Dr. Mai Yamani was born in Cairo to an Iraqi mother from Mosul and a Hijazi father from Mecca. Her early education included schooling in Baghdad, Mecca, and Lausanne. She completed her B.A. in Anthropology from Bryn Mawr College, Pennsylvania and her M.St. and D.Phil. in Social Anthropology from Oxford University.

She started her career as a university lecturer in Saudi Arabia and then at SOAS, London University, before moving on to become a scholar at leading international think tanks in the U.S., Europe, and the Middle East. She is the author of several books including Changed Identities: The Challenge of the New Generation in Saudi Arabia and Cradle of Islam: The Hijaz and the Quest for an Arabian Identity.  

Dr. Mai Yamani is an established commentator on Muslim and Arab politics, in particular on Saudi Arabia. Her articles have appeared in 109 newspapers around the world. She has frequently been asked to testify before the U.S. Senate and the British House of Commons, and has also briefed Britain’s judiciary on the topic of Islam. In addition to her academic and media work, she has acted as a consultant to international banks, oil companies and other foreign governments. Dr. Yamani speaks fluent Arabic, English, French and Spanish, and has a working knowledge of Persian, Hebrew and Italian.