Our team

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Direction and sponsorship department

Ilham Younes

Communication and Development Department

Network Department

Editorial Department

Ilham Younes

MANAGER & FOUNDER

Graduated from the Paris Institute of Political Studies, ,(Sciences Po), Ilham Younes founded the Observatory of Heritage in the Middle East and the Mediterranean in 2019. After working for the magazines Carto and Moyen-Orient and the Paris Institute of International and Strategic Relations (IRIS), she joined UNESCO in 2015 as Cultural Attachée. For over six years, she specialized in heritage issues in the Arab world and the Mediterranean.  From 2015 to 2020, she was also in charge at UNESCO of coordinating the project for the future National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Palestine. From 2021 to 2023, she was in charge of the Political Humanities program on the Sciences Po Mediterranean and Middle East campus. Now she is currently working as a consultant for various international organizations, including UNESCO

Syreen Forest

Special Youth Advisor

Syreen Forest is an independent consultant specializing in gender issues and the evaluation of international development programs implemented by international organizations. Syreen Forest is also a specialist in geopolitical dynamics and human rights issues in the Middle East and North Africa, having worked as a researcher on democratization processes in the MENA region.

Over the past five years, she has worked on strategies and programs promoting gender equality, as well as their evaluation, within organizations such as UNESCO and UN Women. She has also contributed research to a book entitled ” Tunisia: An Arab Anomaly ” (published by Columbia University Press) on democratization processes in the MENA region following the Arab Spring.

Syreen Forest graduated from the “Classe Préparatoire aux Grandes Ecoles” with a Master’s degree in Political Science from the University of London (SOAS) and a Bachelor’s degree in History from the University of Paris-Sorbonne.

Somia Djacta

Special Advisor Diplomacy and External Relations

Holder of a Magistère in Sociology from the University of Ain-Shams in Egypt and a DEA in Politics and Sociology in France, with a specialization in social mutations in the Arab region, Somia Djacta is currently in charge of ICESCO’s Regional Office at UNESCO, the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie and the OECD. Her current work focuses on developing cooperation with strategic partners to ensure a coherent approach to implementing the Sustainable Development Goals.

 

Prior to joining ICESCO, Somia Djacta worked at UNESCO on issues relating to Culture and Social Sciences. She also worked at the Cairo Office in Egypt, where she contributed to the development of a regional strategy for the mobilization of extra-budgetary resources and partnerships in the region. Somia is the author and co-author of several thematic books: Culture in the Time of Covid (published in ICESCO Agora), Women’s Contribution to Peace and Development (published by United Nations University for Peace). She is also co-author with Patrimoine d’Orient of the regional study on the state of creativity among young people in the Arab region, entitled: La langue arabe et la créativité, moteurs de la vitalité de la culture dans la région arabe, published by UNESCO.

Kamel Sbai

Strategic Business Manager - Patronage

Kamel Sbai holds a degree in International Business with a specialization in Maghreb Arabic from the National Institute of Oriental Languages and Civilizations (INALCO). His academic and professional career has enabled him to consolidate his skills in key areas such as finance, management and project management. Currently studying for a Master’s degree in Strategic Management at the Université Paris-Saclay, Kamel also holds a position as a banker, where he applies his theoretical knowledge and practical expertise.

Amina Bouguetta

partnership manager

Amina Bouguetta is a documentalist, architect and  a heritage specialist. She has worked on projects for the protection, conservation and enhancement of architectural and urban heritage within the territorial services of the city of Marseille, collaborating with heritage architects on preliminary studies for renovation and/or conversion projects. She turned her attention to written heritage. She has worked in various documentation centers at Aix-Marseille University and the CNRS. Among other positions, she was research engineer in charge of Arabic language collections at Iremam.

Noémie Ngako

corporate sponsorship editor

Noémie studied Law and Art History at Sorbonne University, where she specialised in  relations  between  Europe  and  the  Middle  East.  She  also  graduated  in  Management  and  Art  Business, and lived and worked in London, where she developed an interest in the illicit trafficking  and spoliation of cultural property, particularly in this region. 

 

Wishing  to  work  for  the  protection  and  promotion  of  the  Middle  Eastern  and  Mediterranean cultural heritage, and after many years’ experience in voluntary work, Noémie joined the NGO in order to make the richness that defines this heritage more accessible. 

 

An Art Market professional, Noémie is also a member of UNESCO’s Global Youth Community.

Noémie Ngako

rédactrice mécénat

Noémie a étudié le Droit et l’Histoire de l’art à l’université Sorbonne, où elle s’est spécialisée dans les relations entre l’Europe et le Moyen-Orient. Egalement diplômée en 

Management et Marché de l’Art, elle a vécu et travaillé à Londres, où elle a développé un intérêt  pour le trafic illicite et la spoliation des biens culturels, en particulier dans cette région. 

Souhaitant œuvrer pour la protection et la promotion du Patrimoine d’Orient et de Méditerranée,  et après de nombreuses années d’expérience en bénévolat, Noémie a rejoint l’ONG afin de rendre  plus accessible les richesses qui définissent ce patrimoine. 

Professionnelle du marché de l’art, Noémie est également membre de la Global Youth Community de l’UNESCO.

Marwa Mourad Houssein

Head of Communications and Development & Art Direction

Trained as a linguist specializing in Arabic and Hebrew, Marwa Mourad Houssein graduated from INALCO in Foreign and Regional Languages, Literatures and Civilizations in the Literal Arabic and Hebraic and Jewish Studies departments, in Paris. She also holds a double master’s degree: a research master’s in linguistics (INALCO) and an MBA in communication & marketing (ISCOD). Her research has focused mainly on the sociolinguistic analysis of political discourse in the Arabian Peninsula and on Israeli-Arab relations. After working as a communications officer for the international organization Greenpeace, she completed her training in international relations at the CNAM in Paris. Currently, in parallel with her research focused on the transmission of Yemeni heritage, Marwa begins working as a consultant on subjects linked to linguistics, culture and influence and political communication.

Romane Guyon

Corporate Communications Manager - Media Relations

Romane Guyon acts as an institutional communication officer at OPOM. She is a student in a double master’s program in International Governance and Diplomacy at Sciences Po in Paris, and Economics and Management of Government and International Organizations at Università Bocconi in Milan. Alongside this program, she is pursuing a master’s degree in Art History at Université Paris Nanterre. Her academic background allows her to focus particularly on issues related to cultural and heritage diplomacy, while her research helps her to better comprehend the question of the forced mobility of artworks, which she approaches from a historical standpoint in Nanterre, and a contemporary perspective in Milan. She specializes in the issue of translocations and restitutions linked to the revolutionary and Napoleonic campaigns and is currently working on the fight against the illicit trafficking of cultural goods.

Michèle Jarre

Corporate Communications Manager - Influence

Michèle is an architect who graduated from the « École Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture de Versailles » before she graduated from a master’s in management at ESSEC Business School. Michèle is passionate about craftsmanship, design, architecture, particularly historic sites and their valorisation, and entrepreneurship. As Franco-Lebanese, she has a strong interest in the heritage of the Arab region, which is often threatened. This interest leds her to take a particular interest in the Mediterranean architectural heritage notably in Sicily and Lebanon, and in how abandoned historic spaces can be transformed. Her final-year project involved converting the Roman and Ottoman ruins of Martyrs’ Square in Beirut into a public space, after meeting architects and residents of Beirut and Lebanese villages to discover the country’s architectural heritage: traditional houses and ancient ruins.

 

Today, she works as a Business Developer in the « métiers d’art & savoir-faire » and interior design industry alongside architects, designers and craftsmen in Rabat, Morocco, for projects in Africa and Middle East. At the same time, she is currently working for OPOM as a corporate communications officer, where her mission is to raise OPOM’s profile through communications strategies and partnerships, alongside the other members of the strategy & communications team.

Carmen Folleas

Creative consultant & Cultural magazine coordinator

French-Palestinian and currently a student at the Ecole du Louvre, Carmen Folleas specializes in twentieth-century art. Her future project is to promote modern and contemporary Palestinian art, by making it accessible and unifying. 

Rawi Saad

Graphiste

A multimedia designer and artist with a degree in interior architecture and design from Notre-Dame de Louaize University, Rawi Saad was born and raised in Lebanon. Deeply influenced by his cultural heritage, which instilled in him a passion for art, architecture and design, this blend of influences led him to join OPOM as a graphic designer on the 2024 team. He is committed to reviving and enhancing OPOM’s brand identity for its 2024 mission with his talent and expertise.

Nadia Vuilleumier

Instagram communication manager & editor

An art historian and photographer, Nadia Vuilleumier completed a Bachelor’s degree in French literature and a Master’s degree in art history in Neuchâtel, Switzerland, and at the Sorbonne. After several trips to Iran, fascinated by the Persian world, she settled in Kerman in southern Iran in 2013. There, she learned Persian and completed the official training course for cultural tour guides. Specializing in Persian archaeology and art, as well as so-called Islamic art, she became one of the first local guides of non-Iranian origin. Passionate about this complex country, she sought to help people understand the Iran of today through its history and cultural heritage. After the pandemic, she moved back to Switzerland and enrolled in the Middle East Master’s program at the Global Studies Institute, University of Geneva.

She joined the OPOM team as Instagram communications manager and editor. So her mission continues: beyond clichés and current events, to raise awareness and understanding of this rich region with which we are closely connected.

Thalia Rahme

cultural projects manager

A freelance communications and project management specialist in the field of human rights, she holds a B.A. in sociology and urban anthropology from Saint Joseph University, Beirut in Lebanon. 

She was a journalist for some time before switching to communication. She was also a humanitarian interpreter. Based in Marseille for the past 6 years, she joined the OPOM team at the end of 2023 as a Cultural Projects Officer.

Yosr Souai

cultural projects manager

As a consultant for UNESCO, Yosr benefits from solid skills in cultural project management. After training in history at the Université Paris 1 Panthéon Sorbonne, supplemented by a Master’s degree in Middle Eastern Mediterranean Studies at Sciences Po Grenoble, Yosr specialized in cultural development issues, particularly in the ANMO region.

 

She has acquired significant expertise in supporting cultural projects, working for institutions such as the Délégation Interministérielle à la Méditerranée, the Institut du Monde Arabe and the Institut Français de Turquie.

Garance Fontenette

Coordinator and cultural editor of the "Tell me About" column

With a degree in political science and law, Garance is currently pursuing a Master’s in “Middle East and Mediterranean” at Science Po Grenoble. Living in Beirut, Lebanon, for almost two years now, she is undertaking her studies remotely. Given her academic background and her residency in Lebanon, joining OPOM was a natural decision for her.

Within the team, she holds the role of coordinator and cultural editor for the “Tell me about” column, which shines a spotlight on a different country in the region each month, exploring its living or cultural heritage. Contributing to the work of the NGO, which showcases the cultural richness of the MENA region, holds significant importance for her.

Zaïm Richard

Social networking communications manager

Zaïm Richard is a third-year undergraduate student at the École du Louvre. He specializes in Anthropology of Heritage, a discipline that has enabled him to acquire a critical and reflexive view of the major cultural phenomena of the contemporary world. With this demanding academic background, he also cultivates a keen interest in the archaeology of the Ancient East and the arts of Islam.

 

Zaïm Richard has been a member of the École du Louvre Junior Conseil (ÉDLJC), his school’s Junior Enterprise, for two years now. Initially in charge of business development, he is now Director of communications and marketing.

Natalie Anne Stuart

twitter communication manager

Research and project coordinator with MAs in Islamic Art History and Cultural Heritage Management. Raised far away in Australia on romantic narratives of distant and ‘exotic lands’. When she started traveling in South West Asia and North Africa in her  early twenties she was struck by the imaginaries of the region produced in the ‘West’. This led her through different avenues to decolonial theory and critical heritage studies as a way of understanding the reasons that the narratives she was told didn’t reflect the diverse realities on the ground. Her interests in the region have creolised around agroecology, biocultural heritage, food and opportunities for more resilient futures, as well as the beautiful landscapes and the ways in which architectures have been nestled around them. She is currently working as a coordinator of the Palestinian Film Festival in Australia and as an Archivist and Arts and Culture Officer for local organisations on the land of the First Nations Gadigal People of the Eora Nation, also known as Sydney.

Cyrinne Oumaziz

Editor

Cyrinne Oumaziz is studying Political Sciences and English at the University of Lille. With a passion for languages, history and travel, she is completing the last semester of her degree at the Pablo de Olavide University in Seville, Spain.

During her studies, Cyrinne Oumaziz specialised in heritage issues in the MENA and Mediterranean regions. With a keen interest in the heritage of the Arab and Berber (Amazigh) regions, she became involved in the Observatoire Patrimoine d’Orient et de Méditerranée with the aim of making the rich heritage of these regions more visible.

Firdaous Bouhassoun

editor

Graduated with a double degree in modern Hebrew and Standard Arabic, she is currently doing a master’s degree  in international relations at INALCO with a specialization in environmental issues. With a dual French-Algerian culture, she have nurtured since a young age a true passion for the multiple heritage of the MENA region as a whole. Due to this interest in the issue of heritage protection and the various challenges it faces, she chose to join OPOM two years ago. Within OPOM,  she is a volunteer writer for the cultural magazine with other members of the team.

Sarah Fontaine

Editor

Sarah Fontaine is an art historian. She holds a joint degree in English and Art History and a master’sdegree in Art History from the University of Rennes 2. Her passion for the Middle-East led her to specialise in Islamic arts and she wrote her dissertation on the renewal of Ottoman architecture in eighteenth-century Istanbul.

Berrak Gürsaz

Editor

Berrak Gürsaz graduated with a Bachelor’s in International Relations and International Organization, while also having a background in International and European Law. Living experiences abroad in South Korea and Italy highlight her deep interest in languages, cultures, and diversity. As a Dutch-Turkish individual, Berrak is naturally drawn to the Middle Eastern region’s cultural heritage and natural beauty. Joining OPOM was a significant step for her, allowing creative contributions and fulfilling curiosity within the editorial team. She is passionate about stories that resonate with Jelaluddin Rumi’s teachings, often enjoyed with Turkish black tea and a piece of baklava. A recommended read by Berrak is Elif Shafak’s “The Forty Rules of Love.”

Garance Ameline

Network Manager

Garance Ameline holds degrees in law and archaeology (Université Panthéon-Sorbonne), museology (School of Oriental and African Studies) and cultural heritage management (Panthéon-Sorbonne). Her interest in Middle east archaeology led her to the Department of Oriental Antiquities at the Louvre, where she wrote a thesis on the photogrammetry of Iraqi, Libyan and Syrian sites. After working for ICOMOS (International Council on Monuments and Sites), she joined UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre.

Margaux Flexas

Network Development Manager

Margaux Flexas is a cultural and cooperation officer at the French Embassy in Saudi Arabia, specialising in heritage issues in the Mediterranean and Middle East regions. During her training, Margaux Flexas specialised in international cultural diplomacy, particularly in the Mediterranean, Middle East, and Central Asia regions.Margaux Flexas joined OPOM in 2022, initially in the Communications Department, and now works in the Network and Patronage Department.

Over the last five years, she has worked on cultural diplomacy and heritage issues for various institutions: Institut français de Jérusalem – antenne de Chateaubriand, Domaine d’O and a press agency. She also spent a year at the Cannes Film Festival as an assistant in the Festival Accreditation Department.Margaux Flexas studied at Sciences Po Lyon and holds a master’s degree in international cultural management.

Mona Abdelaoui

Network Development Manager

Mona Abdelaoui is a member of the Observatory’s network team, specialising in issues relating to the protection of cultural heritage in times of conflict and crisis and the fight against the illicit trafficking of cultural property, with a particular focus on the Arab world.

Mona holds a double master’s degree in international relations, during which time she developed a strong interest in these issues, before joining the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) as an Associate Programme Officer for the protection of cultural heritage in emergency situations.

Since 2021, Mona has been implementing projects to prepare for and respond to emergencies affecting cultural heritage at international level.

Cassandra Furstos

EDITORIAL MANAGER

Cassandra Furstos is an archaeologist specializing in the study of archaeological finds in Western Asia.

In 2015, she began studying Archaeology and History of Art at the University of Strasbourg, specializing in ancient Mesopotamia, and concurrently studying Museology at the University of Haute-Alsace. She enriched this theoretical background with internships in the Mesopotamian collections at the Louvre Museum and then at the Vorderasiatisches Museum in Berlin.

Since 2019, she has been working for the Archaïos company and regularly travels to Saudi Arabia as part of the alUla Cultural Oasis Project (UCOP). In this framework, she specializes in the study of trade and the production of glass objects in the Arabian Peninsula in the medieval period, with a particular focus on trade both within and outside the peninsula.