Data Science: a field making its way to Middle East Universities


We live in a world where data and analytics have become critical for the success of any business. The distinction between “technology companies” and “non-technology companies” is virtually extinct. Instead, businesses must think about how they can best gather and analyze data to better serve their customers.

One of the best ways to leverage this data and analytics revolution is to hire data scientists. The field of data science as a whole isn’t exactly new, yet it has become extremely critical to the rise of the digital economy. By employing a team of data scientists, businesses can become more efficient, more productive, and consequently, more profitable. On the flip side, individuals who are interested in data science can find a significant amount of opportunity, whether they want to find a research job at a small, scrappy startup or a larger corporation.

Ultimately, it is worth taking the time to understand why data scientists are so important. It is also helpful to recognize several data science programs in the Middle East for individuals who want to participate in the data science revolution in this specific region or worldwide.


The Importance of Data Science

So why is data science so important? There are many different reasons, but three are especially important.

First, data science helps all organizations obtain insights that they otherwise wouldn't have been able to obtain. To put it differently, they help organizations obtain a closer look at what their customers really want and how customers actually behave with a product or service. There are certainly short-term benefits, but the long-term benefits are especially appealing. Over time, data scientists can monitor trends and use those trends to make better business decisions.

Data scientists, most of which have a background in statistics, math, or computer science, can also help businesses achieve their goals. They do this by monitoring key performance indicators and using quantifiable data-driven evidence to move the business forward. For instance, if a service business is trying to provide better customer service, data scientists can track several different customer service metrics. They can see whether customers are satisfied and what features delight or disappoint customers.

Finally, data scientists can even use data to mitigate risk and fraud. Data scientists can create models that quickly identify bad behavior in an organization or business. When unusual data is recognized, these models inform key actors within an organization, who can take quick corrective action.

Those are just three of the many reasons why data science is important for all types of businesses and organizations. Simply put, there is no turning back. Data science is here to stay. 


Exploring Data Science Programs in the Middle East

In the Middle East, data science is an exciting emerging field. Still, there are several intriguing opportunities for students who want to specialize in data science. Some of these programs are below.

  • Master in Data Science program at Saint Joseph University of Beirut. This program was designed by professors from the Faculty and Sciences and the Faculty of Engineering in collaboration with European colleagues from the data science field. Students graduate with a solid theoretical background in statistics, regression and other data related mathematics topics, while being equally exposed to the practical side focusing on the mathematical and programming tools that are essential for data analysis, machine learning, and big data. The nature of the program prepares students for two main career strategies; either research dedicated, or market orientated.
  • MSc Data Analytics at the University of Central Lancashire - Cyprus. This course is designed to provide students with the knowledge and a diverse set of skills that span across all layers of the knowledge discovery stack including storage, mining, analytics, decision support frameworks, and visualizations, as well as practical experience with modern tools. Students learn how to (i) analyze large data sets and summarize their main characteristics with the use of attractive data visualizations; (ii) design and create databases that allow organizations to efficiently manage and query their enterprise data; (iii) discover patterns in large data sets with established techniques from various fields such as statistics, machine learning, and artificial intelligence; and (iv) understand today’s turbulent business environment and learn how modern BI tools enable organizations to survive and excel.
  • MSc in Data Science at Heriot-Watt University Dubai. In this program, students learn how to model, store, and process data sets using the latest algorithms and techniques, and about modern methods and tools for visually exploring them. The core courses of the program provide the key skillset of a data scientist: applying machine learning, managing large data sets, and generating interesting visualizations. The skills acquired will be applicable to business applications, industrial applications and also to scientific data exploration.This MSc is accredited by the British Computer Society.
  • MSc in Professional Studies: Data Analytics at Rochester Institute of Technology (“RIT”) Dubai.(starting Sep 2020) This program is designed to be suitable for working people. It is based on a holistic educational experience, where theory and practice are fully intertwined through the continuous support of public and private sectors partners. It is the only program in the UAE ensuring the graduates are highly sought-after Data Translators within the industry.
  • MSc in Computing (Data Analytics) at Princess Nourah Bint Abdulrahman University. This program is in collaboration with Dublin City University (DCU) and is designed to equip graduates with a range of cutting-edge skills to enable them to produce high-quality software and systems that deliver solutions to business and the economy. This program opens up opportunities for students who envision to shine in their career prospect in data analytics in acquiring in-depth skills and knowledge to analyze, process, transform and visualize data into valuable information.


An Exciting Future

Data analytics is an extremely important and exciting field. It has a tantalizing future in the Middle East, as companies and organizations are beginning to see the importance of data analytics. Whether you are a university student or are looking to go back to school to learn this new skill, we encourage you to further research the options above. Best of luck!