A two-day workshop hosted by the Beirut office of the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies in conjunction with the Lebanese Committee for Pedagogy last week brought together Arab scholars to study the institution of public sector Arab universities. “State Sector Universities in the Arab Countries: a Historical Perspective”, held on December 8-9 in the Lebanese capital, brought together an audience of 20 scholars to hear papers delivered by 11 authors, each of whom discussed an individual, state sector university in the Arab world.

The papers at the meeting charted the emergence of state sector universities in the Arab region beginning with the very first, the University of Damascus, in 1918 and through to the establishment of the Yemen’s University of Sanaa and Oman’s Sultan Qaboos University in the early 1970s. The papers were intended to highlight the legal and administrative repercussions for the establishment of state-supported universities by Arab governments, and to study the expansion of public sector education altered Arab society. In the process, the authors explore how the creation of these universities interplayed with the wider socioeconomic contexts in which these institutions took root, particularly the rise of student politicization, from the beginnings of anti-colonialism in the wake of the First World War to the advent of oil wealth in the later part of the century.

Individuals who presented papers at the workshop and the universities they focused on were Mohamed Deifallah, whose paper was focused on the University of Tunis; Mohammed El Farran, the Mohammed V University of Morocco; Adnan El Amine, who studied the Lebanese University; Abdulmonem Mohammed Othman, whose paper was on Khartoum University; Kamal Mughaith,  Cairo University; Ammar Al Samar, Damascus University; Nassim Barham, the University of Jordan; Mohammed Saleh Faraj Raheel, the University of Benghazi; Fauzi Ayoub, Kuwait University; Saif Bin Nasser Al Maamari, Sultan Qaboos University of Oma; and Tareq Abdullah Mujahed, whose paper examined the case of the University of Sanaa.

To read a more complete version of this report in Arabic, please click here.