Established in 2018, HSW Japan’s objective is to provide actionable analytical insight for Japanese firms affected by or concerned with political, economic, and social developments in the Middle East. HSW Japan is a partnership that brings together three seasoned political risk industry experts in Mr. Hawes, Ms. Watanabe, and Mr. Sabra. Between them, the three have almost five decades of combined experience in the political risk field.
Crispin Hawes has been covering political and investment risk issues in the Middle East and Africa for more than 25 years. He specializes in analyzing and advising on the impact of both the internal politics of the major economies of the region and external, geopolitical factors on direct and portfolio investment. In terms of country coverage, Mr. Hawes has particular expertise in the domestic and geopolitical issues affecting Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Egypt, Israel, Libya, Jordan and Qatar and has an especially-strong background covering the hydrocarbons and energy industries in those states.
Before joining his partners in HSW Japan in 2018, he had held the post of Managing Director with Teneo Intelligence, the political risk division of the global consulting firm, Teneo Holdings. Prior to that, in addition to two stints leading Eurasia Group’s MENA practice, Mr. Hawes covered the region for Control Risks Group, The Economist Intelligence Unit, Credit Lyonnais Securities, and as a partner in Horizon, a boutique upstream oil and gas consultancy. He also advises companies and governments in Europe and the US in an independent capacity.
In addition to energy and petrochemicals, Mr. Hawes has provided consultancy services across multiple sectors, including asset management, telecoms, insurance, consumer goods, software and heavy industry.
He took a First in Arabic and an M.A. in Middle East Area Studies, with a specialization in Islamic Law and Modern Islamic Trends, both from the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies. He also studied Arabic at the University of Alexandria’s Faculty of Arts and Swahili at the Taasisi ya Kiswahili na Lugha za Kigeni in Zanzibar.
Like Mr. Hawes and Ms. Watanabe, Hani Sabra is a founding partner of HSW Japan. Before establishing HSW Japan, beginning in 2007, Mr. Sabra spent more than a decade at the New York-based political risk consultancy Eurasia Group, and during his last four years there, Hani headed the Middle East practice, leading and managing all of its output. At Eurasia Group, Hani's primary coverage areas were Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the other GCC states, and regional geopolitics.
In addition to his role as partner at HSW Japan, Mr. Sabra also founded Alef Advisory, a Middle East-focused political risk practice in September 2017, serving US and Europe-based clients primarily in the financial services and corporate sectors.
During his tenure at Eurasia Group, Mr. Sabra’s analytical coverage of events like the Dubai financial crisis in 2009, the Arab Uprisings in 2011-2014, and domestic developments in Saudi Arabia in 2015-2017 earned widespread praise and established him as a recognized leader in the political risk field.
Outside of his work for his private clients, Hani is called upon to provide media commentary about regional developments and is regularly quoted in publications like Bloomberg and the Wall Street Journal. He has taught political risk and Middle East politics at institutions like New York University and the University of Montreal. Prior to his tenure at Eurasia Group, Hani spent six years in the human rights field, also focused on the Middle East region.
Hani did graduate work at New York University and his received his undergraduate degree in political science with high honors at the American University in Cairo. Hani was raised in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Egypt, and speaks fluent Arabic.
Yuko Watanabe, a founding partner at HSW Japan, is a business development professional with more than a decade of experience in both the US and Japan. Until 2017, Ms. Watanabe held the position of Director, Corporate Advisory Services (Japan), at Eurasia Group in New York. In this position, she managed client relationships with dozens of renowned Japanese companies in a wide range of sectors, governmental organizations, and media. In 11 years under her leadership, her team successfully built and grew Eurasia Group’s brand, reputation and strong client base in Japan.
Prior to Eurasia Group, from 1996 until 2004, Ms. Watanabe served as Senior Program Officer at the Japan Society in New York, the leading American organization committed to deepening mutual understanding between the United States and Japan. She developed the strategies for programming, fundraising, outreach, and managed relationships with numerous corporate executives, journalists, and prominent figures in both Japan and the US.
As a freelance writer on a wide range of topics relevant to the US and Japan, including politics, international relations, society and culture, Ms. Watanabe has contributed to a number of publications, given lectures, and has been interviewed by several Japanese magazines.
Ms. Watanabe holds a Master of Public Administration from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University; a Master of Arts in Political Science from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst; and a Bachelor in Law from Waseda University in Tokyo. A native speaker of Japanese, Ms. Watanabe is fluent in English, and has basic knowledge of Spanish.
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