UNESCO-ASREN Open Science Day at the Association of Arab Universities General Conference


In cooperation and support of UNESCO Cairo, the Open Science Day co-hosted by the Arab States Research and Education Network (ASREN) and the Association of Arab Universities (AARU) was conducted successfully on 19 March 2023 during the fifty-fifth session of the General Conference of the Association of Arab Universities in Sousse, Tunisia. The event focused on the “Implementation of the UNESCO Recommendation on Open Science: The Universities and Research Institutes Perspective.

Several Arab ministers of higher education, with the participation of 220 university presidents from 22 Arab countries and representatives of Arab, regional, and international organizations, attended the General Conference.

UNESCO and ASREN conducted the Open Science Day as a series of interactive dynamic dialogues between the invited speakers and the audience to take stock of the progress made in supporting the implementation of the UNESCO Recommendation on Open Science and sharing lessons learned and practical approaches to open science.

The activity kicked off with a session dedicated to presenting and discussing UNESCO’s Recommendations in terms of policies, infrastructures, and the role of universities and research institutions. Dr. Nazar Hasan of UNESCO Cairo chaired the session featuring presentations from AArU, FASRC, and ASREN on their involvement in Open science at the policy level as well as infrastructures, capacity building, knowledge sharing, and financial support.

Dr. Amr Izzat Salama the Secretary General of the AArU; represented the Arab Universities as a main stakeholder in Open Science, Dr. Abdel-Magid Benamara the Secretary General of the Federation of Arab Scientific Research Councils (FASRC); represented the Arab research institutions, and Mr. Yousef Torman, the Managing Director of the ASREN; represented the national and regional research and education infrastructure.

Around 160 participants attended the session, mainly representing universities’ presidents and vice presidents in addition to governmental and regional organizations.

The Open Science Day was concluded with an interactive session that took place at the Concorde Hotel in Sousse. Attended by 151 participants, Dr. Nazar Hassan started the session with a presentation on the issue of Open Science as recommended by UNESCO in November 2021, then followed by an engaging presentation and questions using the Mentimeter toolbox. The participants were asked to vote on a number of questions on how their institutions approach different issues of open science.

The interactive session provided a platform for the participants to exchange ideas, good practices, and lessons learned from the implementation of open science practices in their institutions, and to build coalitions and partnerships for the advancement of Open Science on institutional, national, regional, and international levels in the OS main areas. The results of the vote will be used as a good basis for developing the regional and national programs needed to support the Open Science Initiative.

The session was wrapped up by announcing and signing a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between UNESCO and ASREN on cooperation in implementing UNESCO’s Recommendations on Open Science in the Arab region.