past event
World Affairs

SOF Symposium: The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia: Past, Present, and Future

Join us for a multi-day symposium moderated by Dr. Nadav Samin, author, historian of the modern Middle East, and internationally recognized expert on Saudi Arabia and Dr. Ellen Ward, historian, policy analyst, and business consultant. Symposium will consist of an evening opening session and reception followed by two half-day sessions and one half-day session that will include a working lunch.

This expert-moderated seminar will examine the political, cultural, religious, and economic history of Saudi Arabia. From the Kingdom’s relationship with the United States and its record of religious extremism to the ascension of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi, moderators Dr. Nadav Samin and Dr. Ellen Wald will explore pivotal historical events and themes in modern Saudi history. They will investigate Saudi Arabia through a multidisciplinary perspective, exploring the complex cultural values, tribal fidelities, and geopolitical intricacies that led to the ascendance of Saudi Arabia as both a regional and global power. How does the United States reconcile oftentimes divergent values yet shared interests in its relationship with the House of Saud?  And what must global leaders understand about Saudi Arabia—its people, place, and history—to build a successful foreign policy in the years ahead?


Dr. Nadav Samin is a historian of the modern Middle East and an internationally recognized expert on Saudi Arabia.  His first book, Of Sand or Soil: Genealogy and Tribal Belonging in Saudi Arabia (Princeton University Press), won a 2016 British-Kuwait Friendship Society award, one of the two major book prizes in Middle East studies.  Since 2009, Mr. Samin has conducted extensive field research throughout Saudi Arabia and the Arabian Peninsula, including hundreds of interviews with Saudis from all walks of life.  His articles on the history, culture, and politics of Saudi Arabia and the broader Middle East have appeared in Comparative Studies in Society and HistoryDie Welt des IslamsThe Wall Street Journal, The Hedgehog Review, The Caravan (Hoover Institution), and numerous other publications.  Mr. Samin has additionally been a Brighthouse Luminary, and an expert consultant for the Combatting Terrorism Center at West Point, Eurasia Group, Monitor Group, and other organizations.  He has been teaching topics in Middle East studies for over a decade, including at Dartmouth College, New York University and Hunter College (CUNY).  Mr. Samin received his Ph.D. in Near Eastern Studies from Princeton University in 2013, and is an Affiliate of the Middle East Institute, National University of Singapore.

Dr. Ellen R. Wald, Ph.D. is a historian, policy analyst, and business consultant. She is the author of “Saudi, Inc.: The Arabian Kingdom’s Pursuit of Profit and Power,” a history of Saudi Arabia through the central figure of Aramco, the national oil company. She is the foremost expert on Saudi oil strategy and Aramco. Dr. Wald is the president of Transversal Consulting, an energy and geopolitics advisory firm, and a Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council.

Dr. Wald’s energy industry and geopolitical analyses are read by tens of thousands each week. She writes regular columns for, Forbes, and Arab News. Her analyses and commentaries on Saudi Arabia have been published by the New York Times, Bloomberg, the Hill, and the Washington Post. Dr. Wald regularly provides commentary for major newspapers and on television and radio in the U.S., Europe and the Middle East.

A graduate of Princeton University (A.B. history, Near Eastern studies) and Boston University (Ph.D. energy history, foreign policy, Middle East), Dr. Wald taught international relations, Middle East history, and policy for a decade. She has held academic appointments at the University of Georgia, the American Heritage Center, Boston University, and University of Cambridge. She has lectured and spoken across the U.S., the U.K., and the Middle East.

Event information
Tue Jul 30, 2019 - Fri Aug 2, 2019
Hines Building
Aspen Meadows campus