Andrew Evans is an author, travel writer and TV host who shares his stories from around the globe on mobile, screen, and paper. Andrew has completed over 40 assignments for National Geographic, reporting live from all seven continents. He was the first person ever to live tweet an ascent of Mt. Kilimanjaro and gained a worldwide following when he made his overland journey from National Geographic headquarters all the way to Antarctica on public transportation. Andrew writes for National Geographic and National Geographic Traveler, Afar, BBC Travel, Outside, Smithsonian, Readers Digest, The Chicago Tribune, and The Guardian. He is the author of five books, including two bestselling guidebooks, and a contributor to several more. His epic travel memoir, “The Black Penguin” was released in 2017. Evans’ travels have been featured on The Early Show, Today Show, FOX, and the Travel Channel. He has hosted a number of shows for the National Geographic Channel, including “The World in Two Cities”, “World’s Smartest Cities”, and “Hidden Cities”. Andrew is also a regular host for a CBS Interactive, showcasing how technology can improve the way we travel. Andrew Evans holds degrees from Oxford University. He lives in Washington, DC.
Photographer Annie Griffiths has photographed in nearly 150 countries during her illustrious career. Her work has been featured in dozens of National Geographic Magazine articles and books. She has received numerous awards, including the National Press Photographers Association, the National Organization of Woman, and the White House News Photographers Association. Griffiths is the Founder and Executive Director of Ripple Effect Images, a collective of National Geographic photographers who document programs that are empowering women and girls in the developing world.
Adventures in the Near East offer human-powered experiences in wild nature as well as a chance for spiritual contemplation and connection. In this opening plenary session, new pathways through this ancient territory reveal themselves through the eyes of three winning storytellers who have recently experienced adventure travel in Jordan. See this exciting world through their eyes and be inspired to capture the business opportunities in the Marketplace.
A humanitarian, environmentalist, entrepreneur and an adventurer, Suzanne Al Houby is the first Arab woman to climb Mount Everest and finish the Seven Summits. She has been ranked number 63 in Forbes’ Middle East most powerful Arab Women 2014, number 16 in the 100 most powerful Arab women in 2012, number 198 in the 500 most powerful Arabs 2012, she was a winner of the GR8 Women Awards 2013 – Sports and Achievements, and she is the first appointed ambassador of Outward Bound – Peace Building Center. Over the course of visiting 100 destinations worldwide, carrying a backpack half her weight and camping in extreme conditions, she developed a sense of what to look for in an adventure and decided to put this knowledge into building Rahhalah Explorers, her dream project: an adventure travel company based in the Middle East with a payback promise to the communities they visit.
Shereen received the TIAW Award and was named one of the “Top 50 Women Performing in Egypt” in 2017. With a degree in Business Administration in the American University in Cairo, she has followed a unique entrepreneurial path over the course of her 28-year career which includes establishing a manufacturing company for baby’s clothes, becoming the number one distributor of compatible printer cartridges in Egypt, encouraging 250 national and multinational organizations to recycle used print cartridges, certifying as a trained facilitator and teaching university students online, and managing a marketing company called Jzoor which supports start-up companies to grow and sustain locally, regionally and internationally.
Shaikha Al Mutawa has more than 15 years’ experience in the tourism industry. As Director of Business Development at the Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) she was involved in developing a variety of sustainable tourism initiatives including leading some of the DTCM Corporate Social Responsibility projects, adding special needs facilities in hotel establishments, and developing the Dubai Green Tourism Award program in 2009. As an educator, she’s trained more than 1500 key decision makers about environmental sustainability in several workshops and training sessions. Shaikha won the 2013 award for “Innovative Employee in the Dubai Government” at a special ceremony with Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum; Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.
This session showcases exemplary leaders and innovators from the Near East including an Egyptian entrepreneur mentoring small businesses to success and a mountain climber from the United Arab Emirates who has built a thriving adventure travel company. Hear inspiring stories and unique perspectives about what is waiting to be revealed when we forge meaningful connections with local people. Their stories bring us closer to understanding the Near East, and encourage us to continue the work of seeking out and connecting with local resources in our work and personal travels.
Mr. Youngblood’s checkered past includes serving as the managing editor for MIT’s Innovations Journal in Cambridge, co-founding a digital communications agency and working variously as an adventure guide and naturalist on the coastal sea islands of South Carolina and as an ethnographer in the central highlands of Vietnam. He has has spent extensive time thinking about the new economy, work/life balance, global social impact, and creative lifestyles.
Michael Youngblood is the co-founder of Unsettled, a company that takes remote workers on coworking retreats around the world. Providing everything the remote worker needs to live and work abroad, Unsettled is most notably a community-driven experience where everyone lives and works together as they travel. Michael will introduce us to a multi-billion dollar industry transforming the way the creative class lives and travels today. He says, “by observing and listening to trends on the fringe of industries that seem to be at odds with each other — such as work structures and travel in this case — we are able to identify new ideas and gain understanding.” Michael will share his academic and personal insights for how we can be more open to creative possibilities along with the resulting benefits from shifting our perspectives: new markets, new partnerships, and new opportunities.
A policy leader and experienced diplomatic practitioner, Tim Martin has been at the forefront in Canadian diplomacy and peace and security work in Latin America, Afghanistan, the Middle East and Africa. He has served as Ambassador to Colombia and to Argentina and Paraguay. His high level international work includes leading Canada’s civilian work in Southern Afghanistan as Representative of Canada in Kandahar and concurrently Director of the Kandahar Provincial Reconstruction Team. In 2004, he was Chairman of the Kimberley Process to ban Conflict Diamonds, overseeing the implementation of the global certification scheme for the international trade in rough diamonds. In 1998, he opened the Canadian Representative Office in Ramallah, West Bank where he served as the first Representative of Canada to the Palestinian Authority. His career includes accreditation for political affairs to Ethiopia, Sudan, Eritrea, Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda. Following his retirement from the Foreign Service, Tim is active as President of Diplomatic Counsel International Policy Consulting (www.diplomaticcounsel.com) and as a strategic advisor to the Washington-based mediation NGO, RESOLVE (www.resolv.org). Tim is spearheading RESOLVE’s new Resource Diplomacy initiative to enhance the social and development contribution of the international extractive sector. The premise of resource diplomacy is that voluntary, multi-stakeholder intervention across the length of supply chains can improve the social and peace performance of the natural resource sector. His current RESOLVE work includes an innovative conflict-free gold initiative in Colombia and a study on mining and petroleum company agreements with Indigenous communities in Latin America.
Tim is a recipient of the Canadian Treasury Board’s Award of Excellence in the Public Service for his leadership on Canada’s humanitarian assistance to Palestinian children affected by conflict. For his service to Canada he has been awarded three medals by Canada’s Governor General: the Commemorative medal of the 125th Anniversary of Confederation; the Queen’s Jubilee Medal; and the Operational Service Medal.
We close AdventureNEXT Near East with a talk from Tim Martin, who will share his perspective and suggestions on how we might best move forward with the relationships and impressions we have created over the past few days. In his far-ranging career as a Canadian diplomat, he has experienced the fundamental power and importance of interpersonal understanding, recognizing that at the root of dramatic change lies a network of trusting partners that cross political borders. The impact of our work as participants in a trade event goes beyond business: the relationships formed are the bridges to understanding that allow growth to occur.