Safirlab - Supporting those working for change in the Arab world

Safirlab - Supporting those working for change in the Arab world


To enable young people involved in initiatives in the area of the media and civil society to develop their projects and share their experiences
To create a dialogue between young people with the same civic values and help build a mutual partnership between France and countries south of the Mediterranean

A project

Supported by

In partnership with


Safirlab was born in the wake of the Arab Spring, the wave of protests against authoritarian regimes that started in Tunisia in 2011 and swept across Egypt and several countries of the Maghreb and the Middle East. These movements, which were variously successful in obtaining concessions, severely repressed, or the cause of a change of government, created new social dynamics driven in particular by the youth of these countries.

The aim of Safirlab is to support Arab countries in their political transformation by encouraging young people (aged between 20 and 30) who are working for change and involved in projects related to issues of civil society and the media.

Successful applicants are invited to attend an incubation event in Paris with the dual aim of developing their project and facilitating the sharing of experiences. For two weeks, they will receive support both in a group framework and individually, meeting with professionals in their sector. Safirlab is also an opportunity for the creation of a network and for exchanges between young people from the Arab world, all of whom have experienced profound political upheaval and are driven by the same desire for change.

“The meetings with professionals organised by SafirLab in France stand out from other similar initiatives in that they were not merely meetings about our projects, educational sessions or conferences, they were more like genuine exchanges”
Ahmed Naguib, SafirLab 2014 participant

Project beneficiaries

Egyptians, Jordanians, Libyans, Moroccans, Tunisians and Yemenis aged between 20 and 30 working on projects focusing on the issues of citizenship, local governance and the media.

Project manager


Identification and selection of project candidates

The selection of candidates is a three-stage process:

  • Call for applications is launched in French, Arabic and English in the six countries concerned by the project and a screening committee is assembled to shortlist candidates.
  • Shortlisted candidates are interviewed by selection committees in their own country.
  • Final selection committee gathers at CFI to select the 20 finalists.
Related news
July 12, 2012

CFI and the Institut français team up to launch “SafirLab”, the laboratory for change

On 11 July 2012, Etienne Fiatte, Managing Director of CFI signed a partnership agreement with Xavier Darcos, President of the Institut Français...
September 24, 2012

SafirLab Seminar: France supports the key agents of tomorrow´s Arab* companies

Project launched in July 2012, SafirLab aims to reinforce the skills of key young agents within the new political and social dynamics of the Arab...

Week incubation session

The successful candidates attend a training programme with five main components:

  • Plenary sessions for group training
  • Meetings held under a theme, for discussion of major social issues
  • Individual meetings with professionals for advice tailored to each project
  • Practical workshops in small groups for an introduction to communication techniques
  • Interactive workshops during cultural trips in Paris
Related news
November 18, 2013

SafirLab – 33 enterprising young people from the Arab world gather together in Paris

The 2013 edition of SafirLab, which will run from 18 to 29 November in Paris, will welcome 33 young people who have been carefully selected based...

Follow-up support for initiatives

On their return, dialogue with participants continues locally with the support of the Instituts Français and the cooperation services of the French Embassy in each country, as well as through social networks and regular invitations to CFI events. The goal is to create new opportunities for meetings between participants and foster the creation of a network of young people in Arab countries.

Related news
October 24, 2014

SafirLab 2014: 21 young people from Egypt, Jordan, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia and Yemen champion their projects in Paris

At a time when a number of countries in the Arab world are experiencing major upheaval which is making normal everyday life difficult, SafirLab...
June 5, 2015

3 SafirLab prize-winners invited to the Beirut “Initiators of Change” forum

Under the umbrella of the "Beirut Spring", and in homage to journalist Samir Kassir, who disappeared ten years ago, and to his birthplace, the...
February 24, 2016

SafirLab: a new meeting in Tunisia

On 3–5 February 2016, 15 former participants from the three previous rounds of the media section of the SafirLab project met in Tunis for a new...