Bulletin: Birzeit U. Students Denounce Abuse of Palestinian Prisoners in Israeli Jails

March: Women’s Month

Every year on March 8, the world celebrates International Women’s Day, dedicated to advancing gender equality, championing women’s rights, and fostering the empowerment of women across various spheres. 

Al-Fanar Media upholds the core principle of empowering women within its editorial policy, founded on principles of gender equality, diversity and inclusion (GEDI).

We are deeply committed to ensuring the representation of women in our stories, events, and activities, whether through our monthly online discussion sessions or training initiatives. This commitment is rooted in our steadfast belief that women form an integral component of our Arab societies, our target audience, and our esteemed team.

While we honour and celebrate women year-round, we will dedicate particular focus to their achievements throughout the month of March. During this time, we will amplify women’s voices by providing them with platforms for discussions on academic and societal issues, and by highlighting their successes.

In this regard, I express my heartfelt gratitude to Nadia El-Gowely, executive director of Al-Fanar Media Foundation and valued member of the Board of Trustees of the Alexandria Trust, as well as Jo Weir, head of partnerships at the foundation. I also extend my appreciation to my esteemed colleagues Petra Ayar Jahchan, Mona Abu Al-Nasr, Samar Kadi, Wafaa Khairy, and Jana Elebiary.

Furthermore, I would like to acknowledge and thank my mother, may God protect her, for her unwavering support, along with my wife and devoted supporter, Yasmine, my daughter Hala, and my sister.

Indeed, no amount of gratitude and acknowledgment can fully encapsulate the resilience and sacrifices made by Arab women, particularly Palestinian women, who endure immense challenges and make profound sacrifices every moment of their lives. 

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

News from the Region

Birzeit U. Students Rally Against Israel’s Starving of Palestinian Prisoners

The Student Council at Palestine’s Birzeit University orchestrated a human chain, in which participants shared images of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli detention facilities, to protest the oppressive practices of the occupying state.

In a statement, the university said the event showed solidarity with Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons and denounced the Israeli authorities’ systematic abuse and starvation of Palestinian prisoners within the detention centres. Since October, the statement said, 10 prisoners have died inside Israeli prisons, and 7,300 Palestinians in the West Bank have been arrested. Among the detainees are approximately 60 male and female students from Birzeit University.

Nominations Open for Unesco-Russia Mendeleev International Prize

Egypt’s National Commission for Education, Science and Culture, in collaboration with Unesco, has announced that nominations are open for the 2023 Unesco–Russia Mendeleev International Prize in the Basic Sciences.

According to a statement from Egypt’s Ministry of Higher Education, the prize aims to recognise significant accomplishments in research, education, and international collaboration within the basic sciences, specifically in the fields of chemistry, physics, mathematics, and biology. The goal is to contribute to sustainable development goals and establish a foundation for the dissemination of scientific knowledge to promote innovation. The award is granted to two winners annually for exceptional discoveries and innovations in basic sciences that have a global or regional impact. Each winner receives $250,000, along with a gold medal and a diploma.

The call for nominations is open until March 15. Egyptians who wish to be nominated should consult the ministry’s statement for instructions on how to apply. The required papers should also be emailed to the Egyptian National Committee of Unesco by March 8.

Sharjah Summit Releases Recommendations for Educational Improvement

The Sharjah Education Academy has disclosed the recommendations from the third session of the Sharjah International Summit on Improvement in Education. The recommendations aim to contribute to the development of schools and improve the overall quality of students’ wellbeing, the Academy said in a news release. They also focus on creating comprehensive educational frameworks and utilising the transformative potential of artificial intelligence (AI) in education.

The recommendations underscore the importance of enhancing scientific research within the education sector, not solely as a means of knowledge advancement, but also to enhance educational methodologies and teaching approaches. Furthermore, they highlight the significance of creating partnerships between educational institutions and research hubs to foster educational innovation and facilitate knowledge exchange.

The Academy organized the summit under the patronage of Sharjah’s ruler, Sheikh Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi. Partners in planning the summit included the Sharjah Private Education Authority and Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

Bulletin: Birzeit U. Students Denounce Abuse of Palestinian Prisoners in Israeli Jails
Part of the activities of the Sharjah International Summit on Improvement in Education.

Effat U. Study Challenges Beliefs about Microfinance and Economic Growth

Researchers at Saudi Arabia’s Effat University recently announced research findings that challenged popular beliefs about the positive impact of microfinance on economic growth.

In a statement, the university said the study employed advanced analytical techniques to delve into the complexities of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s well-established microfinance sector, and its relationship with economic growth. The study found that, contrary to popular belief, microfinance loans had an adverse effect on the country’s GDP during the study period.

Despite these findings, the study acknowledges the vital role microfinance plays in aiding small businesses and individuals, particularly in the absence of traditional banking options. Edib Smolo, the lead researcher, emphasised that while microfinance may not directly boost GDP, it remains a valuable tool in addressing economic instability and poverty. The study was published in the open access journal Helion in November. To view the full paper, click here.

St. George’s U. in Grenada Establishes Department of Medical Humanities

St. George’s University School of Medicine in Grenada has unveiled the introduction of a Department of Medical Humanities and History of Medicine within its four-year medicine programme.

In a statement, the university said the new department will be led by Professor Robert Hage, who holds a diploma in otolaryngology and a master’s degree in business administration. Arlette Herry, assistant dean for multicultural affairs, will be its deputy head. The field of medical humanities integrates various aspects of the humanities and social sciences into the study of medicine and healthcare. This approach aims to provide a broader and more comprehensive understanding of medicine, health, and diseases, considering cultural, social, and ethical dimensions, according to the university’s statement.

NYU–Abu Dhabi Hosts Operatic Tenor in Concert and Masterclass

The Abu Dhabi Festival welcomed the esteemed tenor Lawrence Brownlee for a captivating performance at the Arts Center at NYU Abu Dhabi on February 25. The internationally renowned opera singer was making his debut appearance at the festival. Brownlee also conducted masterclasses with Emirati students, which were sponsored by the state-owned investment company Mubadala.

In performance, Brownlee mesmerised the audience with his impeccable vocal prowess and dynamic stage presence, according to a statement. Accompanied by the pianist Fabio Centanni, Brownlee presented a diverse programme that included bel canto works by Rossini and the emotional depths of Verdi, showcasing the breadth and depth of his artistry.

From Al-Fanar Media:

Zayed U. Caring Campaign Aims to Help Students Become Well-Rounded Individuals

Studies have shown that students who participate in extracurricular activities tend to fare better in university and gain skills that enhance their lives and careers after graduation. Zayed University, in the United Arab Emirates, is an example of institutions that promote specific activities to help students become well-rounded individuals. Through its Caring Campaign, the Student Life Team at Zayed University designs events through which students experience the value of caring in multiple ways, including self-care, community care, and care for the planet. Read more about Zayed University’s campaign and what other universities are doing in this article

Tips and Resources

Crafting an Effective Scholarship Cover Letter: A Step-by-Step Guide

When seeking a scholarship, you are often required to submit a cover letter. This document serves to articulate your motivation for applying, along with pertinent details about yourself. The significance of the cover letter is paramount for a simple reason: it encapsulates an introduction to yourself, and highlights qualifications that set you apart. This is your chance to sway the committee that selects the scholarship winners by showcasing abilities beyond the conventional prerequisites, like demonstrating academic excellence and language proficiency. Don’t overlook this opportunity. Read more in this article

In Conflict

Sudan’s War Puts Many of the Country’s Universities Back to Square One

Higher education has not escaped the devastating effects of a nearly year-old war between rival militaries in Sudan. The country’s higher education minister, Mohamed Hassan Dahab, recently told Al-Fanar Media about the grim toll the war has inflicted on higher education in terms of infrastructure, human lives, and students’ hopes. University buildings have been damaged or destroyed, setting students further back in their studies. Speaking away from his ministry’s burnt-out headquarters in Khartoum, Dahab also talked about steps the ministry and universities are taking to keep their doors open to students. Read more in this article


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

Confronting the growing global skills gap will require skilling, upskilling, and reskilling more than one billion workers over the next decade, research centres predict. Reskilling workers for jobs changed through industry transformation, artificial intelligence, and other technologies will rely, in the first place, on pre-skilling students in universities and schools. Developing critical thinking skills will be a critical component of this effort, in part because these skills are difficult to be replaced by artificial intelligence. 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.


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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