Ambassador Gary Grappo is the former President and CEO of the Keystone Center and former Head of Mission of the Office of the Quartet Representative, under the Honorable Tony Blair. In Addition, Grappo has held a number of senior positions in the State Department including: Deputy Chief of Mission and Minister Counselor of the United States Mission in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; Minister Counselor for Political Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq and as well as U.S. Ambassador to the Sultanate of Oman. Mr. Grappo has received numerous State Department awards including the 2009 Senior Foreign Service Presidential Award for his service as Chief of Mission in Oman.
Thomas Lippman is an award-winning author and journalist, with over three decades of experience specializing in Saudi Arabian affairs, U.S.- Saudi relations, and relations between Islam and the West. Lippman has authored numerous magazine articles, and books including: Understanding Islam; Inside the Mirage: America’s Fragile Partnership with Saudi Arabia, and most recently Saudi Arabia on the Edge: The Uncertain Future of an American Ally.
John Voll, Associate Director of the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University, will speak Thursday, April 11, at UCF on the topic “Islam and Democracy in the 21st Century.” The event will be held at 3 p.m. in the Cape Florida Ballroom of the Student Union.
Voll, author of “Islam: Continuity and Change in the Modern World,” has lived in Lebanon, Egypt and Sudan, and has traveled extensively throughout the Muslim world. In 1991, he received an Egyptian Presidential Medal in recognition for scholarship on Islam. Voll has served on the Board of Directors of the American Council of Learned Societies, the New Hampshire Humanities Council, the New Hampshire Council on World Affairs and the Sudan Studies Association. In addition, Voll has edited, authored or co-written multiple books, including “Makers of Contemporary Islam,” in collaboration with John Esposito.
Voll’s presentation is a feature of the Al Ghazali Islamic Studies Program, which promotes the understanding and appreciation of Islam and Muslim communities, and the Prince Mohammad Bin Fahd Program for Strategic Research and Studies, which seeks to advance public awareness and cultural ties between the United States and Saudi Arabia.
In a special event held at the UCF Student Union, HRH Prince Mohammad Bin Fahd, UCF President John Hitt, and Prince Mohammad Bin Fahd University Rector Issa Al Ansari participated in an event to officially kick off the PMBF Program, including launching the PMBF web site. President Hitt discussed the importance of the program and formally introduced the Prince, who gave his blessing to the program while also stressing the importance of educational partnerships. The event highlighted a week-long visit by a PMU delegation, which was exploring additional PMU-UCF educational partnerships.
Topic: International Water Security
Dr. Paul Sullivan is a professor of economics at the National Defense University. He is also an adjunct professor at Georgetown University, teaching on the subjects of security studies, science and technology, and international relations. He is an internationally renowned expert on the subjects of energy development, security and economic markets, as well as, international economic development, and political and military issues. Dr. Sullivan was invited to provide his expert advice in the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, as well as multiple other several high level official meetings. He has published several books on the economy, security issues, resource development, water and energy security, and US-Arab relations. Dr. Sullivan is a member of the Global Expert list. He studied at Brandeis University, where he obtained his B.A., and obtained an M.A., MPhil, and PhD from Yale. Dr. Sullivan lived in Egypt for several years and was a professor at the American University Cairo. He travels regularly throughout the Middle East-North African region, and the world.
To view his full publication entitled “The Water-Energy-Food Nexus in MENA” click Here.
Topic: Saudi Arabia’s Reaction to the Changing Region Khaled Al Maeena is currently the Editor-in-Chief of the Saudi Gazette, one of the largest and widely-read newspapers in the Middle East, and is a well-known columnist throughout the Middle East and South Asian regions. Previously, he was the longtime Editor-in-Chief of another major publication, the Arab News, holding the post for nearly 25 years. Mr. Al Maeena is a well-known expert on Saudi Arabia, GCC, Middle East, and South Asian issues. His work in South Asia has been recognized on numerous occasions. In 2008, the government of Pakistan awarded him the Star of Pakistan for his newspaper’s groundbreaking work covering South Asian issues for the Indian and Pakistani expat community in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf region. He regularly appears in the Western media – in print, TV, and on radio. Additionally, he has held several other positions over the past thirty years, including CEO of a Public Relations firm, news anchor on Saudi Television, talk show host and radio announcer. In an informal capacity, Al Maeena has been a well-recognized, respected and discreet advisor to top Saudi government officials. He has represented Saudi Arabia at several important summit meetings in the Arab World, and was a member of diplomatic delegations to the People’s Republic of China and Russia after relations with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia were established. He is also dedicated to improving ties and understanding between the West and Saudi Arabia. He is a co-founder and Vice Chairman of NAAM, an NGO dedicated, among other things, to cross-cultural communications.
To learn more about Samar Fatany and Khaled Al Maeena’s visit to UCF click Here.
Mrs. Samar Fatany is currently a writer and columnist for the Saudi Gazette, Khaleej Times and Asia Week. She is also the Senior Announcer and Radio Journalist at Radio Jeddah, where she has worked since 1976. Mrs. Fatany has presented radio broadcasts on a broad range of topics including culture, religion, international conferences, and various interviews with dignitaries and officials throughout the Kingdom. She has conducted many interviews with prominent local and international political personalities, and has appeared in several programs including the BBC, CNN, NPR, and NBC. She has made significant contributions in social awareness campaigns, including fighting extremism, enhancing women’s role in society, and the empowerment of Saudi youth. She is a strong advocate for women’s issues, and is a participant in King Abdullah’s women’s dialog initiative. In addition, Mrs. Fatany has published three books: Saudi Perceptions and Western Misconceptions, Saudi Challenges and Reforms, and A New Era for Saudi Women. She is a co-founder and Vice Chairman of NAAM, an NGO dedicated, among other things, to cross-cultural communications.
To learn more about Samar Fatany and Khaled Al Maeena’s visit to UCF click here.
In cooperation with French-registered NGO NAAM, the University of Central Florida’s Prince Mohammad Bin Fahd Program for Strategic Research & Studies (PMBF) and the National U.S.-Arab Chamber of Commerce (NUSACC) co-hosted a discussion panel entitled, “Saudi Arabia: Balancing Modernity, Reform, and Traditional Values.” The discussion was held on Capitol Hill at the Rayburn House Office Building and attended by a variety of reporters, business people, and Congressional staff. The panel featured Khaled Al Maeena, Editor-in-Chief of the Saudi Gazette, and noted author and journalist Samar Fatany.
Audience members participated in a remarkable, hour-long question and answer session with the panelists focusing on reform in Saudi Arabia, and the role of women in the Kingdom.
To learn more about this event, please click Here.
Topic: Diplomacy in the Middle East
Dr. Tamara Cofman Wittes is the Director and Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Saban Center for Middle East Policy. Wittes previously served in the Obama Administration as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs from 2009-2012, where she directed U.S. regional policy. In this capacity, Dr. Wittes oversaw the Middle East Partnership Initiative and served as deputy special coordinator for Middle East transitions. She was central to organizing the U.S. government’s response to the Arab awakening. Before joining the State Department, Wittes was a senior fellow at Brookings, where she directed the Middle East Democracy and Development (MEDD) Project. She has also served as Middle East specialist at the U.S. Institute of Peace, as director of programs at the Middle East Institute, and as an Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University. She is the author of Freedom’s Unsteady March: America’s Role in Building Arab Democracy (Brookings Press, 2008), and was editor of How Israelis and Palestinians Negotiate: A Cross-Cultural Analysis of the Oslo Peace Process (USIP, 2005). She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and Women in International Security. Dr. Wittes received a B.A. from Oberlin College, and an M.A. and PhD from Georgetown University.