Category Archives: Women

SISTERS Magazine: Climate Justice and the Muslim Ummah

Click on the images below to read up my latest column for SISTERS magazine on climate justice and why it’s particularly important for Muslims to consider the future.
Green Ummah 1 SISTERS Magazine

Green Ummah 2 SISTERS magazine

Aquila Magazine: Leila Khaled – Daughter of Palestine

leila khaledLeila Khaled is probably the reason the saying “One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter” was invented. Okay, so I am exaggerating but not by as much as you would think. At the age of 25 Leila Khaled and a fellow combatant hijacked a plane to highlight the plight of the Palestinians who had been forgotten in the refugee camps of Jordan and Lebanon since the formation of Israel in 1948. It was 1969 and a year later, after some plastic surgery to make she wouldn’t be recognised, she would hijack another plane. Some hailed her as a hero, others as a terrorist. I interviewed Sarah Irving, author of recently published ‘Leila Khaled – Icon of Palestinian Liberation’ to talk about the hijackings, assassination attempts, marriage and life in a political organisation.

Read the full article and lots more by purchasing the January edition of Aquila Style here.

Mapping Palestine’s Environmental Civil Society – The Good, the Bad and the Uncooperative


A study mapping the environmental actors in Palestine shows a desperate lack of co-operation between organisations and donors keen to play it safe with ‘practical projects’

The lovely people at Heinrich Böll Stiftung had done something that I have been procrastinating about for almost lifetime (well, not quite a lifetime but a good couple of years at least). They have mapped out the important actors and organisations on the environmental scene in Palestine. Exciting, right!? They have painstakingly gone through all those websites, NGOs and institutes with an environmental focus to bring us a clear image of the state of the environmental movement in Palestine. They found that out of 2,245 NGOs registered in the oPt only 104 were environmentally-focused and of these, just 56 were actually still active. More juicy details after the jump.

The Facts on Green Palestine

- 104 registered environmental civil society organisation in the West Bank and Gaza

56 civil society organisations are actually still active

- Over 70% of environmental civil society organisations feel that their relationship with other organisations is competitive rather than co-operative

Limited funding and efforts to raise their grassroots presence are two main reasons for the competitiveness between organisations

8 key organisations in Palestine based on their size, the variety of programmes implemented and geographic range:

Most organisations complained that international donors attempted to remain neutral by focusing in practical action and lacked the political will to enforce real changes by addressing Palestinians’ rights to natural resources. As such many organisations felt their projects were simply ‘coping mechanisms’. Even so, the relationship between NGOs and funders was generally described as co-operative if highly dependent.

: For the full article and to find out the top 9 key green organisations in Palestine go to

: Palestine (Photo credit: Squirmelia)

Interview with Masdar’s Director of Sustainability – Nawal Al-Hosany

portrait of UAE national woman

In 2010, after eight days of hiking in freezing temperatures Nawal Al-Hosany reached the Uhuru Peak of Kilimanjaro Mountain. She explains that she underwent the challenging climb to highlight the impact of climate change which is melting the mountain’s snow and to encourage greater action in the Middle East. Al-Hosany who joined Masdar in 2008 as the sustainability associate director is now its director of sustainability. She also director of the influential Zayed Future Energy Prize. I caught up with her to talk about Masdar and how you incentivise renewables in a rich, oil-producing country.

Here’s a snippet of the interview which you can read in full at

GreenProphet: A recent report titled “Prospects for Energy Technology Advancements in the Energy Sector,” written by yourself and IRENA highlights the opportunities available to MENA if they embrace renewables. Why is now such a good time to adopt renewable technologies?

Nawal Al-Hosany: The MENA region, and especially the Gulf States, has an opportunity to leverage its expertise in energy and move into new sectors, including wind and solar power. The future energy mix will include renewables, and we should embrace this transition. In addition, the region also has an abundant solar resource – an energy we should tap into to address energy security and our rising demands. Although the region’s renewable resources have been underexploited, technology advances and increased deployment are now making certain forms of clean energy economically viable across the region.

Who are some of the women working in the environmental sector that inspire you?

The lack of women working in the environmental sector, and the opportunity to do more, is what ultimately inspires and motivates me. We only have a handful of women across the globe that are participating in the discussion on renewable energy, sustainability and addressing climate change. These are global issues that impact us all, irrespective of the roles we play or that have been defined [for us] by society.

Aquila Style Magazine – Muna AbuSulayman and Andalusia

Aquila Style Nov 2012 - Report Muna (promo)

Here are some sneaky promos for the articles I’ve been writing for the lovely Aquila Style Magazine. I had the chance to interview media powerhouse Muna AbuSulayman about being a Saudi women, employment, the world of TV and lots more. To read the full article and also lots more juicy stuff, go to their November edition which you can download  for just a couple of dollars.

I was also lucky enough to write about my trip to Andalusia back in March and the editors let me use my photos which I think turned out really well (I’m so modest, I know). Seriously have a read and tell me you don’t want to visit – I dare you.

Aquila Style Dec 2012 - Travel Spain (promo)

Gulf News: Middle East needs to pitch in for the world

Arab Youth Climate Movement has demanded that Arab leaders work constructively to achieve GHG emission reduction targets

By Arwa Aburawa Special to Weekend Review

On November 26, Doha is set to get even more international. World leaders, negotiators, campaigners and activists from all corners of the Earth will descend on the city to talk about climate change. Over 20,000 representatives are expected to attend Qatar’s largest conference to date, which also marks the first time the UN climate conference will be hosted in the Middle East. This is clearly a great opportunity for Qatar to enhance its growing role in international diplomacy. Hosting the COP18, however, is also a very risky move, with many predicting the failure of the talks.

International climate change negotiations have been taking place annually for more than 20 years now with the aim of setting national carbon targets to control global warming. Historically, the Arab world has played an obstructive role. Countries such as Saudi Arabia sent negotiators who said climate change was not taking place and insisted that they be compensated for any oil that they would have to stop extracting. Indeed, Qatar itself isn’t exactly a world leader when it comes to action to climate change. The small Gulf state has one of the world’s highest per-capita carbon footprints, with the average Qatari accounting for CO2 that is around 300 times more than an Ethiopian and three times the average American. Not exactly glowing statistics, but Qatar insists that this cause is something they feel passionately about. Continue reading

2Up 2Down: Liverpool Biennial, Housing and Regeneration

Brick by Brick and Loaf by Loaf, we build ourselves

A couple of months ago, I was lucky enough to be able to contribute to a pretty amazing Liverpool Biennial project working on regeneration in Anfield called Homebaked: 2Up 2Down. It was lead by a unique artist called Jeanne Van Heeswijk whose work focuses on  re-imaging social spaces and encouraging greater participation and interaction in public spaces.  Although the project – which is working to convert a shutdown space into a community bakery and centre- was launched a couple of weeks ago, for many it was another stage of a much longer process. One which see the homes as well as faith and trust returned to the residents of Anfield.

I was tasked with the rather lovely job of speaking to all those taking part in the project- either as volunteers or providing expert advice. The volunteers were particularly amazing people and I really enjoyed chatting them to about everything from art, houses, gardening to what they felt ‘living well’ was all about. You can check out all the profile interviews on this page.

Palestinian Women Are Being Failed by Refuge and Shelter Services

When I first heard about the murder of Nancy Zaboun in Bethlehem on Monday, July 30, all I could think about was that another woman had been let down by the system. A weak and underfunded protection system, which fails to support Palestinian women dealing with domestic violence and abuse in the West Bank, makes women choose between living with their abuser and being trapped in a women’s shelter where there is limited education, freedom of movement, or prospects of a better future. And, as a woman of Palestinian heritage, Nancy Zaboun’s murder makes me angry. I am angry that more was not done to protect her from years of abuse and finally murder. I am angry that resources are so poor that women often choose to risk their lives rather than enter a shelter. Continue reading

Egyptian campaigner: ‘Corruption not climate awareness is holding us back’

sarah-rifaat-350-arab-climate-egypt-corruptionWe speak to Egyptian campaigner Sarah Rifaat about the environmental movement and why bureaucracy and corruption are still the biggest barriers to change in Egypt 

Like many people in Egypt, Sarah Rifaat suffered from childhood asthma caused by the high level of pollution swirling around the city she grew up in. What Sarah did differently when she grew up however, is refuse to accept this as the norm. Sarah’s asthma was her first lesson in the importance of a healthy and sustainable lifestyle which led her down the path of environmental campaigning. Today, she works with as the Arab world co-ordinator and is also part of a new Arab Youth Climate Movement. I caught up with Sarah to find out more about her work and what she would change if she was Egyptian president for a day. Continue reading


Big Issue North: One-parent families on the rise among British Asians