Programme of the Valdai Club Middle East conference with the support of the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences
Valdai Club Conference Hall, Tsvetnoy boulevard 16/1, Moscow, Russia
List of speakers

On February 21-22, the Valdai Discussion Club, with the support of the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, will hold its eleventh Middle East Conference. This year's agenda is Russia and the Middle East: Strategic Rapprochement and the Intertwinement of Interests”.

Programme of the Valdai Club Middle East conference with the support of the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences

“Russia and the Middle East: Strategic Rapprochement and Interweaving of Interests”

February 21–22, 2022

February 21, Monday

10:30–10:40      Opening of the conference (Live: in English, in Russian, in Arabic)

  • Andrey Bystritskiy, Chairman of the Board of the Foundation for Development and Support of the Valdai Discussion Club.

10:40–11:30      Session 1. Russian Agenda in the Middle East: Priorities for 2022 (Live: in English, in Russian, in Arabic)

Russia remains a key actor in the Middle East, using the entire spectrum of its political, diplomatic and military capabilities in this part of the world. Although serious problems persist in region, the situation there is much more stable than it was five or six years ago. Moscow is gradually changing the nature of its presence, with emergency “firefighting” being replaced by systematic work to build long-term stabilization and development arrangements. Russia’s relations with a number of countries are fully consistent with the concept of “strategic partnership.” This session is devoted to the main areas of activity of Russian diplomacy and politics in the coming period.


  • Mikhail Bogdanov, Russian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs;


  • Vitaly Naumkin, Full Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences; Academic Director, Institute of Oriental Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences.

12:00–13:30      Session 2. Looking to the Future of Energy Markets: How Not to Turn the Green Transition into an Energy Crisis

The Green Agenda is becoming the leitmotif of international politics and economics. Leading powers are revising their strategies considering the fact that the climatic factor will increasingly impact decision making. Energy producing countries will have to balance on the brink. On the one hand, during the transitional stage, sustainable traditional energy supply will be in great demand, and this should be used. On the other hand, the situation will change in the medium term, and we need to prepare for this. Coordination of efforts is more important than ever.


  • Sadad I. Al-Husseini, Founder and President, Husseini Energy Company (Saudi Arabia);

  • Ayed S. Al-Qahtani, Director, Research Division, Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) (Saudi Arabia);

  • Carole Nakhle, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Crystol Energy (Great Britain);

  • Nurislam Syubaev, Deputy General Director for Strategic Development, PJSC TATNEFT;

  • Denis Derushkin, Deputy General Director of the FGFI REA.


  • Konstantin Simonov, Director General of the National Energy Security Fund; Head of the Politology Department, Faculty of Social Sciences and Mass Communications, Financial University under the Government of the Russian Federation

14:30–16:00      Session 3. Collective Security Systems: New Principles for a New Stage (Live: in English, in Russian, in Arabic)

Security systems are in crisis. This is especially noticeable in Europe, where it was believed that no problems should arise. However, the principles established after the Cold War do not work, since they were based on the interests of only one side. The unlimited expansion of NATO has led to the emergence of new tensions that cannot be eliminated without revising a number of basic principles. Nevertheless, Europe is just one of the manifestations of the general trend. The system of alliances and relations in the field of security inherited from the twentieth century requires qualitatively different approaches around the world. The problems in the Middle East, East Asia and the Asia-Pacific are raising the question of what an effective balance will look like on the next historical stage.

The purpose of this session is to highlight the Russian interpretation of how to approach the issues of ensuring regional security from Europe to East Asia, from the Persian Gulf to Afghanistan in a new era. The failed attempt to create a world order based on Western security institutions requires enhanced action and a flight of imagination.


  • Andrei Baklanov, Professor – Head of the Middle East and North African Studies Section, National Research University Higher School of Economics;

  • Evren Balta, Professor, International Relations Department Chair, Özyeğin University (Turkey);

  • Andrey Sushentsov, Programme Director of the Valdai Discussion Club; Dean of the School of International Relations, MGIMO University.

  • Yahia H. Zoubir, Professor of International Studies, Director of Research in Geopolitics, KEDGE Business School (Algeria).


16:30–18:00      Session 4. Rebuilding the Economy on a New Basis: How Russia and the Middle East Can Seize Post-Crisis Opportunities (Live: in English, in Russian, in Arabic)

Whenever the pandemic ends, the phase of economic recovery will begin in any case, but most likely, economic approaches will have to be substantially revised. The general conditions of economic activity in the world are changing, globalization is entering a new phase. Russia and the countries of the Middle East have different economic opportunities, which often complement each other. What can Russia offer to the region, and what is it counting on itself?


  • Omar Al-Ubaydli, Director of Studies and Research, Bahrain Center for Strategic, International and Energy Studies (Derasat) (Bahrain);

  • Evgeny Vinokurov, Chief Economist of the Eurasian Development Bank and the Eurasian Fund for Stabilization and Development;

  • Alexander Vysotsky, Head of Government Relations Service, Yandex Go and Market;

  • Tarik M. Yousef, Nonresident Senior Fellow, Foreign Policy program, The Brookings Institution (Qatar).


February 22, Tuesday

09:30–10:30      Meeting with Faisal Mekdad, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates of the Syrian Arab Republic (Live: in English, in Russian, in Arabic)


  • Andrey Bystritskiy, Chairman of the Board of the Foundation for Development and Support of the Valdai Discussion Club.

11:00–12:30      Session 5. World-Changing Migration: The Dilemma Between Humanism and Maintaining Stability

Migration is becoming one of the most significant socio-political and economic processes that has a growing impact on both origin and destination countries. The more intense the flows, the more tempting it is for some governments to use them for specific purposes. Moreover, the inability to ensure stability and development in many parts of the world makes migration flows endless. In the coming decades, socio-political causes will be complemented by massive human displacements caused by climate change. That requires a comprehensive strategy that takes into account humanitarian needs, but does not allow migration flows to turn into a factor of destabilization of states.


  • Eleonora Tafuro Ambrosetti, Research Fellow, Italian Institute for International Political Studies (ISPI);

  • Galip Dalay, Richard von Weizsäcker Fellow at the Robert Bosch Academy; Associate Fellow at the Chatham House; Doctoral Researcher at the History Faculty, University of Oxford (Turkey);

  • Romain Grandjean, Regional Director, Middle East North Africa, Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue (Switzerland);

  • Dmitry Poletaev, Leading Researcher, Institute of Economic Forecasting of the Russian Academy of Sciences.


  • Oleg Barabanov, Programme Director of the Valdai Discussion Club; Professor, MGIMO University; Professor, Russian Academy of Sciences.

13:00–14:30      Session 6. Cultural Change and Societal Attitudes: Are Young People Embracing a Traditionalist Message?

The pandemic has accelerated complex social processes around the world, including cultural and social stratification, also between generations. While the older people strive to maintain stability by strengthening the usual foundations, the young, accustomed to a different level of technological involvement and seeing models in societies perceived until recently as the most successful ones, strive for changes and socio-political innovations. How to combine the aspirations of different generations and develop a model of society that is resistant to the challenges of a disordered world?


  • John Bell, Director, The Conciliators Guild (Great Britain);

  • Andrey Kortunov, Director General, Russian International Affairs Council;

  • Vasily Kuznetsov, Head of the Center for Arab and Islamic Studies, Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences;  Head of the Department of the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Oriental Faculty of the State Academic University for the Humanities.


  • Dareen Khalifa, Senior Analyst on Syria, International Crisis Group (Egypt).