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Simon Mayall

3 Star British Lieutenant General
  • Former Defence Senior Adviser Middle East for the British Government
  • Knighted in 2014 for his services in enhancing Middle East-UK relations
  • Established the UK’s first permanent naval base east of the Suez Canal since 1971
  • Discusses current geopolitical issues using his expert knowledge of Middle Eastern history, politics, and culture
Topics & Types
Middle EastGeopoliticsMilitary Leaders

Much of Sir Simon Mayall’s incredible 40-year military career has been marked by a focus on the Middle East. Having served as Defence Senior Adviser Middle East (DSAME) for the UK Government, as well as the Prime Minister’s Security Envoy to Iraq and the Kurdish Region after the fall of Mosul in 2014, his experience and understanding of the region is long-standing and deep. As Senior Adviser, General Mayall was primarily responsible for re-energising the U.K.’s security relationships with partners in the Gulf, the Near East, and North Africa during a period that coincided with major, complex shifts to the very makeup of the region, including: the ‘Arab Spring,’ the overthrow of Gaddafi in Libya, the Syrian ‘civil war’ and the rise of ‘Islamic State.’ He also led the initiative to re-establish H.M.S. Juffair in Bahrain, the UK’s first permanent base ‘East of Suez’ since 1971, due to be opened in 2017. He was knighted in 2014, and has also been honoured with the U.S. Legion of Merit for his service in Iraq.

A unique combination of soldier, scholar and diplomat, General Mayall is a tested leader who has forged national and coalition success under extreme pressure and in extreme environments. He has MAs from Balliol College Oxford and King’s College London, and held a Defence Fellowship at St Antony’s College Oxford. He is a student of crusading history, and his MA thesis was on Jihad philosophy and the Civil War within Islam. He has also written a book, Turkey, Thwarted Ambition, looking at the post-Cold War security policy of Turkey. He speaks respectable Arabic. He is exclusively represented by Leading Authorities speaker’s bureau. He discusses the Middle East, command, leadership and management, and wider issues related to geopolitical risk.

General Simon Mayall’s roots in the Middle East trace back to his early years in Yemen, and his later secondment to the Sultan of Oman’s Armed Forces. He was the Operations Officer for the 1st UK Armoured Division in Operation Desert Storm—the liberation of Kuwait—before commanding his Regiment, 1st The Queen’s Dragoon Guards. As Commander of 1st Mechanised Brigade, he was deployed to Kosovo in 2002, and in 2006-2007 he was Deputy Commanding General of the Multi-National Corps (Iraq), based in Baghdad, during the period of the fight against AQ-I, the Sunni ‘Awakening’, and the ‘Surge’. The following year he was appointed Deputy Chief of the Army Staff and then, in 2009, Deputy Chief of the Defence Staff (Operations) with policy responsibility for global operations, particularly those in Afghanistan. With the election of the Coalition government of 2010 he was appointed as the first Defence Senior Adviser Middle East.

General Mayall retired from the Army in July 2015 and, in addition to being ‘Colonel’ of his Regiment and Lieutenant of the Tower of London, is now a Senior Adviser with Greenhill, a global financial advisory firm. He is a regular contributor on Middle East issues on television, radio and in the press, and he lectures on related subjects to many academic and business fora.

General Simon Mayall is currently writing a book on his own family’s experiences ‘East of Suez,’ as a vehicle for an examination and explanation of the current political crisis across the region. 

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