Internships and Research Collaborations

Over the past years students and researchers from various universities in  Lebanon and other parts of the world have collaborated with Lil-Madina on different research productions

Collaborations with Lil-Madina offer young researchers potentials for working within a larger team dynamic that is engaged on various public and research related issues in the Saida region. Such collaborations are particularly important for Lil-Madina that is interested in building intersections between theory and practise as well as between academia and activism

Collaborations with Lil-Madina provides access for researchers to Lil-Madina’s social networks within the city as well as Lil-madina’s library and archives that contains a variety of documents, maps, photographs, books and research productions about urbanism and the saida region

Collaborations can take various forms such as trainings, guiding of graduation projects or master thesis, residencies, special research topics or partnerships on specific research subjects. The nature and subject of the collaborations are usually developed through a discussion between Lil-Madina and the researcher

Provided below is the feedback of different researchers who have collaborated with Lil-Madina over the past years as well as links to their research projects


*Aida Biscevic (Bosnia) Interned with Lil-Madina in Spring of 2014 and conducted research for completing her master thesis at the Master Programs of Human Settlements/ Urbanism and Spatial Planning at the Catholic University of Leuven (KUL) in Belgium

Aida Biscevic - BosniaI visited Lebanon for the purpose of thesis fieldwork in winter 2014. From the professional point of view, the experience was all about the challenge of
understanding how a place works and learning how to map and communicate the findings – for local consumption in Saida as well as for  academic audiences

There were many similarities I discovered between Saida and my home. It felt familiar and inviting, the opposite from some of the expectations I had before arriving. After a short while it felt like being at home away from home

The whole time during our stay, people involved in Lil Madina shared their enthusiasm for making Saida (and Lebanon) a better place as well as their knowledge with us, making the visit a 24/7 learning experience: Whether guiding us through fieldwork, setting up interviews, organising design workshops,  introducing delicious food in the old city, or having a casual conversation with a cup of tea, they helped us to better understand the broad context of this beautiful country and were always at our disposal for any help we needed
As well as all the people we met during our journey, they showed great hospitality and willingness to share their stories, answer our many questions, but, above all, kept us motivated about our primary goal – proposing a solid and relevant solution to the (small) scope of problems we were studying, which would be of use for Lil Madina in their further work. We ‘caught’ the passion and made  the challenge of understanding, mediating and designing for Saida enjoyable and overall a personal mission

To access Aida’s thesis please press here


*Mario Aurichio (Italy) interned with Lil-Madina in Spring of 2014 and conducted research for completing his master thesis at the Master Programs of Human Settlements/ Urbanism and Spatial Planning at the Catholic University of Leuven (KUL) in Belgium

Mario Auricchio“My experience in Saida was divided between one month in February/March 2014, for the thesis fieldwork, and ten days in May 2014, for an urban design workshop organised by Lil Madina. This was my first time in Lebanon and in the Middle-east, but from the first days I felt like a “citizen” of the country, thanks to the help of all Lil Madina members during my research in the Wastani Area as well as to the goodness of the people of this city.  Wherever I went I was impressed by the kindness and hospitality of residents and inspired by the various speakers who imparted their knowledge and considerable expertise of the city with enthusiasm and passion

This overall environment helped me to understand the social and physical dynamics of this place. It also facilitated my ability to conduct various forms of urban research and urban analysis as well as in later on developing various urban design and planning strategies that could be adopted for the preservation and development of various natural, agricultural and urban layers of the Wastani region in Saida

All in all this experience gave access to new forms of knowledge, a new understanding of social/cultural aspects that were both similar and different from Italian ones, and finally new improved skills to use in my professional career

To access Marios’s thesis please press here


Salwa Sabbagh (Lebanon) American University of Beirut. Collaborated with Lil-madina initiative on research projects during and after completing her Master’s in Urban Design from 2014-2015

Salwa SabbaghDuring my master’s studies in Urban design, I was doing the fieldwork about the orchards of Wastani that were threatened by urbanization processes. It was then that I met the Lilmadina Initiative, a group of enthusiastic planners and activists, worried about the future of the city of Saida and the prospects of its various urban projects. Collaborating with Lilmadina gave me a chance to transform my research topic from a simple research paper to a tangible design that could be realized. We joined forces in the production of analytical material and research related to area under study. They offered me a venue to connect with the community and to have access to wide range of previous research material that I could build on to reach a more thorough grass rooted conclusion. Lilmadina workshops allowed me to bounce different ideas, discuss thoughts and test different design outcomes in a very short time and come up with integrated solutions. Such processes were followed by investigating ways for implementing the developed strategies with various stakeholders in the city. In summary, my experience with Lilmadina pushed me to engage with a group of professionals, to think more critically about urban projects, and to learn how advocacy planning can occur

To access Salwa’s thesis please press here