Saturday, May 22, 2010

Who is Dalia Ziada?

Who am I? I think this is the most difficult and also the easiest question I ever had to answer. I am a mix of Shakespeare's Brutus with his internal conflict of choosing between satisfying the selfishness of the people he loves or protecting his beloved country against them, Dickens' Pip with his great expectations and unlimited ambition, and Austen's Elizabeth with her proven self-confidence and pride. I am Dalia Ziada, a liberal Egyptian woman. I was born in Cairo on Saturday, January 2nd, 1982. I am the eldest of three siblings. I do not love anyone in life more than I love my mother and siblings. I did not appreciate their value before the death of my father in September 2004. His death was a hard shock that apparently I needed to grow stronger and understand life better.

I hold BA in English Literature from Ain Shams University. Right now, I am considering having my MA in politics and international relationships. I do believe in myself and in my unlimited power to achieve my goals. I am not that kind of person who lives a long useless life and dies at the end. I want to be remembered till the end of human race. 

I am a human rights activist, who had to fight for her freedom inside her own family before she starts fighting for civil rights on national (Egypt) and regional (Middle East) levels. My primary objective is to advocate human rights in general and freedom of expression and women rights in particular. In this, I utilize all my skills and work on improving them through attending various workshops, seminars, and conferences. The seminars and workshops I attended so far include but are not limited to: Freedom House Study Tour, Fletcher Summer Institute on Advanced Study of Nonviolent Conflict, Creative Strategies and Techniques of Non-Violent Action, Psychological Effects of Disaster and Therapeutic Methods, Ambassadors of Change: Individual Rights and Personal Responsibilities, and others.
I am a member of various international and local campaigns and movements including: Free Kareem Campaign, Free Al-Khiwany Campaign, Support BYSHR campaign, Interfaith Coalition, Female Students against Circumcision, and others. 
I had several appearances on prominent international media outlets. My favorite profiles are: CNN commenting on Obama Cairo speech in June 2009, Time Magazine which labeled me as Muslim Rights Champion, Cultural Connect magazine which profiled me as a successful young business woman in the age of 24, Almasry Alyoum article which profiled me as an outstanding young writer and feminist, Rosalyusif interview which profiled me as one of Egypt's success stories, BBC Radio interview which profiled me as one of the women on the forefront in Egypt, and Crime Report article which profiled me as a woman fighter for civil rights in Egypt.

I gave different lectures and presentations on civil rights, human rights, women rights, and the power of nonviolent action in different places all over the world; US, Morocco, Jordan, Egypt, etc. Also, I had the honor to brief international policymakers and US congressmen and senators on the situation of civil freedoms and women rights in the Middle East. In June 2009, I was invited to the historical speech of President Obama to the Muslim world from Cairo. After the speech, I met privately was White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarret.  

I am also a researcher and a published writer. My articles about political and civil rights issues appeared in local and international newspapers (e.g. International Herald Tribune, New York Times, Alsyassa Aldawlya Magazine, Meena Literary Magazine, Tharwa Egypt website, Bikya Masr website, etc.) In 2006, I won an honorable mention from HAMSA Initiative for an article I wrote about women rights in Egypt through my own personal story as an ambitious female living in a patriarchal society. In mid 2008, I co-authored and published a book on analyzing the current civil struggle in Egypt and predicting its future. 

I am also a translator. Translation was the first job I ever had and I will never leave. I love translation, it makes me feel good. I own a small translation company "Softcopy Translation Center" which provides translation service for profit and nonprofit NGOs all over the globe. STC was established on my birthday in January 2006. The extraordinary success of my small firm made the famous Cultural Connect magazine profile me as a successful young business woman in the age of 24.  

Right now, I work for the American Islamic Congress as the director of North Africa office based in Cairo. My top notches under my position with AIC are starting the first human rights film festival in the history of the Middle East, and translating the Montgomery Story comic book into Arabic and distributing all over the Middle East. In addition, I am still running my small business at Softcopy Translation Center. Also, I facilitate work for international NGOs (e.g. Tharwa Foundation,, and others) in Egypt and the Middle East.
One more important final thing; I am a poet. My first poetry book was published in January 2010 and distributed in Egypt. Early in 2006, I wrote a poem titled "Lam Alef" about the power of the word "No!" in Arabic and translated into English. It was political and critical to the submissive nature of Egyptian public against their suppressors. Mideast Youth website published it for me. Few weeks later, I was surprised when an American reader bought it to hang on the wall in her house. By the end of 2006, I wrote a poem defending freedom of expression titled "Prisoner" in Arabic and translated into English. By the beginning of the year 2007, I was shocked when I learnt that an Egyptian judge filed a claim in the court against me. He was offended by my poem and demanded from the court to block my own blog, only because of this poem. Thank God! By the end of 2007, the court rejected his claim and my blog is still here.

P.s. This post was last updated on Saturday April 10th, 2010.

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