Istanbul is one of my favourite cities. The World Economic Forum meeting held there, which I attended as a Global Shaper, was about my favourite parts of the world – the Middle East, North Africa and Eurasia. The issues discussed were among those closest to my heart, such as “Culture as an Agent for Change” and “Tapping into Women’s Potential in the Economy”.

So my excitement at being invited to attend the meeting (as a representative of the London Global Shapers Hub) still hadn’t died down when I arrived at the Istanbul InterContinental Hotel on 3 June. Caught up in a whirlwind of wonder, I locked all my important things in the bedroom safe without changing the code – and that was just the beginning. My excitement was such that even four days later I missed my plane. But that’s a whole other blog post . . .

The meetings we had as Global Shapers were incredible, hosted by our tireless community managers Melih Nurluel and Yemi Babington-Ashaye. The Deputy Prime Minister of Turkey, Ali Babacan, had breakfast with us and explained how Turkey had become the financially stable powerhouse that it is today. Muhtar Kent, the charismatic CEO of Coca-Cola, had an informal lunch with us. I asked him a few questions on human rights, and the environment, and he answered with diplomatic honesty that brought attention to the company’s impressive CSR programmes, particularly 5×20 – the ambitious plan to empower five million female entrepreneurs by 2020.

I decide early on to write freestyle poems (as well as to tweet) during the meetings that I attended. This is part of my vision of presenting engaging ways for social and political communication to take place. Below are samples of these – unpolished and from the moment – which, hopefully, give a sense of what was talked about. There are also plenty of tweets relating to statistics and interesting snippets from those presenting on the various panels over the course of the meeting.

Lunch Meeting with Coca-Cola CEO, Muhtar Kent, re – Women’s Development:

Hot meals
Behind the wheels
Approval seals

Do more
Open doors
Change laws
World cause

Watch clicks
Don’t trip
Won’t stick

Boardroom chair
Blow-dried hair
Take good care –
50% – it’s only fair.

Meeting: Tensions & Tolerance: Religion, State & Society


We don’t do God
haven’t done now
for 300 years
no tears please
just move on.

We can’t though
can’t you see?
We have to do God
or we can’t move at all.


Does the similarity between religions
Just wallpaper over the differences?

Most buildings do have wallpaper.
See how the patterns match.

Take it down
See how plain the wall will be.
And after all, it will still be a wall.


Sabrina Mahfouz is a British Egyptian poet, playwright and performer based in London. She is the recipient of many awards for her writing and explores numerous themes in her work, but is most interested in gender equality; social identity; political engagement and the ability of language rhythms to communicate beyond the words. She is a Global Shaper from the London hub.

Photo Credit: Felix Polesello