AN ECONOMY THROUGH RESEARCH
S. Al-Hammadi, Mohammed E. Al-Mualla, and Russel C. Jones
+971-(0)2-4018000, Fax: +971-(0)2-4472442
In the race to diversify their
economies beyond oil and gas predominance, several Middle East Countries are
moving to develop “knowledge-based” economies. Higher education,
particularly in technical areas, and innovation are seen as key to making that
transition. New higher education institutions are being built to implement this
vision. In the
Building dynamic economies that are based on the creative application of human knowledge is currently an aspiration of all developing countries. The United Nations Development Program  has conducted a number of studies of the Arab world’s progress in developing the knowledge, skills and institutions needed to compete in today’s global economy. Its 2003 report presented a comprehensive picture of the “knowledge deficit”, and suggested needed reforms. Since then, the 22 countries of the Arab world have worked on reducing this deficit. The 2008 report analyzed what has been achieved, what has failed, and what remains to be done. The 2008 report concluded that Arab countries as a group have made significant progress, when measured against their own histories. Significant success has been achieved in access to education, including new universities with global standards and Arab governments have begun investing more in research and development.
As part of this effort to reduce the “knowledge deficit”, the 6 Arab counties that form the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) have come to understand that they must diversify their current oil-based economies, investing some of today’s income flow in economic diversification. In particular, these countries are focusing on developing “knowledge-based economies”, by developing higher education programs that will provide the human capacity to initiate and support such new economic thrusts.
In this paper, we briefly
discuss the efforts of the emirate of
The government of
The plan for economic
Objective 1 - Reduce GDP volatility through diversification
Objective 2 - Enlarge the enterprise base
It is important to enlarge the enterprise base, both through the
continued growth and expansion of large national champions, attraction of
foreign direct investment in leading edge technology sectors, and through the
stimulation of a more vibrant Small-Medium Enterprise (SME) sector. This will
provide more meaningful opportunities for UAE nationals, encourage innovation in
higher value-added sectors, and mitigate the risk to the economy of shocks to
larger enterprises. Coupled with the traditional support mechanisms –
financial or technical – that could be offered to SMEs, it is expected that
the revision of anti-trust laws, the removal of entry barriers into some
economic sectors, and encouraging market-based competition mechanisms will
encourage entrepreneurship and foster the SMEs sector growth.
Objective 3 – Enhance competitiveness
To illustrate the current heavy
reliance on oil and the need for diversification, Figure 1 shows how enterprise
Figure 2 Target
As already discussed, Abu Dhabi will build a sustainable and stable
economy through the diversification and broadening of its enterprise base across
a range of different sectors, and by taking steps to improve the competitiveness
of the local private sector.
Elements of implementation of
this vision include the creation of new educational institutions, investment in
and acquisition of companies that are bringing diverse technological economic
For example, Mubadala  has
been created as a government owned company to develop new companies in
On the education front there are
a number of strategic initiatives.
Another liberal arts branch
campus has been established which is the
The Masdar initiative, spawned
by Mubadala, includes three major thrusts: investments in alternative energy to
initiate the follow-on to the petroleum years as a major part of the UAE
economy; development of a $22-billion demonstration city, Masdar City, which
will be carbon neutral and be powered entirely by solar and wind energy; and
establishment of the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology (MIST) , a
graduate level specialty institution focused on research and education in
alternative energies. The MIST is offering masters degree programs – and
eventually doctoral programs – in engineering and science disciplines. Current
programs are Engineering Systems and Management, Information Technology,
Materials Science and Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, and Water and
Environment. It is a research-driven institute being developed with the support
and cooperation of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The MIST
will be located in
In addition to higher education,
As part of the initiative to
develop schools of the highest international standards, the Institute of Applied
Technology (IAT)  was founded in 2005. The IAT offers Career-Based Technical
Almost all of the above higher educational initiatives are branch campuses of well-known international institutions.
The UAE has created three
home-grown higher education institutions at the Federal level:
However, the Abu Dhabi government has identified the need for a home-grown university that caters for the elite and that is focused on building the high caliber human capital needed for the economic development of the emirate as it evolves from an oil-based economy to a diverse knowledge-driven economy. This need was addressed by the establishment of Khalifa University of Science, Technology and Research (KUSTAR) .
KUSTAR was established to address the full chain starting from undergraduate education, to graduate education, to research & development, and even to incubation and spin-off of companies.
In what follows we give a more
detailed description of KUSTAR and its plans to address the needs of
KUSTAR has been built on the strong base of a predecessor institution, the Etisalat University College (EUC). Established in 1989 in Sharjah, EUC has offered engineering programs in the telecommunications area in three degree tracks: Communications Engineering, Computer Engineering, and Electronics Engineering. Having graduated some five hundred engineers over the past two decades, EUC has populated the technical and leadership ranks of the telecommunications sector of the UAE. As the Sharjah campus of KUSTAR, it currently enrolls 350 students in its undergraduate and graduate programs.
KUSTAR was established by Royal Decree in 2007, and merged with EUC.
KUSTAR is an independent, non-profit, coeducational institution, dedicated to the advancement of learning through teaching and research and to the discovery and application of knowledge. It pursues international recognition as a world class research university, with a strong tradition of inter-disciplinary teaching and research and of partnering with leading universities around the world.
The University endeavors to serve the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, UAE society, the region and the world by providing an environment of creative enquiry within which critical thinking, human values, technical competence and practical and social skills, business acumen and a capability for lifetime learning are cultivated and sustained. It sets itself high standards in providing a caring, rewarding and enriching environment for all of its students and staff. It ensures that its graduates, on entering the workplace, form a superlative cadre of engineers, technologists and scientists, capable of making major contributions to the current and future sectors of UAE industry and society as leaders and innovators.
The University insists on the highest world class standards of academic excellence in all that it does. It complements other universities in the region by providing, in its chosen areas of activity, the best teaching and research available in the region. It strives to meet demands for expansion while never compromising on quality.
The senior governing bodies of KUSTAR are the Board of Trustees and the Board of Governors. The prime responsibility of the Board of Trustees is the formation of the higher policy of the University as well as any further duties in accordance with the decree setting up the University. The Board of Governors is the executive governing body, responsible for matters including the finance and property of the University. It is specifically required to determine the educational character, vision, and mission of the University and to set its general strategic direction.
The Chairman of the Board of Trustees is His Highness General Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.
KUSTAR is developing four colleges:
In addition it has an
The Sharjah Campus offers the following undergraduate and graduate degree programs:
· Bachelor in Communications Engineering
· Bachelor in Computer Engineering
· Bachelor Electronics Engineering
· MSc by Research (Communication, Computer, or Electronics Engineering)
· MSc in Information Security (planned start in Fall 2009)
· PhD in Engineering (planned start in Fall 2009)
The Abu Dhabi Campus admitted its first class of students to the foundation year in Fall 2008. This class, plus additionally admitted direct entry students, will inaugurate the following engineering programs in the Fall of 2009:
· BSc Communications Engineering
· BSc Computer Engineering
· BSc Electronics Engineering
· BSc Aerospace Engineering
· BSc Mechanical Engineering
· BSc Software Engineering
· BSc Biomedical Engineering
Additional programs will be
introduced each successive year at the Abu Dhabi Campus: Civil Engineering and a
Post Baccalaureate Premedical Program in 2010;
The Sharjah Campus, providing a center of excellence in telecommunications, is expected to grow from its current enrollment of 350 to approximately 450. It plans to move from male-only to coed, and to expand enrollments in its masters and doctoral programs substantially.
The Abu Dhabi campus will have some 300 students enrolled in seven programs in the Fall of 2009, and will grow to some 3400 students by 2020, distributed as shown in Table 1 below.
Students by 2020
Table 1 Enrollment Projections by the Year 2020
World class faculty members are being recruited to provide challenging education to the KUSTAR students, and to conduct leading edge research. In keeping with standards at other world class research-driven universities, KUSTAR faculty members will spend approximately half of their time on research. Teaching loads will be two to three courses per academic year. This pattern will require some 500 faculty members by 2020
Collaborations with top world universities are being developed to assist in faculty recruitment, as well as in facilities development and research initiation.
KUSTAR is a research-driven university. This is emphasized by the explicit inclusion of the word ‘research’ in the name of the University. This is also reflected in KUSTAR’s vision and mission statements.
The research goal of KUSTAR is to conduct globally competitive research. The University pursues a research strategy that addresses the balance of basic and applied research, emphasizes the value of collaborative and interdisciplinary research, and takes into account the global and national trends and the needs of government, industry, business, and the community.
KUSTAR is recruiting faculty and research staff with a proven international track-record of conducting and managing competitive research. Faculty and researchers are provided with an environment conducive to research. Policies and procedures are designed to be flexible and supportive, teaching loads are set to allow for research-active faculty to spend at least half-time on research, and support services such as fund management, contracts, exploitation of intellectual property rights, and knowledge transfer and enterprise, are provided.
Research activities within KUSTAR colleges are organized into centers/groups. These tend to be interdisciplinary and are fully supported to become internationally recognized.
Both undergraduate and graduate students are involved in research and independent study and are equipped with the capability to extend their understanding beyond what is covered in their curriculum.
KUSTAR is currently working on establishing links and partnerships with world-class research universities, groups and laboratories to instigate relevant joint research projects and exchange arrangements.
In addition, a
One of the focus areas that has
already been identified is the ‘Information and Communication Technologies (ICT)’
area. KUSTAR has successfully formed a partnership with British Telecom (BT) and
the Emirates Telecommunication Corporation (ETISALAT) to establish the ‘
Another area of focus that has been identified is Nanotechnology. KUSTAR has formed an advisory panel from eminent nanotechnology and nanoscience academics and experts. The panel is currently working on a proposal for forming a world-class Nanotechnology and Nanoscience center at KUSTAR.
High performance and parallel computing is also an important area of focus. KUSTAR has recently signed an MoU with Intel to collaborate on this area.
KUSTAR is also discussing the establishment of an Aerospace center with Mubadala and other leading companies in this area of focus.
Other discussions are ongoing to attract well established R&D technology institutions and companies. The R&D center will also incubate new innovative technology start-ups.
The establishment of the
All the research and development activities of KUSTAR will be supported with an outreach program to foster greater understanding by the general public of the benefits and applications of research.
The permanent campus is being designed to include the following state-of-the-art facilities, including:
In addition to development of a
physical campus, KUSTAR is leading the formation of a major broadband computer
network in the UAE. The Emirates Advanced Network for Research and Education (ANKABUT)
is a dedicated advanced network connecting academic and research institutions at
a speed of 10 GB/S at the core and 1GB/s at the access level. It will initially
connect 28 sites at public colleges, universities and schools with one another
and to Internet2 in the
Countries throughout the GCC region, and beyond in the Arab world, are striving to develop diverse economies which allow them to compete effectively in today’s global economy. Much of the effort is appropriately directed to education and associated activities which aim toward building “knowledge-based” economies.
The Emirate of Abu Dhabi has
embarked on a particularly enlightened and aggressive program of economic
development, aimed at transforming its current oil-based economy to one based on
knowledge and innovation. It is making substantial investments in higher
education, particularly in engineering and science, to develop the human
capacity to accomplish this transition. KUSTAR will play a major role in
. United Nations Development Program, See http://www.undp.org/
The Government of
. Mubadala Development Company, See http://www.mubadala.ae/
. Paris-Sorbonne University – Abu Dhabi, See http://www.par is-sorbonne-abudhabi.ae/
. Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, See http://www.mist.ac.ae/
. Abu Dhabi Education Council, See http://www.adec.ac.ae/
. Institute of Applied Technology, See http://www.iat.ac.ae/
Higher Colleges of Technology, See http://www.hct.ac.ae/
. Khalifa University of Science, Technology and Research, See http://kustar.ac.ae/