During his inaugural address and his recent speech in Cairo, President Obama advocated, “a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect” in America’s relationship with Muslims around the world. This paper presents recommendations for the use of cultural engagement as a strategy to advance the President’s aspiration for better relations with Muslims around the world. The recommendations reflect the views of arts and culture leaders from the Muslim world and the United States who participated in the Arts and Culture Leaders Workshop held at the U.S.-Islamic World Forum in Doha, Qatar, and others who belong to the Brookings Creative Network (names listed in Appendix).
One of the things Arabs always ask a new administration is ‘Please avoid doing things on the Arab-Israeli issue — and tell the Israelis not to do things that would create a crisis.' That, which would be a normal thing for Arab governments to do, is magnified by the anti-ISIS imperative.