Dr. Mohammed Abdullah Al-Ali

CEO and Founder of the New TRENDS Research and Advisory

Dr. Mohammad Al-Ali is The CEO and Founder of the new TRENDS Research & Advisory & Senior Researcher/Writer and an Emirati author, specializing in strategic and political affairs.

Dr. Al-Ali received a Ph.D. in Criminology from Mutah University. He obtained a Master of Arts in Diplomacy from the American University in the Emirates, and a Bachelor’s in media, radio, and television from the UAE University.

He has vast experience in the media where he supervised magazines and academic journals covering and analyzing regional and international developments. He has worked as Editor-in-Chief of several scholarly periodicals and has held important positions in think-tanks.

Dr. Al-Ali has produced several studies including The Role of Electronic Press in Creating Awareness Among the Youth in Arab Gulf Countries, published in the Annals of Arts and Social Sciences in Kuwait. He has also presented numerous research papers at various international conferences.

Abdullatif M. Al-Shamsi

President & CEO , Higher Colleges of Technology

Dr. Abdullatif Al-Shamsi is the President & CEO of the Higher Colleges of Technology as per Federal Decree (29) for 2015. He received his Ph.D. from Duke University, USA, in 1997 and received his Master’s and Bachelor’s degrees from Boston University. Prior to his appointment in HCT, he was the Managing Director of the Institute of Applied Technology (IAT) from 2007 to the end of 2014. He established the Applied Technology High Schools (ATHS), the Fatima College for Health Sciences, and Abu Dhabi Polytechnic.

Dr. Al-Shamsi started his career at the UAE University as an Associate Professor. He served as the Assistant Vice Chancellor for Research and founded a university-wide Internship and Work Integrated Learning (iWIL) program. He has over 35 research publications in world-class scientific journals and international conferences. His latest publication – The Make of Education – is a series of books published in Arabic. Dr. Al-Shamsi is a winner of the Federal Personality Award in its fifth edition, granted by H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and Chairman of the Emirates Center for Strategic Studies and Research (ECSSR).

The first Emirati to be awarded a Principal Fellowship by Advance HE of the UK, Dr. Al-Shamsi is currently the Vice Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Institute of Applied Technology (IAT). He is the Deputy Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Maritime Academy (ADMA) and a member of the Emirates Schools Establishment board. These are in addition to his membership of several higher committees and educational advisory councils, such as the Higher Education Coordination Council and the Higher Committee for Aqdar World Summit.

Dr. Faisal Obaid Al Ayyan

Academy Vice-President, Rabdan Academy

Faisal Obaid Al Ayyan is the Vice President of Rabdan Academy. An experienced leader with nearly two decades of planning, design, project management, and capability development experience, Dr. Ayyan has managed many government programs and projects. In 2010, he was appointed to manage the development of Rabdan Academy, which is now pioneering a new approach to safety, security, defense, emergency preparedness, and crisis management education and training.

Dr. Alayyan is responsible for delivering several extremely sensitive and vital programs and projects with very significant project values in this role. Under Dr. Aryan’s guidance and working closely with the National Qualifications Authority (NQA), Rabdan Academy has been central to developing UAE national qualifications, enhancing the awarding body, and improving the quality assurance ecosystem. Dr. Alayyan’s influence in this field will continue to move the UAE toward achieving its ambitious education-focused goals.

Prior to his joining Rabdan Academy, Dr. Al Ayyan has occupied several key posts in major organizations such as the Critical Infrastructure & Coastal Protection Authority and Tawazun Economic Council, and Khalifa University (formally Etisalat University College). He has undertaken many professional development courses and training programs. He has studied at the Darmstadt University of Technology and Ecole National Supérieure des Telecommunications, Curtin University, and Melbourne University.

Dr. Alayyan is an active member of the intuition of Engineering and Technology and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. He is a member of the technical programs, organizing, and steering committees of numerous international conferences, and workshops and has organized and chaired several sessions.

Dr. Arif Sultan Al-Hammadi

Executive Vice President, Khalifa University of Science Technology

Dr. Arif Sultan Al-Hammadi is serving as the Executive Vice President at the Khalifa University of Science Technology, UAE. He is a Board member of TRENDS Research & Advisory, a member of the Emirates Scientists Council, a Member of the Board of Trustees of UAE Water Aid (Suqia), a Board Member of the Sanad Aero Solutions, and a member of the Board of Trustees of the Minister of Interior’s Award for Scientific Research.

Dr. Al-Hammadi is also a member of the Board of Trustees of the Armed Forces and Innovation Award, a Board member of ADNOC Schools, and a member of Abu Dhabi Sports Council. He chairs the steering committee of the UAE Graduate Research Conference (UAE-GRC). Dr. Al-Hammadi received a Ph.D. in Telecommunications from the Queen Mary University, London, in 2000, and a Bachelor’s degree in Telecommunications Engineering with Honors from Etisalat University College-UAE (1994).

Dr. Fatima Al-Shamsi

The former Deputy Executive Director for Administrative Affairs at Sorbonne University, Abu Dhabi (SUAD)

Dr. Fatima Al-Shamsi is the former Deputy Executive Director for Administrative Affairs at Sorbonne University, Abu Dhabi (SUAD), and a former Secretary-General of United Arab Emirates University (UAEU). She holds a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Exeter, United Kingdom, and a Master of Economics from the University of Baltimore, USA. She has held several academic and administrative positions and served as a Consultant to the UAE National Human Resource Development and Employment Authority.

Dr. Fatima Al-Shamsi’s research interests deal with economic development issues and women studies. She has many research publications in refereed academic journals and presented research papers in different conferences. Dr. Al-Shamsi is currently the Vice-Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Arab Gulf States Institute, Washington D.C., and a member of the Board of Trustees of the Economic Research Forum (ERF), Cairo, Egypt, since 2014. Dr. Al-Shamsi is a founding member of the ERF chapter in Dubai.

Dr. Ateeq Jakka Al-Mansoori

Advisor to the Chancellor, UAE University

Dr. Ateeq Jakka Al-Mansoori is an Associate Professor of Public Administration and Policy and an expert in Leadership and Public Sector Reform Programs at the UAE University (UAEU). He is a scholar on UAE public policy and has published several articles in reputed journals. Dr. Al-Mansoori is also a well-known trainer in public administration, local government policy, and leadership.

Dr. Ateeq Al-Mansoori received his Ph.D. in Public Administration from the University of Warwick, UK, in 1993, and his Master’s from the University of Southern California, USA, in 1988. He has served as Teaching Assistant at the College of Business, as an Assistant Professor at the College of Business & Economics and the College of Humanities & Social Sciences, and as an Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science.

He was the Director of Ph.D. Program and Assistant Dean for Research Affairs at the College of Humanities & Social Sciences. He has served as the Director of UAEU Center for Public Policy & Leadership, Dean of University College, and Associate Provost for Student Affairs. Dr. Ateeq Al-Mansoori is also a Member of the American University of Ras Al Khaimah Board of Trustees.

Dr. Khaled Salem Al-Yabhouni Al-Dhaheri

Chancellor of the Mohamed Bin Zayed University for Humanities

Dr. Khaled Salem Al-Yabhouni Al-Dhaheri is the Chancellor of the Mohamed Bin Zayed University for Humanities.

Dr. Khaled received a Ph.D. in Arabic and Islamic Studies in 2008 from the University of Exeter – the United Kingdom, and a Masters in Strategic and Security Studies (Terrorism and Violence) in 2015 from the National Defense College – UAE. He also holds a Bachelor’s degree in Comparative Religions and Political Theory in 2003 from Western Michigan University-USA.

Dr. Mariam Ibrahim Al Mahmoud

Deputy Director-General at the Anwar Gargash Diplomatic Academy

Dr. Mariam Ibrahim Al-Mahmoud is the Deputy Director-General at the Anwar Gargash Diplomatic Academy (AGDA) since March 2020 and a Board member of TRENDS Research & Advisory. She joined the AGDA in 2015 as the Director of the Executive Training Department, where she established and supported the strategic and operational priorities of its executive training program.

Dr. Al-Mahmoud has held several government roles in the UAE, including, Director for Education and Training and Official Spokesperson at the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR) in Abu Dhabi (2011-2015). In this role, she oversaw FANR’s Knowledge Management Program.

Dr. Al-Mahmoud received her Doctorate in Business Administration from the UAE University in 2019 and Master of Business Administration from Zayed University in 2011. In 2007, she received her Master of Education degree, specializing in Educational Leadership, and in 2003, she received a Bachelor of Science degree in Communications and Media Science from Zayed University.

Abdulaziz Sultan Almaamari

Writer and political analyst

Almaamari holds a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the UAE University and Master’s degree in Public Administration from the Mohammed bin Rashid School of Government

Dr. Omar Al-Darei

Director-General of the UAE Fatwa Council

Dr. Omar Al-Darei is the Executive Director of Islamic Affairs at the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments. He is also a member of the UAE Fatwa Council, the Examination Committees for Imams and Muftis in and outside the UAE, and the Organizing Committee of the Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies.

Dr. Al-Darei also serves as a Preacher and Chairman of the Unified Friday Sermon Committee. His research and academic contributions include Fad As-Siqaa fi Fiqh Salat Al-Istisqaa (the jurisprudence of prayer for rain) and Al-Mawqif Al-Fqhi min Naql Al-Aada wa Gharsiha (the jurisprudential position toward organ transplant).

Dr. Al-Darei obtained a Ph.D. for his thesis titled (Tolerance in Shari’ah Law: The experience of the UAE as an example).

Mohammed Khalfan Al-Sawafi

Researcher - International Relations Specialist

Mr. Mohammed Al-Sawafi is the Director of the Parliamentary Media Department in the UAE’s Federal National Council. He has worked at the Emirates Center for Strategic Studies and Research (ECSSR) as a Researcher in Gulf affairs, Editor in the Media Department, and as Director, Publications Department, at the ECSSR. He holds a Master’s degree in International Relations from Coventry University, UK.

Mr. Al-Sawafi writes articles in several Emirati newspapers on issues related to Political Islam and Iran. His articles have appeared in Al-Ittihad, Al-Bayan, and Al-Ain newspapers. He also writes a monthly column in the National Shield magazine, the Soldier’s Magazine, and the Emirates Culture magazine. Mr. Al-Sawwafi also frequently appears in television talk shows and shares his views on the UAE’s foreign policy.

Ahmed Saif Al-Blooshi

Former Deputy Director General for Financial and Administrative Affairs - Emirates Center for Strategic Studies and Research

Dr. Pascal Boniface

Director Institute for International and Strategic Affairs - France

Dr. Pascal Boniface is the founding Director of the French Institute for International and Strategic Affairs – IRIS, based in Paris. He is a professor of international relations at the Institute for European Studies at the University of Paris-8. He is the Director of the quarterly International and Strategic Review since 1991, and the Editor of Strategic Yearbook since 1985. Dr. Boniface has published or edited more than 60 books on international relations, nuclear deterrence and disarmament, European security, French foreign policy, international sports relations (he developed the concept of Geopolitics of Sport), and the Middle East conflict and its impact on France.

Dr. Boniface has published numerous articles in international and strategic reviews. It is regularly present in the media, national and international, written and audiovisual, and gives many conferences in France and abroad. He also analyses global issues on his YouTube channel and weekly podcasts and his blog (IRIS, Mediapart, and personal). Dr. Boniface is a member of the National Ethical Commission at the French Football Federation). He has received Chevalier of the French Award for distinguished services in public and private capacity and Officer of the Legion of Honor. He received the “Prix Vauban” in 2011.


Dr. Yossi Mekelberg

Non-Resident Fellow, professor of International Relations and Senior Consulting at Chatham House - UK

Professor Yossi Mekelberg is a Senior Consulting Research Fellow of the MENA Program at Chatham House, and a Professor of International Relations at Regent’s University, London. He is a distinguished academic who has also taught at King’s College, London, the School of Oriental and African Studies, and the NATO Defense College in Rome. He has published widely on subjects including Middle East security, US foreign policy, and international negotiations.

As a media columnist, Prof. Mekelberg is a regular contributor to Arab News and previously for Al-Arabiya, The Guardian, The Independent, and Newsweek. He has also been a commentator for outlets including BBC News, CNN, Sky News, Deutsche Welle, France 24, Voice of America and Radio Free Europe. Prof. Mekelberg has been invited to advise the British Foreign Office, the Department for International Development (DFID), and the US State Department and other international organizations and global business leaders.

Dr. Jeffrey Kaplan

Terrorism and Political Violence Expert - US

Dr Jeffrey Kaplan is an American academic who has written and edited 20 books and 90 articles on racism, religious violence, terrorism and the far right. His most recent monograph is Apocalypse, Revolution and Terrorism: From the Sicari to the American Revolt Against the Modern World, which was published by Routledge in 2019. He was an Associate Professor of Religion at the University of Wisconsin–Oshkosh (USA) and a member of the Board of Academic Advisors of the university’s Institute for the Study of Religion, Violence and Memory.

Dr Kaplan sits on the editorial boards of the journals Terrorism and Political ViolenceNova Religio and The Pomegranate. He is currently a Visiting Professor at the Doctoral School on Safety and Security Sciences, Óbudai University and a Visiting Fellow at the Danube Institute in Budapest, Hungary. He has also taught at Habib University (Karachi, Pakistan), King Fahd Security College (Riyadh, Saudi Arabia) and Jilin University, School of International Relations and Public Affairs, Changchun, China). 

Bruce Hoffman

Shelby Cullom and Kathryn W. Davis Senior Fellow for Counterterrorism and Homeland Security

Bruce Hoffman is a Scientific Board Member at TRENDS Research & Advisory. He is Shelby Cullom and Kathryn W. Davis Senior Fellow for Counterterrorism and Homeland Security at the Council on Foreign Relations. Hoffman has been studying terrorism and insurgency for four decades and is a tenured professor at Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, where he is also the Director of the Center for Jewish Civilization.

Hoffman was previously Director of the Center for Security Studies and the Security Studies Program from 2010-2017. He is also a visiting Professor of Terrorism Studies at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. He previously held the Corporate Chair in Counterterrorism and Counterinsurgency at the RAND Corporation and was the Director of RAND’s Washington, DC, office and Vice President for External Affairs.

Yoannis Lahzi Gaid

Former Personal Secretary to His Holiness the Pope of the Catholic Church - Member of the Higher Committee for Human Fraternity - Egypt

Yoannis Lahzi Gaid was born in Cairo, Egypt, in 1975. He studied at the Coptic Catholic seminary in Cairo. He was ordained priest for Coptic Catholic Patriarchate of Alexandria, Egypt in 2001.

In 2002 He studied at the Pontifical Oriental Institute, earning a doctorate in the canon law of the Eastern Churches.

In 2006 He edited a volume of texts from the Code of Canon Law for the Eastern Churches.

In 2007 He attended the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy and joined the diplomatic service of the Holy See. His assignments included stints in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Gabon, and as charge d’Affaires of the Apostolic Nunciatures to Jordan and Iraq. He also served as an Arabic translator for Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis at his general audiences and in meetings with Arabic-speaking diplomats and government officials.

In July 2011, Pope Benedict XVI appointed him a chaplain of His Holiness           with the title monsignor.

In April 2014 Pope Francis appointed him as his Second Personal Secretary. He continues to work for the Secretariat of State as well. His appointment was interpreted as gesture of support for Eastern Catholic churches and dialog with the Arab and Muslim world.

In February 2019 Mgr Gaid participated in the Apostolic Journey of Pope Francis to the United Arab Emirates, where the Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together, was signed in Abu Dhabi by Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmad Al-Tayyeb.

In February 2019 His Highness Shaikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces of the United Arab Emirates, has conferred the First Class Order of Zayed II on Monsignor Yoannis Lahzi Gaid, in recognition of his efforts to guarantee dialogue and coexistence between different religions.

In September 2019 Mgr Gaid was named as one of the first members of a Higher Committee of Human Fraternity. He was also named a member of its executive board.

In July 2020 Mgr Gaid left his service as Personal Secretary of Pope Francis and is currently the President of the Bambino Gesù Association and the Human Fraternity Foundation.