The 10 weeks I spent as an intern at the Conservative Middle East Council (CMEC) in London this summer not only provided a fascinating experience, but also gave me my first insight into national politics in the UK. Margaret Thatcher founded the CMEC in the early 80s to ensure that Conservative Members of Parliament (MPs) and Lords understood the complex issues in the Middle East. In order to achieve this, the CMEC organizes frequent delegations to the region and arranges foreign policy experts to meet parliamentarians.
I had numerous responsibilities during the internship and every day was different, but my main task was disseminating CMEC communications through blog posts and Twitter. I was asked to write and upload daily blog posts and closely followed the news across the Middle East and North Africa, retweeting anything of interest to parliamentarians. There were some extraordinary events while I was working at the CMEC, including the first free and fair Egyptian presidential election, the first national elections in Libya in 60 years, and the horrific degeneration of the conflict in Syria. Twitter and other news sources were going crazy so it was hard to keep up at times!
I also prepared briefing papers for the MPs and Lords who were part of the delegations traveling to Iraqi Kurdistan and Lebanon. Sometimes the briefings were specific to one issue, such as the Sabra and Shatila Massacre, while others were much broader. The CMEC also helped arrange a meeting with Benny Begin, Minister without Portfolio in the Israeli Cabinet, and parliamentarians of all parties to discuss the Prawer Plan, which calls for the relocation of thousands of Israeli Bedouins who live in areas not recognized as residential locations by the Israeli government. For this I had to prepare a briefing paper on the plan, which was then sent to every parliamentarian in all parties.
My last major responsibility was gathering contact details for potential donors to the CMEC for its annual gala dinner. David Cameron will be attending, as will cabinet ministers and Conservative MPs and Lords who have worked closely with the CMEC. The gala dinner is the organization's largest and most important fundraising event, so finding guests for the evening is rather important. My work of identifying new donors raised thousands of pounds for the CMEC and will fund new delegations and other events.
Now that I've had first-hand experience of politics, it will add a new perspective to my studies as a political science major.
I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and it has really driven me to continue in politics. Meeting some inspirational politicians and listening to their engaging and thoughtful debates was my favorite aspect of the internship, as it really encouraged me to go into politics. Although I don't know specifically what route I'd like to take, I now know that it's what I want to do.
I was very lucky to be selected as an intern in NYUAD's Office of Admissions last year, an experience I also enjoyed. This prepared me very well for my time at the CMEC, as it gave me the skills to work efficiently in an office environment. However, my experiences of living in the Middle East were most important in the preparation for my CMEC internship, as they have given me a much better understanding of the region's politics and culture, particularly some of the nuances.
Already I have been able to build on my internship at the CMEC — I was offered, and have now completed, an internship at Keyhaven, a risk management consultancy owned by King Worldwide, after meeting John Deverell CBE, chief executive of Keyhaven, at a CMEC event in Parliament. There, I researched the risk management plans of companies listed on the Qatar stock exchange, which will now form the basis of the company's attempts to expand into the Middle East.
The internship at Keyhaven also led to another internship for the fall semester in the UAE office of M: Communications, one of Europe's fastest-growing financial communications consultancies, which is also part of King Worldwide. One of its key projects in the Middle East is working with the Abu Dhabi government on Waterwise, the Emirate's initiative to reduce water usage. This is a critical issue to the Emirate, as current water consumption rates across the UAE are unsustainable. After the opportunities given to me by NYUAD and the city, I hope I'll be able to give something back to the local community with this internship.
All in all I had some fantastic experiences this summer that I hope will lead to future opportunities and aid my studies at NYUAD. Now that I've had first-hand experience of politics, it will add a new perspective to my studies as a political science major.