James Cook University is sharing its world-class expertise and innovation with the United Arab Emirates, to address challenges such as food security that are confronting marginal environments.
The partnership will see the University provide expert assistance to the government of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to develop its Marine Innovation Park (MIP) in Umm Al Quwain.
The project is the first step in what’s anticipated to be a long-term, multi-million dollar partnership between JCU and the government of the UAE.
The Marine Innovation Park of Sheikh Khalifa Marine Research Centre is being established as part of UAE’s plans to develop a centre in the region for research and development in bio-science technology innovation, marine science and research.
JCU will spend eight months working with the UAE to develop a strategic plan for the Marine Innovation Park.
The project, facilitated with the assistance of Commissioner Donna Massie from Trade and Investment Queensland, will draw on the expertise of JCU scientists in a range of areas including aquaculture, macroalgae, sensor and blockchain technology, artificial intelligence, and environmental assessment and management.
The Minister of State for Food Security, Her Excellency Mariam Al Mehairi said the decision to select JCU as the partner of choice to develop the MIP was based on the University’s expertise in advancing the ‘Blue Economy’ – an emerging economic concept that encourages better stewardship of the world’s oceans.
“This Memorandum of Intent represents a significant development in the UAE’s quest to become a world leader in aquaculture. Water husbandry has a special significance for us as a country because of our low annual rainfall and our shrinking levels of groundwater – aquaculture is a sustainable method of food production that represents one of the best uses of this precious resource.
“We are delighted to have signed an agreement with JCU, an international leader in the Blue Economy, to develop our capacities in this vital area,” H.E. Al Mehairi said.
JCU Vice Chancellor Professor Sandra Harding said the University is delighted to support the UAE in its ambition to become a world leader in aquaculture and e-technology.
Professor Harding has praised the UAE’s strategic vision to be a leader in marine innovation, and says the University deeply appreciates the opportunity to partner with the UAE Government.
“This is the first phase of what’s expected to be a strong and mutually beneficial partnership between JCU and the UAE.
“JCU has a global reputation for excellence in marine science, fisheries and aquaculture, and this partnership with the UAE Government acknowledges the University’s pre-eminence as world leaders in this area.
“The project will showcase northern Queensland’s expertise and innovation in marine science. Our experts will be travelling to the UAE to help guide the development of the Marine Innovation Park, which will deliver significant financial benefits for JCU going forward,” Professor Harding said.
Queensland Premier and Minister for Trade Annastacia Palaszczuk welcomed the highly prestigious partnership, showcasing the strong relationship between the United Arab Emirates and Queensland.
“I had the pleasure of the meeting Her Excellency Mariam Al Mehairi during my recent visit to Abu Dhabi, touring a desert seafood production facility supported by Buderim-based business RADAQUA,” the Premier said.
“This agreement is further recognition of Queensland’s standing as a world leader in marine science, biotechnology and aquaculture, and I have no doubt James Cook University will make a valuable contribution for years to come.
“As the UAE looks to find sustainable food security solutions, Queensland expertise will be there to assist every step of the way.”
While in the UAE, Professor Harding has also signed an agreement for a research partnership with the International Center for Biosaline Agriculture (ICBA). The agreement outlines the intent of JCU and ICBA to collaborate in areas of mutual interest including staff/student exchanges, training and research.
Featured Image: Artist impression of the Marine Innovation Park in Umm Al Quwain, United Arab Emirates