Here, I would like to propose a new formula that would allow the GCC countries to contribute actively to not only slowing the brain drain from the region but also to transforming it into a “brain gain” that would bring great benefits to all countries in the region.
Here, I would like to propose a new formula that would allow the GCC countries to contribute actively to not only slowing the brain drain from the region but also to transforming it into a “brain gain” that would bring great benefits to all countries in the region. In this scenario, we can think of the GCC countries as reservoirs that help keep the talent pool and skilled workforces from neighboring countries in the region. This would increase the chances that such talented expats could one day return to their home countries.
For this to happen, the link not only to the home country but to their profession and relevant institutions must be maintained and developed. For example, a professor or a scientist from Egypt, Morocco, Iraq or Yemen working at a university in Saudi Arabia or Qatar should be encouraged to maintain strong links to universities in their home country. This can be achieved through maintaining a joint appointment, engaging in research collaborations, or by actively contributing to teaching, which can now be done through distance-learning tools without the need to travel physically.
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It is likely that the initial response of local administrators of the host universities will be to dismiss this idea. In their view, these professors and scientists were hired to serve the host university and are expected to dedicate all their time and energy to advancing its goals and mission.
What I am proposing here is aimed at achieving this goal while allowing these universities to reciprocate for the direct and indirect benefits they have gained from these countries and contribute to advancing higher education in the region, all through a win-win proposition. I will explain this proposition in more detail in the second part of this two-part commentary.
Hilal A. Lashuel is a Yemeni-born professor of neuroscience at the École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne.