Mais Al-Bayaa

Freelance producer and journalist
Recipient of the 2019 Martin Adler Prize


2019 Martin Adler Prize recipient

Mais Al-Bayaa is an Iraqi-British freelance investigative producer and journalist. Since 2003, she has covered human rights abuses, corruption and other social and economic issues across the Middle East. She is a multilingual international relations and political media specialist, with an exceptional understanding of the complexities in establishing and maintaining strong and trusting relationships between Western and Middle Eastern, commercial, political and non-political organisations.

She covered Iraq for NBC just after the invasion in 2003, including the Saddam Hussain trial, and has since worked for The Guardian, der spiegel, The Economist, Channel 4, PBS and the BBC. She has produced documentaries for Unreported World, Dispatches, PBS frontline and Panorama, working in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Lebanon and Turkey. Her documentary ISIS and the Battle for Iraq for Channel 4 and Frontline PBS investigated allegations of torture, execution and sectarian cleansing of Sunni refugees by the Shia militias fighting alongside the Iraqi army in the battle to fight IS. She gained rare access to high-ranking whistleblowers and eyewitnesses to bring to light new information about abuses against Sunni civilians and how Shia militias are infiltrating the Iraqi government and security forces to brutally settle sectarian scores.

Mais won the Award for Foreign Affairs Journalism at the British Journalism Awards in 2017, the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award at the Frontline Club Awards and was nominated twice for the Emmys.

She recently worked with BBC Panorama on Syria’s Chemical War, an investigation into the use of chemical weapons in the civil war that has torn Syria apart for the last seven years.

Judges comments.

“Mais is an exceptional producer, playing a leading role in gaining the trust of the victims interviewed in Syria’s Chemical War. When the team was unable to gain access to Syria, she worked with locals on the ground, directing them on shooting the majority of the footage used in the film. She worked tirelessly, sifting through open source information in order to collate a list of all the chemical attacks that had taken place in Syria. The evidence she gathered was the spine of this documentary.”

Nawal Al-Maghafi
BBC Special Correspondent

The Martin Adler Prize honours a local freelance journalist or field producer whose work with international media outlets has made a significant contribution to newsgathering, either through a single story or body of work.

The aim of the prize is to highlight the dedication and talent of local freelancers who often work under challenging and difficult circumstances.

This is a special prize awarded by the Trustees of the Rory Peck Trust.