Columbia Alumni Association UAE Board Members 2019
Liria Gjidija '11 TC, President 2019-2021
Liria Gjidija is the Associate Director of Social Responsibility and Community Engagement at New York University Abu Dhabi (NYUAD). NYUAD’s Office of Social Responsibility offers a comprehensive program of educational opportunities that has met the expressed educational and social needs of contracted staff employed by NYUAD and domestic workers employed by our community members. Over the last six years, NYUAD has expanded its adult education offerings to a full-scale program that offers eight certificate courses in an array of subjects including English and Arabic instruction, computer and financial literacy, men's and women's preventative health, intercultural communication and professional development. NYUAD’s adult education program is the first of its kind in the Middle East and North Africa, and now serves as an educational model for other organizations in the region.
Liria is experienced in supporting organizational and employee development and strives to bring both a creative and critical eye to human rights, labor compliance, and social responsibility. Connecting individuals and groups to a sense of purpose, while improving their performance through the development and implementation of social responsibility programming is a passion of hers. She has over fifteen years of experience in non-profit organizations in the United States and the Middle East.
Liria has achieved recognition through such honors as a lifetime membership to the Psychology National Honor Society (PSI-CHI) where she served as an officer; Worldwide Children’s Foundation Board Member of the Year Award, Worldwide Children’s Foundation Humanitarian Award; and American Chamber of Commerce Woman in Business 2019 award. She holds a Master's in Social Organizational Psychology with a concentration in Human Development from Columbia University and a Bachelors Degree in Psychology from Pace University. She currently serves as the President of the Columbia Alumni Association of the UAE.
Hind Talhouk '17 CBS, Vice President
Hind is a Lebanese Business Accelerator Consultant and Special Projects Manager supporting businesses in the UAE in optimization and driving workplace excellence, spanning 17 years experience. A founding partner of an Artisanal Pastry House in Nicosia, Cyprus, working on building a franchisee Chain across Cyprus, UK, and UAE.
Kicking off her career Hind started working in Beirut for a non-profit organization specialized in advocacy and lobbying for the rights of disabled people, then moved to Dubai joining a world leading Japanese gold casting machines manufacturer, where she led MENA sales and marketing efforts and managed major international jewelry exhibition engagements. Hind was head-hunted by Burt-Hill, an American architectural consulting firm, to help establish their offices in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. She then was headhunted again to join the Crown Prince Court in Abu Dhabi to help establish the Office of Strategic Affairs and support the Managing Director in stakeholder management, institutional optimization, and capacity building efforts. She institutionalized processes and systems related to project monitoring, impact assessment, and resource optimization in addition to leading digital transformation projects and managing public sector events. She recently completed the CIBE program at Columbia Business School and was the commencement speaker for her graduating class of 2016/2017.
Marwan Dalloul '08 CBS, Director of Faculty Outreach
Marwan started a career in New York, by Join his family’s business. They owned, managed and sold real estate properties from 1999 to present across the US, focus mostly in Manhattan. In 2008 the family business expanded internationally and purchased assets in Europe and the Middle East. They developed several projects including a recently completed a furnished apartment complex and a tech and accelerator hub in Lebanon which was the first of its kind to help grow the tech movement happening in the market.
In 2011, Marwan started and new F&B venture in Africa and brought US brands such as Domino’s Pizza, Coldstone Ice-cream and Pink Berry.
Mr. Dalloul received his bachelor's degree from American University in Washington, DC and then went on to receive a Major in the Building Management Program from New York University. At NYU, he received honors and the Joseph Fater Award of Academic Excellence. He also received a Masters in Real Estate Development from Columbia University and then a Masters of Business Administration, from Columbia University as well. He is a member of the Real Estate Board of New York and a member of the Young President Organization.
Samer Sarraf '05 CBS, Director of Partnerships
Samer is acting SEO and COO of Amwal Capital Partners and he sits on the Investment Committee of the fund. Amwal Capital Partners was founded in 2015 the year the fund was launched. At Amwal Capital, the fund manages over $450 million in equity. Samer has over 15 years of experience in the financial sector (Private Equity, M&A and Asset Management).
Prior to the founding of Amwal Capital Partners, Samer was a Partner and UAE Country Head for Amwal AlKhaleej, a premier MENA private equity and investment firm headquartered in Saudi Arabia. At Amwal Alkhaleej, Samer led its operations in the UAE and worked on various investments and exits in the region. Prior to that Samer was a Senior Associate at Lehman Brothers, based in its London office as part of the Investment Banking M&A team within its Natural Resources Group advising global oil and mining companies on M&A situations. He was also part of the real estate team responsible for originating and structuring of commercial mortgage-backed securities. Prior to joining Lehman, Samer was a civil engineer with Bouygues Batiment in France and Tahiti.
Samer serves on the boards and committees of various Amwal AlKhaleej portfolio companies including Dubai Contracting Company and previously served on the board of Right Angle and KSAM2 prior to its disposal. Samer also serves on the Investment Committee of the Endowment of Lester B. Pearson College of the Pacific (a non for profit secondary school). Samer also serves on the board of publicly listed Jordan Oil Shale Energy Company, as well as privately held healthcare company BabyCord Jordan.
Samer holds an MBA from Columbia Business School, double majoring in Finance and Entrepreneurship, and he has a B.Eng. in Civil Engineering from McGill University, majoring in Structural Engineering. Samer is fluent in Arabic, English, and French.
Veronika Rozmahelova '13 SIPA, Director of Alumni Engagement and Secretary General
Veronika recently joined PwC's Digital Trust team in Dubai. She moved to Dubai from London, where she led Public Policy for Instagram (Facebook Inc.) across EMEA. She is a graduate of Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) with a Master of Public Administration (MPA '13) degree. While still at SIPA, Veronika became the Department Research Assistant for the Technology and Innovation specialization. This experience allowed her to deep dive into the use of social media and technology during global movements. She further expanded her expertise in this field by advising the Municipal Government of Buenos Aires on the effective use of technology by delivering the Digital Roadmap (a long term strategy for Buenos Aires).
Veronika's professional experience spans across four continents in the tech industry, academia, public sector, and nonprofits with a track record of delivering challenging, high-value global initiatives in Hong Kong, Prague, Berlin, London, Istanbul, Monrovia, and Buenos Aires. She also held multiple advisory positions working with governments of Liberia and the Czech Republic. And founded and served as a first director of a private foundation.
She is passionate about women empowerment. Veronika directly worked for the first female President in Africa - Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of Liberia - on the development of the women empowerment programs and also became a founding member of multiple women's group including working on one for "Women Who Tech" at PwC.
Veronika received a Master of Public Administration (MPA) from Columbia University in New York and a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies and German from the Croft Institute at the University of Mississippi.
Adil Hussain '18 CC, Recent Alumni and Student Chair
Adil is an incoming Business Analyst at McKinsey & Company. Previously, Adil was an associate at a NY-based consulting firm called Keystone Strategy that primarily specializes in matters relating to technology and serves major technology leaders such as Microsoft and Amazon.
Adil graduated with a B.A. in Financial Economics in May 2018. While at Columbia, Adil cofounded a club – the ‘Global Ambassador Program’ – that fostered intercultural dialogue between international students and the domestic student body by creating opportunities for students from different social identities and cultural backgrounds to learn from each other’s unique perspectives. He also played a key role in establishing strong data practices at Columbia’s local chapter of ‘One For The World,’ a nonprofit promoting ‘effective giving’ amongst university students and young professionals to eradicate extreme poverty.
Coming from a family of educators, Adil hopes to one day reshape the educational system in the United Arab Emirates. He is also hoping to finish his first TV script within the next two years.
Tarek Daouk '09 GSAAP, Treasurer
Tarek M. Daouk is Founder and Managing Partner at Smartotels Hospitality International, a hotel real estate investment and full-service hospitality management company planned to develop and operate hotels under its proprietary lodging brands. Prior to founding Smartotels, Mr. Daouk was Head of Hospitality at Goldman Sachs's Realty Management Division in Europe responsible for hotel acquisition, asset management and divestment activities. Prior to his time in Europe, Mr. Daouk was involved in hotel acquisitions for the Whitehall Street Real Estate Funds in the U.S.
Before joining Goldman Sachs, Mr. Daouk worked at InterContinental Hotels Group in the Development & Investment Analysis Division of the Americas regional office. Prior to InterContinental, Mr. Daouk was a management consultant in the Hospitality & Leisure Practice of PricewaterhouseCoopers.
Mr. Daouk received a BSc in Hotel Administration with distinction from Cornell University and an MSc in Real Estate Development from Columbia University.
Ameera Amir '11 SIPA, Chapter Founder and President 2017-2019