The first academic research centre in the World to focus on Syrian culture, politics and history will open at the University of St Andrews tomorrow (Friday 3rd November 2006).
The unique centre aims to improve links between Syria and the UK by establishing dialogue and fostering exchanges between Syrian and British scholars.
The Centre for Syrian Studies will be directed by Professor Raymond Hinnebusch, who said, “Syria is a country which is undergoing pivotal changes and there is no blueprint on how to proceed. Our centre aims to provide academically sound and politically unbiased knowledge and research, which we hope will facilitate the way forward.”
The Centre will undertake research on contemporary Syria, specifically, on economic and political reform and issues such as security and foreign policy.
Professor Hinnebusch, a Professor of International Relations and Middle East Studies, became interested in Syria in 1970 when he realised that it was central to political trends in the Arab world, and that it was a country which ‘punched above its weight’.
The activities of the Centre will include an annual conference to be held alternatively in St Andrews, London and Damascus, a speakers series and the ‘Syria in Transition’ book project. Over the coming months it will recruit Syrian and non-Syrian scholars and policy makers to act as academic Fellows, undertaking research on modern Syria for the Centre.
Funding for the new centre has been provided by Syrian-born British businessman Ayman Asfari’s charity, the Asfari Foundation. Mr Asfari is chief executive of the London and Aberdeen-based oil company Petrofac Limited.
The Centre is a unit of the Institute for Middle East, Central Asian, and Caucasus Studies (MECACS) within the University’s School of International Relations, already home to world-leading research centres such as the Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence and the Institute for Iranian studies opened earlier this week by HE Mohamed Khatami, the former president of Iran. Friday’s opening event will be attended by the Syrian Ambassador to the UK, H.E. Dr Sami Khiyami.
NOTE TO EDITORS:
For further information contact Professor Raymond Hinnebusch on 01334 462861, email firstname.lastname@example.org
YOU ARE INVITED TO ATTEND THE OFFICIAL OPENING OF THE UNIVERSITY’S NEW CENTRE FOR SYRIAN STUDIES ON FRIDAY 3 NOVEMBER IN THE NEW ARTS BUILDING (FIRST FLOOR FOYER), THE SCORES, ST ANDREWS AT 4:30PM.
ATTENDEES WILL INCLUDE THE UNIVERSITY’S PRINCIPAL AND VICE- CHANCELLOR, DR BRIAN LANG, CHANCELLOR SIR MENZIES CAMPBELL, MR AYMAN ASFARI AND THE SYRIAN AMBASSADOR TO THE UK, DR SAMI KHIYAMI.
Issued by Beattie Media – www.beattiegroup.com on behalf of the University of St Andrews
Contact Gayle Cook, Press Officer on 01334 467227 / 462529, mobile 07900 050 103, or email gec3@st- andrews.ac.uk
Ref: Syria 021106.doc
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