The establishment of formal diplomatic relations between the UAE, Bahrain and Israel represents a pivotal moment in modern Middle East history. Months of intense diplomacy transformed the Middle East landscape, opening the way for new avenues of cooperation on issues including artificial intelligence, energy, and regional security. Please join us for a conversation with UAE Ambassador to the United States Yousef al-Otaiba, UAE Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations Lana Nusseibeh, Bahraini Ambassador to the United States Shaikh Abdullah bin Rashid Al Khalifa, and Former Mossad Director Tamir Pardo to hear their perspectives on this historic development.

In this session we will explore how intelligence, diplomatic and military engagements contributed to the process of relationship building and rapprochement. We will also examine the political, commercial, economic, and military implications these new relationships on the region and its issues.

His Excellency Shaikh Abdullah bin Rashed bin Abdullah Al Khalifa

His Excellency Shaikh Abdullah bin Rashed bin Abdullah Al Khalifa

Ambassador of the Kingdom of Bahrain to the United States of America

On June 23, 2017 His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa issued Royal Decree No. 34/2017 appointing Shaikh Abdulla bin Rashid bin Abdulla Al ~Khalifa as the ambassador of the Kingdom of Bahrain to the United States of America.

Shaikh Abdulla’s post-graduate career started at the Royal Court where he worked and oversaw Educational, Medical and Social Affairs. He then joined the General Organization for Youth and Sports as the Director of Planning and Follow-up and was later appointed Director of Financial and Human Resources.

In 2010, he was appointed as Governor of the Southern Governorate of the Kingdom of Bahrain, the largest in size and with the highest potential for development.

As part of a collaborative effort between the Kingdom of Bahrain and the United States of America, Shaikh Abdulla launched a partnership between the Governorate and the American non-profit organization D.A.R.E. to develop and deploy an anti-violence and anti-addiction program delivered by trained community police officers in local elementary and secondary schools. The initiative would later transform into a national program sponsored by the Kingdom's National Anti- Drug Committee, on which Shaikh Abdulla serves.

Shaikh Abdulla played an active role in drafting the National Anti-Drug Strategy in conjunction with the regional office of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, which was launched in 2016.

Shaikh Abdulla obtained his Bachelor’s Degree from Bentley University. He continued his studies at the same university and received a Master in Business Administration. Shaikh Abdulla attained a certificate from the Harvard Kennedy School focusing on “Innovation in Governance” as part of his executive education program. He is currently pursuing a PhD at the International School of Management based in Paris.

Her Excellency Lana Nusseibeh

Her Excellency Lana Nusseibeh

Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the United Arab Emirates to the United Nations

Ambassador Lana Nusseibeh presented her credentials as Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the United Arab Emirates to the United Nations in New York in September 2013. She also presented her credentials as non-resident Ambassador of the UAE to Grenada in November 2017.

Ambassador Nusseibeh currently serves as Co-Chair of the Intergovernmental Negotiations on Security Council Reform – a position she first assumed in 2018. She previously served as Vice-President of the General Assembly for the 72nd session. She has also served as President of the UN Women Executive Board in 2017, as Co-facilitator of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Revitalization of the UN General Assembly for the 71st session of the General Assembly, and as Co-facilitator for the overall review of the implementation of the outcomes of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) in 2015.

Alongside the Permanent Representative of the United Kingdom, Ambassador Nusseibeh Co-Chairs the Friends of the Future of the UN (FFUN), a small group of Permanent Representatives who convene regularly for briefings and unscripted, substantive discussions on the most pressing issues affecting the future of the organization. In 2017, she was awarded the UAE Prime Minister's Government Excellence Award (the UAE Medal of Pride). 

Prior to her appointment as Permanent Representative to the UN, Ambassador Nusseibeh served in several capacities within the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs, establishing the Ministry’s Policy Planning Department in 2009 and serving as its first Director for three years. During this time, she was also the UAE Deputy Sherpa at the G20 Leaders’ Summit under the Presidency of France in 2011. From 2010 – 2011, she also served as the UAE Co-Special Envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan. Previously, she was the Head of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) Campaign Task Force at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Director of Research and Communications for the Ministry of State for Federal National Council Affairs.

Ambassador Nusseibeh received an MA (Cantab) and BA (Hons) in History from the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom, and an MA with Distinction in Israeli and Jewish Diaspora Studies from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London in 2003.

She is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Emirates Diplomatic Academy, Treasurer on the Board of Directors of Security Council Report (SCR), and serves on the Advisory Board of The London School of Economics’ Middle East Centre.ive of the United Arab Emirates to the United Nations

His Excellency Yousef Al Otaiba

His Excellency Yousef Al Otaiba

Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates to the United States of America

His Excellency Yousef Al Otaiba, Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates to the United States of America, took up his Washington-based post in July 2008.

In this role, Ambassador Al Otaiba enhanced UAE-US relations and improved bilateral security and economic cooperation. In addition to leading efforts that increased military, intelligence and counterterrorism cooperation between the two countries, he also played a critical role to facilitate the landmark US-UAE 123 Agreement for Peaceful Civilian Nuclear Energy Cooperation, which came into force in 2009. 

He also works closely with his counterparts in government and with business leaders to promote greater UAE and US economic and trade ties. Since becoming Ambassador, bilateral trade increased over 70 percent, solidifying the UAE’s position as the US’ largest trading partner in the Middle East and North Africa. UAE investments in the US expanded, and prominent US healthcare, education and cultural institutions, such as Cleveland Clinic, New York University and the Guggenheim, established new UAE branches. In addition, the UAE and US governments established a formal Economic Policy Dialogue and cooperated on ways to streamline travel for Emirati nationals between the two countries.

Ambassador Al Otaiba has also led the UAE’s significant commitment to philanthropic activities in the US. The program is predicated on preserving and advancing the strong friendship between the UAE and the United States.  In 2009, he facilitated a transformational gift from the Government of Abu Dhabi to launch the Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, DC, and personally assists Children’s National with its fundraising efforts. The Ambassador has also led the UAE’s response to the coronavirus pandemic in the US, emphasizing the importance of diplomacy, healthcare policy and the UAE’s commitment to protecting the public from the spread of COVID-19. Through innovative community partnerships, the UAE Embassy has already constructed eleven soccer fields around the US to benefit kids in underserved communities. The Community Soccer program(link is external) will expand further in the coming years.  

Under the Ambassador’s leadership, the UAE Embassy also provided assistance to aid in the reconstruction and recovery of US communities following natural disasters, including providing significant aid to the states of New Jersey and New York following Hurricane Sandy in 2012, and helping Joplin, Missouri(link is external) recover after one of the largest tornados ever recorded in US history devastated the town.

Ambassador Al Otaiba also dedicates a great deal of time to promoting inclusion and religious tolerance worldwide. On behalf of the UAE Embassy, he supported 2019's “Year of Tolerance,” a UAE movement to encourage peace, respect and acceptance across all cultures and backgrounds. Ambassador Al Otaiba joined the Board of Directors for the Special Olympics and played a key role in the initiative to host the World Games in Abu Dhabi, the first Special Olympics World Games held in the Middle East and North Africa. In addition to advocating for people of determination, his leadership directed the UAE Embassy towards a number of interfaith efforts including a virtual interfaith discussion. In February 2019, he supported Pope Francis’ historic visit to the UAE to promote interfaith cooperation and foster peace and goodwill among the followers of the world’s religions. 

Previously, Ambassador Al Otaiba served for eight years as the Director of International Affairs for the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, His Highness General Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. The focus of his portfolio during this time was the strengthening of the UAE’s security and economic relations throughout the Middle East region, with the US and other nations. He served as one of the UAE’s principal security, anti-terrorism and defense liaisons to other governments, and was heavily involved in diplomatic efforts(link is external) to improve regional security and defense cooperation. These efforts included working to enhance UAE enforcement of export control laws and policies, and the coordination of counter-proliferation activities with allies.

In recognition of his loyal service to the UAE, and leadership to build closer ties with the US, Ambassador Al Otaiba was promoted to the rank of Minister in October 2017. He will remain in his current role as the UAE’s Ambassador to the US. 

Ambassador Al Otaiba obtained a degree in international relations from Georgetown University in Washington, DC, after graduating from the Cairo American College.  He also attended the Industrial College of the US Armed Forces at the National Defense University in Washington, DC as an International Fellow.  

He and his wife Abeer Al Otaiba have two children.

Tamir Pardo HKS IOP

Mr. Tamir Pardo 

Former Director of Mossad

Tamir Pardo served as Director of Israel’s Mossad from 2011-2016. Born and raised in Tel Aviv, Tamir served in the IDF in the special forces unit (Sayeret Matkal) and participated in the famous Operation Entebbe of 1976. He joined the Mossad in 1980 and rose through the ranks as technical and operations officer. Tamir then commanded its special operations division before serving two stints as Deputy Director (2002 and 2007—2009). Tamir led Mossad during a period of dramatic changes in the Middle East, taking command two weeks before the ousting of Tunisia’s president and the start of Arab Spring. During his term as Director contended with the resulting regional upheavals, Iran, Hezbollah, and Hamas. He also maintained unprecedented intelligence cooperation with the United States despite turbulence in political relations between the two countries, and for increasing Mossad’s capabilities in the cyber domain