Laila El-Haddad, author of Gaza Mom: Palestine, Politics, Parenting, and Everything In Between and co-author of The Gaza Kitchen: A Palestinian Culinary Journey, is a talented blogger, political analyst, social activist, and parent-of-three from Gaza City. She is also a contributing author to The Goldstone Report: The Legacy of the Landmark Investigation of the Gaza Conflict, and a policy advisor with al-Shabaka, the Palestinian Policy Network.
Laila herself was born in Kuwait and raised primarily in Saudi Arabia, where her parents, both Gaza natives, worked, while summering in Gaza. She attended an international high school in Bahrain before coming to the United States. She received her BA from Duke University and her MPP from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.
She always longed to return to her hometown, and shortly after finishing her masters, that dream was fulfilled. From 2003-2007, El-Haddad was the Gaza stringer for the Al Jazeera English website and was a regular contributor to the BBC and the Guardian online as well as radio correspondent for Pacifica’s Free Speech Radio News. During this time, she co-directed two Gaza-based documentaries for Tourist with a Typewriter Productions that aired on Al-Jazeera English, including the award-winning film Tunnel Trade.
Laila also enjoys heritage collecting and travel writing, and authored the Gaza section of the Alternative Tourism Guide's Palestine guidebook.
She has been published in the Baltimore Sun, Washington Post, International Herald Tribune, The New Statesman, The Daily Star, Le monde diplomatique, and has appeared on CNN, NPR, and Al Jazeera. Since November 2004, she has authored an award-winning blog now known as Gaza Mom.
A running theme in El-Haddad's writing is the personalization of the situation of Gazans and Palestinians, a topic to which she brings her characteristic wry humor and introspective humanity about her daily life and those of other Palestinians.
She currently makes her home in Columbia, Maryland with her husband Yassine Daoud, a Palestinian physician who grew up in a refugee camp in Lebanon and who, along with millions of other Palestinians, is not allowed by Israel to enter Gaza or anywhere else in Palestine.
When not experimenting with the use of extra virgin olive oil as an infant laxative, Laila enjoys hiking, traveling, people watching, and foraging. She derives great satisfaction from flipping the perfect maqlooba.
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