The University of Bath delegation left Dubai yesterday and travelled the short distance to Abu Dhabi. We arrived in sunshine. A cool breeze reached us from the turquoise waters of the Gulf and the sky was pale cobalt. Quite beautiful.
Our first meeting, with panoramic views of the Corniche, was with the University's most eminent alumnus in the region, His Excellency Khalil Foulathi, who is also one of our honorary graduates. We covered many issues, including entrepreneurship and the future development needs of the UAE. It is clear that our discipline range - and partnership ethos - offer some exciting opportunities here.
Our second meeting was with an alumna of our EdD programme, Dr Samia Al Farra. Dr Al Farra was the first Principal of Amman Baccalaureate School in Jordan and is one of our finest ambassadors worldwide. The VC and PVC(I) will be visiting the School with Mary Hayden and Jeff Thompson in the coming days.
Our final meeting was with HM Ambassador, Philip Parham and the British Council's country director, Marc Jessel. It was a similarly wide-ranging discussion about research training and innovation and the University's strategic aims.
Gavin Maggs left for the UK very early this morning. The VC and PVC(I) are about to depart for Amman which is why this blog is rather breathless. A 'Note from Amman' will follow but first we need to check out. And yes - grab that last coffee for the road.
A University of Bath delegation, led by the Vice Chancellor and including the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Internationalisation) and Director of Development & Alumni, is currently visiting the UAE and Jordan. It is a trip that takes in three centres: the emirates Dubai and Abu Dhabi and also Amman.
We arrived late on Sunday evening from the UK and have had two days of meetings in Dubai so far. These included the UK Consul, our leading alumni in the emirate, the MENA HE Director for the British Council and leading figures from UK and UAE university education.
Two things perhaps strike the first-time visitor to Dubai: the ambition of its architecture (the ‘mega-tall’ Burj Khalifa, designed by US architects Adrian Smith, Marshall Strabala, George F. Efstathiou and structural engineer William F. Baker, rises 830m into the sky) and the diversity of its people (70 nationalities and 120,000 UK citizens among them).
Dubai truly is a gateway city to the Middle East, but also to Europe, the Indian sub-continent and northern Africa. There is a very real sense that history is being made here.
We have been very busy in a multi-dimensional trip and good coffee (the Sumatran was a particular hit) has certainly kept us going despite disturbed sleep. And the timing could not be better as the number of students studying at Bath from the UAE grows and we celebrate the strength of our alumni community there – our strongest in the region.
We are fortunate to have fantastically engaged alumni here who will support our international endeavours and build our profile as one of the world’s best universities.
Next stop: Abu Dhabi, with a note to follow (oh – and more coffee).
Professor Colin Grant