Barbara A. Leaf, the U.S. ambassador to the United Arab Emirates from 2014-2018, was the Ruth and Sid Lapidus Fellow at The Washington Institute and director of the Beth and David Geduld Program on Arab Politics from 2018 until joining the Biden administration in January 2021. During her diplomatic career, Ambassador Leaf served in high-level positions at Foggy Bottom and abroad. Before arriving in Abu Dhabi in 2014, she served as deputy assistant secretary of state for the Arabian Peninsula in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs and as deputy assistant secretary of state for Iraq; directed the U.S. Provincial Reconstruction Team in Basrah, Iraq; and served as the department’s first director of the Office of Iranian Affairs. In addition, she had postings in Rome, Sarajevo, Paris, Cairo, Tunis, Jerusalem, and Port-au-Prince.
Ambassador Leaf departed government as a member of the Senior Foreign Service and has received numerous Superior Honor and Meritorious Honor Awards throughout her career. A graduate of the College of William and Mary, she holds a master's degree in foreign affairs from the University of Virginia. She speaks Arabic, French, Italian, and Serbo-Croatian.