Welcome to this special section on the Arab world, covering Arab speaking countries from the Atlantic Ocean to the Gulf. The Arab world includes diverse countries with varying ethnicities, cultures, dialects, history, and socioeconomic backgrounds. The countries are also extremely diverse in the abundance of human and natural resources with a high variance of distribution of each across the Arab nations. With limited research support in many countries and a lack of a corresponding consuming industry, the Arab region has struggled in computing research till the early 2000s. Nevertheless, over the last decade, the region witnessed a significant investment in research support and the corresponding enabling industry. Several countries are moving toward a knowledge-based economy, while others have opened up to more industry. This is apparent by the recent inception of new research-based universities and labs in Egypt, Morocco, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and United Arab Emirates, and the recent change of the computing industry landscape in Egypt, Jordan, and Lebanon.
To create this special section, we launched an open call for contributions to a virtual workshop. The workshop, held on Aug 29–30, 2020, featured 32 selected talks, five invited academic keynotes, and two invited industrial keynotes. Following the workshop, the organizing group met twice with the Advisory Board Committee members, Ahmed Elmagarmid (QCRI, Qatar), Mootaz Elnozahy (KAUST, Saudi Arabia), Lina Karam (LAU, Lebanon), and Taieb Znati (UAEU, UAE). The meetings concluded with selection of 18 papers to invite for this special section. Nine of these papers were selected from the workshop, while the rest were invited to ensure diversity and broad representation without sacrificing quality.
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