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Ahmad Joudeh

Ahmad Joudeh, ballet dancer, was announced as High Profile Supporter for UNHCR, UN Refugee Agency in May 2021.

About Ahmad

Ahmad Joudeh is a dancer and a choreographer. He was born in Damascus in 1990 as a stateless refugee and was raised in Yarmouk camp, a settlement established by Palestinian refugees.

Ever since childhood, Ahmad's dream was to be a dancer. Despite opposition from some members of his family and community, Ahmad attended dance lessons, often in secret.

Ahmad was trained at the Syria branch of Enana Dance Theatre from 2006 to 2015 and studied at the Higher Institute for Dramatic Arts, Damascus. In his free time, he taught dancing to young people with Down’s Syndrome, as well as Damascan children orphaned in the civil war at the SOS villages around Damascus. 

During the conflict, Ahmad faced life-threatening situations. He lost five of his family members and his home. As a declaration of his determination to keep on dancing, Ahmad had the words ‘Dance or Die’ tattooed on the back of his neck. 

In August 2016, Ahmad's struggle in Syria was reported in a news program on Dutch National Television. Touched by the story, The Dutch National Ballet organised The Dance For Peace Fund, which invited him to The Netherlands. A few months later, he moved to Amsterdam, where, in 2021 he obtained Dutch nationality.

Since 2017, Ahmad Joudeh has been internationally active as a freelance artist. He has contributed to many events, raising awareness for refugees. 

A 2018 documentary about Ahmad’s life, ‘Dance or Die’, won an International Emmy Award. The same year, Ahmad performed at UNHCR’s Nansen Refugee Award ceremony.

Ahmad performed at the Eurovision Song Contest 2021 in Rotterdam and he released a memoir about his life, also named 'Dance or Die', the same year. 

In February 2022, Ahmad shared his story in a podcast produced by UNHCR.