Dr. Narimane Hadj Hamou

Founder and CEO, the Center of Learning Innovations and Customized Knowledge Solutions (CLICKS), UAE

Dr. Narimane Hadj-Hamou is Founder and CEO of the Center for Learning Innovations and Customized Knowledge Solutions (CLICKS) – established in 2012 as a private ‘not for profit’ organization with the primary purpose of supporting the healthy growth and development of the higher education sector in the Arab region via the provision of capacity building opportunities, the transfer of “know-how”, and the offering of ‘fit for purpose’ consultancy services. The Center works today with more than a 100 Higher Education Institutions and have trained almost 10,000 members of the higher education community across its various areas of expertise. Prior to establishing CLICKS, she was the Assistant Chancellor for Learning and Academic Development (Provost) at the Hamdan Bin Mohammed Smart University (HBMSU) in Dubai, UAE where she has established and led the academic, research and eLearning vision and strategy of the first online University to be recognized and accredited by the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research in the UAE (2003 through 2012). In her role as the Assistant Chancellor for Learning and Academic Development and as a Dean earlier, she has been involved with the leading the design, development and accreditation of several programs including doctoral degrees and in leading the institution efforts to move from a College (e-TQM College) to a university status. She has also been involved with establishing international links with leading universities and organizations globally.

Dr. Hadj-Hamou is the founder of several regional initiatives; she has established (2008-2009) the Middle East eLearning Association (MEeA); one of the first Arab regional non-for-profit associations addressing eLearning in the MENA region and was elected as its first President. Prior to that she has launched and chaired for several years during her work at the HBMSU the eLearning Excellence Forum/ HBMeU Congress known today as Innovate Arabia. In 2013 in collaboration with the Arab Association of Universities she led the formation of the MENA Association of University; an independent, non-political, non- for profit, professional and academic regional association of chief executive officers from Higher Education Institutions within the Middle East and Northern African region. In the same year she led the launch of the MENA Higher Education Leadership Forum ( which she chairs as a regional high level gathering of higher education leaders and decision makers from across the globe.

Dr. Hadj- Hamou research interest is around the use of innovative pedagogies and modern technologies in higher education (including online, blended learning and flipped learnig) as she holds a PhD in software engineering and a Bachelor and Master in computer Science. Over the years, she has established interest also in aspects of quality and quality assurance in higher education.
Dr Narimane is a highly sought speaker and trainer and has throughout her career delivered and facilitated over a 150 of local, regional and international keynote addresses; workshops, roundtables and panel discussions in many countries including Hungary, Germany, Lebanon, Malaysia, France, the UK, Qatar, Sudan, Italy, Egypt, Morocco, China, the USA, South Africa, the UAE among many others. More recently with the pandemic, she has been involved in faculty capacity building in the areas of online learning and trained more than 3000 academicians on aspects of course design, assessment, online teaching, quality assurance and academic advising.

Dr. Hadj Hamou acted on numerous occasions as a consultant for different UNESCO regional offices mainly supporting the development of quality higher education and the embracement of new forms of learning such as e-learning. She was previously involved with the European Training Foundation and serves as an external reviewer for external quality assurance agencies in the region. She was instrumental in reviewing most recently the NCAAA Saudi Standard for Online Learning.

Dr. Hadj-Hamou receive different recognitions, among which she was in 2014 recognized for her contribution to the field by Forbes Magazine who listed her among the 200 Most powerful Arab Women, in 2016 she received the Arab Women Award for the Education category and in 2017 received the Influential Education Leader Award at Cambridge University in the UK.

Dr. Jorge Román

International Consultant in
Business Excellence & Benchmarking,
Dubai Police Headquarters, UAE

Dr Jorge Román is currently an International Consultant in Business Excellence & Benchmarking at Dubai Police Headquarters. He has a PhD in Management from Lleida University in Spain, and is a Mechanical Engineer with an MBA (NSU, Tulsa-Oklahoma, USA). Dr Román’s areas of expertise focus on the application of quality improvement to business in service and products (Benchmarking for Best Practices, Lean Management, Business Excellence Framework).

Global Presence: Speaker in Business Excellence & Benchmarking at local, regional, national and international levels. Over 50 presentations around the world (UAE, Singapore, USA, Russia, Saudi Arabia, New Zealand, Kuwait, Philippines, China, Malaysia, Iran, Argentina, México, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela and Chile).

He has written two books, “Six Steps to Building a Culture of Quality”, and “Business Process Management Applied to Business Excellence & Benchmarking”, both available on amazon (kindle & paperback versions).

Prof. Julie Furst-Bowe

Interim VP for Academic Affairs, Arkansas Tech University, USA


Dr. Julie Furst-Bowe is a higher education consultant specializing in accreditation and performance excellence. With more than 20 years of experience in senior leadership positions at colleges and universities, including Provost and Chancellor, Dr. Furst-Bowe has worked with institutions around the globe on academic programming, integrated enrollment management, quality improvement, strategic planning and systems thinking. Dr. Furst-Bowe currently serves as a reviewer for the Higher Learning Commission and an assessor for the Government Excellence Management programs in the UAE. She has been recognized with Fellow status from the American Society for Quality and received her doctorate in education from the University of Minnesota. Dr. Furst-Bowe has published numerous articles and edited two books on quality improvement in higher education. She continues to teach graduate courses in Career and Technical Education leadership at the University of Wisconsin-Stout, the first and only university to have received the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award.

Prof. Ghassan Aouad

Chancellor, Abu Dhabi University, UAE


Professor Aouad is the Chancellor of Abu Dhabi University.  Before joining ADU in late January 2023, Professor Aouad served as President of Applied Science University in Bahrain for over eight years.  He spent five years in the Department of Civil and Building Engineering of Loughborough University in the UK, where he obtained his MSc in Construction (1987) and his PhD entitled Integrated Planning Systems for the Construction Industry (1991). In 1992, Professor Aouad joined the University of Salford as a Research Fellow and progressed through to the role of Pro Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation and Dean of the College of Science & Technology before he left in December 2011. During that time, he successfully supervised 24 PhD students, externally examined 52 PhD students, authored 3 major research books and co-authored one book, generated more than £10M in research funding as Principal Investigator and £8M as Co-Investigator, published 92 papers in top rated refereed journals, delivered
more than 50 keynote speeches and invited lectures, and presented his work in more than 42 countries.

Prof Aouad moved on to broaden the geographical reach of his academic leadership by serving as the President of the University of Wollongong in Dubai (UOWD), and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Gulf University for Science & Technology (GUST) based in Kuwait. Furthermore, Prof Aouad served as
President and Vice President of the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB).  In July 2016, Professor Aouad received an Honorary Doctor of Technology from Loughborough University in the UK. Professor Aouad is also a member of the Advance HE Leadership and Management Strategic Advisory Group. In addition, he is a Fellow of Advance HE and a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Building.

Prof. Pedro Saraiva

Vice Rector of Nova University of Lisbon, Portugal


Diploma from the University of Coimbra, Portugal (1987) and PhD in Chemical Engineering from MIT, USA (1993); Assistant (1993-2001), Associate (2001-2010) and Full (2010-) Professor at the Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of Coimbra; Dean of NOVA-IMS (Information Management School at the Nova University of Lisbon (2018-); Member of the Portuguese National Parliament (2009-2012 and 2012-2015); Pro-Rector of the University of Coimbra (2003-2004 and 2005-2006); Vice-Rector of the University of Coimbra (2007-2009); Advisor of the President of Portugal for Higher Education (2006-2009); First receiver of the Feigenbaum Award (1998) by ASQ (American Society for Quality); Receiver of the Yoshio Kondo Award (2019); Associate
(2010-2015) and then Full Member (2015-) and of the International Academy for Quality (IAQ) where he is also the Chair of the Think Tank for Quality in Education (2016-); Vice-President (2018-2020) and President (2021-2023) of the Board of the Portuguese Association for Quality (APQ); Vice-President of the Executive Board of the European Organization for Quality (2020-), where he is also a member of the European Quality Trademark team that created and is managing this project (2020-); Vice-President and Member of the Board of Trustees of IAQ (2021-); Board Member of the American Society for Quality (ASQ) (2022-). Has participated in many projects regarding Quality Management, Excellence Models, Quality in Education and Quality in Higher Education, both in Portugal and abroad (e.g. Poland, United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Slovenia); Has participated in international panels for Higher Education Quality Assessment conducted by the Accreditation Agencies of Oman and Mauritius; Has been collaborating with OECD and the European Commission in the development and application of a self-assessment platform for evaluating the innovation and entrepreneurial environments and initiatives carried out by Higher Education Institutions (HEInnovate); Author of over 100 papers published in indexed journals (Scopus) and several books in the fields of quality, entrepreneurship, innovation and PSE, he has also supervised over 10 PhD students in different areas of Quality Management and Process Systems Engineering.

Prof. Mohamed AICHOUNI

Professor, Engineering College, University of Hail, Saudi Arabia.

Mohamed AICHOUNI is currently a Professor at the Engineering College, University of Hail, in Saudi Arabia. He earned a PhD degree in Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering from the University of Salford, Manchester, Great Britain in 1992 and a Bachelor degree in Marine Engineering (Mechanical and Power Machinery) from the University of Sciences and Technology of Oran (Algeria) in 1987.

He has been in academia since 1992. He worked as an assistant professor to professor, at the Faculty of Sciences and Engineering, University of Mostaganem (Algeria), then at the university of Hail, Saudi Arabia since then.
During his academic career, he has been acting as a Principal Investigator and Leader of several Research Projects funded by big organizations both in private and government (Mualeem Mohamed BinLadin Research Chair on Quality Improvement in the Construction Industry; Principal Investigator of the "The 2030 Skills: A Foresight Study of Skills and Employment Landscape in the Perspective of the Saudi Vision 2030", funded by the Research and Development Office (RDO), Ministry of Education for 1 year (Dec 2019 - Dec 2020), and Director and Research Team Leader (PI) for the Project "Program for Creativity and Innovation Skills Development through Quality and Organizational Excellence Concepts" funded by the Ministry of Higher Education for 2 years (October 2014 - October 2016). He is the Scientific Head and Founder of the Master Program "Quality Engineering and Management", at the College of Engineering, Hail University, (launched fall 2015).

As an IRCA registered auditor for ISO 9001:2015 QMS, King Abdulaziz Quality AwardCertified Assessor and quality expert, he helped many Government and charity organizations and businesses to implement quality management systems and process improvement initiatives with substantial results. He served as Chair and member of the organization committees for several national and international conferences including the 4th National Quality Conference (NCQ4) and the Saudi Conference and Exhibition on Quality in Industry (QUALEX 2017, QUALEX 2018) and the International Engineering Conference (UoH, Nov 2018).

Prof. Mohamed supervised more than 30 PhD and MSc Theses in areas of engineering and management, and he has been the external examiner of more than fifty Master and PhD theses in the area of thermo-fluids engineering, metrology and Quality Engineering. He published more than 100 Scientific Papers in Refereed (ISI) Journals , international conferences and 11 textbooks.
During his academic carrier Prof Mohamed acted at top management positions at higher education institutions. He served as Vice Rector in charge of Post-Graduate Studies and Scientific Research, at the University of Mostaganem, Algeria, (during 1993 - 2001) and Quality Director and General Supervisor at Hail College of Technology, Saudi Arabia, (during the period April 2005-Jan 2007), and Vice Dean of Academic Affairs, then of Post graduate Studies at the College of Engineering, UoH (2009-2017).