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

Nawar Turk

University College London
MSc Construction Economics and Management 2016/2017
Syria
"The Said Foundation gave me a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to fulfill my dream and study at one of the top universities in the world. It opened the door to meeting many interesting and inspiring professionals from diverse backgrounds. Most importantly, I have now joined a wonderful family encompassing the best people from the Levant, The Said Foundation family."

Nawar is from Latakia in Syria, he studied Civil Engineering at Tishreen University and graduated as top of his class in 2011. On completion of his undergraduate degree Nawar was invited to join the academic staff at the University and worked as a teaching assistant in the engineering department until 2016.

Nawar was awarded a Said Foundations scholarship to study for an MSc in Construction Economics and Management at University College London. His Said Foundation experience included not only top-quality study at but also the invaluable experience of living in London. Bursting with world-class museums, galleries, parks, festivals and restaurants from every corner of the globe, the city offered countless novel and enriching delights just waiting to be discovered. This challenging, stimulating, eye-opening year in the UK has changed his life; it broadened his mind and paved the road to successful career prospects.

After his studies Nawar moved to Canada where he is currently working towards becoming a licensed engineer in Quebec. He is also looking to pursue PhD studies in the engineering field.

Nour Kuzbari

School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London
MA Social Anthropology of Development 2014/2015
Syria
“As an American born Syrian. I had the wonderful opportunity to do my masters in London with a Said Foundation scholarship. Living in London, being constantly surrounded by people from different countries and ethnicities, speaking different languages was hugely inspiring in itself. I can tell you with no hesitation that studying in the UK is so much more than just a year abroad and you will come out of it with more than just a degree.”

Before her postgraduate studies Nour completed her BA in Anthropology at the University of Maryland, USA. During her studies Nour completed a full academic year in Alexandria, Egypt with the Arabic Overseas Flagship Program. After graduating, Nour moved to Lebanon where she worked for the International Labour Organization (ILO), a specialized branch of the United Nations. She was selected to be one of the research assistants responsible for conducting extensive research on one of the focal topics at the ILO, Women Migrant Domestic Workers in the MENA region. The research was later used in one of the Regional Tripartite Conference to promote ILO Convention 189.  

Nour conducted her dissertation research in Lebanon; during her time there she worked as a visiting researcher at the Institute of Women’s Studies in the Arab World. Whilst working at the Institute Nour updated their awareness guides for domestic workers in Lebanon. Nour introduced a new guide that was targeted towards Lebanese families in a bid to raise their awareness of the roles and responsibilities of domestic workers in the country. This guide formed part of Nour’s dissertation and it was published by the Institute in August 2017. 

Lina Kort

University of Essex
MA Psycholinguistics 2014/2015
Palestine
“The Said Foundation made my postgraduate studies possible, I was eager to return to Palestine to use what I had learnt to change whatever I could and introduce new therapy approaches. I am forever grateful for the opportunity the Foundation has given me, which made my vision achievable and will serve as a bridge for my future PhD studies.”

Speech therapy was a relatively new field in Palestine, it was only offered at Birzeit University starting 2011 so Lina studied her undergraduate degree in Jordan. She studied Speech Pathology and Audiology at Jordan University for Science and Technology which she completed in 2013.

After graduating, Lina worked for the Bethlehem Arab Society for Rehabilitation (BASR) in the West Bank. During her time there she quickly identified many gaps in the sector’s knowledge and expertise so in order to help the development of the field she decided to pursue an MA in Psycholinguistics.

On completion of her studies Lina returned to the West Bank as the Head of Department at the BASR where she has successfully introduced new methods of assessment and treatment techniques. Alongside her work at BASR, Lina teaches at Birzeit University, where she is able to share her knowledge and expertise with new graduating students. She is currently co-writing a book that is based on a case study of her work. 

Ahmad al-Rashid

School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London
MSc Violence, Conflict and Development 2016-2017
Syria
“The programme I studied at SOAS has not only expand my knowledge of the impact violence and conflicts but also enabled me to explore possibilities to transform challenges into opportunities."

Ahmad graduated from Aleppo University in 2012 with a BA in English Literature. He moved to the Kurdistan Region of Iraq in 2013 where he joined the UN to support efforts to aid Syrian refugees and Iraqi displaced people. In mid-2015 Ahmad moved to the UK and was supported by the Said Foundation to do his masters in Violence, Conflict and Development. 

Since his arrival in the UK, Ahmad worked with various groups and organisations advocating for refugee rights and children refugees. He has spoken in the UK Parliament on several occasions and written for several news agencies including the Guardian and the Independent. Ahmad also featured on the BBC’s award winning documentary Exodus which followed his long and perilous journey from Syria to the UK. Ahmad has participated in several public debates and continues to raise awareness about the plight of Syrian refugees.

After completing his masters Ahmad has been working as a consultant for the International Organisation for Migration where he supports the integration of Syrian refugees resettled to the UK. 

Hamza Arsbi

University of Manchester
MSc International Development: Public Policy and Management 2016/17
Jordan
“Being a Said Scholar opened many doors for me and introduced me to many networks. But beyond that, the heart and soul of the Said Foundation and its team made me feel part of a global family which encouraged me to be a better person and prove myself deserving of all that they have given me.”

Hamza received a joint Said Foundation – Chevening scholarship to study International Development: Public Policy and Management at the University of Manchester.

Prior to his studies Hamza worked for a social enterprise called the Science League which he co-founded in 2012. The Science League works across Jordan to increase access to education and teach 21st century skills to the next generation. Over the past five years, his organization reached over 4000 students in seven cities across Jordan and developed a number of supportive curricula for both teachers and students.

For this work, Hamza received multiple fellowships and awards, such as the AMENDS Fellowship at Stanford and the Laureate Global Fellowship by the International Youth Foundation. He was also selected as a Jordanian success story by HM King Abdullah II of Jordan in 2015.

Following his masters degree Hamza returned to his role at the Science League.

 

Ola Amareen

University of Southampton
MSc Public Health 2017/18
Jordan
“I have always believed that there is no substitute for the full experience: the food, culture, studies, traditions, arts, languages and environment of other country. Moreover, Jordanian culture is rich, vibrant and worthy of showing off! So being a part of the Said Foundation family has made this come true. Doing my masters abroad and living alone for the first time comes hand in hand with challenges and thriving experiences on so many levels. Every other experience is dwarfed now comparing to this!”
Since completing her bachelors in Pharmacy at the University of Jordan, Ola has worked closely with public and private health sectors in Jordan. She has worked as a pharmacist responsible for providing and dispensing medicines and vaccines (adult and paediatric), and has focused on oncology and haematology medications with the aim of increasing public access to these vital services. She has also volunteered for many not for profit organisations and local community initiatives such as Operation smile, Lady of Peace Elderly House and the Humanitarian Centre.
 
Whilst working Ola became increasingly aware of the need for change in the health sector, especially in light of the devastating crisis in Syria. It became clear that a global population level intervention was needed to cope with such tragedy. The Middle East region had made some outstanding advancements in medicine and public health, however, considerable public health challenges continued and she was determined to play a part of shaping the sector’s future. 
 
To help her achieve this Ola was selected to receive a scholarship to study for an MSc in Public Health at the University of Southampton. The programme has helped her to widen her vision and expanded her understanding of the health sector. During her studies Ola has focussed on refugees' mental health issues as a result of armed conflicts, and the emerging and re-emerging of infectious diseases and their control after displacement. Ola was also selected to be the Student Representative for the Public Health programme at the University of Southampton.
 

Nancy Hamad

University of York
MA Post-War Reconstruction and Development, 2010/2011
Lebanon
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
Palestine
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
Palestine
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
Syria
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
Syria
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
Jordan
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
Jordan
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
Palestine
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
Jordan

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
Palestine
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
Palestine
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 www.amershomali.info

Malek Takieddine

University of Aberdeen
LLM Oil & Gas Law, 2007/08
Lebanon
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
Lebanon
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
Lebanon
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.  

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