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United Arab Emirates: Meet the youngest teacher to win the Dh1 million Great Arab Minds prize – News

Sheikh Mohammed with the winners of the Great Arab Minds Awards in Dubai. — Photo: Wam

Published: Monday, January 8, 2024, 6:57 p.m.

Last update: Monday, January 8, 2024, 7:16 p.m.

Professor Fadel Adib studied in a tumultuous period, while murders and car bombings were daily news in Beirut. Undeterred, he continued his studies. And on Monday he became the youngest winner of the first Great Arab Minds (GAM) Prize, winning a sum of Dh1 million to continue his work.

Congratulated by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Dubai, at a glamorous event held at the Museum of the Future, Fadel said he was honored by the recognition.

“I feel honored to be chosen among giants and big names in this field and to sit alongside them,” he said. “I feel doubly honored because this happened in the Arab world.” He also expressed his commitment to giving back to the Arab world and hoped to inspire and encourage greater innovation within the region.

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Currently an associate professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), it was Fadel’s research and innovations in wireless communication, particularly in the identification of objects and vibrations hidden behind walls and under debris, that earned him recognition. According to the committee of judges, his discoveries have opened new possibilities for various industries.

Professor Fadel Adib.  — Photo by Waad Barakat

Professor Fadel Adib. — Photo by Waad Barakat

In addition to Fadel, other winners included Algerian novelist Prof. Waciny Laredj, Egyptian economist Dr. Mohamed El-Erian and Lebanese scientist Prof. Niveen Khashab. Each prize winner will receive Dh1 million to fund their research and development.

Honoring Arab minds

In her winning speech, Professor Niveen recalled how her colleagues asked her if she was “crazy” for wanting to return to the Arab world. “In 2008, when I was at Northwestern University in Chicago, I received a call from King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) and they offered me to be part of the founding academic staff of the university,” she said. “All my colleagues and teachers told me: ‘Are you crazy? You cannot start a scientific career in an Arab country.’ But I accepted this challenge and started my academic career at KAUST. Now, after fifteen years, I am pleased to share with you that the Chemistry Department of my university is not ranked 40th in the world.”

The GAM, the largest scientific movement in the Arab world with a budget of Dh100 million, was designed to seek out and identify great minds in the region and reward them for their achievements. The initiative seeks to stop the trend of brain drain in Arab nations by encouraging talented people to remain in their home countries and use available resources. The award, which recognizes individuals in six categories (namely natural sciences, architecture and design, engineering and technology, economics, literature, arts and medicine), was first announced in 2022.

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