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John J Coughlin

Global Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies and Law

John J. Coughlin serves as Global Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies and Law at NYU-Abu Dhabi, and he is affiliated faculty at NYU Law School. He holds a BA Niagara University, MA Columbia University, ThM Princeton Seminary, JD Harvard Law School, and JCL, JCD Pontifical Gregorian University. Professor Coughlin has taught in the law schools of universities in New York, London, South Bend, and Rome.


Among his teaching awards, his students have selected him as Professor of the Year on several occasions. In addition to teaching, he has practiced law, served in administrative positions, and been a trustee of hospital and college boards. He has taught courses in Professional Responsibility, Jurisprudence, Administrative Law, Family Law, Ethics, Canon Law, and Law and Religion.

Rev. Jonathan Aitken

Constitutional Affairs Advisor

Jonathan Aitken is a well-known author, broadcaster, former politician with special expertise in the Middle East. He recently became an ordained Priest and Prison Chaplain.

His political career included serving as Special Adviser (then called Political Secretary) to the Chancellor of the Exchequer; twenty-four years as a Member of Parliament; and serving as a Defence Minister and as a Cabinet Minister.

He was a frequent visitor to the Middle East throughout his career where he had a particular expertise on the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. He is the author of 17 books including award-winning biographies of President Richard Nixon and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

Jonathan was recently ordained as a Church of England Priest and serves as a Prison Chaplain and as an Assistant Minister at St Matthew’s Westminster.

Nick Cochrane-Dyet MBE

Chairman of the British Business Group, Abu Dhabi

Nick Cochrane-Dyet joined bp in the UAE in 1989 having spent the previous 4 years working as the Representative of Citicorp Investment Bank in Abu Dhabi. Prior to that he had managed the President of the UAE’s Royal Stud Farm and had been a Captain in the British Army in the Brigade of Goorkhas. He has been associated with the Emirates since childhood when his father served with the Trucial Oman Scouts in 1965.

He is also the Chairman of the British Business Group, Abu Dhabi, and serves on the advisory board of Sightsavers, in the Middle East. He currently Chairs the Middle East Advisory Board of the Energy Industry Council and is a founding member of the UAE-UK Business Council. He was awarded the MBE in the 2013 New Year’s Honours by Her Majesty The Queen.

Richard Knowlton

Foreign Affairs Advisor

Director of Security Studies at Oxford Cyber Academy. Richard served in the British Embassy to the UAE in 1991-1995, before joining the commercial sector in Dubai in 2005. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Strategic Risk Management (ISRM), and an honorary Life Member of the International Security Management Association (ISMA). He holds a number of Board positions in companies specialising in the management of cyber risk. Richard is based in Italy.

Dr Elias Boutros Sayah

Region 10 Director ASCE

Dr. Sayah serves as President & CEO of Sayah Engineering MENA and is responsible for the overall management of the company and expansion in the Middle East and North Africa. He has 25+ years of international business and engineering experience in the US and Middle East. A US citizen, he holds a Master’s and Bachelor’s Degree in Civil Engineering from San Diego State University and a PhD from Pune University. He is member of the American Concrete Institute (ACI), American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), Lebanese Order of Engineers and United Arab Emirates Society of Engineers. Passionate about giving back to the community, Dr. Sayah serves as President of the American Concrete Institute – UAE Chapter and American Society of Civil Engineers – UAE Chapter. He is also on the Board of the New York Institute of Technology (NYIT), Abu Dhabi. Dr. Sayah is an advisor to ASCE Chapters at six universities: Al Ain University, Al Hosn University, American University of Dubai, American University of Sharjah, NDU Lebanon and University of Sharjah. He speaks English, Arabic and French.

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