Laila Hourani is a cultural leader and novelist with twenty-five years’ experience in art, culture and media development, intercultural relations and partnership building for social impact. Her debut novel Baoh, published in 2009 by Al-Adab in Beirut, is inspired by her journeys of displacement as a descendant of a Palestinian refugee family to Syria.
Laila moved to Norway in 2021 to join the Norwegian cultural rights organization Mimeta, as Program Director. She left MIMETA in 2023 and shifted to self-employment as an expert consultant. She is MENA Lead for the International Resource for Impact and Storytelling (IRIS), a Rockefeller Foundation project. Laila has led the development of regional and global arts, culture, film and media strategies and portfolios for the Ford Foundation MENA office out of Egypt, and the British Council MENA programs out of Syria. The strategies Laila developed in the Middle East, Africa and Europe, have contributed to strengthening the independent arts and culture sector in the Arab region, and supporting storytellers working under difficult conditions internationally. She has also contributed to the seeding and institutional strengthening of narrative change civil society organisations that gave voice to communities in distress, like Syrian refugee and artists at risk.