My 2 Years at Al-Fanar Media
It has been two years since I became editor-in-chief of Al-Fanar Media, a position I was honoured to assume at the beginning of October 2021.
I remember well a question I received in one of the interviews qualifying for the position: Which is more difficult in your view, managing content or managing people?
With a smile, I quickly replied: “Content management is what we have been good at and have been doing for years. Managing people is no doubt much more difficult.”
Many challenges faced us from the first moment, like is other newsrooms around the world, including the challenges posed by digital technology artificial intelligence, financial and sustainability issues, and the need to provide attractive content that meets the needs of our audience, in accordance with professional standards and a strict ethical commitment.
We stood firm and withstood the shocks. We were a cohesive team, open to new experiences. We worked together and studied Al-Fanar Media’s business model well. We adopted a multitasking approach, prepared workshops to raise our team’s efficiency, and provided new services.
Harmony between the website management, editorial team, and the Board of Trustees, ensures a stable and successful work environment. This harmony stems from the confidence of our partners, including international donor institutions. This trust is based on a professional and ethical commitment that we have established in standard practices, through a work team that does not hesitate to perform its duties with dedication, to serve an audience that has shown great confidence in our content and various services.
I cannot thank enough all the colleagues who have supported us generously and have been an integral part of our journey. Thanks also go to you, our readers, for your belief in Al-Fanar Media.
Palestine Identifies 7 More Students and Staff Killed by Israeli Violence
On Wednesday, the Palestinian Ministry of Higher Education identified seven more Palestinian university students and staff members who have died as a result of the Israeli bombardment of Gaza or Israeli forces’ attacks on civilians in the West Bank.
In a statement, the ministry identified the student victims as Shaima’ Saidam, a student at the Islamic University of Gaza; Bisan Halasa, a medical student; Asmaa Ahmed Abu Younis and Fatima Al-Sweirki, both students of the University of Gaza; and Qassam Farouk Al-Haj Hamad, a student at Palestine Technical University–Kadoorie. Also killed were Ibrahim Saidam, an employee of the University of Palestine, and Nahed Al-Rafati, an instructor at Al-Azhar University of Gaza.
The ministry had previously released the names of 35 university students and staff members were killed by Israeli aggression.
Two days ago, employees of the ministry and their families joined with others in a vigil against the continued Israeli bombing of Gaza, demanding an immediate ceasefire and a halt to the targeting of civilians.
Egyptian University Team’s Entrepreneurial Project Wins First Place in Enactus World Cup
A student team from Kafr El-Sheikh University ranked first in the 2023 Enactus World Cup, an international contest based in the Netherlands that rewards entrepreneurial projects that make an impact on the world’s toughest problems.
The Kafr El-Sheikh team won for a project called “Hermetia”, which seeks sustainable solutions for several problems in Egyptian society. The project produces high-quality protein for animal feed from natural, organic sources in safe, low-cost ways. Protein sources include the black soldier fly (Hermetia Illucens), which feeds on food waste. The project also extracts a protein from insect crustaceans that has medical and industrial applications.
Yemen, Russia Discuss Exchange Grants for Yemeni University Students
Khaled Al-Wasabi, Yemen’s minister of higher education, and Yevgeny Kudrov, acting Russian ambassador to Yemen, met on a video call to discuss ways to enhance Yemeni university students’ benefits from scholarships in Russia.
In a statement, the ministry, part of the internationally recognized government of Yemen based at Aden, said the conversation touched on the mechanism for selecting students nominated for Russia’s cultural exchange grants, as well as aspects of joint cooperation and opportunities for developing them, in the interest of students in Yemeni academic institutions.
Morocco Hosts International Conference on Climate Change
The fourth edition of the International Conference on Climate Change, held this week in Essaouira, Morocco, discussed issues related to the theme “Climate, Security, and Development: Challenges and Opportunities for a Just Transition.” The findings of the two-day conference, which ended Thursday, will be presented during COP28, the United Nations climate-change summit that will be held in December in Dubai.
According to the Saudi Press Agency, this week’s meeting was organised by the International Center for Research and Capacity Building and Cadi Ayyad University in Marrakech, with the participation of researchers, academic institutions, and representatives of international organisations.
Sorbonne U. Abu Dhabi Holds Conference in Preparation for COP28
A conference this week at Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi, titled “Mitigating the Effects of Global Warming and Unlocking New Opportunities to Achieve Sustainability”, sought to foster collaboration among graduate students, young researchers, and professionals in the United Arab Emirates and the Gulf region.
Part of the university’s Pre-COP28 programme, the conference was organised in collaboration with Laboratoire Médiations, a research centre at the Sorbonne University in Paris, according to the Emirates News Agency (WAM). Speakers and guests included top leaders and researchers from renowned institutions in the Emirates and abroad.
Nathalie Martial-Braz, vice-chancellor of Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi, said, “This conference marks a significant step forward in our collective efforts to raise awareness on climate change and foster sustainability by bringing together private and public entities to propose solutions for climate change.”
The bloodshed, violence and agony in Palestine dominated the atmosphere of the first “Twinning of Arab Universities” forum, which the Arab League Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organisation (ALECSO) held this week at its headquarters in Tunis. Mohamed Ould Amar, director general of ALECSO, hailed the meeting as “a first, yet distinguished experience”, yet the mood at the conference was far from celebratory.
At the opening ceremony, the heads of the delegations participating in the forum departed from their written opening speeches to pray for mercy on the souls of the Palestinians killed. Jalila Al-Obaidi, the forum’s facilitator, drew on the words of the Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish and also quoted the Egyptian poet Ahmed Muharram in her remarks: “We say to Palestine, the lady of the earth, the mother of beginnings, the mother of endings: Palestine, be patient, victory has a date.” Read more in this article.
On the sidelines of the Twinning of Arab Universities Forum, Al-Fanar Media and ALECSO signed a memorandum of understanding to cooperate to enhance education quality in the region and promote Arab culture. The memorandum was signed by Mohamed Ould Amar, director general of ALECSO, and Nadia El-Gowely, executive director of Al-Fanar Media. It stipulates that the two organisations will work together “to find opportunities to enhance Arab culture, and encourage best practices and the highest standards in education across the Arab world.” Read more in this article.
While Lebanon’s education system, like other sectors, has been mired in the country’s deep economic crisis for four years now, Erasmus+ has continued its efforts to provide international opportunities for Lebanese students and youth. Aref Alsoufi, coordinator of the National Erasmus+ Office in Lebanon, said in a recent conversation with Al-Fanar Media that the scope of Lebanon’s problems underlines the importance of international efforts like those of Erasmus+ in Lebanon. “The country needs every bit of support that international agencies can provide,” he said. Read more in this article.
Tips and Resources:
Many smart tools that university faculty members can use for detecting AI-assisted writing and research are on the market. Al-Fanar Media took a look at some of them to see how they work. Since the release of conversational chatbot ChatGPT last November, an increasing number of students have been turning to artificial intelligence-powered tools to write or assist them in writing university assignments. Read more in this article.
The internationally renowned Iraqi writer Sinan Antoon’s new novel “Khuzama” explores the homesickness and alienation of two very different Iraqi émigrés to the United States. Antoon relates in parallel the stories of the two protagonists, who are united by the Iraqi diaspora but separated by differing destinies and perceptions of their homeland through memory and the present. The relevance of the novel’s title, “Khuzama” (Arabic for lavender), becomes clear as the flower’s scent triggers memories that illustrate complexities in the personality of the elderly Sami Al-Badry and the trials that Omar, the second protagonist, is going through. Read more in this article.
Artificial intelligence is neither the first nor the last innovative technology to disrupt education, writes Zoe Hurley, an assistant professor at Zayed University. Unlike previous technologies, however, the generative capacity of AI-powered tools has caused a great stir in higher education. But that doesn’t justify banning or ignoring AI, Hurley argues. Instead, she says, lecturers should learn to benefit from the educational opportunities it provides, which go beyond traditional education models. Read more in this commentary.
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.