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Egyptian Researchers: Reviving Egypt's Science Scene

13 August, 2016
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The Internet is a crucial tool in today's world. But even though Arabic is the eighth most used language in the world, there is a huge lack of Arabic content in all fields: particularly scientific content. Scarce scientific media in Arabic can be found on the Internet that is presented in an interesting way to Arabic speakers.

Egyptian Researchers is an initiative by young people that tackles this issue by assembling volunteers under one goal; to improve the quality of scientific content on the internet in Arabic and spark interest of the Arabic-speaking youth in science. The initiative was founded two years ago and today it spreads scientific awareness with more than 300 volunteers who write, translate reviews, design and they an entire team that works on scientific reviews, all in Arabic.

 Gamal Shaaban, head of the public relations department, at Egyptian Researchers told BECAUSE all about the efforts and goals behind this initiative.

How did you get the idea to start Egyptian Researchers?
At first we were five guys and girls who wanted to give ordinary people an opportunity to find out that science isn't just about mad people with boiling beakers, and show that it's the basis of our entire life now! We wanted to simplify scientific knowledge to the level of the common language. 

We have projects such as "Daam" [Support] that helps the college students to know more about us, about science, by starting their own chapters under our own strategy, and also "Egypt geographic” which means to inform tourists or even Egyptians about our most amazing cities. We have now more than 300 volunteers, between writing and translating, lingual reviews and designers, we also have a team for scientific reviews consisting of researchers with master degrees and PhD's.

What are the biggest challenges that you face?
Since we started our main goal was to impact people lives on the ground, not just on the social media, so our biggest challenge so far is whether we're going to make it on the ground or not! So our goal is to have a registered organization that can actually help researchers. On the long run we want to have our own research facility to provide young people with the methods and needs they are asking for

What is the potential within Middle East youth for scientific achievement?

Of course [there is potential]! That's why we started the whole Egyptian Researchers initiative! Actually on our team we have five students in physics at a high school level who were competing in physics Olympiads this year, and for the first time in Egypt history, two of them achieved bronze medals, who are Mohamed Ahmed El Sharnouby and Sami Farrag alongside the majors that we wish we could be like someday.

So what challenges faced by MENA youth are holding them back in the field of science?

We need MENA youth to change their taboos, the idea that science that is "hard" or even "not worth it." Proper guidance would start to overcome those challenges ... I think MENA youth now are starting to take an interest in [popular science] sites or pages, which is good. From there, we can lead them to the academic route eventually.

You've started a student chapter in AUC, do you aim to do the same in other universities?
We co-hosted an event in AUC a while ago, it was a big success, so we started working on "Daam." Later, we started our own chapters [in other universities]. We hope that by the coming semester our chapters in ASU and Cairo University will be up and running.

Do you collaborate with similar initiatives?
Yes, we have an ongoing collaboration with most of the scientific initiatives online, outside of Egypt also like The Syrian Researchers and Scientific Saudi. In these collaborations, we mostly work on pieces together and share each other's good work.

What do you see happening with Egyptian Researchers in the future?
A research center, a study, an organization, a lot of things but most importantly, impacting the whole Egyptian scientific community.

Image courtesy of Egyptian Researchers

Tags MENA Because Arabic science NGO CSR volunteering social enterprise Egyptian Researchers