Khalid Elgibali

Based in Dubai, Elgibali is responsible for leading the company’s dynamic MENA business – driving growth and innovation to meet market-specific needs, form new partnerships and deliver on Mastercard’s continued commitment to invest in the region.

Elgibali held several senior positions at leading financial institutions including HSBC Middle East, Standard Chartered Bank, Barclays and Citigroup, and brings a wealth of experience to the role alongside a deep understanding of the regional’s economic and corporate landscape.

Since joining Mastercard in 2016, Elgibali has helped reinforce the company’s position as a technology leader and trusted payments advisor to regional governments, enabling the successful execution of national-level programs that support their digital agendas and long term visions.

From driving commercial growth through diversification of revenue streams, pioneering cutting edge technology solutions and building strategic partnerships with the region’s leading public and private stakeholders, Elgibali is on a mission to create a future-ready digital ecosystem in the region through innovations in payments.

A polyglot fluent in six languages (Arabic, English, French, Russian, Italian and Portuguese), Elgibali holds a BA in Economics from the American University in Cairo and an MBA from Strathclyde Graduate Business School in Glasgow.

Gary McFarlane

Gary McFarlane is a Senior Analyst at Emerging Markets Intelligence & Research (EMIR), a research, briefing and networking service that supports senior executives overseeing the Middle East & Africa. Having studied Public Policy at Ireland’s University College Dublin, Gary’s main focus of expertise is the “eco-system of influence” within the Gulf Co-Operation Council (GCC) and the rapidly shifting policy environment of the Middle East. Before accepting the position of Senior Analyst, Gary was Managing Editor for EMIR’s business intelligence reports, mainly focusing on economic and policy trends impacting business in the Middle East. Gary is an accomplished musician and is currently learning Arabic.

Jerome Droesch

Based in Dubai, Jérôme Droesch is the Chief Executive Officer of Cigna in the Middle East & Africa (MEA) region, Board Member for Cigna’s operations in India and Turkey, and Senior Executive Officer & Chairman of Cigna Insurance  Management Services Board in the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC).

In his capacity, he is responsible for advancing the company’s operations as the premier provider of both health and wellness insurance services to individuals, groups and government entities across the MEA region, Turkey and India.

Under Jerome’s leadership in 2019, Cigna’s Middle East business strengthened its position as an industry leader, achieving growth and stability, whilst acquiring numerous industry accolades along the way, including Health Insurance Company of the Year at both the MENA IR and MIIA awards respectively.

In addition, he oversees Cigna’s locally regulated offices in the Middle East and Africa and the implementation of high-level strategies for ensuring the long-term profitable growth of the organization.

Prior to joining Cigna, Jérôme was with AXA Group in an illustrious career spanning over 27 years, where he held various management positions across multiple geographies and business.

Jérôme has a Masters in Engineering from Ecole Centrale, a Masters in Wealth Management from the SKEMA Business School, and has completed his further management studies from INSEAD.

He is fluent in French and English.

Xavier Anglada

Xavier bring 25+ years of combined management consulting and operational experience in the digital, fintech, high-tech, media and telecommunications industries in Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

He has led large teams of professionals and effectively steered P&L both from start-ups and multinational corporations. Extensive experience as an advisor to top executives of leading public and private organizations across multiple domains including: innovation, digital transformation, corporate and commercial strategy, business and operational turnaround, consumer analytics and organizational development.

Prior to joining Accenture, Xavier was the CEO of International Operations in Cash Credit, an innovative FinTech player in the lending space, leading the company expansion from Eastern Europe to the Middle East, Far East and Africa. Before, he was a Partner and Group COO of Delta Partners Group, and had senior roles in Diamond Cluster (today Oliver Wyman), Ono and Hewlett-Packard.

At Accenture, Xavier leads the overall Strategy and Consulting Business and the Innovation program in the region. In the past, he led the build-up of Accenture Digital practice in the Middle East, rolling out signature programs combining the creation, development and running of experiences (i.e. such as Expo 2020 Dubai), bringing data and AI at the core of every program. Xavier has featured as a keynote speaker in leading conferences on the topics of Digital Transformation, Blockchain, Innovation and Insurtech in multiple countries.

He holds an MBA from ESADE in Barcelona and MSc in Electrical Engineering and BSc in Telecommunications from La Salle Engineering in Barcelona. Xavier has lived in 4 continents and led assignments in over 30 countries.

Dr. Noah Raford

Dr. Noah Raford is the Chief of Global Affairs, “Futurist-in-Chief”, at the Dubai Future Foundation and a former advisor on futures, foresight, and innovation in the UAE Prime Minister’s Office. Noah helped establish the country’s first national foresight unit, helped established the Dubai Future’s Foundation and the Museum of the Future, and is part of a team that identifies emerging opportunities, develops strategic partnerships, and prototypes future initiatives for the Government of Dubai.

Some of the projects he has recently been involved with include:
• The Museum of the Future
• The Dubai Global Blockchain Council
• The UAE Drones for Good Award
• The UAE Robotics for Good Award
• The Dubai 3D Printing Strategy
• The Dubai Self-Driving Vehicle Strategy
• The International Council on Artificial Intelligence and Robotics (iCAIR)
• The “Office of the Future”; the world’s first fully functional 3D printed building.

Prior to his work in the UAE, Noah was a senior manager at the strategy consultancy Monitor / GBN, CEO of the technology foresight company Futurescaper LLC, the North American Director of Space Syntax Limited, and the Senior Research Advisor to Prince’s Foundation for the Built Environment. Noah completed his PhD at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), his master’s degree at the Bartlett School of Architecture, and his undergraduate studies at Brown University. He is a member of the World Economic Forum (WEF) Global Agenda Council on Artificial Intelligence and Robotics, a Senior Research Fellow at the London School of Economics, a fellow at the Bartlett School of Architecture, a member of the International Futures Forum.

He lives in Dubai, is married with two children and is a semi-retired techno DJ. He maintains an occasional podcast called NerdHouse (mixing deep techno with deep lectures and spoken word) and recently finished his second book, “Warlords, Inc.”.

Neil Petch

Neil Petch actively assists over 300 entrepreneurs and startups conceive, plan and build their businesses on a monthly basis. After launching Virtuzone as the first private company formation business in the region over ten years ago, it has set up more than 16,000 businesses, making it the largest, fastest-growing and best-known set up operator in the Middle East.

As the chairman of the holding company, Virtugroup, Neil also leads VirtuVest, an in-house angel investment vehicle; Virtuzone Mainland, a provider of directorship services, corporate sponsorship and facilitator of local Dubai and Abu Dhabi company setups; and Next Generation Equity, a citizenship-by-investment firm. Virtugroup has invested in and supported the growth of multiple companies and delivered passports in over ten different jurisdictions. Virtugroup also enjoys partnerships with Dubai FDI, the Chamber of Commerce, Dubai Holdings (ARN), VFS, Regus, Etisalat, KPMG, Aramex and Beehive, and has received awards from Arabian Business and Entrepreneur Magazine among others.

In addition to starting up businesses, Neil has held leadership roles in several companies. He helped establish ITP, the largest media publishing house in the Gulf, which he oversaw growing from 2 to 600 employees. At ITP, he spearheaded the launch of over 60 digital and print titles, including Time Out, Harper’s Bazaar, Arabian Business, Ahlan and Grazia. As Managing Director of ENG Media, Neil launched the Coast FM radio station and numerous magazines including MediaWeek. For the last seven years, Neil has also served as Chairman of GMG, the world’s first interbank financial brokerage based out of Dubai, with offices in DIFC and London. Due to his extensive knowledge and expertise, Neil has been appointed a member of the ‘Ease of Banking’ panel organised by the Chamber of Commerce.

Having lived in over a dozen countries and with a career spanning over 25 years in the UAE, Neil has the ability to merge astute cultural insight with fresh thinking, leveraging his seasoned business acumen, intuition and black book to repeatedly bring ideas to living, breathing success stories.

Neil has appeared in BBC (Dubai Dreams) and ITV (Piers Morgan) features on Dubai, as well as programmes on BBC World and Sky. He has participated as a judge on the radio programme Falcons’ Liar, an entrepreneurship reality show loosely based on the BBC production Dragons’ Den, as well as a similar TV competition hosted by MadTalks and now hosts Starting Up, the only national weekly show for the startup community (Dubai Eye 103.8FM) in the world’s start-up capital. He is also a regular speaker, panelist and economic commentator, specialising in the SME sector.

As part of Virtuzone’s COVID-19 support initiatives for SMEs, Neil spearheaded the launch of, a free online marketplace designed for local businesses to promote exclusive offers, reach a larger audience and generate immediate revenue.