Operations and Policy Center (OPC, formerly, Orient Policy Center) is an independent think tank and service provider based in Gaziantep, Turkey. Established in 2014, OPC conducts original research and provides consulting services to enhance policymaking, development programs, and humanitarian response projects. Syrian-led and owned, OPC combines local knowledge with technological and scientific expertise, utilizing in-house statisticians and graphic designers to create original and intuitive final products.
Between 2014 and 2018, OPC was an exclusive service provider to the Orient Research Center (ORC) in Dubai. Since then, OPC has focused on cultivating relationships with governmental and non-governmental bodies working in Syria or with the Syrian diaspora. Currently, OPC is in a stage of growth after significantly upscaling its capabilities due to increased demand from a growing clientele.
CEO and Founder
Basel Al-Junaidy is the founder, owner, and CEO of OPC. During the Syrian revolution, Basel believed that an independent and sustainable “think tank” in the Syrian context would be impossible without an innovative, for-profit business model. Basel is also a co-founder and operating director of Az Intelligence, a company headquartered in Dubai which runs online finance and retail investment outlets. He also serves as co-founder and Board Member of Kesh Malek, a nonprofit which advocates for human rights and education. Basel studied medicine and graduated as a doctor from YSMU in 2011, but has not practiced medicine since.
Chief Operating Officer (COO)
Mohammad has nearly a decade of successful management and leadership experience. He established the NGO service department at OPC. Mohammad works under the principle that all partners should enjoy their relationship with OPC while receiving the highest level of service. He therefore aims to closely and continuously match client needs with the Center’s areas of expertise, in order to tailor a successful experience for every client. Before working full-time for OPC, Mohammad filled senior roles in several NGOs, and is a co-founder of several initiatives and organizations, including Kesh Malek, the Leishmania Initiative, and the Darna Center.
Originally from Aleppo, Dr. Karam Shaar has lived in Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, and New Zealand. He was an activist for democratic reforms in the first year of the Syrian uprising, but later fled the country and continued his activism from abroad. His research focuses on Syria’s political economy. Karam’s writings have been published in the Middle East Institute, The Aleppo Project, the Carnegie Middle East Center, and the Atlantic Council, and he has been interviewed and quoted by various media outlets including CNN, The Sunday Times, BBC, CNBC, PRI, Al Jazeera, and others. He is currently a Senior Lecturer on the Middle East at Massey University and a Non-Resident Scholar at the Middle East Institute.
Nisreen is interested in the political, economic, and social dynamics of the conflict across Syria. Though her graduate degree is in Postcolonial Literary Theory, her interests shifted with her engagement as an activist with Syrian CSOs since 2011 in the fields of non-violent resistance, women empowerments, and education.
Orwa is a journalist and researcher interested in the sociopolitical changes and political transformation within Syria, with a special focus on exposing the power structures shaped by the struggle of both local and regional forces. He studied political science, has worked as a journalist since 2010, and as a researcher since 2015. His work focuses mainly on tracking militant factions within Syria and their subsequent influence on society.
Senior MEAL Specialist
Rajy is a Senior MEAL Specialist with nearly eight years’ experience in the humanitarian field. He has worked as a project manager and MEAL specialist in several different organizations, in addition to being a community work trainer. Rajy is a graduate from Aleppo University’s Business Administration program and was a second-year Master’s student in Quality Management before his studies were interrupted by the conflict. As the senior MEAL specialist, Rajy sets up MEAL methodologies, develops workplans, and manages all MEAL projects. He leverages his long experience as a data analyst to analyze qualitative and quantitative data across OPC’s projects, including bidding on new projects.
Will Christou is a journalist and researcher focused on Levantine issues, Syria in particular. He graduated from the University of Florida with a degree in International Relations. He then worked as a journalist with Syria Direct in Amman, Jordan, for two years, before working as a freelancer. He has been published in Al-Monitor, The New Arab, and with the Middle East Institute. He speaks Arabic fluently (depending on which of his colleagues you ask).
Motassem is experienced in e-Training and learning platforms, cultural heritage documentation using 3D modelling and virtual reality, information system analysis, database systems design and implementation, web applications, and services development. He holds a PhD in Computer Science from Jean Monnet University in France, and joint Master’s degrees in Computer Vision and Robotics from Heriot-Watt University (UK), the University of Girona (Spain), and the University of Burgundy (France). He also studied Computer Engineering at the University of Aleppo.
Roaa has worked in M&E for over six years, focusing in particular on female empowerment, psychological support, and educational projects. Previously, she worked as a trainer for several local and international organizations, training teachers and support officers in protection, advocacy, gender-based violence, and psychological support skills. She has also worked as a math teacher for children with special needs. Roaa holds a degree in Mathematics Education, and is currently studying Information Engineering.
Senior Research Fellow
Sultan is a researcher and sociologist interested in cultural change. Though initially interested in social theory and research methodologies, Sultan’s passion gradually shifted to developmental and applied social theory after earning his Master’s degree. He tries to reflect this passion in his work and strives to produce original studies with a strong grounding in social theory that are useful for policymakers and planners.
Content Creator and Research Fellow
Dima joined OPC in 2014, where she developed her research skills by working on dozens of projects and later helped found the organization’s media unit. She currently focuses on digital content creation and social media outreach. She is passionate about female and youth participation in the public and political sphere, and wants to use digital technology to reach this audience with innovative, research-based methods. Dima is a 2018 Political Science graduate from Sabahattin Zaim University in Istanbul. She completed a training program in Governance and Peacebuilding with George Mason University in 2019.
Belal Abo Nabot
Senior Field Coordinator
Belal Abo Nabot is an expert in program management and capacity building, with over eight years of experience in the field and 20 years professional experience overall. He is intimately familiar with international best practices and quality management. He speaks Arabic and English. Belal is passionate about conflict resolution and humanitarian response and has developed deep relations with community leaders across Syria; he has also managed several programs in Syria from Turkey. He previously worked with the Syrian Civil Administration Center (SYCAC) and the Civil Society and Democracy Center. Belal holds a Bachelor’s degree in History from Damascus University.
Ayham Barish is a data analyst with more than 4 years of experience. He is skilled at a variety of data analysis, management, and visualization softwares including Power BI, SQL Server, SPSS, and Python. Ayham holds a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics, and has a professional certificate in Data Science from IBM.
Senior MEAL Specialist
Ahlem Dhaouadi is an experienced researcher and M&E specialist with over six years in the field. She possesses an excellent understanding of international best practices, quality standards, and ethical guidelines. A native Arabic speaker, Ahlem is fluent in English and French, and holds a Master’s degree in Business Administration. She also has deep experience in conducting third-party monitoring as well as midterm, final evaluation, and needs assessments of humanitarian projects in conflict areas, particularly in Syria and Iraq. Ahlem has worked with international organizations and donors such as USAID, UNOCHA, ECHO, IOM, DFID, Mercy Corps, and Welthungerhilfe.
Amjad Hamza is a MEAL Officer with six years of work experience in project management, research and analysis, and monitoring and evaluation; he also has ten years of volunteering experience in humanitarian and disaster response efforts. Previously, he worked in project management and analysis with USAID’s Office of Transition Initiatives in a fast-paced program focusing on conflict and political transition in Syria. Amjad is skilled in strategy development, M&E, grants design and implementation, remote management, and political and conflict analysis. He holds a Bachelor of Economics degree from Damascus University.
Samy Akil is a researcher specializing in Syrian and Levantine affairs, with a focus on party politics, foreign policy, and conflict analysis. He holds a Bachelor of International Relations (Honours) from La Trobe University, Melbourne, and a Master of Middle Eastern & Central Asian Studies from the Australian National University (ANU), Canberra. He has published with the Middle East Institute and is co-founder and managing editor of the Near East Policy Forum at the Centre for Arab and Islamic Studies, ANU. He works at a Canberra-based diplomatic mission and is fluent in Arabic, English, and German.
Hashem Haj Bakri is a former photojournalist from the city of Latakia, where he worked with a number of different media outlets from 2011 to 2017. Hashem started learning graphic design and illustration in 2017, and is currently enrolled at Istanbul University, studying Cinema and Television.
Ashley Jordan is a researcher focusing on migration, localization, and conflict transformation. She has over a decade of experience engaging in humanitarian work from community-based and intercultural perspectives. Ashley’s competencies include research design and evaluations, third-party monitoring and evaluation, qualitative data analysis, donor relations, storytelling, and advocacy. She has participated in numerous research projects, including a fellowship at Koc University. She holds a Master’s degree in the Governance of Migration and Diversity with a focus on Public Policy from Erasmus University, and a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism from Texas State University.
Maysaa Almasalmeh is a MEAL Officer with four years’ experience in the field. She currently manages, supervises, and provides technical support to the Third-Party Monitoring field team to make sure that all planned activities are implemented to standard and on schedule. She is also involved in technical planning, the development of toolsets, and report writing. Before joining OPC, Maysaa worked as a MEAL Manager at the NGO Syria Bright Future, and as a community center manager at Al Zahraa University. Mayssa is a graduate from Damascus University’s Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Chemistry faculty. She holds a Master’s degree in Laboratory Diagnosis.