We help you navigate Middle Eastern politics and business issues based on more than twenty five years experience of engagement in the region including at the highest levels of government. We can help you with country entry (and exit), understanding the implications of public policy and political agendas for your business and managing complex issues that could impact your reputation.
“Michael knows more about this region than anyone else I have ever met and can explain complex situations in a very easy to understand manner - He was an extremely useful contact to know when I was doing M&A in the region!”
- Former M&A Manager, FTSE 100 energy company
Michael has more than 25 years experience visiting, analysing, living and working in the Middle East and North Africa including engagement at the highest levels of government. He has more than 12 years experience working for a FTSE 100 oil and gas company with assignments in Egypt, Oman and Thailand. He also has experience of South East Asian affairs and an in depth knowledge of transparency issues, particularly the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI) and EU legislation in this area.
Michael studied Arabic at the University of Edinburgh, including spending time in Cairo. After graduation, he worked in the newsroom of Middle East Broadcasting before joining Control Risks Group as a senior Middle East analyst. He then worked as a freelance consultant for three years before joining BG Group where he worked as a government and public affairs manger for more than 12 years. After leaving BG, he worked for a year with the leading political risk consultancy Eurasia Group as a director in its energy practice.
He is a keen long distance runner and has completed more than 20 marathons.
Written by Michael Barron and Tim Law Government and NGO expectations of corporate behaviour are starting to resemble the state of “everything out in the open”. On 15 December, in the latest move for ever more transparency for companies, the EU agreed to revise the EU’s fourth anti-money laundering directive (4MLD). This will now[…]
The Palestinian Authority (PA) cabinet met in Gaza City for the first time in more than decade on 3 October, providing a hair breadth silver lining to the dark clouds that have piled up around politics in the region. Despite the unpromising political outlook, the political currents that have come together to carry Prime Minister[…]
It has been a busy week for revelations of contacts between the Arab Gulf states and Israel. On 11 September, Israeli media reported that a member of one of the Gulf ruling families had recently made a discreet visit to Israel for talks with Prime Minister Netanyahu. While the details remained sketchy (may be a[…]
Why these seven Muslim majority countries? A Marathon Runner’s Guide to Middle Eastern Politics, part 2
The New York Marathon was the first marathon I ran in the USA. That was in 1998. I have two strong memories from that event, aside from the pain of the final stretch through Central Park. The first was the international run the day before the marathon. This short warm up event is for the[…]
This year marks the 20th anniversary of running my first marathon*. It was the London Marathon in April 1997. Over the same period of time, longer in fact, I have also been an observer and analyst of Middle Eastern politics. Reflecting on two obsessions that have been important in my professional and personal life, what[…]
As the world focuses on the foreign policy challenges facing the United Kingdom, another kingdom consisting of four separate regions also faces immense foreign policy challenges. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which in reality is a union of the Eastern Provinces, the central Nejd (where the Sauds originate), the Hejaz and the south-western Asir region,[…]
In the same week that the Paris Agreement on climate change was signed, Saudi Arabia unveiled its Vision 2030 strategy. While the timing is probably coincidental, the two events are linked. Saudi Arabia’s unveiling of its strategy to diversify its economy is the most recent and high profile in a series of reform announcements by governments in the[…]
Look out for blogs (at least monthly) on issues that interest me and I believe will interest you. I will focus on the Middle East but will occasionally stray into other areas including South East Asia, transparency, marathon running and anything else that catches my eye.