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Rock Street, San Francisco

“A social movement that only moves people is merely a
revolt. A movement that changes both people and institutions is a revolution,” Dr
Martin Luther King wrote in Why We Can’t
Wait (1964), providing solace and insight while I was trying to make sense
of the political upheaval happening back home in Egypt in 2011. Those events
inspired me to write my undergraduate dissertation four years later, titled
“Islamic Political Thought and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt: Islamic
Populism, Religious Conservatism, and Social Movement Theory”. Furthermore, those events back home shaped my
worldview, and cemented my desire to study law and economics.


Writing my undergraduate thesis was the culmination of a
long and sometimes arduous journey. After I graduated high school, I had no
idea what careers appealed to me. That is why I was attracted by the politics,
philosophy and economics course at Durham University. The wide scope of the
course was exciting, and appealed to my varied nature. While I was always excellent
at maths and statics in high school, I sometimes found that the world isn’t as
black and white as the rigorous contours of mathematics make it out to be. It
is for this reason that I love economics- because it blends abstract theory
with real world applications. For every mathematic model one studies, economics
teaches you how to apply those models for positive changes in the world, be it
in healthcare, development or domestic policy. It is for this reason that I am
also attracted by the prospect of studying law. Similarly, law requires a
certain type of abstract thought while still being firmly rooted in reality. It
is challenging, but knowledge and understanding of the law can be a valuable
tool in facilitating positive change.

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My education has also taught me to look at problems from
multiple perspectives. Studying philosophy and politics side-by-side further
developed my ability to ground complex moral and epistemological theories in
real world examples and policies. Furthermore, my personal experiences while at
university helped shape my studies, while also shaping the person I am today.  The 2011 uprisings in Egypt occurred halfway
through my first year at Durham University, and it was difficult being far away
from my family and home. Writing my dissertation gave me insight into how social movement
theory and the literature of opportunity structures can help us
to understand how populist, religious-based movements emerge, as well as how mobilisation
can be achieved during periods of state repression. This was the first time I was able to apply the
teachings and theories I learned at university to a real-life example that
affected me, cementing my desire to apply my education to contextualize real
world events.


The period in Egypt after the uprisings was unlike anything
I’d ever experienced. The unbridled hope in the air was tempered with an equal
dose of fear and apprehension of what might come next. Looking back, the events
certainly shaped my worldview, and helped me develop a keen interest in studying
law as a means to positively change my community moving forward. Most
importantly, the events of 2011 afforded me a sense of perseverance and
determination that compelled me to continue studying at Durham University and
finish my degree while all this was happing, and writing a dissertation for
which I received a top-class mark. Upon graduation, I returned home to Egypt
and started writing about economics and politics for Egypt Today, the largest English language magazine in Egypt. During
my time there, I had the opportunity to meet and interview notable figures such
as former Finance Minister Ahmed Galal and former Minister for Foreign Affairs
Nabil Fahmy. The research and writing I undertook for Egypt Today made me eager to return to the rigorous confines of
academics and scholarship.


My post-graduate travels and professional work not only
helped consolidate my undergraduate experiences, but also led to great personal
and professional growth. After working at Egypt
Today, I started work in the economic research department at Beltone
Financial, one of the Middle East’s largest financial institutions. My time
there reinforced my interest in the area of Economics- mainly because Egypt was
going through major economic upheaval during my time there, and I was able to
experience first-hand things that I had only studied in textbooks before. At
Beltone Financial, I was able to write research papers and explore a currency
flotation in real-time. While certainly educational, it was also powerful to
witness some of the hefty real-world consequences a major event like that begets.


As mentioned above, deciding on a career has still not been
a straightforward process for me. But the experience I have gained over the
last five years makes it clear to me that law is the right choice. Economics
has given me a deeper understanding of the world and my place in it, but
understanding is not enough. I want to improve the systems that directly affect
people’s lives, specifically through work in public policy. I believe that an
education in law is an extremely useful tool in making this dream happen.


I want to attend The European Master in Law and Economics program
because it has an unparalleled reputation in terms of the quality of students,
faculty, and education. I believe that EMLE students do not need to wait until
graduation to start having a positive impact on their community. Finally, I believe
my commitment to the local and global community makes me an ideal candidate for
this program, and I am certain that my time at the EMLE program will be a challenging
and enjoyable one.



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