Maha has almost 10 years’ experience in communications, media relations, campaigns and stakeholder engagement in the Middle East from her base in the UAE. She joined The Fred Hollows Foundation 18 months ago in a bid to help us raise awareness and brand recognition in the region and to emphasise the importance of donors and governments supporting investment in eye health care. Maha also supports our country programmes in the South Asia/Middle East region (Nepal, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Palestine) with their communications efforts.
In her previous roles in non-governmental organizations, including MSF and International Fund for Animal Welfare, Maha led regional communications strategy and planning, media management and message development to ensure they were aligned with the advocacy, philanthropy and movement goals.
She has bought those skills to The Foundation and has already made significant inroads across the region, securing front page coverage of issues including gender inequity in eye health. Maha has raised the voices of other female leaders, using partnerships with women’s magazines and speaking opportunities at webinars and events.
Importantly, Maha has secured four local ambassadors for The Foundation in the UAE. These amazing women have with a combined reach of millions of followers and are bringing awareness of eye health to a younger audience. In particular, Maha has brought together a diverse team of Arabic ambassadors that reach a broad social, cultural, generational and economic constituency. This innovative model ensures the issues of eye-health reach new and future audiences where they may have otherwise been missed. Maha works closely with other eye health organisations, such as Noor Dubai, to develop partnerships and is supporting The Foundation’s efforts to build awareness through the World Expo in Dubai.
One of her key strengths is her desire to build capacity in partners and she has worked with local eye health organisations across the region to develop their communication and storytelling skills. Her work to support others has led to significant media coverage and awareness not only for The Foundation, but for those critical partners.
She takes an innovative approach and uses evidence and data metrics to evaluate her work and she is undoubtedly an up-and-coming leader in the eye health sector. She works closely with her colleagues in similar global roles in Africa and Asia to share ideas and successes and to test new strategies.
“I enjoy everything about my role, but especially identifying potential opportunities telling stories about the impact of restoring an individual’s sight and I am privileged to be a part of a team that shares the same values, passion, and determination to develop sustainable innovative solutions to deliver a world where no person is needlessly blind or vision impaired.
Communications success is not possible without the infinite support I receive from The Foundation, I am only one element. Our leadership, colleagues, and partners are all part of the equation; and that is how we can take eye health to new levels in local markets.”
– Maha Oda