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Cyber Domain in the Mideast: Implications for Business, Security, and Society
ILLUSTRATION - 16 July 2019, Berlin: A man sits in front of three screens with text. Photo: Annette Riedl/dpa-Zentralbild/dpa (Photo by Annette Riedl/picture alliance via Getty Images)

Cyber Domain in the Mideast: Implications for Business, Security, and Society

Date and time: Tuesday, June 9, 2020, 9:30 am to 2:20 pm Eastern Daylight Time (UTC-4)

Register here for each individual panel.

MEI is pleased to announce the cyber program’s first half-day conference. The cultures, politics, economies, and security concerns of the Middle East are sui generis on the world stage. And the digital revolution, like every industrial revolution before it, is having unique implications for each of these facets of society. This conference will investigate the intersections of these trends and issues, and paint a clearer picture of the Middle East today and into the future.

Conference agenda (additional speakers to be announced):

9:30AM – 10:00AM | Opening Remarks

10:00AM – 10:50AM | Panel I: Digital Transformation and the Future of Business in the Middle East

As internet penetration grows in the Middle East and resource-rich countries pivot towards developing knowledge economies, governments need to craft regulatory environments that foster digital entrepreneurship and attract business and investments. But every economic revolution comes with challenges. This panel convenes business leaders from different countries to discuss their economic development plans and the obstacles and opportunities in building a sustainable business environment for the 21st century.

  • Fatima Alsebaie, analyst, Bahrain Center for Strategic International and Energy Studies
  • Ayman Ismail, associate professor, The American University in Cairo
  • Najla Al Midfa, chief executive officer, Sharjah Entrepreneurship Center (Sheraa)
  • Mohammed Soliman, moderator, nonresident scholar, MEI

11:00 AM – 12:00PM | Panel II: Privacy and Surveillance, Freedom and Censorship: The Social Contract in the Digital Age

Across the world, governments are grappling with the privacy-security dilemma and the national security implications of emerging technologies like facial recognition and widespread encryption. At the same time, social media has given practically everyone a platform on a digital public square. This panel will examine how the political and security dynamics of the Middle East uniquely influence government approaches to surveillance and censorship.

  • Mahsa Alimardani, Ph.D. candidate, Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford
  • Dr. Sahar Khamis, nonresident scholar, MEI and Associate professor in the Department of Communication, University of Maryland
  • Spandana Singh, policy analyst, Open Technology Institute, New America
  • Avi Asher-Schapiro, digital rights correspondent, Thompson Reuters Foundation
  • Eliza Campbell, moderator, associate director, Cyber Program, MEI

12:00PM – 12:30PM | Lunch Break

12:30PM – 1:20PM | Panel III: Public Diplomacy and Influence Campaigns in the Internet Age

Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election made the threat of disinformation and influence campaigns a front-page issue, but the threat is not new. Governments and non-state actors have sought to influence public opinions within and beyond their borders for decades. This conversation will examine influence campaigns in the Middle East, with a particular focus on social media, and discuss their excesses, dangers, and limits.

  • Alia Awadallah, nonresident scholar, MEI
  • Olga Belogolova, adjunct professor, Georgetown SSP and Policy manager, Facebook
  • Mona Elswah, researcher at the Computational Propaganda Project, Oxford Internet Institute
  • James Shires, assistant professor, University of Leiden
  • Andrew Leber, moderator, Ph.D. candidate, Government Department, Harvard University

1:30PM – 2:20PM | Panel IV: Cyber Warfare

From Shamoon to Stuxnet, the Middle East has become an under-recognized hotbed of interstate cyber conflict. This panel will explore the history of cyber warfare in the Middle East, the threat it poses to stability in the future, and how the risk can be contained.

  • Steph Shample, nonresident scholar, MEI
  • Chris Kubecka, CEO, HypaSec
  • Saher Naumaan, threat intelligence analyst, BAE Systems Applied Intelligence
  • Ohad Zaidenberg, lead cyber intelligence researcher, ClearSky Cybersecurity
  • Kim Zetter, moderator, investigative journalist

For more information, contact the Programs Department, tel. +1 202-785-1141 ext. 202.

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