Success stories of Palestinian achievers from all over the world

Muhammad Attyah

Muhammad Attyah

Sector : Science, Innovators

Personal Info

  • Country of residence: Palestine
  • Gender: Male
  • Age: 0
  • Curriculum vitae :


Dr., researcher in the field of water treatment and materials chemistry, Mohamed Attia, is one of the Arab researchers who combined studies in Japan and America after benefiting from scholarships that later opened great horizons for him.

Muhammad Attia's journey with study recently culminated in his appointment as leader of a research group at the US Environmental Protection Agency. He tells us other details about studying in these two countries and how to enroll in universities there.

Your first scholarship was to Japan and it came after several failed attempts, how did that happen?
Indeed, the first university scholarship I won was to study in Japan, and it came after several failed attempts. For me, failure is an opportunity to learn from it, and most of the failed attempts were, in my opinion, a major reason for reaching my goals because I learned a lot from them, and I advise students not to give up and stop at the first attempts that may be unsuccessful.

What obstacles did you face in the beginning that would face any college student aspiring to win a scholarship?
There are many obstacles facing a student who is looking to study abroad, including a lack of self-confidence, and a lack of competence in writing and preparing application papers, or writing research proposals.

There is also the problem of language; The language of science and scientific research is English, and lack of proficiency in it constitutes an obstacle for students. In addition, many of them are not good at searching for available opportunities, especially in America, whose university system is very different from what it is in Japan.

How was your experience in Japan?
I had traveled to study in Japan through the Japanese government scholarship called MEXT, which is a prestigious scholarship and considered one of the best scholarships available to students to study in Japan. I studied for a master's degree in 2012 at Tokyo University of Technology and then a doctorate at the same university.

The study was in English, so the language was not an obstacle for me, but life in Japan outside the university’s borders requires the student to have a certain level of the Japanese language, which can be learned through the educational courses that the university provides for foreign students.

For your information, the Japanese government announces these scholarships through its embassies in various countries of the world, and all the student has to do is browse its websites, or browse the websites of Japanese universities that publish university scholarship announcements at certain times.

Are there many Arab students in Japan?
If we make a comparison between the numbers of Arab students in Japan and the numbers of their peers in Europe or America, we can notice the small number of Arab students in Japan, but I can notice an increase in those numbers in recent years, due to the increased awareness of the opportunities available there.

Are there conditions that must be met by the Arab student to succeed in Japan?
The success of the Arab student - or non-Japanese in general - in Japan, according to my personal opinion, is linked to knowing a certain level of the language (it does not have to be an advanced level), and is associated with understanding and respecting the culture of Japanese society (such as punctuality, maintaining public hygiene, respect for the privacy and beliefs of others), and other rules governing Japanese society.

I've been in Japan for 5 years, which is a long time for a college student, but it's all been wonderful and special.

After the experience of Japan, you moved to America to finish your studies after winning a scholarship, and you are now settled there. How did that happen?
After 5 years I spent in Japan, I made sure that I could not adapt to Japanese society, which is governed by very high discipline rules and special customs in workplaces that I could not adapt to.

Therefore, in the last year of my Ph.D., I decided to prepare to move to another country in Europe or America to complete my post-doctoral degree.

During my studies in general, I had built a strong network of relationships with research professors from all over the world, and here I invite students to form a strong network of relationships, because it will support them in obtaining scholarships.

I had participated in a scientific research team at Clemson University in the United States, and upon completion of our tasks, I offered the leader of the research group to join his team, and he was approved. Here I must point out that I only received 3 offers after more than 15 other attempts.

Is studying in Japan different from America?
There is a very big difference; Studying in America, unlike Japan, has a free nature and more space to accept mistakes and learn from them, because they are part of the culture of society.

But it must be noted here that the degree of competition in America is fierce and merciless, and this constitutes a strong incentive for students to make their way in the field of scientific research.

It should be noted here that winning a scholarship in America is completely different from what is done in Japan, because most scholarships in this country are submitted directly to research professors, and here the student must have a large network of relationships with the world of scientific research in America in order to be Keep up to date with new grants.

Why did you choose to stay in America and not Japan?
The ceiling of freedoms in American universities is very high compared to Japanese universities, and with the large number of opportunities available there, I decided to choose America because it matches the nature of my competitive personality.

I arrived in America in the winter of 2017, and I was fortunate to receive great support from my professor at Clemson University.

After achieving initial success and publishing research in my specialty, I got the opportunity to move to the Department of Chemistry at Northwestern University, which is the No. 1 university in America. One year after joining the new position, I received a new offer from the US Environmental Protection Organization (US EPA). , which is the most important organization in the environmental field in America and in the world. I don't think there is a country other than America where I could have reaped fruit so quickly.


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