Aathira Prasad

Aathira Prasad is a trained Economist with 15 years of experience in Macroeconomic Research. In her current role as Director of Macroeconomics at Nasser Saidi & Associates, she is involved in providing advisory services, related to macroeconomics and financial market development, often to the policy makers and Federal Authorities across the region. An extension of her previous position as Director of Macroeconomics at the DIFC, this role also includes contributing to periodic publications, white papers as well as various thought leadership pieces directed at the market.
Aathira holds a Master of Philosophy degree in Applied Economics from Jawaharlal Nehru University, a Masters degree in Economics from Delhi School of Economics, and a Bachelors degree (Honours) in Economics from Delhi University. More recently, she successfully completed a certificate course on “Machine Learning: Practical Applications” from the London School of Economics & Political Science.

Salma Refass

Salma Refass is a Principal Researcher at Mohammed Bin Rashid School of Government and she is specialized in Economics and Public Policy focusing on the MENA region. She has centered her work on government-focused public policy change theory and processes, and research relevant to the public sector in hybrid regimes. Her research addresses the complexities of translating policy texts into practice at local, national and international levels and rethinking policy implementation in complex environments. It crosses boundaries of policy analysis, gender studies, political science, international relations, institutionalist theory and sociology among others. She has gained interdisciplinary experience working in both academia and the not-for-profit sectors. Economist by training, she worked as an analyst on a number of policy programs and initiatives in the Education, Health and Social sectors and led a series of impact assessment missions for development programs implemented around the globe (Morocco, South Africa, Kenya, Pakistan…) on behalf of international organizations. Prior to that, she worked as a quantitative researcher on academic projects in the Department of International Relations, at the University of Sydney.
Salma holds a Master’s degrees in Public Policy & Governance from the University of New South Wales and in Applied Economics from the University of Sydney, and a BA from Saint Louis University in Economics. She is currently working towards her PhD in Governance.

Dr. Nasser Saidi

Dr. Nasser H. Saidi is the Founder and President of Nasser Saidi & Associates, a niche consultant and advisor to the banking & financial sector, governments, central banks, regulators, multi-national and regional companies.

He is Chair of the regional MENA Clean Energy Business Council (CEBC), a member of the IMF’s Regional Advisory Group for MENA, a member of the Advisory Board of the Official Monetary and Financial Institutions Forum (OMFIF) and a member of the advisory board of the Lebanon Oil & Gas Initiative (LOGI).
Dr. Saidi is the former Chief Economist of the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) and also the Founder and former Executive Director of the Hawkamah-Institute for Corporate Governance and The Mudara Institute of Directors. Dr. Saidi served as Minister of Economy and Trade and Minister of Industry of Lebanon and First Vice-Governor of the Central Bank of Lebanon for two mandates. His research interests include macroeconomics, financial market development, FinTech, payment systems and international economic policy, corporate governance, renewable energy & climate change and digitalisation. Dr Saidi holds a Ph.D. and a M.A. in Economics from the University of Rochester in the USA, a M.Sc. from University College, London University and a B.A. from the American University of Beirut. He was a professor at the Departments of Economics of the U. of Chicago, the Graduate Institute of international Studies, the U. of Geneva and the American U. of Beirut.

Dr. Fadi Salem

Fadi Salem is the Director of Research and Advisory at the Mohammed Bin Rashid School of Government. He is also a Senior Research Fellow with the Future Government and Innovation Group in the School. During his tenure at the MBRSG, he led the foundation of numerous multi-year research programs and projects in the School, including the Governance and Innovation Program. Earlier, he was a Research Associate with the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School (HKS); and a Fellow with the I+I Policy Research Centre, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy (LKY SPP), National University of Singapore. He is currently a PhD in Public Policy candidate at the University of Oxford and a graduate of the London School of Economics and Aleppo University.

Fadi’s areas of expertise extends to digital governance, technology policy, digital transformation, innovation policies, smart cities development; the policy implications of Artificial Intelligence, the 4th Industrial Revolution, IoT, big data and open government. Additionally he has extensive policy and scholarly publications on social media, electronic participation, ‘future of government’ applications, and the impact of digital transformations in the Arab region, including the influential Arab Social Media Report series and the Arab World Online series.

Fadi has over fifteen years of multidisciplinary working experience in the public sector, media organization and policy research fields, including projects with the OECD, UN, WEF and the World Bank. Prior to joining the School, he worked in The Executive Office in Dubai, advising senior government leaders on technology policy and digital economy. He also previously worked as an editor of two pan-Arab periodicals.

Dr. Ben Shepherd

Ben Shepherd, the Principal of Developing Trade Consultants, is a trade economist and international development consultant. He has worked on a wide range of trade and development issues with organizations such as the World Bank, the OECD, the Asian Development Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, the United Nations, and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation. He specializes in providing policy-relevant research, as well as capacity-building seminars for researchers working in trade and development. He has published more than 30 articles in peer-reviewed journals and a similar number of published chapters, in addition to five books.

Ben’s particular areas of expertise include:

  • Trade Policy
  • Global Value Chains
  • Trade Facilitation and Logistics
  • Trade in Services
  • Global Trade Modeling

Prior to starting DTC, Ben was a Postdoctoral Research Associate at Princeton University’s Niehaus Center for Globalization and Governance. He holds a Ph.D. in economics from France’s leading public policy school, the Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris (Sciences Po). He has also completed graduate studies at Cambridge University in the UK, and the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, Switzerland.