Our Staff

Jihane Abou Chabke

Jihane Abou Chabke is Communications Associate for the Alexandria Trust. Her responsibilities include translation, editing and management of the Trust's website and social media platforms. She has worked for a Middle East focused news website as Assigning Editor, and for the Northern Virginia Area Health Education Center (NV AHEC) as Communications and Special Projects Manager. Jihane holds a master’s degree in journalism from the American University in Washington, DC, and a bachelor’s degree in translation and living languages from the Holy Spirit University of Kaslik (USEK) in Lebanon. She lives with her family in Alexandria, Virginia.

Shady Arafa

Shady Arafa is Operations Manager of the Alexandria Trust. From 2002 to 2011, Shady was Special Aide to the Director of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina (BA), Dr Ismail Serageldin, with whom he worked from the opening of the institution through its development as a major Egyptian and international facility. In 2008, he left the BA for one year to acquire some exposure to professional private sector PR work in the Gulf, but returned to the BA to work with its Director for another stretch of three years. He subsequently came to London as a Chevening scholar to earn a master’s degree in journalism at the University of Westminster, completed in September 2012. Shady is a UK resident and lives in London.

Rasha Faek

Rasha Faek is Managing Editor of Al-Fanar Media. Prior to joining Al-Fanar Media, Rasha was a business reporter at Syria Today magazine. Her professional experience includes freelancing as a journalist from 2006 to 2008 and serving as managing editor for a Syrian real estate news site from 2009 and 2011. Rasha was also communications officer at the Syrian Enterprise and Business Centre, where she liaised with media and public affairs representatives, researched issues of relevance to the developing business sector in Syria, and provided reports on topical issues as well as content website management. Rasha holds three bachelor’s degrees in: English Literature from Damascus University, Dramatic Arts from the Higher Institute of Dramatic Arts in Damascus, and Journalism from Damascus Open University. She participated in a number of trainings, some of which were hosted by Thomson Reuters Foundation, the BBC and the United Nations University-International Leadership Institute.

David French

David French is Director of Dar el Rasheed, the Trust’s initiative in Arabic translation and publishing, and Advisor to the Chair and Board. He was the founding Executive Director of the Alexandria Trust from 2011 to June 2014. From 2003 to 2009, David was Chief Executive of the Westminster Foundation for Democracy, the UK’s official agency for international democracy assistance. He was Director General of the Commonwealth Institute, London, from 1997 to 2002 and Chief Executive of Relate, the UK’s leading relationship counselling agency, from 1987 to 1995. David is an executive coach and was appointed Chair of Y Care International - the relief and development agency of the global YMCA Movement - in July 2016. He holds a social science degree from Durham University (1969) and is a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and a life fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine. He is married to Sarah French and has four sons.

Nadia Montasser

Nadia Montasser is the Community Editor for Al-Fanar Media. Her responsibilities include translation and editing of articles for Al-Fanar Media website, as well as managing the website and social media platforms to encourage readership of Al-Fanar Media. She has more than 10 years’ experience working with charities in project and event management. The projects she led during her work at the British Council in Egypt helped it expand on and maintain good relations with various partner organizations. She has extensive experience managing multi-lingual websites and social media platforms. An Egyptian satirical blog she co-founded scored half a million views in less than three months, prior to 25 January 2011. In early 2014, Nadia completed a master’s degree in charity management at St. Mary’s University College in London. She currently lives in London.

Benjamin Plackett

Benjamin Plackett is Senior Writer at Al-Fanar Media. Previously, Benjamin was the editor of an online technology news magazine, The Connectivist. As editor, Benjamin executed an editorial strategy, which grew readership, established a name within the tech world and ensured quality was maintained. His work has been published by Wired Magazine, CNN Health and Scientific American. He holds a Master of Arts degree in Journalism from New York University with an advanced certificate in Science, Health and Environmental Reporting and a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from Imperial College, London.

Ben Webster

Ben Webster is Director of the Jamiya Project, covering coordination of activities, development, partnerships and funding. He recently returned from Jordan working with the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) on the Syria refugee crisis. He is part of the OuiShare UK network and has led research into peer-to-peer business and humanitarian aid for the UK Government and others. Ben also previously worked at the UK Foreign Office, UK Trade & Investment, and Transparency International.

David L. Wheeler

David L. Wheeler is Editor of the Alexandria Trust and leads its journalism project, Al-Fanar Media, which serves those who work in Arab higher education or who have a stake in it. For more than 25 years, he has worked at the Chronicle of Higher Education, as a science writer, International Editor, and Managing Editor, and has written on topics ranging from quantum physics to poetry. He has led the Chronicle’s push to serve readers outside the US and organized and moderated events and panels at higher-education conferences around the world. He has written for a variety of other publications such as Boston Globe and Washington Post and won awards from the New England Press Association and the Education Writers’ Association. David has a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University and was awarded a Vannevar Bush Fellowship in science journalism at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).