Nayla Essa Alkuwari firmly believes in the potential of digital technologies to continue revolutionizing how people-centered researchers can support their communities. She always envisioned herself in a career where she could play an integral role in developing digitized products, services, and tools that can ease how people do business with one another and also safeguard the well-being of communities in Qatar and beyond.
This also inspired her to enroll in the MA in Digital Humanities and Societies program at Hamad Bin Khalifa University’s (HBKU) College of Humanities and Social Sciences, one of the very few programs that offered an education in this exciting field. “As a tech savvy digital transformation advocate, I did not hesitate to apply for this program. HBKU and the wider Qatar Foundation community provided the perfect environment to better understand and even introduce novel ways in which social groups can use digital technologies to construct shared cultural spaces,” said Nayla.
The MA in Digital Humanities and Societies program’s interdisciplinary curriculum gave her an overview of digital technologies and their effects on many aspects of culture, including how they can shape activism, civil society, and define heritage. With CHSS’ commitment to keeping abreast of local and global trends, Nayla also learned to employ power methodologies of the digital humanities to investigate practices and trends impacting contemporary global challenges.
For the Qatari people-minded researcher, her favorite work in the program focused on a pressing issue facing societies around the world - digital propaganda. Part of her coursework included identifying online disinformation by conducting textual, language, and sentiment analysis, which gave her a greater appreciation of how the Internet can amplify malicious messaging to vulnerable audiences around the world.
“The effect of online disinformation on our communities cannot be overstated. As we continue to create and inhabit digital spaces online, it is imperative we take steps to protect them from deliberately misleading actors that aim to negatively disrupt our societies,” said Nayla.
Nayla also appreciated the program’s forward-thinking approach, especially as it highlighted how emerging technologies such as online chatbots can dramatically impact digital interactions and therefore reshape digital culture at breakneck speed.
Nayla’s experience exemplified how the CHSS’ programs strive to achieve a deeper understanding of human development and society’s ever-evolving nature. She gained a wider perspective on the impact of digital technologies on human society while also navigating the complexities of today’s world and taking on the responsibility of becoming a leader in her community. This comprehensive approach to her development embodied how HBKU’s unique learning environment naturally reinforces Qatar’s strategy to invest in human capital and economic diversification by providing students with the knowledge and skills to thrive in a rapidly-changing and entrepreneurial environment.
Looking ahead, she is excited at the breadth of career opportunities that await her, with digitalization now a fundamental component of conducting business in any market sector. As a member of HBKU’s Class of 2023, she feels more than prepared to take on the next step in her career after graduating from a university that encourages multidisciplinary innovation, entrepreneurship, and commitment to finding cross-cutting solutions for complex challenges.
Just like her classmates and peers from across HBKU’s six colleges, Nayla feels empowered to embark on her own journey where she can apply her experience to help shape a more inclusive digital future for Qatar and the world.