Newsletter

Bulletin: For Gaza’s Children, a Cruel Eid, says Birzeit U.; Damascus U. Advises Researchers on Correct Citations

How Did You Spend Your Eid Holiday?

As the Arab and Islamic communities celebrate Eid al-Fitr, we wish you a happy Eid filled with health, safety, and joy. May God bless you all with goodness, righteousness, and blessings.

Our Eid is deeply connected to spiritual, social, and religious values. It serves as a reward after observing the fasting month of Ramadan. It’s a time for visits, camaraderie, strengthening familial bonds, being good neighbours, and sharing in the joyous spirit. Did your Eid resemble this as well?

Unfortunately, the overall picture in our Arab world may not be as joyous as we wish, marred by crises and destruction. In such circumstances, the pursuit of joy can seem like an almost unattainable luxury, overshadowed by the urgent need to survive and protect life.

Eid serves as a reminder of human solidarity and empathy. If we fail to stand in solidarity and empathise with the suffering of our brothers and sisters in conflict zones across our Arab world, particularly in Palestine, then with whom do we empathise? With whom do we stand in solidarity?

Perhaps we need to consider launching an initiative to assist Palestinian students globally, particularly those affected by the ongoing Israeli aggression that disregards the sanctity of Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr.

Mohammad El-Hawary

Al-Fanar Media editor-in-chief 

News from the Region

Gaza’s Children Received Bombs instead of Gifts This Eid, Birzeit U. Laments

In a Facebook post for Eid al-Fitr, Palestine’s Birzeit University said, “This Eid, Gaza’s children received a tragic gift of bombs, bullets, and death from the world. Some have departed to seek justice from their Creator, perhaps finding the mercy absent in human hearts.” The university lamented, “For those left behind in besieged Gaza, there is little chance for celebration amidst the ongoing genocidal war, now in its seventh month, claiming thousands of lives.”

MESA Questions Vanderbilt U.’s Handling of Pro-Palestinian Student Activists

The Middle East Studies Association of North America (MESA) and its Committee on Academic Freedom have expressed concern regarding recent actions by administrators at Vanderbilt University, in the United States, concerning student activism in support of Palestine.

In a letter to the university’s chancellor and provost, MESA said the issue arose when a campus group petitioned the student government to amend its constitution to forbid directing any student funds to entities targeted by the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) movement. The student government scheduled a referendum, which the university administration subsequently cancelled. In response, students erected an “Apartheid Wall” exhibit and nearly 30 students staged a sit-in in the halls outside the chancellor’s office while others gathered on the steps outside. The university imposed disciplinary sanctions on a number of students, including expulsion, suspension, and probation.

In their letter, the MESA leaders said Vanderbilt’s actions contradicted its avowed commitment to respect students’ rights to freedom of speech and academic freedom, as well as the democratic procedures of student self-government. They called on Vanderbilt’s administration to rescind the cancellation of the referendum, review the disciplinary actions fairly, and reaffirm the university’s commitment to respecting free speech and academic freedom on issues like the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Iraqi Student Designs Instant Assistance Device for Visually Impaired People

A master’s thesis prepared by a student at Al-Nahrain University’s College of Information Engineering, in Iraq, describes how to design and deploy a device that provides instant assistance for the visually impaired, using object recognition technology.

According to a statement from Iraq’s Ministry of Higher Education, the student, Hawraa Kamel Abbas, focused her research on designing a lightweight, real-time assistiance tool that visually impaired can carry with them to identify various objects. The design seeks to identify nearby individuals and convey this information audibly to the user. It can also be programmed to read text signs and pedestrian traffic signals and convey that information to the user.

Bulletin: For Gaza’s Children, a Cruel Eid, says Birzeit U.; Damascus U. Advises Researchers on Correct Citations
Part of the discussion of a master’s thesis at Al-Nahrain University in Iraq to design an immediate assistant for the blind (Iraqi Ministry of Higher Education).

Damascus U. Advises Researchers on Proper Citations in Publications

Syria’s Damascus University has issued guidance for researchers who publish scientific papers externally, reminding them of the importance of accurately indicating their academic affiliation within the institution.

In a statement, the university said that failing to cite this information incorrectly could mean the work will not be properly indexed in global research databases, which would reflect negatively on both the researcher and the university. The guidance applies to both professors and graduate students who publish externally. It provides examples of the correct method for indicating the researcher’s academic body within Damascus University, including its colleges, teaching hospitals, and institutes.

Egypt Gears Up for National Contest for Young Innovators

Egypt’s Innovators Support Fund (ISF), in collaboration with the Egyptian Ministry of Education, has completed training for coordinators of innovation clubs across the country in preparation for the National Youth Innovators Competition.

According to a statement from the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research, the coordinators learned how to oversee club activities and mentor students involved in the competition, which the ISF’s iClub will host under the protocol of cooperation between the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research, and the Ministry of Education and Technical Education.

This initiative is part of the Egyptian government’s endeavours to identify and nurture innovative and talented students in the domains of science and technology.

From Al-Fanar Media:

67 Arab Universities Included in 2024 QS Rankings by Subject 

The latest edition of the QS World University Rankings by Subject features 67 universities from 12 Arab countries. These subject-specific rankings are a part of the annual QS World University Rankings series published by QS Quacquarelli Symonds, a British higher-education analytics company. The 2024 subject listings analyse the performance of 16,400 individual academic programmes across 56 subjects at over 1,500 universities worldwide. Among these rankings are 477 programmes from the Arab region, with 56 of them ranking within the top 100 globally for their subject. Read more in this article.

Artificial Intelligence:

Resistance and Fear Are Main Obstacles to AI in Arab Universities, Experts Say

Fears of job losses and resistance to change are the main obstacles to artificial intelligence in Arab universities, Arab experts said in a recent Al-Fanar Media panel discussion titled “Arab Universities and Artificial Intelligence: Current Questions and Future Challenges”. The challenges also include moral dilemmas, Mousa said. “There could be ethical challenges ahead of us because AI primarily deals with data, … including the data of university students and teachers. This raises privacy concerns.” More details can be found in this story. Or you replay the full session here. 

In Conflict: 

Gaza Students Continue Studies Online through West Bank Universities

Palestinian officials have launched a plan to let students of Gaza’s heavily war-damaged universities enrol in online courses at universities in the West Bank. The Palestinian Ministry of Higher Education said the plan would allow Gazan students whose educations have been disrupted by the Israel-Hamas war to resume their studies at institutions in the West Bank. The ministry plans to enrol Gazans as visiting students in universities in the West Bank at no cost. Read more in this article

Women’s Empowerment: 

Project Aims to Help Women Attain Key Positions in Higher Education

Universities in Lebanon, Algeria and Tunis are participating in a project called WE4LEAD (Women’s Empowerment for Leadership and Equity in Higher Education Institutions), which aims to promote a culture of gender equality and increase the number of women in key positions. Universities in Spain, France and Italy are also participating. A glass ceiling that women impose on themselves, out of doubt of their own abilities, is part of the problem, says Nada Moghaizel Nasr, an emeritus dean at Saint Joseph University of Beirut. Women have to “really prove themselves” to access high positions, much more so than men, she adds. Read more in this article.

Opinion: 

Audiobooks in Arabic: YouTube Channels that Unlock Worlds

If you love books but have a busy schedule that limits your time for reading, audiobooks may be the answer. Our correspondent Gilgamesh Nabeel writes that audiobooks were a game changer for him, particularly when it comes to devouring novels. Audiobooks provide a convenient way to enjoy literature while multitasking or during moments when sitting down with a physical book isn’t feasible, he says. In this article, Nabeel presents a curated list of YouTube channels that offer a vast collection of audiobooks in Arabic.

Scholarships

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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