New centre to promote cultural ties

A new University research centre is to foster deeper understanding between the Muslim world and the West.

The Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Centre for the Study of Islam in the Contemporary World will study Islamic civilisation and issues relating to Islam in Britain.

The new centre, set up with funding from the Alwaleed Bin Talal Foundation, was opened by HRH Prince Alwaleed of Saudi Arabia at a ceremony in Edinburgh.

A second centre in the UK is based at the University of Cambridge. The Foundation has also established centres in the US - at Georgetown and Harvard - and in the Middle East, at the American University in Beirut and the American University in Cairo.

The University is honoured to be entrusted with the task of creating this centre, which will foster deeper understanding between the Muslim world and the West through the twin paths of effective outreach and high-quality research.

Professor Sir Timothy O'SheaUniversity Principal

Honorary degree

In addition to the opening of the new centre, the University awarded an Honorary Degree to Prince Alwaleed for his business and philanthropy work.

Prince Alwaleed, an internationally renowned businessman who is chairman of Kingdom Holding Company, was awarded the degree at the Signet Library.

The degree was conferred by HRH The Prince Philip Duke of Edinburgh, who is Chancellor of the University.

Described by Forbes magazine as “one of the smartest and most creative investors in the world”, Prince Alwaleed founded the Kingdom Holding Company in 1979.

Prince Alwaleed also heads the Alwaleed Bin Talal Foundation, a charitable and philanthropic organisation with a mission to help alleviate suffering around the world and transcend international borders.

I sincerely hope that the establishment of this centre will help bridge gaps between societies and cultures.

HRH Prince AlwaleedChairman, Kingdom Holding Company

Arabic expertise

The University’s Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies (IMES) department is one of the leading institutions of its kind in the UK and the world.

It has one of the UK’s largest concentrations of expertise on the Arabic-speaking world, bringing together 20 full-time members of staff active in a wide variety of fields.

Over 70 per cent of its research activity has been classified as world-leading. Areas of study include Islamic history and philosophy; modern Middle Eastern history, politics and cultural studies; and the study of Persian, Arabic and Turkish languages and literature.

Collaborative centre

IMES has also collaborated with the Universities of Durham and Manchester to create the Centre for the Advanced Study of the Arab World (CASAW), which brings together expertise from across the UK in order to enhance understanding of the Arabic-speaking world.

The centre aims to safeguard the future health of Arab World expertise in the UK, training the next generation of academics and creating opportunities for international cooperation and collaboration.