A year after the signing of the Abraham Accords, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) in Israel and Université Internationale de Rabat (UIR) in Morocco signed a historic Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to collaborate on research and education.
This is the second such collaboration between BGU and a Moroccan school. BGU previously signed a cooperation agreement with the Mohammed VI Polytechnic University a year ago in September 2020.
The Abraham Accords were formally signed between Israel and the Arab Gulf States of Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates on August 13, 2020. Morocco and Sudan soon joined the accords, also establishing diplomatic ties with Israel.
In the year since Israel has benefited tremendously from a myriad of new deals with these other nations that seemed to come not as a drizzle, but as a storm. For example, earlier this month Israel’s Delek Drilling sold its 22% non-operated stake in the Tamar offshore gas field to Mubadala Petroleum of Abu Dhabi, UAE. Mubadala Petroleum will pay Delek Drilling $1.025 billion for the field, subject to certain adjustments.
BGU says that it shares many interests and values with UIR. The MoU, the schools state, aims to formalize their joint vision and “facilitate scholarly and scientific cooperation between the institutions through joint research, teaching, student, and staff mobility.”
The collaboration will include joint activities in the fields of Humanities, Social Sciences, Natural and Health Sciences, under the heading “People of the MENA region” [MENA = Middle East and North Africa].
Through this partnership, the research will be led by scientists from the region, from their own points of view, a break from the past where collaborations usually involved a third partner from another region.
An upcoming joint workshop will discuss questions of culture, spiritualism, ethnicity, and desert kingdom heritages. Entitled “Oasis in the Middle East and Northern Africa, an Ecological Utopia”, topics covered will include land ownership, water sources, agriculture of arid and semi-arid lands, land restoration, and issues related to sustainability from various technological, biological and health perspectives.
Another area of study will include the cultural heritage of Moroccan Jews. Anthropological, historical, sociological, social, and economic studies of the heritage of Moroccan Jews will be conducted – from their history in Morocco to their current diaspora. The intertwined destiny of Jews and Muslims in the MENA region will also be explored.
Due to Covid-19, the signing ceremony was conducted via Zoom. “We can’t wait for Covid-19 to subside so we can meet in person, both in Rabat and in Beer-Sheva,” said the new partners. “In the meantime, we are excited that the academic collaboration has begun.”