Seja Majeed is a British Iraqi with an Honours degree in law from Brunel Law School and a Postgraduate Diploma in Legal Practice from the City Law School, London. She also has a diploma in Leadership and Public Policy from the American University of Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates. She currently works for Shell Petroleum Company, where she is a contract engineer working on the Majnoon Oil Field Project for Shell Iraq.
Seja’s family left Iraq in 1980 due to the Iran–Iraq War, and Seja was born in 1986 in Algeria. One year later, her family moved to the United Kingdom, where they claimed asylum due to civil unrest escalating in Algeria.
In 1980 her uncle, Naeem Al-taki, was executed by hanging at the age of twenty-one. He was hanged because he had joined a university club that spoke up against Iraq’s Ba’ath regime. In 1986, another uncle, Helmi Al-taki, was taken by the Ba’ath regime. He was placed in Abu Ghraib Prison in Baghdad, where he was frequently tortured. Seja’s mother was pregnant with Seja at the time. He was last seen in 1991.
For many years, Seja’s family searched for Helmi Al-taki, but it was only in 2003, after the collapse of the Ba’ath regime, that they realised he was most likely buried in a mass grave, since he was not released from prison. To this day, Seja’s family have no idea what happened to him, or how he may have died. Seja says, ‘From the moment I was born I knew about war and death, without anyone having to explain it to me. It became a part of my being, to know that people were hungry to kill and destroy everything around them. I was helpless to do anything but comfort my mother. I would hear her cry, knowing that so much injustice had been done to her family. She had lost everything, except her hope that maybe she would find her brother alive.’
In 2012, Seja was accepted on to the highly competitive graduate programme for Shell, the multinational petroleum company. She first worked in Scotland, on North Sea oil fields, and was then transferred to work on the Iraqi Majnoon oil field. She now lives in Dubai and frequently travels to Iraq.
She is also a One Young World ambassador. One Young World is a premier global forum for young people of leadership calibre, endorsed by political and social figures such as Nobel Peace Prize winner Desmond Tutu, humanitarian Bob Geldof and US senator John Kerry, among many others. Seja began writing her novel, The Forgotten Tale of Larsa, when she was just nineteen, when she was also studying law and working. It took Seja nine years to complete her novel.