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2022 Saïd Rhodes Forum on Syria, Jordan, Lebanon & Palestine (SJLP)



Join us for the next Saïd - Rhodes Forum on Syria, Jordan, Lebanon & Palestine (SJLP) at Saïd Business School

Hybrid Saïd - Rhodes Forum on Syria, Jordan, Lebanon & Palestine (SJLP)

"A Region Through Time: Legacy, Trouble and Hope"                               

Saturday 21st May 2022

Saïd Business School, Oxford


The Saïd - Rhodes Forum on Syria, Jordan, Lebanon & Palestine (SJLP) celebrates the historic partnership between the Saïd Foundation and the Rhodes Trust.

The Forum will explore the Past, Present and Future of the region, aiming to provide a space to explore the pressing issues and encourage critical debate, while being forward looking and solution oriented. The conference will take us on a journey through the richness of the past, the complexity of the present day, and allow us to imagine a dynamic future of hope and prosperity. By addressing diverse topics pertinent to the region––under the broad themes of culture, economy, and governance––this conference demonstrates that the region is far from static, and its fate is not foreclosed.



  • Eliana Abu-Hamdi, Program Manager, MIT & Visiting Associate Professor, Pratt Institute
  • Tamim Al-Barghouti, Poet, Professor and Diplomat
  • Waad Alkateab, Filmmaker & Activist
  • Omar Ferwati, Researcher, Forensic Architecture
  • Valentina Kassisieh, Chief Executive Officer , The Abdul Hameed Shoman Foundation
  • Barik Mhadeen, Independent Policy Analyst
  • Sami Moubayed, Chairman, The Damascus History Foundation
  • Amr Najjar, Senior Researcher, Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST)
  • Jessica Obeid, Non-Resident Scholar- Middle East Institute, and Senior Advisor- Azure Strategy
  • Nisreen Salti, Associate professor of Economics, American University of Beirut
  • Karam Shaar, Independent consultant on Syria, Research Director of the Operations and Policy Center & Non-Resident Scholar, Middle East Institute.
  • Rania Succar, Co-Founder, Jusoor, SVP and Business Leader for QuickBooks Payments and Capital | Intuit
  • Sana Tannoury-Karam, Visiting Fellow, University of Cambridge
  • Himmat Zoubi, Post-doctoral Fellow, Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung (EUME - Forum Transregionale Studien, and the Centre for Middle Eastern and North African Studies, Freie Universitat)




On Friday 20th May, In preparation for the Forum, join us for a 60-minute in-person oud performance with Mohannad Nasser preceded by a drinks reception. Registration for this event is separate, and can be found here -


Tickets are on a first-come, first-serve basis and are available today! If you have any questions please contact


Confirmed Speakers and the programme will be updated on our website.

Delegates are responsible for organising their own accommodation. Book early to avoid disappointment!

Please contact if you have any questions or have any difficulties booking.

Dress Code: Business Casual - No Ties




*Please note that your attendance fee helps to partially cover the cost of the Forum. We rely on the generosity of individual donors and other sponsors to cover the rest of the costs.* 




Download full programme


Forum Speaker

  • Eliana Abu-Hamdi, is currently the Program Manager for the Global Architectural History Teaching Collaborative (GAHTC) at MIT. She recently joined the Board of Directors of the Society of Architectural Historians as well as the faculty of Pratt Institute as Visiting Associate Professor. She also teaches courses on Global Poverty and the Ethics of Development as well as the History of Global Urbanism at Hunter College, in the Department of Political Science. She is an experienced architectural practitioner and educator. She is an urbanist, designer and Middle Eastern/Global South scholar with published journal articles and contributed chapters in edited volumes. Her research on architecture and development in Jordan contributes to the debates on the political economy of urbanism in developing cities, thereby establishing a connection between their geopolitical histories and urban present. Currently she is also actively developing her manuscript for submission to Cambridge University Press.
  • Tamim Al-Barghouti is a Palestinian poet, political scientist and diplomat. He is the author of: “Al-Wataniyya Al-Aleefa”[Benign Nationalism] (Cairo: 2007) and The Umma and The Dawla: The Nation State and the Arab Middle East (London: 2008). He is also the author of “War, Peace, Civil War: a Pattern?” in Palestine and the Palestinians in the 21st century (Bloomington: 2013), “Cracking Cauldrons” in Shifting Sands: the Unravelling of the Old Order in the Middle East (London: 2015). And “The Post-Colonial State: The Impossible Compromise” in The Oxford Encyclopaedia of Islam and Politics. Oxford University Press, 2014. He received his PhD in political science from Boston University in 2004, and has since taught at Georgetown University, the Free University in Berlin, and the American University in Cairo. He was also a fellow at the Berlin Institute for Advanced studies 2007-2008. worked with and at the United Nations between 2005-2006 and 2011-2017. His UN positions included: Special Assistant to the Deputy Secretary General-the Executive Secretary of the Economic and Social Commission for West Asia and Head of the Palestine Unit in the same Commission. He was the core team leader and lead author of the UNESCWA report Injustice in the Arab World, and the Arab Development Outlook: Vision 2030. As a poet, Al-Barghouti is widely read in the Arab. His poetry readings l packing stadiums and amphitheatres, and his poems have had hundreds of millions of readers and viewers on various traditional and new media. During the Egyptian uprising of January 2011, a TV recording of Tamim’s lyrical poem "Hanet" (Almost there); was projected in Cairo’s Tahrir Square every couple of hours on makeshift screens, despite the internet being down and regional news channels being banned. He currently has his own poetry program on AJ+ Arabic.
  • Waad al-Kateab is a Syrian activist and award-winning filmmaker, whose debut feature film, For Sama, won a BAFTA for Best Documentary and received a nomination at the Academy Awards 2020. Waad, who lives in London with her family, is currently working on a new documentary covering the Olympic Refugee Team, commissioned by the IOC for XTR, working alongside Oscar-winning producer Joanna Natasegara. Waad also dedicates time to her advocacy campaign, Action For Sama. In 2021, Waad was announced as the recipient of the Academy Gold Fellowship for Women by The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
  • Syrian-born serial entrepreneur and Rhodes Scholar, Amer holds two degrees from the University of Oxford and is a governance, policy, and finance expert. He co-founded award-winning international companies, built properties in Europe, served as the founding president of the Oxford Syria Society, and advised clients ranging from government authorities to a Premier League FC. Currently, Amer is CEO of the award-winning Swiss banking fintech ‘Masref’ which provides safe and ethical banking services to everyday people from distressed economies. He is a tireless optimist, an expert problem solver, and, secretly, a music composer.
  • Omar Ferwati is a researcher with Forensic Architecture (FA), an agency based at Goldsmiths, University of London, which applies pioneering spatial analysis techniques for human rights investigations. His work with FA has ranged from investigating airstrikes to colonial violence, to environmental racism. Omar has previously taught at the University of Waterloo School of Architecture. His own research currently focuses on how civilians use architecture to survive urban warfare and other crises. Omar trained as an architect in Canada and has worked at several architecture practices.
  • Valentina Kassisieh is a Jordanian social activist with a focus on community empowerment and cultural inclusion. She is currently the CEO of Abdul Hameed Shoman Foundation (AHSF), a non-profit organisation dedicated to investing in cultural, scientific and social innovation. She is also a board of the Innovative Startups Fund Project (a World Bank project), a member of the Higher National Committee for Music, the national committee for media education, the higher advisory committee for the “Development of a National Strategy for improving reading skills in the Arabic language” program, and a member of the board of trustees of the Baptism Site Development Zone. She has sat on several boards such as the National Scientific Research Fund, AlBalqa' Applied University, the state TV “Al Mamlaka”, and she is a member of the College Council at the faculty of Arts and Design at the University of Jordan. Before joining AHSF, Valentina held the position of Director General of the Jordan River Foundation, a national NGO, focusing on community and youth empowerment, entrepreneurship, and child safety. Valentina holds a Master’s degree in management studies with a focus on applying business process re-engineering on income-generating projects. In 2010, Valentina was awarded the Eisenhower Fellowship.
  • Barik Mhadeen previously worked for Generations For Peace from January 2021 as a Senior Policy Research Specialist. In this role, he was responsible for developing, leading on, coordinating, and implementing high quality policy research in the peacebuilding/conflict field. Originally from Jordan, Barik holds a Master’s degree in International Relations from the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom. His research focused on social movements in the Arab world and the shifting dynamics of political contention post the 2011 uprisings. He attended the Lebanese American University in Lebanon during his undergraduate career, where he majored in Political Science/International Affairs and minored in Economics. Before joining GFP, Barik was a Senior Researcher in the field of Human Security at the West Asia-North Africa (WANA) Institute, where he supported the research and implementation of WANA’s several Human Security and Preventing/Countering Violent Extremism (P/CVE) projects in Jordan and the region. Barik has also been actively engaged in the operationalisation of the Youth, Peace and Security YPS agenda at the national and regional levels and was a member of the Mediterranean Discourse on Regional Security (MDRS).
  • Sami Moubayed is a Syrian historian, former Carnegie scholar, and founding chairman of The Damascus History Foundation. He has written extensively on the contemporary history of Damascus from the late Ottoman era until the Syrian-Egyptian union of 1958. He has authored ten books, five in English and five in Arabic. His most recent publication is Nakbat Nasara al-Cham (Riad El Rayyes Books, Beirut, 2020) about the 1860 events in Damascus.
  • Amr (PhD) is a full time researcher in Artificial Intelligence, explainable AI and AI Ethics. He has published more than 60 peer-reviewed publications in top journals and international AI conferences and participated in several European and International research projects. Amr is also interested in outreach and knowledge dissemination. He has been the scriptwriter of several popular science shows online.
  • Jessica Obeid is an independent energy consultant. She possesses unique assets of combining technical and policy expertise and has advised a wide range of entities across the Middle East, Europe, and Africa. Additionally, Jessica is non-resident scholar at the Middle East Institute- Washington DC in the Energy and Economics Program, and Lebanon Program. She also serves as senior global advisor for Azure Strategy- London. In 2017-2018, she was resident fellow at Chatham House’s energy, environment, and resources program- London. Prior to that, she had a decade experience in engineering, and was the chief energy engineer at UNDP in Beirut. Jessica has published widely and regularly provides expert commentary to leading media outlets. She has been awarded the EU Visitors Program, the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office International Leaders and the US State Department TechWomen fellowships. She holds a masters’ degree in political sciences, and a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the Lebanese American University.
  • Nisreen Salti is an associate professor of economics at the American University of Beirut. She works on development economics and political economy. Her research is on inequality and inequity in resources, access, and outcomes, with a focus on health. She is especially interested in marginalized communities, particularly refugees, including their health and labour market outcomes.
  • Originally from Aleppo, Syria, Dr. Shaar has lived for 14 years in Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, and New Zealand. He is particularly interested in Syria’s political economy. His writings on the subject have been published in The Brookings Institution, Carnegie Middle East Center, the Atlantic Council, and the Middle East Institute where he is a non-resident scholar. He has also been quoted by The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Financial Times, The Guardian, CNBC, PRI, BBC, Aljazeera, and Al-Arabiya. Karam works as an independent Syria consultant, the Research Director at the Operations and Policy Center (OPC), and the Syria Program Manager at the Political and Economic Networks Observatory. Prior to that, he worked as a Senior Analyst at the New Zealand Treasury, a researcher at the Reserve Bank of New Zealand, and as a Senior Lecturer on Middle East Politics at Massey University.
  • Maha Shuayb is the director of the Centre for Lebanese Studies (CLS) and has been recently awarded the British Academy Bilateral Chair in Education at the University of Cambridge and LAU. Maha has a PhD in education from the University of Cambridge. Her research focuses on education inequalities, education of refugee children, citizenship and history education. She is a co-founder of the Lebanese Association for History and the Disability Research and Advocacy Hub.
  • Rania Succar is the SVP/Business Leader for the QuickBooks Money portfolio, including small business payments, banking, and lending. She and her team have launched several game changing offerings for small business over the past few years, including: QuickBooks Capital, which expands access to capital to early stage businesses; Cash Flow Planner, which gives small businesses visibility into their cash flow 90 days into the future; and QuickBooks Cash, which provides an all digital, no fee bank account that offers instant money movement capabilities. Given her Syrian heritage, Rania has been deeply involved in creating opportunities for youth in the Arab world. Most recently, Rania co-founded Jusoor (“bridges” in Arabic) a global non-profit organization focused on investing in Syria’s youth for a brighter tomorrow. To date, the organization has helped educate nearly 1,000 young people who otherwise would not have been able to continue their education. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and two children.
  • Sana Tannoury-Karam is a historian of the modern Middle East, writing on the intellectual and cultural history of the Arab Left. She is currently a Visiting Fellow at the Center for Lebanese Studies at the University of Cambridge. Most recently, Tannoury-Karam was a EUME fellow at the Forum Transregionale Studien, Berlin and a Research Affiliate at the Center for Global History, Freie Universität (2020/2022). In 2019/2020, she was an Early Career Fellow at the Arab Council for the Social Sciences (ACSS), and in 2018/2019 she completed a post-doctoral fellowship at Rice University. Tannoury-Karam’s work has appeared in a range of publications, including her most recent co-edited volume, The League Against Imperialism: Lives and Afterlives (Leiden University Press, 2020).
  • Himmat Zoubi (Zu’bi), is a Palestinian researcher. She is a Post-Doctoral Fellow of Europe in The Middle East - The Middle East in Europe (EUME), at the Forum Transreginale Studien, Berlin, since 2018, and she will continue with EUME in the academic years of 2019-2023. During 2021-2022, Zoubi will be a Post-doctoral fellow of The International Research Group on Authoritarianism and Counter-Strategies (IRGAC) at Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung (Berlin), associated with The Center for Middle Eastern and North African Studies at the Freie Universität, and with EUME, Berlin. Zoubi, holds a PhD in Sociology from Ben-Gurion University (2019). She contributed to several book chapters and articles on gender, cities urbanization and settler colonialism, memory and oral history, Indigenous knowledge and resistance.

Forum Moderator

Forum Committee Member

  • Abdallah is a master's student in computer science with a focus on Human-Computer Interaction and AI at Stanford University, where he also completed his bachelor's in computer science with a minor in education. Inspired by his experience growing up in Gaza, Palestine, Abdallah is passionate about the combination of technology and learning, and how it could be used to support people globally. He has conducted research at Stanford with the HCI Lab and CartaLab on educational technology. Abdallah is also interested in informal learning opportunities; he has served as a resident assistant, and been involved in student organizations such as the Muslim Student Union and the Stanford Middle East Ensemble. At Oxford, Abdallah is looking to further explore the intersection of computer science and education.
  • Leen Aghabi is a Jordanian policy practitioner with over six years of cross-disciplinary work experience in public policy, economic development and evidence-based research. She currently works with the World Bank Group in Jordan. Her portfolio of advisory projects focuses on providing private sector solutions that lay the foundation for job creation and sustainable economic growth in MENA and Africa. Before joining the World Bank Group, Leen was a Policy Analyst at the Political Affairs Directorate of the Office of His Majesty King Abdullah II of Jordan. Prior, she was a Research Fellow in the field of Human Security at the West Asia-North Africa (WANA) Institute, where she supported the research and implementation of WANA’s several Human Security and Preventing/Countering Violent Extremism (P/CVE) projects. Leen holds a Master’s degree in International Relations, with Merit, from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), which she completed as a Saïd Foundation scholar.
  • Syrian-born serial entrepreneur and Rhodes Scholar, Amer holds two degrees from the University of Oxford and is a governance, policy, and finance expert. He co-founded award-winning international companies, built properties in Europe, served as the founding president of the Oxford Syria Society, and advised clients ranging from government authorities to a Premier League FC. Currently, Amer is CEO of the award-winning Swiss banking fintech ‘Masref’ which provides safe and ethical banking services to everyday people from distressed economies. He is a tireless optimist, an expert problem solver, and, secretly, a music composer.
  • Melanie is a Lebanese-Greek Oxford Graduate in public policy and Oxford-Saïd Foundation Scholar with seven years of professional experience in the social sector, including five years at the United Nations. Most recently, she worked at the Thomson Reuters Foundation in London where she implemented projects supporting the media in centralizing marginalized communities in countries like Lebanon and others. Prior to that, she worked at the UN in Geneva on high-profile projects with policy makers. In her spare time, she writes articles on the MENA region and hosts live talks on her Instagram channel about the socio-political situation of Lebanon to democratize public policy. Passionate about storytelling, she aspires to advance social change through every aspect of storytelling.
  • Joumana Talhouk graduated with a BA in Sociology and Anthropology from the American University of Beirut (AUB). She is a candidate for the MPhil in Development Studies at the University of Oxford. Her thesis explores the interplay of domestic labour, money, and migration in the social reproduction of the Lebanese middle class, against the backdrop of the country’s economic collapse. Joumana also has research experience with the AUB on Lebanon’s policy framework for hosting Syrian refugees in Lebanon. More recently, she is a collaborator on a comparative research study led by the Peace Research Institute, Harvard’s Graduate School of Education, and AUB on refugee education in Lebanon and Kenya, exploring refugee young people’s sense of belonging and civic identity, and how education might contribute to building durable futures in contexts of displacement. While in Lebanon, Joumana was involved in student organizations, student and municipal elections, and wider political movements.
  • Oudai is a Doctoral Candidate at the University of Cambridge researching the potential role of the Syrian diaspora academics and researchers in rebuilding the higher education sector of Syria. He is currently a co-chair of the University of Cambridge Peace and Education Research Group (CPERG). Oudai has 10 years of experience in teams and projects management for the purpose of supporting access to higher education. He worked in the private and INGOs sectors with organisations like Oxfam and UNESCO RILA Scotland. Most recently, he co-founded and managed the International Syrian Association for Education Development, an international network of over 150 researchers, academics and professionals working on projects to support Syrian students to access higher education in the Levant region. Also, he recently managed the first online conference for the Syrian Diaspora “Syrians Around the World”, attracting 1200 Syrian attendees from 50 countries. Oudai is Saïd Foundation scholar and Chevening alumni. He is interested in the intersection between education and other fields such politics, economy and sociology.

Other information


Please note there is no parking on site. The closest car park can be found at Oxford Train Station

Dress code

Business Casual


Event Registration