MEI’s summer intern David Wong, a rising third-year political science major at NUS, is interested in the Middle East both in terms of the region’s potential for economic growth as well as its culture. “Not many people in Singapore know about the Middle East,” he says. “Both the business and cultural aspects could be better understood.”
David, who has already shown a knack for helping MEI with publicity and other administrative work, has spent some time in the region as well. He has traveled to Turkey for vacation, and last year he went to Morocco for a one-month program at Al Akhawayn University in the town of Ifrane. There, he studied North African history and development and learned a bit of darija—the Moroccan dialect.
Of course, he was in the Arab world during the uprisings, though Morocco has not experienced the kind of mass protests seen in Tunisia, Egypt, and beyond. “We saw a couple of small protests, a small march in Rabat,” he said, “but that was all.” He cites Moroccan cuisine—particularly the tajines, or slow-cooked stews—as a highlight, as well as a trip to an oasis at the edge of the Sahara Desert. The biggest challenge of his stay? Negotiating the language. “I don’t speak French,” David explains, “and though I was taking a few Arabic classes, I was only beginning.” He plans to continue his study of Arabic in Singapore next year.
David hopes to ultimately work in public service in Singapore. He would welcome the chance to work at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or other government agencies related to international economics and trade. “I hope to see Singapore more involved in the Middle East,” he says.