Current Employer/Organisation Name
The Art Newspaper
What have you been doing since leaving Exeter, and what are you doing now?
I did a few art-related internships during my Arabic BA and so after I graduated I started working freelance as an editorial assistant for Ibraaz, an online publication writing about art from the Middle East. I went on to do an MA in contemporary art and art theory of Asia and Africa at SOAS in London. While I was there I carried on working for Ibraaz as well as taking on unpaid writing and editing jobs for London art events such as Shubbak and Nour Festival. When I finished my MA, I started as a full-time intern at The Art Newspaper. A year later I became editorial assistant and I’ve been working my way up since.
Why did you choose this career? And what do you enjoy most about your work?
I have always enjoyed art and studied it for my A levels. I put it to one side when I started my Arabic degree but while living in Cairo, on my year abroad, the Arab Spring broke out and suddenly I was surrounded by art on the streets. That’s when I realised I could bring my degree and my interest in art together. I love my job because I get to write about the region, interview incredible artists and collectors and travel all over the world.
Please tell us if you were a member of any societies, groups or sports clubs?
I was part of Arabic Soc and Soul Choir.
Were you part of the Exeter Student Ambassador Scheme at any point during your studies?
What did you enjoy most about your programme and what was the biggest highlight?
The biggest highlight was my year abroad, even though the revolution in Egypt meant we had to spend half of it in Cairo and half in Fez. I liked that the Arabic classes were small and there was nowhere to hide – it meant you couldn’t be lazy! Teachers like Fatima and Wafa were both supportive and pushed us to reach our full potential. I also enjoyed the more creative modules like Arabic Literature, Islamic Art and Architecture, and Media Representations of Islam.
What did you enjoy most about studying here?
I enjoyed being part of a campus university that was both beautiful and felt like a small community.
Why did you choose to study at Exeter?
I like that Exeter is not a huge city and is surrounded by the countryside. Plus the IAIS is well-respected within the field and the classes are small enough to know you’re getting a lot of focussed attention and support – which you need when you’re learning a language from scratch.
What skills and experiences have been most useful for your career?
People are always fascinated to know I studied Arabic – it’s a rare skill. The people who hired me at The Art Newspaper have said that it made me stand out from other applicants. But the most important thing is being adaptable and bringing more to a job than simply the job description – I was able to move up from my position as intern by asking to take on more responsibilities, from social media management to leading on Middle East-related projects.
What advice would you give to a current student who wishes to pursue your career?
It’s important to get loads of experience – even if they are short stints at good places. Apply for everything, even while still at uni. Make use of your summers by getting internships. Practice your writing by starting a blog if you find it difficult to find places who will publish your work. And go to loads of exhibition openings and events and talk to people – the art world is often about who you know as much as what you know.
What are your plans for the future?
I’d like to get more experience in digital publishing, working on podcasts, videos and digital platforms. I’d be interested in one day working for a UK national publication or possibly something in the Middle East. I also haven’t ruled out doing a PhD!