Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Nile University and Zewail City of Science , the same old Egyptian problem

When Ahmed Zewail won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1999 and got that hero reception in Egypt , he spoke about having this city of scientific research in Egypt like the Silicon valley. It was something great for sure but everybody knew that it would not be achieved in time of Mubarak because simply Mubarak did not give a damn for our scientific research advance or development.
Still in 2000 The Zewail city of science and research’s corner stone was set up in a location in 6th of October area and 300 acres were allocated to that project. It was too good to be true then the project faced a lot of red tape and bureaucracy and in the end Zewail left and returned back to the States.
Nile University or NU is a non profit university founded by Egyptian foundation for technological education Development “EFTED” in July 2006 and has been working since then with its headquarters in “The Smart village”. Then Former PM Ahmed Nazif re-allocated 127 acres from Zewail city’s land to NU which witnessed a lot of problems in those 4 years.
The buildings of the NU were built on these 127 acres and its crew managed to make achievements in those 4 years despite all those problems in an atmosphere
A quick look to Nile University and you will find the following in those 4 years :
  • 40 Egyptian scientists from our best scientists working in this university managed to publish 700 scientific research in 4 years including 250 research published with the help of the research assistants in NU
  • The University has grants from big international corporations like Google, Microsoft, GM, Intel, Alcatel-Lucent, STDF, ITIDA, NTRA, EU, RDI, Qatar Foundation, Mentor Graphics, Synopsys, Cadence.
  • Around 285 top graduates of local universities are studying post graduate programs in NU.
  • Dr. Haitham El Desoky , the R&D Engineer that won in the Stars of Sciences is another NU researcher.
Now after the ousting of Mubarak and during the good old days of PM Essam Sharaf , we found out that the old project of Zewail is resurrected  again in  which for sure is something great but there was a price.
But there was a price : wiping out the Nile University and merging it inside the new Zewail city without even recognizing its achievements , Zewail will take the NU , its students and researches with no price at all !! The buildings of those 127 acres re-allocated to NU are now part to Zewail city. Not that only the buildings and the NU facilities were closed for months in front of the NU students with no regards for their researches !!
I do not know how any scientist in the world would accept that NU , its buildings , equipment , researchers and scientists to sit idle like that for a whole year !!
The NU

The students and the researchers have launched a big campaign to Save NU whether online or offline through protests and sits in. Here is the official Save NU website and its official FB page. They do not want to be a part of the Zowail city.
With my all respect and admiration to Dr. Ahmed Zowail , I think naming a university or an academy after his name while he is alive is a bit narcissistic. Update : Dr. Zowail is speaking about the matter on twitter in his official twitter account where he said that the Government is the one that named the city after him. It was not his choice.Zowail also said that the NU has given up the land according to some contract , well it turned out that that this contract was signed by former PM Ahmed Shafik.
Zewail is insisting in all his meetings that he met the NU students and administration and they are more than ok , unfortunately it is untrue to the level that makes me wonder about these people he is meeting.
Last February 21st,2012 the Zewail city issued a statement saying that it has reached to an agreement with the NU administration by which ZC ethnically acquires the NU and that Zewail had meetings with the angry student.
Then NU administration and its Chairman Tarek Khalil have slammed the statement denying what came in.
The last thing we have got is that the minister of higher education saying that nothing bad will happen to NU adding that it will continue in its mission and everything will be fine !!!
And this is ladies and gentlemen a true Egyptian case : Solve a problem by creating another one !! Nazif should not re-allocated those 127 acres but I think in the same way after 10 years Zewail can get not only 127 acres but another 300 acres for fear from the government or even from SCAF in now time leaving NU alone.
After few hours from now Zewail will appear for the first on Yosri Fouda’s famous TV show “Last Talk” on ONTV and the Nile University supporters are asking Fouda to give them the opportunity to speak with the Nobel Prize winner for once seriously about the Nile University for once.
TV hosts always speak in front of Zewail as an idol with big admiration and opened mouth like kids in KG , they do not dare to ask him any important question about NU or even criticize him. I hope that Yosri Fouda proves he is unlike all other TV hosts.

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  1. You are totally right...our problem is that we have just created a new pharoh called Ahmed Zowail. Being a Nobel prize winner should never give him the right to take what does not belong to him..

  2. SciencePyramid2/29/2012 01:51:00 AM

    Ahmed Zewail is a new pharaoh??? Because h e simply wants to take the helm of an R&D focused university? With all due respect to NU's "accomplishments" listed above, they are nothing on an international scale and having a world-class Nobelist like Zewail lead it is absolutely a positive step. The problem in Egypt remains our pride and stubbornness. I do agree though with the silly naming issue.

  3. This is the result of putting every thing in the capital.
    How many Universities are now in Cairo/Giza?
    Couldn't they move any of the two to another city? Upper Egypt maybe.

  4. As Zeinobia correctly said, "Former PM Ahmed Nazif re-allocated 127 acres from Zewail city’s land to NU". That's the government's fault, not Zewail's. They should give Zewail City an additional 127 acres on comparable adjoining land. Problem solved. Or give him 300 acres somewhere else!

    It wouldn't be a disaster if Nile University were obliged simply to give their parcel back and disappear as an organization. What the governemnt can give, the government can take away. It's a shit-tier university anyway. Ranked 7128 in the world in 2012. Even in Egypt there are many far better universities. Zewail City is going to be world-class. The best research center in Egypt by light-years.

    By the way, the purpose of naming it after Zewail is to give the Zewail City his prestige, not vice versa. D'oh! It doesn't matter to him what they name it. He is among the greatest chemists in history and would be welcome anywhere in the world. Egyptians can be so stupid and petty, cutting off their own noses to spite their faces. Boo hoo! Don't name it after the big show-off! Idiots.

  5. So now the ONTV Zewail interview that Zeinobia mentioned has taken place. Zewail said (1) it was the governments decision to name it after him (2) the government gave him the land and the buildings after it took them from the Nile University. So the conflict should be between NU and the government and has nothing to do with him. (3) However, he is offering a sort of merger between both universities in which the students and faculty will be preserved, but not NU as an entity.

    Can't say fairer than that. To register for Nile University but unexpectedly get your degree from Zewail City would be a gift from heaven.

    He's not only a great chemist, but a great man, magnanimous in victory.

  6. Thank you, Ms. Z for the awesome blog post.
    One correction though, if you allow me Ms. Z, Haitham Desoky is not a Doctor he has no PhD (yet :D) He is an R&D Engineer that NileU supported and offered its lab to since he was a student at Azhar University because of his distinction. God bless him.

    Nile University is a very promising university that gave youth a chance which hasn't existed before. It's the first research-oriented university. It has attracted Egyptians in well known top-ranked universities abroad such as Imperial College London and John Hopkins University to return too their home country and start research centers.

    There was no legal anything allocating the land to Zewail back in 2000. Besides the corner stone, there was NO allocation to Zewail legally. Allocating the land to NU happened more than a few years latter!

    We do regret that he had to face trouble, however, it's extremely unethical of him to do this to other researchers now. We, in all honesty, did expect him to support NU! Instead he chose to be part of the problem! He has been literally spreading lies about NileU, out of ignorance as I hope!, that it is a private university like (and he mentioned examples) which is NOT true at all. It is non-profit, and exactly as his project it is non-governmental and owned by an NGO.

    Nile University has hundreds of top ranked students from all universities, giving them a good environment for scientific research with full scholarship and a stipend, a model that didn't exist in Egypt before NileU. Those are a sample of those students: http://t.co/TBBqlEtp

    After I have seen the NileU community I'm certain, Nile University will survive isA :)

  7. Zeinobia correctly identifies the ailment of our society since the pharaohs, we as Egyptians love and adore idols. The Egyptian saying goes "اللي مالوش كبير يشتري له كبير", roughly translated into "he who who does not have a boss (master) should seek to buy a boss (master)". This is a followership mentality propagated by tyrants as well as occupiers for thousands of years. It is the same argument that kept Mubarak in power and the one that was used frantically in the 18 days after Jan 25 trying to keep him in power. Anything is acceptable from your boss including slapping you, torturing you, taking away your rights etcs. YOU MUST HAVE A BOSS (MASTER) OR YOU WILL DIE. It is the same argument followed by Zewail supporters, "YES DR ZEWAIL WE ARE NOT WORTHY".

    This attitude must change, the Jan 25 generation thinks differently, they believe in free speech, critical thinking and bring down idols. They create reality. They are the leaders of the future and masters of their own destiny.Zewail needs to wise up and understand that things have changed. He should not be a puppet in the hands of the remnants of the old regime. But I doubt he will.

  8. This may supplement ur blog post about Nile University's problem: http://bit.ly/HRQEja


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