Dr. Mohammad Omar Sharifi (Afghanistan), 32, is the director of the American Institute of Afghanistan Studies, Kabul Office. He is also a member of the advisory board of the Civil Society Development Center (CSDC). A native of Kabul, he was born in 1978 and graduated from Nadira High School in 1995, and the Kabul Medical Institute in 2003. Following his medical studies, he worked as the head of research and publications for the Foundation for Culture and Civil Society in Kabul, and director of Open Media Fund for Afghanistan. From 2006 to 2008, he studied Cultural Anthropology at Columbia University in New York under a Fulbright Fellowship. Mr. Omar Sharifi has written several essays and papers on politics and social issues in Afghanistan, and his articles are published in national and international journals. Research project – "Building Legitimacy: Meeting the Gap between Center and Periphery."
Mr. Sulaiman Qeyamat (Afghanistan), 29, is a Fellow at the Afghanistan’s Center for Research and Policy Studies. His areas of interest include governance, public policy, and democratic transformation. Mr. Qeyamat has worked with different international organizations including the Friedrich-Ebert-Foundation and the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs since 2006. While working with these organizations, his work mainly focused on youth empowerment, civil society capacity building, gender, democratic representation and political parties. He served as Project Coordinator for the Afghan Young Leaders Forum (YLF) from 2006-2008, empowering potential Afghan youth to take local initiatives and raise democratic awareness among youth groups across Afghanistan. Mr. Qeyamat has been an elected volunteer member of the Young Leaders Forum since late 2004. He led a delegation of Afghan Young Leaders to an outgoing visit titled Young Leaders Enhancing Capacities in Political Participation to Europe in May and June of 2008. He also represented Afghan youth at the International Youth Dialogue on Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) Conference in Berlin, Germany in October 2005. Mr. Qeyamat holds a Masters Degree in Medical Sciences from Kabul Medical University (2005). Recently he was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to study for his Masters Degree in Public Policy (MPP) in the US later on in this year. Research project – “Democracy on the Grassroots: Embedding Democracy in Afghan Communities, Drawing Lessons from US Expertise.”
Ms. Gulmira Rzayeva (Azerbaijan), 28, is a research fellow at the Center for Strategic Studies (CSS) under the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan. Her area of expertise lays in energy security issues such as energy policy of Azerbaijan, and Black Sea/Caspian region energy security. Prior to CSS she worked for the international organization SCI-Hellas (Service Civil International) as a placement officer in Athens, Greece. Last fall within the “Exchange Visiting Scholars Program” existing between CSS and the Moscow Carnegie Center Ms. Rzayeva worked at the Moscow Carnegie Center as a visiting research fellow. Over the years she has participated in a number of international conferences on energy security issues organized by leading think tanks in Azerbaijan and abroad, and has also written several publications. Ms. Rzayeva holds a BA in international relations from the Baku Slavic University (2003), and a MA in Global Affairs from the University of Buckingham, UK (2008). She is fluent in Azerbaijani, English, Russian, and Turkish with a working knowledge of Greek. Research Project – “US Perspectives on the South Caucasus Energy Policy.”
Mr. Asset Yerali (Kazakhstan), 30, is a Project Director at KUN Renewables JSC where he manages an innovative and strategic project on the construction of an integrated poly-silicon plant (solar industry) in Kazakhstan. This is a priority project for the country and has been included in the Kazakhstan National 30 Corporate Leaders program, which is being implemented within the framework of the President’s Industrial and Innovation Development Strategy by 2015. Prior to his current position, Mr. Yerali worked for private sector initiatives in order to develop new investment projects in Kazakhstan. Mr. Yerali was member of the team working on the Kazakhstan Competitiveness Program implemented by the Center for Marketing and Analytical Research under the Ministry of Economy and Budget Planning of Kazakhstan in cooperation with JE Austin Associates and Economic Competitiveness Group. Mr. Yerali holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in International Relations from the Middle East Technical University, Turkey (2004). Research project – “Prospects for Renewable Energy exports from Kazakhstan as part of its move away from oil-dependency.”
Mr. Baktybek Asanov (Kyrgyzstan), 33, is a Managing Director of Closed Joint Stock Company “Textonic” which is exploring oil and gas under the Australian companies, “Santos” and “Caspian Oil and Gas, Ltd”. At the same time, Mr. Asanov is an advisor to the Secretary of the Investment Council under the President of the Kyrgyz Republic where his responsibility is assisting the Secretary in improving policy dialog between the government and business, and encouraging institutional reforms to support the investment. He is also a member of several business promotion organizations (International Business Council, Bishkek Business Club). Prior to his current positions Mr. Asanov served as a Commercial Attaché at the Embassy of the Kyrgyz Republic in Japan where he was in charge of improving the economical relations between the Kyrgyz Republic and Japan. He also has experience in working in the Japanese metal trading company Advanced Material of Japan (AMJ Co. Ltd.). Mr. Asanov holds a BA in Oriental Studies and International Relations from Bishkek Humanities University (1999), and a MA in Social Science (International Economics) from the Iwate University (Japan, 2003). He is fluent in Japanese, English, Russian and Kyrgyz. Research project – “The Dialog between Government and Business Community.”
Dr. Mukhammadi Babaev (Tajikistan), 29, is a professional banker, manager, and researcher with vast professional experience in areas of macroeconomic and trade liberalization policy, international financing, etc. He currently serves as a Deputy Director of the International Financial Relations Department at OSJC “Agroinvestbank”, is the Chairman of the Board of the Tajik Branch of the Open Society Institute-Assistance Foundation, and a Senior Lecturer at International Economic Relations Department of Tajik National University. Dr. Babaev holds a BA in Finance and Credit (2001), and a MA in International Economic Relations (2003) from the Tajik National University as well as a Law degree (2003) from the Russian Slavic Tajik University. In addition, he has a Master of Science Degree in Development Economics from the University of Manchester (2004) and a Degree of Candidate of Economic Sciences (VAK of the Russian Federation – 2007). Dr. Babaev has attended various professional training courses on strategic management, corporate governance in the banking sector, art of trade negotiations, remittances and its measuring methodology. He has conducted researches on macroeconomic forecasting, growth and development perspectives of Tajikistan, the business environment in Tajikistan, and cooperation of Tajikistan with EVRAZES. He is also an author of numerous publications including the Asian Development Bank (ADB) Country Report on Tajikistan on Remittances and Financial Sector, a textbook, and several articles. Research project – “Formation of Market Institutes in an Open Economy: The Case of Tajikistan.”