Coopérations Universitaires Germano-Arabes


Dialogue avec le Monde Islamique

Higher Education Dialogue with the Muslim World


The programme was originally initiated in reaction to the events of September 11, 2001. Known at the time by the name “European-Islamic Cultural Dialogue”, it aimed to make a contribution to promoting a dialogue and understanding between Europeans and the Arab-Islamic world. The programme has been referred to as “German-Arab / Iranian Higher Education Dialogue” since 2006. In turn, the programme underwent a regional expansion in 2012: currently called “Higher Educat ion Dialogue with the Muslim World”, the regions previously targeted (the Arab nations and Iran) were broadened to include non-European countries with substantial Muslim populations which, for the least, also contribute to shaping society. The universities in countries in the Middle East still comprise the majority of the cooperative partners covered by the programme.

Programme objective

Our understanding of dialogue the primary aim of the programme is to promote cultural dialogue and intercultural understanding. The DAAD is not, however, primarily concerned with a dialogue with Islam and its representatives, or a dialogue about Islam, but rather the dialogue between students and academics from Germany and the Islamic world. The programme is based on the assumption that mutual interest and understanding is especially enhanced through collaborative working, studying and research. Exchanges and academic partnerships on the basis of mutual scientific interests form the starting point for members of different cultures, who might tend to approach each other with skepticism in many situations, to start communicating with each other. In the process of the subject-specific exchange, the participants gain intercultural experiences which increase their knowledge and appreciation of other cultures while at the same time promising academic advantages.

Reciprocity is indispensable for this dialogue. All partners involved in a project centered around dialogue are required, with the academic exchange as a starting point, to communicate more about their own cultures and, in return, learn more about the culture of their partners, while also maintaining an openness to the personal change this cultural exchange may bring and to using it to develop something innovative together. This is  why the DAAD is  focusing on promoting activities and projects which invigorate  the discourse in  and with Islamic regions as well as  the relationships  between Germany and  64  the Islamic world, while also ensuring the motivation exists to  conduct a critical  and constructive exchange  about values, ideals and  opinions. This will help foster the growth of long-lasting contacts and friendships, also leading to reflection on and a shift in personal cultural beliefs, an increase in knowledge about another culture as well as a refinement of the skills needed for intercultural interaction. 

An academic collaboration, encouraged by social activities, conveys an appreciation of the similarities and differences between the cultures from which the actors involved in the partnership originate, and contributes to the dismantling of fears and prejudices while opening new paths to mutual tolerance and respect. The managers of the projects also organize suitable forums for intercultural dialogue and can act constructively as intermediaries when intercultural tensions and conflicts arise.

Along with its primary aim of cultural dialogue, the programme is also pursuing four other secondary objectives: promoting junior and female academics, modernizing courses of  study, creating regional networks in and between the partner regions and with Germany, and making  a contribution to the  development of society and  the formation of a knowledge society in the region.


Along with initiation visits and small projects, the programme also places a focus on promoting three-year partnerships between German universities and universities from nations characterized by Islamic societies. In accordance with the programme philosophy, a balance between projects in the humanities and social sciences and projects in planning, construction and geoscience, as well as partnerships in the areas of art and culture, has been maintained. However, technical and scientific disciplines are also represented by numerous projects, for example in engineering, natural sciences, medicine, and information technology. 

The range of partner countries is also varied: along with Iran, Pakistan and Indonesia, numerous Arabic-speaking countries, from Morocco to Iraq, are also represented. A number of projects involve partners in several countries.  Their participants find experiencing the differences with the region particularly interesting.

The projects have a predominant focus on organizing workshops, expert  seminars and summer schools, in which primarily junior academics, and in  particular women, work together actively to engage in a lively cultural dialogue  by way of a subject-based exchange. Students and doctorate candidates 65 benefit from mutual mentorship and obtain the chance to spend a number of months at the partner university.  

Conferences and public ations accompanying the programme framework

How the concept of “Dialogue through Academic Cooperation” allowed the five programme aims to be implemented in the first round of funding was documented by the DA AD in 2009 with the publication of the brochure “Dialogue through Cooperation – Germ an-Arab / Iranian Higher Education Dialogue (2006–2008)”. The efforts put into publicity also involved creating a flyer and posters, as well as enhancing the web presence. The brochures, the current programme description and more detailed information can be found here.

Every year, sessions covering diverse subjects, such as an intercultural training course, seminars on results-oriented monitoring, etc. are organized for the project representatives. These contribute to creating networks and encouraging a fruitful exchange between the participants. 

In 2011, the first large-scale evaluation of the programme was conducted on behalf of the DAAD by an external company. The results were very encouraging: the appraisers came to the conclusion that the programme had succeeded in reaching its main objective – this being the sustainable promotion of intercultural knowledge.

Facts and figures

Since 2006, the programme has lent its support to more than 50 partnership projects to date, with more than 3,000 participants in total receiving funding.  The projects do, however, involve far more than cultural affairs and measures relevant to development, with their effects also radiating into society and making them accessible to a far greater audience.

In terms of the partner countries, Iran, Syria, Jordan, Egypt and the Palestinian Territories have, to date, enjoyed the greatest representation.

The program brochure in german and english

DAAD Links