Middle East

Qatar scholarship

From left to right: Linda Angell, Director, International Exchange Office, American University of Sharjah, Hoda Abdel Gawad, Professor Sahar Ahmer with two audience members

The recently appointment Chair of the Department of Arabic Language and Cultures at the University of Sydney (formerly, the Department of Arabic and Islamic Studies), Professor Sahar Amer joined the Sydney focused delegation to Qatar and UAE whose goal was partly to create new university links for the Department of Arabic Language and Cultures where students can undertake cultural and language immersion programs. The trip consisted of meetings with various administrative and academic personnel in Arabic language and cultures at five universities in the Gulf (Qatar University; University of UAE-Al Ain; Zayed University-Dubai; the American University of Sharjah; and New York University in Abu Dhabi). These meetings proved to be extremely productive in initiating conversations between the University of Sydney and universities in the Gulf and are on the way to leading to significant linkages for student study abroad opportunities, faculty exchange, teaching collaborations, and research partnerships.

We are especially pleased to announce that as a result of our meetings, the University of Qatar has generously offered the Department of Arabic Language and Cultures at the University of Sydney five scholarships to be awarded, at our discretion, to students wishing to spend three weeks of intensive Arabic language study in Qatar. These scholarships cover tuition, accommodation, meals, transport from the dorms to the university, as well as roundtrip transfers to and from the airport in Doha. Students from the University of Sydney will only be responsible for their airfare and personal expenses.

This very exciting opportunity, and the first study abroad initiative to be developed in the Department of Arabic Language and Cultures, has been received with great enthusiasm by students studying Arabic at all levels. Within just two days of announcing the scholarship competition, the Department received a dozen applications for five spots.

In addition, during the successful delegation to Qatar and the UAE, Professor Amer was also invited to give two lectures and lead discussions around her recently published book, What Is Veiling? (published by Edinburgh University Press, 2014 and distributed in Australia through NewSouth Books). These lectures were given at the University of UAE-Al Ain and at the American University of Sharjah were followed by a book signing and led to important conversations geared toward developing future research linkages between the University of Sydney and these Universities in the Gulf.

Discussions have already begun with a faculty at the University of UAE-Al Ain to develop teaching collaborations through videoconferencing, and to work on research projects of mutual interest, specifically on the evolving status of gender minorities in contemporary Arabic literature. Other ongoing discussions are taking place with New York University in Abu Dhabi, as well as with their satellite campus in Sydney.