Samah Mahmoud is a published short-story writer, childrens’ writer and poet. Her publications include Red Damage (Gaza), The Possible Form (short stories 2007), and Forest of Stories: Allegories for the Adult & the Child (a short story collection with her husband Ali Abukhattab, 2007).
Her work has been included in a number of anthologies, including Out of the Context of River (2005) and Qissat (a collection of short stories by Palestinian women, edited by Jo Glanville, Telegram, London, 2006). She also writes a weekly column in the Palestinian magazine Sawt Anisaa (Women’s Voice). Her books have been translated into English and Spanish. Samah is also an actress and has acted and directed a number of plays about women’s rights.
Together with her husband, Ali Abukhattab, Samah founded the cultural group Tajreeb in 2003, supported by the Ministry of Culture and the Gaza Centre for Arts and Culture. Tajreeb was closed down by Hamas in 2007, but was re-established under a different name, Utopia, in 2010. The group was formed to raise awareness about the value of knowledge and culture as a source of hope or at least a tool of survival for helping people to cope with storms and the vicissitudes of life, particularly in Gaza.
Samah Mahmoud and Ali Abukhattab were summoned for interrogation by Hamas authorities on a number of occasions for their writings and cultural activities, and received dozens of threats, including threats of attacks and accusations of being against Islam.
Since 14 February 2013 Samah was on trial for her theatre work and her articles published in Sawt Anisaa in which she criticises the situation of women’s rights in Gaza under Hamas rule. The couple fled Gaza for Egypt in June 2013, where they stayed until their arrival in Molde in June this year.