Saima Akhtar is a Postdoctoral Associate in Computer Science and The Institute for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage at Yale University. There, she works on Project Anqa, named for the Arabic word for phoenix, which is a program created to counter the loss of cultural heritage throughout the Middle East, most notably in Syria and Iraq. Anqa is a multi-partner project formed through the collaboration of CyArk, ICOMOS (International Council on Monuments and Sites), and Yale University to deploy international teams and train local professionals in digitally documenting at-risk heritage sites before they are destroyed or altered. The goal of Anqa is to make the assembled documentation and information accessible and useful for scholars, peers, and the wider public with state-of-the-art tools. Saima is an urban historian and architect by training and holds a PhD in Architecture from UC Berkeley.
Before coming to Yale, she was a fellow at the Forum Transregionale Studien and the Institute for Cultural Inquiry in Berlin, where she conducted research on the relationship between the rise of Fordism and the urban/social planning of immigrants from the Middle East in Detroit at the turn of the twentieth century. Her work appears in publications including the International Journal of Islamic Architecture and the Journal of Urban History.