For the past decade, scientist Eqbal Dauqan has been, according to NPR, “bursting through glass ceiling after glass ceiling with fearlessness and grace.” In her home country of Yemen, she was the first among her friends to finish college, and went on to receive a scholarship in biochemistry at the University Kebansaan Malaysia where she researched the nutritional properties of palm oil. This led her to write a popular book about the health benefits of fruits mentioned in the Holy Quran (for example, she concluded that red dates have 20 times more vitamin C than citrus fruit).
In 2014, Ms. Dauqan was named by the Elsevier Foundation as one of the top female scientists in the developing world. She became a science expert on news programs in the Middle East and in China. In seemingly no time, Al Saeed University made her an assistant professor and head of a department.
This all changed in 2015 when Yemen’s civil war fell upon the scientist’s hometown of Taiz. The once peaceful town was now bombarded with planes and bombs. Sadly some of her students and nine members of her family died as a result. And Ms. Dauqan knew she had to leave.
With the help of her mentor, Aminah Abdullah, a food scientist at the University Kebangsaan in Malaysia, Ms. Dauqan applied for a special refugee scholarship with the Institute of International Education-Scholar Rescue Fund. She landed assistance, and after a few months, was able to relocate to Malaysia where she currently lives and works. She’s working to save more money so she can bring her parents and sister to Malaysia.
NPR notes that “Ms. Dauqan has already done so much for science — and society. When little girls in the Middle East see photos of Eqbal as a chemist — wearing a head scarf, measuring pH — they don’t need to use their imagination to think: ‘I could be just like her. I could be a scientist.’”