Azza Ahmad

Adjunct Assistant Professor of Arabic & Islamic Studies

Azza Ahmad is currently an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Arabic and Islamic Studies. Since
joining the UC Berkeley faculty in 2020, Professor Ahmad has introduced a number of new
courses to both graduate and undergraduate students centered on the interpretation and linguistics
of historical and traditional Islamic texts. Professor Ahmad’s research interests are at the
intersection of Islamic studies, language pedagogy, and linguistics. Throughout her courses,
pedagogical techniques of language teaching (the subject of Professor Ahmad’s Ph.D. research)
are often...

Wali Ahmadi

Professor of Persian Literature, MELC Department Chair

Wali Ahmadi, a native of Kabul, Afghanistan, came to the United States after graduating from high school in 1982. He received his B.A. in Political and Social sciences from California State University, Hayward (now East Bay) in 1987. In spring 1997, he was awarded a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from UCLA. From 1997-2000 he taught at the Department of Asian and Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures at the University of Virginia. Since 2000, he has been teaching Persian literature in the Near Eastern Studies Department at UC Berkeley. He was promoted to the rank of Associate Professor in...

Asad Q. Ahmed

Professor of Arabic and Islamic Studies, Magistretti Distinguished Professor of Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures

Asad Q. Ahmed is Magistretti Distinguished Professor of Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures, Professor of Arabic and Islamic Studies, Affiliate Professor in the Department of Philosophy, and the Director of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. He received his B.A. in 2000 from Yale University, majoring from the Department of Philosophy and the Department of Literature. He was awarded a Ph.D. in 2007 from the Department of Near Eastern Studies, Princeton University.

Professor Ahmed specializes in early Islamic social history and pre-...

Amel Belguith

Lecturer in Arabic

Amel Belguith joined MELC in December 2016 with an extensive background in counseling and teaching Arabic as a foreign language. She holds a M.Ed. in School Counseling from Lewis and Clark University and is a certified Classical Quranic Arabic Instructor. With over 20 years of experience in academia, she has worked at several public and private educational institutions, developing, and fostering inclusive learning opportunities for students.

Amel teaches and develops curriculum for lower division Arabic courses. As a BLC Fellow, she has conducted field research and developed the ‘...

Adam Benkato

Associate Professor, Bita Daryabari Presidential Chair in Iranian Studies
*Professor Benkato is on sabbatical for the academic year 23-24*

I'm currently an Associate Professor, and holder of the Bita Daryabari Presidential Chair in Iranian Studies, in MELC. Before coming to UC Berkeley, I worked in Germany at the Freie Universität Berlin and the Berlin-Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften.

My research investigates a wide variety of textual and audio sources through the lenses of material philology, sociolinguistics, and archive studies. Although my training was largely in philology and dialectology, I’ve developed interests in a number of other...

Gil Breger

Lecturer in Hebrew

Gil Breger is a scholar of premodern astronomy and the history of science, particularly Babylonian astronomy. He earned his Ph.D. from UC Berkeley and has focused primarily on the cultures and languages of Mesopotamia. His research interests include ancient astronomy, the production of knowledge in the ancient world, and the philosophy of science. He has taught courses on premodern astronomy and its societal context, Mesopotamian literature, as well as his native Hebrew language. He is also a trained archaeologist and has participated in several excavation projects. He is currently...

Simon Brelaud

Avimalek Betyoussef Visiting Assistant Professor of Assyrian Studies

Simon Brelaud holds a doctorate on Ancient Christianity in the Sasanian Empire (3rd—7th century) from the Sorbonne University in Paris, where he taught the history of ancient Rome. He was a Research Fellow in the Center for Advanced Studies “Migration & Mobility in Late Antiquity and the High Middle Ages” at the University of Tübingen. He is participating in several ongoing archaeological and epigraphic projects in the Middle East, including in Iraqi Kurdistan, Jordan and Turkey.

Brelaud’s research focuses on the history of Christians in Mesopotamia and its borders in Late...

Ahmad Diab

Assistant Professor of Arabic Literature and Middle Eastern Cinema

Ahmad Diab is Assistant Professor of Modern Arabic Literature and Middle Eastern Cinema in the Department of Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures and Affiliate Faculty in the Arts Research Center at the University of California, Berkeley. He received his B.A. from Damascus University, majoring in English Literature. He completed an M.A. in English Literature at City University of New York while on a Fulbright scholarship and he was awarded a Ph.D. from the Department of Middle Eastern Studies, New York University.

Professor Diab specializes in modern Arabic literature and Middle...

Elsa Elmahdy

Lecturer in Arabic, Arabic Language Program Coordinator

After receiving her B.A. in Arabic from UC Berkeley, Elsa Elmahdy moved to Egypt to study at the American University in Cairo. There she received her M.A. in Arabic Studies, focusing on Arabic literature, followed by an M.A. in Teaching Arabic as a Foreign Language (TAFL). Elsa’s current research project in Arabic language pedagogy is entitled “Teacher and Student Beliefs about Written Corrective Feedback on Student Writing in the Arabic Foreign Language Classroom.”