Egyptian historian Khaled Fahmy and Saudi anthropologist Madawi Al-Rasheed have been elected to the fellowship of the British Academy, becoming the first two Arabs to join the institution.
The British Academy is an independent organisation that boosts humanities and social sciences and give research grants and achievement awards in social and human sciences. Each year the academy elects 50 to 80 new members from the UK and honorary fellows from outside of the UK to its fellowship of around 1,400 leading national and international academics, elected for their distinction in the humanities and social sciences.
The decision was announced on the British Academy's website. Fifty-two new fellows were elected this year.
Khaled Fahmy, Professor of Modern Arabic Studies at Cambridge, told Ahram Online that the decision is a "great honour, especially that this is the first time an Egyptian and an Arab have been elected to the fellowship of the British Academy, and a chance as well to participate in executing the policies of the Academy that concern humanities and social sciences, which is a thing that I care about deeply."
"This is a great chance to participate in honouring the worthy works in this field and encouraging and boosting the fields of humanities and social science, as well as a chance to support the Arabic studies in these fields from within the academic British system," he added.
The Academy plays a big role in funding research and giving grants. In 2014/15 it distributed £32,900,000 in research grants, awards and charitable activities.
It said on its Twitter account: "Historian Khaled Fahmy is Professor of Modern Arabic Studies at Cambridge University. His latest book, In Quest of Justice, was described as ‘a masterpiece that confirms his standing as the preeminent social and cultural historian of 19th-century Egypt.’"
Last month Fahmy won the British Social History Society (SHS) Book Prize for In the Quest of Justice: Islamic Law and Forensic Medicine in Modern Egypt, which was released by California University Press in 2018.
Al-Rasheed is a social anthropologist based at the London School of Economic and Political Studies.