Background Paper: Social Science in the Arab World

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This article deals with aspects of social sciences’ status in North Africa and West Asia. It covers 13 Arab countries: Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia as well as five ‘Gulf countries’ (Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Oman). Our data results from field studies (of eight Mediterranean countries investigated from 2006-2008 for the European ESTIME programme), and from experts’ 2008 monographs of each country for the ‘Mapping science in the developing world’ exercise (a special UNESCO Forum initiative for Higher Education and Research). We also reviewed the relevant literature and compiled the most recent statistics. Our facts and figures mainly relate to the Maghreb countries. They draw from an exclusive study which we conducted in a very large library (the Abdulaziz Foundation in Casablanca, Morocco) devoted to gathering and indexing the entire human and social sciences production in this part of the world or dealing with it. The paper begins with an overview of the context and its weight in the development of the social sciences (the blossoming of higher education, the social environment, support and impediments). The second part deals with the institutions (governance, performers, funding, and cooperation), the human resources and the output. The last part deals with the present challenges, initiatives and prospects.


Abdel Haik Al-Husban, Rigas Arvanitis, Roland Waas

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