NRF Speakers 2018


Speakers & Panelists

Hicham Belmaachi

Chief Operating Officer
SEZ Khorgos Eastern Gate

Hicham Belmaachi is the Chief Operating Officer and part of the Core Management team of Dubai Port World (DP World) in the Special Economic Zone, Khorgos East Gate in Kazakhstan – a 600 hectare integrated transport, logistics and industrial hub linking the Far East, Central Asian countries and Europe. The project that is a key infrastructure along the New Silk Road is managed with the support and international standards of Dp World, the second largest terminal operator globally.

Mr. Belmaachi has 10 years of international experience in the shipping and transport industry. His ability to aggressively drive growth and gain market share has allowed him to positively impact each of his roles while developing strategic commercial relationships along the way. Having managed major global markets his experience ranges from the Far East, Europe, USA and Africa. Mr. Belmaachi spent eight years in Asia as Area Manager for South China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Vietnam where he dealt with the major global supply chain players ranging from manufacturers, buyers and 3PL companies.

Before joining the SEZ Khorgos East Gate in 2015, Mr. Belmaachi was based in Marseille at the head office of CMA CGM, the third largest shipping line where he was Line Manager of Latin America and Caribbean Services and in charge of half billion P&L for the group.

With a wide range of expertise ranging from commercial understanding of the transport sector as well as management of shipping routes, Mr. Belmaachi is bringing along a strong strategic vision for the development of the SEZ Khorgos East Gate in order to establish it as the major logistics and industrial hub linking the Far East, Central Asia and Europe.

Mr. Belmaachi has a Master’s of Science in Management from Kedge Business School in France.

Ole Johan Bjørnøy

Ambassador to Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan
Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Ole Bjørnøy joined the Norwegian Foreign Service in 1988. His postings include nine years in the Soviet Union and the Russian Federation, (Moscow, St.Petersburg, Murmansk) and five years in countries in the Balkans region (Serbia, Bulgaria, Albania, Macedonia). His last posting was in Astana, Kazakhstan 2012-2016, and he is currently Ambassador to the five Central Asian Countries, in Residence in Oslo where he formerly also worked in the Department for Security Policy and Department for European Policy.

He has travelled extensively in Central Asia during his tenure as Ambassador of Norway. Prior to joining the Foreign Service his experience also includes being interpreter in Russian in the Norwegian Coast Guard in the Barents Sea.

His university degrees include Russian, media and business economics from the University of Oslo, Volda University College and Norwegian School of Management in Oslo respectively. He speaks English and Russian.

Arne Elias Corneliussen

Founder and CEO

Arne Elias Corneliussen, aged 41, is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of NRCI. He formed NRCI in 2010. Mr. Corneliussen developed a genuine passion for international relations and history at a very early age and in his teenager years frequented the Parliament and University of Oslo to attend lectures. Regular travels around the world from an early age formed his international personality and zest for exploration.

Originally from Oslo, Mr. Corneliussen received his bachelor of arts in political science from Wittenberg University in Ohio in 1998. He studied at the American University in Cairo (AUC) in Egypt in 1996. He then returned to the US where he mapped Islamic terrorist movements from Morocco to the Philippines at the Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, D.C in 1998. He lived in Santiago, Chile in 1999 where he examined South America´s political situation, economic development, drug cartels in Colombia and strategic relations between South America, North America and Europe. During the late 1990s he attended a range of conferences in Washington, D.C., New York City, London and Cairo. He completed a Master of Arts in International Relations and a Master of Public Administration (MPA) at the Maxwell School at Syracuse University in New York in 2000.

He worked as an officer for the Norwegian Armed Forces during NATO’s operation in Kosovo from 2001 until 2002. Since 2002 he held different roles in the corporate sector in Norway including sales, international business development and recruitment services. Mr. Corneliussen travelled to more than 115 countries in the Middle East, Africa, Asia, Latin and North America and Europe. He brings a unique combination of an intrepid practitioner, insightful academic and dynamic business acumen. Mr. Corneliussen manages NRCI with a life-long perspective to become a global geopolitical risk consultancy trusted and respected by clients, partners and local contacts worldwide.

Mr. Corneliussen regularly conducts long fact-finding expeditions where he maps political, security and business risks, infrastructure, local conditions and expands NRCI’s global network with local contacts. He travelled on 10 fact-finding expeditions through 42 countries in Africa and crossed 27 countries on the African continent by bus. His recent field trips include Central Asia, Central Africa, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kenya, Russia, Turkey and Iran. Mr. Corneliussen’s unique experience combining extensive travel and detailed assessment of risk on the ground enables him to provide insightful, practical and hands-on advice to businesses and governments.

Sverre Lodgaard

Senior Research Fellow
Norwegian Institute of International Affairs

Princeton University

Sverre Lodgaard is Senior Research Fellow and former Director (1997-2007) of the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI) in Oslo. Before joining NUPI he directed the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR, 1992-1996).

His public service includes serving as a Member of the UN Secretary General’s Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters (1992-1999); Member of the Norwegian Government’s Advisory Council for Arms Control and Disarmament (1972–1985; 1989–1992; 1998–2009; Advisor/member of Norwegian delegations to international conferences on arms control and disarmament matters; Chairman of the Board of the Oslo Center for Peace, Democracy and Human Rights.

His most recent books include Nuclear disarmament and Non-Proliferation. Routledge (2011). In the Wake of the Arab Spring, Scandinavian Academic Press (2013). Mr. Lodgaard is widely used as a commentator in media and he regularly conducts presentations at conferences. He also participated as a speaker and panelist at NRCI’s annual international Norwegian Risk Forum in 2016 and will participate again in 2018. Mr. Loodgaard is also a Member of NRCI’s Global Advisory Board.

Sebastian Minkner

Founder and Chief Executive Officer
Minkner Consulting

Sebastian Minkner studied political science and cultural history at the University of Regensburg and Caucasian studies at Jena University in Germany and at the State University of Tbilisi in Georgia.

He is a German entrepreneur, cultural historian and Caucasiologist. Mr. Minkner is fluent in Georgian and did extensive field research in the Caucausus region during the last five years. He also built up several companies in Georgia where he is based since 2014.

He founded Minkner Consulting in 2009 and currently focuses on development of the tourism sector in Georgia. He consults EU producers on exports and transportation by trucks and ships to the Cacuasus. Sebastian Minkner developed a substantial business network in Georgia and he provides advisory services to governmental institutions and other entities.

Joakim Parslow

Associate Professor of Middle East Studies
University of Oslo

Joakim Parslow is Associate Professor and Chair of Centre for Islamic and Middle East Studies at the University of Oslo. He received his PhD in Near and Middle East Studies from the University of Washington in 2015 with a dissertation on the politics of military courts, martial law, and similar instances of exceptional law in Turkey from 1930 to 1980.

Prior to that, he completed an MA in Turkish Studies as a fellow of the ARENA Centre for European Studies. Parslow has studied Turkish at Bosporus University in Istanbul and Arabic at Harvard University and the American University in Cairo.

He is a frequent contributor to Norwegian media on current events in Turkey. His scholarly work on the intellectual history of Turkish exceptional law has most recently appeared in New Perspectives on Turkey and is forthcoming in the International Journal of Middle East Studies.

Kjetil Selvik

Senior Research Fellow
Norwegian Institute of International Affairs

Kjetil Selvik is a Senior Research Fellow at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI) and Adjunct Associate Professor at the Department of Culture Studies and Oriental Languages, University of Oslo. He holds a PhD in political science from L’Institut d’Etudes Politiques in Paris. He has previously worked as researcher at the Fafo Institute of Applied International Studies, at the Chr. Michelsen Institute and as lecturer at the Department of Comparative Politics, University of Bergen.

Mr. Selvik specializes in the comparative politics of Iran and the Arab world. He is the co-author of Stability and Change in the Modern Middle East (2011) with Stig Stenslie and Oil States in the New Middle East: Uprisings and Stability (2016) with Bjørn Olav Utvik. He has moreover published articles in The International Journal of Middle East Studies, World Development, The Middle East Journal, Comparative Sociology and Middle Eastern Studies. His 2004 PhD dissertation (Théocratie et capitalisme: les entrepreneurs industriels de la République Islamique d’Iran) studied the re-composition of the private manufacturing industry sector following the 1979 revolution in Iran.

Drawing on two years of fieldwork and in-depth interviews with 55 founders and owners of private manufacturing companies, it analyzed the problems of manufacturing industry in an oil-rich and protectionist economic context and the business class’ changing relations with the Islamic government. Selvik has also conducted fieldwork in many Arab countries and follows regional developments closely. He is fluent in Arabic and Persian. Mr. Selvik participated as a speaker and panelist also during Norwegian Risk Forum 2017.

Gess Wong

Manager – Operation Management and Information Management
COSCO Shipping Ports

Gess Wong obtained his BEng and MSc degrees in Industrial Engineering from the City University of Hong Kong and the University of Hong Kong, respectively. He is specialized in port development, business optimization, operations research and process and systems engineering.

Currently Gess Wong is Manager – Operation Management and Information Management in COSCO Shipping Ports Limited. He is an experienced container terminal executive. Main responsibility covers drive the greenfield terminal development, develop data science and operational research methods and systems that disclose deeper insights into business performance, and advise business leader on strategies and solutions for operational optimization. Prior to that he held various management and professional roles in Hutchison Ports and FedEx Express.

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