The Scholarships Programme provides students and young professionals, recognised for their leadership potential, with educational and training opportunities that will help their career development, will enable them to achieve impact in their professional fields and ultimately to bring benefits to others in their countries of origin. These opportunities generally take the form of postgraduate scholarships at Masters and (exceptionally) PhD levels at UK universities; though other professional development opportunities are also occasionally provided.

The Programme started in 1984 and has supported over 750 students, many of whom have contributed to the development of their professional sectors in the Middle East. Our growing body of alumni boasts leading health and development professionals, educators, business people, lawyers, engineers, environmentalists, artists and architects.

The Foundation hopes that its scholars will form a growing network of influence, contributing to the achievement of positive and lasting change in professional sectors that are considered a priority for helping the development of their countries.

Meet some of our scholars

Nancy Hamad

University of York
MA Post-War Reconstruction and Development, 2010/2011
Living and studying in the UK made me realise the dream of the “future you” has not been determined yet , there is an unlimited number of versions of yourself that could come to fruition, not just a slightly healthier, compassionate or financially secure version of yourself but a radically different you

Nancy, from Lebanon, studied Architecture at the Beirut Arab University, graduating in 2006. Before being awarded a Said Foundation scholarship, Nancy was a volunteer architect involved in several post-war reconstruction projects in the Naher al-Bared refugee camp in North Lebanon after the 2006 war.

Since her graduation she has been working with victims of armed conflict in Iraq, Libya and South Sudan with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

In her work with ICRC, Nancy was involved in visiting places of detention in Iraq and Libya where she worked on cases of missing persons and was involved in a field work survey with the families of the disappeared. She organised the International Day of Disappearance with children from missing families in order to commemorate their loved ones.  Currently Nancy is in South Sudan working in the field to support people suffering the effects of armed conflict.

Professor Said Ismail

University of Oxford
DPhil Biochemistry 2000
I returned to Jordan because I saw the need for my expertise here. I gain more satisfaction when I can help start things from the beginning which will yield results in the future.

Said, a Jordanian of a Palestinian origin, was supported by the Said Foundation for an MSc in Applied Molecular Biology and Biochemistry at University College London and a DPhil in Molecular Biology at the University of Oxford.

Said is now Professor of Molecular Biology at the School of Medicine, University of Jordan where he established and directs the "Molecular Biology Research Laboratory” and the “Molecular Diagnostics Laboratory”. He is also Head of the Department of Biochemistry.  Said is currently taking a sabbatical from the University of Jordan to manage the Qatar Genome Project, one of the biggest DNA genome mapping projects, which plans to sequence DNA for the Qatari population.

Said has also worked as a consultant for local and international biotechnology companies.  Besides being a member of the editorial boards for several international scientific journals, Said is also the President and co-founder of the International Society on Aptamers (INSOAP), based in Oxford, UK.  Last year, Said won the prestigious Abdul Hamid Shouman award for Arab researchers in medical and health sciences.

Yasser Abu Jamei

University of Birmingham
MSc Clinical Neuropsychiatry, 2011/2012
I spent a year in the UK that changed the way I conceptualise things and gained much more than just an academic degree.

Yasser, from Gaza, studied medicine at the Kaunas University of Medicine in Lithuania, graduating in 2000.  Just as he completed his studies and returned to Gaza to begin a residency in a local hospital, the second Intifada began. It was then that Yasser became aware of the impact of conflict and occupation on the mental health of the local population.

Before being awarded a Said Foundation scholarship, Yasser worked with the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme (GCMHP) as the training and research director.  He wanted to enhance his skills and learn how to better investigate and treat neuropsychiatric disorders. He completed his Said Foundation sponsored MSc in Clinical Neuropsychiatry at the University of Birmingham with distinction.

Since his return to Gaza, Yasser has helped design the updated curriculum for the postgraduate diploma in Community Mental Health at the Islamic University in Gaza, trained UNRWA social workers to respond to psychosocial needs and has acted as a consultant on the Palestinian (Gaza) Ministry of Education’s five year strategic plan to combat the psychosocial difficulties of school children.

In January 2014, Yasser was appointed Director of the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme.

Abdullah Chhadeh

Guildhall School of Music & Drama
Music, 1997/98
What I hope to bring to the West is the complexity and beauty of the Arab culture, and the qanun is the instrument that allows me to do so.

Abdullah started playing the qanun, the Arabic zither, when he was 22 years old. Despite the complexity of this 81-string instrument, he mastered it quickly under the guidance of Salim Sarwet.  After graduating from the Damascus Conservatoire, Abdullah was awarded a Saïd Foundation scholarship to study at the Guildhall School of Music in London.

During his time in the UK, Abdullah developed his own style of music, an innovative blend of Arab traditional music with jazz and Western percussion. He has recorded and collaborated with Sinead O'Connor, Jocelyn Pook, Natasha Atlas and David Arnold, amongst others. 


Mona Al Haj Hussein

University College London
MSc Mother and Child Health, 2002/03
My experience in the UK was not only a chance to obtain a degree; it enriched my knowledge and skills, and widened up my scope of thinking and views. It changed my entire life.

Mona graduated from Aleppo University as a medical doctor specialising in paediatrics. She then worked for nine years with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) providing primary and community health care for Palestinian refugees in Syria.

On return to Syria after her Said Foundation sponsored studies, Mona worked with a number of international NGOs and UN agencies including UNICEF, UNRWA, WHO, the UNFPA National Programme for Reproductive Health and the Said Foundation’s Early Childhood Programme. 

She is currently country representative for the Swiss Centre for International Health and is responsible for overseeing, monitoring and evaluating the implementation of the Global Fund grant to the national tuberculosis and aids programmes in Syria.



Ahlam Khreysat

University of Wolverhampton
Deaf Studies, Sign Language Research and Development, 1998/99
My experience in the UK empowered me. I am grateful to the Saïd Foundation for giving me and many other people this opportunity. I now feel better equipped to serve my community and my own country.

Alham has been deaf since the age of two and has dedicated herself to improving the lives of other deaf people in the Middle East. Alham was supported by the Said Foundation in 1998/99 for Deaf Studies at the University of Wolverhampton. Her aim was to deepen her knowledge of the subject, to return and lobby for the rights of deaf people in Jordan and the region, and to increase access to education for deaf children. 

Once back in Jordan, Alham returned to her work at the Holy Land Institute for the deaf (HLID) where she trains Arabic Sign Language interpreters, supervises the Institute's audiology department and boarding house, and works on multi-media computer programmes for curriculum development. 

Alham is also working as a consultant on curricula and syllabuses for arabic Sign Language education, both in mainstream and special schools and runs deaf culture courses for teachers and sign language courses for interpreters across the Middle East. 

Ashraf Tahboub

Oxford-Brookes University
MSc Software Engineering, 2006/07
My first weeks in the UK were hard: it was my first time away from my country! But I took this opportunity to learn how to be independent and look after myself. I made new friends from around the world and gained new knowledge. I was astonished by the availability of academic and non-academic facilities in the university.

Ashraf was the first student with cerebral palsy to be awarded a university degree in Jordan. He graduated with a BSc in Computer Science from the University of Jordan in 2000 despite the lack of support provided, at that time, for students with disabilities.

He wanted to improve his software skills and decided to apply for a Said Foundation scholarship.  He was supported by the Foundation for an MSc in Computer Science in 2006/07 and since graduation has worked for the King Hussein Medical Centre in Amman where he is now a senior programmer, responsible for designing, testing and implementing software solutions.

Jamal Numan

University of Leeds
MSc Geographic Information Systems, 2010/11
People see GIS as an abstract and distant subject but in fact it is all around us. When Palestine eventually achieves its independence GIS will allow us to plan new roads, villages and reservoirs in the best way. How to connect Gaza with the West Bank is something we are ceaselessly working on.

Jamal graduated in 1999 in Civil Engineering from Birzeit University. Since then he has worked for the Ministry of Local Government as a GIS specialist. This involves providing data and information for local planners on such issues as where landfill sites should be located and the best routes for new roads. Despite his extensive practical knowledge of GIS, Jamal lacked the theoretical understanding of the subject, something that had held him back from progressing at the Ministry and working with the latest technology.

He was supported by the Foundation for an MSc in Geographic Information Systems at the University of Leeds in 2010/11 and wrote a dissertation entitled, "An approach for asserting groundwater vulnerability, hazard and risk in Ramallah District". Since returning to Palestine Jamal has taken on a leading role in the GIS department of Ministry of State.


Fadi Bala'awi

University College London
PhD Conservation and management of archeological sites and monuments

Fadi has always had a passion for archaeological conservation and his academic interests lie in the latest techniques of conservation and the effects of salt damage at the World Heritage Site of Petra in Jordan.

Since completing his studies at UCL, Fadi has continued to research, publish and teach in Jordan. He is an assistant professor of Conservation Science at the Hashemite University and a consultant and special advisor for a number of projects and museums, including the Eco-museum in the Jordanian city of Salt.

Bayan Shbib

University of Essex
MA Acting, 2009/10
I like to be a well-rounded artist, I just find it more rewarding. I found translating Richard II from classical English into Arabic even more challenging and interesting than performing it.

Since childhood, Bayan’s dream was to be an actress.  When she completed her high school studies there were no theatre courses available in Palestine so she studied English Literature instead and graduated from Birzeit University in 2002. She also completed an MA in American Studies and Comparative Literature at Al-Quds University in 2005.

Bayan then joined the Ramallah-based Ashtar Theatre as an actress and drama teacher. In 2005 she won the prize for best young storyteller in the International Storytelling Festival in Birmingham, and a year later, was awarded the prize for best actress in the International Cairo Experimental Theatre Festival.

After completing her Said Foundation sponsored studies at Essex University’s East 15 Acting School, she returned to Palestine and critical acclaim as the lead actress and screenwriter of local socio-political series, EscotChat. Bayan also performed in the recent Palestinian adaptation of Richard II, as part of the international Shakespeare Festival at the Globe Theatre in London.


Amer Shomali

Institute of Art, Bournemouth
MA 2D Animation, 2007/08
I received well-paid job offers abroad but I had to decline them. There is too much to do here in Palestine!

Amer wanted to study art or filmmaking but when he completed his high school studies these courses were not offered at Palestinian universities. He decided to study Architecture instead and graduated from Birzeit University in 2003.  In 2005, he helped to establish ZAN studio, which brings together young artists and technicians to work on innovative projects in the field of new media and the visual arts.

Amer was supported by the Said Foundation for a postgraduate course in 2D Animation. This qualification has enabled him to help establish the first animation diploma course at Birzeit Univesity.

He is also attracting critical acclaim as an artist (his best known work, The Icon, recreates Eddie Adams’ famous photograph of Leila Khaled using 3500 lipstick tubes) and is currently in the final stages of making an international coproduction feature length animated documentary film, entitled The Wanted 18. For more information on Amer’s work and art see

Malek Takieddine

University of Aberdeen
LLM Oil & Gas Law, 2007/08
It has not always been like this. When I returned to Lebanon after my LLM at the University of Aberdeen, I rented a small place with only two rooms. I used to sleep in one and use the other one as my office. But I always made sure I wore my suit before going to the office!

Malek graduated in Law from the Lebanese University in 2003 and then spent three years working for a local law firm during which time he developed an interest in oil and gas law.

He was supported by the Foundation for an LLM at the University of Aberdeen in 2007/08 and on return to Lebanon, founded a legal consultancy company which specialises in the oil and gas sector in the Middle East.  

Malek’s company has several major international clients and works regularly with organisations such as UNDP and Transparency International on corruption and bribery issues in Iraq and Lebanon.

Mounir Abi Said

University of Kent
PhD Biodiversity Management
There is no break or holiday in what I do; I can barely find a moment to relax. But I love my job and each animal in my centre has a special place in my heart.

Mounir established Animal Encounter in 1993 in the backyard of his house in Aley on the outskirts of Beirut. Since then, he has rescued, cared for and returned to the wild, a wide range of animals including hyenas, wolves, bats and bears.

In 2003, Mounir was supported by the Said Foundation to research issues of biodiversity management.  Since then, he has devoted himself to protecting biodiversity in Lebanon and developing his centre.

Animal Encounter is no longer a small backyard affair. A few years ago, Aley Municipality gave Mounir a large piece of land.  He was able to expand the centre and it now includes a multimedia library, a lecture hall and receives more than 30,000 visitors a year, mostly students from across Lebanon.

Mounir also teaches Conservation, Ecology and Wildlife at the American University of Beirut as well as at the Lebanese University.

Hala Raad

University of Leeds
MEd Special Education Needs, 1999/00
The year I spent in Leeds changed the way I see things, my approach to people; it definitely revolutionised my perspectives. Now the Yorkshire accent evokes warm feelings in me.

Before applying for a Saïd Foundation scholarship, Hala worked as a special education teacher in a centre for children with disabilities in Lebanon.

On completion of her studies, and after her return to Lebanon, Hala opened her own special education private practice, where she works with children with conditions on the autism spectrum and those with intellectual disabilities. She also works with and trains the children’s parents and their schools and nurseries. 

Hala combines her clinical work with teaching  at the Université of Saint-Joseph in Beirut, where she developed and introduced a pioneer course on the rights of children with disabilities. She has also worked on community development issues and advised and trained local and international NGOs on disability in Lebanon and other Arab countries

Hala recently joined the Medical Centre of the American University of Beirut as a special education teacher in a clinical setting.