[FEZ] The Arab Science and Technology Foundation (ASTF) has launched the Arab world's first science news website.
The announcement was made at the 5th Congress of Scientific Research Outlook (SRO5) meeting in Fez, Morocco, last week (27 October).
"We cannot keep science in the Arab world trapped in the labs forever," said Abdallah El-Naggar, president of ASTF, at the launch. "We need it to be part of our everyday lives. This website will be an important bridge to do this."
The Arabic website, called the Arab Agency for Science News, will collect stories from around the Arab region through an extensive network of reporters. Its main aim will be to communicate research news to the public.
Fedaa' El-Gendy, the website's manager, told SciDev.Net that the website will fill a "gaping hole" in the Arab world. "People want to learn about science in an interesting way. We want to make science public."
The ASTF has a network of more than 11,000 scientists and researchers, and is in talks with several universities and research institutes to feed the website with news of their work.
El-Gendy told SciDev.Net that they have plans to expand the website further. "We want it to be the main reference for Arab science news in the Arab world. We also want to offer it in different languages so the rest of the world can read about our news as well."
The website was launched following the first conference of the Arab Science Journalists Association (ASJA), which took place as part of SRO5. The conference brought together 45 science journalists from 15 different Arab states.
"You can't imagine how happy I am to see you all here," said Nadia El-Awady, president of ASJA, at the launch of the conference. "I am so proud of everyone who came here either to give a presentation or to learn."
The conference held several workshops addressing the main challenges to science journalism in the Arab region, including issues with copyright and plagiarism. For example, many organisations do not respect publishers' copyrights and post full articles elsewhere without referring to the original publisher.
"Besides learning so much from these sessions, the social experience here is invaluable," says Kassem Zaki, a science journalist from Egypt. "Networking and meeting with so many science journalists and researchers is very important for our work."