NRF Speakers 2023


Speakers & Panelists

Omar Al-Ubaydli

Director of Research
The Bahrain Center for Strategic, International and Energy Studies, Manama

Omar Al-Ubaydli is the Director of Research at The Bahrain Center for Strategic, International and Energy Studies (Derasat) in Manama in Bahrain. He is also an affiliated associate professor of economics at George Mason University; an affiliated senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center; a non-resident fellow at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington; and a non-resident fellow at Trends, UAE. Al-Ubaydli is also the president of the Bahrain Economists Society.

His research interests include political economy, experimental economics, and the economics of the GCC countries. Al-Ubaydli previously served as a member of the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Joint Advisory Board of Economists and a Visiting Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago.

He regularly publishes his research in international peer-reviewed academic journals, and his mainstream media articles appear in Arabic and English-language newspapers and blogs such as AlHayat, The National, Forbes Opinion, and US News. Al-Ubaydli earned his BA in economics from the University of Cambridge, and his MA and PhD in economics from the University of Chicago.

Arne Elias Corneliussen

Founder and Chief Executive Officer
NRCI, Oslo

Arne Elias Corneliussen is the founder, chief executive officer and chairman of NRCI. He formed NRCI in 2010. He 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 Islamist 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. 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. Arne Elias Corneliussen is a Fellow in the Royal Geographical Society in London.

Arne Elias 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 to 42 countries in Africa and he crossed nearly 30 countries on the African continent by bus. In the fall of 2017 he travelled on an expedition by train, bus and shared taxis from Shanghai across China, Central Asia and the Caucasus to Istanbul to map infrastructure developments, logistical clusters and the geopolitical landscape along the One Belt One Road – the New Silk Road developed by China. In the fall of 2022, he travelled alone by bus and train across 19 countries in eastern, southern, and western Europe. During this fact-finding expedition he examined geopolitical and strategic dynamics, and more broadly he analyzed the future of Europe.

Arne Elias Corneliussen also serves as the program chair, moderator and keynote speaker at Norwegian Risk Forum – NRCI’s annual international conference focusing on geopolitical risks and international business opportunities. He is also the host and anchor on Global Horizon – NRCI’s YouTube Channel, which provides three NRCI original video series: Asian Horizon, Geopolitical Horizon and African Horizon. In these video series he examines geopolitical developments, economic and financial opportunities and security dynamics.

James Dorsey

Adjunct Senior Fellow
S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Bangkok

James M. Dorsey is an adjunct senior research fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS) at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, and co-director of the Institute of Fan Culture at the University of Würzburg in Germany. James is the author of The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer syndicated column and blog, numerous journal articles and working papers as well as several books, including one with the same title as the blog; Venturing into the Maelstrom: China and the Middle East; Comparative Political Transitions between Southeast Asia and the Middle East and North Africa, co-authored with Dr. Teresita Cruz-Del Rosario; and Shifting Sands, Essays on Sports and Politics in the Middle East and North Africa.. His forthcoming books are Civilizationism vs the Nation State: How illiberal democrats, authoritarians and autocrats shape the new world order, and The Battle for the Soul of Islam: Religious Soft Power Rivalry in the Muslim World.

Prior to entering academia, James was an award-winning, two-time Pulitzer Prize nominee veteran journalist, who covered ethnic and religious conflict in the Middle East, Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America for The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Financial Times and The Christian Science Monitor. Since entering academia, James was a finalist for the European Press Prize. James is a member of the advisory board of several journals.

James served as an advisor to global public relations agency Hill & Knowlton as well as to the chairman of the World Economic Forum for the first four Middle East and North Africa summits in the 1990s. Over the years, James has advised major financial institutions and corporations on developments in the Middle East and North Africa. He is a member of the advisory board of the European Water Partnership and has worked closely with the World Economic Forum, the World Water Forum, the World Water Council, the UN Secretary General’s office and the United Nations Foundation on conflict resolution, regional and water issues.

Evrim Eken

Energy and Geopolitical Analyst, Istanbul

Evrim Eken is an energy and geopolitical analyst, and she received her bachelor and master’s degrees in International Relations from Istanbul University. She served at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Türkiye from 2013 to 2019.

Her research interests focus on energy policy and diplomacy of Russia and Türkiye, political role and power of national and transnational energy companies in post-Soviet space, oil and gas majors’ responses to energy transition, and critical approaches to international relations. Evrim Eken’s master’s thesis focused on “Gazprom in shaping Russian Federation’s gas policy in Central Asia.” Currently she conducts her PhD at at St. Petersburg State University, School of International Relations and her PhD thesis focuses on “The role of gas companies in contemporary energy policy of Russia and Türkiye.”

She published in peer-reviewed scientific articles in books and journals as MGIMO Review of IR, World Economy, and International Relations (Russian Academy of Science) among others. Evrim Eken participated in a range of international conferences, and she conducted several long research field trips to Russia, in addition to extensive travels in Europe and the Middle East. She speaks in Turkish, Russian, and English. Evrim Eken lives in Istanbul.

Rusif Huseynov

Co-founder and Chairman
Topchubashov Center, Baku

Rusif Huseynov is the Co-founder and Director of Topchubashov Center, a think tank based in Baku in Azerbaijan. Mr. Huseynov obtained his Bachelor degree in international relations from Baku State University in 2008, and a Master’s Degree in international relations and regional Studies from the University of Tartu in Estonia in 2019.

Prior to his current job, Mr. Huseynov served as project coordinator at Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), and as an adviser to the rector and head of Startup & Innovation Center at Azerbaijan State Oil & Industry University (ASOIU). He also taught as an adjunct lecturer at ADA University in Baku.

Mr. Huseynov’s main interests are socio-political developments, frozen conflicts, and ethnic minorities in post-Soviet countries. While his focus areas mainly cover Eastern Europe, the Middle East, the Caucasus and Central Asia. He was also involved in post-war developments in the Caucasus, actively initiating and contributing to Track Two diplomacy projects between Armenia and Azerbaijan since 2020.

He is a ReThink.CEE fellow since 2021 with the German Marshall Fund of the United States, and Local Focal Point within the EU4Dialogue project. He writes articles for international media outlets such as The National Interest, The Jamestown Foundation, and the New Eastern Europe. He is also a guest speaks at local and international events and authored various chapters in several edited volumes.

Mohammed Hussein

Senior Economic Analyst
Iraqi Economist Network, Baghdad

Mohammed Hussein is a senior economic analyst at the Iraqi Economists Network and correspondent of Iraq Oil Report. Mohammed is from the Kurdistan region of Iraq, and he received his Bachelor of Arts in international studies from American University of Iraq, Sulaimani (AUIS) and a Master’s Degree in Specialized Economic Analysis: Economics of Public Policy Program from the Barcelona Graduate School of Economics in Spain. He is based in the Kurdistan region of Iraq.

Over the past few years, Mohammed worked as a consultant and researcher for International Crisis Group, GIZ, German Institute for Development Evaluation (DEval), Nordic Consulting Group, and Institute of Regional and International Studies (IRIS). His research focuses on Iraq’s political economy and energy sector, and his articles appeared in international magazines including Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, Iraq Oil Report, and The Washington Institute for Near East Policy. He analyzed Iraq’s oil sector, resource driven conflicts, and implications of the war with ISIS. Mohammed published extensively on Iraq’s energy sector, economic challenges, investment climate, and barriers to private sector development. In his roles at the German Institute for Development Evaluation (DEval) and Nordic Consulting Group. Mohammed started his career as a journalist with Kurdish independent newspapers and media organizations in the early 2000s.

Marita Kassis

Geopolitical Analyst, Beirut

Marita Kassis is a geopolitical analyst focusing on the Middle East, and Gulf. She lives in Beirut and is currently pursuing her Doctorate in Business Administration and International Studies at the University of Business Innovation and Sustainability (UBIS) in Geneva. She published various articles in both papers and journals and works in media and communication. Previously, she also worked at the Counter-Terrorism Executive Directorate in the United Nations in New York City. In addition, she also worked on counter terrorism and media monitoring in Qatar.

She worked as Managing Editor Al-Monitor in Beirut for several years where she handled countries in the Gulf, Levant and North Africa, from Egypt, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Sudan, UAE, and Tunisia. She traveled extensively in the Middle East.

Her MA’s thesis in International Relations revolved around Development, Security, and Counterterrorism, soft power being the United Nations new policy. Her articles cover a wide range of ongoing developments and news analysis, from Saudi Arabia’s contemporary changes to Lebanon’s economic meltdown.

Radu Magdin

Chief Executive Officer
Smartlink Communications SRL, Bucharest

Radu Magdin is a global analyst, consultant, trainer and think tanker. He worked as a honorary advisor to the Romanian Prime Minister (2014-2015) and advised the Moldovan PM (2016-2017) on a range of strategic issues, from political strategy and communications to reforms implementation and external affairs. Radu studied at Universitatea di Bucuresto where he received two master degrees in security studies and European union law. He also received his PhD in political science focusing on Resilience in Russian Information Operations at Scoala Nationala de Studii Politice si Administrative (SNSPA) in Bucharest.

Radu is a NATO Emerging Leader with the Atlantic Council of the US (2014), a Forbes Romania Trendsetter (2014) and a Warsaw Security Leader (2015). Magdin, who has a Phd on Resilience to Russian Information Operations, is a widely quoted analyst by global media; he teaches, since 2019, with Romania’s SNSPA, “Global Competition and Strategic Communications” respectively “Global Communication Campaigns”, courses with a special focus on great power competition and its impact on global players and communications. Radu travels widely around the world.

Eric Morier-Genoud

Professor in African History
Queen’s University Belfast

Eric Morier-Genoud is a graduate of the State University of New York at Binghamton (USA), where he completed his PhD on the Politics of the Roman Catholic Church in colonial Mozambique. He joined Queen’s University Belfast in September 2008, having spent the previous six years as a research and teaching fellow at the Universities of Oxford, Lausanne and Basel (Switzerland).

His main research interests are in the history and politics of Africa, the Portuguese-speaking world, nationalism, religion, Christian missions, war and conflict transformation. He is currently working on the jihadi insurgency in northern Mozambique. He regularly travels to Mozambique and the African continent, and he is a regular contributor to different media outlets.

Darco Obradović

Program Director
Center for Strategic Analysis, Belgrade

Darko Obradović is an independent researcher and expert in the field of hybrid warfare and national security from Serbia. Darko graduated from the State University for Security Studies the University of Belgrade and had governmental, and non-governmental experience. For 6 years he worked as a security analyst for a private international holding from Israel with the task of compliance reports, crisis tracking, and political assessments.

Today Darko possesses a master of science in strategical communications. Founder and program director of Center for strategic analysis from Belgrade which publishes analysis, publications, scientific journal, and scientific books from fields of geopolitics, national security, hybrid threats, and international relations. Center for strategic analysis is one of the most quoted think-tanks from Serbia and Darko Obradović is the most quoted analyst on Western Balkans whose analyses are published in newspapers, scientific journals, and publications. Darko is the author of dozens of articles, scientific works, publications, and security analyses some of them are public some are user-only.

His fields of expertise are Western Balkan post-conflict management, political dynamics,s and hybrid threats in Western Balkan and Caucasus, with professional experience on the national and international.

Brian Wong

Assistant Professor of Philosophy, University of Hong Kong

Brian is an assistant professor of philosophy at University of Hong Kong. He is a geopolitical strategist, advisor, and philosopher publishing extensively on Sino-American relations, how cultures and beliefs shape foreign policies of large and medium powers, and the impacts of geopolitics on individual citizens and businesses. A Hong Kong Rhodes Scholar (2020) and third-year DPhil in Politics at Balliol College, Oxford, he holds an MPhil in Political Theory from Wolfson College, University of Oxford, and an MA in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics from Pembroke College, University of Oxford. Brian has taught modules in politics to undergraduate students at Oxford and Stanford Universities.

As a public speaker and orator, Brian has spoken at Harvard-Sciences Po, LSE, Carnegie-Tsinghua, Stanford, and Tufts, and briefs leading MNCs and investors on macro risks in Asia. Brian co-founded and advises Oxford Political Review, a publication aspiring to bridge the theory-practice gap.

Brian is also a regular contributor of thought leadership to leading publications such as TIME, Foreign Policy, Aeon, Financial Times, Diplomat, Fortune, SCMP, Nikkei, Japan Times, the US Asia Law Institute, E-IR, Institute of Art and Ideas, USCN Perception Monitor, Neican, and The Hindu, having also presented and written on issues of public philosophy for the Journal of Practical Ethics, the American Philosophical Association, and the Royal Institute of Philosophy.

Tola Yusuf

Co-founder and Director
Infratel Africa, Lagos

Passion, Purpose, Pedigree. These are the ideals that transcended Tola to the precipice of a 2-decade career servicing humanity and touching lives positively. Having gained professional and academic training in Cost engineering, Business and Project Management, Tola was the best fit for his early Cost Engineering and Project Management roles. His passion for success while strategically managing high-level stakeholders in business helped him deliver strong financial and operational results.

The Harvard Business School alumni and Doctor of Business Administration (Strategic Management) from Paris School of Business then ventured into telecommunications, where he found his purpose that transformed him into a juggernaut in the industry. His pedigree in the industry is undoubted. As a pure-bred telco genius, Tola has been able to fuse economics and telecommunication to make sure that even those in far-flung and rural areas of Africa have access to the basic telecommunication instrument to better the quality of their lives.

Partnering with global OEM/service providers like Siemens, Agip, Chevron, Mobil, Huawei, Ericson, Nuran, Parallel wireless, Clearblue Technologies and Mobile Network Operators Such as MTN, Airtel, Etisalat (9Mobile), Globacom and USPF/Nigerian Communication Commission -NCC, NDDC / Federal Government of Nigeria, Tola’s achievements continue to reverberate through time. With a little short of 1000 telecom BTS sites rolled out in Nigeria under his supervision, more than 2,150km of fibre (broadband services) initiated, deployed, and managed in Nigeria, with infrastructural developments like road and bridge constructions and maintenance efforts, many Nigerians in the rural communities of Nigeria owe their access to social amenities to the hard work and efforts of patriots like Tola. His passion for Africa, proven knowledge to create ergonomic solutions in information, healthcare, education, agriculture, financial products and services through engineering and technology, and a thorough understanding of all the moving parts in the engine of the telecom-industry in the continent stands him out of the crowd.

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