September 2014

September 2014 Bulletin

In this issue:


CAI Reports on Canadian Arabs 

A Highly Educated Yet Under-employed Canadian Arab Community
The fourth in a series analyzing the 2011 census data released by Statistics Canada, this report shows the levels and fields of education among Canadian Arabs, their employment and unemployment rates, and their fields of employment ..READ ON

Yalla Network! CAI's Youth Professional Development Conference

This year's professional development conference is taking place on September 27th and will have 12 panels with an exciting opportunity to learn from, and network with professionals and fellow students and youth.


We are excited to feature as keynote speaker Dalal Al-Waheidi, executive director of We Day, and look forward to her inspirational and motivational talk. We are featuring professionals in various fields ranging from Arts and Culture to Entrepreneurship as well as a youth-leadership plenary session. 

See our conference agenda and join us!

Early bird tickets have been extended until September 14th at $15. Find more information on our event page here and on our Facebook event page.  

CAI's Canadian Arab to Watch

Our Canadian Arab to Watch initiative is going strong, launched in December 2013 to highlight the wealth of leadership, innovation and contributions within our community. For more details about the program, past honourees and for nomination forms, please visit our Canadian Arab to Watch page.

Ehab Abouheif: Consider the Ant, Watch its Ways, and Jot them Down


His mother wanted him to become a dentist, and his father, more open-minded, a lawyer. But Ehab Abouheif chose science – evolutionary science, and is now happily located at McGill University as the Canada Research Chair in Evolutionary Developmental Biology and holder of the 2014 Steacie Prize for natural sciences. 

Why are the leaves green? And why do we have five fingers? It was questions like these that made Dr. Abouheif favour science to studying teeth and by-laws. It was mainly the philosophy behind being, and all beings, that inspired him the most. 

And thanks to his curiosity, we now have access to one extremely important discovery, one that has many implications on the way humans are treated as a species, and that could eventually help tackle the mechanisms that cause cancer. 

And it was mainly his fascination with ants that brought him thus far. 

Forming one of the most complicated societies after human beings, ants provide a great way to understand humans. Ants are territorial, and have class divides and an army; they practise diplomacy and spread propaganda. Their soldiers protect their colonies (and the queens, may they long live), and their workers forage for food. When they wish to expand their colony, they send out their workers to dance around their enemies’. The dance implies the size of the army – if bigger than theirs, they retreat.              

Dr. Abouheif’s fascination with and focus on ants has lead him and his team at McGill University to discover a hidden trait, or a hidden potential that could be uncovered in ants, given the right circumstances. 

He found out that if Pheidole ants are exposed to the right hormonal stressor at the right developmental stage, they could unlock potential that has been hidden for millions of years in their ancestral genes. They could induce supersoldiers, a large-headed ‘caste’ that has been lost for ~60 million years, but, thanks to Dr. Abouheif’s discovery, is now understood to be applicable to other species as well. 

A great affirmation to the argument that genetic makeup isn’t everything! The environment counts, too, naturally. This has practical applications, the crops from the Fertile Crescent have been brought to North America and domesticated here, and there features could be brought back. 

And now, with the time awarded him by the Steacie fellowship, Dr. Abouheif is focusing on writing a book, no less important than, and based on his discovery: A Theory of Meso-Evolution. A book that combines Micro-Evolution and Macro-Evolution. A book that creates a halfway, an in-between, and a meeting space for the two. 

And he doesn’t only create meeting spaces in science, but also for science and religion. He doesn’t like the current divide between them and thinks that they should peacefully co-exist.

However, the co-existence of science and religion should be properly studied and thought out in a logical and rational way. That is, religion being a metaphysical subject should not necessarily exclude it from rational discourse. 

For just as the bananas are going to be extinct in 10 years due to the lack of apt stressors that they were used to (yes, bananas will apparently go extinct, to the detriment of monkeys, and some humans), so should the scientific and religious discourse, with both their political agendas and ideas have “stressors” applied to them to re-contextualize them into conversing with each other, rather than excluding one another. 

Or, to put it in “antly” terms, the two should dance around each other, rather than watch one another from their own colonies. But unlike with ant-dances, no retreat should be necessary.

To learn more about Dr. Ehab Abouheif and his research, visit his website at

Photograph by: Martin Lipman

 The Village, the City, and the Rhythms in between


Sultans of String, Performing in CAI's Gala Concert Sultans and Divas 

It starts with a distant violin, and is later joined by energetic syncopated percussion and other strings. It’s reminiscent of the Middle East and a bunch of other places, and yes, it will be playing at the Canadian Arab Institute’s upcoming gala concert, Sultans and Divas, on December 4th. 

“The Road to Kfar Mishki” is just as it sounds – a journey into the Beqaa Valley – from Beirut into one of the little villages in it – Kfar Mishki. A musical journey in its current form, “The Road to Kfar Mishki” actually started out as a real journey in Lebanon. 

Chris McKhool, co-founder of the ensemble Sultans of String, went on a trip to his father’s hometown in Lebanon – Kfar Mishki. He was looking for people who resembled his father and was inspired enough to write a piece about that search – the search for the roots, somewhere. 

But that’s only one of the journeys that inspired the music. The other one is Chris’ meeting Kevin Laliberte. After getting off the road from touring and hearing him play guitar, he knew a collaboration of some sorts was a must! 

And so it happened. They did the first recording in 2007, and now they play in an ensemble of 6, including guitarist Eddie Paton, bass master Drew Birston and David Woodhead, and Cuban master percussionists Chendy Leon and Alberto Suarez.  Together, they write, play and improvise a mix of Middle Eastern, Latin, Gypsy-jazz, and folk rhythms. 

Now, if you’re wondering what that mix means in musical terms, you could easily resort to good old Google and its friend, YouTube. But a nicer idea would be to come see them play live at Koerner Hall in December. Their strings will take you to meditative places, and their percussion and Oud, played by Oud master Bassam Bishara, will make you dance, or maybe even clap along (which Chris and his Strings will most likely ask you to!)

Tickets are now on sale HERE!

Photograph by: Steve Gerecke, Ottawa Citizen

 CAI Partner, the Arab Development Initiative hosts Development Lounge in Montreal, September 20

Development Starts from Within

CAI is a proud partner of the Arab Development Initiative which brings you its very first Development Lounge. The focused event aims to tackle development in the Arab world from a unique angle that addresses some of the fundamental root problems behind the region's most pressing challenges.

Three specialists are invited to help explore the rich relationship between mind, society, and space.

"We will begin by exploring the mind: by educating and empowering the individual, we create true agents of change in our societies. This entails a critical reflection on how cognitive frames are formed through education, where our different ideas come from, and how these components impact developmental work. Next we delve into society. Our societies reflect the individuals that live in them and in order to positively impact our societies, we need to understand how they work. For this reason we need to comprehend the roles of art, new media and the nature and content of public discourse in the modern age. Finally, we zoom out to examine spaces in the Arab world and how they affect development - how design can contribute to fostering certain intellectual and cultural attitudes and hindering others."

Learn more about it on their Facebook page and Website

 Walied Soliman named to "Top 25 Influential Lawyers"

The Canadian Arab Institute proudly congratulates Walied Soliman for being named to the Top 25 Influential Lawyers of 2014 by Canadian Lawyer

Walied is a Partner at Norton Rose Fulbright and co-chairman of their Canadian special situations team where he is involved in proxy battles in Canada. In addition to being a successful and innovative lawyer, he is also a philanthropist and is actively involved in provincial and federal politics. 

 Upcoming Events

"Syria, Iraq and the Middle East" - a CAI lecture with Ambassador Mokhtar Lamani, former Head of the Office of the UN-League of Arab States Joint Special Representative for Syria in Damascus and Arab League Special Representative for Iraq, on September 24th at the George Ignatieff Theatre - Trinity College @ 7PM.  Free Admission.  Register here

In collaboration with the Toronto AUB Alumni Assoc, CAI presents a lecture with Rami Khouri, director of the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs (IFI) at the American University of Beirut, on October 29th at the George Ignatieff Theatre - Trinity College @ 7PM, followed by a reception.  Free Admission.

Forward to Friend