Salem Al-Agtash, ASREN's Managing Director: Working to achieve a truly integrated Arab e-Infrastructure
Written by María José López Pourailly.
Monday, 14 May 2012 13:43
The Arab States Research and Education Network, ASREN, was inagurated in December 2010 at the League of Arab States Headquarters. His Managing Director – Administration, Education and Research, shared with us his views on the role of research and education networks and the importance of global collaboration in this interview.
What comes to your mind when you hear that a researcher is talking about collaboration? Scientists are no more isolated and collaboration has become essential and a key to conducting research. Collaboration is about availability of high-speed networks, access to sophisticated computing e-Infrastructure, and sharing of resources and data-intensive applications.
What would you identify as the main importance of research and education networks? Research and Education Networks are essential tools for connecting researchers and institutions and for sharing scientific applications, services, and computing resources. With these networks, researchers have access to an open world of education, science, and applications and is key for consolidating efforts to address World’s pressing problems and crisis that are common to all nations. The networks represent an extremely important outreach infrastructure to a wider research population that has an amazing potential, most dramatically in its impact on enabling developing countries to boot up and join the globalizing developed world.
How would you describe the role of ASREN at both a regional and a global level? ASREN’s role will focus on developing a pan-Arab e-Infrastructure to support e-Science and education and facilitate the collaboration and cooperation among researchers and academicians in the Arab region across the Arab Countries. ASREN has been collaborating with other regional networks for harmonization and coordination of regional e-Infrastructures in an effort to build interoperability standards and facilitate access to research communities at the global level. ASREN will be an intermediary connecting the west and the east, as well the north and the south.
How important for ASREN is collaboration with other regional networks and in what ways do you collaborate at a global level? Collaboration with other regional networks has many advantages mainly in sharing resources, experiences, as well best practices and successes. ASREN organizes every year the e-AGE forum (Integrating Arab e-Infrastructure in a Global Environment) as the launching pad for R&E connectivity and cooperation at the global level. e-AGE brings together ASREN, EUMED, GÉANT, RedCLARA, Ubuntunet, WACREN, APAN, and Internet2 regional R&E network stakeholders and region’s foremost innovators, leaders, scientists, and businesses. The goal is to discuss and debate models of innovation, integration of R&E networks, policies for sustainable development in education, means of knowledge sharing and dissemination, capacity building programs, and region-wide e- infrastructure deployment to tackle today’s crises and worlds most pressing problems in environment, economy, health, energy, and many others. The forum plays an important role in bringing leaders and policy makers to plan for building a global e-infrastructure for R&E based on real life broad inclusiveness beyond any political protocols. e-AGE 2012 will be held in United Arab Emirates and targets audience from all over the world.
How do you think global collaboration among regional networks will change in the coming years? Global collaboration will be driven by needs, most importantly in a wider access to knowledge resources. Global access, so long denied, will be possible during the coming years to researchers everywhere. Access alone, though critical and a priority, is not the key element to world successful research collaboration, but it is more related to the development and empowerment of research communities and sharing of resources as the building blocks for strong and sustainable research communities in the 21st century.
Could you describe your vision of R&E networks in the future? Our vision at ASREN for the coming few years is to build on EUMEDCONNECT 3 and establish research and education networks in the Arab countries where such networks do not exist, create links [virtual or dark fibre] between the Arab neighbouring countries, develop four main POPs linking to other regional research and education networks in Europe, Africa, America, and Asia. This will facilitate emergence of a truly integrated Arab e-Infrastructure that can mobilize Arab research communities into a wider collaboration context focusing on local problems and issues related to poverty, environment, health and social disparity.
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