His Excellency Falah Al Ahbabi is Chairman of the Department of Urban Planning and Municipalities, and board member of GSEC. He is responsible for the creation, management and implementation of the Emirate-wide framework plans within the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. These include Plan Capital, Plan Al Ain, Plan Al Dhafra and Plan Maritime. Together, these form a complete strategic framework plan for the Emirate.
Formerly known as the Urban Planning Council, Falah was integral to the launch of the government entity in 2007, along with its continued success. He has guided the creation of the four framework plans, in addition to 47 large-scale master plans covering approximately 91,000 hectares. In 2010, under the direction of Falah’s leadership, the entity implemented the Estidama Pearl Rating System, a mandatory sustainability design, construction and operation rating system for villas, buildings and communities.
Falah has been instrumental in the creation of the DPM’s “Complete Sustainable Communities” initiative—a comprehensive suite of policies, regulations and manuals, that enables planners to design communities that are flexible enough to meet the diverse needs of both current and future generations, and enhance quality of life. The CSC initiative does this by incorporating a range of housing options, community facilities and public spaces that are well-connected, safe and sustainable, in line with the Abu Dhabi Plan.
Previously, Falah Al Ahbabi played a pivotal role in establishing the first helicopter academy in the Middle East. He was also involved in the launch of a satellite while working with the Mubadala Development Company. Other highlights of Falah’s career include the privatization of government services and gaining a global experience in utilities.
Falah has a degree in Management from California State University, USA.
Memberships and Boards:
• Chairman, Higher Corporation for Specialized Economic Zones – ZonesCorp
• Chairman, Infrastructure and Environment Committee at The Executive Council
• Chairman, Centre for Waste Management in Abu Dhabi (TADWEER)
• Board Member, Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi
• Board Member, Abu Dhabi Housing Authority (ADHA)
• Chairman, Al Reem Island Essential Infrastructure Committee
• Committee member, Future Development of Mussafah Area
Minister of Infrastructure Development
Acting Executive Director
Assistant Undersecretary, Knowledge and Cultural Policies Sector
Salma is the Assistant Undersecretary of the Knowledge and Cultural Policies Sector at the Ministry of Culture and Knowledge Development (MCKD). Salma is responsible of developing cultural strategies for the country, ensuring the necessary cultural policies and legislation are in place, and planning for MCKD’s effective participation with international partners and organizations.
Before joining MCKD, Salma worked at the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development, UAE Permanent Mission to the UN in Geneva, General Secretariat of the Executive Council of Abu Dhabi, General Secretariat of the Federal National Council, and the Abu Dhabi Government Restructuring Committee.
Salma was named as one of the 100 Arab Youth Pioneers in 2018. Her academic background includes a BA in International Studies from Zayed University, an MSc in Human Rights from the London School of Economics and Political Science, and a Post Graduate Diploma in International Law from the University of London.
Ms. Zena Ali-Ahmad is the Director of UN-HABITAT Regional Office for Arab States. Zena has been working with the United Nations for the last twenty years, where she assumed key technical and management positions, including UNDP Deputy Director for the Regional Center for Arab States in Amman (2016-2017), Country Director in Jordan (2013-2016) and Syria (2008- 2012), Regional Advisor on Local Governance for Arab States (2005-2008), and Assistant Representative in Lebanon (1997-2004). Before working with the United Nations, Zena worked as a consultant for the UN, World Bank, USAID, and NGOs on issues related to poverty reduction, local development, and local governance.
Zena holds a MSc. Degree in Management of Social Change from the University of London and a MSc. Degree in Agricultural Economics and Development from the American University of Beirut.
She is a co-author of several studies on poverty, gender, socioeconomic rehabilitation, and post-conflict reconstruction and recovery.
Founder and Chair
H.E. Dr. Talal Abu-Ghazaleh, Chairman of Talal Abu-Ghazaleh Global (TAG.Global), is recognized as one of the most influential leaders in the world. His past leadership roles reveal a long and engaging career with business-related international development organizations and forward-thinking business projects in the Arab world, and he has chaired 14 UN task forces and initiatives. He has received over 40 decorations and official awards, and made seminal contributions to education, accountancy, Intellectual Property, business administration and management, commerce, ICT, law and other fields.
Ghazaleh founded Talal Abu-Ghazaleh Organization (TAG-Org) in 1972, a leading global provider of professional and educational services with more than 100 offices worldwide. He had created a unique hybrid-- a for-profit private firm with a mission statement to “contribute to the socioeconomic development of the Arab world.” A builder of institutions with a sense of history and a vision for the renaissance of the Arab and Islamic worlds, he also served on the board of the UN Global Compact and as Chairman of the UN Global Alliance for ICT and Development. He is currently Chairman of the Arab Coalition of Services and a member of the WTO Panel on Defining the Future of Trade.
MENA Regional Head
As a green global citizen, Mohammad chaired the WorldGBC MENA Network and the Jordan Green Building Council. He served as a Senior Adviser at the USAID Energy Sector Capacity Building Program and as the Environment, Water and Energy Sector Lead at the USAID Jordan Economic Development Program. He was appointed as an adviser to the Board of Trustees of the Princess Sumaya University for Technology, founded the Queen Rania Center for Entrepreneurship. He worked on developing the concept behind El Hassan Science City. He also worked at the Jordan Investment Board and served as a consultant for the UNDP, UNIDO, and USAID's AMIR Program. He was appointed as a regional advisor to the OECD's MENA Investment Program. He also chaired the UNEP SBCI's Advocacy Committee and was a founding board member of the Al Shajarah NGO.
Mohammad has continuously maintained a presence in the business world through a fourth-generation diversified family business. Mohammad also co-founded Ahel Al Balad, which is a non-political grassroots movement that aims at spreading positivity in community through volunteering. Mohammad holds a BA in Business from the University of Jordan and a Masters in Positive Leadership and Strategy from the IE Business School in Madrid.
Founder and Executive Chairman
Raghida Dergham is the Founder and Executive Chairman of Beirut Institute and Columnist for The National. She served as Columnist, Senior Diplomatic Correspondent, and NY Bureau Chief for the London-based Al-Hayat for 28 years.
She has contributed to Al Joumhouria, Huffington Post, Arab News, Al Arabiya English, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Newsweek. She was a political analyst for NBC, MSNBC, and LBC for eight years as well as a contributing editor for Global Viewpoint produced for the Los Angeles Times Syndicate.
Since founding Beirut Institute, she has partnered with remarkable board members, global think tanks, exceptional staff, and with host governments of the Beirut Institute Summit such as the United Arab Emirates. Such partnering has allowed her to lead an organization since its inception till it became a highly respected global brand recognized by other think tanks all over the world.
A specialist on global strategy, she is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and an Honorary Fellow at the Foreign Policy Association. Dergham served on the International Media Council of the World Economic Forum and is on the Development Advisory Committee of the InterAcademy Partnership, a global network of science academies.
Dergham is a frequent lecturer at universities, think tanks, and business councils throughout the United States, Europe and Asia. She has spoken at Harvard, Princeton, Columbia and Georgetown among other distinguished universities. Dergham is a frequent participant in Policy conferences worldwide.
As an international correspondent and television commentator on global affairs in the US, Europe, Russia, China and the Arab world, Dergham has been seen as a woman who broke the glass ceiling multiple times and inspired young women to become political commentators and analysts
Director of Urban Planning and Sustainable Development
Nuha Eltinay is the Director of Urban Planning and Sustainable Development at the Arab Urban Development Institute (AUDI). An award-winning spatial planner and a Licentiate Member of the British Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI), Nuha has experience in building urban resilience for smart cities infrastructure, smart citizenry and smart governance. She works closely with the UNISDR Regional Office for the Arab states in applying the Disaster Resilience Scorecard and Urban Resilience Assessments for 25 Arab cities, with a focus on building coherence between the 2015-2030 UN Global Agendas for Disaster Risk Reduction, Climate Change Adaptation and the Sustainable Development Goals. Nuha holds an MA in International Planning and Sustainable Development from the University of Westminster, and is currently a PhD researcher at London South Bank University (LSBU), working towards the implementation of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) in the Arab region context of climate change, conflict and displacement. Nuha co-authored the UN report/guide “Open Data Infrastructure for Resilience: A Roadmap” for the Making Cities Resilient Campaign (UNISDR, Resurgence). She also took a leadership role in facilitating and organizing the Women Entrepreneurship Resilient Cities start-up competition at the 2015 Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in Sendai, Japan. In collaboration with the World Bank Group Center of Mediterranean Integration (CMI), the competition aimed to encourage innovative female-run business solutions to risks in the MENA Region.
Partner, Cities and Local Government Sector Global Leader
Hazem Galal is PricewaterhouseCoopers’ (PwC) Cities and Local Government Sector Global Leader. He has expertise in strategy formulation and implementation for cities and local government entities. He is also the co-chair for the working group on city connectivity, as part of the ITU and UNESE’s initiative Smart Sustainable Cities. Hazem is also the co-author of the book “Delivering Sustainable Competitiveness - Revisiting the organizing capacity of cities”. He worked with cities and state governments around the world such as New York, Colorado State, Al Madinah, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Amsterdam, Moscow, Sochi, Saint Petersburg, Rio de Janeiro, Singapore, Astana, Kuala Lumpur and Beijing, which gives him an edge of expertise in both developed and developing countries conditions.
Hazem led several projects in the Middle East, Latin America, Asia, the United States and Europe, which gives him an edge of expertise with the Public Sector in both developed and developing markets conditions. He also supported PwC’s efforts to work with cities and local government entities around the world.
Co-Founder and Chairman
As the Co-Founder and current Chairman of Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HyperloopTT), Mr. Gresta leads a team of 800 professionals in 40 countries that span 6 continents. HyperloopTT was the first company to begin development of the Hyperloop™ and is the largest company ever built upon a collaborative business ecosystem. HyperloopTT, under Mr. Gresta's leadership, has been revolutionizing both mobility and the outdated business model.
Before HyperloopTT, Bibop co-founded the influential start-up incubator Digital Magics SPA, which has served as the catalyst for the launching of more than 70 other companies. In addition to his entrepreneurial successes, he is a world-renowned speaker on issues ranging from ethical entrepreneurship to mobility. Bibop has keynoted at events that range from the World Economic Forum and United Nations to TEDx and MTV. He is known for always bringing a unique and thoughtful perspective. For this reason, he has a following that includes high school and university students to heads of state.
Dr. Laila Iskandar was the Minister of State for Urban Renewal and Informal Settlements in Egypt from July 2014 to September 2015 and before that she served as Minister of State for Environmental Affairs in the two cabinets following the June 30th Revolution. Prior to her public office position, Dr. Iskandar was a leading member of civil society both nationally and internationally, working with youth, women and children in livelihood programs in informal urban settlements and deprived villages in Egypt. She was Chairperson of CID Consulting from 1995 to 2013, which received the "Social Entrepreneur of the Year" award in 2006 at the World Economic Forum from the Schwab Foundation, recognizing the sustainable recycling school program established in partnership with UNESCO.
Dr. Iskandar studied economics and political science at Cairo University as well as Near Eastern Studies and International Education Development at UC Berkeley (Masters of Arts in Teaching). She also holds a doctorate in International Education Development from Columbia University. Her international assignments include serving as jury to UNESCO’s International Literacy Prize, acting as UNESCO’s Resource Person for the Arab region since 2005, serving on the United Nations Literacy Decade (UNLD) and Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) Decade, and as Canada’s CIDA Education Advisor in Egypt.
She has worked with garbage collectors’ communities in Cairo for over 35 years, with a special focus on the informal waste sector. Dr. Iskandar is widely connected to global networks of recycling organizations and informal settlements.
Zahra Khalifa is Associate Advisor at the UAE Ministry of Tolerance. Zahra is also a Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) coach.
After graduating from Zayed University with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Human Services and a minor in Communication, Zahra joined the Ministry of Tolerance, focusing on initiatives to spread tolerance in the UAE. The Ministry’s projects focus on reinforcing tolerance and co-existence and applying pro-tolerant attitudes and behaviors in the community. Zahra works in the Youth Team of the Ministry, focusing on the Champions of Tolerance program.
Pollster and Analyst
Muin Khoury has been an independent consultant since 2012, specializing in policy research and socio-political analysis. He has served in several key positions, helping him gain strong insights on the region’s socio-political landscape. He has proven expertise in issues related to soft and democratic security, governance, youth and women, internet and media consumption as well as evaluation of national initiatives. He co-authored “The National Strategy for the Prevention of Violent Extremism for the Government of Jordan” for the UNDP. More recently, he developed a legal aids needs assessment study of the Jordanian criminal justice system for the UNDP, and another assessment on women, child and male waste pickers. He also conducted a baseline assessment study for the USAID on community social cohesion and resilience, as well as a mapping of poverty services for the World Bank.
Prior to this work, Muin was the Director of the Research and Opinion Polling Department, after serving as Director of the Foreign Press Department and Director of the Public Affairs, Information and Online Communications Department at the Office of His Majesty King Abdullah II in The Royal Hashemite Court in Amman. Muin is founder and owner of the political research firm Strategies, and founder and co-owner of AdPro Communications & OMD Digital Marketing. He is a former Global Member of Harris Interactive/the Harris Poll, USA and a current member of the UNDP’s Global Expert Roster of Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery (BCPR) and UNDP’s Crisis Response Unit (CRU) ExpRes Roster. Muin is a graduate of the Institute of Interpreters, Heidelberg University in Germany.
Governor of Damietta
Manal Awad Mikhaiel is the current governor of Damietta, Egypt. She is the first female Coptic Christian governor and second female governor in Egypt.
In 2015, Mikhaiel joined the Ministry of Agriculture’s Institute of Veterinary Serums and Vaccines for Research and Studies. A few months later, Mikhaiel was appointed deputy governor of Giza, where she worked to improve economic opportunities and social conditions of disadvantaged communities. She also implemented residential development projects and contributed to the climate adaptation strategy of Giza governorate. UNESCO recognized her efforts with a Learning City Award in 2017.
Mikhaiel is a graduate of Veterinary Science from the University of Banha (Zagazig). She also has a master's degree and a PhD in Veterinary Medicine from the University of Alexandria. From 1992-2013, Mikhaiel advanced from specialist to professor at the Serum & Vaccine Research Institute, Pox Department, eventually holding the post of deputy manager. In 2007, she won the “State Encouragement Award” in the agricultural science category, thanks to her research on livestock immune systems and the impact of specific strains of viruses and infections. Mikhaiel served as a member of the Egyptian Poultry Medical Association, the International Poultry Veterinary Association, the Egyptian Society for Immunology and the Veterinary Society.
Al-Oraibi is an Iraqi-British journalist with over 15 years of experience covering Middle Eastern, European and American affairs.
Prior to assuming her role at The National, she was a Senior Fellow at the Institute for State Effectiveness (ISE) and a Yale World Fellow. Before starting her fellowship at Yale, Al-Oraibi was the Assistant Editor-in-Chief of Asharq Alawsat from 2011 to 2015.
She has written extensively on US and European policies in the Middle East, in addition to conducting several high-profile interviews including with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Iraqi President Barham Salih, and UNHCR High Commissioner Filippo Grandi.
She is an Advisor to the Global Dignity Day Movement and a trustee of the American University in Iraq, Sulaimani. Al-Oraibi was named as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum.
Mayor of Chefchaouen
Mohamed Sefiani has been Mayor of Chefchaouen, Morocco since 2009. A recognized leader in Mediterranean city networks, he is President of the UCLG Forum of Intermediate Cities and advocates for the important role of intermediary cities in the global agenda. An electromechanical engineer, Sefiani is a board member of the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy, and President of the Moroccan Association for Eco-Cities (AMEV). He also holds the positions of Co-President of the Africa Climate Task Force within CGLU-Africa and President of the Medinas Mediterranean Network.
Adjunct Professor of Leadership and Innovation at École des Ponts Business School in Paris
The core of Maurizio’s practice is “co-design.” His approach on “innovation and change” engages people at different levels: the collective and the individual, the philosophical and the cultural, the strategic and the operational. The focus of his work ranges from strategy formulation and leadership development to new policies, products, services, and work spaces. Maurizio’s clients include leaders of some of the most admired corporations, universities, and not-for-profit organizations in the world.
Maurizio also serves as Adjunct Professor of Leadership and Innovation at École des Ponts Business School in Paris, and as a Member of the Faculty team of the “Leading and Building a Culture of Innovation” program at Harvard Business School. Since January 2019, he is the Faculty Lead of Leadership Development Programs at IED Barcelona.
Maurizio also taught in the Executive Education Department of the Harvard University Graduate School of Design (GSD), and served as Academic Lead for the “Leadership and Design Thinking” program and the “IndyProject” program (part of the GSD Advanced Management Development Program).
Maurizio is the co-author of the article “Unlocking the Slices of Genius in Your Organization,” published on the HBS Centennial publication Handbook of Leadership Theory and Practice (2010). The article was co-written with Professor Linda Hill (Harvard Business School), Greg Brandeau (CIO of Pixar Animation Studios), and Emily Stecker (HBS).
In 2016, Maurizio was invited to the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos as a Forum Fellow.