Founding Members' Biographies

The Founding members are a select group of highly talented and accomplished executives from local, international, governmental and private sector organizations. They bring to the forum diverse global expertise and experiences coupled with visionary entrepreneurial leadership skills in IT and business. They are committed and dedicated to work together to formulate innovative strategies to ensure the forum meets the needs of its constituency.

IT Forum Chairman
Dr. Mohamed Baka - Director of Information Technology, ADWEA

Founding Members
Dr. Abdullah Abonamah  - Professor and Director, Institute for Technological Innovation - ZU
Mr. Salem Al Shair - Chairman, Dubai E-Government
Ms. Hanan Askalan - Chief Information Officer (CIO), DIFC
Mr. Ghazi Atallah - General Manager, CISCO Middle East
Mr. Farid Fardaidooni - Deputy General Manager, Dubai Internet City
Dr. Thomas R. Cochran - Deputy Provost and Acting Dean, College of Information Systems, ZU
Mr. Ali Guidoum - IT Divisional Manager, ADNOC Distribution
Mr. Klaus Lovgreen - Chief Executive Officer, AME Info
Mr. Todd McGregor - Vice President and General Manager, META Group Middle East
Mr. Michael Owen - Dean, College of Business Sciences, Zayed University
Mr. Sreeram Visvanathan - Associate Partner, IBM Business Consulting Services
H.E. Tariq Saeed Al Noman - Undersecretary, General Information Authority

Note: Names are listed alphabetically.

Dr. Abdullah Abonamah 
Professor and Director, 
Institute for Technological Innovation
Zayed University

Dr. Abonamah was appointed to the position of Director of the ITI at Zayed University in January 2003. He came to this post from the position of Assistant Dean in the College of Information Systems. He is also Project Director for the 2003 and 2004 ‘Zayed University e-biz challenge.’ He holds a PhD in Computer Science from the Illinois Institute of Technology (U.S.A.)

Before coming to the U.A.E., Dr. Abdullah taught computer and mathematical science courses at the Universities of Akron and Wisconsin. He was also Vice President of Engineering for a telecommunications company in Akron, Ohio. Dr. Abonamah has a US patent in the area of “fault tolerant computing systems” and has been the recipient of several research grants. He has also published many scientific articles in the areas of information technology, computer science and computer engineering. 

Dr. Abdullah is currently a member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineering (IEEE), and the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM).

Mr. Salem Al Shair
Dubai E-Government

Salem Khamis Al-Shair graduated in December 1986 with a B.Sc. in Computer Science from California State University and joined the Dubai Municipality as a programmer that same year. He was then promoted to be head of the User Support division, and later head of the Geographical Information System (GIS) team. 

In April 1994 he was appointed as Information Technology Director, and in April 1994 he became director of the Finance and Administration Division at Department of Economic Development until 1999 when H.H the Crown Prince of Dubai Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum appointed him as Head of Dubai’s Strategy team for eBusiness and later in April 2000 as member of eGovernment Executive Team and Director of eServices for the eGovernment.

Mr. Ghazi Atallah
General Manager, 
CISCO Middle East

Ghazi Atallah is the General Manager for Cisco in the Middle East. He is responsible for defining Cisco's growth and investment in the region, He leads the team in driving the business plans, strategies and initiatives to grow Cisco's business in the region. Previously he was responsible for Cisco's Service Provider business in the Middle East and North Africa. The region is one of Cisco's fastest growing in the EMEA (Europe Middle East Africa) market.

Atallah was also previously the country manager for Cisco in Saudi Arabia where he was responsible for growing Cisco’s presence and business in the country.
Prior to moving to the middle east, Atallah was Chief Architect in Teleglobe's network planning group, and subsequently took on the post of product development manager for ATM technologies in General Datacom's Multimedia R&D labs in Canada.
He completed his university education in Montreal, Canada, and holds a Bachelor of Science in Computers Systems.

Dr. Mohamed Baka
Director of Information Technology,

IT Forum Chairman

Dr. Mohamed Baka is the IT Director at the Abu-Dhabi Water and Electricity Authority (ADWEA). He earned his Bachelors of Science in Computer and Communications from Essex University, and his Masters and PhD in Computing from Bristol University in the UK. He received executive management training at MIT Sloan, Michigan Business School and the Cranfield School of Management.

Dr. Baka has over 15 years of Information Technology and Management Consultancy experience. He had led many projects for blue-chip firms including IBM, Fiat, Tesco and Unilever as part of the European Strategic Program in Information Technology. He also served on the IS steering committee at the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). Dr Baka’s academic experience includes an appointment at Imperial College (London) and a visiting professor position at Richmond University. He has published numerous papers and cases studies, and has presented at a large number of conferences and CIO Forums. He has an interest in the areas of IT Governance and IT Project Management. He is widely quoted in the technical press.

Dr. Baka has served on the board of several IT start-ups in the UK and is an active member of the Institute of Directors (IOD).

Mr. Farid Faraidooni
Deputy General Manager,
Dubai Internet City

Dr. Omar Bin Sulaiman has been Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Dubai Internet City and Member of the Board of the Dubai Technology and Media Free Zone since March 24, 2002. Dr. Bin Sulaiman holds a Bachelors degree in Industrial Engineering, a Master of Science in Education and a Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Finance. He also has a Doctorate in Leadership.

Dr. Bin Sulaiman is an entrepreneur, an inspiring leader and a strategic planner. Under Dr. Bin Sulaiman’s leadership, Dubai Internet City achieved more than 100 per cent growth in less than a year. Dubai Internet City has today developed into a large ICT community that includes several global ICT giants – Microsoft, Oracle, HP, IBM, Compaq, Dell, Siemens, Canon, Logica, Sony Ericsson and Cisco, to name a few. Dr. Bin Sulaiman is now driving Dubai Internet City’s efforts to develop new initiatives aimed at the development of the region’s ICT industry.

Dr. Bin Sulaiman has actively assisted the Dubai Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) in promoting Dubai and the UAE, especially its Free Trade Zones, in the US, Canada and South America. He was also involved in setting up technology businesses and other entrepreneurial ventures. 

Dr. Thomas R. Cochran
Deputy Provost and Acting Dean,
College of Information Systems,
Zayed University

Dr. Thomas R Cochran is the Deputy Provost at Zayed University. He came to ZU in 2003 from the University of North Carolina at Asheville, an institution he served in a variety of capacities for 28 years.

Dr. Cochran received his baccalaureate degree from MacMurray College majoring in Physics and Psychology. He earned a Masters Degree and Ph.D. from Kent State University in Clinical Psychology. He was hired at UNC-Asheville as an Assistant Professor of Psychology and within 5years was appointed Assistant Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs in charge of managing the academic support units of the university. He was advanced to Associate Vice Chancellor in 1985 adding strategic planning and assuming additional duties in managing the faculty. In 1995 he was asked to serve as Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, a position he managed for four the next eight years. He also served as Dean of the Faculty. Before coming to Zayed University he was Special Assistant to the Chancellor at UNC-Asheville.

In addition to these senior academic responsibilities, he served on an interim basis as Chair of the Music Department, Head Women’s Basketball Coach, and Director of Athletics. Dr. Cochran has published and presented in the areas of Sports Psychology and academic leadership and management. He is a licensed Clinical Psychologist. In his leisure time Tom is an avid woodworker and cabinet maker specializing in Shaker reproductions.

Mr. Ali Guidoum
IT Divisional Manager,
ADNOC Distribution

Dr Ali Guidoum is the Information Technology Manager for Adnoc Distribution.

Dr Ali started his career in 1986 as a Researcher in Concurrent Programming Applications to solve complex engineering problems in the field of process control systems. In 1989, he joined a local university to head and develop the Computer Science Department and was awarded the best teacher in 1990. In 1991 he joined Adnoc Distribution to lead the IT development within the company, and was involved in the initiation and management of a large number of Business and IT projects, including design and development of the successful Rahal Smart Card project, ERP implementation and CRM and Call Center.

Dr Ali is a member of the executive leadership team involved in setting the company strategy, implementation of business and IT Balanced Scorecards, and development of management system. He is a frequent speaker at various regional forums and conferences.

Dr Ali holds a degree in Engineering, an MSC in computer-based Design (1982) and a PhD from Leeds University, UK (1986). He is a member of ISACA.

Mr. Klaus Lovgreen
Chief Executive Officer,
AME Info

Klaus Lovgreen moved to the United Arab Emirates in 1992. In 1996 he initiated AME Info with a view to enhance communication for business news in the region. Under his leadership, AME Info became the leading provider of business and technology information in and about the Middle East region. Currently, carrying some 21,660 news articles, 1,510 upcoming events as well as covering full contact and activity details of 182,491 companies from 14 countries. Klaus joined the IT Forum to contribute his experience in the online industry.

Mr. Todd McGregor
Vice President and General Manager,
META Group Middle East

Mr. McGregor has worked in the information communications and telecommunications industry for over 13 years and has expertise in general management, operations, organizational structures and sales, and marketing. As an employee of META Group for the past six years, Mr. McGregor has overseen the opening of several country market operations for META Group and has held the roles of Vice President of Sales for META Group Asia Pacific as well as Vice President of Sales Operations, Europe Middle East and Africa. In that time he has been a key member of META Group's transformation team and has served as the lead for various acquisitions made by the company.

Prior to working with META Group, Mr. McGregor was the founder of two start-up companies in the telecommunications and energy industries and has also previously worked for Gartner Group. 

Mr. Michael Owen
Dean, College of Business Sciences,
Zayed University

Before coming to Zayed University as the Dean of the College of Business Sciences, Michael Owen was the Dean of the College of Business at Montana State University from 1993 to 1999 and served on the finance faculty from 1989 to 1993. Prior to his years at Montana State, Dean Owen had an extensive business career as an entrepreneur in Denver, Colorado. He was Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Royal Gold Inc. from 1976 to 1988. Royal Gold was an oil and gas company that Mr. Owen took public and later converted to a gold mining company with the decline of oil prices in the early 1980s. His earlier entrepreneurial activities included numerous real estate partnerships and developments, a securities broker/dealership, an insurance dealership, an independent trust company, two mutual funds and a mutual fund management company, a management consulting business, a computer programming school, a wholesale/retail fresh seafood company, a cattle company, an art gallery and a restaurant.

Dean Owen has degrees from Princeton University and the Sloan School of Management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The Dean is currently Chairman of the Board of the Berger Funds, a leading mutual fund family in the United States. He is a past President of the Museum of the Rockies in Boseman, Montana and a past National President and Chairman of the Board of Trout Unlimited. 


Sreeram Visvanathan
Associate Partner
IBM Business Consulting Services

Sreeram Visvanathan is currently responsible for IBM's Business Consulting Services to the Public Sector across the Middle East, Egypt and Pakistan region. In his role, Sreeram deals with a wide range of clients from different industries including Government, Education, Health Care, Defence and Posts. Sreeram is responsible for the development of business plans and "go to market" strategies, for business development and as a project executive responsible for quality delivery of projects.

Sreeram graduated with a B.Sc.(Hons) in Computer Science from Kingston University, Surrey, UK. He subsequently completed his Masters in Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Bradford. He is Chartered Engineer (UK), Member of the British Computer Society (MBCS) and Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA).

Sreeram has worked with a number of organisations across Europe and the Middle East including the Nestle Group, Redland (a large UK-based construction company), Dubai Aluminium Company Ltd (DUBAL) and PricewaterhouseCoopers Consulting prior to joining IBM. Over the last five years, Sreeram worked as an advisor on e-Government-led transformation in the Public Sector, both at the federal and local government levels, across many countries in the region.


Ms. Hanan Askalan
Chief Information Officer (CIO),

Prior to joining the DIFC, Hanan Askalan held several positions during her 13 year tenure at the World Bank. She worked on building the Bank’s existing worldwide enterprise network. She also led the technology team in several of the World Bank’s country lending projects where she assumed the responsibility of identifying, supervising and executing strategic national ICT solutions and infrastructure in support of the country’s economic development plan and critical needs. Ultimately, she became Senior Information Officer and advisor for the CIO’s office.

Subsequently Hanan moved to the private sector and assumed the position of Director of Operations at Solbright where she successfully built the ASP Infrastructure and Operations unit. Two years later she assumed the position of Chief Technology Officer at Marco Polo Network where her primary responsibility was to build a global multi-class platform for trading and settling emerging market securities.

Hanan Askalan holds a B.S. in Computer Science and M.S. in Information Systems Technology from University of George Washington. She also has an M.S. in Management of Technology from MIT/Sloan School.


H.E. Tariq Saeed Al Noman
General Information Authority

H.E. Tariq Saeed Al Noman graduated in 1988 with a B.Sc. in Computer Engineering from the University of the Pacific (U.S.A.) and joined ADMA-OPCO as Chief Engineer of Computer Networking in 1989.

In April 1996 he was appointed Manager of the Computer Department at the Civil Service Bureau, and in 1999 he was promoted to Assistant General Secretary for Financial and Administrative Affairs in the Ministry of State for Cabinet Affairs.

In February 2000 he was appointed to the position of Undersecretary of the General Information Authority.

H.E. Al Noman is member of the U.A.E. Civil Council, the e-Government Executive Committee, the U.A.E. Decision-Making Support Center for Dubai Police, and is Vice President of the National Committee for WSIS.