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For Students

Doing research for a class? Learn more about Doaa here.

Mar 23: Talking about human rights at
the Austrian Parliament’s Democracy
Workshop program for young people.

(© Parliamentary Administration: Zinner)

Mar 23: With friends after speaking
at the Fundamental Rights Forum.

(Voglhuber © FRA, 2024)

Jan 23: At the United Nations Vienna
before talks with UNHCR on increasing
the rights and capacity of refugees.

It is important that we stand together to protect human rights, for every race, color and religion, with the right to education, the right to speak and the right to live in peace.

Doaa Al Zamel (Abo Nabout)

Doaa’s Path

Click the hotspots below to trace her journey

Syria: Doaa’s formative years take place in Daraa, where she enjoys a close-knit upbringing within her large Syrian family comprising her parents, five sisters and a brother. Growing up, she assists in her father’s barbershop and develops interests in pop music and fashion. In 2011, Daraa becomes the center of unrest in the context of the Arab Spring protests in Syria.
Egypt: Doaa’s family flees Syria to seek refuge in Egypt. There, Doaa meets Bassem, a Syrian opposition fighter who would soon become her fiancé. Realizing they cannot build their future in an Egypt impacted by economic decline and mounting political tension, they decide to make try to make the dangerous journey to Europe – and freedom. They pay human smugglers to get them to Italy, with the hope of eventually settling in Sweden.
Mediterranean Sea: In September 2014, Doaa and Bassem board an overcrowded boat bound for Italy. Soon after, smugglers intentionally ram their vessel, causing it to sink. Doaa climbs on a small inflatable ring and saves two infants amidst chaos that claims the lives of many, including her fiancé.
Sweden: UNHCR supports Doaa to resettle in Sweden along with some of her family members. Determined to honor the memory of those lost, she shares her story globally, embodying hope and courage for all those who flee the horrors of war.
Greece: Following four days adrift at sea, Doaa is rescued by a merchant vessel and brought to safety in Greece. Only 11 of the 500 passengers had survived. Doaa is very ill, having lost use of her legs due to the freezing conditions in the water. She is hospitalized for an extended period and learns to walk again.

Recent Activity

Democracy Workshop

Austrian Parliament

(click for video)

Human Rights Talk

EU Fundamental Rights Forum

(click for video)

More info

In March 2024, Doaa was invited to take part in a Democracy Workshop of the Austrian Parliament. This flagship educational program aims at strengthening democratic awareness in young people. You can download the media product made by the participating students about Doaa here.

This video (in German) was made by the Parliamentary Administration. 
It is available on the Austrian Parliament’s YouTube channel here.
Photo of Doaa: © Parliamentary Administration/Zinner

English transcript

Emily: Together with my class, we visited the Democracy Workshop in Parliament today, and Doaa told us her story.

Doaa: Today we talked about democracy, politics, human rights, women’s rights. We exchanged ideas with the students, and it was also very interesting for me. I wanted to tell the students to have hope and never give up.

Emily: I was very touched by her story and how she can now still stand here [in front of us], laugh and tell this story, even if it is of course sometimes difficult and there is still this trauma. But she can still lead a normal life and that just touched me a lot. It just touched me a lot that you can just overcome anything with hope.

More info

Doaa participated in the March 2024 Fundamental Rights Forum organized by the EU Fundamental Rights Agency. She joined the ‘Protecting Democracy and Civic Space in Europe’ panel – and spoke in English publicly for the first time.

Photo of Doaa: © Voglhuber © FRA, 2024


Feel free to share or cite these quotes from Doaa


Resilience is the secret of success and progress in life. Difficulties are painful, but they give us the opportunity to grow and develop.


Education contributes to enhancing critical thinking and innovation and opening new horizons for the present and the future.


I believe that when we talk, work together, and support each other, we can build a more tolerant, understanding, and just society.

Human Rights

Through my experience and the denial of my rights, through the people I lost before my eyes, because I lived the pain and suffering, I became an ambassador for human rights.

Psychological Support

Psychological support contributes to creating a healthy environment that enables self-expression and realizing one’s full potential.

Seeking Asylum

No country had given us asylum. But we are not terrorists. We are people who legitimately demanded peace, yet we were confronted with death, displacement and suffering.

About Doaa

Learn more