Our Team

Our advisors, analysts, and consultants have decades of experience in the Middle East and other corners of the world. Based in the GCC, across Europe, and in the United States, they work in both the public and private sectors and have backgrounds in political science, international relations, economics, public policy, communications, military affairs, and business administration.

Giorgio Cafiero
CEO and Founder
Giorgio Cafiero is a foreign affairs analyst who regularly contributes to The Middle East Institute, Atlantic Council, Middle East Policy Council, Al Monitor, and LobeLog. From 2014 to 2015, Cafiero was an analyst at Kroll, an investigative due diligence consultancy. CNN, Al Jazeera, Bloomberg, and Voice of America routinely cite his analysis on geopolitical trends in the Arab world. Cafiero received his M.A. in International Relations from the University of San Diego.
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Dr. Theodore Karasik
Senior Advisor
Dr. Theodore Karasik is an Adjunct Senior Fellow at the Lexington Institute in Washington, D.C. He is a former Advisor and Director of Research for a number of UAE institutions. Dr. Karasik was a Lecturer at the Dubai School of Government, Middlesex University Dubai, and the University of Wollongong Dubai where he taught “Labor and Migration” and “Global Political Economy” at the graduate level. Dr. 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. Throughout Dr. Karasik’s career, he has worked for numerous U.S. agencies involved in researching and analyzing defense acquisition, the use of military power, and religio-political issues across the Middle East, North Africa, and Eurasia, including the evolution of violent extremism. Dr. Karasik lived in the UAE for 10 years and is currently based in Washington, D.C. Dr. Karasik received his PhD in History from the University of California, Los Angeles.
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Shehab Al-Makahleh
Senior Advisor
Shehab al-Makahleh is a journalist and Middle East expert with experience as a political advisor in the UAE. He has analyzed geopolitical trends, reported on international affairs, and edited for numerous think tanks and media outlets in the GCC, including Gulf News and Kuwait Times. He is a frequent contributor to Sky News Arabia and Forbes. Al-Makahleh received his Master’s in Media and Translation from the University of Jordan.
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Dr. Kristian Coates Ulrichen
Advisor
Dr. Kristian Coates Ulrichsen is a Research Fellow at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy. His work spans the disciplines of political science, international relations, and international political economy, and examines the changing position of the Arab Gulf states in the global order, as well as the emergence of longer-term, nonmilitary challenges to regional security. Dr. Coates Ulrichsen previously worked as senior Gulf analyst at the Gulf Center for Strategic Studies between 2006 and 2008 and as co-director of the Kuwait Program on Development, Governance and Globalization in the Gulf States at the London School of Economics (LSE) from 2008 until 2013. He has published four books on the Gulf: Insecure Gulf: the End of Certainty and the Transition to the Post-Oil Era (Hurst & Co, 2011), Qatar and the Arab Spring (Oxford University Press, 2014), The Gulf States in International Political Economy (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015), and, most recently, The United Arab Emirates: Power, Policy, and Policymaking (Routledge, 2016), and is the co-editor, with David Held, of The Transformation of the Gulf: Politics, Economics, and the Global Order (Routledge, 2011). Dr. Coates Ulrichsen received his PhD in History from the University of Cambridge.
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Dr. Courtney Freer
Advisor
Dr. Courtney Freer is a Research Officer at the Kuwait Programme at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). Her work focuses on the domestic politics of the Arab Gulf states, with a particular focus on Islamism and tribalism. She previously worked as a Research Assistant at the Brookings Doha Center and as a researcher at the U.S.-Saudi Arabian Business Council. Dr. Freer obtained her DPhil at Oxford University. Her thesis revised rentier state theory by examining the socio-political role played by Muslim Brotherhood groups in Kuwait, Qatar, and the UAE. She earned her MA in Middle Eastern Studies from the George Washington University’s Elliot School of International Affairs and her BA from Princeton University in Near East Studies.
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Cinzia Bianco
Analyst
Based in Milan, Italy, Cinzia Bianco is a regular contributor to GSA’s monthly monitor report, in addition to numerous publications such as the NATO Defense College Foundation and the Institute for International Affairs (Italy). Throughout her career, Bianco has served as a research fellow for the European Commission’s “Sharaka” project, researching European-GCC relations while based in Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, and the UAE. Previously, she worked as a Junior Analyst for the South Asia and Middle East Forum, a London-based think tank, where she worked on the Gulf Unit. She recently published a chapter in “The US and the Gulf: Towards a Reassessment of Commitments and Alignments” (London and Berlin: Gerlach Press, 2015) based on her paper about a new role for Europe in the Gulf, presented at the Gulf Research Meeting 2014 (University of Cambridge, UK). Bianco received her M.A. in Middle East and Mediterranean studies from King’s College London.
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Dr. Kristian Alexander
Advisor
Dr. Kristian Alexander is an Assistant Professor at the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Zayed University, Abu Dhabi, UAE. He previously taught at the University of Utah, where he earned his PhD in Political Science, and at the University of Wyoming, where he obtained his MA. His research examines the significance of social movements in the Middle East and security related issues, especially pertaining to migration in the GCC. He has published in a number of journals and contributed book chapters to edited volumes.
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Dr. Peter Harris
Advisor
Dr. Peter Harris is an Assistant Professor at Colorado State University, where his research and teaching focus on International Relations theory, international security, and U.S. foreign policy. He has published articles in over a dozen academic journals such as African Affairs, Asian Security, International Politics, and Review of International Studies, as well as writing for more popular outlets such as The Diplomat and The National Interest. He received his PhD from the University of Texas at Austin and also holds degrees from SOAS, University of London and the University of Edinburgh.
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Dr. Sulaiman Wasty
Advisor
Based in Washington, D.C., Dr. Sulaiman Wasty is the CEO of Sharakpur, Ltd, a financial consultancy. His career began at the Planning Commission of Pakistan when he was a special assistant to the Minister for Finance, and Planning and Development. He previously worked for the World Bank (Independent Evaluation, and Quality Assurance) and served as a managing director and acting CEO of G. William Miller Financial Integrity Services, LLC. Sulaiman has held guest lecturer positions at Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School, George Mason’s OLLI, the John Hopkins University SAIS, and Cornell-in-Washington Program. He has published extensively about financial institutions in the GCC. Dr. Wasty received his PhD in analysis and functional analysis, economic development from Cornell University.
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Dr. Jean-Marc Rickli
Advisor
Dr. Jean-Marc Rickli is based in Switzerland and the GCC. Dr. Rickli is an assistant professor at the Department of Defence Studies of King’s College London and at the Joaan Bin Jassim Joint Command and Staff College in Doha, and an associate fellow in global risks and resilience at the Geneva Center for Security Policy (GCSP). He is a senior researcher at the Near East Center for Security and Strategy of King’s College and a non-resident fellow in modern warfare and security at TRENDS Research and Advisory in Abu Dhabi. He is a senior advisor for the AI (Artificial Intelligence) Initiative at the Future Society at Harvard Kennedy School and an expert on lethal autonomous weapons systems for the United Nations and for the United Nations Institute for Disarmament and Research (UNIDIR). Dr. Rickli’s expertise and research is on disruptive technology and international security as well as global risk assessments. Prior to working to his current position, he was an assistant professor at the Institute for International and Civil Security at Khalifa University in Abu Dhabi. He is frequently interviewed by Financial Times, Le Monde, Al Jazeera, Al Arabyia and France 24. Dr. Rickli received his PhD and MPhil in International Relations from Oxford University, UK, where he was also a Berrow scholar at Lincoln College.
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Fahad Nazer
Advisor
Fahad Nazer is an International Affairs Fellow with the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations. Nazer is also a political consultant to the Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Washington, D.C., where he previously worked as a political analyst. Nazer once served as a public diplomacy specialist at the U.S. Department of State (Contractor). Nazer’s writing has appeared in The New York Times, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, CNN, The Hill, and Newsweek. He earned his M.A. in Political Science from Saint John’s University and has completed the coursework and examination requirements of the PhD program in Political Science at The Catholic University of America.
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Grant T. Huxham
Advisor
Based in the UAE, Grant T. Huxham has worked in the Middle East and North Africa at a Big4 Accounting firm as well as a Royal Family Office. He is currently the CFO for a firm focused on niche consulting to both public and private organizations. Huxham is an internationally-seasoned executive cum corporate advisor with over 25 years of experience working with private equity investors and corporates in the U.S. and the Arab world across a broad range of sectors including real estate, media, manufacturing, defense and FMCG. His focus includes turn-around management, liquidity remediation and corporate change management. Huxham received his M.Comm in Financial Management from the University of Johannesburg, and has qualified as both a Chartered Accountant (SA) and Certified Public Accountant (California).
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Geoffrey Martin
Advisor
Based in Kuwait, Geoffrey Martin is a visiting researcher at the Center for Gulf Studies at the American University of Kuwait. Martin’s research focuses on the distribution of oil wealth on social dynamics from a historical and economic perspective. He has written numerous op-eds for Zenith magazine and Martin is also a contributor to the Rai Institute, an extension of the Kuwaiti Al Rai Media Group. Martin received his M.A. in Political Science from the University of Guelph, where he studied social media activism in Kuwait.
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Daniel Wagner
Advisor
Daniel Wagner is the Managing Director of Risk Solutions at Risk Cooperative, a Washington, D.C.-based strategy, risk and capital management firm. He has more than a quarter century of experience in cross-border risk management as an insurance underwriter and broker, corporate risk manager, consultant and advisor. Wagner is the CEO of Country Risk Solutions, a cross-border risk advisory firm he founded, and Senior Vice President of Country Risk at GE Energy Financial Services, where he was part of a team investing billions of dollars into global energy projects. Wagner began his career as a political risk insurance underwriter at AIG in New York and subsequently became Guarantee Officer for the Asia Region at the World Bank Group’s Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency in Washington, D.C. After then serving as Regional Manager for Political Risks for Southeast Asia and Greater China for AIG in Singapore, Wagner then moved to Manila, where he was Guarantee and Risk Management Advisor, Political Risk Guarantee Specialist, and then Senior Guarantees and Syndications Specialist for the Asian Development Bank’s Office of Co-financing Operations. Wagner received his master’s degrees in International Relations from the University of Chicago and in International Management from the American Graduate School of International Management (Thunderbird) in Phoenix.
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Bertrand Viala
Advisor
Bertrand Viala is based in the United Arab Emirates. He started his career at the French Ministry of Defense and has over 15 years of continuous research experience in Turkey and the Middle East. An expert in competitive intelligence, he has worked as the regional director of the French strategic intelligence firm Serenus Conseil (Amarante Group), after which he created his own strategy consulting business in the UAE and Turkey. Viala has also collaborated for two years with Dubai based strategic intelligence firm Five Dimensions, as an expert on Turkish foreign policy and research director on market intelligence projects. Viala is a regular commentator on Turkish public policy and regional developments on Phoenix TV (China). He publishes regularly in France’s Les Echos newspaper. A member of the French Academy of Competitive Intelligence (Academie d’Intelligence Economique), the SYNFIE (Syndicat Francais de l’Intelligence Economique), he has also served for two years as elected board member of the French Business Council of Dubai & the Northern Emirates. Viala received his M.A. in political science from McGill University (Canada).
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Adam Dempsey
Advisor
Based in Switzerland, Adam Dempsey was previously Head of Editorial Content for ETH Zurich’s International Relations and Security Network (ISN) and a Research Coordinator at the UK Defence Forum. Adam’s research focuses on defense-industrial issues, particularly procurement initiatives. He has previously written for Defence Viewpoints, Defence and Security Systems International, and Defense Industry Daily. Adam received his M.A. in Intelligence and Security Studies from the University of Salford and his B.A. in International Relations and Strategic Studies from Lancaster University.
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Loaai Alakwaa
Advisor
Loaai Alakwaa lives in New York and is a Middle East political and security consultant with government and private sector experience. He managed congressional affairs for the Embassy of Yemen in Washington, D.C. from 2010 to 2014 and communications for the Permanent Mission of Yemen to the United Nations in New York in 2015. Alakwaa has worked on multiple projects in the Middle East and North Africa, focusing on security, political and economic development, governance, and public relations. He earned a B.A. in Political Science from Concordia University in Montreal and continued his studies at the American Graduate School of Paris focusing on International Affairs and Diplomacy.
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Matthew Hedges
Advisor
Matthew Hedges is based in the U.K and is a regular commentator and contributor to Defense News, Gulf States Newsletter (GSN), International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), Military Balance, Defence Procurement International, and the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI). He has a wide array of experience in the legal, due diligence and research sectors and specializes in matters pertaining to defense, security, and political economy. Hedges received his M.A. in International Relations from the University of Exeter.
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Abdullah Khurram
Consultant
Based at the Committee on International Relations, University of Chicago, Abdullah Khurram is also a South Asia Fellow at PoliTact, a think tank in the greater Washington, DC area. Formerly, he was a research associate at the Middle East Institute in Washington, D.C. His previous research work has also been based at the Institute of Strategic Studies in Islamabad, Pakistan and at Economic Policy Research Institute, Cape Town, South Africa. Khurram is the co-founder of Mashal Foundation, a Pakistan-based education NGO and for his services in the field of education, he holds a National Award from the Government of Pakistan. Khurram’s post-graduate studies focused on Conflict Resolution at Johns Hopkins SAIS in Bologna, Italy. Khurram received his B.A. in international politics & government and economics from George Mason University.
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Justin McCauley
Analyst
Justin McCauley is an analyst at Gulf State Analytics. Based in the United Arab Emirates, he is currently a communications consultant with Memac Ogilvy Public Relations. He was previously Director of Corporate Sales for Merite Incentive Solutions, where he managed operations throughout the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states and Egypt. He was Executive Editor of The Vienna Review, where he covered Middle Eastern and Eastern European affairs. McCauley also worked in Iraq for NAWAH, a logistics start-up, managing local tribal and governmental relationships. In Abu Dhabi, he worked for ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller, managing regional communications for clients such as Raytheon. McCauley received his M.A. in International Relations from Webster-Vienna.
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Jeremias Kettner
Analyst
Jeremias Kettner has ten years of governments relations experience in Middle East and Europe. He is the co-founder of Kettner & Partner, a boutique consultancy that specializing in Arab-German business relations. Kettner served as vice president of the Germany Council of Foreign Relations and as the Curator of the Global Shaper Hub Hamburg at the World Economic Forum from 2011 to 2013 and 2015 to 2017, respectively. Kettner received his M.A. in Political Science at Freie Universität Berlin.
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