New Book Assesses the Middle East’s Growing “Knowledge Economy”

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New Book Assesses the Middle East’s Growing “Knowledge Economy”

Research Report Investigates the Region’s Capacity to Speed Development Through International Higher Education

For Immediate Release
June 15, 2010

NEW YORK, NY– A new book from the Institute of International Education (IIE), a world leader in the international exchange of students and scholars, examines the focus of the governments of several Middle Eastern countries on education as a central feature of national development policies. Innovation Through Education: Building the Knowledge Economy in the Middle East contains chapters written by thought leaders from the United States and the Middle East. It comes at a time when many new exciting initiatives are taking place in region, such as the opening of King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), the development of NYU Abu Dhabi, and the convening of major new global gatherings such as Qatar Foundation’s World Innovation Summit for Education and the Education Without Borders Forum produced by the UAE’s Higher Colleges of Technology. The book looks at aspirations within the region to build human capacity through increased access to higher education, and examines new models for higher education opportunities. The new book is the latest in a series of timely reports published through a partnership between IIE and the American Institute For Foreign Study (AIFS) Foundation.
Authors from a wide range of organizations describe and analyze current innovations, trends, and issues that countries and institutions in the Middle East are facing as they move toward educational reform and development in both Gulf and non-Gulf states. The book addresses institutional planning in the region, branch campuses in the UAE and Qatar, women’s education, youth exchange, Arabic language education, and more, and offers a contemporary examination of role of global education in building the knowledge economy in the Middle East. It also provides an overview of exchange projects between Middle Eastern countries and the United States.

Innovation Through Education is the fourth book in the Global Education Research Reports series from IIE and the AIFS Foundation. Previous books have examined higher education initiatives and exchanges in China and India, as well as new developments in global mobility.

Authors of the chapters in Innovation Through Education represent the diverse perspectives of leaders in higher education, government, and the corporate sector in both the United States and Middle East. IIE CEO Allan Goodman and AIFS CEO Bill Gertz wrote forewords to the book. Chapter authors include: Jamil Salmi, World Bank; Daniel Kirk, Gulf Comparative Education Society, Spencer Witte, Ishtirak; Robert G. Ayan Jr., Cambridge Advisors LLC; Hana A. El-Ghali, Qianyi Chen, and John L. Yeager, University of Pittsburgh; Haifa Reda Jamal Al-Lail, Effat University; Sherifa M.B.E. Fayez, AFS Egypt, and Dan Prinzing, Idaho Human Rights Education Center; Jerome Bookin-Weiner, AMIDEAST, and Ahmad Majdoubeh, University of Jordan; and Norman J. Peterson and Yvonne M. Rudman, Montana State University. The book was edited by Daniel Obst, Deputy Vice President for International Partnerships at IIE, and Daniel Kirk, Founding President of the Gulf Comparative Education Society. (Table of contents following release.)
Innovation Through Education has been produced by IIE’s new Center for International Partnerships in Higher Education, with funding from the AIFS Foundation. It is one of several IIE initiatives targeted at strengthening higher education bonds between the U.S. and Middle East. IIE delivers programs in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region that reach more than 7,000 students, scholars, and professionals. As a result of the Institute’s partnerships with corporations, governments, ministries, foundations, and the U.S. government, thousands of students, scholars, and professionals from the region have gained access to the world’s leading higher education and training programs.

In academic year 2008/09, more than 29,000 international students from the Middle East were studying in the United States, an increase of more than 17% over the previous year, according to IIE’s 2009 Open Door Report on International Educational Exchange, supported by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State. More than 3,300 students from the U.S. received credit for studying abroad in the Middle East in academic year 2007/08, an increase of more than 21% over the previous year.

IIE-administered programs in the MENA region have wide-ranging and tangible impact. They help to build capacity through training in science and technology, youth leadership development projects and women’s empowerment initiatives. IIE partners with the U.S. Department of State, and with universities such as KAUST and NYU Abu Dhabi, energy companies like Exxon Mobil, and technology companies like Microsoft to serve the region’s need for international education and training.

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The Institute of International Education is a world leader in the international exchange of people and ideas. An independent, nonprofit organization founded in 1919, IIE has network of over 20 offices worldwide and over 1,000 member institutions. IIE designs and implements programs of study and training for students, educators, young professionals and trainees from all sectors with funding from government agencies, foundations, and corporations. IIE also conducts policy research and program evaluations, and provides advising and counseling on international education and opportunities abroad.

The American Institute For Foreign Study (AIFS) Foundation, an independent, not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) tax exempt public charity, was established in 1967 to help young people from many nations and diverse cultures to better understand one another. The AIFS Foundation provides grants to high schools and institutions to encourage international and educational travel. The AIFS Foundation also sponsors the Academic Year in America (AYA) program, which enables international teenage students to live with an American host family while attending the local high school.

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Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania is an award winning former Chicago City Hall reporter and Columnist who began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He covered Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992 (Mayor Daley to Mayor Daley) and has expanded to writing for newspapers around the world focussed on Middle East and American politics.

Hanania loves to write about American Arabs in politics, and focuses on Arab life in America.

Currently, he writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at He writes on American politics for the Des Plaines Valley News, Southwest News-Herald, The Regional News newspaper and the Reporter Newspapers. He also writes for the online websites and (Illinois News Network at

Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Hanania began in journalism as an activist publishing Chicago’s first English-language American Arab Newspaper “The Middle Eastern Voice” from 1975 through 1977. In 1976, he was hired by the Chicago community newspaper The Southtown Economist (Daily Southtown) and in 1985 was hired by the Chicago Sun-Times and covered Chicago City Hall for both. In 1993, he launched the “The Villager” Newspapers which covered 12 Southwest Chicagoland suburban regions. In 2004, he published “The National Arab American Times” monthly newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East ethnic food stores in 48 American States.

Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media;In 2009, he received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. Hanania has also received two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild, and in 1990 was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.

Hanania’s writings have been published in newspapers around the world. Formerly syndicated by Creators Syndicate, Hanania also has written news, features and Opinion Columns for Al Jazeera English, the Jerusalem Post,, Arab News, Saudi Gazette, Newsday in New York, the Orlando Sentinel, the Houston Chronicle, The Daily Star, the News of the World, the Daily Yomimuri in Tokyo, Chicago Magazine, the Arlington Heights Daily Herald, and Aramco Magazine. His political columns are published in the Southwest News-Herald and Des Plaines Valley News, Regional News and Palos Reporter newspapers in Chicagoland. Hanania is the President/CEO of Urban Strategies Group media and public affairs consulting which has clients in Illinois, Florida, Michigan and Washington D.C.

Hanania is Palestinian Christian from prominent Bethlehem and Jerusalem families. His wife and son are Jewish and he performs standup comedy lampooning Arab-Jewish relations, advocating for peace based on non-violence, mutual recognition and Two-States.

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