Yosr Abdel-Bari: Ambassador of the Future

Wed 17 Feb 2021 | 06:58 PM

يسر عبد المطلب

The journey from London to the Ministry of Emigration and Egyptian Expatriates’ Affairs requires a host of studies, novel ideas, and enthusiasm. Despite her young age, Yosr Abdel-Motaleb (22), took the journey in just four years. Her appointment as the international cooperation officer at the technical office of the minister of emigration was the reward for the journey she began at a young age.
As she practiced her hobbies that ranged from singing in the Heliopolis choir to writing in blogs and magazines, Abdel-Motaleb’s journey extended beyond finding her true self to looking into her origins, culture, and the country in which she grew up to become a "true Egyptian". The sense of belonging and the desire to discover Egypt were things she took after her family. “My parents were interested in the Arabic language and the Egyptian culture from the beginning, so I grew up knowing my origin, my culture, my country, and my language," she said.
The more Abdel-Motaleb knew about Egypt, the more she cared. She developed an interest in regional issues and stood out among her peers. Middle East affairs troubled her, the lack of political awareness provoked her anger, thinking about public policies sometimes disturbed her sleep, and the invasion of Iraq, videos of which she watched on YouTube, became a bad memory for her. The distorted beliefs about Arabs are the only thing that pushed her to strongly object.
Abdel-Motaleb studied political science at King's College London. At one meeting, she heard an attendee saying that “Arabs are unable to solve their problems. Foreign interference is the solution.” She objected, explaining that this opinion is “the result of a limited view of the Middle East.”
She was barely 20 years old at the time. The girl who left Cairo to pursue a university degree in London arose the attention of the attendees with her speech about the opportunities of the Middle East, its ability to compete and resolve its conflicts internally, and that foreign interference is a crime that does injustice to the region.
Abdel-Motaleb expressed her ideas and analyses in academic articles and studies, but that was not enough for her. She became “the lawyer of Arabs” in her new community. Every time she heard a wrong piece of information about her country, she quickly intervened to rectify what fallacies have spoilt.
The role Abdel-Motaleb played in King’s College allowed her to stay in the UK, to earn a job opportunity in a women's rights organization, and to live in the most diverse capital. She rejected all the tempting offers, nonetheless. Abdel-Motaleb finished her studies and returned to Egypt to rediscover herself. “I felt it was the right time to understand myself more as an Egyptian. When I returned to my roots and got to know my country more, my confidence, my awareness of why I really am, and the sense of the important steps I have to take doubled,” she added.
The Egyptian culture inspired Abdel-Motaleb the most. To get to know it better, she read about the Egyptian history, visited its most famous sites, and read several novels, most notably “Midaq Alley” by Nobel laureate Naguib Mahfouz. This helped her formulate ideas and goals related to Egyptian life, and she began to implement them: “Safe spaces for women and equal opportunities for all are the solution.” Abdel-Motaleb believes that the solution to the majority of our problems is for “erroneous behavior to be associated with punishment as part of our culture in our daily life.”
Abdel-Motaleb has come a long way to make a small version of an Egyptian ambassador concerned with the position of Egypt and the Arabs in the world. She has high awareness and a loving spirit. She spares no effort to serve Egypt. Joining the team of the Ministry of State for Emigration and Egyptian Expatriates’ Affairs is one line in her inspiring success story.

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