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Altaf S. Al Sabah Visiting Chair in Women and Societal Development Studies Established at FAS

  • Date: May-04-2017

Considered as a firm step towards establishing gender equity and empowering women in the region, and through the generosity of Sheikha Altaf Al Sabah, a successful AUB alumna and active community influencer, the American University of Beirut (AUB) announced the establishment of The Altaf S. Al Sabah Visiting Chair in Women and Societal Development Studies, in honor of the late Sheikha Lulwa Nasser M. Al Sabah and Sheikha Shaikha Ali S. Al Sabah, on May 2nd in a signing ceremony held in Kuwait at the headquarters of the Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences (KFAS).

The signing ceremony was attended by President Fadlo Khuri, Dean of Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) Dr. Nadia el Cheikh, Vice President for Advancement Dr. Imad Baalbaki, and Associate Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations Salma Dannawi Oueida. Trustee Farouk Jaber and his wife Amal, long-time friends of Sheikha Al Sabah, attended the signing ceremony, as well as Lebanese Minister for Women Affairs Jean Ogassapian and lebanese acting ambassador in Kuwait maher Kheir.

This Chair would guide the University’s commitment to promote collaborative research and exchange programs that support initiatives in women studies with the aim of empowering and enabling women in the region, promote excellence in the fields of education, science, and development, as well as build and support a network of scholars, policy-makers, governmental actors, and community partners to promote Women Studies research towards empowering women across the Region.

President Fadlo Khuri considered this chair to be a firm step towards establishing gender equity in the region, and empowering its women.

“Our goal is not to simply replicate the western woman in Arab societies. We are instead determined to empower the Arab Woman to better serve her community in various ways, without disregarding the culture or traditions that we hold dear,” said Dr. Khuri. “I believe this initiative is particularly vital since it will enhance studies related to women, not only impacting AUB, but also the region and beyond.”

Sheikha Altaf graduated from AUB in 1971 and 1975, respectively earning a BA in Sociology and Anthropology and an MA in Anthropology. She is a researcher and writer on culture and traditional arts, in Kuwait. She is the honorary president and patron of AlSadu Weaving Cooperative Society―dedicated to preserving, documenting and promoting Kuwaiti Bedouin weavings. She is also the patron of Kuwait Textile Arts Association, a nonprofit organization established under her patronage in October 1994 for promoting the knowledge and skills of textiles. Previously, she was a faculty member at Kuwait University. Sheikha Altaf’s spouse, Duaij Jaber Al-Ali Al-Sabah, is also an AUB alumnus. He earned a BA in Public Administration is 1971, and an MA in Political Studies, in 1975.

Sheikha Altaf considered this chair to be honouring each woman believing in the message of education and its role in the development of communities.

“My whole educational experience at AUB impacted me profoundly, both intellectually and culturally. The rich academic environment, and the colorful mix of different nationalities and cultures enriched my mind and empowered my spirit,” said Sheikha Altaf. “It is a befitting recognition and salute to the prominent and leading role AUB has played and continues to play, as a beacon of knowledge and enlightenment in the Arab World and the region at large.”

FAS Dean Nadia El Cheikh considered the gift to be a milestone that will “anchor women studies in FAS and at AUB at large.”

“It will help us develop courses and eventually a program in women and societal development studies at a time where women in the Arab world are reclaiming a voice,” said Dr. El Cheikh. “The vision of the donor will be perpetuated in the legacy of this endowed chair.”
The Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences (KFAS) will play a consulting role to structure the gift in a way that supports initiatives in women studies, such as collaborations between various community sectors, and within a regional and international scope.

“We hope that this Chair will be a venue to discuss women studies and the challenges that the Modern Arab World faces, especially in the Gulf Cooperation Council,” said Dr. Adnan Shihab-Eldin, General Director of KFAS. “There is little appreciation and understanding of women studies and how they impact the lives of men and women in this region; it is necessary that we bring up the topic and encourage constructive discussions and alternative view points and frameworks.”‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

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