MEDirections Autumn School | Natural Resources and Geopolitics in the MENA (23-25 October 2019)

Natural Resources and Geopolitics in the MENA: Disruptions, Transformations and Pathways 

23-25 October, European University Institute, Florence, Italy

In collaboration with the EUI’s School of Transnational Governance (STG).

Session outlines and reading materials (for participants only)

Focus | Natural resources have historically played a prominent role in the economies, political economy and international relations of MENA countries. They are also central to the trade and investment strategies of the region’s local and multinational companies. How do geopolitical trends interact with local dynamics to affect how natural resources are exploited and managed?  What role will natural resources play in stabilising the region in the future? What challenges do natural resources present to decision-makers, security establishments, the private sector and broader society?  

Methodology | The MEDirections Autumn School will provide stakeholders, policy-makers, practitioners and academics with a detailed overview of geopolitical trends that affect the value, consumption, allocation and protection of natural resources over the coming years. In addition, participants will analyse in-depth case studies that explore the impact of these dynamics at the local level. The programme will balance theory with practice, culminating in a scenario-building exercise to strengthen strategic thinking and highlight the various ways the MENA region’s natural resources sector could develop in the new geopolitical sphere.  

In particular, the programme will:  

  • Provide a forum for participants to explore the interaction between macro and micro trends, and their impact on natural resources management, taking into account geopolitics, governance, energy transition and connectivity;  
  • Analyse different future scenarios;  
  • Discuss new mechanisms for positive engagement with different stakeholders.  

The Autumn School will address these strategic issues by building on practitioners’ experience, as well as on significant academic analysis and field-based research. Instructors are reputable academics and experts from leading institutions, including current and former practitioners. 

Audience | The school is addressed to a variety of actors operating in the sectors of natural resources management, investment and security, including civil servants of national authorities, international organisations, private sector professionals, representatives of civil society organisations and researchers. 

Programme’s overview 

Day 1: Geopolitical dimension 

  • The geopolitical, commercial and societal forces shaping the future of natural resources. 

Day 2: Governance dynamics and strategies 

  • The challenges and opportunities for natural resources exploitation in the region in the coming years;  
  • The transnational, domestic and local dynamics affecting the management of resources. 

Day 3: Investment decision-making 

  • New natural resources management mechanisms to mitigate future risks and mediate potential conflicts.  
  • Energy transformation and connectivity outlook in the region. 

A Group Practicum based on scenario-building will be developed throughout the 3 days of the course. 

Extended deadline: 30 September 2019

Deadline for application: 15 September 2019

Fees | Fees for participation in the course are €1300*.  

 A discount of 25% will be applied to the charges for international, European and national civil servants, as well as to members of NGOs.  

Early Career Researcher Fee at €600 is available for post-graduate or post-doctorate researchers with an interest in geopolitics and natural resources in the MENA region.

A discount of 10% will be applied to early bird registrations.

* The fees cover the cost of the course as well as coffee and lunch breaks. Travel and hotel costs are not included in the fees. 

 Full or partial fee-waivers, as well as a limited number of full scholarships (all expenses covered, including travel and accommodation), are available on merit or needs basis. Priority is given to applicants from the MENA region for full scholarship places. Expired

Application period

Applications open on 21 May 2019. The deadline for scholarship and fee-waiver places is 21 July 2019. The deadline for all applications is 15 September 30 September.

To qualify for the early bird registration, payment should be made by 1 September 2019


Draft Programme


Dr. Cyril Widdershoven | Verocy

Dr. Widdershoven is a founding partner of Verocy, a Dutch risk consultancy firm focusing on the MENA region and Turkey. He holds several advisory positions at think tanks and energy companies, as well as a non-resident fellowship at the Payne Institute, Colorado School of Mines. He has been heavily involved in the oil and gas sector throughout his career, including positions at Deloitte and Capgemini Consulting, and regularly contributes to specialist outlets such as, Rigzone and several Arab newspapers.

Dr. Carole Nakhle | Crystol Energy 

Dr. Nakhle is an energy economist with extensive experience working with oil and gas companies, governments and policy makers, international organisations, academic institutions and specialised think tanks. She is CEO and founder of specialist consulting and advisory company Crystol Energy, and also holds positions at various institutions including the Natural Resource Governance Institute, Carnegie Middle East Centre and the Lebanese Centre for Policy Studies.

Charfeddine Yakoubi | High Committee for Administrative and Financial Control, Tunisia

Charfeddine Yakoubi is a director general of the High Committee for Administrative and Financial Control, Tunisia. He is the national coordinator of the Tunisian Coalition for Transparency in Energy and Mining, a coalition of Tunisian civil society organisations from natural resource producing regions, and an active member of the Tunisian Association of Public Auditors. He has recently authored a report on hydrocarbons contracts in Tunisia, and has collaborated with international organisations including the National Resources Governance Institute.

Dr. Gökçe Günel | Rice University

Dr. Günel is Assistant Professor in Anthropology at Rice University, with a focus on the anthropology of energy. She has recently published a book on the construction of renewable energy and clean technology infrastructures in the United Arab Emirates, based on ethnographic fieldwork at the Masdar City project. Her articles have been published in a range of outlets and journals including Anthropological Quarterly, Public Culture and PoLAR.

Hani Sabra | Alef Advisory

Hani Sabra is founder and director of MENA-focused political risk consulting firm Alef Advisory. He previously worked at Eurasia Group for over 10 years, more than four of which were spent as director of Middle East analysis. His current clients base include macro hedge fund investors, institutional investors, and corporates that operate across various sectors.  

Alan Nicol | International Water Management Institute

Dr. Nicol has over 30 years experience in international water resources management as a researcher, policy adviser, consultant and programme developer. Based in Ethiopia, he is currently director of the International Water Management Institute’s Water, Growth and Inclusion Strategic Programme. He has previously worked with the Overseas Development Institute, Care International, the Institute of Development Studies and the World Water Council. His publications include editor and contributing author of Water Governance and Collective Action: Multi-Scale Challenges and a number of publications on the Nile basin and other related water management complexes.