Our Gaza scholars

Oxford Brookes’ Gaza Scholarship was started in 2009 by Sir Iain Chalmers and Dr Paul Brankin, in order to “indicate to Palestinians in Gaza that they hadn’t been forgotten”. It funds students from Gaza to study for a Master’s degree at Oxford Brookes.

Here is an update on the progress of some of our scholars following their time at Brookes.

Ramy Salemdeeb ’11

Ramy was the first Oxford Brookes Gaza scholar. He joined us in 2010 to study MSc Environment Management &Technology.

After graduating from Brookes, Ramy set up the volunteer-based Zero Waste MENA (Middle East and North Africa), which promotes sustainable practices, with the ultimate goal of closing all the landfills in the MENA region

“I had learned a lot on waste management,” Ramy explains, “and that was the area I wanted to deep dive into in my career. So I started Zero Waste MENA straight after my Master’s. At the start I thought about just focusing on Palestine but I realised that we share the same challenges and problems across the region so I thought I will start something bigger.”

The organisation has recruited volunteers from across the region, including from Morocco, Egypt and Lebanon. Much of its work is in sharing knowledge across social media, blogs and conferences, but they did also manage to get funding to run a six-month project in Gaza.

“It was in partnership with a local NGO. We set up youth groups and gave them the training and resources they needed to launch their own green initiatives.”

In 2013, Ramy started a PhD on food waste at Cambridge University. A brief summary of his research is given below:

In collaboration with two UK leading waste management companies and three universities, my PhD research project investigated the overall environmental impact of the food waste hierarchy using different quantitative assessment techniques: hybrid LCA, environmentally-extended input-output analysis, multi-regional analysis and rebound effect modelling. As part of my research project, I developed a state-of-the-art hybrid LCA approach to overcoming drawbacks associated with conventional LCA. Three case studies based on the new hybrid LCA model were published in prestigious academic journals: Waste Management, Journal of Cleaner Production, and Waste Management & Research.

Ramy in graduation robes, Cambridge

Ramy (pictured above in his Cambridge graduation gown) now works for Zero Waste Scotland, as an Environmental Analyst. For him, it was a logical next step in his career.

“It’s the right fit for me at this time. Scotland is world-leading in this area, they have ambitious targets and goals. So I thought it would be really great to learn here, and get some ideas that in the future I might be able to replicate back home.

“Also they are trying to see how their actions in reducing waste can help tackle climate change. So my expertise and the models I worked on for my PhD should be really helpful for that. I am now working on a new tool for them to look at other things as well as climate change.”

Ramy is keen to promote Palestinian culture and is part of the Palestine History Tapestry team, led by Jan Chalmers.

“Last year we helped to set up a small exhibition in Scotland. We brought some of the panels to Edinburgh to exhibit them there.”

Sadly Ramy has not been able to visit family and friends in Gaza since 2013. The unpredictability of the border issue meant he risked being unable to return to complete his PhD, and the Covid-19 pandemic made travel very difficult over the last couple of years. But he is hopeful he can go back soon, and in the longer-term return to use his professional and academic expertise to improve waste management and wider environmental issues in his homeland.

Find out more about Zero Waste MENA at www.zerowastemena.org

mosab alkhatib ’21

Mosab joined Brookes in 2020, during the Covid-19 pandemic. Despite the usual challenges of travel from Gaza being compounded by covid-related restrictions, Mosab’s determination to study and better himself saw him excel at MSc Mechanical Engineering.

Mosab (pictured above in Oxford) explains, “I had worked for Gaza Power Plant for several years to the point I couldn’t contribute further. Looking for ways to progress with my skills and knowledge but there were no mechanical engineering postgraduate programmes in Gaza at all.

“I had to be patient and dedicated looking for the right opportunity and coming to Brookes. As an engineer, if you develop the right set of skills, you can go just about anywhere. But you need to have the right mentality – to be able to deal with things and find solutions – and Brookes taught me that.

“I am now in a job, with Minibems in Bournemouth, that reflects my skills and what I am looking for in the future. It provides sustainable heating solutions. I plan to get more experience and advance my skills here, so that I can return to Gaza in the future and really make a difference.“

more of our scholars

A quick summary of where some of our other scholars are now working or studying.

Jamila Alza’anin ’12 (MA Development & Emergency Practice)
Associate Screening Officer, UNHCR in United Arab Emirates

Hassan Alhallaq ’13 (MSc e-Business)
Senior Partner Enablement Manager, Cybersource in Oxford

Shayma Alwaheidi ’15 (MSc Public Health)
Working towards a PhD at King’s College London

Omar Jouda ’17 (MSc e-Business)
Product Manager, GlobalData Plc in London

Amal Jaber ’18 (MA Development & Emergency Practice)
Urban Displacement Outside Camp Technical Officer, Norwegian Refugee Council

Hadil Louz ’19 (LLM Human Rights Law)
Working towards a PhD at University of St Andrews

Haya Abdalhadi ’20 (MA Development & Emergency Practice)
Volunteer, Oxfam International in Palestine