Post event report

The QS-MAPLE 2019 conference and exhibition, the 9th Annual Strategic Summit for the Advancement of University Excellence in all its Forms for the Middle East and Africa, successfully concluded on 25 April 2019 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

The annual higher education conference was prefaced by a welcome dinner where welcome remarks were delivered by Dr Reyadh Almehaideb, Vice President, Zayed University, United Arab Emirates and Ms Mandy Mok, Chief Executive Officer, QS Asia Quacquarelli Symonds, Singapore. The welcome dinner was a memorable experience for all as it was hosted on the Queen Elizabeth 2, a floating hotel and retired ocean liner assembled for the Cunard Line as both a transatlantic liner and a cruise ship from 1969 to 2008. Since 2018, the ship has been functioning as a floating hotel in Dubai. A short video showcasing Emirati event titled Hag Al Lailah, followed by a faculty performance – StandUp Comedian were also witnessed during the dinner.

This year’s conference gathered a total of 232 academics from 108 institutions in 27 countries. It not only allowed participants to gain a better understanding of the higher education sector inside and outside of the Middle East; but also provided them with the chance to share some of their best practices, network and establish partnerships between universities. In addition, a total of 52 papers were presented during plenary and parallel sessions and 25 exhibitors had the opportunity to showcase their universities’ offerings to participants at the QS Hub – Exhibition.

Here are some of the event highlights for those who have missed this informative conference:

The conference kickstarted with an opening keynote address by Dr Mansoor Habib on Happiness in Workplace: From Research to Practice where he shed light on the current workplace happiness research and the implementation of the same in the telecom sector. Dr Habib also discussed the impact on workers health, productivity and engagement. He pointed out that the Workplace has been a station that has attracted researchers and public health specialists to explore what drivers can fulfill the happiness mantra and deliver healthier and happier working environments.

Moving to a different area, Ir. Maria de Kleijn-Lloyd discussed Strategies to Maximise Research Impact on a Modest Budget where she pointed out that the answer to the management of a relatively small budget and number of researchers, compared to research powerhouses like the US and China, is to focus. In addition, Kleijn-Lloyd also drew a parallel with success stories from other nations that may be small in size, but big in impact; and also shed light on the importance of fully embracing digital communication technologies, big data and advanced analytics.

This year’s event also witnessed two exciting QS Squared debates with the enthusiastic participation of delegates with regards to the topics of “You should only be called a University if you conduct and publish research” and “Rankings are the best overall measure of a University’s global and regional standing”.

The conference came to a close with the QS University Rankings Masterclass, a 90-minute panel discussion involving prominent speakers such as John O’Leary (Editor, The Times Good University Guide, United Kingdom), Selina Griffin (Rankings Manager, QS Intelligence Unit, United Kingdom) and Dr Basak Candemir (Head of Analytical Services for Europe and Emerging region at Elsevier).