Founder and Director, Sawa for Development and Aid & Sawa Foundation UK

Dr Rouba Mhaissen

Dr Rouba Mhaissen is a Syrian-Lebanese economist, activist, community mobilizer, and development practitioner who works on development issues in the MENA region, particularly forced migration and the Syrian refugee crisis. She is the Founder and Director of Sawa for Development and Aid (founded in 2011), a civil society organization that supports Syrian refugees in Lebanon and the internally displaced in Syria, and Sawa Foundation UK (founded in 2016), that supports forced migrants in Europe and the Middle East. This work focuses on protection, education, capacity building, skills and advocacy with affected communities in Syria and the region.

Rouba Mhaissen received her BA in Economics from the American University of Beirut, her MSc in Development from the London School of Economics, and an MPhil/PhD in Gender and Economic Development from the School of Oriental and African Studies. She also holds two degrees in Exponential Technologies from Singularity University (Silicon Valley). She has taught at SOAS, University of London and is currently a lecturer at the American University of Beirut.

She is the recipient of numerous awards relating to her work on gender issues, human rights as well as Syria-related work; these include the Queen Elizabeth Award (2011), the FCO Marsh Award for Peacemaking and Peacekeeping (2016), The AUB Most Distinguished Alumni Award (2017), and the Forbes 30Under30 list for Policy and Law (2017), as well as the Vital Voices Global leadership Award for Human Rights (2019) and the Rafto prize for Human Rights (2019).