Program on Arab Reform and Democracy welcomes new leadership

This summer Stanford’s Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law (CDDRL) is welcoming new leadership to oversee the growth and development of the Program on Arab Reform and Democracy (ARD), one of the Center's principal research programs examining contemporary issues of political development in the Arab world.

Lisa Blaydes, assistant professor of political science at Stanford, will assume the role of faculty co-director, working together with CDDRL Director Larry Diamond to help shape the program's research agenda. Blaydes will be joined by Hesham Sallam, currently a CDDRL pre-doctoral fellow completing his Ph.D. in government at Georgetown University. He will serve as the program's new associate director, assuming operational management and developing the program's research initiatives and activities at Stanford and throughout the Arab world, in partnership with the faculty co-directors. Sallam is also joining CDDRL as a research associate. In that capacity he will produce research and publications on questions related to political and economic reform in the Arab World.

Sallam is replacing ARD's founding director Lina Khatib, who left CDDRL last year to assume directorship of the Carnegie Endowment for Peace's Middle East office in Beirut.

"We are very excited to have Hesham Sallam assuming this leadership role in the ARD program, and joining the research staff of CDDRL,” said Diamond. “Hesham is not only a superb scholar of Arab politics and political economy, but has also been deeply engaged in analytic and public policy debates about the future of the region. His deep knowledge and broad credibility in the field will be strong and immediate assets to the program, and will help us build on the strong foundation laid by our founding program leader, Lina Khatib."

“I am extremely delighted to join the CDDRL and FSI family,” said Sallam. “I look forward to working closely with the Stanford community, faculty, students, and staff, to expand interdisciplinary discussions of Arab politics and society on campus.”

“By enhancing its intellectual engagement with scholars and activists in Arab world, ARD will continue to nuance our understanding of conflicts over political, social and economic rights in the region by supporting critical scholarship and by developing innovative research agendas,” he said.

Sallam’s dissertation examines how Islamist movements have impacted the politics of economic reform in Egypt before and after the Arab uprisings in 2011. His previous research has received the support of the United States Institute of Peace and the Social Science Research Council. Sallam also serves as co-editor of the Jadaliyya, a leading online magazine, which invites critical debate and analysis of current events in the Arab world from academics, activists and journalists. 

Diamond expressed great enthusiasm over the addition of Lisa Blaydes to the program’s faculty leadership. “Over the past several years, Lisa has rapidly emerged as one of the most original and influential scholars of politics and social change in the Arab world,” he said. “She brings to the program intense intellectual curiosity, scholarly distinction and a keen interest in advancing social science studies of the Arab world."

Blaydes, a specialist in comparative politics and politics in the Middle East, recently published the book, Elections and Distributive Politics in Mubarak’s Egypt, which examines the complex relationships among regimes, rent-seeking elites and citizens fostered by authoritarian elections.

“The Arab world is at a critical juncture,” said Blaydes. “Although mass protests have transformed public political consciousness, the long-term impact of the protest movement on more concrete forms of power has yet to be determined. Policy-relevant scholarly research such as that conducted by the Program on Arab Reform and Democracy may help us to identify pathways to political reform.”

Blaydes and Sallam, together with Diamond, participated in the most recent ARD Program conference on political change in the Arab world. Held in collaboration with the Center for Research on Globalization and Democratic Governance at Koc University in Turkey, the conference brought together leaders in policy, academia and government to address issues of violence and government transitions in the region following continuous civil unrest and political uncertainty.

Founded in 2010 with annual support from the Moulay Hicham Foundation, CDDRL's Program on Arab Reform and Democracy aims to be a hub for intellectual capital about issues related to good governance, social change and political reform in the region, producing rigorous and policy-relevant academic research. Conferences and seminars in the U.S. and the Arab world provide innovative forums for academics and policy-makers to advance new ideas and approaches to the most pressing issues facing the region today.

For more information on the Program on Arab Reform and Development, please visit: