About MELA

MELA is about transformation. Your transformation. We exist to build, connect and nurture Arab leaders who think globally and seek to create a better future for the Middle East and the Arab world. We do this by providing leadership education, mentoring, networking and emotional support to individuals with a unique sense of purpose.

The connections we foster are human and professional. The bonds we facilitate are borderless. MELA is not a ‘shortcut’ to connections, social status or employment. This is about leading from “within”; the creation of a space where leaders can graduate from self-knowledge to self-realization, learning through a togetherness and connectedness that makes the journey both more possible, and more exciting.

Arabia’s leadership starts with you. Think of MELA as your purpose, crystalized. 


MELA was launched in 2010 by the Society of International Business Fellows [SIBF] and a group of Arab business leaders. Our Board consists of successful business leaders from the Middle East.

What makes our founders different is not past success. It’s their vision of a network that has the ability to identify and substantively build the leadership capacity of outstanding individuals in the Middle East; connecting such leaders with each other, and to the wider world.


Like all good stories, MELA has its origins in the experience of a small group of people a lot like you, over thirty years ago. It was way back before the internet and the dot.com boom that a group of American business leaders recognized that the world was global, and that our economies were interdependent. They formed the Society of International Business Fellows [SIBF] to build business networks and partnerships where none had previously existed.

It worked out pretty well. Today there are over six hundred executives in the SIBF network, sharing experiences with members and future leaders from quickly emerging and developed economies.

In 2002, SIBF inaugurated the Central Eurasia Leadership Academy [CELA]. The program brings together young leaders from countries such as Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan for ten days of intensive leadership training at KOC University in Istanbul. Lifelong connections, opportunities and new ideas have been created.

As CELA flourished, the members of SIBF felt it was time to finally expand to the Middle East. The result is MELA: a parallel organization, formed in 2011 as a development of the CELA model.

In March 2011 His Majesty King Abdullah II received members of our Board [hyperlink] and pointed out that individual talent had always been Jordan’s most important natural resource. With the support of His Majesty, MELA is well placed and our team are exceptionally well positioned to discover talent and transform it into change across the Middle East, where the demographic and economic challenges young people are facing are shared, but never insurmountable.


Our Purpose

Our purpose is to refine, revitalize and accelerate your character and your vision. We believe in ideas, but we do not believe that simply bringing people together and putting them in a room will deliver ‘change’. Deep change starts with you; your core values, ‘how’ and ‘why’ you make decisions, the way you learn, and the people you surround yourself with.

Our Mission

Our Mission is you. Everyone talks about ‘community’. Do you know what the strongest communities are made up of? Individuals; those rare leaders with the ability to trust one another, collaborate, share and assist, while at the same time searching for their own answers to questions that will ultimately reshape our world.
Sounds great we hear you say. But how does that work in practice?

First, we invite an interdisciplinary group of special leaders drawn from the business, education and civil society sectors to a 10-day intensive workshop focused on leadership.

This is a workshop unlike any other you have experienced; no books, just practical exercises led by successful and dynamic leaders who want to share everything they have ever learned with you – collectively as well as individually.

The idea is to push you to new limits of practical skills and strategic understanding, in a way you have never experienced before. Everything is designed to create a bond with your fellow participants that mirror the type of relationships you have in your family.

Secondly, we insist on a lot of follow-up. Regular high-value meetings and long-term peer-to-peer relationships are facilitated between individuals and groups both online, and in person. These relationships will change how you work, will open up new markets and cultures, and will ultimately influence how you think and behave as a leader.

Our Vision

Thirty years ago we had the vision for a borderless community of leaders, creating value in ways that were never possible before. This network is growing every year.

Thirty years from now, we hope to see a Middle East in which MELA alumni represent excellence and leadership on a global scale.