Obama Announces New Entrepreneurial Exchange Programs with Muslim-Majority Countries

Apr 26, 2010 7:43pm

From Sunlen Miller:

Fulfilling his commitment made last year in Cairo to help deepen ties between business leaders, foundations and entrepreneurs in the United States and Muslim communities around the world, President Obama today kicked off a two-day Entrepreneurship Summit in Washington, DC.

“We know that over the years, despite all we have in common, the United States and Muslim communities around the world too often fell victim to mutual mistrust,” Obama said from the Ronald Reagan building this evening, “That is why I went to Cairo nearly one year ago and called for a new beginning between the United States and Muslim communities—a new beginning based on mutual interest and mutual respect.  I knew that this vision would not be fulfilled in a single year, or even several.  But I knew we had to begin and that all of us have responsibilities to fulfill.”

The president announced a series of new partnerships and initiatives with this goal in mind, including new exchange programs that will bring Muslim-majority countries and the United States together.

“We will bring business and social entrepreneurs from Muslim-majority countries to the United States and send their American counterparts to learn from your countries.  Women in technology fields will have the opportunity to come to the United States for internships and professional development.  And since innovation is central to entrepreneurship, we’re creating new exchanges for science teachers.”

The president touted $2 billion in private capital from the Global Technology and Innovation Fund he first announced in that same speech last June in Cairo to, “unlock new opportunities for people across our countries in sectors like telecommunications, healthcare, education, and infrastructure. “

The president said that over the past year since he first attempted to forge a new partnership wi the Muslim world, that his administration has been reaching out and listening. 

“We’ve joined interfaith dialogues and held town halls, roundtables and listening sessions with thousands of people around the world, including with many of you.  And like so many people, you’ve extended your hand in return, each in your own way, as entrepreneurs and educators, as leaders of faith and science. “

For example of progress the president gave a shout out to Dr. Naif al-Mutawa of Kuwait.

“His comic books have captured the imagination of so many young people with superheroes who embody the teachings and tolerance of Islam.  After my speech in Cairo, he had a similar idea.  In his comic books, Superman and Batman reached out to their Muslim counterparts.  And I hear they’re making progress, too.”

Mr. Obama announced that the same summit will be hosted next year in Turkey as a way to “sustain the momentum,” of this week’s summit in DC. 

-Sunlen Miller 

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