Director General

International Center for Biosaline Agriculture (ICBA) Dubai, United Arab Emirates

About ICBA

The International Center for Biosaline Agriculture (ICBA) is an international, non-profit agricultural research center established in 1999 through the visionary leadership of the Government of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Islamic Development Bank (IsDB). ICBA provides research-based solutions to sustainably reduce poverty and end hunger and malnutrition in marginal environments.
ICBA has evolved over the years into a world-class modern research facility with a team of international scientists conducting applied research and development to improve agricultural productivity and sustainability in marginal and saline environments. ICBA’s Annual Budget varies from US $10 Million to US $ 14 Million. ICBA currently has about 70 full time employees and 30 outsourced employees working in its HQ in Dubai and its regional office in CAC and its project office in Ethiopia.
ICBA aspires to be a trusted global applied research for development center that provides sustainable solutions for these marginal environments to positively impact food security, through the use of existing plant genetic biodiversity; the use of marginal water resources (saline, treated wastewater, industrial water, agricultural drainage and seawater); the rehabilitation of degraded lands to enhance agricultural productivity and contribute to climate change mitigation; and remote sensing and modeling for climate change adaptation.
ICBA is a knowledge hub on sustainable management and use of marginal resources for agricultural production and environmental protection in marginal and saline environments. With the help of its partners, ICBA innovates, builds human capital and encourages learning that is fundamental to change.
ICBA’s refreshed strategy 2019-2023, is aligned with its earlier strategies; is directly linked with the SDGs and is geared towards contributing to the relevant goals. The refreshed strategy focuses on five research innovation themes:
  • Management of Natural Resources in Marginal Environments
  • Climate Change Modeling and Adaptation
  • Crop Improvement and Sustainable Production
  • Integrated Agriaquaculture Systems
  • Policies for Resilience
Enhancing partnerships and developing strategic alliances, communicating research, and strengthening capacity building at local and regional levels, are critical to implementing and achieving impact through ICBA’s strategic research areas.
ICBA now seeks a Director General to lead the Center in pursuit of its vision – Sustainable livelihoods and food security in marginal environments. The contract will be for 5 years, with potential renewal for another 5 years.
More information on ICBA work is available in the center’s annual reports.

Director General


The Director General provides the overall intellectual and strategic leadership of the Center. As chief executive officer, they will plan, lead and be fully accountable for all research, outreach, development, administration and other operations of ICBA, with a strong focus on monitoring and evaluation for impact.
The Director General will oversee the programmes and activities of the Center effectively and efficiently to ensure the highest levels of productivity and professional integrity are achieved. They report to the Board of Directors with direct accountability to the Chairperson and will receive guidance, approval when necessary and cooperation as they implement the Board’s policies and directives. Additionally, the Director General will be responsible for developing strategic plans for the centre, including the research, outreach, and communications programs and administrative support services.  They will ensure the utility, quality, integrity, substance and cost-effectiveness of the programs, policies and activities of ICBA. 
Working closely with the host country: The United Arab Emirates; and the Center’s core donors: The Food Security Ministry of the UAE, the Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi (EAD) and IsDB, the Director General will sustain and promote ICBA’s image as a world-class research for development Center and ensure that ICBA maintains and extends its reputation as a centre of excellence and a source of solutions for marginal environments.  They will be the face of the organisation, developing and maintaining partnerships to secure the financial future of ICBA and the promotion of its mission and programmes. As such, the Director General will promote the results of ICBA’s programs at an international level and ensure that ICBA serves as a focal point for Marginal Environments research and developments worldwide.  
The candidate for this position will be politically astute, hold a comprehensive knowledge of the agricultural landscape and be passionate about ICBA’s mission, driven to provide exceptional leadership and inspire the entirety of ICBA to the highest performance and to creating the greatest impact.

Duties and Responsibilities

The Director-General will have the following key responsibilities:

Leadership & Governance Duties
  • Provides visionary, dynamic and strategic leadership to the Centre in pursuing its mission and to advance ICBA strategically, organizationally and financially; establish a results framework for its programmes and services and ensuring upholding of the highest professional and ethical standards.
  • Ensures both internal monitoring of ICBA’s progress along strategic performance indicators and the implementation of evaluation plans and external reviews of ICBA’s programmes.
  • Develops strategy and makes strategic decisions about the direction of the Center from a research agenda, public policy and business perspective. 
  • Maintains an intellectual and enabling institutional climate that attracts to the Center, from throughout the world, leading scientists on agriculture and environmental research focusing on marginal environments, biodiversity and genetics, natural resources management, climate change and related topics. 
  • Develops strategies and policies for the research agenda and fostering commitment from scientists from various disciplines for implementing the strategies and policies.
  • Balances the many different interests of various constituents and will direct efforts to assess the impact of ICBA’s work.
  • Effectively communicates the Centre’s activities and results to ICBA’s constituencies and actively promotes networking and exchange of information as an integral part of ICBA’s mandate.
  • Ensures the Centre’s commitment to internal and external accountability, transparency, and effectiveness.
  • Guarantees culture and gender sensitivity and inclusivity throughout ICBA’s work.
Resource Mobilisation
  • Assumes responsibility for fundraising, developing long-term and medium-term funding strategies and ensuring timely and effective reporting on the disbursement of all funds.
  • Establishes and strengthens existing relationships with donors and potential collaborators, to ensure diversification of funding sources to finance and conduct research and to safeguard long-term impact and sustainability.
External Representation and Communication
  • Establishes and strengthens relationships with developing country policymakers and leaders. 
  • Oversees outreach and communications programs to disseminate ICBA’s research findings, conclusions and recommendations.
  • Promotes ICBA’s reputation, brand and accomplishments, enhancing the profile and visibility of the Centre as a leader in agricultural research.
  • Represents ICBA in an official capacity with external stakeholders and partners including  donors, NGOs/CSOs and other non-state actors, academia, international institutions, with the host-country agencies; and with the national research institutions and agencies with which ICBA is cooperating.
  • Foster partnerships, alliances and networks that compliment or augment the Centre’s goals and objectives.
Organization and Human Resources Management
  • Manages the Centre as a whole: identifying and managing risks, mobilizing resources, creating strategy, and building a strong leadership cadre within the Centre.
  • Chairs and provides guidance to ICBA’s Management Committee (MCM) composed of the DDG and the Directors of ICBA’s two directorates (Programs and Corporate Services); sets management policies in consultation with the MCM, and various staff committees, as appropriate. 
  • Leads a strong and cohesive senior team of scientific and administrative professionals to deliver the goals and objectives of the Centre.
  • Inspires and engages with the Centre’s staff, enabling them to understand and contribute effectively to ICBA’s mission, policies and programs.
  • Cultivates a culture that encourages the personal fulfilment and professional growth of staff at all levels, and in doing so oversee performance review systems for staff at all levels.
  • Ensures the satisfactory performance of all staff members of the Center.
  • Maintains staff and management compliance with all relevant regulations, rules, policies and guidelines consistently at all levels throughout the Centre.
  • Exercises responsible stewardship of resources, including financial control and budgetary management of the Centre and its programs.
  • Holds an ex-officio membership of the Board, with no-voting right, and will prepare and submit to the Board an annual report describing all aspects of the Center’s work, organisation, and financial status.

Qualifications, Required Experience & Personal Attributes

  • Strong science background with a higher degree (Ph.D.) qualification in life sciences or agriculture sciences.
Required Experience
  • A distinguished track record of management of Science, with a minimum of 10 years experience working as senior manager preferably within international or regional organizations.
  • A track record of progressively responsible leadership experience in multicultural and multi-disciplinary settings, including management of an organization or business unit in the public or private sectors or academia.
  • A sustained record of achievement and innovation, with an established reputation for cutting edge approaches; demonstrated skills as a scientist and senior administrator of scientific research.
  • A personal track record of persuasive engagement of external stakeholders; experience of creating and managing sensitive, strategic relationships.
  • Proven experience as a relationship builder with a strong high-level network in international development and research circles. 
  • Evidence of strong, sustainable resource mobilization delivery, and effective communications with R&D and public and private sector investors, and policy communities.
  • Demonstrated ability to lead an evolving center through careful, considered and credible change.
  • Diverse and international professional and personal experience.
  • Fluent English is essential, and command of Arabic language is desirable. French language skills is advantageous.
Personal Attributes
  • Brave, courageous and visionary leader; has the courage of one’s convictions and is not afraid to constructively challenge the conventional wisdom.
  • A powerful intellect. An idea generator but also a doer.
  • A personal approach that exemplifies the values of the highest scientific and professional standards, with a demonstrated commitment to collaboration, and gender equality, diversity and inclusion. 
  • A management style that is collegial, consistent and transparent in decision making; demonstrated comfort leading in a complex global environment.
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills in English, with strong representational and advocacy skills.
  • Excellent inter-cultural and cross-cultural skills.
  • A proven convener, mediator and negotiator who readily connects and collaborates with others and can build trust to move forward an agenda. 
  • Culturally astute and aware.  Can see the world from multiple perspectives.  Has a true appreciation of the issues and cultural contexts globally.
  • Diplomacy; flexibility; warmth; drive, passion and determination; cultural sensitivity and a commitment to diversity.
  • High integrity with a commitment to good governance, transparency and operational excellence.
  • Energetic and motivated with a high capacity for work; has the capacity to prioritize effectively and deliver on commitments.
  • Resilient

Location: Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Terms of appointment

This is a full-time position with the successful candidate contracted for a five-year term with the possibility of renewal for an additional term. The salary and benefit package is competitive and commensurate with qualifications and experience.

How to Apply

The International Center for Biosaline Agriculture will collaborate with SRI Executive Search in the search for a stellar candidate to take up this exciting appointment. Should you wish to apply for this position, we kindly ask you to submit your CV for consideration via [email protected]
For questions around this vacancy please contact Ms. Sidney Moss at [email protected]
SRI Executive is exclusively retained by ICBA to undertake this assignment.

Application form