Maha Yahya

Senior Associate
Middle East Center
Yahya is a senior associate at the Carnegie Middle East Center, where her research focuses on citizenship, pluralism, and social justice in the aftermath of the Arab uprisings.


PhD, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
PhD, Architectural Association School of Architecture


Arabic; English

Contact Information


Maha Yahya is a senior associate at the Carnegie Middle East Center, where her research focuses on citizenship, pluralism, and social justice in the aftermath of the Arab uprisings.

Prior to joining Carnegie, Yahya led work on Participatory Development and Social Justice at the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (UN-ESCWA). She was previously regional adviser on social and urban policies at UN-ESCWA and spearheaded strategic and inter-sectoral initiatives and policies in the Office of the Executive Secretary which addressed the challenges of democratic transitions in the Arab world. Yahya has also worked with the United Nations Development Program in Lebanon, where she was the director and principle author of The National Human Development Report 2008–2009: Toward a Citizen’s State. She was also the founder and editor of the MIT Electronic Journal of Middle East Studies

Yahya has worked with international organizations and in the private sector as a consultant on projects related to socioeconomic policy analysis, development policies, cultural heritage, poverty reduction, housing and community development, and postconflict reconstruction in various countries including Lebanon, Pakistan, Oman, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Iran. She has served on a number of advisory boards including the MIT Enterprise Forum of the Pan Arab Region and the Lebanese Center for Policy Studies.

Among other publications, Yahya is the author of Towards Integrated Social Development Policies: A Conceptual Analysis (UN-ESCWA, 2004), co-editor of Secular Publicities: Visual practices and the Transformation of National Publics in the Middle East and South Asia (University of Michigan Press, 2010) and co-author of Promises of Spring: Citizenship and Civic Engagement in Democratic Transitions (UN-ESCWA, 2013). 


  • Columbia Global Centers | Middle East March 4, 2015
    The Significance of Discontent: Arab Faces and Perceptions of Injustice

    Four years after the start of the Arab revolutions, fundamental issues like polarization identities and economic inequities continue to destabilize the region.

  • Syria in Crisis January 15, 2015
    What Does the Charlie Hebdo Attack Mean for Europe?

    The horrific attacks in France bring back to the fore the question of what it means to be a citizen in Europe today and how such citizenship intersects with the burning questions of class and multiple cultural identities.

  • Syria in Crisis December 29, 2014
    The Middle East in 2015: What to Watch

    Carnegie scholars assess the Middle East in the year ahead, including potential game changers that could have a big impact for the future of the region.

  • Op-Ed Daily Star December 10, 2014 عربي
    The Right To Have Rights

    Universal human rights can provide a framework through which the indivisibility of social, economic, political, and cultural rights may be argued and the struggle for these rights may take place.

  • Op-Ed National Interest November 7, 2014 عربي
    The Ultimate Fatal Attraction: 5 Reasons People Join ISIS

    Five distinct trends—not including theology or technology—explain the fatal attraction to the Islamic State. Understanding these trends is vital for winning the war against extremist ideologies.

  • Article November 6, 2014 عربي
    Iraq’s Existential Crisis: Sectarianism Is Just Part of the Problem

    The current conflict has renewed interest in splitting Iraq along religious and ethnic lines. But other steps are needed for the country’s long-term recovery.

  • Sada Discussion Threads October 3, 2014 عربي
    The Aftermath of Arsal

    The Islamic State’s brief takeover of Arsal prompted a string of xenophobic and vigilante measures against Syrians that may serve to bolster the radical group’s appeal.

  • Op-Ed Mark News August 14, 2014 عربي
    Fighting Terrorism and Securing Liberties in Tunisia

    The specter of terrorism in Tunisia may force a postponement of planned parliamentary and presidential elections and derail the country's political transition – the Arab Spring’s only apparent success story.

  • Q&A July 28, 2014 عربي
    What the Gaza War Means for the Middle East

    With intensifying international pressure to end hostilities, a brief lull in fighting currently prevails in Gaza. But a formal ceasefire between Israel and Hamas has proven elusive.

  • Article July 1, 2014 عربي
    Choosing Security and Freedom in Egypt

    The expanding clampdown on fundamental rights in Egypt overlooks the fact that security and stability cannot be attained in the absence of freedom, dignity, and social justice.

Carnegie Middle East Center
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