BAU celebrates 60th batch of graduates, meets challenges by establishing a university hospital and embracing AI

BAU celebrates 60th batch of graduates, meets challenges by establishing a university hospital and embracing AI
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More than 2000 students graduated this year from the Beirut Arab University in a central ceremony held on the university’s campus in Debbieh. (Supplied)
BAU celebrates 60th batch of graduates, meets challenges by establishing a university hospital and embracing AI
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University President Dr. Wael Abdel Salam hands one of the graduates his diploma. (Supplied)
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Updated 12 September 2023
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BAU celebrates 60th batch of graduates, meets challenges by establishing a university hospital and embracing AI

BAU celebrates 60th batch of graduates, meets challenges by establishing a university hospital and embracing AI
  • Decrease in the number of Arab students, with more than 1,600 students who registered for the new academic year
  • The university’s administration takes pride in the number of graduates, which has reached about 120,000 men and women since its inception

BEIRUT: Beirut Arab University, the fourth-ranked university in Lebanon, is racing against time as it organizes the graduation ceremonies of its 60th batch of graduates and welcomes the new academic year, which brings with it challenges that are no less daunting than those of the previous years.
The university’s administration takes pride in the number of graduates, which has reached about 120,000 men and women since its inception. The students specialize in different faculties that have been successively added: humanities, law and political science, business administration, architecture — design and built environment, engineering, sciences, pharmacy, medicine, dentistry and health sciences.
However, the university, staff and students now have significant concerns.
Dr. Wael Nabil Abdelsalam, the professor of general surgery who was newly appointed as president of BAU, said: “In this fast-moving world, innovation should be the focus of the next phase, as it is the only way to address the challenges of the job market at a pace that keeps up with the digital world, AI and other technologies that are shaping our present and future.”
He said: “The university faces today the challenge of proving to the world that disregarding the human element in the scientific and cultural scene is the start of the civilization and identity’s decline, and renewed scientific research is a weapon to protect humanity and its ideas.”
Throughout decades, BAU was referred to as the “university of Arabs” as it was sought by Arab students who studied scientific, literary, legal and social specializations in Lebanon, fields where its role has now declined.
According to Zina Ariss, director of public relations and communications, the university now “serves its Lebanese community in particular, and the Arab world in general.
“The number of Arab students has declined due to the security and economic conditions in Lebanon,” Aris said.
“1,605 students of different nationality have registered for the 2023-2024 academic year, and those include Palestinians, Iraqis, Sudanese, Algerians, Bahrainis, Saudis, Libyans, Jordanians, Omanis, Qataris, Kuwaitis, Egyptians, Tunisians and Yemenis.”
“We are a generation of trauma,” said graduate Youssef Al-Amin, from the faculty of humanities, in his speech. He spoke for the 2,119 graduates holding bachelor, master and doctoral degrees from 10 faculties, as he summarized the challenges the students have faced over the past four years.
During the graduation ceremony, which was held a few days ago on the university campus in Debbieh, 20 km south of Beirut, Al-Amin said: “We have all experienced the most horrific crime on August 4, 2020, during the nuclear-like explosion of Beirut port and persisted as the people were still picking up the pieces and the victims without any justice or truth. We were an online generation due to the coronavirus pandemic, and persisted. Despite the dollar, tuition and electricity crises, we did not give up, and today we hold our certificates amid all this chaos, our dreams have not been realized but we are not broken.”
The university is moving toward establishing a university hospital.
Abdelsalam said that the hospital “will incorporate the expertise and excellence accumulated by the faculties and will enhance the medical sector in Lebanon under the signature of Beirut Arab University.”
Ariss said that the idea of constructing this hospital “has been lingering for quite a while.”
“The university is working to create the suitable conditions to turn this idea into a reality, thus serving our Lebanese and Arab community,” she said. “The economic feasibility studies have been conducted for a while, however, the economic crisis in Lebanon has hindered its implementation.”
Ariss noted that under BAU’s new president, the idea is now being given serious consideration to implement and fulfill the dream.
The Bir Wal Ihsan Endowment owns BAU, along with other educational institutions.
Ariss denied any intention for Alexandria University to relinquish its role as BAU’s partner, as has been rumored in Lebanon.
She said: “The relation with Alexandria University is excellent, and there is a cooperation agreement between the board of trustees of the Bir Wal Ihsan Endowment and Alexandria University that includes academic and scientific collaboration, including education, research, seminars, conferences, the use of laboratories and libraries, student training, and scientific and academic development through BAU’s mechanisms.”
The Bir Wal Ihsan Society founded BAU, a private Lebanese institution for higher education, in 1960. The campus was established in Beirut near the Sijn Al-Raml, a prison in Tariq el-Jdideh where prisoners of conscience communicated with the university students through loudspeakers to learn about news from Lebanon and the world and coordinate protests and strikes to free the prisoners. The university later incorporated what remained of the prison, which can still be found on the university campus.
In this year’s graduation ceremonies, awards were distributed to top students under the names of the late Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser and the late Secretary General of BAU Issam Houry.
Some of the alumni who have held prominent positions in their countries include: Lebanon’s former Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri, Jordan’s Deputy Prime Minister Tawfiq Kreishan, Qatar’s Minister of Interior Abd Allah Abn Naser Elthany, UAE’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Mohammed Hussein Al-Shaali, Kuwait’s former Minister of Education and Higher Education Sulaiman Al-Bader, Saudi Minister of Hajj Dr. Fouad bin Abdul-Salam Al-Farsi, President of Al-Quds Open University Younes Amr, former governor of Jerusalem Jamil Othman Nasser, as well as diplomats, deputies, writers, poets, thinkers and economists.


Israelis rally against government amid deadlock on Gaza hostages

Israelis rally against government amid deadlock on Gaza hostages
Updated 8 sec ago
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Israelis rally against government amid deadlock on Gaza hostages

Israelis rally against government amid deadlock on Gaza hostages
As concern mounts in Israel for the wellbeing of the 129 remaining hostages their families and friends have organized increasingly vocal demonstrations
They have dovetailed with activists who have long called for Netanyahu’s ouster given his trial on graft charges

TEL AVIV: Thousands of Israelis rallied against their government on Saturday, with some demanding Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu call off the half-year-old war in Gaza amid a deadlock in diplomatic efforts to retrieve hostages held there by Hamas.
Hamas-led gunmen seized 253 people during an Oct. 7 attack on Israel that killed 1,200 others, according to officials. Some hostages were freed in a November truce but Egyptian- and Qatari-mediated efforts to secure another deal appear to have stalled.
As concern mounts in Israel for the wellbeing of the 129 remaining hostages, who cannot be contacted, their families and friends have organized increasingly vocal demonstrations against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s rightist government.
They have dovetailed with activists who have long called for Netanyahu’s ouster given his trial on graft charges — which he denies — and his attempts to overhaul the judiciary last year.
“Our country’s near the abyss. We’ve already started to drive down and we must stop it. I’m here to gather the force to tell the people that they need to come out and they need to tell our government that it’s time to stop,” said Marva Erez, 45, who was among demonstrators in Tel Aviv.
Netanyahu said he will continue with the war to dismantle Hamas, despite alarm in Washington and other Western capitals at the civilian toll in Gaza, where medical officials say more than 33,000 Palestinians have been killed.
Hamas has said any new hostage deal must bring about an end to the Gaza war and withdrawal of all Israeli forces.
“There will be a (hostage) deal,” Culture Minister Miki Zohar, a senior member of Netanyahu’s Likud party, told Channel 12 TV. “But not at any price.”
The anti-government protest in Tel Aviv was held separately to a smaller vigil for the hostages. Many of those taking part in the latter event soon merged with the bigger demonstration.
Michael Levy, whose brother Or is among the hostages, said he was protesting because “we have no time for the talks.”
“We need actions. We need to get them home,” he said.

Iraqi prime minister heads to Washington as regional tensions flare

Iraqi prime minister heads to Washington as regional tensions flare
Updated 22 min 56 sec ago
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Iraqi prime minister heads to Washington as regional tensions flare

Iraqi prime minister heads to Washington as regional tensions flare
  • “This official visit occurs at a delicate and sensitive time in the relations with the US, as well as in the context of regional conditions and the ongoing crimes against innocents in the Palestinian territories,” a statement from Al-Sudani’s office said

BAGHDAD: Iraq’s Prime Minister Mohamed Shia Al-Sudani left Baghdad on Saturday for the US, his office said, where he will meet with the US president as regional tensions flare.
US President Joe Biden is due to receive the Iraqi leader on Monday to “coordinate on common priorities” and discuss the “evolution of the military mission” of the US-led anti-terror coalition in Iraq and Syria, according to the White House.
The trip comes after Iran threatened to retaliate for deadly strikes, blamed on Israel, on its consulate in the Syrian capital, Damascus.
Biden has said he expects Tehran to take action “sooner rather than later.”

BACKGROUND

President Joe Biden is due to receive the Iraqi leader on Monday to ‘coordinate on common priorities’ and discuss the ‘evolution of the military mission’ of the US-led anti-terror coalition in Iraq and Syria, according to the White House.

“This official visit occurs at a delicate and sensitive time in the relations with the United States, as well as in the context of regional conditions and the ongoing crimes against innocents in the Palestinian territories,” a statement from Al-Sudani’s office said.
The surging tensions come against the backdrop of the six-month war waged by Israel against Iran-backed Palestinian Hamas militants in Gaza.
The conflict has since drawn in regional actors, including Iran-backed groups in Yemen, Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq.
Al-Sudani’s office added that the “meeting with President Biden will discuss the regional issues and the current escalations, focusing on the joint efforts to promote calm and prevent the conflict from widening, which could impact global stability.”
After the war in Gaza erupted, armed groups linked to Iran carried out a slew of attacks across the region on US soldiers deployed to the Middle East with the anti-Daesh coalition in support of Palestinians.
Washington has responded by striking several factions.
But calm has largely returned, and tensions have subsided between the US and Iraq, which have resumed talks on the future of the anti-Daesh coalition.
Iraqi authorities have voiced hope for drawing up a timeline to reduce the presence of US forces.
The talks aim to establish “a timeline to end the coalition’s mission and transition to bilateral relations with the coalition member states,” Al-Sudani’s office added on Saturday.
A State Department official, quoted on their website, said the US hopes the talks will also “focus on energy, water, business investment — US businesses investing in Iraq — and we want to talk about the private sector and the banking reforms that we have been working on.”

 


Israel closes schools over security concerns: army

Israel closes schools over security concerns: army
Updated 30 min 16 sec ago
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Israel closes schools over security concerns: army

Israel closes schools over security concerns: army
  • There will be “no educational activities” when the school week begins on Sunday
  • The measure is set to last two days, according to online army guidelines

JERUSALEM: Israel is closing schools nationwide over security concerns, military spokesman Daniel Hagari said on Saturday, after Iran threated to retaliate for a deadly air strike on its Damascus consulate.
There will be “no educational activities” when the school week begins on Sunday “in light of the security situation,” he said in a televised statement.
The measure is set to last two days, according to online army guidelines.
Iran has vowed retaliation after the presumed Israeli strike on April 1 which levelled its consulate in Damascus, killing seven members of the Revolutionary Guards including two generals.
US President Joe Biden said on Friday that he expected Iran to retaliate “sooner (rather) than later.”
Earlier on Saturday Iran’s Revolutionary Guards seized a container ship “related to the Zionist regime (Israel)” near the Strait of Hormuz, state media reported.
Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz postponed a planned visit to Hungary and Austria which had been scheduled to begin on Sunday “due to the security situation,” his spokesman said.


Palestinian PM condemns settler attacks in West Bank

Palestinian PM condemns settler attacks in West Bank
Updated 33 min 13 sec ago
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Palestinian PM condemns settler attacks in West Bank

Palestinian PM condemns settler attacks in West Bank
  • Mohammed Mustafa says the assaults ‘will not discourage our people from standing on their land’

RAMALLAH: Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Mustafa has condemned attacks by Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank.

“The attacks of the settlers will not discourage our people from standing on their land,” he said, as attacks on Palestinian villages intensified following the death of an Israeli teenager near Ramallah.
The disappearance of 14-year-old Binyamin Achimair sparked attacks by Israeli settlers on Palestinian villages on Friday and Saturday.
Israel’s army said the boy’s body was found in the West Bank as violence escalated across the Israeli-occupied territory where tensions have simmered for months.

FASTFACT

The international community considers all West Bank settlements illegal and obstacles to peace.

On Friday, one Palestinian was killed, and 25 others were wounded in the attack on Al-Mughayyir village, Palestinian health officials said.
On Saturday, Israeli troops delayed for several hours the ambulance carrying the 26-year-old man’s body for burial, witnesses said.
Dozens of Israeli settlers returned to the village’s outskirts on Saturday, burning 12 homes and several cars.
The Palestinian Health Ministry said three people from the village were injured, one critically.
Border police fired tear gas toward villagers who gathered, trying to disperse them.
In the nearby village of Douma, Israeli settlers set fire to several homes, according to Wafa, the official Palestinian news agency.
The Palestinian Red Crescent said six people were injured by gunfire but did not say who fired.
Tensions in the West Bank have been especially high since the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war in nearby Gaza on Oct. 7. More than 33,000 Palestinians in Gaza have been killed in Israel’s offensive, according to Gaza health officials.
Hamas, since then, has been trying to ignite other fronts, including in the West Bank, in hopes of exerting more pressure on Israel.
Such efforts have largely failed, though more than 460 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire in the West Bank since Oct. 7, most in clashes sparked by army raids but some by vigilante settlers.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the killing of the Israeli teen.
According to Israeli media, the teen was last seen leaving the settler outpost of Malachei Shalom early on Friday to tend to livestock nearby. The sheep returned to the outpost hours later without him, reports said.
Israel’s Channel 13 TV reported that a drone discovered Achimair’s body.
The broadcaster said he was not shot but did not elaborate.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned the killing “We will get to the murderers and their helpers as we do to anyone who harms the citizens of the state of Israel,” he said in a statement issued by his office.
In 2014, the abduction and killing of three Israeli teens in the West Bank escalated tensions.
Eventually, they ignited a 50-day Israel-Hamas war in Gaza, at the time the deadliest round of fighting between the two sides.
Consecutive Israeli governments have expanded Israeli settlement construction in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, territories the Palestinians seek for a future state, along with Gaza.
Some are highly developed and resemble suburbs of Israeli cities, while smaller outposts often have only a few caravans.
While Israel has established scores of settlements across the occupied West Bank, the outposts are not authorized, though the government gives them tacit support.
The international community considers all West Bank settlements illegal and obstacles to peace.
Over 700,000 Israelis now live in the occupied West Bank and east Jerusalem — territories captured by Israel in 1967.

 


In Tehran, fears grow of potential Iran-Israel war

In Tehran, fears grow of potential Iran-Israel war
Updated 13 April 2024
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In Tehran, fears grow of potential Iran-Israel war

In Tehran, fears grow of potential Iran-Israel war
  • Like most Iranians, Maryam has been following the news about a stand-off between Iran and Israel since a strike hit Iran’s consulate in Damascus on April 1
  • The attack, which Tehran has blamed on Israel, killed seven members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps, including two generals

TEHRAN: After three days off, people in Tehran returned to work as normal on Saturday, but with a lingering cloud of concern that soaring tensions between Iran and its arch foe Israel could tip over into war.
“I don’t know who is at fault and who is not, but it is better to reach a compromise so that the war does not begin, and innocent people don’t die,” said Maryam, a 43-year-old private sector worker.
Like most Iranians, Maryam has been following the news about a stand-off between Iran and Israel since a strike hit Iran’s consulate in Damascus on April 1.
The attack, which Tehran has blamed on Israel, killed seven members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps, including two generals.
Iran has since vowed to punish Israel for the attack, without specifying how.
The United States and other nations have urged restraint.
Ties frayed further on Saturday, when Iran seized an Israeli-linked ship in the Gulf.
Israel then issued a warning that Iran would “bear the consequences for choosing to escalate the situation any further.”
The Iranian reformist newspaper Shargh said on Saturday that “the longer Tehran’s response is delayed, the more it has negative consequences on the country’s economy and intensifies concerns in society.”
This uncertainty has weighed on the return to school for students after the long holidays that follow the Iranian New Year, celebrated on March 31 — as well as the end of Ramadan.
“God willing, our government will favor reason over emotion,” said Salehi, a 75-year-old retired government employee in central Tehran.
“If that is the case, there should be no conflict,” he told AFP.
But other Tehran residents would like the government to have a stronger response than was seen after previous killings of Iranian soldiers blamed on Israel.
“This time we must respond to it with more seriousness and determination,” said Yusof, a 37-year-old private sector employee.
Ehsan, a 43-year-old university professor, said it was “logical” to retaliate, because the Israelis “attacked an Iranian diplomatic building” in Syria’s capital Damascus.
“War is always bad and worrying — a person who has experienced war would never support it, but sometimes to achieve peace, a war is necessary,” he added.
Ahmad Zeidabadi, an expert in international relations, said “it seems that the authorities have not yet made a final decision, as it will probably have serious consequences.”
Tehran has to also take into account any response’s impact on public opinion, which appears to currently be more concerned about economic difficulties than by the war in Gaza, he said.
“The possibility of war worries business leaders, in particular those who depend on the rate of foreign currencies,” Zeidabadi told AFP.
“Some of them fear that it will cause a shortage of food.”
In a sign of these fears, Iran’s rial has plunged to a historic low of around 650,000 to the US dollar on the black market.
The government also faces “a dilemma” on a strategic level, said Ali Bigdeli, an academic specializing in international affairs.
“Israel’s attack can drag Iran to the edge of an unwanted war,” Bigdeli told the reformist newspaper Ham Mihan.
“Entering the war and attacking Israel from Iran’s territory is in the interest of Israel,” he said.
It could offer Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “a justification for the Gaza war, and will end the Gaza war in the shadow of the war with Iran,” he added.
Former Iranian deputy foreign minister Hossein Jaberi Ansari said that Tehran “should choose the least costly and at the same time most profitable option to respond to Israel.”
“The most legitimate target for an Iranian strike would be Israel’s security and military installations in the territories occupied since 1967, particularly in the Golan Heights,” he said.