*Maha Taki (b. Lebanon) has been working with the BBC’s international development arm BBC Media Action since 2008, developing a number of multi-platform and multi-format programmes. Maha has a PhD from the Communication and Media Research Institute at the University of Westminster. Her thesis explored how cultural, political and socio-economic factors influence how people use the internet in everyday life, with focus on Lebanon and Syria. She has been living and working in London since 2004.
Hivos: How and when did you come to know about Hivos' Knowledge Programme Civil Society in West Asia?
MT: I came across the Knowledge Programme Civil Society in West Asia in 2011 while I was researching and writing a policy paper on media development in Syria for BBC Media Action.
Hivos: What is your assessment of the impact and relevance of our publications?
MT: They are of high quality but also accessible outside of the academic or development field. With such a scarcity of literature and research on the Middle East transitions and politics, the papers are an invaluable resource.
Hivos: Which publication in particular did you use in your work, how and why? What is the target group?
MT: I edited an issue of an academic journal titled Westminster Papers in Communication and Culture in 2013 and one of the writers, Juliette Harkin, referenced Salam Kawakibi’s paper The Private Media in Syria. The issue was titled ‘The role of social media in the Arab uprisings – past and present’, VOLUME 9 / ISSUE 2 / APRIL 2013. As mentioned above, I first came across the publications when I was writing a policy paper on media development in Syria for BBC Media Action. I referenced the programme and paper by Kawa Hassan titled Re-thinking Civic Activism in the Middle East: Agency without Association?.
I regularly read new papers relating to the Middle East and, in particular, Syria that are published by the Knowledge Programme. They are a useful source of information for my work as projects manager at BBC media Action. I also forward Arabic papers to our partner organizations and staff we have on our projects on the Syria response.
Hivos: What would be your advice for the programme in order to further improve its impact and outreach?
MT: It would be of so much value if all papers on the Middle East were translated into Arabic.