Fabrice Balanche is a Lecturer at the University of Lyon 2 and Director of the Groupe de Recherches et d’Etudes sur la Méditerranée et le Moyen-Orient at the Maison de l’Orient He holds both a Ph.D and an ‘agrégation’ in Geography. Since his first fieldwork in the Middle East in 1990, he has spent ten years living in Syria and Lebanon, which are the main areas on which his research focuses. In his capacity as Director of the Observatoire Urbain du Proche Orient at the Institut Français du Proche-Orient from 2003-07, he was frequently called upon as an expert in water issues in Syria. He has recently published a work on contemporary Syria entitled La région alaouite et le pouvoir syrien, in which he analyzes the structure and patron-client relations of the Baathist regime. His research interests are Political Geography of the Arab and Muslim World; Metropolises and Globalization in the Middle East; Water Management in the Middle East; and Sustainable Development in Syria.