Bulletin: Morocco’s Earthquake Disrupts a University, Heriot-Watt University Dubai Launches Solar Energy Testing Facility 

Message to First-Year University Students

In our news bulletin, Al-Fanar Media brings you a selection of the most prominent news regarding higher education in the Arab world, plus highlights of our own reports and commentaries on higher-education and cultural issues.

A new academic year is starting at Arab universities. This can pose a big challenge for first-year students in particular, but there is no need to worry. Al-Fanar Media will bring you expert advice from many sources about matters like what you can do to benefit from your studies, and various activities that will enrich your university experience.

You will find dozens of stories in the Tips and Resources section.

Since before you finished high school, Al-Fanar Media has been providing you with stories about academic disciplines and scholarships to help you outline your academic path in university. Now that a new academic year is getting underway, we are continuing to scout out advice to help you get the most from your studies at university. We will also be by your side to keep you abreast of the skills in demend in the labour market, and in all of that, we promise to bring you useful content on how to build a successful life and career path.

Mohammad El-Hawary
Al-Fanar Media editor-in-chief

News from the Region:

Moroccan Quake Disrupts Education at Cadi Ayyad University

The powerful earthquake that struck Morocco’s Marrakech-Safi region on Friday night, claiming at least 2,800 lives, has disrupted education schedules at Cadi Ayyad University, in Marrakech.

According to a statement, the university’s Faculty of Legal, Economic and Social Sciences postponed the start of in-person classes until September 18 for students in their third and fifth semesters, in view of the critical conditions in the region after the quake. The university’s Faculty of Arts and Human Sciences postponed entrance exams for various master’s degree programmes so that all candidates would have time to prepare, according to local Moroccan media.

Meanwhile, Eric Falt, Unesco’s regional director for the Maghreb, told The Art Newspaper that several Unesco World Heritage sites in Marrakech had been heavily damaged by the quake. These include the medieval Medina of Marrakech, which contains the Koutoubia Mosque and the walled Kasbah complex.

There were also reports that the historic Tinmel mosque, located in the High Atlas Mountains, had partially collapsed. The medieval earth-and-stone mosque is in the province of Al Haouz, where the epicentre of the earthquake was located and entire villages were wiped out.

“After a disaster like this, the most important thing is to preserve human lives,” Falt said. He added that it is “necessary to immediately plan for the second phase, which will include the reconstruction of schools and cultural assets affected by the earthquake.”

Heriot-Watt University Launches Dubai Solar Test Site 

Research Engineers at Heriot-Watt University in Dubai have launched a solar energy testing facility to help companies in the United Kingdom and other countries to develop and test new solar technologies. 

According to a news release, the rooftop Solar Energy Test Site will benefit from the region’s high levels of sunshine and has been installed on the south-west wing of the University’s campus in Dubai. This project forms part of the university’s activities leading up to the United Nations’ COP28 climate-change conference, set to take place in November and December. The British government’s Department for Science, Innovation, and Technology (DSIT) has funded the project, with support from the British Embassy in the Emirates.

Professors Tadhg O’Donovan and Mohamed Al-Musleh at the Solar Energy Test Site, on the roof of a campus building
at Heriot-Watt University Dubai. (Photo via the university)

King Faisal University Launches Programme to Enrich Patent Activity 

Mohammed bin Abdul Aziz Al-Ohali, president of King Faisal University in Saudi Arabia, launched a programme to spread and enhance the culture of patents among the university’s faculties. Al-Ohali affirmed the university’s commitment to directing patent efforts towards strengthening its identity in food security and environmental sustainability.

According to the Saudi Press Agency (SPA), the programme aims to enable colleges to participate strongly in innovation and scientific research. It will include workshops on subjects like how to submit patent applications, in addition to presenting success stories, panel discussions, and a video titled “Innovation Journey”.

Birzeit University Announces the Muntaha Aqel Scholarship 

A scholarship has been established at Birzeit University by the family and friends in memory of the late Muntaha Aqel, in recognition of her outstanding community and national service activities.

In a statement, the university said the scholarship aims to help a female student complete her university studies over four years. It is available to students pursuing degrees in women’s studies, political science, or development studies. Candidates must also demonstrate financial need, academic achievement, and active involvement in student and community affairs.

Muntaha Aqel passed away this year after a battle against cancer. Born in 1969 in Ramallah, she was the youngest of six children in a family of modest means. After joining Birzeit University, she obtained a bachelor’s degree in business administration and then a master’s degree in women’s studies.

She was an active advocate for supporting the needs of vulnerable and marginalised segments of society, travelling between villages, cities, and refugee camps to address the challenges women faced.

Muntaha Aqel, a graduate of Birzeit University, was an active advocate for vulnerable women.
A new scholarship at Birzeit honours her memory.

Egypt Hosts Conference on Higher Education and Sustainable Development

On Sunday, the fifth Arab Conference on Higher Education and Sustainable Development opened in Egypt. The two-day conference, titled “The Role of Universities in Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals”, was organised by the Arab Administrative Development Organization, in cooperation with the Association of Arab Universities, and officials of several Egyptian and Arab universities.

In his opening remarks, Ayman Ashour, Egypt’s minister of higher education, pointed out the importance of the United Nations’ sustainable development goals and said universities were the best place to integrate the economic, social, and environmental development aspects needed to achieve them.

He added that universities serve as incubators of ideas that contribute to the development of new technologies and solutions that improve sustainability in various fields, including renewable energy, agriculture, water resources management, and clean technology.

Suggested Reading from Al-Fanar Media:  

Erasmus+ Opportunities for Students and Organisations

Erasmus+ is the European Union programme that supports international opportunities in education, training, youth and sport in Europe. It offers opportunities for individuals and organisations at all levels of education, including higher education, vocational education and training, school education (including early childhood education and care), and adult education, as well as youth and sports activities. Explore more in this article

Antonine University Launches Lebanon’s First Outdoor Activities Diploma

Lebanon’s Antonine University has introducing the country’s first Mountain Guide and Outdoor Activities diploma, which it hopes will become essential for those working with the public in the country’s mountainous terrain. The one-year, master’s level diploma is offered by the university’s Faculty of Sport Sciences. Explore more in this article

Tips and Resources: 

Al-Fanar Media Shares Universities’ Tips for Student Success

University students need to pay attention to a variety of academic and personal factors to achieve success, covering various aspects related to their physical health, developing communication skills, and building various experiences. Read more in this article.

In Conflict:  

Sudanese Students in Egypt Are Pinched between War at Home and Rising Costs in Egypt

As clashes between Sudan’s national army and a paramilitary group called the Rapid Support Forces have continued to rage since mid-April, Sudanese students in Egypt face numerous challenges to complete their university education, including disruptions of payments from their home country and a cost-of-living crisis in Egypt. Explore more in this article.


In Heat-Scorched Gulf, U. of Sharjah Scientists Are Designing Buildings that Can Adapt

Many buildings in the Gulf region today, including its iconic skyscrapers, are built of materials that fail to fully insulate their interiors from the sweltering heat outside. That’s why architectural engineers at the University of Sharjah and other institutions are turning to tools like computational design to help create smart buildings that can sense environmental conditions and adapt. Read more in this article.


Al-Fanar Media maintains a database of quality scholarships available to Arab students, which we continuously update. To stay up to date on the latest scholarships available in international universities, check the Scholarships section here, and watch for updated feedback on free learning opportunities in our News and Reports section, here.

Recent additions to our scholarships database include:


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