Keynote Speaker: Dr Salam Fayyad


Followed by a discussion with Ms. Jenifer Fenton, Poynter (Journalism) Fellow-in-Residence at Yale

Dr. Salam Fayyad is an economist and former Prime Minister of the Palestinian National Authority (June 2007-June 2013). Dr. Fayyad was born in Nablus, Palestine in 1952. He graduated with a BSc from the American University of Beirut in 1975 and went on to receive an MBA from St. Edward’s University in 1980 and a PhD (Economics) from the University of Texas at Austin in 1986. 


Fayyad held several teaching and research positions, including as a visiting scholar at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, before joining the International Monetary Fund (IMF) from 1987 to 2001, where his tenure included serving as IMF resident representative in the West Bank and Gaza Strip from 1996 to 2001.  He then served as the Arab Bank’s regional manager in Palestine, and, in June 2002, he was named Minister of Finance of the Palestinian National Authority. Until he resigned in December 2005, Dr. Fayyad served in that capacity on several cabinets, introducing in the process extensive financial reforms. In January 2006, he ran for elections on a slate of independents and was elected for the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), where he served as Chairman of the Finance Committee.  In March 2007, Fayyad was appointed again as Minister of Finance in a national unity government, and in June 2007, he was appointed Prime Minister, a position he held until he stepped down in June 2013.


In a speech at Al-Quds University in June 2009, Fayyad rolled out the concept of an ambitious plan that subsequently was elaborated and, in August 2009, adopted as the platform of the 13th Government of the Palestinian Authority, for building the institutions of the future Palestinian state. By April 2011, a year and a half into the implementation of the program, according to reports by the United Nations, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, the PA had attained the standing and attributes of a functioning state in the key governance sectors. Fayyad hailed this recognition as the birth certificate of the reality of the State of Palestine. 


In 2010, Fayyad was named one of Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world list. He was also named one of Foreign Policy Magazine’s Top 100 Global Thinkers in 2010 and 2011. Part of Fayyad’s state-building effort was documented in the Hollywood documentary “State 194”, produced by Participant Media. In February 2013, the Department of Economics at the University of Texas at Austin created the Salam Fayyad Excellence Fund for Economics. Fayyad had earlier been named a Distinguished Alumnus by the University of Texas (2008). In August 2013, Fayyad founded “Future for Palestine”, a non-profit development foundation. In 2014, Fayyad took part in the IMF External Advisory Group on review of Fund policy, and he served as Chairman of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on the Middle East and North Africa.


Currently, Dr. Fayyad is a Visiting Senior Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University, a Senior Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, and a Distinguished Statesman at the Atlantic Council’s Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security.