Choosing to come back to Australia after five years in the Middle East was a big step for me. I completed my Bachelor of Arts 2005 at RMIT in Melbourne, with specializations in fine art photography, sound design, animation and video. I left Australia soon after graduating and discovered an interest in contemporary art movements emerging from the region.
For five years, I held arts related positions in the Middle East. My latest role was Research Centre Assistant at the Arab Image Foundation in Beirut, an institute that collects, archives and preserves photographs from the region.
Previous to this role I was in Syria for three years where I worked as a Journalist, Editor and freelance photographer. With four other journalists, I helped establish Baladna English Daily Newspaper where I worked as Arts and Culture section Editor. I also wrote on creative arts for Forward Magazine (Syria), Syria Today (Syria), What’s On, Syria (Syria), Bidoun Magazine (Dubai), Canvas Magazine (Dubai), The BrownBook (Dubai), The National (Abu Dhabi), and The Guardian (UK). I spent most of my time in Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Israel/Palestine, and saturated myself in the arts and culture of the region.
I participated in a program developed by Australian Education Services. The aim of my involvement was to produce a short documentary and to provide a range of images and voices from the region to assist young Australian students understand the similarities between themselves and young Arabs. This experience was pivotal in my desire to return home to study. Also adding to that was my desire to learn more. I felt I lacked a solid background on Middle Eastern history to understand the culture and art of the people whom I had indulged in, and the work that I admire. ANU and CAIS was the obvious choice for me because of its standing reputation as Australia best, both as a university and a department.
My experience at CAIS has exceeded my expectations. I have covered more history than I imagined and developed interests in different areas from the region. I now realize how little I knew and how much more I have to learn and I have found vigour to do so. I have also had the chance to brush up on Arabic, as I had never had any formal education.
When I graduate I will return to the Middle East to work. The knowledge I acquired through my degree will certainly assist me in developing a cohesive understanding of the evolution of art in different areas, and different eras, throughout the Middle East.