STRENGTH OF TIES

UAE, Sharjah 2017 | HEALTH & EDUCATION | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Hamid M. Al Naimiy, Chancellor of the University of Sharjah, on its progress on R&D, academic collaborations, and preparing students for the job market.

Hamid M. Al Naimiy
BIOGRAPHY
Prior to his appointment as Chancellor of the University of Sharjah in 2014, Hamid M. Al Naimiy served as Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Dean of the College of Sciences at UOS. He has served in a number of different positions at universities in the UAE and across the Arab world. A professor of astrophysics and space sciences, he is well known for his contributions to teaching and research in the fields of applied physics, astronomy, and space sciences. He has published over 120 papers in refereed journals, 32 books, and more than 800 articles, in addition to having over 500 TV interviews to his name. He also has extensive editorial experience in journals related to science.

Can you give us an introduction to the University of Sharjah?

The university has 15,000 students that participate across a spectrum of disciplines. We offer bachelor's, master's, and PhD programs and are the only university that covers different cities within the Emirate of Sharjah through our five branches. Our strategy is to strengthen the university in terms of R&D through different research institutes and centers of excellence, and to build on that we have established strong collaborations with international institutions and universities from Europe, the US, Australia, and Canada. We recruit scientists and distinguished academics to our faculty and concentrate on admitting excellent students with high GPAs. We have around 100 different nationalities within our student body, and 90 in our faculty.

What kind of progress has the Sharjah Center for Space Science and Astronomy made in the past two years?

His Highness instructed us to build the Sharjah Center for Astronomy and Space Sciences in 2013 for education, training, research, public outreach, tourism, and more and the center was completed in 2015. It consists of a planetarium with 200 seats, which houses the most advanced technology for sound, light, and accuracy for depicting stars in the sky. We complement that with two floors of astronomy and space science exhibitions alongside the planetarium for the education of our own students as well as outreach to generate better public awareness. Aside from the planetarium and exhibition we have an observatory, which is small but handy and can be operated remotely. The observatory itself was built with the latest technology.

What have been the university's most important academic collaborations?

The most important academic collaboration is a joint research project we have signed with many universities such as Germany's University of Lübeck for joint supervision for graduate students and exchanges. They collaborate with the university in order to teach the graduate students within the field of medicine and health sciences. We have another agreement with a university in Montreal, Canada, for an engineering management and PhD program, as well as two other agreements with Barcelona University and Malaga University in Spain. We also have strong relationships with universities in Arab countries like Cairo University, the American University of Beirut, and so on.

What are your most important collaborations with the public sector?

We have many important collaborations with the public sector, the most important being in renewable energy. We contribute ideas on how to construct houses that are more energy efficient, and we are also working with a number of municipalities on how to develop certification. The students and faculty are currently working together in that regard. The faculty of engineering, for example, is also working with Sharjah Electricity & Water Authority, in collaboration with its engineers.

Can you elaborate on how you are preparing students for the modern job market?

We started a program two years ago that underlined our strategy for developing the next generation and endowing them with the skills needed for the fourth industrial revolution. We created what we call the professor chair, which means that directors from different sectors of industry have signed a contract with us for funding specifically for researching solutions to the problems they are facing. This research focuses on utilizing technology to solve some of the problems faced by the Emirate.

What is your strategy for the university for the next five years?

The goal is to strengthen the university in terms of R&D. In that sense, we have to strengthen graduate studies and are making sure the students conduct research projects that serve the community. At the same time, this research will be published in well-known international databases and journals. We want to strengthen the university and be in a good position and ranking internationally. At the same time, we have to boost the university's various branches as they themselves may become a university at a later date.