Arab and American Business Fellowship

Purposeful citizen diplomacy transforms professional relationships between colleagues around the world into catalysts for shared understanding that has far-reaching impacts on society.

The common language of business is often the way professionals from around the world interact with colleagues across cultures. The Arab and American Business Fellowship (AABF) brings high-potential young executives from the Middle East to the United States to learn about American business, society and culture, and sends young American executives to Middle Eastern countries for the same purpose.

This private sector-led exchange program creates relationships to foster professional development, corporate success, and economic growth as well as cross-cultural understanding and respect.

Launched in 2007 by Business for Diplomatic Action, the Young Arab Leaders, and The Center for Citizen Diplomacy, it has been a transformative experience for the influential young Arabs and Americans who have participated to date.

  • Understanding culture through business

    The Arab American Business Fellowship (AABF) was designed by The Center to bring together the resources of the private and public sectors to address emerging needs. Increased understanding between the United States and Arab world is vital for global security and economic development. Programs like AABF leverage a common language in the business world to promote direct person-to-person citizen diplomacy.

    As envisioned by the four sponsoring organizations, the fundamental objectives of the AABF program are to:

    • Improve the strategic planning process of participating companies with better knowledge and understanding of the Arab and American cultures, which will be transferred to other employees and company training programs;
    • Gain insights regarding two critical and different regions of the world, which will ultimately help shape the future of the national economies in and economic relations between the United States and countries in the Arab world;
    • Expose more Americans and local communities to Arab leaders and Arab culture, through presentations and discussions with local business organizations, schools, universities, non-profit organizations and the local media.
  • Roles & Responsibilities of Fellows

    The Fellows are expected to give as well as receive during their participation in the AABF program. Since a key objective of the program is to foster a meaningful dialogue between Arab and American cultures, the Fellows must be prepared to give at least one presentation and/or lead one roundtable discussion at each of the two host companies at which he/she will spend a week on-site.

    Additional opportunities for constructive engagement with the host company’s staff, as well as members of the local communities in which they will be located, will be planned as well. Local chapters of the National Council for International Visitors (NCIV) will be engaged as partners to organize these and other events.

    The Fellows’ own companies will be responsible for maintaining their salaries during the course of their participation in the program.

    Roles & Responsibilities of Host Companies

    The host companies will host Fellows over a one-week period at their headquarters or another office/location to be agreed with the Sponsors. During that period of on-site interaction with the Fellows, the host companies will designate senior executives to serve as mentors for the Fellows and expose them to the company’s operations, decision-making processes, and management philosophy in as broad a manner as possible.

    It is also expected that the host companies will provide an internal forum for the Fellows to discuss their experiences and perspectives as managers in their countries, with a larger group than the mentoring executive and her/his direct reports.

    Representatives from the host companies will be invited to all orientation and debriefing activities, social and cultural events, in all locations if they desire to attend.

  • U.S. Host Companies

    • Sesame Workshop
    • RR Donnelley and Sons
    • Principal Financial Group
    • MidAmerican Energy Corp.

    Other Participating Organizations

    • The New York Stock Exchange
    • Wf360
    • NASDAQ
    • DDB Worldwide
    • TBWA Worldwide
    • GfK Roper Consulting
    • The Gallup Organization
    • The Middle East Institute
    • United Nations Capital Development Fund
    • The World Bank
    • State of Iowa Department of Economic Development
    • Thunderbird School of Global Management
    • New York University
    • Woodrow Wilson School of International Studies