Salwa Mikdadi

al Mawrid Director and Principal Investigator

Salwa Mikdadi is a Professor of Practice of Art History at NYU Abu Dhabi. Her research and interest in Arab art spans over fifty years focusing on modern and contemporary art of the Arab world, the history of Arab art institutions, gender politics in art, and the relationship between museums and society. Before joining NYUAD, she taught at Sorbonne-Paris Abu Dhabi and served as Head of the Arts and Culture Program at the Emirates Foundation. She has curated numerous exhibitions including the first Palestine exhibition at the Venice Biennial (2009), A Century in Flux: Highlights from the Barjeel Collection (Sharjah Art Museum, 2018), and Forces of Change: Artists of the Arab World (USA 1994-5). She is the editor of several books and catalogs: Elias Zayat: Cities and Legends, Palestine c/o Venice, Visual Reflections on Arabic Poetry, In/Visible: Arab American Artists, New Visions: Arab Contemporary Art of the 21st Century.

May Al-Dabbagh

al Mawrid Co-Principal Investigator

May al-Dabbagh is an Assistant Professor of Social Research and Public Policy (NYUAD). She conducts research on gender and globalization using a combination of social psychology, public
policy, and post-colonial feminist lenses. Her current book project, The Messy Middle, is an ethnography of serial migration in Dubai focusing on motherhood, work, and movement. She has received fellowships from the Center of Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences (Stanford), The Women and Public Policy Program (Harvard), and The Global Institute for Advanced Study and Tisch School of the Arts (NYU).

At al Mawrid, she runs Haraka: Experimental Lab for Arab Art and Social Thought which focuses on contemporary art in the Gulf/Khaleej and bridges the social sciences and arts at NYUAD.

Al-Dabbagh holds a BA from Harvard University and a PhD from the University of Oxford.

For more information see:

Shamoon Zamir

al Mawrid Co-Principal Investigator

Shamoon Zamir is an Associate Professor of Literature & Art History, NYU Abu Dhabi. Zamir works in and across the areas of literature, photography, art, and intellectual history. Dark Voices, his study of the African American writer W.E.B. Du Bois explored literature’s dialogues with philosophy and sociology, and The Gift of the Face explores the relationship of aesthetics and ethics in the work of the photographer Edward S. Curtis and examines the ways in which image and text, art and science, pictorialist photography, and anthropology come together in Curtis’s portraits of Native Americans. Photography and Citizenship is a book-length examination (in progress) of the famous ‘Family of Man’ exhibition from the 1950s and its global reception in the context of the Cold War. Helen Levitt: New York 1939 is a reading of a single photograph. Zamir has also translated short stories from Urdu. Zamir studied at the University of London and has taught at the University of Chicago, York University, and the University of London before joining NYUAD.

Anneka Lenssen


Anneka Lenssen is an Associate Professor in the Department of History of Art at the University of California Berkeley and a former senior fellow (Spring 2022) in the Humanities Research Fellowships for the Study of the Arab World program at NYUAD. A scholar of global modern and contemporary art, with a focus on the Arab world and SWANA region, she is author of Beautiful Agitation: Modern Painting and Politics in Syria (University of California Press, 2020) and co-editor with Nada Shabout and Sarah Rogers of an anthology of translated art writing, Modern Art in the Arab World: Primary Documents (New York: Museum of Modern Art, 2018). She is an art editor for the journal Critical Times and serves on the editorial board of Representations, among other editorial collaborations. As an investigator with al Mawrid, she will be contributing to work on developing the Arab Art Collections.

Ala Younis

Research Scholar

Ala Younis is an artist focusing on research, film, and publishing projects. Younis’s projects look into how the archive plays on predilections and how its mishaps manipulate the imagination. She curated several shows including Kuwait’s first pavilion at the Venice Biennale (2013). She is co-Head of Berlinale’s Forum Expanded, co-Artistic Director of Singapore Biennale 2022, and a member of the Akademie der Künste der Welt (Cologne). She co-founded the independent publishing initiative, Kayfa ta, which researches and publishes on and through independent endeavors. Among the publications, Younis edited Tin Soldiers (2012), Territorial Subjects: Twenty Years of YAYA (Qattan Foundation, 2019), and Abdul Hay Mosallam Zarara (Sharjah Art Foundation, 2020). She co-edited How to maneuver: Shapeshifting texts and other publishing tactics (Kayfa ta and Warehouse421, 2020), and Time Is Out Of Joint (Sharjah Art Foundation, 2016).  She led the online workshops Superheat (2020) for Studio-X / Columbia Global Center and unprepared (2021) for Qattan Foundation. Her work and writings are published in numerous publications including e-flux, Nafas Art, Mizna Journal, Ibraaz, Creative Time, Camera Austria, Divan Journal, and Flash Art.  Younis holds a BSc. in Architecture from the University of Jordan (1997) and MRes in Visual Cultures from Goldsmiths, University of London (2016).

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Maysa Shaer

Research Assistant

Prior to joining NYUAD, Maysa Shaer held a year-long archival fellowship at the Williams College Special Collections and Rare Books Library. At Williams, she collaboratively processed a number of diverse archival collections, primarily focusing on the papers of writer and educator Sterling A. Brown and the Library’s Graphic Arts Collection. Her research interests lie at the intersection of material culture and social theory where she studies the capacity for art and artists’ movements to influence the public sphere. In the archive, she seeks to critically engage the role that archival practices play in knowledge production of and about the Arab world. Maysa holds a Bachelor of Arts in Art History from Williams College.

Jonathan Burr


Since 2016, Jonathan Burr has worked on a variety of collections in al Mawrid’s Akkasah Photography Archive, including the digitization of the Samir Farid collection, a collection of negatives created on the sets of Egyptian films from throughout the 20th century. His professional interests lie primarily in digitization and online access to digital research materials, especially endangered archives that have become inaccessible, overlooked, or are in immediate danger of physical deterioration. Jonathan holds a BA in American Studies from the University of Maryland College Park and is currently studying for a master’s degree in Archives and Records Management at the University of Dundee.

Ibrahim Mohamed Ali

Assistant Archivist

Ibrahim Mohamed Ali worked as a documentation and preservation specialist on many archival collections, including the Ministry of Antiquities glass negative archives project, and the Attaya Gaddis studio archive project. Since 2010, he has worked as a conservator at the Grand Egyptian Museum Conservation Center. He completed internships on photograph preservation at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the National Gallery of Art, and the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. From 2011 to 2017, he attended the Middle East Photograph Preservation Initiative (MEPPI) workshops. He taught courses and conducted lectures in photograph preservation in Egypt and Japan. Ali holds an MA in Museum Studies from The George Washington University and a BA in Conservation from Cairo University. He is currently studying for a Ph.D. in Conservation Science at the Tokyo University of the Arts, Japan.

Maha Moussa

Administrative Coordinator

Maha Moussa has over twenty-five years of experience in project and office management. She worked as an executive assistant at the board level and has coordinated several projects with diplomatic missions.

She holds a BA in Business Administration from the American University of Beirut with certifications in Project Management Professional (PMP) and Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).