Northwestern Qatar

2021-22 Annual Report

A Year in Review

Advancing Research on the Global South

The Institute for Advanced Study in the Global South (#IAS_NUQ), a new research institute at Northwestern University in Qatar, is focusing on producing and promoting research on the histories, cultures, societies, and media of the Global South. Emphasizing the importance of evidence-based storytelling, Northwestern Qatar’s Dean and CEO, Marwan M. Kraidy, said that the Institute will “amplify the reach and impact of our faculty and student research and media making and enhance our reputation as a distinctive contributor to Northwestern University, the Qatar Foundation, and knowledge more broadly.”

Kraidy said he founded the Institute to mitigate the underrepresentation of researchers and creators from the Global South in global knowledge production. Many stories about Qatar, the Arab world, and the Global South are told by authors, researchers, and journalists in the West. The local creation of globally relevant knowledge and the establishment of South-to-South intellectual, creative, and educational exchanges are vital to successful knowledge-based societies and sustainable communities. With partners like the Qatar Foundation and the Buffett Institute for Global Affairs at Northwestern, #IAS_NUQ will be transformative in positioning Northwestern Qatar to shape our understanding of the world.

#IAS_NUQ will initially focus on four broad themes—Ways of Knowing in the Global South; Geopolitics, Information, and Culture; The Global Future; and Media Work in the Global South—and will also have a multilingual and multimodal press. “Any research about the Global South produced by the Institute will be disseminated in Arabic and English, and at least a third language of relevance. Our multi-lingual outputs will also be multimodal, making full use of digital technologies to broaden our reach and deepen our impact,” said Kraidy.

“The future of education is global, interdisciplinary, and digital. The Institute for Advanced Study in the Global South positions Northwestern Qatar at the forefront of shaping that future.”

Marwan M. Kraidy


Dean’s Global Forum Highlights Arab Women in the Media and Academia

Amal Mohammed Al-Malki, founding dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at Hamad bin Khalifa University, was this year’s speaker at the Dean’s Global Forum. A women’s studies scholar and author of Arab Women in Arab News: Old Stereotypes and New Media, Al-Malki discussed her personal and professional experiences and observations of Arab women working in the media and public eye in a conversation with Dean and CEO, Marwan M. Kraidy.

Al-Malki said that it was her personal “quest for identity” that inspired her to pursue a career in academia. Reflecting on the early stages of her career, Al-Malki recalled that at the time, “it was unheard of to hire Qatari faculty. They doubted my ability to enter and compete on a national level.” She explained that she managed to turn that doubt into an empowering tool and paved the way to where she is today, a leader in higher education.

In emphasizing the need to include women in the discourse, Al-Malki told the audience that the most empowering thing educators can do to ensure that a gender perspective is embedded in society is to continue to “teach, raise awareness, and show them the possibilities.”

The Dean’s Global Forum at Northwestern University in Qatar is a series of lectures that features eminent leaders from academe, the media, the arts, and public affairs. An annual event at Northwestern Qatar, the forum features diverse leaders making an impact in the world in conversation with Dean Kraidy, where they discuss enduring issues and pressing global matters.

Video: Dean's Global Forum

Northwestern’s Riles Addresses Class of 2025

Annelise Riles, executive director of the Roberta Buffett Institute for Global Studies and associate provost for global affairs at Northwestern University, welcomed the school’s 13th incoming class as the convocation speaker.

Highlighting the importance of interdisciplinary research and collaborative efforts in finding solutions to pressing global issues, Riles emphasized that “the new genius is a collaborative genius” and went on to task the new class with being open to collaborating and engaging in new discoveries beyond their areas of interest and expertise.

Pointing to the current challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and other global crises, Riles noted that “in moments of serious disruptions like our own, it is critical for us all to create spaces for acknowledging the unknowns, for wondering, and for tinkering, too.”

Convocation 2021
“The new genius is a collaborative genius.”

Annelise Riles


One Book Spotlights Contemporary Refugee Experience

Students, faculty, and staff at Northwestern Qatar examined the contemporary refugee experience through this year’s campus-wide One Book read, Refuge. The novel follows the journey of an eight-year-old Iranian girl, Niloo, as she transforms from a young refugee into a Westerner.

Refuge was written by internationally celebrated Iranian American writer Dina Nayeri, who joined students, faculty, and staff in a virtual discussion.

Discussing how the novel weaves in aspects of her personal experience as a refugee, Nayeri, who was just a child when she fled Iran with her mother and brother, explained how the novel resembles her struggle with displacement, which has long been part of her private life. In writing Refuge, she said that fictionalizing characters and scenarios made her focus on “moments in the arch of migration that aren’t as explored … and on the different parts of my experience that were perhaps not so central if I was to write a memoir.”

Designed to engage the community in a shared experience that promotes critical thinking and interdisciplinary learning, the One Book program invites students, faculty, and staff to read the selected novel and participate in a series of related programs and activities that include book clubs, classroom discussions, and a visit and reading from the author.

Nayeri is the winner of the Geschwister-Scholl-Preis and finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, Kirkus Prize, and Elle Grand Prix des Lectrices. She joins a list of writers who addressed Northwestern Qatar as part of the One Book program, including Palestinian novelist Hala Alyan, author of Salt Houses, and Omani writer Jokha Alharthi, author of Celestial Bodies.

Hiwar Speaker Series Hosts Series of Experts on Global Issues

Northwestern Qatar’s Hiwar Speaker Series hosted investigative reporter Dean Starkman, Syrian activist and filmmaker Hassan Akkad, and dean of the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs, Amaney A. Jamal, this year.

In a conversation moderated by Professor Eddy Borges-Rey, Dean Starkman, investigative reporter and senior editor at the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), drew from his experience with ICIJ’s Pandora Papers project to examine how, despite funding challenges, investigative reporters are collaborating to uncover the corruption of government leaders and billionaires around the world. Cooperation between journalists, he added, is a tool to maximize the impact of their work and to share resources and expertise. “[Cooperation] works, it’s very impactful, and can make a difference around the world,” said Starkman.

The Pandora Papers, which Starkman edited, are leaked documents that exposed secret offshore accounts of world leaders, including current and former presidents, prime ministers, and heads of state, as well as more than 100 billionaires, celebrities, and business leaders.

Starkman explained how global financial systems are enabling private individuals globally to evade taxes and avoid accountability by setting up multinational corporations in tax havens in the Caribbean and offshore jurisdictions. With leaks linking senior government officials and public figures from around the world to these accounts, he said, “the findings expose the ubiquity of the [global financial] system and why it is impossible now to talk about offshore as though it is something remote, or far away.”

Video: Hiwar Speaker: Dean Starkman

Joining Professor Rana Kazkaz in a conversation, activist and filmmaker Hassan Akkad shared his experience as a filmmaker, hospital cleaner, activist—and now published author—in the years after fleeing the civil war in Syria.

Akkad, who was an English teacher in Damascus when the Arab Spring began, said the outbreak of the protests in Syria led to the start of his and many others’ political activism. He talked about his imprisonment under President Bashar al-Assad, pointing out that the goal of the regime was “to break your spirit, and they are really good at it.”

When Akkad realized that the Assad government would likely remain, he decided to leave Syria through Turkey with England as his ultimate destination. Crossing the Mediterranean from Turkey, he filmed the journey with 63 other refugees on a sinking boat that became part of the BAFTA-winning documentary Exodus: Our Journey to Europe.

After more than 80 days of traveling through Europe and several failed attempts to cross the Canal de Calais, he flew on a fake passport to London. “I felt I was physically safe and that nothing would happen again,” said Akkad. He went on to write a memoir of his experiences, Hope Not Fear: Finding My Way from Refugee to Filmmaker to NHS Hospital Cleaner and Activist, where he makes a case for triumph over adversity and for standing together and uniting in kindness.

Video: Hiwar Speaker: Hassan Akkad

Speaking on the future of democracy in the Arab world as a Hiwar Speaker, Amaney A. Jamal joined a conversation with Dean Marwan M. Kraidy, where they examined the US hegemony and its influence on the prospects of democratization in the Middle East.

Jamal, dean of the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs, is the Edwards S. Sanford professor of politics, and professor of politics and International Affairs at Princeton University. She is the former director of the Mamdouha S. Bobst Center for Peace and Justice and also directs the Workshop on Arab Political Development and the Bobst Center-American University of Beirut Collaborative Initiative.

Jamal shared insights from her book Of Empires and Citizens: Pro-American Democracy or No Democracy at All? to explain how US interest-driven policy in the Middle East, compounded with the failure of post-Arab Spring democratic initiatives to deliver economic benefits, has contributed to the stalling of the democratization process in the region.

The failure of elected governments to deliver the citizens’ aspirations of economic dignity, she said, contributed to the lack of enthusiasm for democracy. “It is crucial to grasp that most of the people who took to the streets in 2011 were motivated not just by a desire for liberty but also by intense frustration with the material conditions of their lives,” said Jamal. “Arabs crave freedom and justice—but if democracy does not also deliver bread, Arabs will back political systems that do.”

Video: Hiwar Speaker: Amaney Jamal

New Minors Expand the University’s Offerings

Northwestern Qatar expanded its academic program with three new minors, including strategic communication, Africana Studies, and film and design, offering students a wider range of academic programs to pursue.

The minor in strategic communication is designed to give students real-world experience and prepare them to work in strategic communication jobs across the industry. Students enrolled in the program take courses focusing on the fundamentals of strategic communication, giving them a holistic understanding of the concepts and practice of the profession through conceptual learning and hands-on applications, including discussions, case studies, opportunities for interactions with practitioners, talks, and industry-sponsored student competitions.

Students interested in studying African communities and cultures can now pursue a minor in Africana Studies, which is offered in collaboration with Georgetown University in Qatar. The program, which includes interdisciplinary and cross-cultural teaching and research on the histories, cultures, economies, politics, and languages of Africans in Africa, will provide students with a critical understanding of African identities and struggles both within the African continent and in global contexts.

The minor in film and design is offered in collaboration with Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts in Qatar and the Doha Film Institute. It will provide students interested in pursuing careers in media and design industries with the skills to craft impactful visual narratives using traditional and emerging technologies. From core courses in film and design to electives in acting and set and sound design, the program addresses the increasing demand for creative professionals with advanced knowledge of the art and science of visual storytelling.

Kazkaz Shares Making of The Translator at Northwestern University in Qatar Screening

Professor and award-winning writer and director Rana Kazkaz screened her film, The Translator, for the Northwestern Qatar community. Kazkaz shared with the audience how the protests in Syria led her to embark on a 10-year process of making her first feature-length thriller.

The film follows the story of a Syrian translator living in exile in Australia who returns to Syria when his activist brother is taken prisoner by the Assad regime during the 2011 protests. Since its release in 2020, the film has premiered in several countries, including France and the US, and has been featured in numerous international film festivals and film societies, including the Institut Du Monde Arabe in Paris.

Following the screening, Kazkaz was joined by Professor João Queiroga for a conversation about the film. Kazkaz told the audience that at the outset of the protests in Syria, she was forced to leave the country as the unrest made her fear for her children’s safety. “People started looking at one another suspiciously immediately when you go out in the streets; friends and family stopped knowing how to talk to one another,” recalled Kazkaz.

But Kazkaz saw an opportunity in her plight. “We couldn’t talk about seeing one another but we could talk about making a movie,” she said. “Figuring out what kind of story we want to tell allowed us to be able to communicate again,” which inspired her to make The Translator.

As Kazkaz screens her film around the world, she is reminded of the violence in Syria and the fear that has been instilled in people. “The reality is that the Syrian government has to do nothing to keep the fear alive,” said Kazkaz, adding that she hopes her film encourages conversations about shared humanity and morality.

“Figuring out what kind of story we want to tell allowed us to be able to communicate again.”

Rana Kazkaz


#IAS_NUQ Launches a Critical Conversation Series on the Global South

The Institute for Advanced Study in the Global South hosted a new series, "Critical Conversations," that examined the notion of the Global South and its contemporary implications on scholarly research, journalistic practices, teaching, and the world at large.

At its inaugural event, Professors Banu Akdenizli, James Hodapp, and Marcela Pizarro discussed the notion of the Global South and its contemporary implications in a conversation moderated by Krishna Sharma, president of the Northwestern Qatar student body.

Akdenizli challenged the neoliberal understanding of the Global South and made a case to examine the notion beyond the binary divisions of South and North. Instead, she offered to look at the Global South as an “imagined transnational community, which is about challenging dominant voices of the world, especially in politics, and trying to formulate some alternatives to the existing status quo.”

Hodapp examined the history of the Global South as a notion and experience and its relevance to communities across the world. “The notion of the Global South has a genealogy, and there are many ways to construct that genealogy,” he said. “One of the most important ways to construct that is its relation to notions such as post-nationalism, cosmopolitanism, and related concepts like afropolitanism.”

Drawing from her Chilean family’s experience with displacement and her career as an international journalist, Pizarro explained how the Global South informs her work in the university and the newsroom. “It’s a useful compass,” said Pizarro, “it keeps me on my feet in the classroom, in the newsroom, on the picket line and the edit, at the protest, and on this academic panel.”

In the second installment of the series, Northwestern University in Qatar Professors Anto Mohsin, Jessica Winegar and Pablo J. Boczkowski reflected on their engagement with the Global South in a conversation moderated by Yasemin Celikkol, a global postdoctoral scholar at #IAS_NUQ.

Boczkowski, a professor of communication studies and founder of the Center for Latinx Digital Media, said the term Global South was both useful and highly problematic. It is useful, he said, because “it allows you to mark a certain distinction that needs to be marked, but in the process of doing [so], it lumps together ‘the other,’ and reinforces the othering of the other.”

Critical Conversations: Pablo Boczkowski

Winegar, a professor of anthropology who specializes in cultural politics, noted it was important to remember that the term Global South is both “embodied and relational,” highlighting that, while the term can be obfuscating, it is also useful as “a political solidarity project.”

Reflecting on his experience and views that shaped his understanding of the notion of the Global South, Mohsin explained what it means to him on a personal, intellectual, and pedagogical level. “Global South means voice, representation, and a series of attempts to equally contribute to knowledge production about the world,” he said.

The Institute for Advanced Study in the Global South, the flagship initiative by Northwestern University in Qatar, produces and promotes evidence-based research and storytelling focused on the histories, cultures, societies, and media of the Global South.

Critical Conversations: Northwestern Qatar Faculty

#IAS_NUQ Book Talk Series: Highlighting Global South Authors

The Institute for Advanced Study in the Global South at Northwestern University in Qatar (#IAS_NUQ) also inaugurated a new series that hosted authors and scholars from the Global South to discuss their work.

At the inaugural Book Talk event, Leah Jerop Komen, deputy director of research and postgraduate studies at Daystar University, examined the introduction of mobile technology in rural Kenya and how it has impacted the social and economic development of the communities adopting it. Komen drew insights from her book Mobile Assemblages and Maendeleo in Rural Kenya to explain how interactions between mobile telephone users in rural Kenya and their specific domestic contexts have created new ways of organizing and conducting everyday socio-economic activities, promoting co-presence and interpersonal communication, and enhancing kinship ties and social connectedness.

IAS_NUQ Book Talk - Komen

For its second event, #IAS_NUQ hosted author Ergin Bulut, associate professor in the department of media and visual arts at Koç University. Bulut examined the impact of labor practices on young developers and others in the video game industry. Drawing from his book A Precarious Game: The Illusion of Dream Jobs in the Video Game Industry, Bulut explained that working in the game industry has long been motivated by a passion for gaming and an ability to find pleasure in work. “The video game industry’s labor practices look quite ephemeral and immaterial,” said Bulut. “Work doesn’t feel like work. It’s fun. It’s about love.”

IAS_NUQ Book Talk - Bulut

The Institute for Advanced Study in the Global South, the flagship initiative by Northwestern University in Qatar, produces and promotes evidence-based research and storytelling focused on the histories, cultures, societies, and media of the Global South.

Students Master the Art of Digital Storytelling

Al Anood Al Wahaibi, Khalifa Al Kuwari, and Moom Tahinah are among the Northwestern Qatar students who are using digital storytelling across various media platforms to create trending digital and interactive media forms. Their work includes digital illustrations exploring the balance of rationality and emotions in human relationships, a story-driven mobile game, and drawings showcasing various elements of modern architecture.

Combining her interest in the arts and her digital illustrations, journalism senior Al Wahaibi is exploring how people balance emotions and intellect in their everyday lives. In one post, she uses an illustration that shows the impact of negative social norms on emotions, while another post highlights the importance of kindness in human relationships.

An avid gamer, sophomore Al Kuwari decided to experiment with game development after learning the technical aspects of mobile game design and methods by creating immersive media—merging core aspects of storytelling that he learned at Northwestern Qatar. “We [game community] like to settle into roleplaying, story-driven games, like the critically acclaimed Fallout series, or perhaps The Elder Scrolls series,” Al Kuwari explained.

Moom Tahinah uses her creative illustration skills to capture various elements of modern architecture. Her portfolio, which includes a series of creative drawings featuring buildings across Qatar, is “inspiring social media users to look at architectural design as an integral part of their relationships with buildings and spaces around them,” she added.

Museum Explores the Art and Science of Persuasion

An interactive exhibition at The Media Majlis at Northwestern University in Qatar explored the arts and sciences of persuasion by examining its omnipresence in various aspects of everyday life as well as the origin of the language and psychology of persuasive communication, from early television in Britain to contemporary media in the Middle East.

The exhibition, Unraveling Persuasion, featured three digital installations to help visitors understand how advertising and different forms of media, such as posters, social media, body language, speech, and sloganeering, enable the subjection of individuals and societies to political and social influence.

“Media, politics, language, culture, religion, and all aspects of our lives are influenced by the power of persuasion and influence us in turn,” said Pamela Erskine-Loftus, director of the Media Majlis. “Unraveling Persuasion delves deep into the history and theories of persuasive messaging to help visitors understand the power of persuasion and increase their awareness of its impact in influencing our behaviors and molding our perceptions of the world around us.”


#IAS_NUQ Examines New Approaches to Critical Security Studies

As its first public event, the Institute for Advanced Study in the Global South hosted a panel discussion examining new approaches to critical security studies from a Global South perspective. The panel was part of a workshop organized by the Arab Council for the Social Sciences Critical Security Studies Working Group.

With a lens from the Global South and an effort to decenter Euro-American security concerns, the panel discussed alternative directions in the study of critical security and explored political economies of violence, war economies, the intersections of military intervention, and preparedness for civilian emergencies, including other topics about critical security studies.

The panel was moderated by Sami Hermez, associate professor and director of the Liberal Arts Program at Northwestern Qatar, and the panelists included Omar Dahi, associate professor of economics at Hampshire College; Pete Moore, visiting professor at the Kuwait Program at Sciences Po at the Paris School for International Affairs; Sarah Parkinson, assistant professor of political science at Johns Hopkins University; and Matteo Capasso, Max Weber research fellow at European University Institute.

#IAS_NUQ Undergraduate Fellowships Prepare Global Scholars

Twelve student researchers from Northwestern University in Qatar have been selected for the Institute for Advanced Study in the Global South’s inaugural Global Undergraduate Fellowship program, which encourages students to pursue research projects focused on the Global South.

The 2022 Global Undergraduate Fellows are Khadija Ahmad, Raghdan Alhennawi, Abdulkarim Anisetty, Abenezer Bekele, Safae Daoudi, Théthé Ngalula Gwiza, Jessy Milena Kaligirw, Haris Malik, Xingyu Qin, Mbogo M. Samson, Karam Sleiman, and Mila Zhanat.

Working together with #IAS_NUQ mentors, the fellows will carry out a research project from start to finish, contributing to knowledge and storytelling relevant to the cultures, societies, and media of the Global South. Each fellow will produce a multilingual publication or multimedia piece that will be published by the Institute’s press, including multilingual research papers, digital publications, documentary films, an immersive virtual reality exhibit, and a video game.

“The local creation of globally relevant knowledge, and the establishment of South-to-South intellectual, creative, and educational exchanges, are vital to successful knowledge based-societies and sustainable communities,” said Marwan M. Kraidy, dean and CEO of Northwestern Qatar. “Our Global Undergraduate Fellowships provide student researchers from Northwestern Qatar with mentorship and funding to support them as they contribute to the production of knowledge from and about their communities.”

Overseeing the fellowship and mentoring program is #IAS_NUQ assistant director for research Clovis Bergère. Under his mentorship and with support from faculty advisers, the undergraduate fellows will turn their initial proposals into fully developed research projects, deepening their research skills while also having the opportunity to publish and produce scholarly outputs with the Institute’s press. Fellows will also present their research to the Northwestern Qatar community.

Focusing their research on the Global South, the students will explore diverse topics. One student, Théthé Ngalula Gwiza, a second-year student from Rwanda, will produce a documentary examining women’s empowerment initiatives in her country in the years after the genocide. “I was lucky enough to be born in an era where women started to be seen and given a voice which had not been the case before the genocide,” said Ngalula Gwiza, noting how the country has become a global model for women empowerment.

Multi-modal in their approach, the student research will be conducted and delivered in different forms of media. Aspiring artist Xingyu Qin, a third-year communication student, will work with fellow students at Northwestern Qatar to develop an interactive mobile game exploring aspects of Chinese culture embedded in Shi (poetry), a classical Chinese poetic tradition modeled after Old Chinese works. “We grow up in China learning poetry, but we don’t really know the historical background, or the life experiences of the poets that shaped their work,” said Qin. “I want to use this project to contextualize these works and bring more to those who might already know the poetry.”

The Institute for Advanced Study in the Global South, the flagship initiative by Northwestern University in Qatar, produces and promotes evidence-based research and storytelling focused on the histories, cultures, societies, and media of the Global South.

“The local creation of globally relevant knowledge, and the establishment of South-to-South intellectual, creative, and educational exchanges, are vital to successful knowledge-based societies and sustainable communities.”

Marwan M. Kraidy


Student Projects Recognized at Media and Research Awards

From course papers and research projects to films and extracurricular projects, the 2022 Media and Research Awards recognized Northwestern Qatar students’ outstanding journalistic and scholarly work across three main categories: Written Word, Moving Image, and Co-curricular Projects.

Among the projects recognized in this year’s awards ceremony was Clara, a fictional narrative film by Jannah Collado that showcases the negative emotional impacts of unrealistic women’s beauty and body standards. “My film sheds light on a subject that has impacted me personally and many teenagers and young women around the world,” said Collado. “This award is a recognition of the hard work my colleagues and I put into producing this film but, most importantly, it is an example of how the films produced by my colleagues and students, in general, can spark conversations on issues that haven't been getting the media attention they deserve.”

Highlighting the variety of topics and issues tackled by the projects submitted, Dean Marwan M. Kraidy said that the work they have done is “more than the awards and recognition they may receive. It is also a signal—a signal to the world—of the immense talent, imagination and intelligence that is present here—in our students at Northwestern University in Qatar.”

This year’s ceremony recognized five projects under the Written Word category, including To Dobrovna Anastasiia Nikolaevna by Hongji Feng (Creative Writing); JoeVincent So: Blue-Collar Fighter, White-Collar Preacher by Muhammad Wasay Mir (Journalistic Writing); T2 Creative Handbook by Muhammad Wasay Mir, Laiba Mubashar, Mishaal Shirazi, Safae Daoudi, and Sarah Shamim (Strategic Communication); Gendered Messages in the Handmaid’s Tale by Kayan Khraisheh (Research and Analysis—Humanities); and Compulsive Use of YouTube by Krishna Sharma, Temesgen Tewolde, and Sudesh Baniya (Research and Analysis—Social Science).

Projects recognized under the Moving Image category included Against All Odds, a documentary by Abdullah Imran, Menna Soliman, and Elyssa Gaddas; Clara, a narrative fiction by Jannah Collado, Mohammed Al-Khulaifi, and Habeeba Abdelhamid; and Melodies in Distance, a news package by Yanis Cherif. Under the Co-curricular Projects category, The Hidden Truth About Eating Disorders by Makeisha Amir was recognized with the Published News award and Love for Layla by Nur Munawarah and Aesha Hussein the best Funded Moving Image award.

Dean Kraidy Joins Global Scholarly Discussions

Drawing from his scholarship and research, Dean Marwan M. Kraidy was hosted in discussions to examine some of the world’s pressing issues—from the rise of soft power empires and the geopolitics of Turkish TV drama to the scholarship in the Global South and the media and communication landscape.

At a webinar hosted by the Department of Communication at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Kraidy joined Burcu Baykurt and Victoria de Grazia, co-editors of Soft-Power Internationalism: Competing for Cultural Influence in the 21st-Century Global Order, and global media scholars Paula Chakravartty and Maria Repnikova in discussing the use of media as a soft power tool for emerging global powers to project their influence.

In a keynote lecture titled “Deconstructing the Geopolitics of the Popular: Turkish Television Drama” at a workshop by Leiden University’s Lorentz Center, Kraidy examined the connections between geopolitics and national media industries in the context of the global reach and circulation of Turkish television drama, drawing insights from his book Reality Television and Arab Politics and field research.

Later in the spring semester, Kraidy delivered the keynote address of the Middle East Conference 2022, where he proposed a shift in the approach to Middle East studies. He highlighted the need for the discipline to be collaborative, multimodal, and multilingual and referenced the newly established Institute for Advanced Study in the Global South as a model that seeks to position Qatar, the Gulf, and the Arab world as a “nexus of flows of ideas, images, and people.”

Student Reporting Team Awarded Pulitzer Fellowships

A Northwestern Qatar student reporting team was selected for the Pulitzer Center Reporting Fellowships. Abdul Rahman Abid, Adan Ali, and Iffah Abid Kitchlew produced a documentary and photo series on Pakistan’s public waste management system and the health risks to workers in the informal waste disposal industry.

“Scrap collectors continue to be invisible and widely seen as the people who are just expendable—the people who collect our waste, when in fact the work they do is really important,” said Ali. He added that, despite stepping in to fill in the gap created by the lack of a public waste disposal and management system, there is limited media coverage of the issue.

Waste collection in Pakistan, Abid said, reflects the inequality gap in Pakistan and perpetuates divisions and discrimination against minorities in society. By reporting on this issue, they hope to showcase how “multi-layered discrimination, whether it be legal policies of general societal perceptions, contributes to marginalizing these communities and labeling them as dirty, lesser than, or being called certain slurs.”

For Abid Kitchlew, reporting on the issue of waste collectors allowed her to tackle one of many societal issues that she became aware of growing up in Pakistan. “Journalism has taught me that if I feel strongly about something, see something wrong happening, or if I’m disturbed by something wrong around me, I can make people aware of it and do something about it, and that is what I’m doing through this project,” she said.

Student Life

Studio 20Q Premiere Screens Student Films

Student filmmakers, cast, and crew gathered this year at Qatar Museums’ M7 for the annual Studio 20Q Premiere, where students and alumni showcased their films in a series of screenings in the Sky Theatre.

The Studio 20Q Premiere screens films that are funded by the club and produced by students and alumni. This year, through a unique partnership with Qatar Museums’ M7, the Northwestern Qatar community and the general public came together in celebration of the students’ creative work at the M7 Sky Theatre.

The event featured ten films, six of which were produced during the pandemic and screened for the first time. The other four films screened at this year’s events—Batch 10, Bayt El Omor, El Esh El Barri, How to Get Over a Heartbreak, Ibn El Ballad, Love of Layla, Paper Kite, Samia, Sau Qadam, and The Girl with Anklets—were produced by alumni in previous years.

Professor and faculty adviser of Studio 20Q João Queiroga said, “The films were quite diverse and reflect our international student body.” He added that “Studio 20Q is one of the crown jewels of our school and was such a delight to celebrate our filmmakers in a five-day event under the stars.”

Students Shine at Ajyal Film Festival

Students and alumni from Northwestern Qatar joined the Doha Film Institute’s Ajyal Film Festival, where they showcased their films and creative projects and won some of the festival’s most prestigious awards.

When Beirut Was Beirut, an animated documentary by Alessandra El Chanti BSc ’19 and MFA ’21, was one of ten short and feature films that were screened as part of the Made in Qatar category. Featuring a fictional dialogue between some of Beirut’s monumental buildings that have been abandoned after the civil war, the film went on to receive the Badr Jury award during the awards ceremony for its creative storytelling.

Another Northwestern Qatar film showcased at this year’s festival was Atlal, a short feature documenting the story of a retired Palestinian man who goes on a journey between the past and present of his life in Qatar. Directed and produced by alums Tony El Ghazal and Balkees Al-Jaafari, the film, which was produced during the COVID-19 lockdown before their graduation in 2021, had its inaugural public screening at this year’s festival.

In addition to the films, an action-platformer adventure game, Jumbo!, by Khalifa Al-Kuwari received the admiration of gaming enthusiasts and the general public visiting the creative exhibition accompanying the festival for incorporating storytelling and interactive game design.

Wildcat Spirit Ignited at Go Wild Week

Students came together in celebration of Northwestern traditions—and Purple Pride—and to reignite their Wildcat spirit at Northwestern Qatar’s annual Go Wild Week, featuring a range of sports activities, cultural programs, and other events.

The first since the start of the pandemic, this year’s Go Wild Week was organized by the Student Union in collaboration with cultural and student clubs at the school. It began with a cultural night, where students experienced various elements of the cultures represented in the school’s diverse student body through traditional performances, international dishes, and a fashion show.

Another event was Qats Got Talent, an open platform for students to showcase their creativity and compete for awards across categories. Featuring faculty and staff as judges, students shared their poetry, singing, music, painting, and theater performances.

The traditional Purple Fest brought students, staff, and faculty together with food from around the world, sporting activities, video and board games, and competitions. It also included an open market where student entrepreneurs set up booths to showcase their startups and sell products from their small businesses.

In addition to celebrating coming together after the global pandemic, the week also highlighted student work from the Media and Research Awards, and at the end of the week, student artists and storytellers explored the concept of love and its meaning across cultures and contexts as part of the 2022 Creative Media Festival.

The Creative Media Festival, a student-led initiative, is an annual exhibition exploring a theme selected by the student body. Over 48 hours, students produce performances, paintings, and other creative works and showcase them to the community on the final day of the festival.

This year, the theme was “Love Languages” and was directed by Princess Jannah Collado, working alongside fellow co-leaders Andre Hall Visperas, Aesha Hussein, Tianyi Geng, and Moom Tahinah.

Glittering Graduation Celebrations

Northwestern Qatar hosted a graduation ceremony for the Class of 2022 and welcomed back graduates from the classes of 2020 and 2021, who had virtual ceremonies due to the global pandemic, for an in-person celebration of their graduations.

Addressing the graduates in a video message, Northwestern University President and Professor, Morton Schapiro lauded them for their perseverance on their path to graduation. “What you have achieved despite all the challenges of a global pandemic is truly astounding, and I know you are going to go out and make us proud as you change the world,” said Schapiro. “We are so proud that you are going to wear the purple as Northwestern alumni.”

Dean Marwan M. Kraidy also congratulated the students on their achievements and their resilience on the path to graduation. “Like all of you, a little more than two years ago, I would not have thought, not in my wildest imagination, that our lives would be so dramatically altered by a pandemic,” said Kraidy. “But you have persevered…you handled the challenge of the pandemic with grace and gusto. And here we are today back together and—finally—celebrating your achievements.”

Doha Film Institute CEO Fatma Hassan Alremaihi joined Dean Kraidy and President Schapiro in addressing the graduates as graduation speaker. She charged them with using their principles and compassion as a compass guiding their careers as storytellers and media professionals. “Be forthright and unwavering in your principles … for our fundamental values serve as a North Star,” she said.

Student speakers Mariam Al-Dhubhani, Razan Al-Ghadban, and Nur Munawarah also addressed this year’s graduates. In addressing the Class of 2022, Munawarah urged them to continue to think like a student in the years after graduation. “Life itself is a school … we will continue to learn and relearn different aspects of it,” she said.

Northwestern Qatar also recognized members of the Class of 2022 who have received awards for their academic distinction and participation in student life. The recipients of this year’s class awards included: Darrell Pinontoan, the Dean’s Award; Elissa Mohamad Mefleh, the Communication Award; Krishna Sharma, the Journalism and Strategic Communication Award; Lujain Eyas Naif Assaf, the Liberal Arts Award; and Shaikha Ghanim H B Al-Kubaisi, the Student Leadership Award.

Students from the classes of 2020 and 2021 returned for their formal celebration on the 10th anniversary of Northwestern Qatar’s first graduating class.

Reflecting on her undergraduate career as a student fleeing war in her country (Yemen), Mariam Al-Dhubahni, Class of 2020 student speaker, said Northwestern Qatar allowed her to “tell stories of humanity and perseverance by sharing visual messages with the world—from my world, from my home, from my life.”

Journalism alum Razan Ghadban addressed her fellow graduates in the Class of 2021 as its student speaker. “NU-Q taught us a very important thing—that knowledge is endless, and that in order to grow and progress, you strive to always learn new things and push the limits of what you think you are capable of,” said Ghadban, asking the graduates to hold on to the lessons they had learned as they embark on new adventures.

During their virtual graduations in 2020 and 2021, the graduates heard from Dima Khatib, managing director of AJ+, and Dena Takruri, senior presenter and producer at AJ+, and were surprised in 2020 with a virtual guest appearance by Northwestern University graduate US TV star Stephen Colbert.

Video: Class of 2022 Graduation
Video: Classes of 2020 and 2021 Graduation
“Be forthright and unwavering in your principles … [for] our fundamental values serve as a North Star.”

Fatma Hassan Alremaihi

Doha Film Institute

Service-learning Experiences Enrich Students’ Academic Careers

In the past, students have traveled to Cambodia, Vietnam, Italy, Kenya, and Zambia to participate in service-learning trips that focus on global issues and provide opportunities for students to gain a deeper understanding of societal issues.

This year, students traveled to Malaysia to learn more about that country’s efforts to curb deforestation through agroforestry.

“Service-learning programs,” Dean Kraidy noted, “help students increase their understanding of civic engagement while they continue their studies in the classroom. This integration of service-learning with their academic program promotes a deeper involvement in intellectual growth, leadership development, and personal and social growth.”

Indeewaree Thotawattage, assistant director of the student experience, has led several of these trips for Northwestern Qatar. She said that the trip to Malaysia offered students the opportunity to learn more about the environment—while also contributing to the local community.

“Students delved into issues surrounding climate change, understanding their carbon footprints; learning about food security, environmental degradation, palm oil’s environmental impact, and consumer responsibility,” she said, “and contributed to the rehabilitation efforts of the Malaysian rainforests by replanting over 300 saplings and planting nearly 100 trees during our visit.”

Previous service-learning trips continue to have an impact on Northwestern Qatar students. Mohamed Eltayeb ’21 was part of the service trip to Kenya in 2019 and said the lessons he learned from working in the construction of water tanks for communities in rural Kenya helped shape his growth as a journalist. Inspired to maximize his positive impact in the East African country, Eltayeb went back to Kenya a year after the trip to complete his journalism residency requirement with Africa Uncensored, which allowed him to participate in several projects.

Habibah Abass is another Northwestern Qatar alum who continues to be inspired by the lessons she learned during a service-learning trip to Cambodia, where she was part of a student group that built and renovated climate-resilient homes for local families suffering from the impact of climate change. “Service-learning begins in our immediate localities, but its impact extends around the world,” said Abass.

Now an educator and program coordinator at the US-based social organization Literacy New Jersey, Abass remains connected to the leadership and service lessons she learned as an undergraduate at Northwestern Qatar. “After the trip,” noted Abass, “service became an integral part of my life—it has helped me become more self-aware, appreciative of diversity, and an agent of social change.”

Students Visit Media Outlets in Dubai

Northwestern Qatar students traveled to the United Arab Emirates to visit different regional and global media organizations as part of the school’s Global Media Experience (GME). The students visited Asharq News, Bloomberg, CNN Arabic, Memac Ogilvy, Bukhash Brothers, and Teneo. GME is an experiential learning program that provides students the opportunity to connect their academic learning with the professional media industry, expanding their knowledge beyond the classroom.

Rising journalism junior, Ishmael Bonsu Nyame, said the program helped nurture his passion for data journalism and business news. “Having the opportunity to visit Bloomberg’s studios and speak to journalists there about how business and financial news are produced was a very rewarding experience for me as someone interested in telling stories about numbers and businesses,” said Bonsu Nyame. “It allowed me to see how my passion for numbers and storytelling come together in the real world.”

A first-year international student from Brazil, Maria Clara dos Santos Lisboa explained how the program helped expand her knowledge about the inner workings of the media scene in the Middle East and develop a comparative understanding of the global media industry. “Growing up between Brazil and the U.S., I was naturally exposed to media mainly from a Western perspective,” said Lisboa. “The program exposed me not only to new aspects of the global media industry but also to different pathways and career opportunities I could pursue as a media student.”

For Mariam Alqasem, who just concluded her first year at Northwestern Qatar, her participation in the program broadened her perspective about the potential career opportunities across the media industry. “I learned a lot from the time I spent with GME,” said Alqasem. “I now have a better understanding of the soft and technical skills I need to develop in and outside the classroom to grow as a media student and then pursue a successful career in the industry.”

Student Club Commemorates 1994 Genocide Against the Tutsi in Rwanda

Northwestern Qatar students, faculty, and staff, along with members of the Education City community, came together for the 28th commemoration of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda at a Northwestern Qatar event hosted by the African Students Association.

Hosted as part of the annual Kwibuka commemoration observed by Rwandans around the world and the international community, the event featured a community screening and literary performances by Education City students to commemorate the more than 1 million Tutsi who lost their lives during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.

“We are gathered here not only to remember but to unite and renew because we have a responsibility to preserve the memory of those we lost,” said Nadege Bizimungu, president of Northwestern Qatar’s African Students Association. “We remember everything in order to hold ourselves as Rwandans and the international community accountable to make sure that what happened in Rwanda never happens elsewhere in the world,” added Bizimungu.

The event hosted by the African Students Association is one of many events hosted by student clubs at Northwestern Qatar this year.

Celebrating a Decade of Alumni Success

Northwestern Qatar marked a decade since the graduation of its first class with a series of initiatives throughout the year fostering lifelong connections—including the launch of an alumni-focused website to celebrate the impact of its more than 500 alumni and hosting several reunions and networking events to bring our alumni together.

As leaders and practitioners in media, journalism, government, business, and higher education, Dean Marwan M. Kraidy said Northwestern Qatar’s growing alumni network is making a positive impact. “Northwestern opened its doors in Qatar with a mission to train the next generation of media and communication professionals in the region, and, after a decade of leading the way, our success is embodied in our alumni who are leading not only in media and communication but business, government, and higher education,” said Kraidy.

Dana Atrach ’13 is among the many alums sharing how their time at Northwestern Qatar has shaped their lives in the years after graduation. “The people I met at Northwestern Qatar made all the difference in my life. They pushed me, yes, they challenged me—but most importantly, they believed in me and made me believe in myself,” said Atrach, now an assistant professor at Northwestern Qatar.

For Soud Al Boinin ’16, the skills he acquired during his time at Northwestern Qatar are put into practice at Qatar Development Bank. “I have to lead a team—which is a lot like leading a film crew at Northwestern Qatar. I have to think critically and solve problems in creative ways. And, I have to represent the bank as a spokesperson, on social media, at press conferences, on daily shows, and at formal presentations. Everything I learned to do in college—it matters here.”