Ishac Diwan is the spring 2017 Kuwait Foundation Visiting Scholar at the Belfer Center's Middle East Initiative and Chaire d'Excellence Monde Arabe at Paris Sciences et Lettres. He received his PhD in economics from the University of California at Berkeley. He taught international finance at NYU's Business School from 1984-87. In 1987, he joined the World Bank's Research Complex, where he focused on international finance, trade, and macroeconomics. In 1992, with the coming of the Oslo Agreements, he joined the World Bank’s Middle East Department, first as the country economist for the West Bank and Gaza and later as a regional economist. He contributed to the creation of the prime network of economists in the Middle East, the Economic Research Forum, and of a regional policy forum, the Mediterranean Development Forum.
In 1996, he joined the World Bank Institute and led the Economic Policy group (1996-2002), creating the Attacking Poverty Program and contributing to the initiation of the Global Development Network. Diwan lived in Addis Abeba (2002-07) and Accra (2007-11), as the Bank's Country Director for Ethiopia and Sudan first, and then for Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Burkina Faso, and Guinea. He led several ambitious initiatives, such as Ethiopia's Productive Safety Net, Ethiopia's Protection of Basic Services Program, and in West Africa, initiatives to support commercial agriculture, natural resources development, and jobs for the youth. He taught Public Policy at the Kennedy School of Government and was Director for Africa and the Middle East at the Growth Lab of the Center for International Development from 2011-2014.