A group of people standing in a line in front of the University of Birmingham Dubai logo
Members of the Middle East research network meeting at the University of Birmingham Dubai

The decision to set up the Dubai campus reflects the interest of the university to have strategic presence in an important area such as the Middle East. Historically speaking, although the University of Birmingham is famous for its Islamic studies, Middle Eastern studies has been a lacking field in Birmingham.

This is in contrast to other Russell group Universities such as Oxford, Exeter, Durham, and London where Middle Eastern studies have been always very strong and established. Hence, the opening of the campus in Dubai is a welcoming addition to the study of Middle Eastern history and politics.

 Last summer, Professor Dina Kiwan, from the Department of Education, Edgbaston campus, initiated a consultation process on the possibility of establishing a society that include experts on the Middle East within both campuses. The result was the birth of the so-called Middle East network.

The purpose of the network is to raise the research profile of the Dubai campus, and to increase cooperation between the two campuses in order to target external funding on major issues related to the Middle Eastern region.

The network met twice online in the autumn of 2023 and agreed to initiate a serious of workshops to maximise the research strategy of the Dubai campus but also benefit the University as a whole in terms of engagement, impact, high quality publications and grant income generation.

In cooperation between Professor Dina Kiwan, Professor of Comparative Education, and deputy Director of Research and Knowledge Transfer, College of Social Sciences, Edgbaston Campus and Dr Rasha Bayoumi, Associate Professor of Psychology and Head of Research (Dubai).

The first workshop took place in Dubai on 12 of February 2024; it was supported and funded by the IGI/IAS. The head of the latter personally attended the workshop in Dubai. The theme of the meeting was entitled : “Inclusive citizenship future in the Middle East”. The workshop were structured into three panels:

  • Inclusive Environments
  • AI, Migration, Humanitarianism and Securitisation
  • Narrative Identities

Most Colleges  were represented and the topics discussed reflected the interdisciplinary nature of the research papers that dealt with various key challenges facing Middle Eastern countries. Dr Haifaa Jawad, represented the department of Theology and Religion, Edgbaston. Her paper entitled “A Common Word, an Inclusive Framework for Interfaith Relations” was presented within the context of the Inclusive Environments panel. Apart from the deep intellectual discussion of the research papers, that brought new ideas and research proposals, the workshop cemented the relationship between researchers from both campuses and set the scene for future Middle Eastern studies on both campuses.

Haifaa Jawad