Palestinian Ministry Names 74 Academics Killed in Gaza; Times Higher Ed Holds Reputation Forum in U.A.E.

Artificial Intelligence and Arab Universities

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

Since we launched the Al-Fanar Media panel discussion series, we have kept one thing in mind, that is to enrich the discussion of higher education and scientific research issues in the Arab world, in a way that serves our countries.

We work hard to make the series a free platform that promotes Arab interests, engages with pressing issues, diagnoses reality, develops solutions, and is an integral part of Al-Fanar Media’s responsibility towards our Arab society.

In December, we discussed ways that help Arab academics support the Palestinian cause. In January, we discussed the Arab brain drain crisis. Earlier sessions discussed higher education and future jobs, and how to apply for scholarships.

This week, we invite you to participate in our new session, scheduled for Monday, February 19, at 19:00 Cairo time.

The session is entitled: “Arab Universities and Artificial Intelligence: Current Questions and Future Challenges.” Share your opinions and questions about AI so we can present them to our distinguished guests.

Mohammad El-Hawary 

Al-Fanar Media Editor-in-chief 

From the Region

Palestinian Ministry Names 74 Academics Killed in Israel’s War on Gaza

Palestine’s Ministry of Higher Education has published an updated list of the names of professors and academics who have been killed in Israel’s ongoing war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip. The list includes three university presidents and seven college deans among the 74 academics known to have been killed since the war began on October 7, when th war began. Since then, Israel’s assault on the beleaguered strip has killed more than 28,000 people, according to Gaza authorities.

This week, Israeli forces have been massed around Rafah, Gaza’s southernmost city and possibly Hamas’s final stronghold, according to the Washington Post. More than 1.4 million Gazans who have fled their homes are sheltering there in “unbelievable fear” of a major Israeli assault, Al Jazeera reported.

At least 67 people were killed in air raids on the city on Monday. Palestine’s Birzeit University condemned the raids as a clear violation of international humanitarian laws.

Oman to Host ICEF Middle East Scholarship Summit

The Omani Ministry of Higher Education, in collaboration with ICEF Events, will host the ICEF Middle East Scholarship Summit on February 18 and 19 in Muscat. The gathering will provide an opportunity for international education providers to network with scholarship providers and universities that send students abroad from the Middle East.

According to a news release, the event will enable higher education providers in 19 countries to connect one-to-one with representatives of scholarship-providing organisations in Bahrain, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, potentially driving new education opportunities for over 200,000 scholarship students studying abroad. You can view the full programme of the summit here.

Iraq Announces Iraqi Ranking for Universities of Scientific Departments

The Iraqi Ministry of Higher Education has announced the results of the Iraqi Ranking of Scientific Departments in the country’s universities. In a statement, the ministry said this ranking comes in compliance with its policy of assessing institutional performance indicators in order to enhance academic quality and develop the educational environment.

This ranking compared between 1,875 scientific departments in 95 public and private universities and colleges. Factors included accreditation standards (40 percent of an institution’s score), faculty members (25 percent), students (20 percent), and international rankings for academic disciplines (15 percent).

The ranking results are available here.

Times Higher Education Holds MENA Reputation Forum in the Emirates

Times Higher Education’s inaugural MENA Reputation Forum, held in Abu Dhabi this week, brought together thought leaders from across the region and beyond to discuss the vital role that reputation plays in the success of an institution. Delegates at the event, held at Abu Dhabi University’s campus in Al Ain, discussed strategies and best practices around reputation, branding, communications and marketing, Times Higher Education (THE) said on its website.

According to the Emirates News Agency (WAM), prominent representatives from the United Arab Emirates Ministry of Education and Accenture Middle East participated in the forum. Speakers included Mark Caddow, a data scientist at THE, and Nick Davis, president of THE’s Middle East and Africa division.

فلسطين تنشر حصيلة شهداء القطاع الأكاديمي في حملة الإبادة الإسرائيلية على غزة.. واختتام أعمال «منتدى التايمز للتعليم العالي» في الإمارات
A picture of the participants in the “Times Higher Education Forum” in the Emirates (WAM).

Saudi Arabia Opens Educational Programme for New Media Artists

Saudi Arabia is inviting talented young digital artists to apply for its Emerging New Media Artists programme, run by the Ministry of Culture. The educational programme will be hosted by Diriyah Art Futures (DAF), a centre dedicated to New Media Art, and located in Diriyah, in the heart of a Unesco World Heritage site.

According to a news release, the project will allow talented young digital artists to gain access to cutting-edge professional equipment, production funding, multidisciplinary learning tools, and opportunities to receive personal guidance from international digital artists.

The project is open to emerging creatives from all over the world, with a focus on those from the Middle East and North Africa. Applicants should be under 35 years old; have completed, or are completing, a course of study (undergraduate or postgraduate); and have experience in the creation of digital art and new media. For more information and to apply, visit the Diriyah Art Futures website.

From Al-Fanar Media:

Women and Girls in Science Day Prompts New Calls to Empower Women

The United Nations observed the International Day of Women and Girls in Science on Sunday, February 11, amid growing calls to stress the need to enhance women’s contribution in the fields of education and the labour market.

Unesco and UN Women, the United Nations organisation dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women, carried out activities marking the day in collaboration with institutions and civil society partners that aim to promote women and girls in science.  The theme this year was “Women in Scientific Leadership: A New Era for Sustainability.” Read more in this article

In Conflict: 

Texas A&M’s Decision to Close Qatar Branch Stirs Criticism and Questions

Texas A&M University’s decision to shut its campus in Qatar is drawing criticism and questions from students, professors, and Qatar Foundation, which hosts the campus in Doha’s Education City. The Texas A&M University System’s Board of Regents voted on February 8 to terminate its agreement with Qatar Foundation and begin a multiyear process of shutting down Texas A&M University at Qatar. Qatar Foundation, in a strongly worded statement on X (formerly Twitter), accused the Texas A&M board of being influenced by a “disinformation campaign” aimed at harming the foundation’s interests. Read more in this article


Don’t Ban AI, a Professor Argues. Instead, Use It to Transform Higher Education.

Generative artificial intelligence is the latest technological advance to cause a great stir in higher education. As with other advances before, the excitement will probably fade over time as AI becomes the norm. But for now, its ability to generate texts, articles, images, video clips, and intellectual and creative outputs is the subject of much excitement and concern. What are the challenges posed by AI in higher education, and how can we realise the opportunities it offers? Zoe Hurley, an assistant professor in the College of Interdisciplinary Studies at at Zayed University, in Dubai, suggests some answers in this article.

Tips and Resources: 

Why Study AI? A Guide to AI Studies and Jobs

There are good reasons for the surge of interest among Arab university students in artificial intelligence (AI) studies. Experts note the increasing importance of AI technologies in many fields, and an increased demand for AI graduates in the labour market. Al-Fanar Media offers a brief guide to the many academic disciplines involved in AI studies and the careers available to graduates in this rapidly expanding field. Read more in this article

Al-Fanar Media Activities:  

Join a New AFM Panel Discussion on Arab Universities and AI

Al-Fanar Media will hold an online panel discussion on the topic “Arab Universities and Artificial Intelligence: Current Questions and Future Challenges.” The session is set for Monday, February 19, at 7 p.m. Cairo time, and will address some of the practical and ethical aspects of AI applications in Arab universities.

The panel, part of Al-Fanar Media panel discussion series, will be moderated by Mohammad El-Hawary, Al-Fanar Media’s editor-in-chief. To attend, you can register to attend via Zoom here. The discussion will be broadcast on Al-Fanar Media’s Facebook page.

The session will feature Hala Zayed, a professor of engineering at Egypt University of Informatics (EUI); Mahmoud Mousa, an assistant professor of computer science at Heriot-Watt University Dubai; and Mohamed Hegazy, a consultant specialising in digital transformation, innovation and intellectual property legislation.


Writers and Artists Say Awards Boost Them and Their Craft

The Arab world has many prestigious awards for writers, filmmakers and other creative artists. These include the International Prize for Arabic Fiction (IPAF), the Sheikh Zayed Book Award, the Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature, and the Sawiris Cultural Award. Prize winners and other artists tell Al-Fanar Media they welcome these awards not only for the potential rewards to their own careers, but also for the visibility they bring to their crafts and the creativity they inspire. Read more in this article


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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