MIT to Help Develop Renewable Energy Institute in Middle East

Known primarily as being a country rich in oil reserves, the United Arab Emirates will soon play host to a new research institute that offers postgraduate programs in renewable energy and sustainability in its capital city of Abu Dhabi.

Earlier this week, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company (ADFEC) signed a cooperative agreement to help develop the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology. With plans to admit the first postgraduate students in the summer of 2009, the Masdar Institute will operate as an independent, non-profit research and educational institution, conducting courses in English and offering postgraduate degrees to men and women in the United Arab Emirates, Middle East, North Africa and the South Asian region. “MIT faculty and staff will provide advice, scholarly assessment and assistance in connection with the establishment of the Masdar Institute,” said MIT Chancellor Phillip Clay. “This includes working with ADFEC to develop collaborative research and create indigenous academic programs, to create a strategy for commercializing Masdar Institute’s research results and to build the institute’s organizational and administrative capabilities.” The first institution dedicated to research-driven postgraduate programs in the region, the institute is envisioned as the centerpiece of a multifaceted, regional economic development program — the Masdar Initiative — announced in April 2006 by the Abu Dhabi government. As part of the initiative, a four square kilometer of land was granted by the Government of Abu Dhabi to be made available as the campus for the Masdar Institute. The government of Abu Dhabi has already dedicated $350 million to a giant solar power initiative and recently established a U.S. $100 million clean technology fund to co-invest with private sector partners in domestic and foreign companies focused on emerging technologies. “The Masdar Institute will serve as the nucleus of the Masdar Initiative, feeding it with talent and innovative technologies to enhance economic development and promote new industries using renewable energy and resources in the emirate and the region,” said Sultan Al Jaber, CEO of ADFEC. “This cooperative agreement will lead to a superior relationship between the Masdar Institute and MIT to jointly address global energy issues.” Al Jaber highlighted the importance of developing indigenous research and development capabilities in Abu Dhabi to address issues of particular regional importance, such as energy, water and sustainability. “The guiding philosophy of Masdar is to transform the natural resource wealth of the country to a long-term, sustainable knowledge economy through the development of human capital that can effectively compete in the global marketplace,” he added. Abu Dhabi is the headquarters of the United Arab Emirates oil operating companies. The city holds 94 percent of the country’s oil reserves, covers around 87 percent of the United Arab Emirates total land area and is home to 38 per cent of the population.
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