Mohamed Malouche met the president of the United States of America this week at the annual Iftar dinner [August 10th] at the White House. The Iftar is the meal that breaks the day of fasting when Muslims only eat after sunset during Ramadan. Though the meeting was brief, Malouche had the chance to introduce himself and his organization Tunisian American Young Professionals (TAYP) to president Obama. Tarek Ben Youssef, interim Tunisian chargé d’affaires in the US, was also present at the Iftar as well as other members of the Muslim community in the United States including 4 members of congress.
Obama encouraged the initiative of TAYP, stating that he thinks it is a very important action to highlight the work of the Tunisian Diaspora in the US and bring more exposure to Tunisia. “We filled a gap”, Malouche says. “Although the Americans are already helping Tunisia with projects, they would still benefit from the Tunisian Dispora that understand how business is done in the United States and Tunisia”
TAYP’s focus is on economic relations and investments. They contact chambers of commerce in the US and when convinced these two can engage American companies that will invest in Tunisia. “The revolution of January 14th put Tunisia again on the map.” explains Malouche. The US looks now to Tunisians as people that are highly educated, they look at Tunisia and see the great infrastructure established there and that is really what differentiates Tunisia from the rest of the Arab world. “Americans are happy with the revolution.” states Malouche. “They know that there will be an increase of transparency and rule of law in the nation which makes it a good atmosphere for investment and could result into Tunisia becoming a bridging point for other neighboring countries such as Libya, for instance. With the slight difference that is happening in the region, Tunisia could really become an investment platform for expansion in the African continent, Southern Europe and other regions, and that a key selling point for American Investors.
“We must be smart when dealing with the United States” says Malouche. “The United States is very good at innovation, IT sector, entrepreneurship, aerospace…etc and we should benefit from that.” he added. The way that Malouche believes that Tunisia can definitely benefit from the American expertise is to link more educational programs between Tunisians and Americans. Universities in Tunisia, he implies, should definitely seek for partnerships in The United States to strengthen its curricula and add to it. Malouche also stressed the need of young Tunisian entrepreneurs to team up with their American fellows in order to learn from them.
At the end of the interview, when asked about the food served at the White House, Malouche laughed and praised the food and service there. He said the menu was well varied and quite delicious.