Before establishing TSG, he was the director of the Brookings Institution's Doha Center, where his research focused on conflict resolution, domestic policy, and geopolitics of the Middle East, with a particular focus on the Levant (particularly Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq) and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states.
Shaikh has extensive experience working with the United Nations in a number of offices, including as Special Assistant, Middle East and Asia in the Office of the Undersecretary-General for Political Affairs, Political Advisor to the Secretary-General's Personal Representative for Lebanon during the 2006 war, Special Assistant to the Special Coordinator to the Middle East Peace Process, and Programme Officer for the Special Representative for Children in Armed Conflict.
Shaikh also served as Director for policy and research in the private office of Her Highness Sheikha Moza bin Nasser al-Missned, the Consort of the former Emir of the State of Qatar. Shaikh is a respected commentator and policy adviser on the Middle East. He has been featured in key publications and broadcasters, including CNN, BBC, Sky New, Al Jazeera, and NBC, and he has published commentaries with Foreign Policy, The New York Times, The Daily Beast, The Christian Science Monitor, and elsewhere.