Young researchers pursue Nobel Prize-winning approach to alleviating poverty in Middle East and North Africa with support from new fellowship

  • The Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab Middle East and North Africa at the American University in Cairo announced the first cohort of the MENA Scholars Fellowship following a highly competitive application process after the fellowship’s launch in November 2022.
  • The MENA Scholars Fellowship will seek to build a community of regional researchers with technical and hands-on experience in designing and conducting randomized evaluations of poverty reduction programs.
  • The fellowship is supported by Community Jameel and the Sawiris Foundation for Social Development.

The Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab Middle East and North Africa (MENA) at the American University in Cairo (J-PAL MENA at AUC) is proud to announce the selection of its first cohort of the MENA Scholars Fellowship

Supported by Community Jameel and the Sawiris Foundation for Social Development, the fellowship provides scholars with a two-year stipend to support their time participating in fellowship program activities. These activities include working on a randomized evaluation, with mentorship and guidance from J-PAL affiliated professors, becoming a member of the worldwide network of fellows from other J-PAL fellowships, enrolling in MIT’s MicroMasters Program in Data, Economics, and Development Policy, attending training sessions and workshops from J-PAL MENA staff and presenting in J-PAL MENA policy events in the region. 

Following its launch in the last quarter of 2022, the Fellowship received an overwhelming response with a highly competitive pool of applications from across the MENA region. After a rigorous selection process, six outstanding individuals have been chosen to be part of this program.

The inaugural cohort of MENA Scholars Fellows consists of six scholars listed below in alphabetical order:

  • Eman Elish (Egypt), Associate Professor of Economics and Program Director of the undergraduate economics program at the British University in Egypt
  • Noha Mostafa (Egypt), Ph.D. in Economics, Faculty of Economics and Political Science, Cairo University
  • Nouf Abushehab (Jordan), Ph.D. student in Economics at Trinity College
  • Reem Alsukait (Saudi Arabia), Assistant Professor of Community Health Sciences, King Saud University
  • Yasmine Hassan (Egypt), Assistant Professor, Faculty of Economics and Political Science, Cairo University
  • Zakaria Mansouri (Morocco), Ph.D. student in Economics at Ibn Tofail University, Kenitra

Ahmed Elsayed, Executive Director at J-PAL MENA, says: “We are thrilled to announce the first cohort of the MENA Scholars Fellowship, representing a diverse group of talented individuals. The rigorous selection process for the MENA Scholars Fellowship has resulted in the selection of six exceptional fellows who have demonstrated their commitment to academic excellence and research. We are excited to support them on their journey and look forward to witnessing the impactful contributions they will make to the region and beyond."

George Richards, Director of Community Jameel, says: “To fight poverty effectively and at scale requires a cadre of researchers who can conduct rigorous experiments of poverty-alleviation initiatives, and ensure policymaking and programme design are informed by evidence. Poverty is a global challenge, and to tackle it we need researchers from – and based in – countries around the world, bringing diverse experiences and perspectives to bear. That is why Community Jameel, with our commitment to equity in science, is proud to be supporting the J-PAL MENA Scholars Fellowship and to be welcoming this first cohort of researchers.”   

Noura Selim, Executive Director of Sawiris Foundation, says: “According to Sawiris Foundation Strategy (2023-2028), we work as a philanthropic organization on funding projects based on scientific evidence to maximize our impact and achieve two main goals of reducing multidimensional poverty and empowering change agents. Thus, MENA Scholars Fellowship becomes a vital investment that provides opportunities for potential impactful researchers in order to enrich scientific evidence and bridge the gap between science and development programs designs, which is aspired to help us design and implement more effective and comprehensive development programs that reduce poverty. We cherish our ongoing partnership with J-PAL MENA at AUC and Community Jameel. Congratulations to the researchers who received the fellowships, and looking forward to seeing their research contributions in the development field.”


About J-PAL MENA at AUC 

The Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab Middle East and North Africa (J-PAL MENA) at The American University in Cairo’s School of Business is a regional office established in July 2020, as a part of a larger network of research centers worldwide working to reduce poverty by ensuring that policy is informed by scientific evidence. Anchored by a network of more than 295 affiliated professors at universities around the world, J-PAL MENA draws on results from randomized impact evaluations to answer critical questions in the fight against poverty. We build partnerships with governments, NGOs, donors, and others to share this knowledge, scale up effective programs, and advance evidence-informed decision-making. 

J-PAL was launched at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2003 and has regional centers in Africa, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, the Middle East and North Africa, North America, South Asia, and Southeast Asia. For more information, visit


About the American University in Cairo School of Business

Boasting an unrivaled reputation as the top private business school in Egypt and one of the best in Africa and the Arab world, AUC School of Business is dedicated to transforming the eager and innovative minds of today to become the responsible change agents of tomorrow, all while developing relevance and leadership in an evolving ecosystem.  
Situated within AUC and enjoying nearly seven decades’ worth of history, the School offers a wide range of programs and activities that extend beyond the classroom to provide a holistic and engaging experiential learning approach. The School’s seal of excellence is the Triple Crown accreditation, which places it among the top 1 percent of educational institutions worldwide to achieve the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, the Association of MBAs and the European Quality Improvement System accreditations. 
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About The American University in Cairo

Founded in 1919, The American University in Cairo (AUC) is a leading English-language, American-accredited institution of higher education and center of the intellectual, social, and cultural life of the Arab world. It is a vital bridge between East and West, linking Egypt and the region to the world through scholarly research, partnerships with academic and research institutions and study abroad programs. The University offers 40 undergraduate, 52 master’s and two PhD programs rooted in a liberal arts education that encourages students to think critically and find creative solutions to conflicts and challenges facing both the region and the world. An independent, nonprofit, politically non-partisan, non-sectarian and equal opportunity institution, AUC is fully accredited in Egypt and the United States.
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About Community Jameel

Community Jameel advances science and learning for communities to thrive. An independent, global organization, Community Jameel was launched in 2003 to continue the tradition of philanthropy and community service established by the Jameel family of Saudi Arabia in 1945. Community Jameel supports scientists, humanitarians, technologists and creatives to understand and address pressing human challenges in areas such as climate change, health and education.
The work enabled and supported by Community Jameel has led to significant breakthroughs and achievements, including the MIT Jameel Clinic’s discovery of the new antibiotic Halicin, critical modeling of the spread of COVID-19 conducted by the Jameel Institute at Imperial College London, and a Nobel Prize-winning experimental approach to alleviating global poverty developed by the co-founders of the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab at MIT.

About Sawiris Foundation for Social Development

Sawiris Foundation for Social Development Since its inception in 2001 is one of the first family-funded foundations in Egypt. SFSD addressed many pressing developmental issues in Egypt such as poverty, unemployment, health, and education. For almost 21 years, SFSD has made a direct difference in the lives of 700,000 Egyptians in 24 governorates, through economic and social empowerment interventions and education and scholarships, with a total fund of EGP 2 billion. SFSD, through successful partnerships, has also contributed to underpinning the relationship with social society organizations in Egypt.
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