Under the Patronage of His Highness Sheikh Nahyan Mabarak Al-Nahyan, UAE's Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, the 2nd International Platform on Integrating Arab e-infrastructure in a Global Environment e-AGE 2012 officially opened at Zayed University in Dubai, in coordination with the Emirates Advance Network for Research and Education (ANKABUT) and the National Research Foundation in the UAE.
Under the theme “Collaborate towards developing the regional e-Infrastructures," the Integrating Arab e-Infrastructure in a Global Environment which is being held for the second year attracted large number of participants, among them, ICT experts, policy and decision makers, heads of stakeholder institutions and international organizations, experts of e-infrastructures of the Euro-Mediterranean, Pan-Arab, Africa, Asia, and North American regions, academia and active researchers, together with high-level representatives from the League of Arab States, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and the European Commission (EC) Directorate General Information Society and Media (DG INFSO).
His Highness Sheikh Nahyan Mabarak Al-Nahyan welcomed HE Dr. Talal Abu-Ghazaleh, chairman of the Arab States Research and Education Network saying:" The name of your organization – the Arab States Research and Education Network – suggests creativity, innovation, forward thinking, receptiveness to change, and, to me, especially, regional development and global connections. It is a great pleasure to welcome all of you to the United Arab Emirates and to Dubai for this E-AGE 2012 Conference."
He added:" Today, by holding this conference, you aim to advance substantially the research and education capacity of the Arab region. Your network has the potential to expand the boundaries of teaching, learning, and research. You can dramatically increase the ability of students, researchers, and institutions to learn together and to collaborate. You can help place our region in the forefront of technological development. And, of course, you can help our colleges and universities keep pace with global technological innovations and enhance their collaboration with leading universities and research centers around the world."
The Minister stressed saying:" The nature of your work and your presence at this conference are cause for great optimism. Education, research, and innovation fuel economic growth. Those three areas of endeavor are closely linked. Colleges and universities attract talented students and should provide them with the opportunities to pursue big ideas. Faculty and researchers should be encouraged to think “outside the box. You are seizing the opportunity today, and I hope that you will continue to cooperate both regionally and internationally. I believe strongly that our success in building knowledge economies in our countries will depend on the promotion of effective education; on strong partnership between educational and research institutions and business and industry; on the ability to turn research results into applications that drive economic progress; and on an environment that allows for keeping pace with the latest developments in science and technology around the world.”
Meanwhile, HE Dr. Abu-Ghazaleh stated in his keynote speech: "I want to capture this historic moment of meeting here in UAE and under the patronage of my great friend His Highness Sheikh Nahyan Mabarak Al Nahyan, UAE Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research and much more, to announce that I will be asking ASREN Management jointly with ANKABUT Management in collaboration with DANTE which is responsible for the pan-European GEANT Network and the US Internet 2 to work together towards the development of an action plan whereby UAE with its developed e-Infrastructure environment can host the hub of knowledge and connectivity for the Arab region with its international partners worldwide. If we succeed with this ambition, one day we will be proud all of us that we have enabled our educational institutions, researchers, and knowledge workers in the Arab world to become part of the world Research and Education globally."
He stressed on the fact that there are growing interests of Arab NRENs for joining ASREN as shareholders in addition to the NRENs in Jordan, Morocco, Sudan, and Somalia.
"We look forward to having all NRENs of Arab countries to become part of ASREN as owners and shareholders to help support and sustain the development of the Pan-Arab research and e-infrastructure. ASREN will continue to serve the Arab region in developing best practice NREN model and provide pan-Arab e-Infrastructure connectivity at the regional level," he said.
"We hope to see high speed networks with Gigabits bandwidth connecting neighboring countries in the Arab region, and to the world regional networks for research and education as this will help to introduce tools for developing collaboration and cooperation between scientists, researchers and students and to enhance the quality of education and research. We are happy to announce that ASREN is investing in its first STM1 cable connection between ASREN and the European research and education Network “GEANT,” he added.
Dr. Abu-Ghazaleh introduced three very important and complementary projects to help support the development of a broader and more inclusive information society in the Arab world: TAGITOP, TAGIPEDIA and Talal Abu-Ghazaleh University (TAGIUNI).
"TAGITOP is an affordable top of the line laptop to every Arab citizen which will increase the level of computer literacy in the Arab region and equip students with tools for access to information and e-learning resources while, Talal Abu-Ghazaleh International Encyclopedia will construct a universal, free, comprehensive, and authenticated Encyclopedia with Arabic content reaching 2 Million articles by the end of 2012," he said.
Dr. Abu-Ghazaleh focused on education in the knowledge age with TAGIUNI taking the center stage at the opening ceremony.
"We have established TAGIUNI, Democratizing World Class Education based on the provision of science, learning and creativity to the citizens of the world through educational partnership with the top 500 prestigious international universities," adding that without high speed networks and dedicated e-Infrastructure, the goals of these important projects will not be realized.
According to Dr. Abu-Ghazaleh, ASREN will have a busy schedule based on its vision and strategy.
"ASREN will invite the remaining Arab NRENs to join ASREN as shareholders, invest in developing cross border links between Arab NRENs, expand and develop a framework of effective participation of Arab NRENs towards developing an pan-Arab electronic infrastructure, support sustainable pan-Arab research and education network connecting European and world leading regional networks, work to encourage and attract donors and institutions supporting Arab research institutions and promote private sector participation and cooperation towards the development of research communities in variety of domains," he said.
Meanwhile, Mr. Fahem Alnuaimi, CEO of ANKABUT said:" ANKABUT is working on three important initiatives: An E-library in the UAE, several data centers and a multi-purpose data warehouse."
Dr Husam Al-Ulama, director of the National Research Foundation stressed on the importance of such a meeting saying:"This meeting is crucial not to a specific country but to all the Arab world as it contribute in exchanging expertise among experts and consultants in the knowledge age."
Dr. Sultan Abu-Orabi, secretary general of the Association of Arab Universities highlighted the work of scientific research saying:"Scientific research has become a necessity and not a luxury as it draws the map for a new world in a fast changing age."
The Platform is organized by the Arab States Research and Education Network GmbH, in cooperation with Ankabut, National Research Foundation, UAE, Talal Abu-Ghazaleh Organization, Association of Arab Universities, Delivery of Advanced Network Technology to Europe Ltd (DANTE), Euro-Mediterranean Connect project (EumedConnect3), US Internet2 Special Interest Group Middle East, German Jordanian University and Co-ordination & Harmonization of Advanced e-Infrastructures for Research & Education Data Sharing (CHAIN - REDS).
The Third International Platform on Integrating Arab e-Infrastructure in a Global Environment – eAGE 2013 will be held in Tunis December 2013.