Speakers | 14th Middle East Conference

14th Middle East Conference

06 Mar 2019 to 07 Mar 2019
United Arab Emirates (the)

Speakers | 14th Middle East Conference


Managing Editor, VK Media, Sweden

After graduating from journalism school, Stefan Åberg worked as a journalist and later as a news editor until 2017 being named managing editor for VK Media, a local news group with two newspapers, located in Umeå in the north of Sweden. As a managing editor, Åbergs focus has been on the digital development, and speeding up the digital transformation for Västerbottens-Kuriren, the largest newspaper in the northern half of Sweden. Västerbottens-Kuriren was early in realizing the importance of a strong online presence and has always been working hard to stay in front with a goal of being regarded as the leading local newspaper in Europe. The past four years Västerbottens-Kuriren main focus has been on growing it's paying digital audience, and last year saw a growth of over 70 percent. Being a small organisation, VK Media has realized that using AI and automated content is a key moving forward as personalization is the next big step for the newspapers.

Chairman of the WAN-IFRA Middle East Committee, KSA

Dr. Saleh Alhumaidan has 30+ years of professional experience in various leadership positions in the private as well as public sectors serving in senior management and leadership capacities. He is founder, chairman and/or board member of several companies (some public stock) and not-for-profit organizations. For many years (2003 – 2015), he represented Saudi Arabia at the International
Labor Organization (ILO).

Dr. Alhumaidan is actively involved in academia both as a lecturer in Human Resource Management at the King Fahd University of Petroleum & Minerals, Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, and member of the board of trustees of two universities in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. He holds Bachelors and MBA degrees from King Fahd University of Petroleum & Minerals, and a Doctorate in Business Administration
(Strategic Management) from Grenoble Ecole de Management, France.

Editor-in-Chief, Dubai Post, United Arab Emirates

Khadeeja Al Marzooqi is a veteran of creating and managing digital content currently holding the position of an Editor-in-Chief to UAE’s two popular websites -Dubai Post and Emirates 24|7 that produces amazing stories to the world.

Holding a Master’s degree in Arts and Media from Griffith University, Australia, she has excelled herself in the field of Media. She has not only founded and launched Noor Dubai Radio but also founded and launched Dubai FM Radio in the past and managed it at her best.

Along with the above expertise, she has also presented herself as a prominent speaker and moderator at various important government forums over the years. Separately, she has multitasked herself by being the Member of the jury of several prestigious Awards, one being the Sheikh Khalifa Award for Education.

Managing Director, Dubai Media City (DMC), Dubai Studio City (DSC) and Dubai Production City (DPC), UAE

Majed Al Suwaidi was appointed as the Managing Director for Dubai Media City (DMC), Dubai Studio City (DSC) and Dubai Production City (DPC) in March 2016.

Prior to his current role, Majed was the Managing Director of Dubai Internet City (DIC), the MENA region’s largest ICT business community and Dubai Outsource City (DOC), a modern, hi-tech business hub dedicated to the growing outsourcing industry.

Majed began his career at TECOM Group as the Director of Business Development for DIC and DOC where he developed the business parks’ strategy of business partner acquisition and retention. Under his leadership, both business communities witnessed success and the effective implementation of TECOM Group’s strategy, a world-class business community developer, by delivering maximum value to business partners, stakeholders, and community as well as improving the market share.

He played a crucial role in supporting and fostering startups, entrepreneurs and technology SMEs within DIC, enhancing the technology ecosystem in Dubai. Under his leadership, Dubai Internet City launched in5 innovation centre to support start-ups in technology in 2012 and was named a Strategic Partner of Smart Dubai in 2015

Chief Executive Officer, Dar Al Hayat

Bachelor of Computer Engineering - King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals 2003.
Trainee in Al Hayat School 2004 program.
Managing Editor of the weekly pages and Head of Investigative Department – Al Hayat newspaper 2004 until 2007.
Director of Communication and spokesman - Rotana media Group 2007 until 2010.
Content and Communication Manager (Saudi television channels development project in collaboration with the English company ITN) - a very creative company 2010 until 2011.
Editor in chief of e-publishing – Dar Al Hayat from 2012 till date.
Member of the Board of directors-Dar Al Hayat from 2014 till date.
Al Hayat School Director – Dar Al Hayat from 2014 so till date.

Executive Vice President, COO, JP/Politikens Hus, Denmark

Dorthe Bjerregaard-Knudsen is COO at JP/Politikens Hus, one of Denmark's leading media companies in printed and digital publications. JP/Politikens Hus publishes three of Denmark’s leading national news brands; Ekstra Bladet, Jyllands-Posten and Politiken. The group’s activities also include local newspapers in Denmark and Sweden, a publishing house, operation and development of a range of digital activities and news services as well as other business areas.


Prior to joining JP/Politikens Hus Dorthe Bjerregaard-Knudsen was Managing Director at OMD Denmark. Before that, Dorthe held a number different positions at Omnicom Media Group; amongst others she was Managing Director of Insight Group.


Dorthe holds a master’s degree in Economics & Business Administration Economic Marketing from Copenhagen Business School.

Coach, Table Stakes Europe / Journalism lecturer, UK

Alexandra Borchardt a senior journalist, keynote speaker, media consultant and Senior Research Associate at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at the University of Oxford. As a Director of Leadership Programmes at the Institute until July 2019 she developed and led on the seminar series “Oxford Perspectives”, targeting senior journalists, editors and media managers. Prior to this, she was managing editor of Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ), Germany’s leading quality daily.

Alexandra’s main focus is digital transformation and how it impacts the media, democracy, the workplace and human behaviour. She teaches “Leadership and Strategy in the 21st Century” at TU Munich, gives lectures and talks on digitisation and the media and publishes opinion pieces with Project SyndicateNewsMavens and theEuropean Journalism Observatory. She is the author of Mensch 4.0 – Frei bleiben in einer digitalen Welt (Freedom in a digital world), Guetersloher Verlagshaus (Random House), 2018. She serves as vice chair of the Council of Europe Committee of Experts on Quality Journalism in the Digital Age.

At SZ she held several functions in the politics and business sections. She was also founding editor of Süddeutsche’s ‘Plan W’, an award winning quarterly magazine for women and business. In her reporting she has focused on internet and democracy and the future of work. In 2015 she published Das Internet zwischen Diktatur und Anarchie: Zehn Thesen zur Demokratisierung der digitalen Welt (The Internet between Dictatorship and Anarchy: Ten Assertions about Democracy in the Digital World), Süddeutsche Zeitung Edition Streitschrift. Before joining SZ she worked for Financial Times Deutschland and Deutsche Presse-Agentur.

Alexandra holds a Ph.D. in Political Science from Tulane University, New Orleans (1994), and in 2013 completed a Programme for Management Development at IESE Business School, Barcelona.

President, World Editors Forum, USA

David was Chief Executive Officer of TheStreet, Inc., a New York-based financial news and information company, from mid-2016 until February, 2019. TheStreet was comprised of five businesses based in the U.S., the UK and India, with more than 600 employees, and including its flagship website, TheStreet.com. Most of the businesses were sold in late 2018 and David left to devote his energies to fighting for journalism through WEF.

Before joining TheStreet as CEO in 2016, David was Editor-in-Chief of USA Today, responsible for news coverage on America’s largest newspaper and fifth-largest digital news portfolio. David directed more than 400 journalists and worked with another 3,000 tied to 100 newspapers owned by USA Today parent company Gannett Inc.

 David joined USA Today in mid-2012 from MarketWatch, where he was also Editor-in-Chief. David ran MarketWatch through eight years of ownership by Dow Jones Co. and subsequently, News Corp., and four years before that as a public company which owned the website CBS MarketWatch. Dave also wrote a weekly column for MarketWatch, and was twice honored by the Society of American Editors and Writers for his commentary.

Before joining MarketWatch, Dave spent five years working for Bloomberg, almost all of it in London, where he ran a team that covered the financial services industry throughout Europe. Before Bloomberg, he spent six years as a reporter and columnist for The Boston Herald. He’s a graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism and currently splits his time between New York City and Corte Madera, Ca.

David Callaway is president of the World Editor’s Forum, a unit of WAN-IFRA, and a board member for the International Center for Journalists.

Client Engagement Manager for News, Dataminr, UK

Kirsten Dewar, a former international journalist, now manages the integration of Dataminr in over 450 newsrooms worldwide.

Her career started with the newsgathering teams at the BBC, CNN and Al Jazeera. In 2015 she was a member of the original team that launched TRT World in Istanbul and played a key role in building their international newsgathering operation from the ground up.

Passionate about building the newsroom of the future, she is driven by her love for journalism, drawing from her experience in the field and in digital newsgathering to provide the best advice on building a sustainable structure for News organizations worldwide.

Born in the UK of British parents, she was raised in Paris where she became fully bilingual. She has a degree in History from London's School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) where she specialized in the history of the Middle East and learned Arabic.

Chief Executive Officer, Diari ARA, Spain

Salvador Garcia is the CEO at ARA, a leading print and digital newspaper based in Barcelona.

Prior to ARA, Salvador has worked at McKinsey and Goldman Sachs, and has been an entrepreneur in the film industry and a Business Angel in the biotech industry.

Salvador holds a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from Pompeu Fabra University, where he currently serves as a Member of the Board of Trustees, and an MBA from New York University.

Former Technical & Production Director, The Times of India, India

 Sanat Hazra studied at the Rochester Institute of Technology, earning BS in Photographic Science & Engineering, MS in Printing Technology and attended Tuck College at Dartmouth University studying Corporate Leadership Program. Before joining the Times of India as Technical and Production Director in 2008, Sanat worked at the New York Daily News as VP of Production. Sanat dedicated 14 years with the New York Times prior to joining the New York Daily News. As Executive Director of Production at the New York Times, Sanat was responsible for transforming the company's two printing plants into state of the art operations, optimising the entire supply chain of the newspaper, implementing Statistical Process Control and Six Sigma process and Winning many International Newspaper Color Quality Club awards.   Prior to the NYT, he worked for the Crosfield Electronics as Senior Material Science Engineer. At Crosfield Electronics, he developed direct imaging thermal plate for CTP application.

General Manager Premium, BILD, Axel Springer, Germany

Tobias Henning is the General Manager Premium of the popular German newspaper BILD. BILD has a daily print circulation of nearly 2 million copies sold and reaches in digital around 20 million unique users per month. BILD is the most widely read news media brand in Germany. As General Manager Premium he is responsible for BILD’s digital paid content offer „BILDplus“. With almost 400,000 digital subscribers BILDplus is the most successful paid content offer in Germany. Prior to working at BILD, Tobias served as executive assistant to the CEO of AXEL SPRINGER and project leader at DIE WELT where he introduced the first paywall at a national news media brand in Germany. DIE WELT and BILD belong to AXEL SPRINGER, one of the biggest digital publishing houses in Europe.

Head of Operations, Al Arabiya, United Arab Emirates

Ruba has gained a wealth of experience and knowledge in the media industry, NGOs and Public Sector with a special focus on the Middle East. She is at present responsible for the operation of the leading pan Arab News Network, Al Arabiya. In charge of budget, business plan, contracts and partnerships, and core projects of the channel. She has an active role in leading initiatives towards the development of Al-Arabiya Network on both broadcast and digital platforms. Prior to that, she had hands-on experience as a Senior Producer, launching and producing high rated current affairs programs and special coverages. She was a key member in launching the Palestinian NGO, MIFTAH (The Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue and Democracy. She was responsible for fundraising and designing programs on capacity building, communication strategies and dialogue, public awareness, and empowerment of women. Designing the initial plan for the Palestinian Coalition for Accountability and Integrity (AMAN.) She has played an active role in setting up the Palestinian Ministries of Education and Higher Education. Succeeding in securing the necessary funding to sponsor and support education programs and projects and building partnerships. Holder of M.A. in International Studies from Birzeit University and B.A. in Modern Languages and Translation from the University of Lumière Lyon II in France.

Executive Director World Editors Forum, WAN-IFRA, UK

Cherilyn Ireton heads up the World Editors Forum, the global network for editors within WAN-IFRA. She is a seasoned newspaper professional, having spent more than 20 years on South African newspapers, as journalist and editorial manger on the country's leading titles, the Sunday Times and Business Day. She rose to be Chief Operating Officer of BDFM Publishers, the business media joint venture between Pearson, owners of the Financial Times, and Times Media in South Africa which published Business Day newspaper, the Financial Mail magazine and Summit TV. She relocated to the UK in 2005 and owned an ran a London-based media consultancy, Presslinks, which advised a variety of international organizations and foreign governments.

Science of Modern Technologies and Information Security Expert

Dr. Moutaz Kokash is an expert in the science of modern technologies, automotive technology and cybercrime, network crime, information security, database protection and digital and technological systems.

He currently holds several positions such as Editor in chief “Bawabat al Tecnologia” magazine and Head of Team Developers in Search Engine “Ya Arabi”.

He holds a PhD in Information Security Technology. Dr. Moutaz enjoys a distinguished media presence through his appearance in fixed television programs broadcast by the most popular Arabic channels.

He also has active on social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. Dr. Moutaz has presented many researches in the field of green technology and environment friendly and waste treatment methods and has written several articles in magazines specialized in technology

Founder & CEO, Native Advertising Institute, Denmark

Jesper Laursen is passionate about building business through storytelling. He was originally
a journalist but has now been working with content marketing and native advertising for more
than a decade, both as an international speaker and as a consultant through his businesses.
He is the founder of the international think tank, the Native Advertising Institute, the content
marketing agency, Brand Movers, and the journalistic production company, Media Movers.

Publishing Consultant FT Strategies. Vice-President World Association of News Publishers. London, UK

Lisa MacLeod was Head of Digital at Tiso Blackstar Group, South Africa’s largest English-language publisher, and owner of 8 newspapers, 15 websites, music, film and radio businesses across the continent.  Her role was to lead digital strategy and innovation, and manage Tiso Blackstar’s online properties with 6-million unique browsers monthly on titles such as TimesLIVE, SowetanLIVE and BusinessLIVE, as well as implement sustainable digital monetisation streams.

Lisa was previously General Manager of Digital for Media24’s 24.com in Cape Town, and prior to that spent 12 years in London at the Financial Times, helping to drive their print to digital integration. She served as Head of Operations for FT.com, widely thought to be the most successful paid website in the media industry, and FT Managing Editor, overseeing staffing, strategic planning and budgets for the FT globally.

During the 70th WAN-IFRA’s annual congress in Estoril, Portugal, Lisa MacLeod was elected Vice-President of the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers. She has been on the board of the World Editors Forum for many years, and has taught and spoken at numerous international conferences and training events for WAN-IFRA and the WEF.

Native Advertising Director, DMS (Digital Media Arm of Choueiri Group), United Arab Emirates

With over 13 years experience in the communication, PR and media industry on the agency, client and publisher’s side, Carol’s career included working across an array of renowned brands from different industries with her latest role being behind developing and leading the regional communication department of an international beauty brand, where she succeeded in bringing the brand’s media share of voice to rank #1 in the region. Today, Carol heads the Native Advertising product offering at DMS, and her role focuses on making sure a state of the art solution is offered to the market.

Head of Subscriptions and Reader Insights, The Irish Times, Ireland

Clíona Mooney is Head of Subscriptions and Reader Insights at The Irish Times, with responsibility for the leadership and operational efficiency of the Analytics and Subscriptions Sales teams. Key to the role is delivering actionable insights to enable informed, data-driven decision-making within the business. Having previously worked as Marketing & Communications Manager at Ireland.com and as Communications Planning Manager at Pigsback.com, Clíona joined The Irish Times in 2010 as CRM Specialist, before taking on the creation and setup of a new analytics function in 2014.

Head of Editorial, Schibsted Media, Norway

Torry Pedersen is Head of Editorial and a member of Schibsted Media's top management team. He was previously the CEO/Editor in Chief of Verdens Gang AS, Norway’s most read news-site/newspaper. He began his career as a journalist in Fredrikstad Blad 1981, and has more than 35 years of experience in journalism and publishing.

Pedersen has been Managing Editor in VG, Editor in Chief/Publisher in VG Multimedia AS, CEO of Verdens Gang AS and from 2011, both CEO and Editor in Chief of Verdens Gang AS. 

He was educated at the Norwegian School of Management (formerly the Bedriftsøkonomisk Institutt), Oslo 1979 and holds a Bachelor's degree in Business Administration. He has been awarded the "Chief Editor of the Year Award" in Norway, and during his time as Editor in Chief and CEO, Verdens Gang won several prizes.

VGs is among the most profitable news organisations in Europe and its news-sites on desktop, mobile, tablet and paper, have nearly 2.4 million daily readers.

Creative Director, C3, Slovenia/ Editorial Director, Hanza Media , Croatia

Ana Plisic has launched the first creative agency and brand consultancy within legacy media publisher in Croatia in order to introduce premium native advertising to the market and deliver customer-focused instead of product-focused brand communication. She has been recognized as the world marketer of the year 2018 (Berlin, 2017). Today she is creative director in C3/PM Ljubljana and co-founder of C3 Croatia, a part of German-based C3 Group, leading european content and digital technology agency.

She was editorial director of the award winning Native Ad Studio and Design Thinking Studio, a subdivision within Hanza Media, the leading media publisher in South East Europe, from 2015 until the February 2019.

Previously she was deputy editor in chief, politics and business editor of the #1 premium daily newspapers. After post-graduate studies in Digital Media Management at Swedish design school Hyper Island in the UK, she has helped to build new revenue streams within the legacy media publisher and her work resulted in several native advertising awards at Native Advertising Days in Berlin: for the best omni-channel integration in the world (2017).; the best use of online media and the best use of video, (2016.) 


Saudi Artist and Social Media Influencer

Aseel Omran is a Saudi Arabian multi-talented actress and singer. She participated in the talent show “Gulf Stars”, where she rose to stardom. Her young age helped her become the first youth star in Saudi Arabia. Since then, she has released several music albums and appeared in more than 10 television series all over the GCC. She is also a social media influencer with millions of young followers from the Gulf and Middle East, who eagerly follow what she shares of her work and personal life on major interactive platforms like Instagram and Snapchat.

Saudi Arabian Media Personality and Social Media Influencer

Lojain Omran is a Saudi TV and media personality and a social media influencer. She has hosted a number of well-known TV programs on different channels along the course of her long career in media. She has several years of experience in the world of new media and has contributed extensively in awareness and humanitarian areas. In 2016, she was appointed Ambassador of
the Mohammed bin Rashid Award for Tolerance and was awarded the Arab Women's Award 2018 by the Arab Women's Foundation in London. Lojain attracts the attention and interest of millions of social media users in the Arabian Gulf and Middle East. She is one of the most influential personalities on Instagram and Snapchat, where she shares her work and daily experiences, in addition to inspiring quotes and words that open the door for interactive, educative and cultural discussions with her followers.

Chief Product Officer, Fairfax Media, Australia

Tasked with leading the re-engineering of its metro publishing portfolio, Jess joined Fairfax Media in October 2016, following a 20 year career in media and digital consultancy in both Australia and abroad. Prior to joining Fairfax, she established digital studio, Wilson Fletcher in Australia and New Zealand, where she specialised in early-stage product development and led strategic digital programmes for some of the region’s most recognised media brands including The Australian, ABC, NZ Herald and Sky TV. A paid content specialist, Jess pioneered digital subscription and membership models at British Consumer Organisation, Which?, where she helped grow its online services into the largest consumer subscription website in Europe. She is a passionate digital leader and was last year named Innovation Champion in Fairfax’s Women of Influence Awards recognising the role she has played driving the digital transformation of the business. 

Director Middle East, WAN-IFRA, Germany

She is responsible for all WAN-IFRA activities in the countries of the Middle East,
working closely with the company's members in that region.
Previously she has held various leading positions at WAN-IFRA. As Director of Marketing
and Membership, she was Head of the marketing and PR team with responsibility for
all global marketing activities. In this capacity, she introduced a new logo and dynamic
new corporate identity.
As Director of Membership she acted as the contact for all members worldwide, while
also introducing a new membership model and structure.
Upon joining WAN-IFRA, initially as Head of IT, she implemented two editorial systems
at the company.
Before coming to WAN-IFRA, she worked for Monotype in the position of Head of
Application. During her time at that company she played an instrumental role in the
market launch of a new editorial system.
She began her career at ATEX, the leading system supplier for editorial systems, where
she worked as a trainer and application specialist. Her duties in this position included
training editors and journalists in leading media houses in both Germany and the UK.

Head of Portals & Marketplaces, Dpa (Deutsch Press Agency), Germany

Caren Siebold is Head of Platforms and Portals at dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur. Furthermore, she is a member of the executive board of mecom, a dpa subsidiary. Until 2015 she worked in the field of Business Development at the dpa subsidiary News Aktuell. (News Aktuell provides companies with effective access to media and consumers.)

Having worked in PR and the media business for many years, she has extensive experience in both fields.

Currently she is implementing the "dpa-connect" strategy at dpa which is supposed to transform the agency into a platform company. The strategy aims to bring the agency and publishers in Germany together more closely, creating additional value for the media companies. In this context she manages dpa's developer campus, which builds software solutions and applications supporting the tight interplay of customer needs and agency performance.

Caren Siebold studied in Hamburg and holds a Master's degree in German and English literature.

dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur - German Press Agency is a German news agency founded in 1949. Based in Hamburg, it has grown to be a major worldwide operation serving print media, radio, television, online, mobile, and national news agencies. Its news coverage with text, photos, videos, and graphics is available in German, English, Spanish, and Arabic.

mecom Medien-Communikations-Gesellschaft – mecom is owned by dpa, AFP, KNA, epd and dpa-AFX and specializes on protected networks and data logistics for news agencies and official authorities.

Principal Consultant, WAN-IFRA Consulting, Germany

Gregor Waller provides consulting services to international media businesses for developing their digital strategy and transforming their business models for the digital era. Before this, he worked for more than six years in various management functions for Germany's Axel Springer publishing corporation. Most recently, up to February 2011, as a member of the management team of the WELT group, Berliner Morgenpost, Hamburger Abendblatt, he was responsible for strategy & innovation and commercial management of the Zeitungsgruppe Hamburg. After testing a "prototype tablet" with his core newspaper readers – one year before the iPad – he focused on the topics of digital strategy, digital business models and paid content, bringing his experience in these areas to bear also in strategic group projects.

From 1998-2004 he worked for Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung GmbH in positions such as commercial manager for publishing houses Prestel and Xenos Verlag. Waller has a graduate degree in business administration from the University of Augsburg and an undergraduate degree in philosophy from the Munich School of Philosophy.


Manfred Werfel was WAN-IFRA’s Deputy CEO until he retired on 1 June 2019. He was responsible for the Expo business of the association. He also managed the World Printers Forum, the print community within WAN-IFRA.

Since 1996 Werfel was part of WAN-IFRA’s management team. Over time he was responsible for Research, WAN-IFRA Reports, Expert Committees, Consulting, Training, Print Quality Projects, Events, Innovation Projects, World Press Trends, World News Media Congress, World Printers Forum and Expo. In 2012 he acted as Interim CEO.

14th Middle East Conference