Scientists thank UAE for 10-year visa
On Wednesday, outstanding individuals were handed the first batch of long-term 10-year visas by the UAE government.
By Lujein Farhat and Angel Tesorero
Published: Thu 17 Jan 2019, 10:01 PM
Last updated: Fri 18 Jan 2019, 12:11 AM
For 20 outstanding professors and researchers in the UAE, the future looks bright - and their UAE residency status secure. On Wednesday, the outstanding individuals were handed the first batch of long-term 10-year visas by the UAE government for their contribution towards the field of academics. In a bid to retain the country's pool of innovative talent, the announcement came following the second annual meeting of the Mohammed Bin Rashid Academy of Scientists. So, how did they take the news? Khaleej Times caught up with some of the recipients to find out.
'This is my home and we love it here'
Dr Ghaleb Husseini
Associate dean of graduate affairs and research at the American University of Sharjah (AUS)
Interests: Biomedical research for cancer treatment
When Khaleej Times broke the news of his 10-year residence visa to the distinguished scholar, he was floored: "I had no idea that I was being considered for the visa. What an honour!"
Dr Husseini and his family expressed their delight at their new visa status. "I've been here since 2004. My wife is here, my kids grew up here. It's my home, we love it here, this is awesome. Life has been good to me," he reflected.
A woman from the office of the Mohammed Bin Rashid Medal for Scientific Distinguishment had recently contacted the professor for a list of papers and documents which she had vaguely claimed was for their "records". He, of course, thought nothing of it at the time and forgot about the entire matter.
Dr Husseini expressed his gratitude to the UAE leaders for their dedication to scientific advancement. "I want to see the UAE be a top tier country, a pioneer in scientific research. I believe the UAE is doing it the right way. I want to thank my parents and my family - my sisters, and my wife - who's been very patient with long hours at the lab and at work - and my kids. I would like to thank the AUS for giving me the opportunity, for funding me, for supporting me when I needed it. I cannot forget about the amazing students at the AUS and having the chance to work with them and facilitate this research."
Dr Husseini elaborated on the journey which began with his specialisation in biomedical engineering and graduating with a PhD from Brigham Young University in 2011.
"I started in the UAE as a fresh little assistant professor of chemical engineering at the American University in 2004. But I've always wanted to get my own lab and improve the lives of cancer patients worldwide. Slowly, we began to get funding for our research, first with the Provost Challenge Faculty Research Grant, and then later on with Al Jalila Foundation, Al Qasimi Foundation, and most recently with the Technology Innovation Pioneers Healthcare Award."
Thanks to his efforts, the AUS established Master of Science in Biomedical Engineering (MSBME), the first programme of its kind in the GCC.
'UAE is a great place to work and live'
Dr Lakmal Seneviratne
Born in Sri Lanka, UK national
Professor of mechanical engineering, founding director of Khalifa University Robotics Institute, Khalifa University assistant vice-president for research
Interests: Robotics, automation and research
Dr Lakmal Seneviratne had a long and illustrious career, spanning 25 years, as a robotics professor at King's College London, before coming to the UAE in April 2010 to teach at the newly-established Khalifa University in Abu Dhabi.
He immediately hit the ground running, so to speak, and helped establish the Khalifa University Robotics Institute (KURI) which eventually became the Khalifa University Centre for Autonomous Robotic Systems (KUCARS), a research centre dedicated to building up the university as an internationally recognized center of excellence in robotics research.
"I was looking for new challenges," Dr Lakmal told Khaleej Times on Thursday when asked why he chose to move to the UAE.
"The UAE is a great place to work - it has great leadership. The country is very ambitious and it has the resources to match those ambitions," he added.
"King's College - Where I came from - is already an established and old university (around 200 years old) and I thought of establishing a second career in a different country with a new work ecosystem," he added.
At KUCARS, Dr Lakmal is working with 50 researchers, including 25 faculty members, coming from various nationalities and disciplines such as electrical computer, mechanical and aerospace engineering.
They are building aerial, ground and marine robotic vehicles; manufacturing automation; and biorobotics, with applications in safety and security, manufacturing and healthcare industrial sectors.
Dr Lakmal said he was delighted to get a long-term residency visa "because it's a validation and recognition of the efforts they are putting at KUCARS."
He noted that robotics is a very demanding and highly competitive field because of its transformative potential. And the UAE is heading in the right direction in terms of attracting the best talents to become one of the leaders in robotics. "As for me, I will continue to work for the benefit of the university and the country.
'I see big potential for research here'
Dr Ehab El-Saadany
Born in Egypt, Canadian national
Director, Advanced Power and Energy Centre at Khalifa University
Professor, electrical and computer engineering Recipient of numerous national and international awards for his contributions to energy systems
Interests: Clean and renewable energy sources and smart grid
Dr Ehab El-Saadany's mission is to look for viable and efficient renewable energy resources.
Armed with a doctorate degree in electrical and computer engineering, he is working at Khalifa University' Advanced Power and Energy Centre (Apec), a research facility working on energy resources and a laboratory for engineers who are addressing industry power and energy needs of the UAE.
"The UAE has set many ambitious and strategic energy goals and launched many pioneering energy projects to achieve said goals," Dr Ehab told Khaleej Times. "Our objective at Apec is to develop the country's intellectual and human capital to provide innovative ideas and solutions. We are also working on electric energy systems allowing seamless and economical operation of renewable and clean energy resources," he added.
For his brilliant mind and contribution to the country's energy sector, Dr Ehab was previously shortlisted for the Mohammed Bin Rashid Medal for Scientific Excellence. He was also given a 10-year residency visa by the UAE government.
"Being one of the pioneering 20 expats given the long-term visa was fantastic," said Dr Ehab, who previously worked for almost two decades as professor at the University of Waterloo in Canada.
"I came to Dubai because of its culture, which is closer to mine and I saw the big potential of the university for research," he said.
Dr Ehab, who arrived in Abu Dhabi three years ago, added that his wife, who also holds a PhD and is currently working at the University of Waterloo, and their youngest daughter, who is in Grade 9, will come to join him in August this year.
He said: "I highly appreciate the recognition given to me. My plan is to prove that I deserve this recognition and to serve more the country and our university."