Professor Hassan Al-Sayed, a guest scholar from Qatar, enjoys his days walking along the historical paths of Williamsburg, Va., visiting the cafes and sitting in an office at William & Mary Law School conducting comparative legal research. Though he is 7,000 miles from home, this distinguished jurist relishes being in the company of students and fellow legal scholars.
He is the visiting scholar in residence from Qatar University, where he was the founding dean of the law school and has been the recipient of the prestigious State Incentive Award for Law in 2012.
Al-Sayed earned his doctorate in law from the University of East Anglia in the U.K. in 2003. Since then, he has been a judge on the Qatar International Court and Dispute Resolution Center, played a vital role in the development of Qatar University’s law school and served as the vice president of the Qatari Bar Association.
“Qatar is a really important connection for William & Mary, and we are working to better that partnership,” said Professor Jennifer Stevenson, the associate director of the school’s LL.M. program. “Originally, we asked if Dr. Al-Sayed wanted to come over for the Law School’s Supreme Court Preview event, but he is here for a short sabbatical and we are thrilled to have him.”
Al-Sayed agrees that the two law schools have much to gain.
“We have good relations with William & Mary Law School,” he said. “We want to strengthen the relationship and encourage professors, students, and teaching assistants to participate in exchange programs.”
One of Al-Sayed’s favorite things about working in Williamsburg is the atmosphere. He had several options for where he would take his sabbatical, but he chose William & Mary because of its harmonious environs.
“I prefer to be here because it is a quiet and beautiful town,” he said. “It is a great area for research because the colonial buildings and houses give me a chance to walk around and think about ideas.”
He pulled out his phone to show images of his home in Williamsburg and excitedly pointed to the colonial décor, the brick façade and character of the historic building.
He will be working on two major research projects during his time here and will present some of his findings to interested students this October. He is working on a comparative study of international conventions that govern citizenship rules, focusing on six Arabian Gulf countries. His second project deals with the establishment of a constitutional court, for instance: how to choose justices and how such a court will affect the independence of the judiciary.
When asked about what’s special at William & Mary, he cites the tightly knit community.
“The community activities here are all very advanced,” Al-Sayed said. “The social hour and many seminars allow professors to meet and talk so we can share ideas about our research and strengthen the faculty.”
Al-Sayed said that his stay in Williamsburg has been a productive and enjoyable experience.
“I am very happy to be here and I am very thankful to all the faculty for being so helpful,” he concluded.