Jehan Alfarra is Co-chair and Business developer of the Palestinian History Tapestry Project. She is a Palestinian writer and journalist born and raised in Gaza, where she first worked as a freelance reporter. Jehan later moved to Sweden to complete her studies before moving to the UK. She became involved in the Tapestry Project during her time in Oxford where she was completing her masters degree in Computing at Oxford Brookes University. Now, she is a full-time multimedia journalist covering Middle Eastern affairs and specialising in Palestinian political news and social issues.
Ibrahim Muhtadi is Co-chair, Design Adviser and Business developer for the Palestinian History Tapestry Project. Ibrahim has been involved in the PHT Project since 2012 and has contributed to the creation of several tapestry panels, and advises on design methods, colour matching, and finishing’s. He combines design skills and architectural experience to create memorable images using calligraphy, jewellery, graphic design, and Palestinian embroidery. He has contributed to design exhibitions locally and internationally, and participated in an International Leadership Exchange program in the USA in 2016. Ibrahim has taken part in a number of initiatives to enhance the lives of marginalized people and refugees. He was employed for 3 years as Embroidery Design Manager at UNRWA’s Sulafa Embroidery Centre. He is currently the Business and Marketing Manager at Atfaluna Society for Deaf Children, working closely with artisans, some with hearing disabilities, creating traditional and contemporary Palestinian handicrafts. Although Ibrahim lives in Gaza with his wife and children, his family comes from Al Quds.
Jan Chalmers is the Founder of the Palestinian History Tapestry Project. She co-ordinates panel production and works closely with the field co-ordinators. She and her husband lived in Gaza for two years, [1969/70] working in UNRWA’s maternal and child health programme. Between 2000 and 2011, she taught embroidery to South African village women, and supported them in creating the Keiskamma History Tapestry which is now displayed permanently in the Parliament House in Cape Town. This experience has proved invaluable in developing the Palestine History Tapestry Project.
Jamila Alza’anin is co-convenor of the tapestry image selection group for the Palestinian History Tapestry Project. She is from Gaza, married, with two children, and lives in Dubai with her family. Her interests are in humanitarian issues and she has worked with UNRWA and Save the Children. In 2011 Jamila studied at Oxford Brookes University UK and was awarded an MA in Development and Emergency Practice. While in Oxford she became involved in establishing the Palestine History Tapestry Project. Jamila has a passion for Palestinian embroidery and welcomes the idea that people worldwide may get to see the history of Palestine in stitches. In 2012/13 she worked as Project Coordinator in Gaza before leaving for Dubai.
Haya Abdalhadi is co-convenor of the tapestry image selection group for the Palestinian History Tapestry Project. She is a Palestinian born in the Ukraine and raised in Gaza. She was awarded the Oxford Brookes University Gaza Scholarship for 2019-20 and studied for a master’s degree in Development and Emergency Practice, with sub-specialization in Conflict and Humanitarian Action. She has returned to Gaza, where she is a volunteer working in the humanitarian sector, promoting human rights and women’s rights. By embroidering the Tapestry, Palestinian women are expressing their attachment to their homeland. Haya is glad to be working with them to help preserve the story of Palestine and Palestinians.
Ramy Salemdeeb is the Newsletter editor and the Project representative in Scotland. He is a Palestinian living in Scotland. Originally from Gaza, he is the first Gazan to be awarded the Oxford Brookes University, Gaza scholarship, to pursue a Masters in Environmental Management & Technology. He was awarded a scholarship at Cambridge University to undertake a PhD research project.
Robin Drury-Layfield is digital adviser to the Palestinian History Tapestry Project. He is based in the South West of England. He is a web developer who designed, built and maintains the PHT website. He advises the Steering Committee on online issues as required. Robin curated in February 2020 a successful exhibition of a selection of embroidered PHT panels in the textile town of Stroud. In his home life he puts a great deal of time in to supporting his local community, from council work and representation, to advocacy and climate activism. He is a great believer in the power of people to move mountains.
Hassan Alhallaq is responsible for Arabic-English translation for the Palestinian History Tapestry Project
Klim McPherson is the Treasurer for the Palestinian History Tapestry Project. He is a retired Professor of Public Health Epidemiology who has worked largely on Women’s Health and on teaching medical statistics in Oxford, Bristol and London. He has been Treasurer of the UK Health Forum and Chaired the Society of Social Medicine, the European Public Health Association, and the British Breast Group. His current ambition is to encourage and enable multi-disciplinary collaboration in public health science and practice.
Eman Abukmail Representative in Australia for the Palestinian History Tapestry Project
Yasmeen Haj Amer is field coordinator in the Naqab for the Palestinian History Tapestry. She is a Bedouin school teacher and lives near Bir Seb’a with her husband and children. She became interested in the Project during her master’s studies at Oxford Brookes University in 2014. Her father is a successful artist and Yasmeen has been surrounded by artistic influences for most of her life. She coordinates the embroidery team in the Naqab, and also sketches for the project.
Riham Khalil is Field Coordinator in Lebanon for the Palestinian History Tapestry Project. She is a Palestinian from the village of Al Sufsaf, in the Galilee, but she was born and raised in Kuwait. She currently lives in Lebanon with her husband and family. For the moment she is a ‘stay-at-home mum’, raising her three children. Riham’s most recent employment was with UNRWA as a member of a protection team for Palestinian refugees from Syria in Lebanon. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Business and Economics from Damascus University. Riham was very happy to receive an invitation to act as Coordinator for the Project in Lebanon. She is pleased with the idea that the long history of Palestine and the Palestinian people should be seen and told in embroidery.
Barbara Haj-Hassan is a Field Coordinator in Jordan for the Palestinian History Tapestry Project. She is American and married to a Jordanian. She has a grown up family and has lived in Jordan for much of her married life. She has a keen interest in creative needlework and has a good eye for precise and exact stitching. Barbara is conscious of the difficulties suffered by Palestinian people in refugee camps in Jordan and appreciates communal need for a better understanding of their situation. She hopes that the embroidery the History Project generates will encourage a clearer awareness of the land of Palestine.
Basma Nazer is a Field Coordinator in Jordan for the Palestinian History Tapestry Project. She is a Palestinian from Al-Khalil [Hebron], a Palestinian city south of Jerusalem. She was initially introduced to the Project when she was in Oxford completing her MBA degree. As a passionate Palestinian and Jordanian, she was thrilled to join the team and assist with co-ordination in Jordan, where she currently lives and works. Basma enjoys working with embroidery groups in Palestinian refugee camps. Every thread and stitch tells a story of a Palestinian city and together the embroidery helps us learn about the history and beauty of Palestine.
Dowlat Abu Shaweesh is a Field Coordinator in Ramallah for the Palestinian History Tapestry Project. She lives in al Amari refugee camp near Ramallah and works with the al Amari Women’s Program center. Her family are from the village of Al Na’ani in Palestine. Dowlet is a member of the women’s group linked with Oxford Ramallah Friendship Association. [ORFA]
Judith English is a Co Founder of and an Advisor for the Palestinian History Tapestry Project. Judith had a career in Academic Psychiatry, and was Principal of St Hilda’s College, Oxford University for six years. Since retiring, she has pursued a longstanding interest in textile art, working in fabric collage. Her interest in Palestine developed through her husband’s involvement in surgical training programs in Gaza and the West Bank. She views the Palestine History Tapestry Project as a way to offer support to Palestinian women, recognizing that participation in creative activity has the potential to build self-esteem and strengthen resources for coping with stress.
Shelagh Weir is an Advisor to the Palestinian History Tapestry Project. She is an internationally respected authority on Palestinian costume and embroidery. She did intensive field research in Palestine and Jordan between the late 1960s and 1980s. As curator for the Middle East at the Museum of Mankind, the former Ethnography Department of the British Museum, she organized several exhibitions on Palestinian culture. Her books discuss techniques, materials, and the regional and social symbolism of rural dress and embroidery, and include Palestinian Embroidery: Cross Stitch Patterns (1988), Palestinian Costume (1989), and Embroidery from Palestine (2006), all published by the British Museum.
Liz Taylor is an Advisor to the Palestinian History Project. She has spent the last forty years between the Middle East and the UK. She has taught sociology/anthropology at universities in the UK and Cairo, and also worked in development in Egypt, Palestine and the Yemen. Much of her development work has been concerned with issues relating to women and gender. Her work took her to Palestine during the first intifada and since then she has been passionately attached to the country. Now retired, she continues to live between Cairo and the UK. Liz’s prime interest in the History Tapestry project is in its developmental and creative potential.
Selma Harb is an Advisor to the Palestinian History Tapestry Project. She is a Palestinian whose family is from Tayibe, in Western Palestine. She spent the first 15 years of her life in Libya, where her parents were academics. Selma lives in Oxford with her husband. She has a doctorate in the History of Islamic Medicine from the University of Oxford (St Hilda’s College), and practiced as a pharmacist. She and other family members are active in promoting awareness of Palestinian embroidery and other artefacts by holding sales of work.
Iain Chalmers is an Advisor to the Palestinian History Tapestry Project. He was a clinician in the UK and the Gaza Strip between 1966 and 1973, when he became a full time health services researcher. Between 1978 and 2018, he was founding director of the National Perinatal Epidemiology Unit (www.npeu.ox.ac.uk), then founder of the UK Cochrane Centre (www.cochrane.org), the James Lind Initiative (www.testingtreatments.org), and The James Lind Library (www.jameslindlibrary.org). He was knighted for services to health care in 2000.
Gwithian Doswell is the PHT/ Oxford Ramallah Friendship Association (ORFA) partnership representative. Gwithian first went to Palestine in 1983 to teach English as a volunteer in a women’s vocational college in Al Bireh, West Bank. This is where she first came across women making Palestinian embroidery, and she loved it! She has visited the occupied Palestinian territory several times since then, most recently as a human rights monitor with the World Council of Churches, first in the South Hebron Hills and then in the villages around Nablus. She has been involved with ORFA (www.oxford-ramallah.org) since 2011 and enjoys hosting visitors from the Al ‘Amari camp (Ramallah) in her home. Gwithian is proud of ORFA’s key role in establishing Oxford-Ramallah Twinning, and more recently, the partnership with the PHT.
Mahmoud Zeidan is an Advisor to the Palestinian History Tapestry Project in Lebanon. He is a Palestinian from the village of Al Sufsaf, in the Galilee, but he was born and lives in Ein el Helweh, a Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon. He has an MA in Human Rights and Democratization from the University of Malta, and he has been working as a specialist in education, human rights and protection. Mahmoud co-directs the ‘Nakba Archive‘, an oral history project based on narratives provided by the first generation of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, and a grassroots documentary initiative ‘Lens on Lebanon’, formed during the Israeli bombardment of Lebanon in 2006. Mahmoud is a cofounder of the ‘Centre for Refugee Rights (Aidoun)’, which defends the right of return of Palestinian refugees.
History Advisors: Mahmoud Hawari [Tarshiha], Ghada Karmi [Al Quds], Eugene Rogan, Ilan Pappé, Avi Shlaim, Salman Abu Sitta [Al Ma’in], Nur Masalha [Galilee].
Photography: Theo Chalmers
Brochure design: Mark Epton, Advocate design agency
Canvas printing: Carbon Colour