Cigar Society of Chicago

The Lounge at Iwan Ries, 19 S. Wabash Ave, 2d Floor
Tuesday, March 3, 2020, 5:30-9:00 pm

Cocktails and cigars at 5:30, with the presentation at 6:00 for about 30 minutes.
A mashup of eclectic cocktail conversation follows. Reservations are required.

THE MIDDLE EAST is a complicated region of the world, with Syria, Kurdistan, Turkey, ISIS, Iran, and Saudi Arabia being intricately and inextricably inked. The first task in understanding the region is to understand the overwhelming importance of gas and oil production to its population of 410 million inhabitants and $4 trillion USD in sovereign and personal wealth, the political and commercial connections between the region's players, and the roles played by the two main rivals: the Shia'a and the Sunni.

In just this past year, tensions have escalated between these two rivals, led mostly by activity from Iran and from Saudi Arabia. Most recently, the events involving Aramco refineries, Kurdish in Syria, and drone strikes in Iraq, have brought the region to a tipping point.

In this talk, Middle East expert Marius Vygantas will explain why the region is as it is, review pivotal events from the last year, and examine which cards have been revealed and how the game is going to play out. Mr. Vygantas writes, "There will be plenty of political fodder, some gossip, and, Insha'Allah, lots of fun."

Marius Vygantas is a 16 year veteran of the Middle East. Born and raised in Chicago, Mr. Vygantas has worked for Arabian royal family members, sovereign wealth funds, and global asset managers. He understands the region intricately and has seen much evolution in the regional landscape.

Mr. Vygantas is a founding principal of Soling Partners, where he and two other principals advise global asset managers on the Gulf Cooperation Council (Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, and Oman). He currently manages ten clients that look after approximately $2.4 trillion USD in global assets.

Mr. Vygantas is a graduate of Northwestern University and the London School of Economics.  He started his career with apprenticeships at The Federal Reserve Bank and Goldman Sachs in Chicago while at Northwestern.  He is an Eagle Scout, an alumnus of the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra, an avid surfer, a jiu jitsu practitioner, and a life-long Cubs fan.

About the Cigar Society of Chicago

ONE OF THE OLDEST AND greatest traditions of the city clubs of Chicago is the discussion of intellectual, social, legal, artistic, historical, scientific, musical, theatrical, and philosophical issues in the company of educated, bright, and appropriately provocative individuals, all under the beneficent influence of substantial amounts of tobacco and spirits.  The Cigar Society of Chicago embraces this tradition and extends it with its Informal Smokers, University Series lectures, and Cigar Society Dinners, in which cigars, and from time to time pipes and cigarettes, appear as an important component of our version of the classical symposium.  To be included in the Cigar Society's mailing list, write to the secretary at