The fifth Middle East and Adjoining Countries School on Internet Governance (MEAC-SIG) took place from 5-9 August, with 31 attendees from governments, private sector, civil society, academia, and technical communities of 14 countries. This year's MEAC-SIG was held in Cairo, Egypt, and hosted by the National Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (NTRA). The previous editions were held in Kuwait (2014), Tunisia (2015), Lebanon (2016), and Turkey (2017).
One of ICANN's strategic objectives is to promote its role in the multistakeholder Internet ecosystem. To achieve this, ICANN encourages engagement at national, regional, and global levels. The MEAC-SIG program, an initiative that emerged from the ICANN regional engagement strategy in the Middle East, offers participants a unique opportunity to better understand the roles of different Internet stakeholders, including ICANN. Over a period of five days, the program informs and strengthens the regional Internet community to help ensure effective participation in Internet governance. The school also encourages participants to engage in group discussions and projects around key policy issues such as cybersecurity, content regulation, competition access, and the Domain Name System (DNS), among others.
As ICANN's Global Stakeholder Engagement team in the Middle East, our focus has been to continuously enhance and build on our activities to better serve the regional community. To that end, we have sought to partner with diverse stakeholders who share our goal of strengthening the Middle East community's engagement in ICANN as well as other global Internet governance processes.
This year, we were fortunate to have the Arab World Internet Institute (AWII) and the Internet Governance Project (IGP) of Georgia Tech School of Public Policy involved in MEAC-SIG. Historically organized by ICANN and supported by the Internet Society and RIPE NCC, the addition of AWII and IGP brought new insights to the program. AWII, which focuses on supporting policy-focused research and analysis around Internet related topics, provided secretariat and logistical support, while IGP brought academic expertise on Internet governance-related areas by taking the lead in curriculum design.
The fifth year of MEAC-SIG was a milestone for us, so two surveys were conducted – one at the beginning and one at the end of the program. The pre-program survey aimed to measure the participants' familiarity with Internet governance-related issues, while the post-program survey sought participant feedback on different sessions and suggestions for improving the MEAC-SIG. Overall, the participants provided positive feedback about the program, with the majority rating it either as "good as expected" or "better than expected." The suggestions for improvement were very useful and will be considered by the program committee moving forward. Preparations for MEAC-SIG 2019 have already begun.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the National Telecommunication Regulatory Authority of Egypt for being a wonderful host, as well as our partners and faculty members for helping MEAC-SIG 2018 become another success. We look forward to bringing the school to other parts of the Middle East.