Hosting several high-profile global events, the Middle East is fast becoming one of the most happening places on the planet. However, education may not be the first thing that would come into our minds when thinking of the Middle East. In fact, the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region that comprises 21 countries with a combined population of over 400 million – over 60% of which are under the age of 24 – has been an exporter of students. Now, the situation is changing. With the building of world-class universities and attracting international students worldwide, the Middle East is one of the fastest-growing regions for international education today.
Middle Eastern universities welcome a large population of international students every year. Most international students come from North America and enter programs to study public health, political science, public policy, and medicine. In fact, cities such as Dubai, Doha, and Riyadh even have a higher concentration of international students than local students. Unlike western countries, the universities in the Middle East are young and technology-driven and do not stick to conventions. For instance, Hamdan Bin Mohammed Smart University, the first smart university in the United Arab Emirates, is committed to instigating a culture of quality, innovation, and research through smart learning, emphasising the academic disciplines of business, quality management, education, healthcare and environment.
In this issue, we feature Dr Mansoor Al Awar, Chancellor, Hamdan Bin Mohammed Smart University (HBMSU), on the cover. In a conversation with Higher Education Digest, Dr Al Awar talks about Hamdan Bin Mohammed Smart University’s vision, learning approach, plans and much more. We have also included several insightful articles by industry experts and academic leaders who share their views on goalball education scenarios, with a particular focus on the Middle East’s higher education system.