Egypt: Reducing Risks, Unlocking Potential

The Middle East Institute was pleased to conduct its third annual conference on Egypt, convening a diverse group of Egyptian and American officials, activists, scholars, and entrepreneurs to look beneath the surface of Egypt's most pressing issues.
Wednesday, September 30
9:00 am - 4:00 pm
The Ritz-Carlton, Washington D.C.
1150 22nd St., N.W.
Washington, District of Columbia 20037
(Map)

Event Information

The Middle East Institute's third annual conference on Egypt convened a diverse group of Egyptian and American officials, activists, scholars, and entrepreneurs to look beneath the surface of Egypt's most pressing issues. Three expert panels examined Egypt's political situation, domestic and regional security challenges, and economic and human development priorities. MEI's annual Egypt conference seeks to increase understanding of the risks and opportunities facing Egypt today.

Conference Summary [Photo Gallery]

PANEL 1: Between Politics and Internal Security: Setbacks and Opportunities [Transcript]
Nathan Brown
Professor of Political Science and International Affairs, Elliott School of International Affairs, George Washington University
Gameela Ismail
Founding and Leading Member, Al-Dostour Party
Sally Toma
Contributor, Mada Masr
Ezzat Ibrahim Youssef
Managing Editor, Al-Ahram Newspaper
Doyle McManus (Moderator)
Washington Columnist, Los Angeles Times

PANEL 2: National Security and Egypt's Regional Role [Transcript]
Gregory Aftandilian
Associate, Middle East Center, University of Massachusetts-Lowell
Omar Ashour
Senior Lecturer in Middle East Politics and Security Studies, University of Exeter
Candace Putnam
Director, Office of Egyptian Affairs, U.S. Department of State
Abdel-Monem Said Aly
Director, Regional Center for Strategic Studies
Kim Ghattas (Moderator)
Correspondent, BBC

PANEL 3: Economic Development and Entrepreneurial Innovation [Transcript]
Seif Abou Zaid
CEO, Tahrir Academy
Amr Adly
Nonresident Scholar, Carnegie Middle East Center
Heba Elgazzar
Senior Economist, Social Protection and Labor, World Bank Group
Mohamed Zaazoue
Founder, Healthy Egyptians 
Mona Mowafi (Moderator)
Co-founder & President, RISE Egypt

SPEAKER BIOGRAPHIES

Seif Abou Zaid
CEO, Tahrir Academy
Seif Abou Zaid is the CEO of Tahrir Academy, a blended learning platform that provides educational content for more than 100,000 learners in Egypt and throughout the Arab world. Because of his work on education policy entrepreneurship and its relationship to governance, Mr. Abou Zaid was selected as a World Economic Forum Global Shaper and as a member of Sandboxers, a mobile society for innovators and those involved in social enterprise. In 2013 he was awarded the Youssef Jameel Public Leadership Fellowship at the American University in Cairo, where he is a master’s candidate. He speaks and writes frequently on issues related to education policy, education management, and personal rights and freedoms.

Amr Adly
Nonresident Scholar, Carnegie Middle East Center
Amr Adly is a consultant at the Carnegie Middle East Center, where his research centers on political economy, development studies, and economic sociology of the Middle East, with a focus on Egypt. Prior to joining Carnegie, Adly worked as a postdoctoral fellow and instructor of political economy at the Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law at Stanford University.  He was an economic researcher at the Ministry of International Cooperation in Egypt and the director of the Social and Economic Justice Unit of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights. He is the author of State Reform and Development in the Middle East: The Cases of Turkey and Egypt in the Post-Liberalization Era (Routledge, 2012).

Gregory Aftandilian
Associate of the Middle East Center, University of Massachusetts-Lowell
Gregory Aftandilianis an associate of the Middle East Center at the University of Massachusetts-Lowell, an adjunct faculty member of Boston University and American University, and a senior fellow at the Center for National Policy. Over his 21 years in government he served as foreign policy advisor to Congressman Chris Van Hollen, a professional staff member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and adviser to Senator Paul Sarbanes, and foreign policy fellow to Senator Edward Kennedy. Aftandilian was also a Middle East analyst at the U.S. Department of State, where he earned the Department’s Superior Honor Award for his analyses on Egypt. He is the author of Egypt’s Bid for Arab Leadership: Implications for U.S. Policy (Council on Foreign Relations, 1993).

Omar Ashour
Senior Lecturer in Middle East Politics and Security Studies, University of Exeter
Omar Ashour is a senior lecturer in security studies in the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies at the University of Exeter and an associate fellow at the Royal Institute for International Affairs in London. He specializes in asymmetric conflict, Islamist movements, security studies, and counterinsurgency. He is the author of The De-Radicalization of Jihadists: Transforming Armed Islamist Movements (Routledge, 2009), a Brookings study entitled “Collusion to Collision: Islamist-Military Relations in Egypt,” and a 2013 United Nations’ co-authored study on security sector reform in the aftermath of the Arab-majority uprisings, An Overview of the Arab Security Sector Amidst Political Transition: A Reflection on Legacies, Functions and Perceptions.  Ashour has been a consultant to the United Nations on security sector reform, counter-terrorism, and de-radicalization issues.

Nathan Brown
Professor of Political Science and International Affairs, Elliott School of International Affairs, George Washington University
Nathan Brown is a professor of political science and international affairs at George Washington University. He is the current president of the Middle East Studies Association, the academic association for scholars studying the region. In 2013, he was named a Guggenheim Fellow; four years earlier, he was named a Carnegie scholar by the Carnegie Corporation of New York. For the 2009–2010 academic year, he was a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. In addition to his academic work, Brown serves on the Middle East and North Africa advisory committee for Human Rights Watch and the board of trustees at the American University in Cairo. In recent years he previously served as an advisor for the committee drafting the Palestinian constitution, USAID, the United Nations Development Program, and several NGOs. He is the author of When Victory is Not an Option: Islamist Movements in Arab Politics (Cornell Univ. Press, 2012).

Ambassador Wendy Chamberlin
President, Middle East Institute
Amb. Wendy Chamberlin has been president of the Middle East Institute since 2007. Previously, as deputy high commissioner for refugees from 2004 to 2007, she supervised the administration of the U.N. humanitarian organization. A 29-year veteran of the U.S. Foreign Service, she was ambassador to Pakistan from 2001 to 2002, when she played a key role in securing Pakistan’s cooperation in the U.S.-led campaign against al-Qaeda in Afghanistan in the wake of the terrorist attacks against the U.S. on September 11.

Heba Elgazzar
Senior Economist, Social Protection and Labor, World Bank Group
Heba Elgazzar is a senior economist in the Social Protection and Labor Global Practice at the World Bank, focusing on countries in the Middle East and Africa.  She manages projects and analytic work in the areas of social protection, labor, and governance.  Prior to joining the World Bank, Elgazzar served as director of global economics and governmental affairs at Genzyme Corporation, focusing on Europe, Latin America, and the United States.  She has held positions in economic research at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and in business development at Procter and Gamble.  Elgazzar earned her PhD and MSc in the area of economics and social policy at LSE and a BA from Columbia University.

Kim Ghattas
Correspondent, BBC
Kim Ghattas covers international affairs and the Hillary Clinton campaign for the BBC from her base in Washington D.C. She writes a regular column for Foreign Policy magazine and has recently reported from Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan. Previously, Ghattas was the BBC's State Department correspondent from 2008 until 2013, travelling regularly with the Secretary of State. She is the author of the New York Times best selling book The Secretary- A Journey with Hillary Clinton from Beirut to the Heart of American Power (Times Books, March 2013). She was also a Middle East correspondent for the BBC and the Financial Times, based in Beirut. She was part of an Emmy Award-winning BBC team covering the Lebanon-Israel conflict of 2006. Her work has also been published in the Daily Beast, TIME Magazine, and the Washington Post, and she appears regularly on NPR and American television shows to discuss foreign policy.

Gameela Ismail
Founding and Leading Member, Al-Dostour Party
Gameela Ismail is an Egyptian politician, activist, TV presenter, and leading member of the Al-Dostour Party. In 2011, she was among the activists who called for the January 25 revolution, leading marches in Tahrir Square and participating in sit-ins calling for the fall of the Mubarak regime. She ran for political office during the Mubarak regime as well as in the first post-revolution parliamentary elections. In 2012, Ismail helped found the Al-Dostour party and has since served on the steering committee and as the head of its organizing secretariat. She was identified among the 150 most influential people across the world in a 2011 Newsweek poll and as the most influential female Arab politician in a 2015 CNN poll.

Doyle McManus
Washington Columnist, Los Angeles Times
Doyle McManus, Washington columnist for the Los Angeles Times, has reported on national and international issues for more than 30 years. His twice-weekly column appears on the op-ed page of the Los Angeles Times and other newspapers nationwide. McManus is a four-time winner of the National Press Club's Edwin Hood Award for reporting on U.S. foreign policy, most recently for articles on the U.S. occupation of Iraq. From 1996 to 2008, he was the Times' Washington bureau chief, leading a team of reporters and editors that was recognized as one of the nation's best news operations. At the Los Angeles Times, he reported from Los Angeles, Beirut, Tehran, and Central America before moving to Washington, where he served as a U.S. Department of State and White House correspondent.

Mona Mowafi
Co-founder & President, RISE Egypt
Mona Mowafi is the co-founder and president of RISE Egypt and a visiting researcher at Harvard's School of Public Health. She has numerous publications in her area of research, and in 2011 she was recognized as an emerging leader in global health research by the Global Health Council. She also received the Judith O'Connor Award for nonprofit leaders from Boardsource and one of 20 National Service Leadership Awards by Americorps Alums. RISE Egypt is a global nonprofit that links capacity-building for growth stage social enterprises with research to enable an evidence-based scale-up of its portfolio companies. RISE promotes collaboration across sectors and facilitates important conversations between stakeholders in the private sector, civil society, and policymaking communities about the roles of impact investing, public-private partnerships, and research in accelerating development.

Candace Putnam
Director of Egyptian Affairs, U.S. Department of State
Candace Putnam is the director of Egyptian affairs at the U.S. Department of State.  Her diplomatic postings include service as consul general in Alexandria, deputy chief of mission in Beirut, Cyprus Vance fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, consul general in Peshawar, and political counselor in Islamabad.  During her career in the Foreign Service Putnam also served in Rome, Baghdad, Tunis, Ankara, Jerusalem, Abu Dhabi, and Washington. Prior to joining the State Department, she worked as legislative director for two members of the U.S. House of Representatives.
 

Abdel-Monem Said Aly
Director, Regional Center for Strategic Studies
Dr. Abdel Monem Said Aly is the chairman of the board and CEO of Al Masry Al Youm Publishing House in Cairo, as well as the chairman of the board, CEO, and director of the Regional Center for Strategic Studies in Cairo. His various positions within the Al Ahram Institutions included service as president of the Al Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies (2009-2012) and as chairman of the board and CEO of Al Ahram Newspaper and Publishing House (2009-2011). He is currently a senior fellow in the Crown Center for Middle East Studies at Brandeis University, and has held positions at the Brookings Institute and Harvard’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. Dr. Said Aly has written extensively on the Arab-Israeli conflict, Egyptian politics, and intra-Arab relations.

Sally Toma
Contributor, Mada Masr
Sally Toma is a psychiatrist and cognitive behavioral therapist specialized in rehabilitating victims of torture and sexual abuse. She writes for Mada Masr, focusing on the psycho-social aspects of living in conflict zones. Toma participated in the Revolutionary Youth Coalition that organized the marches of January 25, 2011. In addition to her activism, Toma co-founded the Kazeboon campaign, which exposed the rights violations of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces and the Muslim Brotherhood regime. She was also a field coordinator of the Baradei Presidential campaign and a founder of the Egyptian Social Democratic Party. Additionally, she helped found  the Manifesto Initiative, which focuses on implementing revolutionary projects, while training youth on political participation, political rights, and campaigning.

Ezzat Ibrahim Youssef
Managing Edior, Al-Ahram Newspaper
Ezzat Ibrahim Youssef is the managing editor of Al-Ahram, Egypt's largest daily newspaper. With the paper he has covered U.S.-Egyptian relations and foreign policy as bureau chief in Washington D.C. and New York from 2009 to 2013. After earning his masters degree in international relations from Sussex University, Youssef served as a Fulbright Congressional Fellow in the U.S. Congress and a visiting scholar at the Brookings Institution (2003-2004). He completed the Yale World Fellows Program in 2007, where he started writing a book on the history of Middle East as presented in early American newspapers. His work focuses on Egyptian domestic politics, the relationship between the West and Islamic societies, American-Egyptian relations, and American foreign policy.

Mohamed Zaazoue
Founder, Healthy Egyptians
Mohamed A. Zaazoue is a practicing neurosurgeon and the founder of Healthy Egyptians, a non-profit dedicated to empowering Egyptians to make healthier choices, have a better quality of life, and become more productive in the community. He works to improve public health education and spread proper preventive medicine to people, particularly children, in the developing world. Zaazoue was the youngest person to receive an Ashoka fellowship in the field of health, and recently became the youngest advisor to Egypt’s president as a member of the Community Development Council. His work has earned him first place in the Philips “Innovation Award” and various speaking engagements, including TEDx Cairo.