Research Centre

As an emerging institution in business studies, Arabic Language, Islamic studies, Islamic political/moral economy and finance, and Middle Eastern studies, associated with a number of institutions in UK and abroad, research is at the very heart of our work at Al-Maktoum College of Higher Education.

Our extensive research focuses on developing value-based insights that can be used to address some of the most important and interesting challenges in the Muslim world and minority communities away from the orientalist views. Our work is extensive, including: investigating how Islamic values, ideologies and cultures shape the attitudes and behavioural postulates which are critical for understanding and disseminating the implications of cultural transformations as result of migration, international trade and economy, sustainable development for Islam and Muslims.

Our research strategy recognises these strengths and will help to guide our activities in the coming years, ensuring that the Al-Maktoum College of Higher Education continues to have a real and positive impact on the world.

Current research

Socioeconomic Impact of Covid-19 on the Syrian Refugees in Scotland

Al-Maktoum College Funded Research in collaboration with Edinburgh Napier University

Start Date: 15 January 2021

Project Summary:

The UK government’s deadline for the resettlement of Syrian refugees was set for May 2020. However, the impact of Covid-19 control measures on the process of resettlement and its effects on the lives of Syrian refugees is currently unknown. The research project will therefore provide a unique perspective capturing Syrian refugees socio-economic and cultural precarity on their settlement journeys before, during and after the Covid-19 outbreak.

These findings will be communicated to a number of stakeholders, including the Scottish Government, NGOs and community groups working with refugees. By recording the diversity of rhythms in places and practices that often remain overlooked by stakeholders’ policy reports, this project will enable stakeholders to devise and implement policies that are attuned to the unique needs of the marginalised communities at the time of this crisis.

More specifically, this project we examine:

  • how the everyday life of Syrian refugees in Scotland is reconfigured after the COVID-19 outbreak, and, by doing so,
  • (b) investigate the socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on cultural, political and financial integration of Syrian refugees in Scotland.

By researching with members of Syrian refugee communities, the project will explore the coexistence of multiple, different, yet rhythmic worlds, which are being radically altered by the pandemic. To achieve this aim, the project will rely on a combination of qualitative methods, including timeline drawing, audio-narrated solicited diaries, and photovoice – as key elements in exploring the complexity of everyday life.

With the help of community organisations working with refugees in Scotland, researchers will identify 20 Syrian refugees in Scottish urban areas with high intensity of the Covid-19 outbreak. Their focus will be on what their lives were, what they are now, and how they may evolve in the new post-COVID context; this will provide a unique insight into how COVID-19 is impacting the everyday realities of these marginalised individuals.

Research Team:

Dr Fawad Khaleel- Edinburgh Napier University

Research Project Role: Principal Investigator


Associate Professor Kiril Sharapov- Edinburgh Napier University

Research Project Role: Co-Investigator


Dr Alija Avdukic- Al-Maktoum College of Higher Education

Research Project Role: Co-Investigator


Michelle Young- Al-Maktoum College of Higher Education

Research Project Role: Co-Investigator


Associate Professor Ahmed Abdullah- Abertay University Dundee

Research Project Role- Co-Investigator


Professor Alexander Law- Abertay University Dundee

Research Project Role: Co-Investigator



Scottish Government New Scots Refugee Integration Delivery Project

Al-Maktoum College of Higher Education has been successful in securing new funding as part of a £2.8 million Scottish Government grant initiative, aimed at promoting effective integration of refugees within Scots communities.

The College has received a total of £24,960 for its proposed research project, “Financial Accessibility and Inclusivity: Refugee Community in Scotland”, seeking to explore the challenges of financial inclusion for Muslim immigrant entrepreneurs in Scotland.

The research project will form part of a wider Scottish Government scheme and commitment to the ‘Integrating New Scots Strategy 2018-22’. The government-led scheme, also in partnership with COSLA, Scottish Refugee Council and the UNESCO Chair at the University of Glasgow, aims to ensure that refugees live in safe and welcoming communities that enable them to rebuild their lives from the day they arrive in Scotland.

Al-Maktoum College Associate Professor in Islamic Economics & Finance, Dr Alija Avdukic explains, “Muslim immigrant entrepreneurs are unable to access acceptable financial tools formally in Scotland, and instead rely on informal avenues for financing which in turn, limits their growth potential and integration within the community.

He continues, “Focusing on the challenges in growing business enterprises, this project will generate knowledge about the financial inclusion of immigrant entrepreneurs and develop innovative learning tools and teaching modules for key national stakeholders.

Our research focuses on solutions by tapping into the expertise of Islamic finance from Al-Maktoum College of Higher Education in collaboration with the University of Dundee School of Business, to develop a new curriculum for Islamic leadership in Scotland to provide support to Muslim immigrant entrepreneurs, and a university-level teaching module.”

Al-Maktoum College as an independent provider of higher education in Dundee has a long history of engagement with cultures and societies, particularly of the Middle East. In its all-inclusive approaches to education and range of specialist courses including, but not limited to, Islamic Finance, Arabic Language and Middle Eastern Studies, the College’s research project contributions are expected to add significant value to government decision making, strategy and policy.