Bulletin: Palestinian Students to Participate in NYUAD Hackathon; Egyptian Scientist Suggests Drug to Treat Tinnitus

Interaction with Arab Societies

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

January was a strong beginning for Al-Fanar Media’s interactions to harness our capabilities and expertise to meet the needs of Arab societies.

In the communication sector, we offered our first special media training for executives to achieve effective communication between institutions, the media, and the general public.

We also offered our first training for Arab university students in a project that aims to improve students’ media literacy. The training, held at Misr International University, in Cairo, was the first in a series, in cooperation with the Ford Foundation, that will continue at other universities in four Arab countries over the coming months. The inaugural training drew 20 male and female students in various majors from several Egyptian universities. Presenters showed the participants how to analyse and verify information they receive over social media and online, and help them recognise fake news and videos. The participants thus become “ambassadors” of heightened media literacy within their societies.

In terms of research, we also offered our first panel discussion in 2024, continuing a series of webinars on issues affecting Arab academics and scientists. The panel discussed the crisis of Arab brain drain, and potential solutions.

Interacting with Arab societies and their needs is a duty for all of us, each according to their own specialty and capabilities. Solving complex problems requires individual willingness, rational management, and integration of roles. One may monitor needs, while another plans interactions with them, others fund projects, and others implement them. Together, we can find a starting point out of the problems that confront our societies.

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

From the Region:

3 Birzeit U. Students to Participate in the NYUAD International Hackathon

Three engineering and technology students at Palestine’s Birzeit University have been selected to participate in New York University Abu Dhabi’s 12th annual NYUAD International Hackathon for Social Good, scheduled in April. In a statement, Birzeit University said the students had qualified after participating in the second Palestinian National Hackathon in Quantum Computing and Artificial Intelligence. It identified the students as Sarah Al Dweik, Sarah Khider, and Yazid Haddad.

The NYUAD International Hackathon will focus this year on artificial intelligence (AI) and quantum computing. Participants in the three-day programming marathon will compete to develop software that solves societal problems and achieves sustainable development goals.

Zawyeh Gallery Displays ‘Posters for Gaza’ in Dubai 

Zawyeh Gallery, in Dubai, has mounted a group exhibition titled “Posters for Gaza” that displays the works of 26 Palestinian and Arab artists. In a statement, the gallery says the exhibition aims to shed light on the massacres taking place in the Gaza Strip and the artists’ demands for the recognition of Palestinian rights to live freely on their land with dignity.

It notes that posters represent a long tradition in Palestinian history and were produced extensively in the 1970s and 80s by the Palestinian Liberation Organisation and other groups to support and promote the Palestinian cause. Many of the posters are featured on the gallery’s Instagram page, and you can view all of them and purchase copies in the gallery’s online store. The exhibition runs through April 21 and is a partner event with the film festival Reel Palestine 2024. For the film schedule, please visit here.

Bulletin: Palestinian Students to Participate in NYUAD Hackathon; Egyptian Scientist Suggests Drug to Treat Tinnitus
“Embrace”, by Reda Alyasari, is one of the works on display in the “Posters for Gaza” exhibition at Zawyeh Gallery, in Dubai.

Egyptian Scientist Suggests Repurposing Diabetes Drug to Treat Tinnitus

An Egyptian scientist has presented a scientific case for repurposing a well-known diabetes drug to treat chronic tinnitus, a neurological disorder characterised by ringing in the ears that is not caused by an external sound. The condition, which has no approved pharmacological remedy, can arise spontaneously or in response to other illnesses, including Covid-19 and Long Covid Syndrome.

The scientist, Mina Thabet Kelleni, a pharmacologist in the Faculty of Medicine at Minia University, self-reports in an article in the prestigious journal Inflammopharmacology her own experience of tinnitus, and the scientific basis for why she tested metformin to address her symptoms. Metformin is a safe, generic drug that is widely prescribed to manage type 2 diabetes mellitus. While acknowledging the limits of her self-report, Kelleni calls for further studies of using metformin to provide relief to at least a subset of tinnitus patients, including those with Long Covid.

In a statement, Egypt’s Ministry of Higher Education said that Kelleni’s article was freely accessible in all countries under an open access agreement that the ministry and the Egyptian Knowledge Bank concluded with the Springer Nature Group. The agreement supports the open access publication of Egyptian scientists’ research in the group’s journals.

Qatar’s Education Above All Foundation to Increase Cooperation with Unicef  

The Qatar-based Education Above All Foundation and Unicef, the United Nations Children’s Fund, recently signed an agreement to extend their global partnership to advance development in education around the world. Under the agreement, the two organisations will seek to address the needs of 244 million children and young people across the world who still struggle to gain access to quality education, due to barriers such as poverty and discrimination.

In a statement, Unicef said the agreement was signed during a high-level strategic dialogue on 31 January hosted at the Permanent Mission of the State of Qatar to the United Nations in New York. During the dialogue, representatives of Education Above All, Unicef, and other parties, including the State of Qatar, the Qatar mission, and the Qatar Fund for Development, discussed how to drive progress in the field of quality education.  

Education Above All and Unicef recently celebrated a decade of cooperation on projects that have contributed to providing quality primary education to more than five million out-of-school children around the world. The partnership has carried out 19 projects in 18 countries, with total funding of more than $600 million.

10 Scholarships for Iraqi Students in Belarus 

Iraq’s Ministry of Higher Education has announced 10 scholarships offered by the Republic of Belarus to Iraqi students pursuing bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

In a statement, the ministry said that six scholarships were dedicated to bachelor’s students in subjects including medical physics and chemistry, computer systems and mathematics, artificial intelligence, and micro- and nanoelectronics. Four scholarships will be offered to master’s researchers in nuclear and radiation safety, information systems and technologies, paediatrics, and applied cryptography.

For more details, click here. To apply to the donor agency, click here. Students have until February 20 to apply.

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 slogans won’t save Palestine’s right to education from the brutal reality it faces, says Mahmoud Abu Mwais, Palestine’s minister of higher education. “We are most in need of a critical review of the entirety of beautiful slogans and narratives,” Abu Mwais said in an interview with Al-Fanar Media. “On the ground, the situation unveils shameful practices towards Palestine’s education sector, specifically in the Gaza Strip, where universities are being bombed and academics are being targeted.” 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 10-month-old war between rival militaries in Sudan. The country’s higher education minister, Mohamed Hassan Dahab, recently spoke to 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


How to Make Students Feel Cared for in Spaces Increasingly Filled with Technology

Technology increasingly mediates interactions between instructors and students, writes Jörg Matthias Determann, who teaches history at Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar. Professors use software systems for accessing class lists, posting syllabi, and gathering feedback, he says. They 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. Read more in this essay.

Al-Fanar Media Activities: 

Participants Praise Al-Fanar Media’s First Media Literacy Workshop for University Students

Over four days in January, Al-Fanar Media experts offered training on media literacy to a group of university students from Misr International University, in Cairo, and other Egyptian universities. The workshop was the first in a series from Al-Fanar Media in its “Media Literacy for Arab University Students” project, which is offered in cooperation with the Ford Foundation. Read more in this article.


‘Experiences in Teaching Media Literacy’: An Episode from Al-Fanar Media Podcast

A recent episode of Al-Fanar Media Podcast focused on experiences in teaching media literacy to university and pre-university students in the Arab world. In the episode, Mohammad El-Hawary, Al-Fanar Media’s editor-in-chief, and two academic experts discuss Jordan’s experience in teaching media literacy and trying to provide Arab youth with skills they need to know about verifying information, in light of widespread bias and misinformation in media outlets. The experts also share their opinions on the concept of media literacy in the West and in Arab societies. You can listen to this episode, and others in the series, on SoundCloud, Spotify, 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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