About the Founding Director
Bilal Y. Saab
Bilal Y. Saab is Senior Fellow and Director of the Defense and Security Program at the Middle East Institute (MEI) in Washington, DC. In addition, he is an Associate Fellow with the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs at the American University of Beirut (AUB). With Georgetown University’s Security Studies Program in the School of Foreign Service, Saab is an Adjunct Professor teaching graduate courses on U.S. defense policy in the Middle East and international security studies. And with Booz Allen Hamilton, he is an Independent Contractor providing advisory services on defense governance and institutional capacity building in the Middle East. Saab is the author of Rebuilding Arab Defense: US Security Cooperation in the Middle East (Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Publishers, May 2022).
Saeid A. Alzahrani
Dongyoun "Dana" Cho
Karin Von Hippel
Gen. (ret.) Joseph Votel
About the Program
The Defense and Security program focuses on four lines of effort:
New U.S. security cooperation and defense institution building in the Middle East
The future of the Abraham Accords and Arab-Israeli security relations
The role of technology and innovation in CENTCOM’s strategy for renewed partnerships in the region
U.S. strategies for strategic competition with China and Russia in the Middle East
The MEI-CENTCOM Annual Conference is a flagship event of the Defense and Security Program
It convenes top CENTCOM leadership and staff as well as some of the world’s leading Middle East scholars and practitioners to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing the United States and its regional partners. Unique in the U.S. public policy and think tank communities, this two-day conference features speeches by CENTCOM leaders in addition to multiple policy-relevant panels on a range of strategic, political, military, and economic issues in the region.
Click here to see a recap of the 2022 conference.
Hosted by MEI's Defense and Security Program, the Defense Leadership Series is a speakers' forum for high-level military and defense leaders from both the United States and the Middle East to discuss the most important policy issues facing the two sides.
The Series formalizes the Defense and Security Program’s long-term commitment to engaging with the national security communities in Washington and the region. It will host one-on-one conversations with senior personnel from the U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), and all four U.S. military services, as well as with senior officials and officers serving in the armed forces and ministries of defense of the region. The Series was inaugurated in June 2020 with a conversation with U.S. Marine Corps General and Commander of CENTCOM Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr.