Event Details

Will the next global renaissance be in the Middle East?

A popular new narrative in the Middle East is that the region will be focused on economics rather than democratisation, Islamisation or other distracting ideologies. Diplomacy will bring stability, which will foster investment and growth that helps everyone move beyond the upheavals of decades past. The Gulf states have long applied this model at home; now they want to export it.

The Middle East has huge potential. First, and most obvious, it is awash with hydrocarbons. At a time when Western oil majors are skittish about investing, Gulf firms are adding capacity.

Location is important, too: the region connects Europe, Africa and Asia. Some 30% of the world's shipping containers pass through the Suez canal in Egypt, while 16% of its air cargo flies via airports in the Gulf. Its young population is another asset: 55% of Middle Easterners are under 30, compared with 36% of the population of the OECD, a club mostly of rich countries.

Yet the story of the past two decades has been one of conflict and despair. First came America's ill-fated invasion of Iraq in 2003. The fury of the Arab spring followed, bringing upheaval but not democracy: all the countries affected eventually either reverted to dictatorship or collapsed into civil war. Islamist violence and sectarian strife compounded the region's woes.

The region's net energy exporters will push ahead with ambitious economic development and diversification plans with the help of the hydrocarbon-induced financial windfall of recent years. Most states in the Middle East—notably the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) states —will enjoy relatively low rates of inflation and stable exchange rates.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has intensified alarmingly, with little prospect of a resolution in the short term. Currently, we do not anticipate a wider regional war and expect Israel to prevail militarily, albeit at a heavy cost.

Join Rob Willock, General Manager and Director MENA of the Economist Intelligence Corporate Network as we discuss:

  • What next for the Middle East?
  • What to expect from the business environment?
  • What industries will thrive in the next few years?
  • What will the impact be on Asia Pacific?


8:00 AM - 8:30 AM
Doors open and registration
8:30 AM - 9:00 AM
Opening presentation
9:00 AM - 9:45 AM
Panel discussion
9:45 AM - 10:00 AM
Q&A and networking


  • Robert Willock (Director MENA & Regional General Manager of EICN)

    Robert Willock

    Director MENA & Regional General Manager of EICN

    Robert is the Director of the Economist Corporate Network based in Dubai and covering the MENA region. Robert works closely with network members to help inform their business strategies through political, economic and operational insight and to connect them with their senior leadership peers.

    Robert is a business journalist, editor and publisher with 25 years of experience covering a wide variety of sectors, including hospitality, retail, construction, energy and transport, and a particular interest in human capital management.

    He is an accomplished event chairman, moderator and speaker.

    Robert completed an MBA at the University of Leicester School of Business in 2012 and holds a Bachelor's degree from the University of Nottingham.

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  • Jean-Loup Samaan (Senior Research Fellow, Middle East Institute at National University of Singapore)

    Jean-Loup Samaan

    Senior Research Fellow, Middle East Institute at National University of Singapore

    Jean-Loup Samaan is a senior research fellow at the Middle East Institute of the National University of Singapore, a non-resident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, as well as an associate fellow at the French Institute for International Relations. His research focuses on Middle Eastern strategic affairs, in particular the evolution of defense policies of Gulf States and Israel.

    Prior to his position in Singapore, he was policy advisor at the French Ministry of Defense (2008 to 2011), research advisor at the NATO Defense College (2011-2016) and associate professor in strategic studies with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) National Defense College (2016-2021).

    His most recent book, New Military Strategies in the Gulf: The Mirage of Autonomy in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Qatar was published in August 2023 by Bloomsbury/I.B. Tauris. Dr. Samaan has authored five other books and several articles for various international academic and policy journals such as Survival, The National Interest, Orbis, The International Spectator, and Politique Etrangère.

    Dr. Samaan holds a Ph.D. in political science (2009) from the University of Paris, La Sorbonne as well as an accreditation to supervise research (2017) from the doctoral school of Sciences Po, Paris.

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  • Sumana Rajarethnam (Director, South-East Asia of Economist Intelligence Corporate Network)

    Sumana Rajarethnam

    Director, South-East Asia of Economist Intelligence Corporate Network

    Sumana is a senior policy professional with 17 years of experience. Having worked at several dynamic and vibrant tech firms, Sumana designs and implements policies through advocacy, strategic communication and evidence-based analysis. With a flair for writing and communication, Sumana is able to negotiate complex engagements & cultivate senior-level internal/external relationships.

    Sumana holds a Masters in Public Policy from the University of Michigan, as well as a B.A. in Political Science and Geography from UCLA.

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Four Seasons Hotel Singapore

(Crescent Ballroom)
190 Orchard Boulevard
Singapore 248646


If you have any questions please contact EICN SEA

Contact Organizer

+65 65345177

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