Lemma Shehadi

"Lemma is too modest to admit she can strip and repair an AK47, but I know she has a great eye for a frock." – Patrick H.

Lemma Shehadi

I am a journalist from London covering international current affairs and culture. As a longform writer, I love to tackle new subjects, from the reconstruction of heritage sites after the earthquake in Kathmandu to a rift in Syria's presidential palace.

In 2019, I won the Rupert Cornwell Prize for foreign journalism to write a series of features on the Yezidis, a religious minority living in the Caucasus, for The Independent. My article on the opening of a Yazidi temple in Armenia was longlisted for a One World Media Award 2020.

From 2013-2019, I was an arts manager with the Ruya Foundation, which supports contemporary culture in Iraq. My favourite project was launching Iraq's first drama therapy production in Baghdad. My most challenging one was producing a series of educational art books in Arabic.

I was part of the commissioning team for four editions of the Iraqi Pavilion at the Venice Biennale (2013-2019), which included collaborations with contemporary artists such as Ai Weiwei and Francis Alÿs, and the Iraq Museum in Baghdad. I was a nominator for the Victoria and Albert Museum's Jameel Prize 2020, an international award for contemporary art and design inspired by Islamic tradition.

My features and essays on culture, architecture and design have appeared in Disegno, Guardian Cities, The National, Icon, Harper's Bazaar Art Arabia, and Port Magazine, among others. I have covered international news stories for Al Arabiya, The Independent and BBC Radio 4's From Our Own Correspondent.

Not that long ago, I read 18th c. Romantic literature and philosophy.

You can contact me on hello@lemmashehadi.com

selected features

Etel Adnan's California-inspired paintings will continue to shine bright after her death, The National, November 2021

How historic carpenters of Tripoli are carving out a survival plan for traditional Lebanese woodwork, The National June 2021

Human rights concerns over Sri Lanka’s controversial plans for ‘rehabilitation centres’ for extremists, The Independent, March 2021

Tripoli's orange blossom and others smells BBC Radio 4, From Our Own Correspondent, March 2021

Talking History: How some Turks and Armenians are seeking to overcome years of conflict The Independent, March 2021

The Stasi’s forgotten victims struggle to celebrate thirty years of German reunification, October 2020

Long read: Inside Assad’s palace: Rami Makhlouf, money, power and the future of Syria, Al Arabiya English, June 2020

Sweet bread, apples and the tree of happiness: Yazidi weddings bring persecuted community together, The Independent, May 2020

Emerging from Isis Genocide, Yezidis in Armenia open religion's largest ever temple, The Independent, November 2019

Too little, too late? The battle to save Tripoli's futuristic fairground, The Guardian, January 2019

art and design writing

The Clock and The Hunchback: can Mosul's cultural heritage "revive the spirit" of the city?, Disegno, Summer 2021

Majd Abdel Hamid's new exhibition deals with trauma through embroidery, The National, October 2021

'The Sound of Broken Glass': new film explores the lives of Beirutis in the wake of blast, The National, August 2021

Musee Henry: new museum sheds light on Beirut's demolished heritage homes The National, August 2021

New Beirut sculpture to honour victims of port explosion, but responses are mixed, The National, July 2021

How Dia Mrad captured Beirut's tragedy through images absent of human life, The National, July 2021

Special Report on Beirut's art scene one year after the blast for The National, 28 July 2021. Interviews with museum director Zeina Arida, gallerist Joumana Asseily, designer Sarah Beydoun and artist Abed Al Kadiri

Beirut gallery hit by the August 4 blast reopens with new show, The National, July 2021

Morocco's modern heritage at risk from upcoming sale, say artists' heirs, The National, June 2021

'This story isn't about refugees, it's about outsiders': Burhan Qurbani brings fresh take to classic 'Berlin Alexanderplatz', The National, February 2020

Unpicking the design of IBM's first commercially available quantum computer, Disegno, July 2019

The untold love story of 1971 Miss Universe Georgina Rizk, The National, August 2019

Dubai waves goodbye to the skyscraper Port, November 2018

Un-defining graphic design at Sharjah's Fikra Design Biennial Disegno, November 2018

Austris Mailitis, The Latvian architect finding solace in nature and folklore Icon, October 2018

Tbilisi Photo Festival commemorates the Georgian-Russian war Port, October 2018

Searching for Hambantota, Sri Lanka, Disegno, September 2018

Polish photography collective Sputnik Photo at the inaugural Riga Biennial, Port, May 2018

Jean Nouvel's Louvre Abu Dhabi, Disegno, December 2017

The politics of architectural heritage preservation in Syria, Disegno, September 2017

Rebuilding Kathmandu's temples after the earthquake, Disegno, July 2017

Maybe no one is listening: Dhaka-based artist Tayeba Begum LipiHarper's Bazaar Art Arabia, June 2017

Tehran's design scene after the sanctions, Disegno, September 2016

Architectural preservation in Bahrain Disegno, June 2016 2014

Nelly Ben Hayoun's Disaster Playground: "It’s very different from a Bruce Willis", Disegno, December 2014

video

My filming of the opening of the world's largest Yazidi temple in Armenia for The Independent, 2019

I produced and directed two short documentaries for the Ruya Foundation with the wonderful Sariel Heseltine:

exhibitions

'Fatherland' the Iraqi Pavilion at the 58th Venice Biennale, Venice, 2019

'Latif Al Ani', Coningsby Gallery, London, 2017

'Archaic' the Iraqi Pavilion at the 57th Venice Biennale, Venice, 2017

Restaging of 'Invisible Beauty' at the Erbil Citadel, Erbil, 2017

Art16, London, 2016

'Invisible Beauty' the Iraqi Pavilion at the 56th Venice Biennale, 2015

'Welcome to Iraq' the Iraqi Pavilion at the 55th Venice Biennale, 2013

past work

Sri Lanka’s Muslim COVID-19 victims could be buried in the Maldives, Al Arabiya English, December 2020

Sri Lankans protest burial ban after forced cremation of a Muslim baby, Al Arabiya English, December 2020

Armenia’s defeat in Nagorno-Karabakh raises concerns about the future of its 2018 Velvet Revolution, Al Arabiya English, November 2020

Armenia captures two Syrian mercenaries amid Turkish and Azerbaijani denials, Al Arabiya English, November 2020

Armenia’s Lebanese repatriates support humanitarian efforts in Nagorno-Karabakh, Al Arabiya English, November 2020

Families anxiously await news from Armenian soldiers on Nagorno-Karabakh frontline, Al Arabiya English, October 2020

The fragility of Armenia's largest ethnic minority The Independent, October 2020

Rami Makhlouf's charity Al Bustan removes Facebook page, September 2020, Al Arabiya English, September 2020

Yazidi activists call out militia rule after double killing in Sinjar Al Arabiya English, September 2020

Baghdad's inability to reign in on militias threatens Yazidi minority in Sinjar, activists say, Al Arabiya English, August 2020

Russia network financed Al-Assad with British overseas territory & EU shell companies, Al Arabiya English, July 2020

UN Security Council votes on aid to Syria as deadline approaches, Al Arabiya English, July 2020

The Caesar Act Sanctions on Syria, Al Arabiya English, June 2020

Syrian tycoon Rami Makhlouf names son Ali heir to telecoms company, not playboy Dubai-based son, Al Arabiya English, May 2020

Rami Makhlouf's spat with Syrian regime deepens over a document dispute Al Arabiya English, May 2020

Syrian tycoon Rami Makhlouf warns of an abuse of power by security services in new video Al Arabiya English, May 2020

Top Syrian businessman Rami Makhlouf shows rift in regime's inner circle Al Arabiya English, May 2020

Muslims in Sri Lanka forced to cremate dead, stigmatized under lockdown, Al Arabiya English, April 2020

Trial of Syrian officers in Germany to shed light on Assad reign of terror, Al Arabiya English, April 2020

Coronavirus: Isolated Syrian refugee camp with no doctors or aid fears outbreak, Al Arabiya English, April 2020

Coronavirus: Syrian artist paints murals in war-torn Idlib to warn of outbreak, Al Arabiya English, March 2020

Syrians celebrate Merkel testing negative for coronavirus with mural in war-torn Idlib, The Independent, March 2020

Deadly shisha bar attack followed targeting of establishments by police and far right, Germany’s Arab community says, The Independent, February 2020

Ezidlerin Sovyet sonrasi Gürcü topraklarında kimlik bulma mücadelesi The Independent Turkce, December 2019

‘Our community was dying out’: Yazidis struggle to find an identity in post-Soviet Georgian landscape, The Independent, December 2019

'We are drifting away from democracy': Protests grip former Soviet Republic of Georgia, The Independent, December 2019