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


empowerME Conversations

Oct 12, 2021

The path to 25 healthcare breakthroughs by 2025

By Atlantic Council

In Season 2, Episode 3 of empowerME Conversations podcast, host and Atlantic Council empowerME Director Amjad Ahmad speaks with Pfizer Regional President for Africa and Middle East Patrick van der Loo about the COVID vaccine rollout in the region, prospects for machine learning and AI to revolutionize healthcare, policies that will promote innovation, and ways companies can nurture women leaders in the workplace.

Economy & Business Entrepreneurship

empowerME Conversations

Oct 5, 2021

Democratizing commerce

By Atlantic Council

In Season 2, Episode 2 of empowerME Conversations podcast, host and Atlantic Council empowerME Director Amjad Ahmad speaks with Facebook Managing Director for the Middle East and North Africa Ramez Shehadi on digitization, the future of e-commerce, supporting SMEs, and changes needed to improve the region’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Economy & Business Middle East

empowerME Conversations

Sep 28, 2021

Transforming logistics

By Atlantic Council

In Season 2, Episode 1 of empowerME Conversations podcast, host and Atlantic Council empowerME Director Amjad Ahmad speaks with UPS President for Indian Subcontinent, Middle East, and Africa Jean-Francois Condamine about the e-commerce boom in the Middle East, promoting sustainability in the logistics industry, and empowering small and medium enterprises to become regional and global exporters.

Economy & Business Middle East


Sep 20, 2021

‘Investing in women is just good business’: Ways to increase funding for women-led ventures in the Middle East

By Stefanie H. Ali

On September 14, 2021 the Atlantic Council’s empowerME Initiative held a workshop on “Venture Capital Financing: How to Increase Funding for Women-led Ventures."

Middle East The Gulf


Sep 13, 2021

Defusing Saudi Arabia-UAE tensions through economic rebalancing

By Hani Findakly

By identifying the economic imbalances contributing to the breakdown, recalibration is possible to rebuild a more balanced relationship that circumvents the zero-sum game that has given rise to the Riyadh-Abu Dhabi dispute.


Aug 23, 2021

COVID-19 lockdown highlights policies to reduce pollution in Saudi Arabia

By Faisal Algosair and Abdulmohsen Almuhaisen

In March 2020, the Saudi government instituted a national lockdown for three months to prevent the proliferation of the coronavirus. These extraordinary circumstances provide the perfect experiment for policymakers and researchers to investigate whether daily human activities significantly affect pollution levels in an oil-exporting country like Saudi Arabia.

Energy & Environment Middle East


Aug 16, 2021

Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 aims to empower the non-profit sector. Here are three areas to focus on.

By Ghadah W. Alharthi

The goals of Saudi’s Vision 2030 will require innovation on all fronts, and social entrepreneurship can be a leading driver of the country’s advancement once nurtured properly.

Middle East Politics & Diplomacy


Aug 2, 2021

Saudi Arabia and the UAE are economic frenemies. And that’s a good thing.

By Amjad Ahmad

Both Riyadh and Abu Dhabi have wisely made the economy the focal point of their strategies for the future, as evidenced by national policy changes and a reduction in foreign adventures. Ending the Qatar blockade, and opening a dialogue with adversarial neighbors like Iran and Turkey is linked to long-term economic ambitions.

Economy & Business Middle East


Jul 22, 2021

Will Russian forces really leave Libya?

By Mark N. Katz

The Libyan conflict resolution process could break down altogether, in which case neither the Russians nor any other outside party now supporting one side or the other in Libya is likely to end its involvement there.

Libya Middle East


Jul 19, 2021

Women in Venture Capital: “We don’t need to fix women—we need to fix the system,” says Middle East investment executive

By Stefanie H. Ali

On July 14, 2021 the Atlantic Council’s empowerME Initiative held a workshop featuring a keynote fireside chat with Lazard Gulf Limited CEO Farah Foustok. Read the key takeaways.

Economy & Business Middle East