Register for each panel separately below


June 9, 2020
9:30 am - 2:20 pm


Zoom Webinar

Click the Playlist button in the upper-left corner to select other panel videos.

MEI is pleased to announce the cyber program's first half-day conference.The cultures, politics, economies, and security concerns of the Middle East are sui generis on the world stage. And the digital revolution, like every industrial revolution before it, is having unique implications for each of these facets of society. This conference will investigate the intersections of these trends and issues, and paint a clearer picture of the Middle East today and into the future.

Please register for each panel individually using the links below:

Opening Remarks: RSVP Here
Panel I: RSVP Here
Panel II: RSVP Here
Panel III: RSVP Here
Panel IV: RSVP Here

Conference Agenda:

9:30AM – 10:00AM | Opening Remarks
John Fleming
Senior Director for Strategic Projects, Owl Cyber Defense; Former assistant director, CIA

10:00AM – 10:50AM | Panel I: Digital Transformation and the Future of Business in the Middle East
As internet penetration grows in the Middle East and resource-rich countries pivot towards developing knowledge economies, governments need to craft regulatory environments that foster digital entrepreneurship and attract business and investments. But every economic revolution comes with challenges. This panel convenes business leaders from different countries to discuss their economic development plans and the obstacles and opportunities in building a sustainable business environment for the 21st century.

Fatima Alsebaie
Analyst, Bahrain Center for Strategic International and Energy Studies

Selim Eddé
Director and head of government affairs and public policy, Google Middle East and North Africa, Google

Ayman Ismail
Associate professor, The American University in Cairo

Najla Al Midfa
Chief Executive Officer, Sharjah Entrepreneurship Center (Sheraa)

Mohammed Soliman, moderator
Non-resident scholar, MEI

11:00 AM – 12:00PM | Panel II: Privacy and Surveillance, Freedom and Censorship: The Social Contract in the Digital Age
Across the world, governments are grappling with the privacy-security dilemma and the national security implications of emerging technologies like facial recognition and widespread encryption. At the same time, social media has given practically everyone a platform on a digital public square. This panel will examine how the political and security dynamics of the Middle East uniquely influence government approaches to surveillance and censorship.

Mahsa Alimardani
PhD Candidate, Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford

Dr. Sahar Khamis
Non-resident scholar, MEI and Associate professor in the Department of Communication, University of Maryland

Spandana Singh
Policy analyst, Open Technology Institute, New America

Avi Asher-Schapiro
Digital rights correspondent, Thompson Reuters Foundation

Eliza Campbell, moderator
Associate director, Cyber Program, MEI

12:00PM – 12:30PM | Lunch Break

12:30PM – 1:20PM | Panel III: Public Diplomacy and Influence Campaigns in the Internet Age
Russian interference in the 2016 US Presidential election made the threat of disinformation and influence campaigns a front-page issue, but the threat is not new. Governments and non-state actors have sought to influence public opinions within and beyond their borders for decades. This conversation will examine influence campaigns in the Middle East, with a particular focus on social media, and discuss their excesses, dangers, and limits.

Alia Awadallah
Non-resident scholar, MEI

Olga Belogolova
Adjunct professor, Georgetown SSP and Policy manager, Facebook

Mona Elswah
Researcher at the Computational Propaganda Project, Oxford Internet Institute

James Shires
Assistant Professor, University of Leiden

Andrew Leber, moderator
PhD candidate, Government Department, Harvard University

1:30PM – 2:20PM | Panel IV: Cyber Warfare
From Shamoon to Stuxnet, the Middle East has become an under-recognized hotbed of interstate cyber conflict. This panel will explore the history of cyber warfare in the Middle East, the threat it poses to stability in the future, and how the risk can be contained.

Steph Shample
Non-resident scholar, MEI

Chris Kubecka
CEO, HypaSec

Saher Naumaan
Threat intelligence analyst, BAE Systems Applied Intelligence

Ohad Zaidenberg
Lead cyber intelligence researcher, ClearSky Cybersecurity

Kim Zetter, moderator
Investigative journalist


Owl Cyber Defense


Speaker Biographies (continued):

Selim Eddé
Director and head of government affairs and public policy, Google Middle East and North Africa, Google
Selim Eddé develops and leads public policy campaigns across the full range of policy areas that impact Google and the web. Key issues include technology innovation, economic development and intellectual property. A passionate public policy leader, Selim is a thought leader on building innovation programs with governments and has a particular expertise in labor markets, entrepreneurship and job creation initiatives. Selim advised governments in MENA and Africa, providing strategic programs and was previously the Vice President of Government Affairs at SAP, setting strategy, devising and implementing plans in Government Relations at SAP MENA. Formerly, Selim was the Country Development Officer at Cisco, and Senior Regional Lead at Hewlett-Packard and IBM. A frequent speaker at regional and international events, with appearances in the specialised media, Selim graduated from Imperial College-London with a masters degree in management sciences.