Bulletin: Birzeit U. Condemns New Raids on Gaza Hospital; in U.A.E., New Management Degree Is AI-Focused

Are Our Youth Safe? 

Today’s youth are experiencing a unique mix of challenges and opportunities. While rapid technological advancements offer new horizons, they also bring threats to students’ personal safety, mental well-being, and future job prospects.

Reports highlight incidents of electronic blackmail that have led to depression and even suicide, raising concerns about the impact of technology on young lives. Additionally, forecasts about job losses due to artificial intelligence and automation add to these worries.

Despite these challenges, it’s essential not to dwell solely on the negative. Let’s also seek out points of light amidst these concerns.

Yes, there are indeed bright spots out there. Universities have begun to play an active role in preparing students for future jobs by aligning curricula, providing academic guidance, mental health support services, and initiatives to develop essential skills in their future careers.

In partnership with the Ford Foundation, Al-Fanar Media is collaborating with Arab universities to offer advanced media literacy training for Arab university students. 

This effort is driven by the understanding that exposure to digital platforms can impact mental health, decision-making processes, disrupt psychological well-being, and potentially contribute to the spread of harmful rumours that undermine societal cohesion.

This underscores the significance of being discerning and critical about information encountered on digital platforms. We aim to empower individuals with the tools and mind-set needed to navigate this landscape safely through verification and critical thinking.

It’s clear that our young people face risks as long as they lack a secure pathway to navigate these challenges.

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

News from the Region:

Birzeit U. Condemns New Israeli Raids on Al-Shifa Medical Complex in Gaza

Birzeit University, in the West Bank, has denounced Israel’s renewed targeting of the Al-Shifa Medical Complex in Gaza City, marking the second attack on the complex since last November.

In a statement, the university strongly condemned the lack of global attention towards Israel’s actions. It said the Israeli occupation forces had engaged in severe violence, including killing and executing numerous displaced individuals, medical personnel, and patients within the hospital. (Israel says patients, medical personnel, and civilians were evacuated during the operation.) Hundreds of displaced persons were reportedly detained at the site, the statement added. It also accused the occupation forces of looting and burning sections of the hospital, and bombing and demolishing several adjacent homes and buildings.

The statement also highlighted the occupation army’s incursion into Al-Amal and Nasser Hospitals in Khan Yunis city, located south of the Gaza Strip. Patients and medical staff reportedly faced intense artillery and aerial bombardment, reflecting a systematic campaign against medical institutions. These attacks have occurred amidst Israel’s ongoing devastating war against Hamas in the Strip since October 7.

While the Al-Shifa medical complex and a few other medical facilities have continued to operate under extremely challenging circumstances in Gaza, they have also transformed into refuge centres for approximately two million citizens. Over 80 percent of Gazans have been displaced as a result of the war.

EAA Foundation Welcomes U.N. Call for Gaza Ceasefire

Qatar’s Education Above All Foundation (EAA) welcomed the United Nations Security Council’s adoption this week of Resolution 2728, which demands an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and the release of all hostages. 

In a statement, EAA said that “as a global education foundation committed to promoting access to education and advocating for the rights of children and youth in conflict-affected areas, we unequivocally condemn the killing of civilians and the use of food and aid as weapons of war.”

The statement continued: “We firmly believe that a ceasefire is a crucial first step towards creating a conducive environment for the right to life, the right to education and the provision of urgent humanitarian assistance in Gaza.”

The foundation urged all parties to comply with the terms of the resolution. “All parties must uphold their obligations under international law, and prioritise the protection of civilians, particularly children and youth.”

Abu Dhabi School of Management Offers New Al-Focused Degree

The Abu Dhabi School of Management, one of the higher education institutions affiliated with the Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and Industry, is starting a new Bachelor of Science in Management programme that focuses on the attributes and challenges of artificial intelligence (AI). The four-year course will commence in September.

In a statement, the Abu Dhabi Chamber said the degree will help students gain the knowledge and skills necessary to make decisions through methodologies that combine a focus on advanced technology and emerging digital technologies. It will also contribute to Abu Dhabi’s Economic Vision 2030 by enabling the private sector to contribute to building a sustainable knowledge economy for future generations.

Tayeb Kamali, chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Abu Dhabi School of Management, said the new programme will be the first of its kind in management sciences. “This programme represents the culmination of our efforts to foster an academic environment that encourages innovation and entrepreneurship, amidst the dynamic economic transformations worldwide,” he said.

Report Highlights Global Strategies for Accelerating AI in Science and Research

The International Science Council’s Centre for Science Futures has released a groundbreaking report titled “Preparing National Research Ecosystems for AI: Strategies and Progress in 2024”.

According to the Paris-based centre, this working paper sheds light on various countries’ strategies for accelerating the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) in science and research institutions. It includes a literature review and case studies of a dozen countries at various stages of the integration process. Oman, where the Ministry of Transport Communication and Information Technology is leading the national AI strategy, is one of them. The others are: Australia, Benin, Brazil, Cambodia, Chile, China, India, Malaysia, Mexico, Uruguay, and Uzbekistan.

Besides serving as a critical source of first-hand information, the paper also makes an urgent call for continued discussion and collaboration between countries as they introduce AI in their research priorities. A follow-up, more comprehensive edition with additional case studies is planned for the second half of 2024.

Georgetown U. in Qatar Highlights Students’ Studies of Indian Ocean 

Georgetown University in Qatar (GU-Q) hosted a research conference at which the university’s first Indian Ocean Fellows presented their cross-disciplinary projects related to the Indian Ocean region. The projects spanned diverse themes within the humanities, linking history and agriculture, literature and law, sociology and migration.

In a statement, GU-Q said the fellows include students and alumni from Georgetown’s campuses in Doha and Washington, D.C. Their programme is an initiative of the Sonneborn Interdisciplinary Collaboration Chair, which provides funding and support to students to advance their research and support student engagement as part of the Indian Ocean Working Group.

Saudi Team Contributes to Discovery of Gene Linked to Newborn Deformities

A scientific team from Taibah University, in Medina, played a pivotal role in breakthrough research that discovered a gene associated with severe deformities in the brains, skulls, and facial features of newborns. Naif Almontashiri, director of the university’s Center for Genetics and Genetic Diseases, was a member of the study team.

In comments to the Saudi Press Agency, Dr. Almontashiri highlighted the significance of the gene, DISP1, in the early foetal development of the brain and skull. The research involved studying a family with two children exhibiting these deformities, with examinations revealing a recessively inherited mutation in DISP1 as the cause. The study was published in collaboration with an international team in the journal “Genetics in Medicine”.

St. George’s U. Webinars Seek to Empower Aspiring Arab Medical Students

St. George’s University School of Medicine, in Grenada, has launched a four-part webinar series aimed at empowering aspiring medical students in the Middle East and North Africa region. In a statement, the university said participating students will gain insights into a broad spectrum of medical topics and engage with SGU faculty members who have extensive experience in their respective fields. 

The first session, in February, traced the history of medicine from ancient practices to modern advances. Subsequent sessions will explore ethical dilemmas in healthcare, anatomical terminology, and clinical skills for physicians. Interested students can sign up for the webinars here.

Practical training within the study of medicine at St. George’s University, in Grenada. (Photo: SGU)

Academic Achievements

Egyptian Researcher Awarded Unesco-Equatorial Guinea Prize

Mohamed Ali Farag, a professor of pharmacology at Cairo University’s Faculty of Pharmacy, has been named a co-winner of the 2023 Unesco-Equatorial Guinea International Prize for Life Sciences Research.

According to a statement from Egypt’s Ministry of Higher Education, Farag has served as a professor at Cairo University since 2019 and has garnered numerous international accolades. He is also managing editor for the university’s “Journal for Advanced Research”. Unesco mentioned that Farag is a metabolism specialist and has developed a first-of-its-kind metabolic platform that enables scientists to monitor volatile compounds emitted by microbes for potential medical and agricultural applications.

The Unesco–Equatorial Guinea International Prize for Research in the Life Sciences honours scientific research that advances sustainable development. The award carries a cash prize of $350,000, which Farag will share with his two co-laureates.

From Al-Fanar Media:

Webometrics Ranks 20 Arab Universities in Top 1,000 for Research Visibility

In Webometrics’ latest edition, 20 Arab universities were among the top 1,000 top-ranked institutions worldwide, including eight universities in Saudi Arabia and five in Egypt. The Webometrics ranking, produced by a public research body in Spain, compares universities on measures of research impact and online visibility. Its primary objective is to promote open access to the knowledge universities generate by encouraging institutions and scholars to have a web presence that accurately reflects their activities. The latest ranking, released in January, evaluated more than 33,500 universities worldwide, and 1,365 Arab universities were among them. Read more in this article.


Inclusive Education Is Key to Promoting Peace and Confronting Hate Speech

Education stands as a cornerstone for societal development and peace promotion. In the Arab world, however, students encounter a multitude of challenges that impede their educational journey, obstructing social and economic advancement. In this essay, Naouel Abdellatif Mami, vice-rector for external relations at Algeria’s Mohamed Lamine Debaghine Setif 2 University, delves into the intricacies of the educational landscape in the Arab world, underscoring the urgency for reform to surmount these challenges and cultivate a more inclusive and prosperous future. Read more of her thoughts here

Tips and Resources:

Help Create a Better World: A Guide to International Opportunities for Students

University life is a time rich in opportunities for students who aspire to be global changemakers and help create a better world. Several international organisations sponsor activities that students can join as volunteers, teachers, or social innovators and entrepreneurs. In this article, Al-Fanar Media presents a short list of four such organisations.

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, the professors say. 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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