RAU expertise to support Sharjah in meeting the COP 28 Agreement

3 May 2024

The first intake of agriculture students - keen to learn how to enhance food security in the United Arab Emirates - will be joining the country’s newly established University of Al Dhaid in September to study for a degree in sustainable agriculture thanks to a partnership with the UK’s Royal Agricultural University (RAU).

The collaboration, which will offer students the opportunity to study for a BSc in Sustainable Agriculture, will also build research capacity and expertise to solve global challenges contributing to food security in a region which imports the majority of its food.

The new University of Al Dhaid is the second university that the RAU has been selected to help establish in the last two years and RAU Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter McCaffery, and other senior members of staff from the RAU, were recently invited to the launch of the brand-new university in the Emirate of Sharjah.

Professor McCaffery then joined his fellow Trustees for the first meeting of the University’s Board chaired by His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council of the United Arab Emirates, Ruler of Sharjah, and President of the University of Al Dhaid.

Professor McCaffery said: “Last year’s COP 28 Summit in Dubai recognised the profound potential of agricultural systems and food to drive powerful and innovative responses to climate change. Our BSc Programme in Sustainable Agriculture will build leadership capacity at the new University of Al Dhaid which will help Sharjah to meet the landmark international commitments on climate that were agreed at COP28.

“This new partnership means that the RAU has been instrumental in the founding of two brand-new universities in the last eighteen months. One in Tashkent - the International Agricultural University, co-founded with the Uzbekistan Ministry of Agriculture - and now the University of Al Dhaid in Sharjah.

“We hope that, in keeping with the historic mission of the RAU, both these institutions will become beacons of excellence in sustainable agriculture in Central Asia and the Middle East.”

The University of Al Dhaid’s Sustainable Agriculture degree programme has been developed from existing RAU programmes with a focus on the food security needs of the region and an emphasis on identifying and advancing technological solutions to the key challenges of climate change and sustainable crop and livestock development.

The new programme, which is now recruiting students to start in September, has been designed to enable tailored pathways including desert science, horticulture, and animal science. It will help to address the key issues of food security, climate change, and animal welfare, by creating more sustainable crop and livestock systems while building critical agriculture capacity.

During the visit, His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi thanked the RAU for its continuous support to contribute to the University’s scientific progress in the agricultural domain. He praised the RAU’s global reputation and acknowledged its extensive experience as a scientific and practical leader in the field.

He said: “We are pleased to announce the establishment of the University of Al Dhaid, a non-profit scientific institution in the Arab region specialising in agriculture, environment, food, and livestock.

“We have developed various facilities and projects to support its scientific mission and achieve its goals, including the wheat farm, the Saba Sanabel project, the vegetable farm, the dairy farm, the seed bank, and other facilities, centres, laboratories, and projects.”

Professor McCaffery added: “A desert setting is a formidable environment in which to produce food and maintain animal health. We are delighted to be working with the Government of Sharjah in a unique collaboration that will enhance food security and animal welfare in Sharjah as the country responds to climate change.

“As well as offering the opportunity too for student and staff exchanges, this relationship will also support our research endeavours at the RAU. The surplus generated from our new partnership will be invested in enhancing the student and staff experience here at Cirencester.”