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Ellen R. Wald, Ph.D.

Ellen R. Wald, Ph.D.

Global Energy Authority & Author of Saudi, Inc.


It is virtually impossible to examine the intersection of geopolitics, energy and markets without understanding Saudi Arabia. Global energy authority Ellen R. Wald brings incomparable expertise on the kingdom and its worldwide impact. Known for her jargon-free analysis, historian’s perspective and for providing rich context on the impact of geopolitics on markets and commerce, Dr. Wald’s keynotes include invaluable insights for investors, the energy sector, and oil services firms. Her perspective is also essential for anyone interested in the future of energy, oil, Aramco (and its IPO), emerging energy technology, energy policy, the balance of power in the Middle East, the Saudi relationship with Israel, and the actors shaping the region and its economies. Read More >

A prolific writer on energy markets and scholar on the history of Western influence in the Middle East, Dr. Wald is the foremost authority on the Saudi national oil company, Aramco. Her new book, Saudi, Inc.: The Arabian Kingdom’s Pursuit of Profit and Power presents the history of Aramco, its central role in the evolution of the kingdom and its preparation for the largest IPO in history. Steve Forbes called Saudi, Inc. “crucial reading” and “a timely masterpiece.” Dr. Wald is also the founder of Transversal Consulting, guiding businesses in a range of industries—from oil services to management consulting to utilities to finance—on the confluence of energy markets and geopolitics. She brings a rich background as an award-winning educator and lecturer with over a decade of university teaching experience and past positions at the University of Georgia, the American Heritage Center, and the University of Cambridge. Dr. Wald received a Ph.D. from Boston University where she studied energy, diplomatic, and economic history and graduated from Princeton University with studies in history, Near Eastern studies, and creative writing." She is currently a Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council and teaches Middle East history and policy at Jacksonville University. She also writes three weekly columns: at investing.com on geopolitics and the energy markets, at Forbes online addressing energy topics for a broader audience, and at Arab News on business in the Gulf region.

In a world where energy, the environment, technology and geopolitics are tightly intertwined and often mentioned together, Dr. Wald brings an analyst’s acuity, realistic view, and multi-faceted understanding to key subjects. Able to speak to a range of audiences and tailor her presentations to their areas of interest, she provides a fascinating perspective on the evolving energy sector and the complex politics that drive it. Read Less ^

Speech Topics

Saudi, Inc.: Inside the Mysterious Business Empire

For over a century, the Saudi royal family, known commonly as al Saud, sought profit and power through sophisticated maneuverings and prescient partnerships, always with the aim of securing success for the generations to come. At the center of these ambitious plans was Aramco, the oil company that brought vast riches, success, and regional dominance to al Saud. Underneath the thobes and abayas, and behind the religious ideology and Islamic strictures, lies a most sophisticated and ruthless business empire. Meet the eccentric characters—American, British, and Saudi—who built a modern kingdom and an energy empire. Learn unknown details about the transitions of royal power, the 1970s oil crisis, OPEC calculations, and the global expansion of Aramco. Journey from the 1930s and the desperate search for oil in the barren desert of a premodern kingdom to the economic and geopolitical intrigues of today as Saudi Arabia seeks to transform its country, create the largest IPO in history for Aramco, and manipulate its alliances within an ever-hostile region.

Tomorrow’s Middle East: From Profit to Peace

The Middle East has changed. No longer are ideology and politics preeminent. Today, business, energy exploitation and technology innovation are the driving motivations for the regional powers. Commerce and global markets have the potential to further open borders and create unforeseen partnerships. Business and the search for profit—through oil and tech primarily—are reshaping the dynamic between Israel, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt.

Saudi Aramco’s Future: The Largest IPO and the Great Disruption

When Saudi Aramco, the national oil company of Saudi Arabia, announced its intention to go public, almost nothing was known about this secretive oil giant that funds one of the last existing absolute monarchies. With assets and interests that span the globe, Saudi Aramco is much more than just a company that drills holes in the ground and funds lavish royal lifestyles. What is Aramco, where is it going and how will its public listing disrupt markets?

The Race to Fuel the China Century: Saudi Arabia vs. Russia vs. the Americas

China’s economic boom has been fueled by foreign oil. With so much potential still to come from the Chinese powerhouse, Saudi Arabia and Russia are neck and neck in the competition to supply oil to the world's largest population. Now American oil production is on the rise and exporting to China too. Meanwhile, big oil is facing competition from electric vehicles, renewable energies and industrial batteries. If China is destined to have the world's largest economy, second prize will go to whoever can fuel it.

Green Dreams & Technological Reality: How We Get to the Future

The greatest impediments between us and the energy and economic future we want are the technological limits that we can’t control. Or can we?

Subterranean Mischief: Oil, Politics & War in the Middle East

The Middle East oil struggle is more complicated than ever before. The players and motivations are many: Saudi kings, Iranian mullahs, beleaguered Kurds, profit-seeking Turkey, resource-poor Israel, big oil companies, Russian spies, and Iraqi militias. In the Middle East, oil still means wealth, power and a political future. Who wins and who loses will not only determine the future of the region, but global markets as well.

Big Oil vs. Big Green: How Politics and Money Will Decide How We Fuel Our Cars and Charge Our Phones

Technological innovation may be taking us to a new energy future, but are money and politics threatening to derail that train? A look at how government and big business are determined to choose winners and losers in the energy innovation sphere and decide what products we use and what kind of air we will breathe.