Bulletin: War in Gaza Disrupts 88,000 University Students’ Education; King Saud U. Earns a Guinness Record

Naguib Mahfouz and Jazz 

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

Two news items we cover in today’s bulletin, related to the great Egyptian writer Naguib Mahfouz and celebrations in Doha of Black History Month, inspire reflection on narratives of the triumph of spirit over circumstance.

When Mahfouz was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1988, the world stood in awe of his remarkable literary journey. How did he manage to attain such global recognition despite his humble roots in Cairo’s old Gamaliya neighbourhood—the working-class district whose alleyways and teeming life his fiction intricately explores?

Mahfouz’s success can be attributed, I think, to his profound sense of self-assurance, keen awareness of his talents, and skillful utilisation of them within the constraints of his circumstances. He showed a lot of effort and diligence in learning and honing his skills.

Numerous experiments across different fields often lack internal coherence. Their aspirations often surpass their actualities, their claims exceed their capabilities, and their imitation overshadows their originality. Here, failure ensues, albeit sometimes delayed.

It is crucial to engage in self-reflection and confront historical narratives to progress. Through resilience, tangible outcomes emerge, as exemplified by the world’s observances of African American history this month. This entails confronting that history’s struggles against social and economic injustice, while also spotlighting uplifting and joyful aspects, like the vibrant culture of jazz music.

Jazz music holds a special place in my heart, and I draw inspiration and joy from Naguib Mahfouz’s novels and biography. In today’s bulletin, you will discover more about the intriguing connection between them.

Mohammad El-Hawary 

Al-Fanar Media editor-in-chief 

From the Region

88,000 University Students Are Out of School in Gaza, Prime Minister Says

Some 88,000 Palestinian students in the Gaza Strip are unable to pursue higher education because of the destruction caused by Israel’s ongoing war against Hamas in the beleaguered territory, Palestinian Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh said this week.

Speaking at a meeting of the Palestinian Authority government in Ramallah on Tuesday, Shtayyeh said that in addition to the harsh physical conditions that Gazans are enduring, the educational process has been completely disrupted. According to the Palestine News and Info Agency (WAFA), the prime minister said that Israel had destroyed five out of six universities in Gaza and that three university presidents had been killed, along with 95 university professors, 77 of whom held doctoral degrees. Nearly half a million school students have also been deprived of their education, he said.

During the meeting, Shtayyeh also renewed his call on the international community to prevent Israel’s threatened invasion of Rafah, Gaza’s southernmost city, where more than one million Gazans have sought refuge after fleeing their homes in the north and center of the Strip. Gazan authorities say that more than 29,000 people have been killed in Gaza since the war began on October 7.

U. of Sharjah Hosts Training and Employment Expo

The University of Sharjah is holding a training and employment exhibition this week that offers students from different disciplines a chance to explore current and future job prospects. Representatives of early 80 companies, organisations, and government and private institutions from across the United Arab Emirates are participating, the Emirates News Agency (WAM) reported.

The exhibition is an annual event that aims to facilitate graduates’ entry into the labour market. It helps students learn about the array of services and facilities that participating organisations offer. It also encourages them to engage in training and career pathways offered in various specialisations, to enhance the skills and knowledge they have acquired during their university studies.

King Saud U. Earns a Guinness Record: World’s Largest Dental Hospital

The College of Dentistry Hospital at Saudi Arabia’s King Saud University has entered the Guinness World Records as the world’s largest dental hospital, with an area of 37,165 square metres. In a statement, the university said this recognition underscores the university’s dedication to fostering competitiveness in delivering healthcare services, education, training, and research.

The dental hospital is one of three teaching hospitals in King Saud’s University Medical City. Ahmed bin Salah Hersi, a professor of medicine and chief executive of the University Medical City, said the dental college’s achievement reflected the institution’s dedication to science and knowledge, and its alignment with achieving the goals outlined in the kingdom’s Vision 2030.

Naguib Mahfouz’s Personal Books Are Given to Bibliotheca Alexandrina 

Umm Kulthoum Mahfouz, daughter of the renowned Egyptian writer Naguib Mahfouz (1911–2006), has given the late Nobel laureate’s personal book collection to the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, which plans to make this collection accessible to library patrons, researchers, and scholars. 

In a statement, the Bibliotheca Alexandrina said the donation comprises around 1,500 books, encompassing Naguib Mahfouz’s own literary works along with various other books that he collected or was given. Ahmed Zayed, director of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, said the Mahfouz collection would enrich the experience of the Bibliotheca’s visitors and patrons.

Mohamed Soliman, head of the Bibliotheca’s cultural communication sector, said the Mahfouz collection would become No. 57 among the library’s special collections, which represent some of Egypt’s most prominent figures and intellectuals.

Bulletin: War in Gaza Disrupts 88,000 University Students’ Education; King Saud U. Earns a Guinness Record
Umm Kulthoum Mahfouz, daughter of the renowned Egyptian writer Naguib Mahfouz (1911–2006)

Georgetown Qatar Celebrates Black History Month with an Evening of Jazz 

In celebration of Black History Month, Georgetown University in Qatar (GU-Q) is organising discussions, tours, interactive sessions throughout February to honour the heritage and achievements of African Americans throughout U.S. history, while embracing the chance to celebrate Black community members from around the world.

Events included a jazz appreciation evening featuring the Doha Jazz band, where Safwan Masri, the campus’s dean, remarked: “Jazz is a tool of communication whose message plays loud and clear: we are a family, a community.” Masri quoted the African American poet Langston Hughes, who said: “Jazz is a heartbeat—its heartbeat is yours.”

From Al-Fanar Media

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

On the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, the United Nations highlighted women’s contributions across the labour force, but also stressed the need to continue efforts to achieve gender parity in some fields. Women are still underrepresented in the STEM fields, for example. In advanced technology fields like artificial intelligence, they account for only one in five professionals (22 percent).

Unesco noted that tackling some of the greatest challenges of the U.N.’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development—from promoting health to combating climate change—will rely on harnessing all talent. “That means getting more women working in these fields,” the agency said. “Diversity in research expands the pool of talented researchers, bringing in fresh perspectives, talent and creativity.” Read more in this article

Tips and Resources:

Securing Internships and Turning Them into Full-Time Jobs

Internships increasingly are an essential component of undergraduate education. Besides academic achievement, students need to gain workplace skills while at school to guarantee their professional development and prosperity. Internships provide students with ample opportunities to acquire practical experience in a variety of fields, allowing them to develop skills and test their capabilities.

Internships also provide opportunities for building invaluable relationships with future co-workers, and making contacts with potential employers. Moreover, many students who land internships go on to full-time jobs with their host companies and organisations. In this article, we suggest six strategies to help you make the most of an internship and hopefully convert it into a full-time job. Read more here

In Conflict: 

Wars, Partition and Lack of Funding Cannot Stop Scientific Research in Yemen and Libya

In interviews with Al-Fanar Media, university professors in Yemen and Libya say academic research goes on, and that neither war, partition nor lack of funding has stopped it. University scientists are personally and professionally motivated to continue their research because they want to solve societal problems, and to advance their careers.

In Yemen, public universities have had no money for scientific research since 2015, said Mohamed Baazab, deputy director of international relations at the University of Aden. “But that does not mean there is no research done.”

In Libya, Jamal Abubaker, director of the scientific research and consulting centre at Sebha University, said scientists emphasise the benefit to communities when they appeal for public funds. “If we can convince society that scientific research can be very important to solve problems, that can be the first step towards a solution.” Read more in this article.


10 Essential Questions to Reimagine Higher Education in the Era of Artificial Intelligence

Generative artificial intelligence is emerging as a transformative tool in higher education, unfolding a range of present and future possibilities, both exciting and diverse. However, there are still many questions that educators and educational institutions must address in 2024 to navigate and capitalise on this constantly evolving technological landscape. Borja Santos Porras, an associate vice dean at IE School of Politics, Economics and Global Affairs, at IE University, in Spain, explores ten essential questions to reimagine higher education in the era of artificial intelligence. Read more in this article


Al-Fanar Media maintains a database of quality scholarships for Arab students, which we continuously update. You can follow our website to stay up to date on the latest scholarships available in international universities. Check the Scholarships section here, and do not miss our constantly updated feedback on free learning opportunities in the News and Reports section, here

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