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Global Partnerships

Middle East and North Africa

The University of Exeter has established a wide range of research and education links throughout the MENA region over several decades. Our interdisciplinary Institute of Arab & Islamic Studies is one of the foremost academic institutions in the UK offering research and taught degree programmes in a wide range of areas within the field of Arab, Middle Eastern, and Islamic Studies.

Exeter are 3rd in the UK for PhD students from MENA, with more than 750 students studying here at all study levels, providing an extensive alumni network of graduates working, teaching, and researching in the region.

Exeter’s DAME (Digital Archive of the Middle East) partners with Tsinghua University to digitise parts of the university’s various MENA collections, with a DAME research team led by Joint Chair Prof. Adam Hanieh.

Our MENA Strategy focuses on Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Egypt, and Iraq. Below are a few highlights from Exeter’s work in the region: 


  • King Saud University (KSU) and Princess Nourah University (PNU)– An MoU was signed with KSU in February 2024, and a Service Level Agreement with PNU in 2020. Proposals for a joint research fund with both PNU & KSU are currently under development, to include thematic research areas in all 3 faculties.

    All 3 faculties are engaged in academic research projects with KSU and PNU, supported by MENA Development Fund awards. We expect to see an increase in co-authored publication and joint research activity because of deeper institutional collaboration, along with the development of large grant funding applications to both Saudi and UK/EU sources of funding.
  • NEOM – Exeter is partnering with NEOM to deliver a Long-Term Environmental Monitoring Project, including setting up an International Secretariat to provide oversight and advice for the next 5 years. Several additional projects are also under development, and MOU’s with KAUST and NEOM University are under development to support this work.
  • King Abdul-Aziz City of Science & Technology (KACST). Camborne School of Mines are considering a proposal to establish a Centre for Excellence in Mining at KACST, and CSM have established links with both Ma’aden and the Ministry of Industry and Mineral Resources. KACST is also home to the Saudi Genome Programme, and opportunities for partnership are being explored following a visit in December 2023.
  • Saudi Heritage Commission/ Ministry of Culture. The university is in the process of partnering with the Saudi Heritage Commission for the Hejaz Archaeological Survey & Excavation of sites on the pilgrim route between Mecca and Medina. More details will be available here in due course.
  • The Ruler of Sharjah, His Highness Shaikh Dr Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, studied his PhD at Exeter, and has been a generous benefactor over many years - funding the Institute of Arab & Islamic Studies, the Forum, and the new Al Qasimi Building in 2023
  • University of Sharjah - The Faculty of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences (HASS) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the University of Sharjah. This includes the development of a 4+1 progression agreement which will see undergraduate students from Sharjah progress to HASS masters programmes at Exeter, as well as establishing research collaborations for graduate research and staff. The agreement will be extended to all 3 faculties in 2024.
  • University of Khorfakkan – Exeter is partnering with the College of Marine Sciences and Aquatic Biology to establish a Marine Institute, and to deliver BSc programs.

Exeter has strong cultural, academic., and research links with Iraq through the Institute of Arab & Islamic Studies, and hosted the British Universities in Iraq Consortium (BUIC) from 2006 until 2017.

Prof. Gareth Stansfield, HASS PVC and Executive Dean, is Honorary Professor of the Iraq Energy Institute

Exeter will work closely with the Iraqi Cultural Attache in London, and government sponsors in Iraq, to support PhD students in their studies at Exeter. Memorandums of Understanding have also been signed with American University of Baghdad (AUIB); American University of Iraq, Sulaimani (AUIS); University of Sulaimani; and University of Kurdistan-Hewler (AKH).

In addition to ongoing joint research and student recruitment from these countries, Exeter are investigating opportunities for Transnational Education Partnerships – with a particular focus on Egypt in the first instance. More details will be available here if projects move forward.

International students

If you are an international student from the Middle East or North Africa, visit our International Students website.

You’ll find information about entry requirements, scholarships, and more for your country.