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Foreign Affairs LIVE: Gulf Economic Update

New York

Council on Foreign Relations
58 East 68th Street, 10065

Our inaugural Gulf Economic Update provides an overview of the current political and economic environment in the Gulf, including a look at the opportunities and challenges for growth in the region.  

Amidst persistent political unrest across the Middle East and a decline in oil prices, the community of Gulf countries are searching for ways to boost their economies. Expert panelists from the public and private sector will discuss strategies toward creating sustainable growth, including infrastructure development, investment in education and skills training, and economic policies to encourage investment. 

The event will be preceded by a sponsored breakfast, featuring a presentation on Kuwait. 

8:30 a.m. - 9:00 a.m. | Sponsored Breakfast: Investment Opportunities in Kuwait
Sponsored by Kuwait Projects Company (Holding)
Kuwait has recently seen several favorable developments in its regulatory and legal framework that enhance its attractiveness as an investment destination. The issuance of new Law No. 116 of 2013 for promoting direct investment in the State of Kuwait, which replaced the previous FDI Law No. 8 of 2001, stipulated several additions that accommodated international best practices pertaining to FDI. The main additional features included establishing a public authority, the Kuwait Direct Investment Promotion Authority (KDIPA), which is mandated with the tasks of boosting both local and foreign investors, promoting Kuwait as an attractive investment location, and streamlining the business environment to enhance the country's competitiveness. It also adopted the “negative list approach" for sectors that are excluded from licensing.

H.E. Abdullah Yaqoub Bishara, First Secretary General of the GCC & Chairman, North Africa Holding

9:00 a.m. - 10:00 a.m. | Foreign Affairs Briefing: The Gulf Cooperation Council

Our signature Foreign Affairs Briefings offer an informed and comprehensive overview of the key political dynamics and macroeconomic trends in the region.

The latest World Bank GCC Economic Monitor Report from spring 2016 expects growth in the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to fall to 2.2% in 2016 from 3.1% in 2015. This has prompted local governments to modify spending and explore ways to increase the efficiency of capital expenditure to strengthen non-oil growth and ensure intergenerational equity. The countries need to lay the basis for private sector-led growth through improving labor markets and other structural reforms. Potential investors and business leaders will be watching to see if the region can deepen its reforms and continue its growth trajectory in the face of global economic uncertainty. 

Fadel Al Baghli, Chairman, KGL Ports InternationalPinak Maitra, Group Chief Financial Officer, KIPCO
Dr. Nadir Mohammed, Director for GCC Countries, Middle East and North Africa, World Bank
Kenneth Pollack, Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution
Moderator: Karen Young, PhD, Senior Resident Scholar, Arab Gulf States Institute

10:15 a.m. - 11:15 a.m. | The Impact of Oil Prices on Economic Growth and Development
Diminished oil prices have created both challenges and opportunities for GCC countries that have historically relied on oil as their primary source of income, forcing them to look for ways to diversify their economies. This timely panel will look at how Gulf countries are using innovation and new technology to develop and strengthen other revenue generating. We will also discuss the advances made in renewable energy projects and what impact these will have on foreign investment.

Sara Akbar, 
Chief Executive Officer, Kuwait Energy
Sheikh Nawaf S. Al-Sabah, Chief Executive Officer, Kuwait  Foreign Petroleum Exploration Company (KUFPEC)
Michael Cohen, Head of Energy Commodities Research, Barclay's Marie Diron, Senior Vice President, Sovereign Rating Group, Moody's
Moderator: Varun Sivaram, Douglas Dillon Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations

11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. | Simultaneous Breakout Sessions

Creating a High Growth, High Diversification Model for Kuwait
The drop in oil prices has adversely affected Kuwait’s fiscal and current account balances and slowed growth. Financial buffers help to support growth through public investment and ease the needed fiscal corrections over the medium term. Kuwait is gradually making adjustments in spending, with a focus on reducing rigidities in the budget. Subsidy reform, wage reform, and improving the efficiency of capital expenditure will hopefully strengthen non-oil growth and guarantee intergenerational equity. 

Featuring a conversation with Dr. Yousef H. Al-Ebraheem, Economic Advisor to Amiri Diwan

Dr. Bassam Alfeeli, Program Manager, Management Development Enterprises, Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences
Bader F. Al-Rezaihan, Chairman and Managing Director, Amwal 
D. James Stamatis, Chief Executive Officer, Louis Berger
Moderator: Karen Young, PhD, Senior Resident Scholar, Arab Gulf States Institute

Silicon Desert: Can Innovation and Entrepreneurship Thrive in Kuwait?
Innovation and entrepreneurship are crucial factors for achieving economic growth as they have the ability to drive sustainable financial and social progress in the region. This panel will focus on the financial impact of disruptive ICT innovations that are transforming leading businesses. 

Featuring a conversation with H.E. Sheikh Dr. Meshaal Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, Director General, Kuwait Development and Investment Promotion Authority

H. E. Salim M. Al-Ozainah,
Chairman and Chief Executice Officer, Communication and Information Technology Regulatory Authority (CITRA)
Eng. Qusai Al-Shatti, Director-General, Central Agency for Information Technology
H.E. Dr. Mohammed Al-Zuhair, Executive Chairman, National Fund for Small and Medium Enterprise Development
Moderator: James P. Duffy IV, Partner, Baker & McKenzie LLP

12:30 - 1:30 p.m. | Networking Lunch

1:30 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. | One-on-one meetings and investment roadshow

Sara Akbar is CEO and co-founder of Kuwait Energy, one of the few successful independent oil and gas exploration & production companies in the Middle East.

With a BSc in Chemical Engineering from Kuwait University, Sara began her career as a petroleum engineer with Kuwait Oil Company in 1991 and moved up to several positions before joining KUFPEC as Business Development Manager in 1999.  In 2005, Sara co-established Kuwait Energy.

Sara’s distinguished achievements in the oil industry won her the international ‘Charles F. Rand Memorial Gold Medal’ in 2013. Other awards include 2009’s 'Leader in Energy', recognizing her as the leading women in the Middle East’s oil and gas industry. Her key role in Kuwait’s Wild Well Killers Team responsible for extinguishing Kuwait’s oil well fires in 1991 earned her the UN Environmental Programme ‘Global 500 Award’. Sara is the only member from the Middle East in the international C200 committee of women CEOs.


Fadhel Al Baghli serves as the Chairman of KGL Ports International (KGL PI), a post he has held since April 2009. He is responsible for leading and overseeing the operations and affairs of the Board and facilitates proper governance.  He develops the strategic plan for the Ports activity disciplines at KGL PI, ranging from the development, operations and management of Ports, and provides direction to advance towards achieving the company’s strategy, goals and objectives.

Fadhel brings over extensive experience in several areas in Ports Management and Operations, serving with Kuwait Ports Authority (1982 - 1996), in which he held several positions as Director of Shuaiba Port Container Terminal & Director of Shuwaikh Port Container Terminal. Fadhel is a specialized Senior Officer in Ports and joined KGL group in 2000. Prior to being assigned as Chairman & Managing Director, Fadhel was the Vice Chairman and Chief Business Officer of KGL PI.

Fadhel earned a Bachelor of Science in General Business Management/ Marine & Coastal Zone Management, a Bachelor of Arts in Marine Affairs from the University of Miami, School of Marine & Atmospheric Science in 1981 & Drake University Des Moines, Iowa in 1978, respectively.  Fadhel also possesses a Diploma in Port Operations, Planning, Development & Port Management in 1984 from the Port of Felixtow Institute in England, and a Diploma in Port Management from the Institute of Singapore in 1983.  Fadhel is a member of the US Naval Academy in Maryland, International Oceanography Foundation in Miami, USA and is currently an Executive Advisory Board member at KGL Holding.


Dr. Yousef H. Al-Ebraheem is a Kuwaiti national who has a distinguished career in academia and public service. Al Ebraheem held several ministerial posts. He has served as minister of finance, minister of planning & minister of state for administrative development affairs. Prior to that he was the minister of education & higher education.

Al Ebraheem has served as the Dean of school of business at Kuwait University prior to that he held the post of Cultural Counselor/Director at the Cultural Division of the Embassy of the State of Kuwait in Washington, DC.

He is a board member of Investcorp . He was the chairman and member of the board of directors of the Gulf Investment Corporation. In addition he has served as vice chairman of Al Mal Investment Company.

Al Ebraheem is member of the board of Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences (KFAS). He is also a member of the board of trustees, the executive committee and the chairman of the audit committee of the  Arab Open University ,and member of the board of trustees at the Kuwait Institute for Medical Specialization (KIMS). As well as a member of the board of advisers of Center for Contemporary Arab Studies at Georgetown University USA.

Al Ebraheem is a member of the board of several nongovernmental organizations such as American Kuwaiti Alliance and INJAZ - Kuwait in association with the International Junior Achievement Worldwide.

Currently , Al Ebraheem serves as the economic advisor at the Amiri Diwan in the capacity of a minister. He is married and has three children.

Al Ebraheem has a Ph.D. in Economics from Claremont Graduate University. He has authored a number of publications, reports, research papers and books 


Bader Al Rezaihan is educated in the west.  He went to the United States, where he earned his BA and MBA from Woodburry University in California. Soon after he returned to Kuwait, he worked for Kuwait International Investment Company (KIIC) and then became the President and CEO of KIIC USA based in Los Angeles. 

In 1993, he left KIIC and started his own business in New York : Capital Investment Company (CIC).  CIC focused on asset management, managing money on behalf of institutional and high net worth clients in four basic businesses: venture capital, real estate, public security and hedge funds.

In 2003, Bader returned to Kuwait and capitalized on Kuwait’s healthy business environment.  The result of his hard work was a portfolio of assets that included an Investment Bank, Insurance Company, Real Estate, Energy, Retail and others investments in different sectors. 

Bader founded Al-Rezaihan Group in 2005 which became a major force in the GCC and the MENA region in real estate development, with high profile residential and commercial projects in Saudi Arabia, Syria, Dubai and Egypt.

Besides his investment interests, Mr. Al Rezaihan plays an active role in international relations. He helped found the American Kuwaiti Alliance, which has put forth several initiatives to strengthen relations between the two countries in politics and trade.


Sheikh Meshaal Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah was assigned as the Director General (DG) for Kuwait Direct Investment Promotion Authority (KDIPA) established in accordance with Law No. 116 for 2013 for the promotion of direct investment in the State of Kuwait. He also chairs the Permanent Committee on Streamlining Business Environment in Kuwait in accordance with a Council of Ministers Decision and serves as Deputy Chairman for National Offset Company (NOC). Previously, he chaired the inter-Ministerial Steering Group for insolvency and creditor/debtor regime set up by the Council of Ministers under the leadership of Minister of Commerce and Industry. He was a member of the Board of Directors for the Central Bank of Kuwait from 2012-2013, and he assumed till July 2013 the position of Chief of Kuwait Foreign Investment Bureau (KFIB) with the rank of Assistant Undersecretary, a division within the Ministry of Commerce & Industry serving the mandate of attracting FDI and promoting Kuwait as an investment location.

Dr. Al-Sabah attained diverse past experience upon working in the Council of Ministers in various capacities of his career path during the period 2003 - 2008. He holds a PHD obtained from the University of Portsmouth (UK), in HR & Marketing Management, with focus on resource cost reduction through innovation in Kuwait; an MBA received from the renowned Netherlands’ Maastricht School of Management (Kuwait branch), with focus on strategic management; a BA in Political Sciences and Public Administration from Kuwait University. He also provided several presentations at various forums locally and internationally on Kuwait investment climate and its unique value proposition as well as the incentives & guarantees granted for added value investments.  


Sheikh Nawaf S. Al-Sabah was appointed the Chief Executive Officer of Kuwait Petroleum Exploration Company K.S.C., the international upstream subsidiary of state-owned Kuwait Petroleum Corporation, in May 2013. With current operations in 15 countries and production of over 75,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day, KUFPEC aims to grow its production to 200,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day by 2020.

Prior to his appointment at KUFPEC, Sheikh Nawaf spent 14 yearts at KPC. He was the principal in-house counsel to KPC and an active member of KPC's negotiating teams on all of its strategic projects. He was also a member of the Board of DIrectors of Kuwait Petroleum International (KPC's international downstream subsidiary and MEGlobal (an olefins joint venture involving KPC's petrochemicals subsidiary).

From 2002 to 2004, Sheikh Nawaf was head of KPC's Washington office, responsible for development of downstream business opportunities and policy analysis in the United States. Prior to joining KPC, he worked as a corporate transactions attorney for Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP, an international law firm based in Los Angeles.

Sheikh Nawaf holds a bachelor's degree magna cum laude in Public and International Affairs from Princeton University and a JD degree cum laude from Harvard Law School


Mr Qusai Al-Shatti is currently the acting director general and deputy director general of the Information Technology Sector, Central Agency for Information Technology (CAIT) and deputy chairman of the Kuwait Information Technology Society. Mr Al-Shatti worked as a specialist in the field of information technology at the Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research from the period of 1992-1999 and 2004-2008; during which time he also worked as division director at the Ministry of Public Works from 1999-2004. Mr Al-Shatti is also member of the advisory group of Internet Governance Forum (IGF) under the umbrella of the general secretary of the United Nations. He is also a member of the High Level Advisory Group of the United Nation Global Alliance for ICT and Development. Additionally he is a member of the steering committee of the National E-Kuwait Awards under the umbrella of Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Science and member of the Evaluation Team for Sheikh Salem Al-Ali Al-Sabah Informatics Award. Mr Al-Shatti has a bachelor’s degree in Computer Engineering from George Washington University in Washington DC, United States of America and has participated in drafting the E-Transaction Law, Cybercrime Law and E-Media Draft Law in Kuwait.


H.E. Dr. Mohammed M. Al-Zuhair is the Executive Chairman – President of the Kuwait National Fund for Small & Medium Enterprise Development (an Independent Public Corporation).
Before assuming this role, he served in various public positions – including: Member of the Supreme Council for Privatization, Chaired by His Highness the Prime Minister; Professor of Finance & International Business at Kuwait University; Advisor to the Director of the Government Performance Monitoring Agency; Advisor in the Office of Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs; Special Advisor to the Minister of Commerce & Industry; and Advisor to the State Minister for Planning & Development.

During his tenure in Washington, DC, Dr Al-Zuhair worked as lecturer and Research Fellow for Corporate Governance Studies at The George Washington University; as Vice President for Private Equity at a boutique investment firm; and at the Office of the Executive Director for Arab Countries at The World Bank. He spent a number of years before that in Europe with a multinational oil company, where he held various positions.

Dr Al-Zuhair holds a Ph.D. in Finance & International Business; MBA in Finance & Investments; and a Bachelors of Science degree in Petroleum Engineering.


Dr. Bassam Alfeeli is Program Manager of Management Development for Enterprises Program within Innovation and Enterprise Directorate at the Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences (KFAS). Among his responsibilities, is managing training grants as well as organizing science, technology, and innovation (STI) related training programs that would provide Kuwaiti companies with tools and skill sets to improve business productivity and competitiveness and ultimately transform Kuwait’s economy to Knowledge based economy. Alfeeli and team has designed and implemented KFAS Innovation Challenge, an innovative executive education program that delivers core innovation concepts and skillsets to selected business teams, providing them with a toolkit and a mindset to lead innovative change across their companies.

Before joining KFAS, Alfeeli served as Program Coordinator at the Kuwait National Nuclear Energy Committee and as an Associate Research Scientist at the Nanotechnology and Advanced Materials program, Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research (KISR). He has diverse technical and scientific backgrounds in advanced technologies including nanotechnology, lasers & photonics, advanced nuclear reactors design, and space technologies.

Alfeeli provides several volunteer services to the scientific community. He is active reviewer for more than 20 international journals and serves on national and international technical committees. He also contributes to the local community through not-for-profit initiatives to promote alternative approaches in STEM education and provide a unique learning experience for students and teachers through informal education and inspiring hands-on activities that stimulate both the mind and emotions.


H. E. Salim Alozainah is the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the first Kuwaiti regulatory authority – Communication and Information Technology Regulatory Authority (CITRA). Between 2011 and 2014, Mr. Alozainah has been assigned many ministerial positions and served as the Minister of Communications; Minister for Electricity & Water; Minister of Housing Affairs; and Minister of Municipal Affairs, where he has shown strong leadership and clear progressive and development agenda.

Before his appointment to lead CITRA on November 2014, Mr. Alozainah has participated and chaired many prestigious national Kuwaiti committees such as the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Plenipotentiary Conference Committee; the International Cable Network Committee; the Telecom Companies Supervisory Committee; and the national Emergency Committee. In the corporate world, apart from his governmental and political posts, Mr. Salim Alozainah is a respected and well-seasoned veteran of the telecom industry and among other positions, he has worked as a key member of the establishing committee of company GBI, in its submarine telecom cable infrastructure project.

Mr. Alozainah holds an electronic Engineering degree from Wentworth Institute of Technology in the USA and has attended many senior leadership programs around the world. 


H.E. Abdullah Yaqoub Bishara is a Board Director of KIPCO – Kuwait Projects Company (Holding). He has been associated with KIPCO’s Group company, North Africa Holding, since its establishment in 2006, and has been advising on the company's strategy and expansion plans in the North African region.

Mr. Bishara was formerly Kuwait's Ambassador to the United Nations & the General Secretary of the Gulf Cooperation Council. He is also the President of Diplomatic Centre for Strategic Studies. Mr. Bishara is the Coordinator of the Kuwaiti-British Friendship Society and was awarded the title of Honorary Commander of the British Empire by H.R.H. The Queen.

Mr. Bishara held several positions as a diplomat in Latin America and North Africa regions and became the first Secretary-General of the Gulf Cooperation Council in 1981. Prior to that, he was Director of the Office of the Minister of Foreign Affairs. Mr. Bishara was named Kuwait's Permanent Representative to the United Nations where he served for ten years from 1971 to 1981. While serving in the United Nations, he was the President of the Security Council in February of 1979 and represented Kuwait on the Council for two years. Additionally, Mr. Bishara headed several UN Committees and was Vice Chairman of the United Nations Institute for Training and Research.

Mr. Bishara is a well-known figure in the political and intellectual circles of Arab and foreign capitals. He has written several books and essays on political and economic issues and has delivered lectures at American universities and organizations on the subjects of Middle East oil politics and the Arabian Gulf.

Mr. Bishara holds a M.A. degree in Political Science from St. John's University, New York and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Cairo University. Furthermore, he attended Balliol College, Oxford University, where he studied Diplomacy and International Relations. 


As Head of Energy Markets Research at Barclays, Michael Cohen is responsible for the firm’s oil and natural gas forecasts. Based in New York, Mr. Cohen is also responsible for the firm’s research covering developments in North American energy markets.  Prior to joining Barclays in August 2013, Mr. Cohen spent two years as a senior member of the Oil Industries and Markets Division at the International Energy Agency (IEA), where he was a principal author of the industry benchmark Oil Market Report and Medium Term Oil Market Report.  Prior to the IEA, Mr. Cohen worked for seven years with the US Department of Energy as an economist with the Energy Information Administration and with the Office of Policy and International Affairs’ Eurasia division.  He also has experience in gas and power markets as a trading desk analyst for American Electric Power and as a consultant on electricity market design with LECG.

Mr. Cohen received an MA in International Economics from Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies, and a BSBA in Economics and BA in Political Science from The Ohio State University. He is a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations.


Marie Diron, Associate Managing Director, leads the Sovereign Risk Group’s Asia Pacific and North America teams, covering sovereigns and supranationals in these regions. Marie has worked as Moody’s lead sovereign analyst for a number of Asia Pacific credits, including China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, India, Sri Lanka and Australia. Marie has also worked in Moody’s Credit Policy, leading a number of macroeconomic analyses, including our regular Global Macro Outlook and other credit research work.

Marie was previously Director at Oxford Economics, leading the company’s forecasting and scenario analysis service to financial sector and corporate clients,after a number of years at the European Central Bank and Brevan Howard LLP. Marie received a MPhil in Economics from the University of Cambridge and graduated from the Ecole Centrale Paris.


James P. Duffy is a partner in the firm's New York office and focuses his practice on international arbitration and related litigation. He has extensive experience formulating global dispute resolution strategies for clients facing multi-jurisdictional international disputes and has represented clients across a range of industries in international arbitrations administered under the ICC, AAA/ICDR, LCIA, HKIAC, SIAC, DIAC, JAMS, GAFTA, ICSID and UNCITRAL rules in the US, Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America. He also enjoys a comprehensive understanding of the interaction between courts and arbitration and has represented clients before US state and federal courts in litigation seeking prospective relief in aid of arbitration, actions under 28 USC § 1782 to obtain evidence in support of foreign tribunals and proceedings to enforce arbitral awards.

Duffy has substantial emerging market dispute resolution experience and practiced as a foreign legal consultant in the Dubai office of an international law firm from 2008 to 2009. His international arbitration practice has a strong geographic focus on the MENA region, the Indian sub-continent and east Asia, and Mr. Duffy has substantial industry knowledge in the energy, life sciences and technology sectors. Before entering private practice, Mr. Duffy served as a law clerk to a federal judge in the Eastern District of New York from 2001 to 2002.


Pinak Maitra joined KIPCO in 1988. He was appointed Financial Controller in 1991 and Group CFO in 1996. He is a member of the Group’s strategy and risk management team. He leads the Group planning and performance analysis function. He is a Board member of Burgan Bank, OSN and Pulsar Knowledge Centre. Prior to joining KIPCO, he worked for Arthur Young International. He won the MENA Private Sector CFO of the Year award in 2008. In 2011, he won the first MENA region CFO of the Year award, organized by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales. Mr Maitra is a graduate of Osmania University, India.


Dr. Nadir Abdellatif Mohammed is the Country Director of the GCC Countries in the Middle East and North Africa region of the World Bank. He joined the Bank in 1998 as Country Economist for Egypt and then Yemen. He joined the ECA region as Country Manager (Albania) and returned to the Middle East and North Africa (MNA) region as Operations Director in 2007. During 2010-2012, Dr. Mohammed was on external assignment from the Bank where he served as Acting Director of Strategy for the Prime Minister’s Office, State of Kuwait. He also served as Senior Advisor in the Poverty Reduction and Economic Management (PREM) network during 2009-2010 and also from 2012-1013.

Before joining the Bank, Dr. Mohammed worked in two multilateral development banks, the African Development Bank (1994-1996) and the Islamic Development Bank (1996-1998). Mr. Mohammed started his career in academia as a lecture and research officer in the universities of Khartoum (Sudan), Addis Ababa (Ethiopia), Cambridge (UK), and Oxford (UK).  

Dr. Mohammed is a graduate of the University of Khartoum (BS in Economics) and has two post-graduate degrees in Economics from the University of Cambridge (MPhil and PhD).  Dr. Mohammed has published widely on issues of economic development, public finance, conflict and civil wars, natural resource management, poverty reduction, governance, and defense economics.


Kenneth M. Pollack is a Senior Fellow of the Brookings Institution, where he specializes in the political-military affairs of the Middle East.  Dr. Pollack began his career as a Persian Gulf Military Analyst at the Central Intelligence Agency and later served two tours at the NSC, as Director for Near East and South Asian Affairs and Director for Persian Gulf Affairs.  He has also been a Senior Research Professor at the national Defense University and the Director of National Security Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.  Dr. Pollack is the author of 9 books on the Middle East, including most recently Unthinkable: Iran, the Bomb and American Strategy which was named one of the best books of the year by The Economist and Foreign Affairs, and one of the 100 “Notable” books of the year by The New York Times.  Dr. Pollack received his BA from Yale and his PhD from MIT.


Varun Sivaram is the Douglas Dillon fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. He is also a strategic advisor to the office of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on Reforming the Energy Vision, and he is an adjunct professor at Georgetown University. He is a member of the advisory boards for both the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment and the Stanford Precourt Institute for Energy.

Before joining CFR, Dr. Sivaram was a consultant at McKinsey & Company, where he counseled Fortune 500 companies on adapting to the modern competitive landscape in energy. Prior to this role, he served as senior advisor for energy and water policy to the mayor of Los Angeles, Antonio Villaraigosa, and oversaw the city’s Department of Water and Power.

Dr. Sivaram’s work has appeared in the New York Times, the Financial TimesForeign Affairs, the Journal of Applied Physics, the Journal of Physical ChemistryNatureNature EnergyNature Climate Change, and Scientific American. A Truman and a Rhodes scholar, he holds degrees from Stanford University in engineering physics and international relations, with honors in international security. Dr. Sivaram holds a PhD in condensed matter physics from St. John’s College, Oxford University, where he developed third-generation solar photovoltaic coatings for building-integrated applications. He lives in Washington, DC.


In his current role as president and chief executive officer of Louis Berger, D. James Stamatis provides strategic direction and financial oversight for the corporation and its operating units. He most recently served as president of Louis Berger International, and prior to that was the president of Louis Berger U.S. Stamatis joined the firm more than 25 years ago and has held a number of leadership roles, helping to develop and expand the firm’s eastern U.S. practice and serving as principal-in-charge for a range of complex infrastructure, facilities and environmental projects. Stamatis attended Pennsylvania State University and completed his undergraduate studies at the New Jersey Institute of Technology. He is a licensed professional engineer in 10 U.S. states.


Dr. Karen E. Young is a senior resident scholar at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington. She was a research fellow at the Middle East Centre (MEC) of the London School of Economics and Political Science from 2014-15, where she remains a non-resident fellow. From 2009-14, she was assistant professor of political science at the American University of Sharjah (UAE). Her research interests are based in comparative politics and political economy, focusing on processes of economic and political transition, state formation, and foreign policy decision-making.

Young is the author of The Political Economy of Energy, Finance and Security in the United Arab Emirates: Between the Majilis and the Market, published by Palgrave in 2014. She has written for the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, the Conservative Middle East Council, Gulf regional newspapers The National and Gulf News, and academic outlets including Kings College European Centre for Energy and Resource Security, Georgetown Journal of International Affairs, and Security Dialogue. She has appeared frequently as a commentator/analyst on Al Jazeera International and CNBC Arabia. Young writes a regular commentary for AGSIW on Gulf politics and finance called Market Watch.

Young earned a PhD in political science from the City University of New York, an MA in political science from Columbia University, an MA in international economic relations from the Universidad Andina Simon Bolivar (Quito), and a BA in anthropology from Wellesley College. She has worked in university administration at New York University at its Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics and in the office of the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. She has held research positions at the Ford Foundation, the Ralph Bunche Institute, and the Program on States and Security at the City University of New York.

Her research has been supported by the Fulbright Program (Ecuador 1997-99; Bulgaria 2005-06), the International Research and Exchange Board (IREX), the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS), the Woodrow Wilson Center, U.S. State Department Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI), American Political Science Association MENA Fellows Program and the Carnegie Corporation, and Emirates Foundation.

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