I am an award winning teacher and an Assistant Professor of Communication studies at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada. I also hold the position of a research fellow at the Media & Communication Department of Erasmus University in the Netherlands, and I am a senior research fellow in Middle Eastern and Islamic studies at the Universities of Leiden and McGill and a founding member of the Media & Digital Literacy Academy in Beirut. I am also a senior research affiliate at the Canadian Network for Research on Terrorism, Security, and Society.
When I was a BA student 1994-1997 in Baghdad, I had my first part-time job as a translator at the Iraqi National TV. I mostly translated movies into Arabic which involved working with very old telecommunication equipment, and I described a few details of my short experience in the introduction to the only English language book on Iraqi media that was published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2012. During my BA studies, I was a Cum Laude student for four years, and I later received several awards including the national prize for the best students in English language and literature studies in 1997, a competition organized for students from all over Iraq and in different disciplines.
I began my full time media career in 2002, by serving as a communication officer for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Iraq. I was later promoted to a senior communication officer which involved addressing local and international media as well as representing the ICRC in official meetings. This was the first time a local staff member was allowed by the ICRC in Iraq to conduct interviews with the media (some of the interviews can be found on this webpage). I was also among 20 core staff members chosen to continuously work during the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Trying to meet the humanitarian needs of civilians during and after the war is still one the proud achievements of my life especially that I faced numerous life threatening experiences during that time. I became the team leader of one of the first humanitarian aid groups that entered Fallujah city in 2005 immediately after the end of the military operations, and I was interviewed by a variety of media organizations to explain what I witnessed and discuss the humanitarian needs. I was also involved in supervising two ICRC-affiliated magazines in Iraq. The first one was a children’s magazine called Sindbad that was published by the Iraqi Ministry of Culture, while the second one was called the Red Crescent that was published by the Iraqi Red Crescent Society. More importantly, I wrote many investigative reports on the humanitarian situation in Iraq for the ICRC Arabic magazine, Insani. The topics I covered included mentally ill patients, homeless children, cluster bombs, and displaced people. Some of these reports were re-published in magazines and newspapers in different Arab countries. Afterwards, I was involved in public relations and networking activities with different groups and parties that became important in Iraq in order to guarantee ICRC’s work remained active. After relocating to Jordan around 2006, I served as a Consultant for the ICRC’s head of delegation in Amman for about a year.
Before being a spokesperson for the ICRC and during my vacations, I worked in 2003-2004 as a freelance radio correspondent for Pacifica Radio Network and Free Speech Radio News based in the USA. I produced many reports and features including one of the first accounts on claims of mistreatment at US-run detention facilities. Another feature report on the American Army violations encouraged my supervisor, Scott Gurian, a former senior editor at Pacifica Radio Network, to include the report in a competition for an American national radio award. In another three-months break I took from the ICRC in 2005, I taught English for Special Purposes (ESP) at Skyline College in Sharjah, the United Arab Emirates. I also served as a freelance journalist for CNN Arabic bureau in Dubai during which I produced several news reports on Iraq for its website that can be found here.
In September 2006, I began my academic career when I started teaching in the Sultanate of Oman. After less than two years, I applied to study for a Ph.D. in media and communication and got enrolled in late 2008 in a Ph.D. program at Leicester University in the UK under the supervision of Professor Barrie Gunter. The Communication and media department at Leicester University is one of the oldest and most established programs in the UK. Shortly before finalizing my viva, I joined the Communication Department at Erasmus University (EUR) in the Netherlands. EUR ranks among the top 100 universities in the world and its communication program is among the top 50 globally. After staying there for three years and serving as an Assistant Professor, I left and settled in Canada.
In terms of research, I have published 50+ papers and book chapters. My research interests are focused on social media and global communication as well as Arab media and popular culture. I have some main research contributions such as news organizations 2.0, Islam online, Iraqi media, and Arabic folklore and mythology. One of my research studies on news values and social media which was published in the journal of Journalism has been among the top 10 most read articles in the field of media and communication in the year 2016.
My first stage in research began with a focus on orientalism, folklore, and mythology. For the latter, I used a variety of digital humanities methods to conduct my research which resulted in studies published in some of the leading folklore journals like Folklore and Fabula. I am still very interested in exploring other areas of research involving digital humanities such as big data analysis of literary and folklore works in Arabic as well as English.
As for other areas of research, I have published several empirical studies on the Arab Spring in Bahrain, Syria, Oman, and Iraq as well as on women’s social movements, news on social media, and Jihad 3.0. Most of these studies appeared in top ISI ranked journals in their respective fields like Information, Communication & Society, Journalism, Public Relations Review, Terrorism & Political Violence, Social Science Computer Review, and Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion. Also, I have also been particularly interested in exploring various public diplomacy 2.0 efforts by conducting studies on the nature of these activities, and I have several ongoing projects that specifically deal with this area of research including a book project.
Also, I have been an editorial board member in the Journal of Popular Culture since 2009, reviewing 20+ papers for this journal. I have also reviewed research papers for about 30 academic journals, some of which are the top international ISI ranked in their respective disciplines. Finally, I have supervised BA and MA theses using different methodologies like surveys, content and framing analysis, interviews, and focus groups. I have also used a variety of research methods in my own research like manual content analysis (qualitative and quantitative) to study TV newscasts, computer-assisted textual analysis of large datasets as well as visual, thematic, and framing analysis. I have also used interviews and survey questionnaires for many other studies involving immigrants and diasporic media.