Press-Republican

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June 5, 2011

Raghida Dergham on risks, motherhood and Arab Spring

Mother, journalist, notable Arab woman enjoying changing world

NEW YORK CITY — A Global Platform for Disaster plenary gave Raghida Dergham the chance to visit her daughter Thalia, a Columbia University student finishing a semester abroad at Bosphorous University in Istanbul.

"This is the first time I've been away from her," Raghida said from her New York City residence. "I'm dying to see her."

After a weekend rendezvous with Thalia and the Geneva plenary, where she moderated a session on "The Economics of Disaster — Effective Financial Instruments to Reduce Risk," Raghida flew to Dubai for this year's Arab Media Forum.

The daughter of Nabih Dergham of Plattsburgh and the late Bahia Dergham, Raghida is a columnist and senior diplomatic correspondent for the London-based Al-Hayat and writes a weekly column on international political affairs.

The "Arab Spring," a revolutionary wave of demonstrations and protests taking place in the Arab world, offers her a deep well to tap.

"What's happening even now, we're witnessing incredible moments of history. I think the 20th century was amazing," Raghida said.

"The 21st century will give something also, but we don't know what it is yet. The Internet evolution is amazing. I don't know if there will be something on the level of electricity or the airplane."

Tunisian and Egyptian revolutionaries effectively used social media, such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Times are changing throughout the Middle East and North Africa — Bahrain, Syria, Yemen, Algeria, Jordan, Mauritania, Sudan, Oman and on and on.

Born in Lebanon, Raghida is a third-generation American with familial ties to the North Country.

"It's an exciting part of the world I come from. The revolutions in the Arab world and the uprisings are a breath of fresh air," she said.

Legions have not only refuted the autocrats that have oppressed them but also those who pose as the alternatives.

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