Aziz Abu Sarah
Inaugural Multiplicity Tour Author: Mejdi Tours
2023

Aziz Abu Sarah

Entrepreneur and Peacebuilder

Mejdi Tours: Pioneering Dual-Narrative Tourism

meet aziz

A National Geographic Emerging Explorer and TED Fellow, Aziz Abu Sarah has harnessed the transformative power of travel, burnishing an international reputation as a cultural educator, entrepreneur, author, peacebuilder, and public speaker. In 2009, Abu Sarah cofounded Mejdi Tours, pioneering an innovative approach to responsible travel in the global tourism industry. The author of multiple books, Abu Sarah has served as executive director at the Center for World Religions, Diplomacy, and Conflict Resolution at George Mason University, and as chairman of Parents Circle–Families Forum (PCFF), which works toward peace between Israelis and Palestinians. He was recognized by former United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for his work in peacebuilding.

Mejdi Tours: Pioneering Dual-Narrative Tourism
Nominated by: Joe Grabowski FI'18
Class of 2023 Location South Carolina, USA
Aziz speaking with Medji Tours on responsible travel
Aziz speaking with Medji Tours on responsible travel

Nearly a billion people traveled internationally in 2022. My dream is to convince such travelers to explore rather than tour. I do that by modeling a different kind of travel—one that has had a lasting impact in the field of tourism development and on Indigenous communities in the developing world.

In 2009, I cofounded Mejdi Tours, which has pioneered the concept of dual-narrative tourism. In conflict and post-conflict zones, the company has two guides from different backgrounds lead tours together. In Northern Ireland, a Catholic and a Protestant colead trips; in Israel–Palestine, a Palestinian and Israeli colead the tour; and in the Balkans, a Serbian and Bosnian guide together. In Vietnam, my travelers meet a Vietnamese pilot who shot down an American plane, was later shot down himself, then became friends with the American pilot who downed his plane. In Colombia, travelers meet Afro-Caribbean musicians; in Northern Ireland, travelers speak with ex-militants and clergy who worked to end the decades-long conflict known as Na Trioblóidí (“The Troubles”).

“My dream is to convince such travelers to explore rather than tour. I do that by modeling a different kind of travel—one that has had a lasting impact in the field of tourism development and on Indigenous communities in the developing world.”

- Aziz Abu Sarah
Aziz on Susan Poulton's book tour
Aziz on Susan Poulton's book tour

In Syria, I have worked closely with community leaders to establish educational centers for refugees. These centers still exist a decade later. In Colombia, I worked with the government and local NGOs to reintegrate former militants back into society. In Chile, I led a project focused on bringing the Kawésqar and Mapuche communities into the local economy. Seven years ago, I cofounded “I Am Your Protector,” a campaign that tells the stories of people who saved the lives of outcasts and “others” perceived as enemies. The project is estimated to have reached more than five million people through public exhibitions and educational programs in dozens of countries.

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