Health and wellbeing

Health and wellbeing is one of three thematic priorities for research at the University of Birmingham Dubai. Discover how we seek to address major issues of healthy societies and policy towards wellbeing through its projects, centres and networks.


Early Childhood Authority (ECA)

child looking at abacus

An investigation of key lifestyle domains and their link to obesity, attention, social and academic outcomes in early childhood in Abu Dhabi: A mixed methods study. A cross-campus multidisciplinary collaboration between School of Psychology (5 researchers) and School of Education (3 researchers). Led by Dr Rasha Bayoumi (UAE) and Dr Isabel Morales-Muñoz (UK), this £100,000 project is part of a AED 6.65 million investment from the ECA into 14 research grants, aimed at enhancing early childhood development (ECD) in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.

Find out more about the ECA’s investment into ECD research projects

Disability in the Arts, Jordan

adults and a child looking at art in a gallery

The research project and exhibition led by Dr Sarah Benson, University of Birmingham Dubai, in collaboration with Dr Mayada Al-Natour, University of Jordan, sought to remove stigma for young people with disabilities in Jordan. Six disabled young people in Jordan were provided with cameras to photograph and document their day-to-day lived experiences. The group’s art was exhibited Exhibition at the Jordan National Gallery of Art in March 2023, titled ‘Through Our Eyes’. Funded by the Disability Under Siege Network, the project promotes inclusive education for children with disabilities in conflict-affected countries. It unites researchers, educators, advocacy organisations, and disability-led groups from the UK and the Middle East. Discover more about the ‘Through Our Eyes’ project

Discover more about the ‘Through Our Eyes’ project

Economics of Non-Communicable diseases (NCDs)


Led by Dr Khalifa Elmusharaf, the research projects delve into the economics of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), with a keen emphasis on understanding the economic burdens posed by NCDs, while also shedding light on the potential economic advantages that arise from investing in NCD prevention and control. Our focus centres predominantly on policy and clinical interventions within primary healthcare settings. At its core, this research initiative is designed to provide decision-makers and stakeholders with insights into the economic landscape of NCDs. Through meticulous research methodologies, extensive collaborations with ministries of health, and esteemed entities such as the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the World Health Organization (WHO), the project aims to pave a path toward well-informed policy formulation, efficient resource allocation, and an overarching enhancement of societal well-being across the Eastern Mediterranean Region. Al Jazeera News has provided full coverage for one of our publications. This recognition highlights the relevance of our work in addressing the critical health and economic challenges prevalent within the region.

Explore our publications

Population genomics and human diversity in the Middle East

Genetic code, wheat and camels

The project uses large scale genomic sequencing and health data to investigate human ancestry, traits, and diseases in the Middle East. Led by Dr Marc Haber, the research adopts a multidisciplinary approach by combining genetics and bioinformatics along with health data science and other disciplines such as anthropology, archaeology and linguistics. All these subjects are combined to explore the human genome from an evolutionary perspective, showing how past events shaped human genetic diversity including disease-variants. The results from this work aim to decrease the disparity of ethnic representation in genetic studies and improve human health globally. 

Latest findings:

Enhancing web accessibility for autistic users

Dr. Shereen Sharaan collaborated with the global technology group 'e&' and autistic individuals in the United Arab Emirates to create 'Wider Web' (2021); a free-of-cost, open-source web extension carrying 9 accessibility features that aim to re-design the web to be more autistic-friendly. Features include disable pop-up ads, disable video autoplay, personalized colors, personalized fonts, uniform icons, simplified layout, hover-to-view content, a timer, and an AI summariser.

An overview of 'e&', including it's features and their benefits.

Co-funded by the University of Birmingham and Emirates College for Advanced Education, and in collaboration with Special Olympics UAE, Dr. Shereen Sharaan led an independent research evaluation of 'Wider Web' (desktop version) (2023). Findings demonstrated that 'Wider Web' significantly improved web accessibility for autistic individuals - providing a supportive environment for learning, studying, and connecting with others online. Following these positive research findings, e& invested in a mobile version of 'Wider Web' (2024), offering uninterrupted access to 'Wider Web', at any time and everywhere, from the palm of one's hand.  

“It is amazing how this single extension addresses aspects of autism awareness, acceptance, appreciation, and empowerment. The web can easily become overwhelming to many web users on the autism spectrum. Newly launched and evaluated technologies like 'Wider Web' can empower autistic users to experience the web in a way that caters to their individual sensory and information processing needs.” - Dr. Shereen Sharaan 

Download the free and open source 'Wider Web' browser extension


Centre for Inclusion Studies (CIS)

The Centre for Inclusion Studies (CIS) aims to address University, global and regional priorities that support persons of determination in schools and communities. CIS will host speakers, facilitate discussions and convene multidisciplinary teams of researchers to lead on the fthemes of Inclusion for life; Impact of Inclusion; Intersections of Inclusion and Exclusion.

Explore the Centre for Inclusion Studies


Memory, cultures, societies, and heritage

Memory, cultures, societies, and heritage is an interdisciplinary network which aims to explore how the social, political and cultural changes continue to shape the memory of communities their heritage, culture and identities in the present. The network is a hub for a community of scholars and researchers to instigate a cross-disciplinary discussions and collaboration about blended studies of history, cultures and heritage and to disseminate research work.

Find out more about the memory, cultures, societies, and heritage network

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