Bulletin: Palestinian Webinar Explores Use of AI as a Tool of Oppression; Saudi University Hosts Research Excellence Week

Arab Brain Drain

In our new bulletin, Al-Fanar Media brings you our most prominent stories and news on higher education in the Arab world.

The brain drain of Arab scientists and scholars to developed countries poses a challenge to achieving development in the Arab world. But how can we prevent our societies from being deprived of needed skills and talent? How can Arab universities retain Arab scholars?

How can we support existing initiatives to build a bridge between Arab scholars who have emigrated and those remaining in Arab countries?

Al-Fanar Media will seek answers to these and other questions in a panel discussion set for 7 p.m. Cairo time on Monday. The panel is part of the Al-Fanar Media panel discussions series, which presents expert views on some of the most prominent higher education and scientific research issues in the Arab world.

Al-Fanar Media will seek answers to these and other questions in a panel discussion set for 7 p.m. Cairo time on Monday. The panel is part of the Al-Fanar Media panel discussions series, which presents expert views on some of the most prominent higher education and scientific research issues in the Arab world.

I am honoured to moderate Monday’s discussion, which will feature Rana Dajani, a professor of molecular biology at the Hashemite University, in Jordan; Amal Amin, an Egyptian professor of nanotechnology and founding chair of the Women in Science Without Borders (WISWB) network; and Issa Batarseh, a professor of electrical engineering at the University of Central Florida.

To attend the webinar, you can register here. Your participation enriches the discussion. 

Mohammad El-Hawary

Al-Fanar Media editor-in-chief 

From the Region

Birzeit U. Panel Explores Artificial Intelligence as a Tool of Oppression

The Continuing Education Center of Palestine’s Birzeit University organised a webinar titled “Artificial Intelligence in the Heart of the Storm: Technology as a Tool for Oppression and Advocacy” on Monday.

In a statement, the university said the webinar was designed to shed light on the weaponisation of artificial intelligence in times of war. Speakers would be asked to discuss uses of AI technology to suppress human rights, impose censorship, and inflict harm, with particular emphasis placed on repression, control, and surveillance by mainstream Big Tech entities that exert a monopolistic influence, leaving users with limited options.

While people may be somewhat aware of being under surveillance, many fail to understand their vulnerability, especially in the Palestinian context, the university said.

Egypt U. for Informatics to Host Conference on Artificial Intelligence during Cairo Book Fair

Egypt University for Informatics (EUI) has organised a Conference on Artificial Intelligence and Knowledge Industry that will be held on February 3 as a component of the Cairo International Book Fair. In a statement, the university said conference will explore how AI might affect the future of publishing and literature, and the opportunities and challenges the knowledge industry faces in an age of rapid technological advances.

The conference will discuss several themes, including applications of artificial intelligence and natural language processing in the knowledge industry, AI’s impact on jobs in publishing, and ethical considerations in the knowledge industry.

The conference will be held alongside the 55th edition of the Cairo International Book Fair, which opened on January 25 and runs through February 6. This year’s fair is honouring the Selim Hassan (1887-1961), a pioneer in Egyptology and the author of over 50 books on Egyptian history, as person of the year. Norway was chosen as this year’s distinguished guest country.

Panel at Sharjah Space Academy Discusses Future of Deep Space Exploration

The Sharjah Academy for Astronomy, Space Sciences, and Technology (SAASST), an affiliate of the University of Sharjah, organised a panel discussion on “The Future of Space Collaboration: Preparing the Next Generation for Deep Space Exploration.” Representatives of NASA and members of the U.S. diplomatic mission to the Emirates participated in the discussion, which aimed to raise awareness among youth about the United Arab Emirates’ ambitious goals in space science.

According to the Emirates News Agency (WAM), Hamid Majoul Al Nuaimi, chancellor of the University of Sharjah and director-general of SAASST, emphasised the university’s commitment to promoting the culture of astronomy and space education and research through master’s and Ph.D. programmes in the fields of astronomy, space law, astrophysics, and space sciences. He also mentioned some of SAASST’s latest achievements, including the launch of the Sharjah-Sat-1 satellite and the upgrading of the Sharjah Planetarium with the latest technologies and projectors. 

Bulletin: Palestinian Webinar Explores Use of AI as a Tool of Oppression; Saudi University Hosts Research Excellence Week
A discussion session at the University of Sharjah on the future of cooperation in the field of space (WAM).

Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman U. Promotes Research Excellence

The College of Humanities and Social Sciences at Saudi Arabia’s Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman University launched the “Scientific Experiments in Research Excellence” week to develop and enhance the concept of research excellence. More than 360 people from inside and outside the university participated in the week’s programmes and workshops.

In a statement, the university said the week focused on presenting realistic scientific experiments in research excellence at all levels. Its seven workshops covered topics like how to prepare an award-winning thesis, and how to write and publish research papers and books. The activities were in line with the university’s strategic plan to establish an advanced infrastructure for research excellence, and to enable women to excel in this field. ​

Yemen Encourages Students to Apply for Scholarships in Hungary

Yemen’s Ministry of Higher Education is encouraging students who wish to study master’s degrees in agriculture-related subjects to register for scholarships provided by the Hungarian government in cooperation with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). According to a statement published by the Yemeni ministry, the scholarships will cover students’ education and living costs during their studies in Hungary.

The scholarships are for Master of Science courses in environmental engineering, crop production engineering, and horticultural engineering. The courses will be taught in English at universities in Hungary, starting in the 2024–2025 academic year. Course descriptions and more details are available on the FAO website.

The scholarships are open to residents of other developing countries as well. Eligible countries in the Arab region include Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Somalia, and Sudan.

From Al-Fanar Media

Slogans Won’t Save Palestine’s Trampled Right to Education, Minister Says

“Learning for Lasting Peace” was a theme of Unesco activities to mark the International Day of Education this year, but “beautiful slogans and narratives” won’t save Palestine’s right to education from the brutal reality it faces, says Mahmoud Abu Mwais, Palestine’s minister of higher education. “On the ground, the situation unveils shameful practices towards Palestine’s education sector, specifically in the Gaza Strip, where universities are bombed and academics are being targeted,” Abu Mwais said in an interview with Al-Fanar Media. Read more in this article

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Focus on Critical Thinking Skills to Help Meet AI’s Challenge to Future Jobs

If confronting the global skills gap depends on skilling, upskilling, and reskilling, then we can say that it is correct to rely, in the first place, on pre-skilling in universities and schools starting from the sixth year (ten-year-old students). Read more in this essay by Salah Khalil, chief executive of Macat International and a founding member of the Board of Trustees of the Alexandria Trust. Al-Fanar Media is one of the projects of the Alexandria Trust.


Hear from Arab Experts on Fact Checking in New Podcast Episode

In the latest episode of Al-Fanar Media Podcast, editors of well-known Arab news organisations discuss media literacy and the importance of fact checking news stories and other online content. The episode, titled “Media Literacy: Checking Information”, focuses on experiences in verifying information in media work and its role in eradicating media illiteracy. You can listen to this episode and others in the series on SoundCloudSpotify, or YouTube.


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.

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