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European Forum Alpbach

In September 2018, Doaa Al Zamel participated in European Forum Alpbach, an interdisciplinary platform for science, politics, business and culture.

Established in 1945, this annual event features three weeks of seminars, symposia and debates in the stunning setting of an Austrian alpine village. The Forum’s thousands of participants each year include business and political leaders along with 700 youth who have been granted scholarships to attend.

The theme for European Forum Alpbach 2018 was “Diversity and Resilience.”

Doaa was sought-after during her time at the Forum, giving media interviews and promoting female empowerment in an Austrian Broadcasting Corporation (ORF) Academy video which also featured former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

Performing in a theater piece (credit: Laurent Ziegler)

In addition, Doaa supported the Alpbach Learning Programme with an interactive workshop focused on creating awareness about refugee topics.

During a major panel discussion at the Forum, Doaa gave an impassioned intervention. The panel (‘Women and youth empowerment: The Sustainable Development Goals in practice’) featured international experts such as former Austrian President Heinz Fischer, former UN SG Ban Ki-moon, and Austrian Federal Minister Karin Kneissel.

After introducing herself to the panelists and the plenary, Doaa said:

“I am one of the only survivors from a drowning crime in the Mediterranean in 2014. For four days, I fought death in all its forms, including hunger, thirst, exhaustion and so much more. During the ordeal, in my arms I held two children whom I didn’t know. In the end, I survived.

“But I am sure that there is more than one Doaa. I appreciate the efforts you are making regarding global citizenship, and based on that, I would like to ask a question. What actions are you taking to support Syrians who are suffering as a result of the war, both inside and outside of Syria?

Doaa’s advocacy for refugees was continued with her participation in a theater piece written by Syrian playwright Nour Barakeh and performed by a multinational group of young people at the Forum. Among others in attendance were Members of the Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens Board of Directors.

At the outset of the theater piece, Doaa said, “I have faced death. It was there all around me, but I survived.” She concluded the piece by appealing for peace and observing “Life is our gift.”

Being interviewed by Sophie Liebhart and Sophie-Kristin Hausberger of the ORF Academy, with translation support from Shaimaa S. Goher and Mariam Eissa.