UQ and the Middle East and North Africa

Partnering for change

UQ is collaborating with institutions throughout the Middle East and North Africa to find solutions to humanitarian, security, economic, political, and social challenges – many of which have global implications.

Fast facts


MENA students enrolled at UQ


MENA-UQ co-publications


academic staff born in MENA


research project collaborations


alumni in MENA


agreements with 7 official partners

Fast facts show full-year 2018 data.



In the past 5 years, UQ has produced more than 2339 co-publications with researchers in the Middle East and North Africa, largely in the areas of medicine, infectious diseases, and public, environmental and occupational health. Our top co-publishing partners include King Saud University (Saudi Arabia), Hebrew University of Jerusalem (Israel), Tel Aviv University (Israel), Tehran University of Medical Sciences (Iran), King Abdulaziz University (Saudi Arabia), and the University of Qatar.

Research collaborations

In the past 5 years, UQ has collaborated with 11 Middle Eastern and North African institutions on 22 research projects, covering topics such as 3D printed concrete for automated construction, improving monitoring of babies at risk of brain injury, and remote care of patients with chronic neck pain. Key collaborators include Qatar University, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (Saudi Arabia) and Kuwait University.

Research funding

Middle Eastern and North African organisations, including Qatar University, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology and Bromine Compounds Ltd have contributed more than A$1.4 million towards 15 research projects in the past 5 years. Projects investigate a range of topics including and nanoporous materials for renewable energy, and a review of the UNDP Sub-Regional Response Facility for the Syria crisis.

Collaboration in action

UQ partners with Saudi Arabia to fight superbugs

UQ Centre for Clinical Research Professor David Paterson and Honorary Fellow Dr Hosam Zowawi are collaborating with microbiologists at King Abdullah University for Science and Technology (Saudi Arabia) to explore antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The research is focussed on identifying the link between superbugs found in environmental settings to those associated with clinical infections. Acinetobacter baumannii, a bacteria associated with hospital-acquired infections, has been found in Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, and Bahrain. The results of this study will assist hospitals to minimise the risk of spreading superbugs between patients and across international borders.

UQ scientist and Presidents united against cancer

After the first UN high-level meeting on Universal Health Coverage, over 350 global leaders from more than 80 countries came together for the 2019 World Cancer Leaders’ Summit in Kazakhstan. UQ’s Professor Ian Frazer AC was one of three shortlisted – globally – for the inaugural award for ‘Outstanding Contribution to Cancer Control’ – alongside the Presidents of Zambia, and Uruguay (who won). Professor Frazer and late colleague, Professor Jian Zhou, created the technology that led to a cervical cancer vaccine, which has cut the rate of cervical cancer-causing infections in Australian women by almost 90 per cent. This vaccine is now available worldwide.

Building a sustainable mining industry in Turkey

UQ's Sustainable Minerals Institute (SMI) has partnered with the Hacettepe University (HU) International Mining Centre in Ankara to ensure the safe, secure, and sustainable future of Turkey's mining and energy industries. Through innovative education and training courses – and collaboration between government and industry – the Centre focuses on building a future workforce that is socially and environmentally conscious. HU's relationship with SMI's Julius Kruttschnitt Mineral Research Centre (JKMRC) stretches back to the 1990s, and HU Professor Hakan Benzer regularly visits UQ as part of the Australian Minerals Industry Research Association (AMIRA) P9 project.

Building Leadership for Change through School Immersion

The University of Queensland's Institute of Continuing & TESOL Education (UQ-ICTE) is collaborating with the Ministry of Education, Saudi Arabia to deliver the Building Leadership for Change through School Immersion program in 2018. UQ-ICTE currently has 25 English language teachers from Saudi Arabia participating in the specialised one-year immersion program. This important project profiles the University within the Saudi Ministry of Education, the Saudi Arabian Cultural Mission, the Queensland Government, and local Brisbane community, and helps to support the University’s student recruitment and global engagement objectives.

Middle Eastern and North African students at UQ

In the past 5 years, more than 830 students from the Middle East and North Africa have been enrolled in UQ degrees. PhD studies, the Master of Magnetic Resonance Technology, and Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) are popular program choices.

Student societies at UQ provide great opportunities to share interests and build community. They include the Arab Students Association, the Omani Society, the Persian Society, and a wide range of faith groups.

Video: Saudi PhD student Betoul Baz discusses her experience studying the genetics of skin wound healing at the UQ Centre for Clinical Research.

Celebrating Middle Eastern cultures

The permanent exhibition 'Egypt: Land of the Pharaohs' opened at the RD Milns Antiquities Museum in 2015. Archaeology honours students have studied artefacts in the collection and, after dating fragments of coptic tunic, found the clothing was produced early in the 7th century – 200-400 years earlier than previously thought. 

In addition, UQ’s Institute of Modern Languages (IML) offers ArabicFarsi, and Hebrew courses for the wider community.

Image: A 2400-year old Egyptian mummy mask remains one of the RD Milns Antiquities Museum's most popular attractions.

Student mobility

Partnering with UAE for a sustainable future

UQ's Global Change Institute (GCI) partners with Sharjah Research Academy in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). With broad collaboration in the areas of coastal zone management, sustainable water technologies, food systems, and renewable energy innovation, the agreement enables graduate student exchanges as well as joint research projects.

Tel Aviv startup adventure

In December 2017, 14 student entrepreneurs from UQ's Idea Hub travelled to Tel Aviv to participate in a four-week intensive internship with 10 different startups. Known as the ‘startup nation’, Israel offered students the experience to learn first-hand about startups and the toils and joy involved in building a business from the ground up.

Archaeological digs in Turkey

Associate Professor Andrew Fairbairn from UQ's School of Social Science takes students on field trips to Turkish archaeological sites every year. Associate Professor Fairbairn has regularly spent time in Turkey since joining UQ in 2006. His research focuses on the development of the farming economy, and its influence in the Neolithic Age through to the Iron Age.


UQ has more than 750 alumni from the Middle East and North Africa. Alumni with significant links to the region include:


Founder of CarAdvice.com.au (Bachelor of Information Technology, Bachelor of Arts 2006)
Saudi Arabia

Microbiologist and Young Laureates of Rolex recipient (Doctor of Philosophy 2014)