Mishaal Al Gergawi


The founder of The Delma Institute and co-director of emerge85, Mishaal began his career in investment banking at HSBC and Deutsche Bank, after completing a BA from the American University in Dubai and an MSc in finance from SKEMA Business School. He went on to establish a family construction business, and then joined the Dubai government as a project manager in charge of establishing strategy for contemporary cultural projects.

Mishaal is a widely published columnist and analyst on global affairs, with work appearing in Financial Times, Foreign Policy, The Independent, and Gulf News.

Afshin Molavi

Co-director, emerge85 & Senior Fellow, Johns Hopkins SAIS Foreign Policy Institute

Based in Washington, DC, Afshin is the co-director of emerge85 and a senior fellow at the Johns Hopkins SAIS Foreign Policy Institute, where he writes broadly on emerging markets, particularly on themes related to the New Silk Road, South-South trade, emerging market multinationals, and global hub cities. He is also an adjunct professor at Johns Hopkins SAIS.

Afshin is the former director of the World Economic Roundtable at the New America Foundation, an ambitious effort to remap the global economy in the wake of the Great Recession. He writes regularly for the Washington Post, Foreign Policy, and other publications, speaks often at global investment conferences, and has appeared on the BBC, CNN, CNBC, CGTN (China), Al Arabiya, and other news channels as a guest analyst.

Joseph Dana


An American journalist and writer living in South Africa, Joseph is the editor-in-chief of emerge85. Formerly Monocle’s Istanbul bureau chief and a comment editor for The National newspaper in Abu Dhabi, he has lived in and reported from across the Middle East for more than a decade. His work has appeared in Le Monde Diplomatique, Bloomberg Businessweek, The Nation, and GQ

Joseph’s reporting and analysis focus on the collision of culture, urbanism, economics, and politics. Before pursuing journalism full time, Joseph completed a master’s in European history and philosophy at the Central European University in Budapest.

Karla Green

Head of Communications

Karla is the head of communications for emerge85. With a keen eye for perfecting copy, sharpening ideas, and bolstering arguments, she previously served as the managing editor of The Delma Institute and later its communications head. From South Africa, Karla studied at the University of Cape Town’s African Gender Institute, where she obtained a BSocSc in social anthropology and gender studies. She later completed a master’s in international aid and development.

Drawing on a variety of disciplines, Karla has worked in Turkey, Palestine, the United Arab Emirates, and South Africa, where she specialized in media, communications, and advocacy. From non-profit work with CARE International to private sector work with Oxford Business Group, Karla has remained grounded in the issues shaping the ’85 world’.

Elana DeLozier

Head of Strategy

Elana is the head of strategy at emerge85 and assistant director at The Delma Institute. She specializes in nuclear weapons and proliferation, counter-terrorism, and Arabian Gulf politics, particularly Saudi Arabia and Yemen. She previously founded The Sage Institute for Foreign Affairs to help create better-informed cadres of political analysts.

For five years, Elana worked as an analyst, regional team lead, and head of analytic training at a political analysis office in Abu Dhabi. She also taught a counter-terrorism course for an all-Emirati graduate program at Khalifa University in Abu Dhabi. Prior to that, she spent four years in New York City, where she acted as a special assistant to the commissioner of the NYPD Counter-terrorism Bureau as well as an analyst on terrorism in the Arabian Peninsula and nuclear security. At the same time, she taught a graduate seminar on nuclear proliferation at New York University. Elana first worked at The Brookings Institution in Washington after receiving a master’s in political science in Virginia.

Meara Sharma

Podcast Producer

Meara produces emerge85’s podcast, ‘The 85%’. As a journalist, she is drawn to stories about cultural memory, religion, and the environment. Previously, she was an award-winning producer for the public radio show ‘On the Media’, where she created programs about reporters taken hostage, Liberia’s press during the Ebola epidemic, and poverty in the United States, among many others. She is also a a senior editor for Guernica, a magazine of global art and politics.

Rick Twelves

Assistant Editor

Rick is the assistant editor at emerge85. A native of Seattle, his passion for non-Western development began during two years of volunteer service with the Armenian diaspora in Los Angeles. His perspective of the ‘85 world’ was furthered while living in Turkey and the UAE.

Rick graduated with honors from the University of Washington with a BA in economics and minor in Middle Eastern studies. He has worked in a variety of fields, including as an economics research intern for The Delma Institute, a freelance website developer for Central Data Corporation, and a sales consultant in rural Texas for Vivint Inc. He is fluent in Armenian, and has formally studied Arabic, Turkish, and French.

Sarah Alaoui

Research & Communications Associate

Sarah Alaoui is a Washington, DC-based research associate at emerge85. She is a PhD student in the Middle East Studies department at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. Her research focuses on Arab public diplomacy and soft power in the United States.

Charles Fromm

Food Security Fellow

Charles is a food security fellow at emerge85. He has spent the last seven years working in the United States and abroad for United Nations agencies and non-governmental organizations addressing hunger and food security. Based in Washington, DC since 2015, he draws on a diverse skillset and wide-ranging experience to inform his analysis.

Charles’s research has included food security in borderlands, neoliberal urban development under military occupation, and agribusiness innovation in the Middle East. He holds a master’s degree in international affairs with a concentration in media and culture from The New School, and a bachelor’s degree in photography from Columbia College.

Christine Kuehl Kunkel

Associate Director, Foreign Policy Institute & Assistant Director, Philip Merrill Center for Strategic Studies at Johns Hopkins SAIS

Christine is the associate director of the Foreign Policy Institute and the assistant director of the Philip Merrill Center for Strategic Studies at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). She oversees strategic planning and program development, manages research portfolios, and counsels senior fellows on internal and external engagement, financial management, and future initiatives. In addition, Christine designs and executes seminars, workshops, and professional development activities for the SAIS community and external stakeholders. Holding a unique position as the associate and assistant director of two flagship research institutions, she identifies and initiates opportunities for cross-departmental program collaboration throughout SAIS.

Prior to joining SAIS in 2008, Christine was the co-ordinator of Cornell University’s Washington Program. She graduated from the University of Maryland with a degree in government and politics, and a scholar’s certificate in international relations.


Simon Allison

Simon Allison is the Africa editor for South Africa’s Mail & Guardian. He is also a research consultant for the Institute for Security Studies and was previously a senior Africa correspondent for the Daily Maverick. He specialises in African news and analysis, and has reported from across the continent. Simon is also a regular contributor to The Guardian, Newsweek, and Foreign Policy. He holds degrees from Rhodes University and the School of Oriental and African Studies, and has lived and worked across Africa and the Middle East.

Zongyuan Liu

Zongyuan (Zoe) specializes in international political economy with a focus on Asia. Based in Washington, DC, she works for the Edwin O Reischauer Centre for East Asian Studies at Johns Hopkins SAIS. Since 2012, Zoe has been researching Gulf-Asia relations, focusing on finance, energy, and cross-border infrastructure. Zoe is currently working on her PhD in international relations, with her dissertation centering on sovereign wealth funds.

She holds a master’s in international affairs from George Washington University Elliott School of International Affairs, is a CFA Level II candidate, and aims to become a CFA charterholder in 2018.

Albab Seifu

Albab is an international development economics expert specializing in agrarian change and rural development, migration, and private sector development in African countries. Albab is currently working for the Ethiopian Agricultural Transformation Agency, where her role focuses on identifying and resolving systemic bottlenecks in agribusiness and market development. Her previous professional experience includes working with the African Development Bank, the UN Economic Commission for Africa, Setema Private Limited, and Colorado College.

Albab received her master’s in development studies from SOAS, University of London, and her BA in economics and Romance languages from Colorado College.

Ilan Strauss

Ilan authored of emerge85’s first report, The Rise of ‘the Rest’? Global Development in the Past, Present, and Future. As a consultant for the UN Conference on Trade and Development, Ilan has contributed to the 2017 World Investment Report. He is on the steering committee of the National Minimum Wage Research Initiative in South Africa, serves as an adjunct instructor at New York University, and has consulted for the African Development Bank and the International Labor Organization.

He holds an MSc in development economics from SOAS, University of London and is an economics PhD candidate at the New School in New York.

Ron Leung

Ron is the founder and head of strategy and research at Zenials, a fintech company providing cloud and mobile core banking to small and microfinance banks in Africa and Asia. He previously worked at the African Development Bank from 2008 to 2014 in a variety of leading capacities. He was an economic advisor to the US Federal Reserve and the UK Department of Health, as well as a professor at the University of Montreal and a long-time fellow at Oxford’s Center for the Study of African Economics.

Aruba Khalid

Aruba is a contributor to emerge85 and former economic analyst at The Delma Institute. Her previous roles have seen her work as an economic researcher at the UAE Ministry of Foreign Trade, as part of the UN Development Program Capacity Development Project, and at the INSEAD Abu Dhabi Innovation Policy Initiative. Her key research interests include labor market structures in Gulf Co-operation Council states and global labor flows.

She holds a BA in international economics from the American University of Sharjah and a master’s in law and economics from the University of Bern.

Zenia Lewis

Zenia is an international development expert and most recently served as a trade advisor to the African Union in Washington, DC at the African Development Bank on a special US-Africa Trade and Investment Promotion Initiative. She has also worked with DC-based African embassies and governments on US-Africa trade policy. Prior to that, she worked with a boutique international development consulting firm, the African Development Bank in Tunisia, and the Global Economy program at the Brookings Institute in Washington, DC.

Zenia holds a master’s degree in public policy from the University of Michigan, focusing on international trade and economic development.

Brandon Finn

Brandon is a South African PhD student in urban planning at Harvard University where his research focuses on the development of African cities and their subsequent theorisation. Brandon has conducted research in Sierra Leone, Zimbabwe, and Rwanda on youth employment, planning, and the democratisation of city spaces.

Soufian Gharbaoui

Soufian is a contributor to emerge85 and former economist at The Delma Institute. Prior to joining Delma, Soufian worked for policy research institutes in Paris and Brussels, and also worked for Dubai Economic Council.

He holds two master’s degrees: One in economics from Sciences Po and another in international relations from Université Libre de Bruxelles.