Dubai, United Arab Emirates
“I lived in 9 cities and studied at 10 different schools before I turned 18. I come from a family of perpetual immigrants, belonging everywhere and nowhere all at once. My father is Palestinian-born but spent his childhood in Saudi Arabia and my mother, whose Albanian grandparents immigrated to Palestine, spent her childhood in Kuwait. When my parents were 18, my father moved to America and my mother moved to Jordan, only to join my father in America a few years later.
Immigration often means restarting from the ground up. Although my parents are first-generation graduates who graduated top of their class in the Arab world, my father’s first job in America was a cinema usher and my mother worked as a door-to-door cosmetics saleswoman. By the time my parents were in their mid-20's, they had three daughters under the age of three; two of whom were twins born several months prematurely, requiring incubation and special neonatal care. Despite hardship and homesickness, my parents made every sacrifice for my siblings and me to access opportunities and compete globally.
While I often grappled with finding my place in the world, my parents’ journey was a reminder that claiming my space is not a privilege, but a right and a responsibility. Growing up, I knew that I wanted to be part of making opportunities more accessible for women in the Arab world. I grew increasingly passionate about technology because it created a more levelled access to opportunities. With the advent of technology, many families no longer need to cross oceans to get a better education, develop skills, apply for jobs or create their own business. This passion is what led me to Google, where I am now head of brand and reputation marketing for the MENA region.
I focus on programs that help women make the most of what technology has to offer. An example of this is Maharat, a free educational platform that has helped over 500,000 women in the Arab world overcome obstacles, forge their own paths and inspire others to do the same by learning digital skills. The program led to my recognition being named to Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list. Women are changing the world through their own creativity and it’s inspiring to see how technology can lend a helping hand.” - Zain Masri, Digital Changemaker