The study group will draw on Dr. Razzaz’s decades of public service to explore the processes and pitfalls of achieving political and economic reform. Through exploring reform attempts in social protection, education, taxation, and public sector accountability, the group will identify essential building blocks in the reform process and potential pitfalls along the way.  Specifically, while “realism” has taught us that “politics is the art of the possible,” how can we manage short term political interests without losing sight of longer-term policy objectives which render development results in the long term? Dr. Razzaz will share his extensive experience as a leading policymaker in Jordan and the Middle East to highlight real-world examples of “policy vs. politics."

Study Group Schedule: 

  • Tuesday, October 31, 3:00-4:30 pm [Director General of Social Security Corporation]

  • Tuesday, November 7, 3:00-4:30 pm [Minister of Education]

  • Tuesday, November 14, 3:00-4:30 pm  [Prime Minister]

Dr. Omar Razzaz is the Emirates Leadership Initiative Senior Fellow at the Middle East Initiative for the 2022 calendar year. He comes to MEI with a formidable career that spans the public and private sectors, non-governmental organizations, think tanks, international organizations, and academia. Most notably, he served as the 42nd Prime Minister of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan from 2018-2020. He also served as Jordan’s minister of education (2017-2018), director of Jordan’s Social Security Corporation (2006-2010), executive chairman of Jordan Ahli Bank (2014-2017), chair of the King Abdullah Fund for Development (2012-2014), founder and chair of the Jordan Strategy Forum (2012-2017), sector leader and country manager at the World Bank (1997-2006), and Ford Chair and assistant professor at MIT’s International Development and Regional Planning Program. He completed a post-doctorate at Harvard Law School (1992) and earned a Ph.D. in urban planning with a minor in economics from Harvard University (1991), a master’s from MIT (1987), and a bachelor's in engineering from Louisiana Tech University (1985). Throughout his years in academia, he received several awards for research, writing, and teaching.