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Speakers & Panelists

Vera Ageeva

Associate Professor
SciencesPo Paris

Vera Ageeva graduated from the Philosophy department, French language department and School of International Relations at St. Petersburg State University. She served as international relations expert at St.Petersburg City Administration in 2008-2016. Furthermore, she undertook an internship at Chicago City Hall in the USA in 2012. Later she defended a thesis of candidate of science in international Relations at St. Petersburg State University in 2016 on the topic - Russian soft power.

Since 2017 she worked as an associate professor at Higher School of Economics St.Petersburg. Since 2018 she was director of HSE French Club. Then since 2020 - she was a representative of 'Francophonie sans frontières' in Russia. Since 2020 she worked as a doctoral researcher at Sciences Po in Paris.


Omar Al-Ubaydli

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

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.


Nedra Cherif

Political Analyst
European University Institute

Nedra Cherif is a political analyst and researcher focusing on the political transitions that took place in the MENA region since the Arab uprisings, with a focus on North Africa (Tunisia, Libya and Egypt more specifically). She has several years of professional experience monitoring political developments on the ground, assessing electoral and constitutional processes, interacting with local and international actors involved in the political and security dynamics of the region and producing analysis related to these issues. She worked for various organizations including the Carter Center, International IDEA and the North African Policy Initiative.

She graduated from Sciences Po Paris with an M.A. in International Affairs (Security Studies), she also studied Conflict Resolution and Middle East Studies at the George Washington University, Washington D.C. She is currently finalizing her PhD thesis at the European University Institute in Florence, Italy, where she also conducted research and published analyses for the Middle East Directions Program (Libya Initiative).

Her additional research and professional interests include regional conflicts in the Middle East; ethnic and religious minorities in Arab countries; community-based mediation and reconciliation processes in conflict settings. Her regular travels to North Africa and the broad network of local contacts that she developed, enable her to remain informed of the last strategic developments in the region and to feed her analysis with first-hand information from the ground.


Arne Elias Corneliussen

Founder, Chairman & CEO
NRCI | Norwegian Risk Consulting International

Arne Elias Corneliussen is the founder and director of global geopolitical analysis in 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 27 countries on the African continent by bus. His recent field trips include Central Asia, Central Africa and East Africa. 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.

Arne Elias Corneliussen also serves as the conference director for Norwegian Risk Forum – NRCI’s annual international conference in Oslo focusing on geopolitical risks and international business opportunities. His strategic and systematic approach to define topics for each Norwegian Risk Forum involves field insights from his fact-finding expeditions; conversations with NRCI’s global advisory board members and leading analysts worldwide; and observing national policymaking and regional growth trends in emerging markets. He also developed a wide range of partnerships with organizations, think tanks and other institutions. Arne Elias Corneliussen is the host and anchor on Global Horizon - NRCI´s YouTube Channel, which provides three weekly NRCI original video series: Asian Horizon every Monday, Geopolitical Horizon every Wednesday and African Horizon every Friday. In these video series he examines geopolitical developments, economic and financial opportunities and security dynamics.


Stefan Gätzner

Chief Representative Greater China
Federation of German Industries - BDI

Stefan Gaetzner is Chief Representrative for the BDI – Federation of German Industries in China since the beginning of 2019. Before taking over the office of the BDI in Beijing he was editor-in-chief of a bilingual German-Chinese business magazine.

Mr. Gaetzner has extensive experience in Sino-German economic relations and has worked for the German Chamber of Commerce in Beijing as Head of Marketing. He also has a professional background in the financial service industry. Having studied at the Peking University among others he speaks fluently Chinese.


Vivek Kelkar

Co-Founder
The Cosmopolitan Globalist

Vivek Y. Kelkar is a journalist with extensive, global top management experience across media and the corporate world. Vivek focuses on writing, research, and analysis for The Cosmopolitan Globalist - a publication he co-founded, and delivering strategy solutions to a select clientele. He analyses political economy and industry. His recent writing focuses on political risk in Asia, especially South and Central Asia. Vivek worked as editor of The Strategist at the Business Standard, and a Senior Editor of Business Today. He wrote extensively for Asia Times, Singapore Business Times, Asia Inc., and Asian Business. He continues to write across select Indian and global media. He also works as visiting faculty at select universities.

Vivek's work in the corporate sector involved marketing, product design, strategy development, M&A and investor relations, spanning both listed companies and start ups. He worked extensively on researching and developing entry strategies across diverse industry sectors. Vivek holds an MBA from the Ashridge Business School, UK, and an MA in International Political Economy from the University of Sheffield, UK. He completed a one-year Advanced Management Programme at the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore, and studied Managing Business in a Global Context at the ESADE Business School, Barcelona, Spain.


Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu

Executive Director
Centre for Policy Alternatives

Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu is the founder Executive Director of the Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA). He was a member of the Foreign Policy Advisory Group and the Board of the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute for International and Strategic Studies. He has presented papers on governance and peace in Sri Lanka at a number of international conferences and is widely quoted in the international and local media.

In 2010, Dr. Saravanamuttu was awarded the inaugural Citizens Peace Award by the National Peace Council of Sri Lanka and in September 2013, he was invited by President Obama to attend his “High Level Event On Civil Society“, in New York. In 2016, he was appointed, Secretary of the Task Force on Consultations on Mechanisms for Reconciliation and in 2017, short-listed for the Peace Prize awarded by the city of Ypres, Belgium. He is also a member of the Regional Advisory Group of Amnesty International for Asia.

Dr. Saravanamuttu is a founder director of the Sri Lanka Chapter of Transparency International and a founding Co- Convener of the Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV), which has monitored all the major elections in Sri Lanka since 1997 and the civil society alliance the Platform for Freedom. In 2004 he was an Eisenhower Fellow (2004) and is currently Chairperson of the Eisenhower Fellows, Sri Lanka and a Member of the Gratiaen Trust.

Dr. Saravanamuttu received a Bsc Econ, Upper Second Class Honours degree and Ph. D in International Relations from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), University of London, in 1979 and 1986, respectively. He lectured in International Politics at the University of Southampton, UK, from 1984 – 92.


Abubakar Siddique

Author and Journalist
RFE/RL

Abubakar Siddique is a journalist, author and research scholar specializing in coverage of Afghanistan and Pakistan and the surrounding South Central Asia region. He has dedicated the past two decades to researching and writing about peace, security, political, humanitarian, and cultural issues.

He is currently a journalist with Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) in Prague Czech Republic. In addition to his journalistic pursuits, Siddique speaks frequently at prominent think tanks in Europe and North America and has contributed articles, chapters, and research papers to a range of publications and think tanks. His unique expertise is brought to bear in his book, “The Pashtun Question: The Unresolved Key to the Future of Pakistan and Afghanistan.” (London: Hurst and Company, 2014).

Siddique’s work or reviews of his work has frequently appeared in major Western newspapers and other publications. He has been cited frequently. These include but are not limited to The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Foreign Policy, National Public Radio (NPR), The Guardian, Le Monde Diplomatique and the American Interest.


Wang Xiangwei

Editorial Advisor and Former Chief Editor
South China Morning Post

Wang Xiangwei is an award winning journalist with a career of 30 years in the media industry and he is recognized as one of Asia’s leading commentators on China and its international relations. His weekly column China Briefing in the South China Morning Post enjoys a massive following.

He took up the current role, Editorial Advisor, South China Morning Post, in January 2016. Prior to that, He was the newspaper’s Editor-in-Chief, responsible for the editorial direction and newsroom operations and managing a newsroom of more than 200 journalists. During his four years of editorship, he led SCMP’s transformation into a digital media organization.

He started his 30-year career at the China Daily, before moving to the UK, where he gained valuable experience at a number of news organizations, including the BBC Chinese Service. In 1993, he moved to Hong Kong and in 1996 he joined the South China Morning Post as China Business Reporter. He was subsequently promoted to China Editor in 2000 and Deputy Editor in 2007, a position he held for four years prior to being promoted to the position of Editor-in-Chief in February 2012. He has a Master’s degree in Journalism, and a Bachelor’s degree in English. He now lives in Beijing.