Academics from Arizona State University are hard at work promoting sustainability and regional cooperation with the United Arab Emirates (UAE), a politically stable and very prosperous Gulf country.
A delegation from Arizona traveled to the United Arab Emirates this past January for a series of meetings to follow-up on last summer’s visit to their university by Sultan Saeed Nasser AlMansoori, minister of economy for the UAE. They also visited Jordan and Israel, along the way.
The Arizona group, the university reports, met with government leaders, university officials and private sector representatives, with a focus on education technology and teacher training; and sustainability, with emphasis on renewable energy and public policy decision-making.
The trip, which included stops in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Ras Al-Khaimah, explored a range of potential projects and collaborations between Arizona and the UAE.
Among opportunities under discussion with governmental and private contacts was construction of a Decision Theater, modeled on ASU’s facility, at some location in UAE to focus on environmental decision making, urban planning, and possibly connecting with the Masdar City initiative, a new, carbon-neutral city for 90,000 being built from scratch outside the city of Abu Dhabi. The latter is being managed by CH2M HILL, a large, international engineering firm with a presence in Tempe.
“It was a successful trip,” says Anthony Rock, vice president for global engagement at Arizona State University. “This is a critical region and ASU has a tremendous amount it can contribute, not only to economic development, but to fostering regional cooperation and collaborations. We’ve identified a range of opportunities and potential funding that can extend ASU’s global engagement aspirations and the university’s core objectives–sustainability, teacher leadership training, educational technology and public policy decision making—in collaboration with our partners.”
The delegation met with government leaders from the ministries of higher education, economy and environment; officials from Abu Dhabi University, the Higher Colleges of Technology, UAE University and Masdar Institute of Science and Technology; and private sector representatives.
A pan-Arabic green learning grid?
Abu Dhabi University is a potential partner in the areas of educational training and technology, including possible development of a joint master’s in teacher leadership, as well as potential degrees in areas of special education and a possible joint center in education policy.
A meeting with the crown prince and the deputy ruler of Ras Al-Khaimah may lead to a linkage with Arab Grid for Learning, a pan-Arabic educational technologies initiative in which ASU is a partner and stakeholder.
In addition, Vice President Rock met with representatives of the Dubai Municipality and Chamber of Commerce to discuss interest on the part of the City of Phoenix in building relationships with the emirate.
Phoenix is rising in Middle East
Following the UAE meetings, the Arizona reps continued on to Jordan and Israel for additional meetings where they identified potential partners and resources that could extend to a more regional approach, which would build on some of the natural parallels between Arizona and that part of the world.
Discussed were the possibility of Jordanian/Palestinian/Israeli collaborations with ASU in the key areas of water resources, renewable energy (particularly solar) and long-term ecological research with a heavy focus on roles for ASU’s Global Institute of Sustainability and School of Sustainability and Tel Aviv University’s Porter School of Environmental Studies, as well as Friends of the Earth Middle East, an non-governmental organization of Jordanian, Palestinian and Israeli environmentalists that works cooperatively on regional environmental issues.
(Green Building at Porter School of Environmental Studies – sketch)
“ASU is seeking solutions for sustainability problems that affect arid regions with rapid population growth,” says another rep from Arizona, “conditions that definitely apply in the Middle East. Our emphasis on research that directly helps decision-makers was especially well-received by the leaders we met with in the UAE, Jordan and Israel. We are exploring partnerships around water, energy and urbanization.”
More on green Middle East:
Even Oil Rich Gulf Nations Look To Renewable Energy
Africa Is For Sale, Is The Middle East Buying?
A Green Survey of Dubai and the United Arab Emirates
Dubai’s Wind Powered Skyscraper Is Green Building In Motion
Green Events At the Porter School