Editor’s note: This article is part of a package of five articles about the obstacles that researchers in Arab countries face. Readers can access all of the articles on this page.
If Arab researchers in many countries face difficulties, such as cramped academic freedom or difficulties importing laboratory equipment, their problems may pale in comparison to those who have tried to manage research in conflict-affected countries such as Syria, Libya, and Yemen.
“Research life has been completely paralyzed in Yemen,” Ghania al-Naqeeb, a Yemeni nutrition researcher, said, speaking from Germany. “I could only stop working or seek an opportunity to emigrate abroad to make sure my research continued.”
The Al-Fanar Media survey of researchers working in Arab countries found that 91 percent of them want to emigrate. For Yemenis, that proportion appears higher. (See a related article, “Most Arab-World Researchers Want to Leave, a New Survey Finds.”)
Eqbal Dauqan, a Yemeni researcher and professor of biochemistry, also had to leave Yemen to continue her research and is now at Agder University, in Norway. “The war in Yemen has badly affected our lives as human beings as well as researchers,” Dauqan said. “… Research work seems a fantasy.” At this point, she said, researchers are better off trying to find a way to get out of Yemen. (See a related article, “New Beginning for a Yemeni Scholar in Norway.”)
No Money for Advanced Research
After obtaining a bachelor’s degree in agriculture at Damascus University, in Syria, al-Naqeeb spent nine years in Malaysia, where she got her master’s degree and her doctorate. She returned to Yemen in 2011 and worked as a professor at Sana’a University’s Faculty of Agriculture, where she tried to conduct her research.
“I was dedicating part of my monthly salary to buy my research supplies,” she said, “which were naturally simple and did not require complex equipment. There was not enough budget to do research at the university at an advanced level.” (Eighty-four percent of Arab researchers surveyed by Al-Fanar Media said they have had to spend their own money to support their research.)