Dima Dabbous

Dima Dabbous

Visiting Assistant Professor, ARD
Stanford University
Encina Hall
Stanford CA 94305-6055

Research Interests

media law & regulation; media & development; media & elections; policy analysis; women rights in the Arab world; gender and Islam


At CDDRL, Dabbous is currently studying the Lebanese Publications Court jurisprudence on freedom of the media in the period extending from 1999 till 2014, through case law research (court opinions and decisions). In the Lebanese context, freedom of expression and freedom of the media remain abstract concepts related to basic human rights which are protected in the Lebanese Constitution and are also regulated by various national laws that mostly restrict them (the Publications Law, the Broadcasting Law, and the Penal Code). These restrictions often become salient (and generate controversy) when freedom of expression, as a basic human right, is sacrificed (in court decisions) when it clashes with other human rights equally protected by the Constitution and national laws, such as the right to protect one’s dignity or the right to privacy. By analyzing a large corpus of court opinions and decisions that are published following trials where media institutions and individuals were prosecuted for infringing national laws, the present legal study seeks to identify a jurisprudence-based, working definition of “freedom of expression” and “freedom of the media” that is derived from Lebanese case law. In particular, some 130 media-related cases that were tried in the Lebanese Publications Court  between 1999 and 2014 and involved  articles of the Publications Law related to defamation (Articles 20, 21, 22, and 23) and disclosing confidential information (Article 12) will be considered and analysed.

Between 2005 and 2013, Dabbous served as the director of the Institute for Women’s Studies in the Arab World (IWSAW) at the Lebanese American University (LAU). Her role consisted in promoting and supervising social science research on women in the Arab world, and in securing international funding and networking with other organizations working on women rights in the region. She was also responsible for developing and executing a 5 year strategic plan for the Institute which culminated in the introduction of a Master’s program in Women & Gender Studies in 2013. Dabbous is also responsible for turning the Institute’s feminist periodical al-Raida (the female pioneer), started in 1976, into an international refereed journal in 2014. She has been serving as editor-in-chief of al-Raida since 2007 http://iwsaw.lau.edu.lb/publications/al-raida/.

Dabbous has been teaching and researching as a full time faculty member at the Lebanese American University (LAU) since 2002. She was elected to the faculty senate and served in it for 3 consecutive terms. She has also served on various committees related to obtaining American accreditation for LAU, and chaired the committee responsible for introducing a new liberal arts core that helped the university obtain NEASC accreditation in November 2011.

Since 2002, Dabbous was has been participating as an expert on media and gender-sensitive communication policies in several international working groups and expert meetings organized by the UN. In 2005, she was invited by the Secretary General of the UN, Kofi Annan, to represent the Arab World at the conference organized by the UN  Division for the Advancement of Women (DAW) in order to follow up on the ten year-review  of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/meetings/consult/10-review/EP9.pdf.

She was invited to share the results of the follow up review with invited members of international civil society organizations at the UN headquarters in New York in November 2005. More recently Dabbous acted as a senior gender consultant for the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) and was selected as a senior consultant on Arab media laws following a region-wide competitive process launched by UNESCO in January 2014, as part of its Media Development Indicators initiative. She is currently acting as team leader and senior trainer in projects applying the UNESCO Media Development Indicators (MDI) in the study of the current media landscape in Morocco (expected date of publication Fall 2015).

Dabbous has published several scholarly books, book chapters, and articles on women’s rights in Lebanon and women and Islam on Arab satellite television, and on broadcast laws and regulation, with particular emphasis on public service broadcasting in the Arab world. Her publications include “TV editorials and elections: a study in the role of implicitness, intertextuality and censorship in Lebanon” (forthcoming, Middle East Journal of Culture and Communication), Regulating Lebanese Broadcasting: A Policy Analysis (2013), Public Service Broadcasting in the MENA Region: Potential for Reform (2012),  “Speaking in His Name? Gender, Language and Religion in the Arab Media”, in  Shari’a as Discourse: Legal Traditions and the Encounter with Europe (2010), “To Veil or not to veil”: gender and religion on Al Jazeera’s Islamic Law and Life” in  Westminster Papers for Communication and Culture (2006), and  “Ahead of the Bandwagon: Lebanon’s free media market”, in Trading Culture: Exploring the ‘Indigenous’ and the ‘Exportable’ in Film and Television Culture (2006).

She received a BA in communication from the Lebanese American University, an MA in Media Studies from Concordia University, and a PhD in Broadcast Regulation and Policy Analysis from Sheffield Hallam University, the UK.

Other Affiliations

Lebanese American University - dima.dabbous@lau.edu.lb