Maha became interested in coral reef biology during her undergraduate studies at the American University in Cairo, where she completed a BSc in Biology and graduated with highest honors. She seized the opportunity to study the Red Sea when KAUST was founded, and she became one of the first recipients of the KAUST Discovery Scholarship in 2008. She joined the Reef Ecology Lab and completed her Master’s degree in 2011 under the supervision of Dr. Berumen, where she studied aspects of coral reproduction, recruitment, and herbivory on an inshore reef following a severe bleaching event. She then decided to remain at KAUST and pursue a PhD in coral reef conservation. Her thesis focuses on designing marine protected area (MPA) networks in the central Red Sea on a local scale to achieve different, and sometimes contrasting, objectives. She explores how MPA designs differ spatially when the main objectives differ and analyzes whether it is possible to achieve multiple goals simultaneously while minimizing costs of management. Maha has a variety of interests outside marine science including dog training, fiction writing, music, and various sports such as soccer, free diving, and free running.