Local Researchers

The Refugee Hosts team is working closely with a network of researchers based in the Middle East throughout all stages of the project. They are currently working on field research in Lebanon and Jordan.


Hanaa Dahdal:

Hanaa Dahdal is a Syrian researcher who graduated with a degree in Education and Psychology from Damascus University in 2012. Hanaa has worked with NGOs as a trainer and outreach officer. Hanaa has a wealth of experience in the humanitarian section, having worked in particular with refugees, and on projects and initiatives that focus on awareness-raising and psychological support and life-skill development for mothers and children. Beyond her work and research interests, Hanaa enjoys cooking and swimming.

Reem El Khatib:

Reem El Khatib is a Palestinian-Lebanese refugee currently living in Lebanon. She recently received her B.A in Psychology from the American University of Beirut. She was a volunteer and then coordinator on the AUB-Kayany connect project, which was led by Professor Tony Hoffman at AUB. The program offered psychosocial activities to Syrian refugee children residing in the Bekaa valley camps, Lebanon. While assisting Professor Hoffman, Reem also helped run activities at an elementary school and at the Malala school in Saadnayel, Bekaa. Here, among other activities, she directed classes that focused on self-expression, theater and puppetry.  Reem is interested in studying resilience in refugees, as well as, the psychological effects of forced migration. Reem is hoping to specialise in refugee protection and war related trauma in the long run.

Leonie Harsch:

Leonie Harsch is a local researcher for the Refugee Hosts project conducting fieldwork in Lebanon. She recently received an MSc in Migration Studies with distinction from the University of Oxford and holds a BA in International Literatures and Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Tuebingen. Leonie’s research focuses on the underlying narratives of responses to displacement and migration, particularly with regards to refugees from Syria in Lebanon and Europe. She is also interested in the role of faith in such responses and experiences.

Bayan Itani: 

Bayan Itani is a Lebanese writer and researcher. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Arts from the Lebanese American University (2009) and a Master of Arts in Sociology from the American University of Beirut (2015). Bayan has had several experiences working with refugees around Lebanon, particularly after the outbreak of the Syrian crisis. These include monitoring protection work, overseeing surveying procedures, and conducting communication activities. Bayan’s hobbies are reading and writing; she writes socially themed Arabic short stories for children to fulfil this passion.

Mohammad Abu Iyad:

Mohammad is a Palestinian refugee from Baddawi camp in North Lebanon, where he has previously worked for UNRWA and a number of local NGOs and CBOs. Mohammad writes short stories, including pieces which have recently appeared in an edited collection published in Germany.


Rahmeh Abu Shweimeh:

Rahmeh Abu Shweimeh is a pharmacy graduate, an entrepreneur, a social activist, a US department of State alumna, Open Hands Initiative fellow and AMENDS delegate. She was also recently chosen as a member of the first Women Leaders Network in Jordan. Rahmeh has also spoken at a number of national and international events such as Women’s International Day and Women’s Entrepreneurship Day. She aspires to lead positive change in her country and beyond.

Shatha El Nakib:

Shatha El Nakib earned her Masters in Public Health from Columbia University with a specialisation in Epidemiology and a certificate in Humanitarian Assistance. Currently, she is a project officer in the Population Council, where she leads the organization’s activities in Jordan and the monitoring and evaluation component of the USAID-funded project “Expanding the Role of the Private Sector in Addressing Family Planning Needs of Young People in Egypt”. Before joining the Population Council, Shatha worked with UNICEF Middle East and North African regional office in Jordan, with the Child Survival and Development unit. Her work was in the area of public health response to emergencies.