Syracuse University

New Members of MENAT

New Members Welcomed to MENAT Regional Council to Work Toward Strategic Goals

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(photo left to right: Dr. Khaled Al-Ajmi, Mike Venutolo, Jim O’Connor, Carol Azar, Nabil Habayeb and Iman (Al Bahar) Al Qahtami) 

To build on the momentum established since their inaugural meeting and to continue their strategic planning efforts, members of the Middle East, North Africa and Turkey (MENAT) Regional Council met in late September at Syracuse University’s Dubai office. Founding members Reda Raad, Iman (Al Bahar) Al Qahtami, Nabil Habayeb and Mike Venutolo joined SU representatives Jim O’Connor, executive director of Middle East advancement and external affairs for SU, and Sherlyn Sychua, regional manager for advancement and external affairs/admissions for SU Dubai; in welcoming three new members to the Council.

Dr. Khaled Al-Ajmi of Riyahd earned his certificate of advanced studies in the management and leadership of electronic governments from Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. Additionally, he holds five academic degrees and five professional licenses in engineering and technology. With 18 years of experience in managing technology organizations and several publications, Al-Ajmi is an expert of eGovernment practices in Saudi Arabia. He currently serves as general manager of Safeer Program of the Ministry of Higher Education.

Carol Azar of Beirut earned both a master’s and doctoral degree in electrical engineering from Syracuse University. She holds an associate professor position at the Lebanese University and serves as an adjunct professor at the American University of Beirut and the Lebanese American University. Her research and teaching interests include microwave, millimeter-wave, optoelectronics and mechatronics. Azar’s dedication to Syracuse University brought her to co-found an alumni chapter in Lebanon. 

Ahmed Youssef of Dubai graduated from Syracuse University’s School of Information Studies (iSchool) in 1999. He is a partner at McKinsey & Company, a global management consulting firm that was recently ranked among the top 10 best companies for developing leaders by Fortune magazine. 

“We are so pleased to have Khaled, Carol and Ahmed to bring new perspectives, ideas and relationships to the work of the MENAT Regional Council,” says Reda Raad, MENAT Regional Council chair. “Their experience and commitment, coupled with that of the founding members, will help realize the objective of our Council to build meaningful partnerships and opportunities for prospective, current and former SU students from the region.”  

In addition to the installation of the three new Council members, a highlight of the meeting included a discussion regarding the upcoming cyber security symposium to be hosted by Syracuse University’s College of Engineering and Computer Science and the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. The symposium is set for December in the cities of Dammam and Dubai. Elizabeth Wilmer, SU’s special projects director, traveled to Dubai for the meeting to work with the Council on event programming and logistics. 

The meeting agenda also included initial planning of an alumni event and scholarship benefit in celebration of Dubai Art Week to be held next March, an annual gift campaign coordinated by the SU Dubai office and an alumni networking event scheduled for next summer. With significant progress made toward upcoming strategic partnerships and events, the Council members concluded their time together over dinner.