The fifth edition of the MEM Summer Summit kicked off


Institutional Communication Service

24 August 2022

The fifth edition of the Middle East Mediterranean (MEM) Summer Summit began on Thursday, 18 August: over the nine days of the Seminar, which will close on Friday, 26 August, 45 young change-makers, selected from 250 applications and more than twenty different countries, will meet with experts and participate in workshops in what has been designed as a safe space to foster open dialogue, take discussions to a deep level, and identify ideas to be developed during the Summit. Seminar speakers include French political scientist and Arabist Gilles Kepel, several representatives from the Department of Foreign Affairs, Switzerland's ambassadors to the Arab Emirates, Lebanon, Tunisia and Libya, and experts from the region, filmmakers and artists.

On Saturday, 27 August, the MEM Summer Summit will culminate with the Forum, which will be streamed on the MEM website from 9 am. During the Forum sessions, prominent policymakers, academics and intellectuals will debate the major issues and challenges related to the Middle East Mediterranean region in light of the conflict in Ukraine. In-attendance or online participants will also include Shamma Al Mazrui, Minister of Youth Policy of the United Arab Emirates; HRH Princess Rym Ali of Jordan, President of the Anna Lindh Foundation; Leila Benali, Minister of Energy Transition and Sustainable Development of Morocco; and Natasa Pilides, Minister of Energy, Trade and Industry of the Republic of Cyprus.

Università della Svizzera italiana launched the MEM Summer Summit in 2018 in collaboration with the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, which has remained the initiative's main partner for these five years. The acronym MEM stands for the extended region of the Mediterranean and the Middle East (from Morocco to Iran). It refers to a complex and heterogeneous geopolitical and cultural space that has undergone and is undergoing profound and rapid changes, not least because of the recent conflict in Ukraine. Food insecurity is undoubtedly one of the repercussions of most significant concern in the region.

Among the initiative's goals is to bring public attention back to the Middle East Mediterranean region. Since the outbreak of war in Ukraine, in-depth reports on Syria, Libya, Lebanon and other Middle Eastern countries, as well as on the drama of migrants and refugee centres, have become much scarcer on the pages of newspapers, radio and TV. Nevertheless, problems and conflicts persist, even far from the media's attention: the situation in different countries remains problematic and, in some cases, has even been exacerbated by the conflict in Ukraine.


The Forum

As with previous editions, the Forum will bring together leaders, decision-makers, entrepreneurs, scholars, intellectuals and artists to discuss the challenges and problems of the Middle East Mediterranean region. Young change-makers will thus have a unique opportunity to exchange views with top representatives and experts and to present ideas and proposals developed during the Seminar.

The following topics will be covered during the Forum sessions: the current geopolitical situation in the region; energy transition and sustainable development; food insecurity and climate change; the role of youth in the region; evolutions in the Middle East through the lens of art and culture; and tolerance and freedom in Islam.

After institutional greetings and a video message from Swiss President Ignazio Cassis, the Forum will include a keynote address by HRH Princess Rym Ali, president of the Anna Lindh Foundation, followed by a keynote speech by Shamma Bint Suhail Faris Al Mazrui, UAE Minister of State for Youth Policy.

Other guests for the day include

  • Matteo Legrenzi, professor, Ca' Foscari University of Venice
  • Emiliano Bos, journalist, RSI Radiotelevisione svizzera
  • Leila Benali, Minister of energy transition and sustainable development, Morocco
  • Natasa Pilides, Minister of Energy, Trade and Industry, Republic of Cyprus
  • Laurent Vivier, Senior Vice President Middle East and North Africa, Exploration and Production, Total Energies
  • Eugenio Dacrema, Early Warning Economic Risk Analyst, World Food Programme
  • Haneen Sayed, Lead Specialist, Human Development and Social Protection, World Bank MENA
  • Pio Wennubst, Permanent Representative, Permanent Mission of Switzerland to the United Nations organisations in Rome,
  • Martino Diez, Associate Professor, OASIS International Foundation, Catholic University of Sacro Cuore
  • Mustafa Akyol, journalist and writer
  • Ahmed Mater, contemporary artist, Saudi Arabia


The detailed programme of the Forum is available at

Also, for this fifth edition, Università della Svizzera italiana (USI) benefits from the important support of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs of the Swiss Confederation (the Middle East and North Africa Division), the City of Lugano and the Media partnership with SRG SSR - RSI.