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Speakers & Panelists

Trude Andersen
Head of CSR
Innovation Norway

Trude Andersen is Head of CSR in Innovation Norway. Innovation Norway works to uphold international standards of CSR in its own operations as well as promoting social and environmental responsibility to partners and clients. The purpose is to communicate how this can build competitiveness locally as well as globally.

Trude Andersen has a BA in business from Concordia College and an MA in economics from Miami University. She lived in the US for ten years where she also worked at Norwest Corporation with mortgage banking and at Waddell and Reed with financial planning. Back in Norway Trude Andersen has worked with entrepreneurship and innovation in both the public and private sector.


Dr. Theodore Karasik
Director for Research & Development
Institute for Near East & Gulf Military Analysis, Dubai

Dr. Karasik is currently the Director of Research and Development at the Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis (INEGMA) in Dubai, UAE and Beirut, Lebanon. He is also an Adjunct Lecturer at the Dubai School of Government where he teaches graduate level international relations. Karasik was a Senior Political Scientist in the International Policy and Security Group at RAND Corporation. From 2002-2003, he served as Director of Research for the RAND Center for Middle East Public Policy. For more than 20 years he has analyzed regions such as the Arabian Peninsula, Central Asia, Russia and the Caucasus with particular attention to security and terrorism questions including transnational terrorist groups, clan structures and politics, and criminal organizations. Since 9/11, Dr. Karasik has also concentrated on terrorist targeting and tactics regarding critical infrastructure in the United States, Europe, and the GCC states.

Dr. Karasik received his Ph.D in History from the University of California, Los Angeles in four fields: Russia, Middle East, Caucasus and an outside field in cultural anthropology focusing on tribes and clans from Central Asia to East Africa.

Dr. Karasik’s experience in Gulf affairs is widespread in terms of field research and interviews. He repeatedly visits the countries of the region to observe, interview, and analyze current political, religious, and security trends that escape the attention of most observers. His analyses are often proprietary to governments, militaries, and corporate entities seeking a different view of how the GCC and Iraq behave and develop their policies.

Dr. Karasik has a background in basic geology and petroleum geology directly related to his previous work on the Caspian and Persian Gulf regions. Dr. Karasik served as a Subject Matter Expert on Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia for the U.S. Library of Congress.

Dr. Karasik is a military analyst on Al-Jazeera International and is interviewed by The National, Reuters, Trends News Agency, and AFP on an almost daily basis.


Liv Irene Loland
Commercial Manager
Master Marine AS

Liv Irene Loland assumes the current position as Commercial Manager in Master Marine AS, Norway. Main responsibility covers business development and marketing within the O&G sector with focus on the Gulf region, India as well as the North Sea.

Ms Loland has more than 8 years experience within the maritime and oil & gas industry from senior international positions.

Her experience varies within the fields of business development, sales and marketing as well as strategic development internationally, particularly in the Middle East – GCC region, India and US.

Ms Loland holds a Maritime Business Degree from Plymouth University.


Vidar Lindefjeld
Assistant director
Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise (NHO)

Vidar Lindefjeld holds a law degree and is assistant director in the Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise (NHO), where he does i. a. collective bargaining and labour law. Corporate responsibility (CR) has been high on NHO’s agenda for 15 years, during which Mr. Lindefjeld has engaged in CR issues on behalf of the organization.

Mr. Lindefjeld has been in charge of European social affairs in the NHO and was based in Brussels for three years as head of the NHO Brussels office. Later, he chaired the Business Europe’s working group on CR.

He is the national coordinator of the Global Compact Nordic Network, member of the Global Compact working group on human rights and a member of the Norwegian National Contact Point for the OECD Guidelines. Mr. Lindefjeld is a frequent speaker at CR conferences in Norway and abroad.


George Mikaelian
Managing Director
Nielsen; Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan

Mr. Mikaelian is the Managing Director of Nielsen in Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait, and Levant Region, based out of Dubai.

Mr. Mikaelian started his career in Unilever Egypt, where he discovered his passion for marketing research. After working with Unilever Egypt, he joined what was then AC Nielsen in their Cairo office. Later he joined AC Nielsen in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia where he handled the majority of key clients. A year after moving to Saudi Arabia, he was asked to relocate to their UAE operations, and has been there since 2001 and serving as managing director since 2006.

As the Middle East region experienced solid growth for the last decade, Mr. Mikaelian became responsible for looking after and unlocking the existing potentials in Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan.

George has been with Nielsen for more than 10 years, and is a graduate of the American University in Cairo, where he completed his bachelor in political science.


Dr. Belaid Rettab
Senior Director – Economic Research & Sustainable Business Development Sector
Dubai Chamber of Commerce & Industry

Dr. Belaid Rettab (PhD), currently Senior Director, Economic Research & Sustainable Business Development Sector, Dubai Chamber, UAE. He has accumulated over 20 years of experience with achievements in academic research and international consultancy in Western and Eastern Europe, Africa and Asia.

Dr. Rettab is Economist and has lectured in micro-economics at Erasmus University Rotterdam, and assisted the European Union, United Nations organizations, World Bank, and several national governments in implementing economic and social developmental programs.

Dr. Belaid Rettab has published dozens of international publications covering economics, international trade, entrepreneurship, industrial organization, and business ethics.


Anne Skatvedt
Senior Advisor
UNICEF Regional Office for the Middle East and North Africa, Amman

Anne Skatvedt worked with UNICEF and the United Nations in the Middle East region as a UNICEF country director in Oman and in Jordan and as acting Deputy Regional Director of UNICEF Middle East and North Africa Regional Office. She has also acted as United Nations Resident Coordinator in Jordan and as UN Designated Official for Security for UN staff in Jordan, including those working for Iraq programs but resident in Amman before Iraq was again opened for UN staff.

Anne Skatvedt started her career as a journalist in Aftenposten, Norway, was president of the Norwegian Union of Journalists, chief of information and deputy Secretary General of the Norwegian Refugee Council before joining the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) as Senior Coordinator for Refugee Children, based in Geneva.

During her work in the Middle East, Skatvedt paid particular attention to child protection, including protection from violence and abuse, how to strengthen the positive role of adolescents, Palestinian and Iraqi refugees in neighboring countries. In consultation with governments she worked on gradually redefining the role of UNICEF in Middle Income Countries.


Kyle Stelma
Emerging Markets Managing Director
Dunia Frontier Consultants, Dubai

Kyle Stelma is the Emerging Markets Managing Director of Dunia Frontier Consultants, an investment advisory services firm based in Dubai, UAE. As such, he has directed projects across the Middle East, South Asia, and Central Africa.

Projects revolve around due diligence, market studies, and valuation for primarily mid-market private equity clients based in the Middle East, deploying cross-border capital within the region. As a company with a particular focus on Iraq, Dunia has performed over 30 market study/due diligence projects throughout the country, to include the agriculture, real estate, telecommunications, oil and gas, manufacturing, and petro-chemical sectors around the country.

Prior to Dunia, Kyle worked between Abu Dhabi and Washington DC for PRTM, an international management consulting firm with a particular focus on supply chain and operational efficiencies. As such, he led multiple due diligence projects throughout the Middle East and Europe, primarily for Abu Dhabi-based Sovereign Wealth Funds (SWFs) and Middle Eastern-based telecommunications companies. He also performed organizational change and development projects in both the US and the Middle East for corporations involved in strategic reorientations.

Kyle was a management Associate at Citigroup India, where he performed internal process auditing and functional group development for various strategic initiatives within the bank. He also performed financial consulting, balance sheet restructuring, and market sizing for top-tier Indian conglomerate clients throughout India.

Kyle started his career as a US Military Officer in the US Army for five years, primarily performing peacekeeping missions in Bosnia and Eastern Europe.

Throughout the years, Mr. Stelma has lived and worked in Mumbai, Dubai, and Germany; and travelled extensively throughout the Mid-East and Asia.

Mr. Stelma holds a BS in systems engineering from the United States Military Academy, and a MA in international finance from Johns Hopkins University/SAIS.


Reidar Visser
Research fellow
Norwegian Institute of International Affairs

Reidar Visser is a research fellow at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs and a member of the Gulf Research Unit at the University of Oslo. He has a background in history and comparative politics and holds a doctorate in Middle Eastern studies from the University of Oxford.

He has published extensively on the history of southern Iraq and the issues of decentralisation and federalism, including two books, Basra, the Failed Gulf State: Separatism and Nationalism in Southern Iraq (2005) and (edited with Gareth Stansfield) An Iraq of Its Regions: Cornerstones of a Federal Democracy? (2007).

Many of his writings are available from his Iraq website: www.historiae.org.


Dr. Kevin Wheeler
Middle East Director
The Kaizen Company, Baghdad

Dr. Kevin Wheeler is the Middle East Director for The Kaizen Company (KC), an international development consulting firm based in Washington, DC. He is responsible for KC’s project development and implementation in Iraq and across the Middle East.

Prior to joining KC, Kevin was a consultant with the Boston Consulting Group where he focused on oil sector market risk analysis and operational efficiency improvement. Kevin first started working in the Middle East in 2007 as a political analyst with a USAID-funded project in Jordan. Subsequently, he worked across the region concentrating on energy-sector strategic and operational issues. Since 2009 Kevin has managed KC’s flagship public sector organizational development program working with a cross-section of critical Iraqi government ministries including oil, electricity, health, agriculture, water resources and planning.

Kevin holds a B.S. in geology from Brown University, a PhD in petrology from Columbia University and has studied Arabic at the University of Damascus in Syria.


Erik Wiken
Commercial Consul, Royal Norwegian Consulate, Dubai
& Director, Innovation Norway, UAE office

Erik B Wiken is the director for Innovation Norway in the GCC region as well as Commercial Consul at the Royal Norwegian Consulate in Dubai. The office in Dubai was established in 2008 and covers mainly UAE, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. However, the office offers assistance to all the Norwegian embassies in the Middle East region in matters related to trade and internationalisation. The Dubai office has oil & gas, maritime and energy & environment as focus areas.

Wiken has for the last 26 years been working for Innovation Norway and the former Norwegian Trade Council in Oslo, Istanbul, London and now Dubai with larger projects and delegations as well as market research and assistance to Norwegian companies looking for a partner abroad. When based in Oslo he has for longer periods been responsible for the region Middle East & North Africa.

Wiken has bachelor degrees from Oslo Business School and Norwegian School of Management in business an international marketing.