Dr Abdullah Al Mandoos: High level of interest reflects UAE’s global ambitions for rain enhancement science
Following the close of its initial deadline for research pre-proposals on April 16, the UAE Research Program for Rain Enhancement Science has announced that it has received an overwhelming response from interested scientists around the world.
In order to help arid and semi-arid countries increase their rainfall yields, the UAE is taking a global lead in promoting water security as part of its ‘Year of Innovation’ in 2015. The UAE Research Program for Rain Enhancement Science was launched at the beginning of this year by His Highness Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the UAE Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs and Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the UAE National Centre of Meteorology and Seismology (NCMS), the organisation that manages the program.
Commenting on the high uptake to the program from scientists, as well as leading universities and research global institutions, Dr Abdullah Al Mandoos, Director of NCMS, said: “With 325 scientists and researchers affiliated to 151 organizations having applied to participate in the Program, this very successful outcome demonstrates the UAE leadership’s determination to position our country as a global leader in water security innovation. A total of 78 pre-proposals from scientific teams drawn from 34 countries around the world testifies to the high level of international interest in this initiative. The strong support of His Highness Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan has ensured that we were able to get the program off to such a good start.”
“The submission of such a large number of applications from countries as far as Cuba in the Western Hemisphere to China and Japan in the Far East and Sudan on the African continent validates the high level of international interest in the program. The UAE is seeking to inspire new research and investment in a field that previously has been neglected but which offers significant potential for boosting water security. It is notable that the pre-proposal stage of our Program has inspired significant trans-national cooperation between diverse groups of scientists working on this subject. We believe that such international willingness to pool knowledge and drive innovation bodes well for the future of the program,” added Dr Al Mandoos.
From the 78 pre-proposals received, the United States leads the way with 20 submissions, followed by the UAE with 19. Submissions from Russia, India and Iran numbered 10, 8, and 4 respectively, followed by Spain, China and South Africa with three each. Researchers from Britain, Japan, Australia, Kazakhstan and Sudan submitted two pre-proposals per country, while individual researchers from other countries also participated in the first phase of the program.
Regarding the selection process, Alya Al Mazroui, Director of the UAE Research Program for Rain Enhancement Science, said: “The success of our program in attracting such significant international interest demonstrates the UAE’s leadership in encouraging innovators to cooperate to push the frontiers of research, development and innovation and ensure that rain enhancement contributes to a more complete portfolio for water security.
“We are confident that the award winners will successfully develop strong research projects and forge collaborative synergies with all scientific partners and concerned organizations engaged in this field. We also expect the research programs to be developed in a spirit of social awareness, be committed to community relations, and be fully cognisant of potential environmental impacts.”
The application schedule of the program involves several phases. With the pre-proposals having been submitted by April 16, the next stage will involve evaluation of the submissions by a specialized Technical Committee that will meet in Abu Dhabi on May 17-18 to shortlist selected candidates who will be invited to submit their full proposals. The shortlist of successful candidates will be announced on June 1. The last date for shortlisted candidates to submit the completed final research project is midnight (GMT) of September 17, 2015.
In its inaugural cycle, up to five projects will be selected as winners for the total grant of US$5 million that will be awarded over a three year period. The prize winning project proposals will be announced and honored at a ceremony in January 2016.
About the UAE Research Program for Rain Enhancement Science
The UAE Research Program for Rain Enhancement Science, an initiative of the UAE Ministry for Presidential Affairs and overseen by the National Centre of Meteorology and Seismology (NCMS), offers a grant of US$5 million dollars over a three-year period to be shared by up to five winning research proposals, selected by a two-stage merit review decision process. The Program was launched at the beginning of 2015 with the aims of addressing the critical issue of water security and placing the UAE at the international forefront of scientific research into rain enhancement. In the context of the UAE’s Innovation Strategy, the program is structured to develop human capital and stimulate investment in research in this field for the benefit of arid and semi-regions around the world.