- The UAE hosted the 2nd Annual Forum for Open Research last week, jointly organised by the Knowledge E Foundation, Khalifa University, UNESCO and the UAE Ministries of Education, and Culture and Youth
- The Annual Forum was designed to support the development and implementation of Open Science policies and practises in research communities and research institutions across the Arab world
- Ministerial representatives and UNESCO delegations from all 22 Arab States were in attendance, in addition to 720 delegates from 64 countries (in person and online)
- It was agreed that a new non-governmental Arab Association for the Advancement of Open Science in Research Communities and Higher Education would be established. A new steering committee has been elected, comprised of the leaders of the Arab Association of Universities (AAU), the Federation of Arab Scientific Research Councils (FASRC), the Arab States Research and Education Network (ASREN), and the Forum for Open Research in MENA (FORM).
The 22nd to 25th of October saw the UAE host the hugely successful and high-impact 2nd Annual Forum for Open Research. With the theme of Democratising Knowledge: The Evolution of Open Science Ecosystems and Communities in the Arab World, the conference was organised to support the Arab world’s transition towards more accessible, sustainable and inclusive research and education models. Bringing together leading international experts and key regional stakeholders, the 2nd Annual Forum was organised by the Knowledge E Foundation, in partnership with Khalifa University, UNESCO, the UAE Ministry of Education and the UAE Ministry of Culture and Youth.
With 22 thought-provoking sessions, 72 presenters, and 3 keynotes, the Annual Forum encouraged speakers and delegates to exchange ideas, discuss shared challenges, and explore collaborative solutions for advancing Open Science across the Arab States. The importance of the event, and its relevance for the wider region was demonstrated by the presence of Ministerial representatives and UNESCO delegations from all 22 Arab States, in addition to 720 delegates from 64 countries (in person and online).
One of the particular highlights of the first day was an inspiring keynote speech from His Excellency Dr Ahmad Belhoul Al Falasi, the UAE Minister of Education, which not only set the stage for the subsequent excellent discussions and debates, but also highlighted both the UAE’s proactive and forward-thinking approach to scientific research and innovation and demonstrated the Arab region’s potential to lead the global transition towards strong and sustainable open research infrastructures.
Another highlight was the Leadership panel, during which the leaders of the country’s top universities within the UAE explored the challenges and solutions relating to the development and implementation of open science policies and practises in universities in the region. Speakers included Dr Ghassan Aouad, Chancellor of Abu Dhabi University, Dr Bayan Sharif, Provost of Khalifa University, Dr Ghaleb Ali Al Hadrami Al Breiki, Vice Chancellor of United Arab Emirates University, and Dr Maamar Bettayeb, Vice Chancellor of Research and Graduate Studies at the University of Sharjah.
In addition, a special strategy session was organised to discuss the creation of a new non-governmental Arab Association for the Advancement of Open Science in Research Communities and Higher Education. Attendees included the FORM Advisory Board, UNESCO Secretary Generals from the Arab States, and the leaders of various regional scientific and education research organisations. After discussing the need for a new pan-regional entity specifically tasked with supporting Open Science policymaking at the national and regional level, a steering committee was elected to oversee the establishment of this new non-governmental Arab Association. The steering committee is comprised of the leaders of the Arab Association of Universities (AAU), the Federation of Arab Scientific Research Councils (FASRC), the Arab States Research and Education Network (ASREN), and the Forum for Open Research in MENA (FORM).
In accordance with the Annual Forum’s emphasis on accessibility and inclusivity, all the sessions and presentations will be made freely available online, via the initiative’s website.
“We established FORM to help support the advancement of Open Science across the Arab world, via grassroots community development and capacity building activities. Our hope is that over the longer term we can expand our scope to encompass support for national and regional policymaking. In the meantime, our focus is on building trust in Open Science, generating localised resources, nurturing pan-regional collaborative communities, supporting human and digital capacity building, and encouraging knowledge sharing. Together with our members and our partners, we are working to build a more Open Arab region, and a more knowledgeable world.”
Dr Emily Choynowski, Director of Operations, FORM.
About the Forum for Open Research in MENA:
The Forum for Open Research in MENA (F.O.R.M.) is a non-profit membership organisation supporting the advancement of Open Science policies and practices in research communities and institutions across the Arab world. A catalyst for positive action, F.O.R.M. works with key stakeholders to develop and implement a pragmatic programme to facilitate the transition towards more accessible, inclusive and sustainable research and education models in the Arab region. Every year, F.O.R.M. hosts the Annual Forum for Open Research, which brings together leading international experts and key regional stakeholders to discuss and debate key themes and issues relating to the advancement of Open Science across the Arab world.