The Gulf, Middle East and North Africa (Gulf-MENA) region is in a period of unprecedented political, economic and social change.  Long-standing tensions and rivalries for power in the region are playing out at the same time as populations across the region are challenging existing political and economic structures.  Divisions throughout the region – whether between secular and religious, old and new elite, or between younger and older generations – are complicating the efforts of policymakers to respond to emerging challenges.

We believe that a Gulf-MENA region at peace with itself, and able to meet the needs of its citizens,  requires spaces for dialogue in which the building of relationships based on trust can take place in an environment of confidence building.

The Helsinki Policy Forum, established in February 2014, seeks to provide such a space for honest and frank exchanges on the challenges and opportunities facing the Gulf-MENA region and Europe. The Forum brings together senior parliamentarians, political leaders, government officials, and financial experts .  It facilitates an informal discussion aimed at deepening understanding and informing policy-making on identified issues of concern to promote more effective responses.  The Forum is facilitated by Forward Thinking in collaboration with participating governments, and is supported by a grant from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland.