Oh, hi. I’m Zahra, an Arab/British freelance journalist based in London, where I work as a content specialist at Facebook. Prior to branching out into social media and tech, I was a reporter and editor at Bloomberg News in Dubai (2010-2013) and London (2013-2016). At Bloomberg, I covered the Arab Spring and its aftermath from the economic and financial perspectives. I went on to edit, blog, and curate breaking news across various beats, including finance, markets, politics, and the economy. I also had a couple of journalistic stints at the New York Times (as a fact-checking intern on the syndicate’s desk in Manhattan, where I once had the pleasure of correcting a factual error in a Noam Chomsky column) and The National (as a reporter on the local news desk in Abu Dhabi, where I once wrote about valet parking at the U.A.E. capital’s airport).
Despite my jump into social media, I’m admittedly still obsessed with news. To that end, I freelance, and I’m currently editing a book of original essays by Arab women who have been reporting on recent conflicts in the Arab world for major Western media outlets including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, NPR, the Associated Press and Agence France-Press as well as local Arab newspapers and broadcasters. The collection will examine the personal lives of these women reporters in the context of their careers. I’ll post updates on the project, which is due for publication in 2019 by Penguin Books, over at my blog, Florence of Arabia. Speaking of my blog, that’s where I (kind of) (occasionally) write about regional developments, whilst also analysing media coverage of the Arab world and Muslims globally.*
A little more about me: I’m Lebanese, dotted with some Syrian, Palestinian, and Egyptian. I was born in Belfast during the Lebanese civil war. Yes — my parents moved from one sectarian conflict to another. I have a BA in politics from the American University of Beirut, where I served as editor-in-chief of Outlook, the student newspaper. I went on to get an MA in Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Manchester before ditching academia and moving to New York briefly, where I earned an MS in newspaper journalism from the Columbia School of Journalism.
I would never have managed to attend Columbia had it not been for the wonderful people at the Scripps Howard Foundation. Attending the J-school changed my life. Besides immersing myself in journalism and falling in love with New York, I met some of the most incredible people I’ve ever come in contact with at Columbia — you know who you are. My only other major achievement in life is the Kindness, Helpfulness, and Generosity Award, given to me by Ronkswood Primary School in the Midlands in 1994. I still have the certificate.
*Disclaimer: None of the material included in the blog is affiliated with/represents the views of my employer in any way. Articles shared are certainly not endorsements.