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IBB Update: Earthquake Investment, Iraqi Innovators, International Book Fairs, and more!

At IBB, we are providing direct aid to Turkey and Syria while we scale up our programs there, have funded a few new Innovators, made our way into another book fair, and have another new hire!

As our programs here at IBB continue to expand, we are constantly trying to find the best way to keep our supporters up to date with everything we are doing to advance our mission: getting good ideas where they are needed most. In that vein, we will post our IBB Updates weekly, right here on our Substack. This Substack is already a platform for our articles on our Innovators, interviews with the authors whose books we are translating, and all the other avenues into the wide world of Ideas Beyond Borders we are in the process of producing. Who knows, there may even be a podcast with our founders Melissa and Faisal in the pipeline…

IBB Earthquake Relief and Reinvestment

IBB earthquake reinvestment

We are partnering directly with our Innovators in Turkey and Syria to bring humanitarian aid to those who need it most. This is only the start, though. From here on, we will be investing much more into these countries. Rebuilding the Anatolia peninsula will be the work of a generation, and we are eager to find and fund the leaders, entrepreneurs, and artists who will be putting these two countries back together again. We will have many more updates as we expand our programs in the region, but in the meantime, please consider donating directly to our earthquake relief fund. There are still hundreds of thousands of people displaced and distraught, and they need our help getting back on their feet. As always, 80% of every dollar we receive goes directly towards supporting our programs, and that includes Substack subscriptions as well!

Karbala International Book Fair

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Some of our translations made it into the Karbala International Book Fair in Iraq. Karbala is a holy city for Shia Muslims, and this comes with strict morality restrictions on the types of publications they would allow to be shown there. Despite this, we managed to get a few exciting additions in under the radar and onto the shelves, like the book pictured above: Heavens on Earth: The Scientific Search for the Afterlife, Immortality, and Utopia by Michael Shermer! Our translations have been picking up a lot more reaction at events like these and the Book Booths we have been setting up across the Middle East. Onwards and upwards!

(Michael also has an excellent Substack, Skeptic, which you should subscribe to).

New Hire: Lana Al-Jaf

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We’ve got a new hire! Lana joins us as our new Marketing Director and multimedia maven for Kurdistan. Make sure to check out her work at the IBB – Kurdistan Instagram page, speaking to the rapidly growing audience of Kurds who are aligned with our mission. We’ll let her introduce herself in her own words.

I’m Lana Al-jaf, I’m a Designer and Translator, I have a BA degree in Architectural Engineering and a MA in Interior design. My work experience is mostly in marketing, design and translation. I was introduced to IBB many years ago and I volunteered in a couple of their campaigns. I was so excited to work with IBB for I strongly believe in their mission of fighting violence with knowledge. I’m the Marketing Director for the KRG region, and in my spare time, I’m a painter and a theatre actress in a multi-lingual local theatre group.

Innovator Profile: Imad Amer

“In the current economic environment, employers can’t afford to take people on as a favor, so they place greater emphasis on getting the candidate with the right skills… Companies are asking fresh graduates to have a set of skills they can only acquire from experience, not universities, which is why many young people are struggling,”


Last year, Imad Amer set up CV Iraq & HR Development, which offers free guidance in interview techniques and resume writing, as well as identifying the skills candidates need to acquire. Imad can offer these courses for free as he’s now powered by one of our Innovation Hub grants. With high youth unemployment, he knows candidates need to capitalize on every competitive advantage they can.

Iraqi youth are increasingly seeking professional development and honing their interview techniques as traditional patronage systems are replaced by meritocracy. Graduates in Iraq were previously recruited via personal connections, but Covid-19 has caused companies to tighten their budgets, creating greater competition among applicants. Imad’s seeking to give everyone looking for a competitive edge a chance at one, and we’re happy to be supporting him as he supports the latest generation of Iraq’s workforce.

Read our full story on Imad here.

Innovator Profile: Ali Hakem

“I want to help others follow their passion and discover what that is… The humanities subjects – arts, sports, administration, economics, civil society, law, philosophy – most of these majors are considered worthless.”


Education in Iraq steers top-performing students towards certain degrees, such as medicine, while other fields of study are considered less valuable. One of our latest Innovators, Ali Hakem, launched Education Revolution to challenge the system’s rigidity, offering courses in unorthodox subjects such as Democracy and Dialogue and Environmental Protection and Volunteering. He encourages students to explore their interests and pursue their passions. He aims to give young people the freedom to shape their own lives, and his teaching methods deviate from traditional approaches in Iraq. With one of our Innovation Hub grants, Hakem has expanded the sessions to reach more students and equip a proper classroom.

Read our full story on Ali here.

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