March 23, 2023
2:00 pm - 3:00 pm


Middle East Institute, 1763 N St NW
Washington, District of Columbia 20036 (Map)

World Water Day, observed annually on March 22, draws awareness to issues of scarcity, sustainability, and safety of global freshwater resources. The security and reliability of water resources are constantly challenged by concerns over adequate availability, sufficient access to clean water, and the consequences of diminished and unsafe water supplies (e.g. to health and food security).

The scarcity of water resources in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) is primarily a result of the region’s predominant warm desert climate, coupled with limited surface water and groundwater supplies. This natural aridity amplifies the challenge of meeting local drinking water needs, food production, and industrial consumptive use. Yet there are still opportunities to address the scale of the region’s growing water security concerns: such as improving transboundary water relations to alleviate conflicts, reducing reliance on depleting groundwater supplies, ensuring access to safe and clean water to all populations, and expanding adaptation efforts against water-related impacts of climate change.

Join us and our expert panel to discuss the critical challenges and potential opportunities available to policymakers and vulnerable local communities as they seek to enhance the MENA region’s water security. 


Lama El Hatow
Lecturer, Johns Hopkins; Environmental and Social Consultant, International Finance Corporation

Mohammed Mahmoud
Senior Fellow; Director of the Climate & Water Program, Middle East Institute 

Mirette F. Mabrouk
Senior Fellow; Founding Director of the Egypt Program, Middle East Institute

Intissar Fakir, moderator
Senior Fellow; Director of the Program on North Africa & the Sahel, Middle East Institute

Detailed Speaker Biographies 

Lama El Hatow                                                                      
Lama has 13 years of work experience in the Environmental field, 9 of which are as an Environmental and Social Specialist at IFC (part of the World Bank Group) working on projects in sectors including Manufacturing, Infrastructure, Services and Financial Markets. Lama’s specialization is in climate change and water resources with a specific emphasis on transboundary water management. She has worked on a wide range of projects across the Middle East and North Africa as well as a few projects in Sub-Saharan Africa including Mozambique and Nigeria. Many of Lama’s projects include complex infrastructure such as hydropower development on a transboundary watershed in Pakistan, as well as the world’s largest solar park – the Benban solar park in Aswan, Egypt where she acted as the focal point lead. Lama has also been engaged in the UNFCCC climate change negotiations for 5 years from 2009-2014 as a climate policy officer, lobbying governments to reduce their GHG emissions whilst following both the mitigation and adaptation tracks quite closely through the International NGO Climate Action Network (CAN).

Mohammed Mahmoud
Mohammed Mahmoud is the Director of the Climate and Water Program and a senior fellow at the Middle East Institute. His areas of expertise include climate change adaptation, water policy analysis, and scenario planning. Mohammed has held leadership positions in several organizations, most recently as chair of the Water Utility Climate Alliance. Prior to that, Mohammed was president of the North American Weather Modification Council. Mohammed’s professional accomplishments include negotiating and formalizing a 10-year multi-state cloud seeding funding agreement between seven Colorado River Basin states, developing and implementing the first ever climate adaptation plan for a multi-county water district in Arizona, and helping secure a $1.1 million grant from NASA for Arizona State University to study the impacts of climate change on the hydrology of the western United States. Mohammed has conducted water-management research and work for the MENA region, most extensively on the Nile River Basin. Mohammed’s other water management work in the region explored formalizing the administration of Saudi Arabia’s groundwater resources by using other established groundwater management frameworks as application templates, such as Arizona’s 1980 Groundwater Management Code.

Mirette F. Mabrouk
Mirette F. Mabrouk is an MEI senior fellow and founding director of the Institute's Egypt Studies program. She was previously deputy director and director for research and programs at the Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East at the Atlantic Council. Formerly a fellow at the Project for U.S. Relations with the Middle East at the Brookings Institution, Mabrouk moved to D.C. from Cairo, where she was director of communications for the Economic Research Forum (ERF). Before being appointed associate director for publishing operations at The American University in Cairo Press, Ms. Mabrouk had over 20 years of experience in both print and television journalism. She is the founding publisher of The Daily Star Egypt, (now The Daily New Egypt), at the time, the country’s only independent English-language daily newspaper, and the former publishing director for IBA Media, which produces the region’s top English-language magazines. Her writing has appeared in publications like Foreign Policy, The Hill and HuffPost and she has been quoted and appeared on the BBC, VOA, Sky News, The Wall Street Journal and the Christian Science Monitor, among others. She recently authored "And Now for Something Completely Different: Arab Media’s Own Little Revolution," a chapter in a book on the Arab transitions; Reconstructing the Middle East and is the editor of a multi author report, Rethinking Egypt’s Economy.

Intissar Fakir                                                                        
Intissar Fakir is a senior fellow and director of MEI’s North Africa and Sahel program. She is an expert on North Africa, the Sahel, and key regional thematic issues including governance, social change, migration, and security. She has written extensively on North Africa’s evolving politics including Islamist electoral politics in post-2011 Morocco and Tunisia, the Western Sahara issue, foreign policy priorities in Morocco and the broader region, and the impact of COVID-19 on regional political stability. Her research has also included political transitions, mobilization trends, energy, and social change in Morocco, Mauritania, Algeria, and Tunisia. Prior to joining MEI, Intissar was a fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace where she was also the editor-in-chief of the bilanguage (English and Arabic) Middle East platform Sada. She has also implemented programs at various NGOs in support of political, economic and social reform in North Africa and the Middle East. She has consulted and advised governments and corporate entities in the US and Europe on Maghreb developments

Image courtesy of Marcus Yam/Getty Images