About the center

The Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East examines the barriers preventing many people in the region from reaching their fullest potential. Our work also highlights success stories of individuals and institutions who overcame significant challenges in pursuit of social, economic, and political progress. Inspired by these examples, we delineate practical and implementable policy recommendations that policymakers in the United States, Europe, and the Middle East can implement to unleash the region’s economic and human potential.



We convene the most important stakeholders on issues of primary concern to the transatlantic community when it comes the Middle East and North Africa, from senior US and Middle East government officials to civil society activists and budding entrepreneurs.

Past events

Tue, Nov 17, 2020

A conversation with Careem Co-Founder and CEO Mudassir Sheikha

Online Event A conversation with Careem Co-Founder and CEO Mudassir Sheikha about entrepreneurship in the Middle East.

7:30am Economy & Business Entrepreneurship Middle East Technology & Innovation

Mon, Oct 26, 2020

A conversation with Qatar Development Bank CEO Abdulaziz Bin Nasser Al Khalifa

Public Event A discussion with Qatar Development Bank CEO Abdulaziz Bin Nasser Al Khalifa, who is spearheading many of Qatar’s efforts to promote entrepreneurship and drive economic diversification and growth.

8:30am Economy & Business Middle East

Thu, Oct 1, 2020

Regional expansionism: Iran’s militias in the Levant

Public Event ONLINE EVENT – A discussion on how the current administration, and a possible future Democratic administration, might address the grave risks of Iran’s regional expansionism in the Levant.

1:00pm ONLINE EVENT Iran Middle East Security & Defense Syria

Introducing the Young Global Professionals Program

Sat, Oct 24, 2020

Atlantic Council’s Young Global Professionals Program – Spring 2021 (Paid)


The Young Global Professionals (YGP) Program, the Atlantic Council’s paid internship program, is designed to provide exceptional young people with in-depth exposure to international affairs and an opportunity to play an active role in shaping real-world solutions to global challenges. The Atlantic Council is non-partisan and welcomes applicants from diverse backgrounds. International applicants are encouraged to apply.


Wed, Nov 18, 2020

Mudassir Sheikha and Amjad Ahmad on how to create more “unicorns” in the Middle East

Atlantic Council’s empowerME initiative hosted Careem Co-Founder & CEO Mudassir Sheikha and empowerME Director and venture capital veteran Amjad Ahmad for a conversation about Sheikha’s path to success and strategies for building a more productive entrepreneurial ecosystem to create more unicorns in the Middle East. Below are the key takeaways from the discussion moderated by CNBC Reporter & Anchor Hadley Gamble.

MENASource by Allison Holle

Middle East Politics & Diplomacy

Tue, Nov 17, 2020

Warrick quoted in the Wall Street Journal on Biden’s approach to DHS

In the News

Middle East Politics & Diplomacy

Wed, Nov 11, 2020

How the Biden Administration will impact Middle East economies

The Biden administration will not be a panacea for Middle East economies but will certainly have a positive impact.

MENASource by Amjad Ahmad

Elections Middle East

Thu, Oct 29, 2020

Middle East business leaders provide perspective on the economic impact of the upcoming US presidential election

In an empowerME survey conducted in the last thirty days, thirty-two Middle East business leaders shared their views on the possible economic impact of the 2020 US Presidential election. Atlantic Council experts Kirsten Fontenrose, Amjad Ahmad, Mohsin Khan, and Jean-Francois Seznec analyzed the data and provided the following key takeaways.

Elections 2020

Education Elections

Mon, Oct 26, 2020

Qatar Development Bank CEO: The “blockade didn’t stop us from growing” and “prepared us for other shocks” like COVID-19

On October 26, 2020, empowerME hosted Qatar Development Bank CEO Abdulaziz Bin Nasser Al Khalifa for a conversation about Qatar’s efforts to boost entrepreneurship, diversify its economy, increase women’s economic participation, and prepare youth for the jobs of the future.

MENASource by Stefanie H. Ali

Coronavirus Economy & Business

Mon, Oct 19, 2020

Soccer for peace in the Middle East and North Africa

Although uniting around sport might be mainly symbolic, it could also be a confidence-building effort that could reduce tension and increase integration in a region that would mightily benefit from both.

MENASource by Rabah Arezki

Middle East North Africa

Tue, Oct 6, 2020

I survived Assad’s torture—here’s why I’m a proud advocate of the Caesar Act

The Caesar Act is not the solution, but an important tool that the US and the international community must use alongside others to end the killing in my homeland.

MENASource by Omar Alshogre

Middle East Politics & Diplomacy

Tue, Sep 29, 2020

Absence of PhD programs contributes to weak research and development in the Gulf

The production of new knowledge is a very complex process and many factors contribute to the low levels of innovation exhibited by the Gulf countries. One factor that plays a role is the structure of tertiary education—particularly PhD programs.

MENASource by Omar Al-Ubaydli

Education Middle East

Mon, Sep 21, 2020

The Middle East is a growing marketplace, not just a war zone

The region is vast and complex, and outsiders who do not fully understand its nations or peoples overlook the nuances of the nearly twenty countries that make up the Middle East.

MENASource by Amjad Ahmad

Entrepreneurship Middle East

Fri, Sep 18, 2020

UAE-Israel accord will drive economic growth in the Middle East, says Emirati Minister of Economy

On September 16 empowerME Director Amjad Ahmad and Al Mari discussed how the historic signing of the Abraham Accords will facilitate the UAE and Israel to open their economies.

MENASource by Lucy Grathwohl

Economy & Business Israel