Author Archives: Nael

Happiness: Creating, Fostering & Spreading the Cheer

We live in a time of unprecedented stress. We are bombarded by stressors every minute of every day of our lives, be that on the professional or the personal level. As we celebrate the International Day of Happiness, the question of maintaining a sense of balance and content becomes vital for our emotional and physical well-being.
The fact that the United Nations had to dedicate an international day to celebrate an emotion that should be the essence of our existence is a clear sign of the times. That did not go unnoticed by governments around the world, with some going as far as forming cabinets centered around creating happiness, and dedicating ministries to spreading and maximizing happiness in society (a prominent example is the UAE).
Moreover, an emerging field of research is thriving as scientists investigate factors that create happiness. Early signs and data are reassuring. Happiness seems to stem from within, albeit a conscious effort should be made under certain circumstances to attain it. The research reports that wealth and happiness are not directly correlated. Additionally, happiness and positive thinking are not dictated by nature or nurture alone, meaning that, while our genes and our upbringing play a role in setting our perspective in life, conscious effort is critical for determining our happiness levels.
One interesting finding, for example, is the role empathy plays in generating happiness. Apparently, by sharing feelings of others, we become more fulfilled individuals. A healthier and happier community, therefore, is a more empathetic and humane community.

The Power of Empathy: Creating Better Leaders & Educators

Dr. Bob Sornson, the acclaimed leader in education, asserts that: “Empathy is the heart of a great classroom culture.”

Indeed, recent studies show that the most successful classrooms are those designed around the needs of students, and that the most effective teachers are those that start their journey by asking the question: “what do my students need?” In the digital age, customization has become easier than ever as technology allows us to customize lessons to the abilities of individual learners.

Empathy leads to trust, positive relationships and understanding. The power of empathy extends beyond the classroom and benefits the community as a whole. In a globalized world and in heterogeneous communities formed by a mosaic of cultural, ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds, empathy is essential to forming positive relationships built on trust and understanding.

What we know about empathy includes a very important fact: it gives birth to great leaders, whose understanding of the needs, aspirations, and circumstances of those who follow them is essential. This is how leaders make their team members feel valued and appreciated. This validation, and the ability to understand and share the feelings of others is at the heart of great communities and organizations.

New Roles for Technology in Education and Learning

In a recent lecture presented at Stanford University in the United States, leading researcher in the field of education, Professor Candace Thille discussed the latest findings in learning research and the use of technology in higher education.

The classical answers are:

  1. Increased access and convenience (the MOOCS argument)
  2. Simulation (learning from online/digital resources and models)
  3. Connection and crowd-sourcing (connectivity, internet, and interaction)

While these are indeed important advantages to technological advancements, the new approach in learning goes further to offer educators and learners additional and critical new breakthroughs in their educational journey.

Learning from leading Silicon Valley firms whose business models depends on large data and customer behavior, educational institutions of the future will utilize technology to learn about the learners. The interface would allow instructors and institutions to observe, collect data, and understand the needs, habits, strengths, and weaknesses of the student, allowing us to serve him/her better.

Collecting student interaction data in such a set up will drive powerful feedback loops to multiple actors in the teaching and learning system. Such loops would inform the learner, the teacher, the designers of the technology, and the researchers of science of learning.

As an educational institution that is founded on science and that prides itself in bringing research to practice,  is involved in studies and projects that develop such platforms and interfaces. We would be happy to answer your questions in this regard.

To watch the full video, refer to this link.

A New Era of Innovation & Creativity: Design Thinking & Growth Mindset

Inspired by H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s plans to “make the UAE among the best countries in the world” by the year 2021 (Golden Jubilee of the Union; UAE Vision2021), MECAT announces its programs in Design Thinking and Growth Mindset, targeting the region’s educational institutions.

Vision 2021 places innovation, research, science and technology as the cornerstones of a knowledge-based, highly productive and competitive economy, driven by entrepreneurs in a healthy environment where public and private sectors form effective partnerships. In a similar vein, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia announced its own version of this plan, dubbed Vision 2030, aiming at creating a modern economy that is less dependent on oil production. For decades, the Arab World has struggled to find a strategy that invigorates and stimulates creativity among its youth, an asset that is largely untapped or under-rated. The balance between rigid discipline and creativity has always been tilted towards the former, stifling originality and critical thinking among our youth. As the UAE leads the way in finding a new path towards modernization, our hope is that MECAT will be a pioneering institution in this venture. As a multi-national, multi-disciplinary, and science-rooted organization, MECAT is well positioned in this effort.

Design Thinking
Design Thinking introduces an innovative way of approaching challenges that we face on a daily basis, in schools, in the workplace and in our personal lives. It is a human-centric, interdisciplinary approach that surpasses traditional mindsets, employing visual, creative, and empathetic thinking to find new solutions to problems. Design Thinking questions old assumptions and what we think we already know. It disrupts the status quo in all disciplines, from education, health care, government, business management, engineering, media, tech industry, or services.

In other words, Design Thinking is synonymous with innovation; it offers a pathway towards innovating and discarding preconceptions, tired and tried ideas.

Growth Mindset
Mindsets are beliefs that we hold about ourselves and our abilities and natural components like personality or intelligence. Some people hold a fixed mindset while others hold a growth mindset. A fixed mindset assumes that qualities of human character are innate and cannot be changed. People with a growth mindset, on the other hand, think of human characters as malleable and adaptable. Neuroscientific evidence has revealed significant differences in the brains of people with a fixed mindset and those with a growth mindset. Our training in this field leads to improvements in academic, social, and professional achievement, and results in increased resilience and motivation.

Our Role
MECAT is the only training center that offers workshops in Design Thinking and Growth Mindset in the Middle East. We aim to introduce these two concepts into the lives of our youth in order to harness their creative abilities, and improve their resilience and motivation. Introducing these two processes into our professional lives also leads to demonstrable increase in creative thinking and productivity.

Our experts and trainers are educators who are keen on changing the world. As the region embarks on a new age of fostering innovation and creative thinking, MECAT training and workshops will be at the forefront of education and innovation in the region.

For further details on our workshops and training, contact us via e-mail: or by phone: +971 4 458 1326. You can always find us on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube): @MecatAcademy or visit our website:

A Groundbreaking Virtual Exchange Program with Stanford and other American Universities at MUBS

In recent years, so much has been made on the role of globalization in bridging cultural distances and educational disparities among countries and across borders. The tools for such lofty goals have mostly focused on online learning and the ability of faculty and students to communicate and benefit from each others’ expertise and research. In Lebanon, and despite the hype, we have generally lagged behind in utilizing all available routes to promote active exchange of knowledge and information. Institutions that have taken the lead in this exchange and movement towards globalization were either resorting to very limited face-to-face exchange, or passive online learning. The former method is complicated by the political instability in the country, and the former has been proven by research to be of limited long-term benefit as it lacks student engagement and face-to-face interaction.

At MUBS, we have always valued active, participatory, and interactive learning environments. We aspired to bring that same philosophy to our exchange programs. As a result, we have embarked on a pioneering program with Stanford University in California, USA to start the MUBS Virtual Exchange Program that allows MUBS and Stanford University students and faculty to study and work together on a daily basis in select courses and utilizing world-class educational platforms created by Harvard, MIT, and developed by Stanford (Stanford EdX Lagunita Platform).

The benefits of student exchange are vast and multi-layered. Beyond interactive learning in classrooms of 25 students or less, across borders to exchange information and discuss academic material that culminates in a common project presented by groups of four students (each group contains 2 American and 2 Lebanese working on a daily basis through videoconferencing and common course work), the benefits of this exchange are cultural and long-lasting.

Human beings tend to form positive stereotypes of those they resemble, and negative stereotypes of those who are different, creating in-groups and out-groups. Stereotypes are then used to explain behaviors not only of groups, but also of individuals. Such attitudes reduce complex realities, simplifying the multiple causes of human behavior to a single factor. Furthermore, stereotypes can be difficult to suspend because they are also typically linked to strong positive or negative emotions—depending on the nature of the stereotype. When such stereotypes are used to explain behavior, to evaluate performance, or to predict the potential of individuals and groups, conclusions that are reached using such flawed categories will also be flawed.

Unfortunately, we can detect the negative repercussions of stereotypes in our national and international communities. As educators and professionals from MUBS and Stanford, we will try to make our students cognizant of the explanatory frameworks used to judge others, especially out-group members, when working with individuals. Such cognizance is necessary for an objective and realistic understanding of specific communities.

For many decades, educational institutions have set up face-to-face student exchanges to help counter stereotypes and broaden perspectives. In spite of its benefits, though, face-to-face exchange is a difficult and expensive form of educational experience, one that is more often available to students from rich nations, and requires these students to have the means and flexibility to live far away from home for an extended period of time. As a result, we have developed this exchange because our experience suggests that cultural trait stereotypes held about life in the Middle East and the United States can be altered to become more differentiated and objective by engaging students at MUBS and American universities in a cooperative, group educational activity, mediated by technology.

In every field, today’s professionals routinely collaborate with counterparts across multiple borders and oceans, sometimes meeting face-to-face and sometimes meeting through the intermediary of technology. Ease and fluency in these settings is an important professional asset. As a foundation, the exchange will use a form of problem-based learning to help prepare students for this kind of professional collaboration. Developed by faculty and researchers in both the U.S. and Lebanon, the exchange will also emphasize cross-cultural learning, and through new media and technologies it will promote collaborative learning. Working in cross-national teams and empowered with digital tools, students will be tasked to solve the same kinds of problems that they will soon be tasked to solve as professionals, with counterparts they may continue to know long after their common course has ended.

As students at MUBS, the Virtual Exchange Program with Stanford will help prepare students to join this century’s global workforce. This innovative and pioneering program is a testament to our university’s impeccable record in academic circles on the international stage. We are currently planning on expanding our courses to include common courses with Georgetown and George Washington University, which sends a signal on what MUBS is striving to achieve and the standing we hope to realize among the top-ranking universities in the world.