A Renewed Partnership
In our new bulletin, Al-Fanar Media brings you our most prominent stories and news about higher education in the Arab world.
We, at Al-Fanar Media, always strive to empower youth and women, by supporting them with the knowledge necessary for their university experience, and introducing them to the skills needed by the labour market.
Media literacy is certainly among the skills young people need today, in order to critically and effectively interact with the vast and growing amounts of information on social media and online. Being able to analyse and evaluate digital content for signs of misinformation, disinformation, and attempts to manipulate are skills that will play an increasingly pivotal role in our Arab world, amidst its many crises.
Thus, as Al-Fanar Media and the Ford Foundation discussed ways of renewing their partnership, their interests aligned on creating a project aimed at promoting media literacy among university students in the Arab world, to help them make effective use of, and become informed contributors to, the modern media landscape.
You can find more details about this cooperation in this bulletin.
Al-Fanar Media Editor-in-chief
From the Region:
Israel Airstrikes Destroy Central Archives of Gaza City
Israeli airstrikes destroyed the Central Archives of Gaza City late last month, reducing thousands of historical documents to ashes, according to news reports. In a statement, Palestine’s Birzeit University cited the destruction as evidence that “the Zionist occupation deliberately bombs and destroys all forms of life in order to erase the city and its history.” Some of the archive’s records were more than a hundred years old, it noted.
The head of the Gaza municipality, Yahya Al-Sarraj, told the Turkish news agency Anadolu that “targeting the Central Archives poses a great danger to the city, as it contains thousands of historically valuable documents for the community.” He added: These documents “were burned, turning them into ashes, erasing a large part of our Palestinian memory.”
According to Palestinian government reports, Israeli bombardments have killed nearly 18,000 Palestinians in Gaza since October 7, and hundreds more in the West Bank and Jerusalem. Nearly 1.9 million Gazans, or more than 85 percent of the population, have been displaced by the conflict and don’t have homes to return to, relief officials say. Filippo Grandi, the U.N. high commissioner for refugees, has warned that “a major human catastrophe is unfolding in the Gaza Strip.”
Saudi Arabia Hosts International Philosophy Conference
Saudi Arabia’s Literature, Publishing, and Translation Authority hosted the 2023 Riyadh International Philosophy Conference from December 7 to 9 in Riyadh.
According to a statement, Slated for December 7-9 in Riyadh,
Under the theme “Trans-Cultural Values and Ethical Challenges in the Communicative Age,” the conference featured a diverse assembly of global philosophy experts, who explored critical topics related to the philosophical and ethical dimensions of trans-cultural values and their impact on justice, ethics, and the future of humanity. Over 70 guests representing more than 20 countries participated, including academics and experts in the critical, and natural sciences, literature, language, and the arts.
Ajman University Hosts Arab Conference on Information Technology
Ajman University, in the United Arab Emirates, was host for the International Arab Conference on Information Technology (ACIT 2023), which ran from December 6 to 8. The conference was held in collaboration with the Colleges of Computer and Information Society affiliated with the Association of Arab Universities, and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers’ (IEEE) section in the Emirates.
According to news reports, the conference drew elite researchers and academics from 25 countries, who engaged in discussions of the latest innovations in information technology, including developments in machine learning and the use of the Internet of Things to enhance growth in various industries. Researchers presented more than 140 scientific papers during sessions over the conference’s three days, and keynote speakers discussed applications of technology in areas like education, healthcare, and the environment.
Iraq and U.N. Food Programme to Cooperate on Graduate Training
Iraq’s Ministry of Education and the United Nations’ World Food Programme (WFP) have signed an agreement to cooperate on training to empower college graduates with job-market skills.
In a statement, the ministry said that the training would focus on developing graduates’ English-language, digital, and entrepreneurial skills, in cooperation with the continuing education centers at the University of Mosul, the University of Basra, the University of Technology-Iraq, in Baghdad, the University of Anbar, Dhi Qar University, and Maysan University.
The Iraqi minister of higher education, Naeem Al-Aboudi, said he also hoped to see more cooperation within the WFP’s Jousour programme in Iraq, which aims to enhance the employability of internally displaced and vulnerable Iraqis, as well as Syrian refugees, by providing them with digital and English-language skills.
Scholarships for Egyptian Public Servants
Egypt’s Ministry of Higher Education is accepting applications for scholarships for Egyptian public servants in government institutions. The scholarships, offered in cooperation with USAID, the United States Agency for International Development, aim to raise workers’ efficiency and enhance their professional and research skills.
In a statement, the ministry said the scholarships would support career-related master’s degree studies, postdoctoral research, and short-term training at universities in the United States and at the American University in Cairo. The deadline for applying is January 15, 2024. Candidates can apply via this link.
From Al-Fanar Media:
Al-Fanar Media has received a grant from the Ford Foundation to launch a project aimed at promoting media literacy among university students in the Arab world. The initiative, which will include leading educational institutions and experts, strives to equip young Arabs with essential skills to navigate the intricacies of the modern media landscape effectively.
“The aim of this initiative is to help students to be informed participants of civic life and positive change,” said Nadia El-Gowely, executive director of Al-Fanar Media. Participants in the training will learn to “discern credible sources, identify bias, and appreciate the significance of fact-based reporting and verification,” she added. Read more about the new partnership in this article.
The victims of Israel’s war on Hamas in Gaza include a top Palestinian scientist, Sufyan Tayeh, who was killed along with his family in an Israeli airstrike on Al-Faluja neighbourhood, north of Gaza City, on December 2, according to news reports.
Professor Tayeh was president of the Islamic University of Gaza and was a professor of theoretical physics in its Faculty of Science. He was born in the Jabaliya refugee camp in the Gaza Strip and graduated from its schools. He earned his bachelor’s, master’s, and Ph.D. degrees in physics from the Islamic University, and had recently been appointed Unesco’s chairman for astronomy, astrophysics and space sciences in Palestine. Read more in this article.
In a recent report, the Palestine’s Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research tallied the number of higher-education students and staff members killed by Israeli aggression in Gaza and the West Bank. The number had reached 451 as of November 20, it said. The victims included 436 students and 15 workers, nearly all of whom were in the Gaza Strip. The report also documented injuries, detainments, and damage caused by attacks on Palestinian people and property. It counted 118 students and six employees from various institutions in the West Bank who had been arrested and detained.
In a Facebook post, the ministry poignantly remembered one of the academics slain, Nesma Abu Shaira, a Palestinian visual artist and a lecturer in the Faculty of Fine Arts at Al-Aqsa University, in Gaza. It highlighted Instagram postings where she had expressed pride in her students and shown examples of her own efforts “to document Palestine in my own way.” Abu Shaira, 36, was killed on October 28 in an Israeli bombing of her home in Gaza City, where she was born, had lived and studied, the ministry said. “The Israeli occupation has broken the artist Nesma’s paintbrush.” Read more in this article.
Tips and Resources:
Increasing numbers of Arab university students aspire to study artificial intelligence (AI). There are good reasons for the surge of interest in AI studies, experts say, in light of the increasing importance of AI technologies in many fields, and the increased demand for AI graduates in the labour market. Artificial intelligence is a rapidly expanding field with applications in almost every industry, and aspects of it are taught in many different disciplines. Al-Fanar Media offers a brief guide to AI studies and the careers available to graduates in the field. Read more in this article.
Technology increasingly mediates interactions between instructors and students, writes Jörg Matthias Determann, who teaches history at Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar. There are software systems for accessing class lists, posting syllabi, and gathering feedback, he says. Professors may even be tempted to use chatbots to help write emails or recommendation letters. On the whole, technology is fast, efficient and reliable. However, it also makes everyone in the classroom communicate more with machines than humans. And what professors gain in speed, they might lose in terms of personal style. Determann’s advice: preserve your authentic voice as much as possible. Read more in this in this essay.
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.