Aziz Abu Sarah is a National Geographic Explorer and Cultural Educator, as well as a TED Fellow. A Palestinian from Jerusalem. Aziz is the cofounder of MEJDI Tours, a social enterprise focused on introducing multi-narrative cultural education and responsible business practices to the travel industry. MEJDI has been recognized by the UN World Tourism Organization, UN Alliance of Civilizations, and BMW Group for its innovations in travel and education. In the past, Aziz also served as the Executive Director of the Center for World Religions, Diplomacy, and Conflict Resolution at George Mason University (2009-2015), and was the chairman of the joint Israeli-Palestinian organization the Bereaved Families Forum (2006 to 2010).
In the field, Aziz has pioneered and managed projects in conflict resolution and community relations in Afghanistan, Iran, Syria, Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon, Washington D.C, the Virgin Islands, and other sites. He also is a cofounder of Project Amal ou Salam with Nousha Kabawat, a grassroots relief organization for Syrian refugees in Turkey, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon.
In the media, Aziz has produced and hosted the National Geographic web series Conflict Zone, a series that explores the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from the perspective of Palestinian refugees, the Israeli army, Jewish settlers, peace activists and more. Aziz has also published articles in the New York Times,Haaretz, the Jerusalem Post, Alarabiya, and others. He frequently provides expert analysis for television news programs such as Al Jazeera, CNN and Fox.
Aziz has been honored to receive numerous awards, including the Goldberg Prize for Peace in the Middle East from the Institute of International Education, the Silver Rose Award from the European Parliament, the Eisenhower Medallion from People to People International, and the Eliav-Sartawi Award for Middle Eastern Journalism from Search for Common Ground. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon recognized Aziz Abu Sarah’s work during his speech at the 5th Global Forum of the UN Alliance of Civilizations in February 2013, and the UNAOC and BMW Group awarded him the intercultural innovation award in 2011. and Aziz has been named one of the “500 Most Influential Muslims” by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre for six years running (2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015).
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon recognized Aziz Abu Sarah’s work during his speech at the 5th Global Forum of the UN Alliance of Civilizations in February 2013. Click here to watch the video. To read more, click here.
A Conflict Close to Home, Aziz’s personal story
A disaster can strike your nation, your state, or even the house of your next door neighbor, but as long as it strikes someone else, it is still a distance away. Like many in Jerusalem, I grew up seeing many people die because of a “worthless conflict.” I felt sad for them, but I continued to live my life just as before. My reaction was the same as others who see an accident on the side of the road, think “how sad,” and drive on. However, my life changed forever the moment the disaster struck my house and my family, and the casualty was my brother. (click here to read the story)