A special relationship between Egypt and the US has been established in the wake of the 1973 war, as a result of late Egyptian president Anwar Al-Sadat’s decision to gradually shift from the Soviet side, sign the 1979 Camp David peace treaty with Israel, and establish stronger ties with Washington, in return for various types of support, whether economic, military, or political.
Ahead of the Narrative PR Summit 2018, Daily News Egypt interviewed Sam Werberg, the Press Attaché at the US Embassy in Cairo, to get a better understanding of where the Egypt-US relationship currently stands, and his participation in the summit.
The Narrative PR Summit 2018 which first started in 2016, organised by CC Plus—the multi-disciplinary corporate communications firm— to become the first of its type public relations event for the Egyptian market.
The summit is attended by ministers, global professionals, policymakers, as well as community leaders, to discuss their distinct stories, lessons, and experiences that can create a bank of first-class knowledge available for everyone and anyone in Egypt.
Sam Werberg is a career Foreign Service Officer with the US Department of State and is currently the Press Attaché-Embassy Spokesperson at the US Embassy in Cairo. Previously, Sam studied Arabic in Cairo from 2016 to 2017. Before coming to Cairo, from 2014 to 2016, Sam served as the Press and Public Diplomacy Officer in the Office of Iranian Affairs, in the Near East Affairs Bureau of the US Department of State in Washington DC. In that job, Sam worked closely with colleagues in the interagency on all messaging and outreach related to the nuclear deal with Iran. He also supervised the Virtual Embassy Tehran team, the USG’s primary means of two-way communication with the Iranian people inside Iran. Prior to that, Sam was the Deputy Cultural Affairs Officer at the US Embassy in Rabat, and studied Arabic in Rabat for one academic year before that assignment.
Since joining the Department in 2004, Sam has also served as an Economic Officer in Kuwait, a Consular Officer in Thailand, and an Economic Officer in Iraq. Sam also served in the US Peace Corps as a volunteer in Fes, Morocco, from 1997 to 2000. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Hamilton College in New York, and a master’s in Library and Information Science from the University of Texas at Austin.
Sam is accompanied in Cairo by his wife and two children.
Werber emphasised Egypt’s role in many of the regional issues and the US’s stance in support of Egypt’s notable efforts regarding the economic reforms, the transcript for which is below, lightly edited for clarity:
Why are you participating in the Narrative PR summit?
I am participating in the Narrative PR Summit because I attended last year, and I found it very well organised, with a very informative discussion platform. For all of us, we need to think about the issues raised at this summit: how do we brand ourselves as nations? How can we better communicate our values and interests to others? Within the US and certainly within the US State Department, we think about these questions every day. So, it is great to be able to share our thoughts on this with others through this Summit.
What are your expectations for this year’s edition?
I expect to hear the same high level of conversation and great ideas that I heard last year when I attended. And I expect that the conversation will expand with new participants and new ideas. I am also excited to hear more from the Egyptians who participate as to how they believe that Egypt can brand itself and tell its story in order to attract greater investments and tourism to the country.
What are the programmes which the US embassy implements in Egypt to promote peace, and support prosperity?
We do exert tremendous effort in these areas, and I will be mentioning some of the areas in which we work during my presentation at the Summit. On the issue of peace, we certainly see Egypt playing an important role and having an important voice in many of the regional issues, so as a government, we continue to consult with Egypt and listen to Egypt to understand Egypt’s vision for peace in the region. On supporting prosperity, we engage in a variety of programmes, training courses, exchanges and events which all aim to support Egypt’s notable efforts of its economic reform, and to assist the development of skills that Egypt’s labour force will need in the future. At my presentation at the Summit, I’ll be giving specific examples of how we do this.
How do you assess the current cooperation between both Egypt and the US in various levels of political, economic aspects?
We believe that we have tremendous cooperation in a variety of areas, and not just the political and economic aspects. As I will be addressing in my talk at the Summit, the US has a narrative or a “brand” around our relationship with Egypt. We refer to our relationship as a “Strategic Partnership.” So, I will be talking at the Summit about what that actual means, and what it includes. It includes cooperation in not just the political and economic realms, but also the cultural, educational, military, security, scientific and personal realms as well. But we also do not want to just sit back and rest on our achievements. We believe that the partnership with Egypt could be even stronger still, and that is what we work on at the US Embassy in Cairo every day.