HBKU Class of 2023: Mariem Fekih Zguir, College of Science and Engineering | Hamad Bin Khalifa University

HBKU Class of 2023: Mariem Fekih Zguir, College of Science and Engineering

16 May 2023

After finding a passion for rigorous academic research, Mariem seeks to work as both an educator and researcher in future.
After finding a passion for rigorous academic research, Mariem seeks to work as both an educator and researcher in future.

Despite holding two Master’s degrees in seemingly unrelated topics, an MS in Public Policy and Management from Carnegie Mellon University and a MA in Translation Studies from Hamad Bin Khalifa University’s (HBKU) College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHSS), Mariem Fekih Zguir has always directed her expertise in service of the field she loves most - education.

Her MA in Translation Studies thesis focused on communication between international schools based in the Middle East and North Africa and local parents, while part of her MS in Public Policy and Management studies included a comparative review of education systems in the Arab world.

A member of the 2013 cohort of the World Innovation Summit for Education’s Learner’s Voice Program, Mariem also worked as an English teacher in Qatar’s public education system for several years as part of her fellowship with Teach For Qatar, gaining a well-rounded perspective on the pertinent challenges faced by the Arab world’s educators.

“I observed the dissociation between knowledge acquisition and job market demands, as well as the lack of agreement on how students should learn soft skills like public speaking, time management, and debating. In particular, I noted a distinct lack of sustainability content in curricula throughout the Arab world,” said Mariem.

Her focus on sustainability drew her to HBKU’s College of Science and Engineering (CSE) and its research project “Education Quality Assessment Towards SDGs”. Led by Dr. Muammer Koç, Founding Professor of HBKU CSE’s Sustainability Division, the project focused on how the Qatari education system could be adapted to help achieve the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals side by side with other local sustainability frameworks. 

Intrigued by this research, Mariem personally reached out to Dr. Koç to inquire about how she could be involved in this field. This led her to enrolling into the CSE’s PhD in Sustainable Environment, where she witnessed firsthand how the college works to engage and lead in sustainable development and other research disciplines of national and global importance.

“As an HBKU alumna, I am very familiar with the interdisciplinary nature of the university’s programs, and I loved the flexibility provided to let me pursue research on my own terms. The PhD program was the perfect fit for my career goals and aspirations, which would allow me to be a transformational educator and an agent of change at any higher education institution I work at in future,” said Mariem.

Her time at HBKU also enabled Mariem to immerse herself in another interest - academic research. In addition to the two papers required as part of her program requirements, she co-authored several papers alongside CSE researchers and was eventually appointed a temporary post-doctoral researcher by her academic advisor in 2022. She was also able to work simultaneously as a freelance writing specialist at the university, allowing her to indulge her passion for teaching by conducting writing workshops and writing consultation sessions for her fellow students.

Mariem credits HBKU’S unique learning environment for affording her these opportunities, which aligns with Qatar’s strategy to invest in human capital and economic diversification by providing students with the knowledge and skills needed to thrive in a rapidly changing entrepreneurial environment.

“My time in the PhD in Sustainable Environment program allowed me to appreciate the job of a researcher in its entirety without compromising my drive to pursue a career in academia. HBKU showed me that I can do all of this in an exciting field that merges education with sustainability, enabling me to contribute my expertise to advancing an exciting field of study that can impact communities around the Arab world,” said Mariem.

Mariem Feikh Zguir is graduating as part of HBKU’s Class of 2023. Together, they advanced their personal and professional development in a university that encourages multidisciplinary innovation, entrepreneurship, and commitment to finding cross-cutting solutions for complex challenges.