Conference Speakers

Samer N. Abboud- Assistant Professor of International Studies, Arcadia University:
Samer Abboud received his Ph.D. in Arab and Islamic Studies from the University of Exeter’s Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies in 2007 where he conducted research on the political economy of marketization in Syria. Samer has written extensively on Syria’s political economy and has published in such journals as Arab Studies Quarterly, New Political Science, and The International Journal of Contemporary Iraqi Studies, as well as in several edited collections. He also serves as a Fellow at the Center for Syrian Studies in St. Andrew’s Scotland, and in 2013 will be a resident fellow in Berlin at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs where he was awarded a fellowship under their Arab Transformation Fellowship program.


Ayman Asfari – Group Chief Executive, Petrofac Limited: Ayman Asfari graduated with a BSc in Civil Engineering in 1979 from Villanova University (Pennsylvania) and an MSc in Civil and Urban Enigneering in 1980 from the University of Pennsylvania. In his early career, Ayman was a Resident Engineer for the Conser Consulting Group in Dubai before taking the position of Managing Director for Desert Line Projects (DLP) in Oman. Ayman Asfari joined US-based Petrofac in 1991 to establish Petrofac International, with a capital base of US$1 million. Under Ayman’s leadership, the business has developed into a leading oilfield services company providing services to customers across the oil & gas asset life-cycle, on both a stand-alone and integrated basis.   Today Petrofac has operations in 29 countries with 17,200 employees worldwide and is listed on the London Stock Exchange’s FTSE 100 Index. In 2010, Ayman was heralded Ernst & Young’s UK Entrepreneur of the Year and, in both 2011 and 2012, he was named Oil Services Executive of the Year at the World National Oil Company Congress.  Ayman Asfari also currently serves as a member of the Board of Trustees for The American University of Beirut. Ayman lives in London with his wife, Sawsan and their four sons.


Hazami Barmada- President & CEO, Al-Mubadarah International: Hazami Barmada is a social entrepreneur and international affairs professional. Barmada consults with public and private institutions providing technical assistance on business development, strategy, programming, management and institutional affairs.  Recent clients have included ARAMCO Services, Royal Opera House Muscat Oman, and Object Design and Communication. She serves as an advisor and board member of several non-profit organizations including the steering committee for the Refugees International Young Humanitarian Circle and Peace x Peace.  Her initiatives and events have received recognition in major media outlets nationally and internationally.  She has is a frequent public speaker and commentator on current affairs appearing on CNN international, BBC, Saudi TV, Alhurra, AlJazeera and VOA. Barmada has a B.A. in Anthropology and Sociology from Rhodes College and has done graduate work in Public and Social Policy at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.  She was the recipient of the 2010 Breaking Barriers through Travel Fellowship working with woman and youth centers in Thailand, India and Nepal.

 
Marieke BosmanCEO, Asfari Foundation: Marieke Bosman studied Arabic and Middle Eastern History at the School of Oriental and African Studies of London University. She worked for several years in local charities in the Arab world before doing her MA in Middle East Area Studies at SOAS. She then joined the Said Foundation, working on projects for children in Syria, Palestine, Jordan and Lebanon and set up its Syria Disability Programme and its office in Syria. She subsequently ran her own consultancy working with government, UN agencies and NGOs on social development in the Arab region, mostly focused on children and young people, with very regular projects in Syria. Since 2011 Marieke has been CEO of the Asfari Foundation, a charity working in the UK, Syria, Lebanon and Palestine that gives development opportunities to disadvantaged young people, encourages development of open and just societies, and provides humanitarian relief aid to Syria. Marieke has spent the past 15 years working intensively with and for Syria, lived in Damascus for three years and is passionate about the country – and its young people in particular. She lives in England with her partner and her Syrian cat.

Omar S. Dahi- Assistant Professor of Economics, Hampshire College: Omar S. Dahi is assistant professor of economics at Hampshire College. He received his M.A. and Ph.D. in economics from the University of Notre Dame. His research and teaching interests are in the areas of economic development and international trade, with a special focus on the political economy of the Middle East and North Africa and on South-South economic cooperation. His publications include articles in the Journal of Development EconomicsIDS BulletinThe Middle East Report, and the Review of Radical Political Economics.


Kito de Boer- Director, McKinsey & Company in the Middle East: Kito de Boer currently leads the Public and Social Sector Practice across Europe, theMiddle Eastand Africa (EMEA). The central theme of Mr. de Boer’s work with Government clients has been reform. He has helped to support the region’s leaders create the modern institutions and policies required by forward-looking governments. Specifically, Mr. de Boer has worked on issues related to labor market reform, economic reform, education reform and healthcare reform. Mr. de Boer joined McKinsey inLondonin 1985 and in 1993 moved toNew Delhito help launch theIndiapractice. In 2000, he moved toDubaito lead the formation of theMiddle Eastpractice of which he was Managing Director until 2008. Since founding the Middle East office, Mr. de Boer has also been one of the leaders of the McKinsey Center of Government, and has served clients across the Middle East,North Africaand South-Asia (MENASA). Mr. de Boer received a B.S.C. from Loughborough University of Science and Technology and an M.B.A. fromCranfieldUniversity.


 Dr. Mazen Kherallah- Critical care and infectious disease consultant, Sanford Health System:   Dr. Mazen Kherallah has received his medical degree from University of Damascus in 1987 followed by internal medicine residency at the University of Illinois in Chicago in addition to an infectious disease and critical care medicine fellowships at University of Illinois in Chicago, University of Chicago, Medical College of Wisconsin and Wayne State University. He is certified by the American board of Internal Medicine in his three specialties since 1995 and is currently a critical care and infectious disease consultant at Sanford Health System in Fargo, USA and at King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Dr. Kherallah is an active fellow of the American College of Chest Physicians (ACCP), a member of the Society of Critical Care Medicine (SCCM), and a member at large of the executive committee of the Chapters and International Affiliates of SCCM. In addition he is the president and a founding member of the Middle East Critical Care Assembly (MCCA) and lately he has been appointed to chair the executive committee of the Syrian International Coalition for Health (SICH).


Yevgeny Kuznetsov- Senior Fellow, Migration Policy Institute: Yevgeny Kuznetsov has joined World Bank in 1995 from Brookings Institution and has been working on innovation, growth and talent mobility issues. He is now a Senior Fellow at Migration Policy Institute in Washington DC and Senior Advisor of Skolkovo Innovation Foundation in Moscow. A specialist in technological innovation and international migration of highly skilled, he focuses on political economy of reforms of innovation and higher education systems. He has acquired a unique perspective on reforms which blends insights of a practitioner (operational support to innovation projects in Argentina, Chile, India, Mexico, Russia, Iran, Armenia, Tanzania, Morocco, Colombia  and other economies) and a scholar (more than 30 articles and books on innovation and knowledge-based growth).   In recent years, he also focuses on Diasporas of highly skilled as change agents to promote institutional development in home countries and has published a book and articles on that issue.


  Mohamed Malouche- President, Tunisian American Young Professionals (TAYP): Mohamed Malouche is the President of the Tunisian American Young Professionals (TAYP), a diaspora association that has been mentoring young Tunisian entrepreneurs and promoting further economic cooperation between Tunisia and the United States. He has been providing economic counsel to important governmental actions related to innovation and entrepreneurship, in particular a US-Tunisia partnership for the promotion of technology innovation, and several programs to enhance young Tunisian entrepreneurs’ soft skills. In 2002, he founded PromoTunisia which offers cultural trips to Tunisia, and turned it into an advisory firm supporting US companies seeking to expand in North Africa. Mohamed is a Senior Manager with Deloitte Consulting. Prior to joining Deloitte, Mohamed was a Principal with American Management Systems. He holds a Masters in Information Systems from Telecom Paris in France, and a Masters in Telecom from Michigan State University.


Nasser Rabbat- Agha Khan Professor, MIT: Nasser Rabbat is the Aga Khan Professor and the Director of the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture at MIT.  An architect and a historian, his scholarly interests include Islamic architecture, urbanism, and cultures, Arabic history, and post-colonial criticism.  His most recent books are Mamluk History Through Architecture: Building, Culture, and Politics in Mamluk Egypt and Syria (London, 2010) and al-Mudun al-Mayyita: Durus min Madhiha wa-Ru’an li-Mustaqbaliha (The Dead Cities: Lessons from its History and Views on its Future) (Damascus, 2010).  Among his recent articles on the Arab Spring are: “The Arab Revolution Takes Back the Public Space,” Critical Inquiry (Spring 2012); “Circling the Square: Architecture and Revolution in Cairo,” Artforum (April 2011), and in Arabic: “Our Revolutions Between Freedom and Identity,” Kalamon (Spring 2012).   Rabbat earned his B.Arch. from the University of Damascus, M.Arch. from UCLA, and Ph.D. from MIT.


  George Saghir- Portfolio Manager, money management firm: George Saghir is a Portfolio Manager at a leading money management firm in North America. His role is to manage a Global Macro Portfolio investing in Equities, Bonds and Currencies for clients of the Hedge Fund. Prior to this Mr. Saghir was a Managing Director at the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi in New York for 14 years where he headed a team of Proprietary Traders betting the Bank’s own capital in Global bond and Currency markets. Between 1985 and 1996 he was employed by Citibank where he was a Managing Director in the Derivatives area. George has a B.A. in Economics from Essex University in the UK and an M.B.A. from Columbia Graduate School of Business in New York. During the summer of 1984, he completed an assignment at the World Bank/IFC in Washington DC. Mr. Saghir has been published  in the Prestigious International Economy Magazine,with articles on the Middle East economic instability and the U.S housing market. Mr. Saghir is a dual Syrian-American citizen. He lives in the New York area and has three children.


Lara Setrakian– Foreign Correspondent/ Founder and Manageing Editor, Syria Central: Lara Setrakian is a foreign correspondent based in Dubai, filing for television, radio, and digital platforms. For the past five years she has covered the Middle East for ABC News and Bloomberg Television, while writing for publications like the International Herald Tribune, Monocle Magazine, and the Business Insider.  In June 2012 she founded Syria Deeply, open source platform to innovate storytelling around the crisis in Syria. It is part of a broader effort in fusing news and technology to advance education around complex global issues. Lara has served as an inaugural fellow with the Peter Jennings Program at the National Constitution Center and was named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum. She was also lauded as one of the Top Women of 2012 by Marie Claire Magazine. Prior to joining ABC News she worked as a business analyst with McKinsey & Company, focused on finance and corporate strategy. Lara graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University.


Dr Rim Turkmani- Astrophysicist, Imperial College London: Rim Turkmani is a Syrian astrophysicist at the Imperial College in London, science historian and pioneer of development projects in Syria. Since the onset of the uprising in Syria she devoted her time to support Syrians in their mission to define their future. With colleagues in Syria she founded a secular political movement; Building The Syrian State current. They call for peaceful democratic transition of power, a new social contract and a new constitution that treats all Syrians as equal citizens.  In 2006 she founded with other colleagues The Damask Rose Trust, a UK based charity that supports developmental initiatives in Syria. In 2025 Rim wants to see Syria having made serious steps towards moving into Knowledge based society.


  Nawaf Zeidan- Director, SKILLS Syria: Nawaf Zeidan has a mechanical Engineering background and has worked with different International organizations such as Xerox, Ford and Renault. Since 1998 he has joined the EU funded projects to develop the Private sector,  SMEs, and Entrepreneurs in Syria.   He joined the “SEBC” Syrian-European Business Center as a Training & Development Manager, the “SME Support Programme” and “Trade Enhancement Programme” as a senior business consultant.   Since 2007 he has been the director of “SKILLS“, Superior Knowledge by Intensive Labor Learning Schemes, a business school established under the umbrella of SEBC in cooperation with the “ETF” European Training Foundation and the EU Delegation in Syria, which aims to select, develop the Syrian entrepreneurs and assist them to establish their own business or join the business community successfully.

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