Dr. Baha Eddine Youcef Belmekki honored by the ARSCO

In a significant acknowledgment of innovative research aimed at advancing smart Arabic cities, Dr. Baha Eddine Youcef Belmekki, a postdoctoral fellow in the Communication Theory Lab (CTL), has been honored with the esteemed 2023 Arab Scientific Community Organization (ARSCO) award. This accolade was presented during a ceremony hosted by ARSCO in Doha, Qatar, on February 26, 2024. The jury recognized Dr. Belmekki's work for its potential to bring connectivity in urban and rural settings across the Arabic world.

During his acceptance speech (available below), Dr. Belmekki expressed his gratitude towards ARSCO, and the distinguished jury for this recognition. He also extended his appreciation to King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) for its support in facilitating his research endeavors. A special note of thanks was also directed to the KAUST UNESCO Chair on Education to Connect the Unconnected for providing the ideal environment to conduct his research over the last couple of years.

Dr. Belmekki focuses on the critical role of wireless connectivity in developing people-centered smart communities. Highlighting a significant oversight in current urbanization trends, Dr. Belmekki’s work brings to light the need for inclusive connectivity that encompasses villages, rural, and secluded areas often left behind in the march towards digital urbanization. He stated during his acceptance speech, “As we move towards smart Arabic cities, we are forgetting about the villages, rural, and secluded areas”. Employing innovative aerial platforms such as balloons, blimps, and fixed-wing gliders, Dr. Belmekki’s research aims to bridge the digital divide by ensuring internet access in underserved regions. The work encompasses the design, modeling, and analysis of aerial platform networks, demonstrating a commitment to not just creating smart Arabic cities but fostering smart Arabic villages and, ultimately, a smart Arabic world.

This award shines a spotlight on some of the vital research directions pursued within the CTL research group at KAUST, marking a significant step forward in achieving global connectivity and bridging the digital divide. The ARSCO award not only celebrates Dr. Belmekki's achievement but also underscores the collaborative efforts of KAUST, the UNESCO Chair program, and the broader scientific community towards creating a more connected and smarter Arabic world.