What We Do


  • Contribute to the narrowing of the economic development, gender, entrepreneurship, and innovation gaps in the AMENA region.
  • Provide human capital development, advance a culture of entrepreneurship and innovation, encourage the circulation of the brain-drain, and produce academically rigorous policy oriented research.
  • Help to increase productivity, fuel innovation, and add to the number of small and medium sized businesses, creating knowledge based and high value added economies with companies and brands that can eventually compete on regional and global levels
  • Improve levels management, business, marketing, innovative, creative, and entrepreneurial skills on the part of the educated population in AMENA.
  • Equip AMENA region students with innovative thinking and creative problem-solving skills and imbue them with the skills local employees require.
  • Promoting a culture of viewing challenges as opportunities for generating ideas and their adoption into new products, processes, and services.
  • Conduct primary research with local experts on the socio-economic and environmental challenges besetting AMENA nations, and generate policy recommendations on their resolution.
  • Train and inspire future disruptive innovators.
  • Produce institutional change agents to upgrade the business environment by improving institutions, governance, and the rule of law.

How We Do It


Human Capital Development

Post-doctoral fellowships and visiting scholar appointments for the duration of one academic year will be provided to creative established or junior researchers who  will work with subject matter experts at UC Berkeley. The task of the visiting scholars and post-doctoral fellows will be to produce policy relevant white papers providing rigorous analyses of the underlying causes and offering effective/innovative (where possible based upon market oriented or public/private) approaches for resolving the most pressing socio-economic and environmental problems facing each country.

topics may include:

  • Depression, Mental Illness, Suicide
  • Expansion of female labor force participation
  • Improving the Quality of Education and Vocational Training
  • Improving the Quality of Institutions and Governance
  • Erosion of Social Capital/Trust
  • Pollution

Promoting the Culture of Innovation and Entrepreneurship
The Local Role Models Project

Bridge Building
Building Bridges Between AMENA Expats Resident in the Bay Area and Their Counterparts in the Region to accelerate and deepen the circulation of the Brain Drain.

Developing an index that ranks the innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystems of Muslim majority countries in the AMENA region Countries are assessed on the basis of their standing on educational, research, financial, regulatory, legal, cultural/attitudinal, institutional, infrastructural, and governance indicators.

The AMENA Group

Businesses, nonprofits, and start-ups in Muslim-majority countries face huge technological hurdles. The Mentorship Initiative at the AMENA Center strives to connect these organizations with Haas Business School students and University of California-Berkeley PhDs from a variety of disciplines to help tackle their business challenges and to impart innovative solutions. The university’s close ties to Silicon Valley companies and executives coupled with the business acumen of our mentors will provide a valuable resource for organizations in the AMENA looking to strategically grow their organizations. Our vision is to provide business and technological resources and guidance to in turn help lay the groundwork for a flourishing entrepreneurial and technological ecosystem in the region

Conferences & Research Agenda
Given its interdisciplinary approach and broad vision, the Berkeley Center seeks to engage a wide array of interested parties, including governmental entities, non-governmental organizations, academic institutions, and media outlets, including but not limited to the following:

  • Members of U.S. Congress and executive agencies
  • Members of foreign governments, ministries, cultural attaches, and embassies
  • Prominent U.S. and foreign businesses, venture capital groups, and law firms
  • The World Bank Group and United Nations Development Program
  • American, European, and East Asian business councils with an interest in the MENA region
  • Established and aspiring entrepreneurs and businesspeople with an interest in the MENA region
  • Think tanks, policy institutes, and non-governmental organizations

The Center will engage these parties through courses, conferences, seminars, debates, and lectures, to be held at UC Berkeley campus and other venues. The first set of conferences, to be held over a two-year period, will touch upon the following subjects:

  • Youth unemployment and the expatriation of educated groups from AMENA countries
  • Relative successes and failures of MENA countries in achieving economic and political development
  • The effects of cultural factors and religion on entrepreneurship and economic diversification in the Muslim World.
  • Obstacles and pathways to building effective institutions and promoting the rule of law
  • The political economy of Islam
  • Natural and cultural resource management in the MENA region
  • Financial institutions, reforms, and globalization
  • Co-opting and crushing violent extremism
  • Overcoming rentierism and the resource curse
  • Controlling corruption through establishment of effective institutions and promotion of the rule of law
  • Transforming “population time bombs” into Demographic Dividends
  • Comparative analysis of Muslim majority countries that have registered high, medium, and low levels of success in attaining the goals of economic development with the aim of assessing the role of institutions, rule of law, dependence on extractive resources, macro-economic policies, and foreign relations.

The proceedings of certain conferences will be published and form the basis of a book series, to be published by Palgrave MacMillan, reflecting the research promoted by the Berkeley Program. In addition, the center will develop an index measuring the amenability of AMENA countries to the promotion and entrenchment of entrepreneurship.

Why UC Berkeley?

A world-famous academic institution, UC Berkeley is the ideal setting for hosting the Center. Developing pathways to promote entrepreneurship and sustainable economic growth in the AMENA region will require an interdisciplinary approach, and UC Berkeley has the expertise to provide meaningful insights, as well as the reputation to attract thought leaders from other private and public sector organizations around the world. The following UC Berkeley schools and centers are of particular interest:

  •  The Haas School of Business (which is hosting the Center)
  •  The Goldman School of Public Policy
  •  Boalt Hall School of Law
  •  The Institute of International Studies
  •  The Institute of Governmental Studies
  •  The Lester Center for Entrepreneurship
  •  The Center for Middle Eastern Studies
  •  The School of Engineering–Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology.

In addition, UC-Berkeley’s proximity to Silicon Valley makes the university especially poised to “connect” actual and aspiring entrepreneurs and business leaders from the AMENA region with renowned companies and entrepreneurial trendsetters in the high-tech industry. These contacts, it is anticipated, will give AMENA participants an appreciation for cutting edge business practices and organizational behavior.