RALEIGH, North Carolina — Often in the news, conflicts in the Middle East tend to take center stage in news about the region. However, education in the Middle East is ripe with entrepreneurial spirit. Students participate in programs ranging from technology to healthcare, from summer programs to online courses. The region’s geographic location also lends itself to make positive improvements in global health research.
Palestinians and Israelis Become Leaders in Technology
A joint venture between the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Middle Eastern high school students in Israel who want to enhance their knowledge of the technology industry, the Middle Eastern Education through Technology (MEET) initiative uses technology to bring together Israeli and Palestinian students. MEET uses a three-year curriculum in technology and innovation to foster cooperation between Israeli and Palestinian students.
The initiative includes two phases: an academic component and a project component in which students complete programming and entrepreneurial projects. More than a decade after its inception, MEET continues to turn out graduates who affect positive change in the region.
Proximity to Global Health Research
The geographic location of higher education institutions in the Middle East is beneficial for the country’s impact in technology and innovation. Being close to Asia and Africa, where high impact global health research is taking place, is a natural advantage for the Middle East.
With a high burden of chronic diseases and infectious diseases, the Middle East has the opportunity to focus on innovations in health care. At the intersection of culture, religion and language, the greater Middle East can capitalize on global health research with a focus on quality research and care for all citizens.
First Arabic Massive Open Online Course
Professor Hossam Haick of Israel’s Technion University began teaching the first massive open online course (MOOC) in Arabic on the subject of nanotechnology. More than 4,500 students have registered from Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Kuwait, Algeria, Morocco, Sudan, Tunisia, Yemen, the United Arab Emirates and the West Bank.
The 10-class course consists of three to four short lecture videos in both Arabic and English, and anyone can participate for free in the course, entitled “Nanotechnology and Nanosensors.” Also included in the course is the students’ reaction to Haick’s background. When they found out the professor was an Israeli Arab, some students unregistered from the course. However, most decided to stay and take the course, attesting to the eagerness to learn that embodies students in the Middle East.
With many educational options for students to pursue, the Middle East is becoming a global center for entrepreneurship and innovation. Five schools and universities in the Middle East made the London magazine Times Higher Education’s list of “100 Universities That Are Just 50 Years Old or Younger,” showing that the education sector in the Middle East is emerging and progressing towards education levels in the West.