Amal Al-Khedairy

Biography | articles



Highlights of Achievements:

Family Background:

Amal Al Khedairy was born in Damascus in 1935 to a Syrian mother and Iraqi father (Yasseen Al Khedairy) from a well-known family deeply rooted in Iraq since the 15th century. Mrs. Khedairy’s family is affiliated to the tribe of Shammar, whose homeland was Najed in the Arabian Peninsula. They nested in Baghdad, Iraq, near the Gailani Mosque in Bab Al Sheikh – an old quarter in the centre of the city. However, she was brought up in the family house built by her father outside the Bab Al Sheikh district. It was this house that would be converted, managed and operated by Mrs. Khedairy as the “Al Beit Al Iraqi” cultural centre, until April 4th, 2003,– when it was bombed and destroyed by the Americans.



M Ed- The American University of Beirut – Lebanon


M A Lit – University of London, London UK


HD in French Language – The University of Lauzanne - Switzerland


B A Lit – University College – University of London, London UK


Secondary School - American School for Girls in Baghdad (presently it is nationalized and was renamed Baghdad Secondary for Girls)

Other Non – Degree Studies:

Spanish – The Spanish Cultural Center Baghdad

Calligraphy – The Folklore Institute, Baghdad (1985-1986)

Professional Background:  

1987 – 2003

Founder and creative director of Al Beit Al Iraqi House,  

Al Beit Al Iraqi was the first center in Baghdad to conserve, revive and further Iraqi crafts. It is located in the family’s Ottoman Style Baghdadi home built by her father in the early 20th century (around 1906) and rehabilitated to contain and market craft. This task, through which Al Beit Al Iraqi was aiming at, revitalised work for men and women of deprived families – conservative women who cannot work outside their homes, and soldiers returning home (The first gulf war was still grinding people). Later when the economic sanctions were imposed on Iraq, Al Beit Al Iraqi became the outlet for young middle class people to find new means for living.  Although  was only opened in 1987 as a cultural center, it was the target of destruction in the first Gulf War and nonetheless, destroyed.  The funds were gathered to rebuild it again and luckily, it remained throughout the 1990s as a hosting place for exhibitions of contemporary Iraqi artists, concerts, lectures and regular based classes, until its destruction by US bombs in the spring of 2003. The exhibit on display prior to the recent invasion was an exchange of drawings between Iraqi and Japanese saying No War, to protest the imminent threats of the American invasion of Iraq. To this date, the Al Beit Al Iraqi building lies in the midst of urban warfare, having first been hit by “stray” missiles, and then looted. Regardless of the fact that one by one, the bricks are being looted from the framework of the building, Mrs. Khedairy has plans to rebuild what was once a stronghold of preservation of Iraqi culture and arts in the Old Quarter of Baghdad.  


Lecturer at the American University of Beirut – College of Education


Lecturer at the Baghdad University (School of Architecture, Girl’s College high Institute of Islamic Studies, College of Languages

Between (1973 and 1987)

She was a full time mom.

 Voluntary and Social Work:  


Co founder of “Friends of Antiquity and Heritage”

“Friends of Antiquity and Heritage” is an NGO to preserve, protect and further the great culture of Iraq – the “Cradle of Civilization”


Co founder of “Friends of the Iraqi Museum” 

“Friends of the Iraqi Museum” is an NGO dedicated to preserve what is left in the Iraqi museums after the war crimes of lootings, theft and destruction that occurred during the first weeks after the fall of Baghdad.


Co-founder of the Woman’s Cultural Club – National Union of Iraqi Woman, Baghdad, Iraq.

The Woman’s Cultural Club was found to face the issues of war and embargo and the new responsibilities and burdens loading Iraqi Women

1974 – 1978

Co-founder of the Arab Woman league – London, UK.  

1959 – 1968

Management Board Member, Red Crescent Woman Branch, Baghdad, Iraq During her work with the Red Crescent Mrs Al Khedairy formed the cultural Forum and worked with the social Service in deprived areas

1959 – 1968

Contributed with NGOs (fighting Illiteracy) and taught Illiterate Children  

1965 – 1968

Mrs Al Khedairy helped in forming the first society for conserving heritage in Baghdad, Sulaikh (the Baghdad Society)  

1987 -

Member of the Baghdad Chamber of Commerce  

1991 -

Member of the Iraqi Translators Society

Public Speaking:


Lectures for the International Red Cross, the ESCWA and other international organizations regarding Iraqi Culture, Art and Craft


Tour of the United States : 

Friends and Media from all over the world witnessed the total damage of their Iraqi Oasis – Al Beit Al Iraqi urged Al Khedairy to carry out her message that Culture is a common human heritage in it rests our salvation. Cherishing culture is a human responsibility, and she felt compelled to speak to a biased-media soaked American audience who wanted to hear first hand the effects of the American invasions on their lands. The tour was sponsored by FOR Code Pink and other organizations, along with invitations from prestigious American universities (Georgetown, Columbia, University of California and others), churches, synagogues, mosques, the SC, Women Associations, Art Centers Schools, TV and Radio Stations, Congressmen and women, and private individuals from over than 20 cities in the US.

"This is Our American Liberation!" An Art Center Left in Ashes
Published on Thursday, April 17, 2003 by the New York Times
Touring U.S., Iraqi Women Speak Against Occupation
By Dina Rashed, December 19 2003 (

Iraqi women share their view of the war
Newsreview, 20/11/2003

When U.S. bombs began to fall on Baghdad in March, Amal Al-Khedairy could do little more than watch in horror as her 14-year-old arts and culture center was hit by rockets and turned to rubble. "All the windows were blown out. It is ashes now," she said.

It was a cruel case of déjà vu for Al-Khedairy. Her center, an elegant repository of Iraqi art, music and artifacts situated in her Ottoman-era home on the banks of the Tigris, had been hit and destroyed once before by U.S. bombs during the 1991 Gulf War. It is perhaps no wonder that, as she recounted her experiences Saturday night to an audience of nearly 100 at Chico's First Baptist Church, Al-Khedairy struggled to contain her rage, sometimes looking to the ceiling as if trying to keep tears from rolling down her face.

Al-Khedairy, an Iraqi university professor and cultural expert, was in town as part of a national Iraqi women's tour sponsored by the Fellowship of Reconciliation. She was joined by award-winning Iraqi journalist Nermin Al-Mufti, author of five books and countless articles whose entire body of written work was destroyed in last spring's bombing and subsequent looting. "I have nothing," she said. "No record of my life."

Despite their personal losses, the two women embarked on the tour, which began in late October in Washington, D.C., to dispel myths about Iraq and to make an impassioned plea to Americans: end the U.S. occupation of Iraq.

They highlighted the fact that Iraq was the cradle of civilization, with 5,000 years of written history. For several centuries, Baghdad served as the cultural center of the medieval Muslim world, a place where medicine and philosophy flourished and where analytical geometry was founded.

"We are not a small village where Americans have to come and teach us how to rule ourselves," Al-Mufti said of her country, which achieved independence from British rule in 1932. "Iraq was one of the founding countries of the League of Nations; it was one of the founding states of the United Nations, the Arab League, and OPEC."

It was also a place where, even under Saddam Hussein, education and health care were free to all citizens, including women, and where all people, regardless of ethnicity or religion, were considered Iraqi first.

But under U.S. occupation this is changing, Al-Mufti said. Iraqi ID cards are now required to specify a person's ethnicity or religion. "For the first time in Iraqi history, they've divided Iraq into Sunni, Shi'ite, Christian, Muslim, Turkoman, Kurd and Arab," Al-Mufti said. The women said these divisions were also reflected on the U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council, whose 25 members were chosen to reflect ethnic and sectarian differences. They said the divisions are a recipe for civil war.

The women did not deny Hussein's brutality, nor did they claim that the country was free of ethnic problems before the U.S. occupation. But those problems did not justify a U.S. invasion, they said. "This is occupation of a country ... bringing democracy by tanks and liberation of people by killing them every day," Al-Khedairy said. "In the name of finding Saddam, [U.S. troops] have violated every house. Whenever they think Saddam could be there, they enter that house, break the windows, break down the doors. ... Is this democracy?"

Since the bombing ceased in May, Al-Khedairy said, Baghdad has become an "open-air jail," with checkpoints snarling traffic across the city. It's a scenario that's souring even those who may once have held out hope for U.S.-sponsored democracy and liberation. "Who's resisting now?" Al-Khedairy said. "Everybody."