Celebrating Arab Brains

August 16, 2016 OPINION/NEWS


Sami Jamil Jadallah

With the exception of a few so-called “Arab Nationalists” the world, especially the scientific world, mourned the passing of Dr. Ahmed Zewail (Feb 26, 1946-August 2, 2016) the ONLY Arab and Egyptian to win the Noble Prize in science (Chemistry 1999).

Dr. Zewail was a Linus Pauling professor of chemistry at California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and Director of Physical Biology Center where his research in “femtochemistry”, the “study of chemical reactions across femtoseconds by a rapid ultrafast laser technique allowing the description reaction on very short time scales.”

President Obama, to his credit, in 2009 recognized Arab and Muslim scientists and established the “Science Envoy Program” with the appointment of Dr. Ahmed Zewail, Bruce Alberts (President of the National Science Foundation) and Dr. Elias Zerhouni (Director for 6 years at the National Institute of Health), the largest biomedical research agency in the world with an annual budget of $40 billion and “1,200 principal investigators and 3,000 postdoctoral fellows.”

The US Science Envoy Program, a key initiative of the US State Department, selects annually three eminent scientists with specific assignments as the citizen and public envoy with a focus on certain issues. Perhaps one of the least known programs by the US Department of State.

My last article was titled ‘Arab Brains, Arab $, Why Not?‘ and now we know where the “Arab Brains” are immigrating outside the Arab world where the potential is so great.

The Arab world should be proud of its sons and daughters who did very well as scientists including the exceptional family members of Hasan Nayfeh of Palestine where his sons’ achievements are not only exceptional but unique with all the brothers achieving scientific fame all over the US and the world.

Dr. Nayfeh is Professor Emeritus at Virginia Tech and was the first recipient of the Thomas K. Caughey Dynamic Award, with many honorary degrees from Marine Technology University of Russia, Technical University of Munich, and Politechnicka Sczecinska of Poland, as well as the recipient of the Benjamin Franklin Medal in Electromechanical Engineering.

His brother Munir Nayfeh is the chairman of the Physics Department at University of Illinois, was a classmate of mine in El-Bireh/Palestine and was the first physicist to “examine the behavior of Hydrogen molecules in an intense laser field,” in 1974 publishing a milestone paper with one of the 2005 Noble Prize Laureates in Physics Theodor W. Hansch on a precision measurement of the Rydberge Constant, and the leading research in Nanotechnology.

Yes, the Arab world can and does produce exceptional scientific talents and here I take strong exception with the Palestinian journalist Abdul Bari Atwan when he belittled the achievements of Dr. Zewail attributing his Noble to his willingness for “normalization” with Israel. Rather than asking the question of why over 300 million or 1,200 billion produces so few Noble Laureates, Mr. Atwan and his likes of “Arab Nationalists” downplay the great achievements of the likes of Dr. Zewail, Dr. Ali, Dr. Munir, Dr. Elias and many others. It also does well for Prince Turki al-Faisal to inquire why there is such an Arab brain drain.

Let us honor all those with exceptional talents that made us so proud. We need to keep asking why there are so few Noble laureates, and welcome the Nayfeh family member Dr. Jamal F. Nayfeh as a member of the New Arab Foundation and the Arab Peace Corps. Dr. Nayfeh is the Dean and Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Prince Mohamed Bin Fahd University (PMU).








Sami Jamil Jadallah

Sami is a Palestinian-American immigrated to the US while in high school. He was drafted in the US Army during Vietnam War earning the leadership award from the US Sixth Army Non-Commission Officer Academy.

After honorable discharge, Sami enrolled at Indiana University where he was active in student politics, elected class president, student president and chairman of the Indiana Student Association representing students from all colleges and universities in the State of Indiana.

Sami earned his Bachelor Degree (economics and politics), Master of Public and Environmental Affairs and Doctor of Jurisprudence. After a 2 years stint with a major Wall Street law firm Sami took on the job as general counsel of a major international construction company in Saudi Arabia. As an international legal and business consultant, Sami served as owner representative on major projects such as hotels, conservation foundation, defense, and technology.

In the area of public service, Sami was the founding member of the United Palestinian Appeal, a well known not for profit organization serving the needs of Palestinians refugees with over $100 millions in projects and donations serving 16 years as a trustee.

Sami as founding member and executive director of the New Arab Foundation, a US based Not for Profit Tax Exemp, a think tank (with a mission) and management consulting organization, and is working now on the launching of the Arab Peace Crops inspired by President John F Kennedy’s American Peace Corps.

Sami lives in Fairfax, VA and is married to Dr. Alma Abdul-Hadi Jadallah an international expert in mediations and conflict resolution, they have three children all living and working in Washington DC.


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