit the situation with the minimum casualties, and in managing the post-crisis condition as the world expects to severe economic, social, environmental, political global status. Think Tanks can merge themselves in an unprecedented public collaboration to overcome the pandemic negative consequences, and exploit the positive aspect of it, as every crisis represents a golden chance for transformation and development.

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