Queen Rania Foundation


On June 29, 2021, the World Bank’s report on Advancing Arabic Language Teaching and Learning: A Path to Reducing Learning Poverty in MENA was launched at an event hosted by the Queen Rania Foundation. The report identifies and explores the factors related to high learning poverty rates across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, in which more than half of children cannot read and understand an age-appropriate text by age 10. The report also proposes a path to assist MENA countries in their efforts to reduce learning poverty.

In the first of a series of conversations on advancing Arabic language teaching and learning to reduce learning poverty in MENA, the science of learning to read in Arabic, and aspects of the Arabic language that need to be considered in education policy and practice, will be explored.

Opening Remarks 

Bassem Saad
Chief Executive Officer, Queen Rania Foundation
Andreas Blom
Education Manager, Middle East & North Africa Region, World Bank











Hanada Taha Thomure

Endowed Professor of Arabic Language, Zayed University

Professor Taha Thomure designed the first system for leveling Arabic texts which is currently used by        regional and international publishers to level their Arabic children’s books, with more than 8000 books  leveled thus far. She also developed the Arabic language arts standards that have been used by more  than 100,000 students all over the Arab world. She is the senior author for Pearson’s Arabic language Arts K-9, a state-of-the-art curriculum that is standards, literature and inquiry-based. She has reviewed the national Arabic curricula for Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, UAE, and Bahrain and is an adviser for Arab Thought Foundation, Queen Rania Foundation, USAID, DLI, the World Bank, and many others. Her research is in the field of Arabic language teaching and learning, oral reading fluency, Arabic children’s literature and teacher preparation and curriculum studies. 


Prof. Zeinab Ibrahim 
Teaching Professor of Arabic Studies, Carnegie Mellon University, Qatar and a sociolinguist of Arabic.

Prof. Zeinab Ibrahim is a sociolinguist of Arabic and a Teaching of Arabic as a Foreign Language (TAFL) professor. She earned her Ph.D. from Georgetown University, Washington, D.C. She holds an M.A. in Teaching Arabic as a Foreign Language (TAFL) and another in communication, both from the American University in Cairo. Her most recent book is "Beyond Lexical Variation in Modern Standard Arabic: Egypt, Lebanon and Morocco." In addition to four edited books, she published many articles investigating the Arabic language, linguistics and sociolinguistics. She was the president of the American Association of Teachers of Arabic (AATA), executive director of CASA (Center for Arabic Study Abroad) and other administrative positions. She has organized several international conferences and received several grants.


Prof. Haitham Taha
Western Galilee College & Sakhnin College for Teachers’ Education

Prof. Haitham Taha is a researcher in the field of learning disabilities, reading psychology and cognitive skills. His main research interest is in investigating the basic cognitive and neurocognitive process in reading among typical and disabled native Arab readers. His main research work is being done in the Edmond J. Safra Brain Research Center for the Study of Learning Disabilities at University of Haifa. Currently, Prof. Taha is the chair of the Special Education Department at Sakhnin College and graduated program for studies in learning disabilities and a professor in the Western Galilee Academic College. Prof. Taha published different publications about reading in Arabic from cognitive, neurocognitive and developmental points of view. Beside to his research work, Prof. Taha has a clinical specialization in diagnosis learning disorders and disabilities while he is the professional director of the college center for diagnosis of and treatment of learning and developmental disabilities in the College of Sakhnin.


Michael F. Crawford

Lead Education Specialist, The World Bank

Michael F. Crawford is a Lead Education Specialist in the World Bank Global Education Practice and heads the World Bank’s Thematic Group on Curriculum, Instruction, and Learning. He has played a key role in the development of the World Bank’s Learning Target for literacy and is a chief technical advisory for the Literacy Policy Package. He leads analytical work and the development of global public goods for the improvement of foundational learning. He is currently spearheading the integration of language of instruction issues in education policy and designing and advising on literacy and curriculum interventions in numerous countries. He has worked with client countries in all regions and has led cross-sectoral global policy work. Michael holds an MA in International Relations from the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies and a BA in Philosophy and Mathematics from St. John’s College, Annapolis, MD.


Prof. Reem Khamis-Dakwar

Professor and Chair of Communication Sciences and Disorders, Adelphi University

Reem Khamis-Dakwar, Ph.D., CCC-SLP is Professor of Speech-Language Pathology and director of the Neurophysiology in Speech-Language Pathology Lab (NSLPLab) at Adelphi University in New York. Her area of expertise focuses on language development, processing, and clinical services within the sociolinguistic situation of diglossia and individuals from diverse populations. Her experience includes years of work as a speech pathologist serving Arabic, Hebrew and English speaking individuals with communication disorders, teacher and mentor in pre-service and in-service training programs in speech pathology and childhood education, as well as an administrator and leader in business and higher education. She serves as a consultant in many humanitarian groups including Syria Cannot Wait, and Ahlan Simsim. She is a co-founder of the Arab Speech-Language Pathologists organization, LENA Start education program for Arabic speaking families in NY, and contributes to the work of several speech pathology organizations across the Arab world. Dr. Khamis-Dakwar was awarded the 2020 Excellence in Diversity Award from the Council of Academic Programs in Communication Sciences and Disorders.


Amal Arab

Presenter, Al Araby Network (Moderator)

Amal Arab has served as a news and program presenter at Al Araby TV network since 2014. She has over 13 years of experience as a broadcast journalist. Prior to joining Al Araby, she served as the senior news and program presenter for Al Ghad TV based in the United Kingdom. She also had roles at Paltoday TV, Alalam and Algerian TV. Arab earned a degree in legal and administrative sciences from the University of Oran Assenia in Algeria.