The Narrative Summit, Egypt’s first international PR Forum, is returning for its 4th edition on November 4th as part of the Arab Sustainability Development Week in partnership with the League of Arab States.

This year, the summit is focused on sustainable development with all its challenges and success stories in different sectors. It is a platform for the most prominent practitioners and thinkers in their fields to address one of the most pressing issues of our time in hopes that it will inspire others to move to action.

We sat down with three power women to discuss the summit.

Lamia Kamel: Founder of Narrative PR Summit and CEO of CC Plus

Why did you choose to place a specific focus on sustainable development this year within the greater framework of nation branding?

Every year we choose a topic to delve deeper into and this year we decided to choose the one that the whole world is talking about: sustainability. According to United Nations reports, although the number of people living in extreme poverty has more than halved between 1990 and 2015, millions are still struggling to meet basic humanitarian needs.

Globally, more than 800 million people still live on less than $1.25 a day, many of whom lack adequate food, clean drinking water and sanitation. Sustainable development will undoubtedly contribute to the success of plans to end poverty in all its forms by 2030.

The state has done a tremendous amount of work towards achieving the vision of 2030 Sustainable Development and we believe that it is our role to play as branding and marketing experts to attract opinion leaders to come and engage on the topic.

Now more than ever, the sustainability of a nation is highly relevant to its attractiveness to the outside world. It is pivotal that we are able to effectively communicate our efforts both locally and internationally in order to shed light on what has been done and motivate others to do more.

What is the significance behind collaborating with a strategic regional partner like the League of Arab States?

The whole Narrative platform is all about the spirit of collaboration and building effective and strategic partnerships. It is also one of the main three themes of the Arab sustainable development week this year. Sustainable Development Goals require effective and working partnership so that we could make the right decisions that would improve sustainability for future generations.

Achieving sustainable development goals requires large-scale partnership that brings together governments, the private sector, civil society and all sectors of society to work closely together.

Through the past three years, rationality, understanding gaps, identifying challenges and priorities, partnership, transparency, and scrutinizing objectives and partnerships formed the major criteria  of joint action between the League of Arab States and its multiple partners of national bodies, specialized Arab organizations, regional and international organizations, civil society groups, philanthropic organizations, the private sector, youth and women.

We have always believed that forging fruitful partnerships is a cornerstone of building a strong nation brand. We were honored to be approached by an organization that shares our objectives in pushing our sustainable development goals. Our partnership with the League of Arab States is not just a cooperation between the private and public sector; it is also taking Narrative further as a regional initiative.

What kind of success stories will you be showcasing at this year’s Narrative Summit?

This year’s Narrative Summit will be showcasing an inspiring line-up of speakers that all come from different industries including art, finance, tourism, marketing, and more. We will have experts such as Dr. Mahmoud Mohieldin who is the Senior Vice President of the World Bank Group where he heads the efforts of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda and Scott Guthrie, an Influencer Marketing Consultant. Our focus is on showcasing the innovative sustainability efforts made both locally and internationally in order to inspire more people to move to action.

Mariam Farag: Head of Corporate Responsibility and Social Impact at MBC Group

How can large media corporations such as MBC Group work towards pushing sustainable development?

Media is the fastest and most effective tool to reach either direct targeted audience or masses. The power of media and particularly a leader within its industry producing responsible content can change mindsets, correct misperceptions, encourage socioeconomic movements and public engagement.

At MBC Group, ‘we see hope everywhere” and with the birth of MBC Hope in 2013, the Corporate Sustainability and Social Impact arm of MBC Group, we have gone from seeing to creating hope everywhere on and off the screen. Focusing on harnessing the youth potential, development, sustainable development in the region and social cohesion has been our main strategy.

We have launched initiatives for and with the youth to raise awareness on the SDG’s. The youth must have an integral role in advancing, advocating and championing the socioeconomic sustainable impact and at MBC that has been our main focus. We have worked on empowering social entrepreneurs and social enterprises reach a wider audience, tell their story and inspire others to take alternative routes to employment.

In addition, we do not believe in giving the youth a voice for they already have a voice. We believe in enabling them by providing a strong platform to use their voice for social good, for humanity and for spreading hope to others in the region.

What are the latest projects that MBC Al Amal is planning?

We are working very closely with our production and content teams inside MBC to create & integrate social impact content within all our shows such as Project Runway ME, Top Chef, The Voice, The Voice kids and Stars on Board.

Recently, we have worked with Arabs Got Talent on a project where we hosted 12 bright students with special needs from 5 countries (Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan and KSA). The students worked side by side the MBC production team for one week on set of AGT, learned filming, producing, directing, presenting and even choreographing. Another integration will be with ‘The Voice’ this season, so stay tuned.

Our strategy is implementing social impact within the DNA of MBC Group. Everyone has a role to play in creating hope ‘everywhere’ be it on or off screen.

Another program that we are excited about is MBC Edutain. We have recently launched the program focusing on fostering, sharpening the skills and building the capacities of (Young) Saudi filmmakers (& practitioners) in four disciplines: Directing, Producing, Acting and Script writing. The program is one week via a strategic mentoring process paired up with practical projects in the end, with the long-term goal of giving birth to a new dawn of Saudi premium content (TV, Film, Series, etc..)

What do you hope to achieve by taking part in the Narrative Summit?

By taking part in Narrative Summit, we hope to create a regional & global network of the private sector and game changers in the media industry partnering on initiatives and projects to champion sustainable development, promote social cohesion and inspire others to be proactive.

Sarah Gallo: Destination Marketer and Travel Expert, also known as the ‘Five Foot Traveler’ on social media

How important is it for you to share your travel experiences with the world? It is incredibly important to me that I share my experiences; I never would have established my brand had it not been. We live in a world where people tend to have these preconceived notions about different countries and cultures, but the reality is that we really cannot learn the truth until we experience these places firsthand. With, I have always wanted to dispel untrue assumptions about the places that I visit as every country has something unique and special that we should all embrace.

How significant do you think the sustainability of a nation is to its nation brand? Sustainability is incredibly important to a nation’s brand. In the short term, it is about building a strategic, national brand around sustainability (getting ahead of the curve and securing tourism). In the long term, it is about sustaining the landscape that will continue to drive global interest. Leveraging oneself as eco-friendly and eco-conscious will not only attract more responsible travelers, but it will also position Egypt as being a progressive country as well.

Why did you decide to become a speaker at the Narrative Summit? I think that it is important for people to see someone as young, small, and blonde as I not only visiting, but speaking in, a country that some people approach with hesitation. It is an opportunity to showcase the beauty surrounding Egypt and its people; it provides me with the ability to show the world firsthand the hospitality and warmth of the people in the region. To combine that with my expertise in travel and destination marketing is an absolute honor.

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