London, 25 February 2013 – Al-Fanar Media, a new independent publication dedicated to covering news and analysis on higher education in the Arab world and founded by the Alexandria Trust, has received a two-year grant from the Ford Foundation. The grant will provide critical support for the new publication as it seeks to provide balanced, accurate, and insightful coverage of all aspects of academic life in the Arab world and to serve as a watchdog for academic freedom.
Al-Fanar Media will appear initially online, in early March 2013, with a print publication to follow. The publication will convene roundtables and discussion forums about critical issues in higher education and, in a subsequent phase, will develop training opportunities for journalists in the region who want to specialize in writing about education.
David L. Wheeler, former Managing Editor of the Chronicle of Higher Education, leads the planning and ongoing management of Al-Fanar Media. Journalists writing about news and trends at Arab universities provide the publication’s editorial core, which will be supplemented by carefully selected commentary from academics in the region. Al Fanar’s Senior Editor is Rasha Faek, a Syrian journalist based in Amman, Jordan.
Al-Fanar Media's advisory board includes Judy Barsalou, Visiting Scholar, American University in Cairo; Abdellatif El Moudni, Secretary General, Advisory Council on Higher Education, Morocco; Khaled Fahmy, Chair, History Department, American University in Cairo; Hisham Kassem, Egyptian journalist and publisher; and John Waterbury, President Emeritus, American University of Beirut.
Al-Fanar Media is the Alexandria Trust’s first signature project. Founded in 2011 by Egyptian businessman and philanthropist Salah Khalil, the Trust is committed to supporting world-class standards of education across the Arab region. It is led by Executive Director David French, formerly Head of the Westminster Foundation for Democracy, and its board of trustees, chaired by Emma Playfair, also includes respected leaders in education, human rights, civil society, development, and business: Rt. Hon. Charles Clarke, Hassan Abdou, Heba Raouf Ezzat and Frances Guy. The Trust incubates strong projects that foster public debate, accelerate educational reform, and widen access to knowledge in the Arab world.