Oula A. Alrifai
Oula A. Alrifai is a second-year master's candidate, writing a thesis on the development of the Iranian-Syrian relationship in the 1970s and 1980s through the lens of religio-political dynamics. Alrifai was a political asylee from Damascus, Syria, in 2005 and received her American citizenship in 2016. In 2011, she received her BA with honors from the University of Maryland in government and politics and Middle Eastern studies, where she was awarded the full-tuition Academic Excellence Scholarship. While at Maryland, Alrifai worked at the United States Institute of Peace in Washington, DC.
Following her graduation she co-founded the independent NGO Syrian-American Network for Aid and Development (SANAD) to help provide education and support for Syrian refugees. Professionally, she has worked at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, New York Times Magazine, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, and Navanti Group. She also has written articles in a variety of publications, including Foreign Affairs, the National Interest, CTC Sentinel, Huffington Post, the Daily Star, NOW Lebanon, and the Hill. She is a native Arabic speaker and has also studied Persian and Spanish.
Alrifai is the executive producer of the award-winning documentary Tomorrow’s Children, which explores Syrian refugees forced into child labor in Turkey.
Alrifai has been a Student Intern at the Middle East Initiative at Harvard Kennedy School since Fall 2017.