Year graduated from SOAS
1993 and 1996
BA Arabic with History
MA Near & Middle East Area Studies
Current job title and name of organisation
CEO, Asfari Foundation
What do you like about what you do?
Using my knowledge of and contacts in the Arab world to support colleagues in the region to create societies in which young people can thrive and contribute.
How has your time at SOAS helped you succeed in this role?
I learned Arabic, which was helpful in the Arab region. Also, because at SOAS I was able to take Middle East courses in various disciplines (history, language, geography, culture, anthropology and politics), I developed a broad insight into the Arab world which still helps me to put developmental issues in a broader perspective.
Can you give current students any tips on getting into this kind of work?
First of all, I worked throughout my degrees in junior positions (child care, admin, market research, etc.) which gave me useful work experience and skills that I still benefit from today. After graduation I moved to the Arab region and looked for work in local social development organisations as a volunteer or junior staff member. Two years of this kind of work meant I improved my language skills, gained useful work experience, developed a much better and more realistic understanding of the local situation and built a range of contacts. I then did a Masters degree to add skills I felt I was still lacking and all of this together led to my first job in the social development field in the UK.