MENASCI – Strengthening R&D, Science & Technology in the MENA Region

MENA Science “MENASCI” is a Middle East North Africa Science Platform for Advancing science communication and networking. A long-awaited initiative in a very dynamic and expanding region in the world though the existing conflicts, wars and social imparities. 

At this stage the MENASCI platform is illustrating many successful science and technology fronts and advances in the region. 

A new synchrotron particle accelerator for the MENA is under construction in Jordan, for example. Synchrotron light will be used for experimental science and application in the Middle East “SESAME”.

In biodiversity there are interests to find approaches for protection of endangered species. The Arabian Leopard Panthera pardus nimr is a vulnerable and endangered subspecies that inhabits the mountains of the Arabian Peninsula. In Oman steps are taken to protect it in the mountains of Dhofar.

What concerns Global Warming, for example, hot spots in the Gulf region & Arabian Peninsula are projected to endure heatwaves challenging human survival and adaptability if the impacts of Global Warming and climate changes are left unchecked, monitored and assessed. The temperature in Mitribah, Kuwait was, for example, reported to have reached 54°C (129.2°F). If confirmed, this would be the hottest temperature recorded outside of Death Valley, California. Global Warming is predicted to continue to cause enormous threats on several scales in the whole region without exceptions because of severe aridity and water scarcity in the region. Declining groundwater and the increasing salinity in the land-water resources are typical problems. The region as a whole is becoming more and more dependent on water desalination which is very energy-demanding, not accessible and affordable in all parts of the MENA region, and it’s large-scale and long-term impacts on coastal marine regions are totally unknown. Desalinated water needs also to be supplemented with mineral additives that are being lost during the desalination-process. The very expensive desalinated water will quite soon cause major increases in costs and investments in agriculture and food production. Other viable options and solutions are urgently needed.

The MENA region is also facing modern health challenges, e.g. increase in cancer frequency and other diseases becuase of either food habits or water quality. The burden of diabetes has increased faster in low-income and middle-income countries than in high-income countries. Age-standardised adult diabetes prevalence in 2014 was lowest in northwestern Europe, and highest in Polynesia and Micronesia, at nearly 25%, followed by Melanesia and the Middle East and North Africa. Stroke national data Lebanon Prevalence of stroke symptoms: first national data from Lebanon. This is the first study conducted in the Middle East, assessing self-reported stroke symptoms among stroke-free residents.

Genetic research to mitigate climate change is needed as the MENA region is facing extreme weather events. Plant genetic research underpins crop production and safeguards against the impacts of alterations in weather due to climate change.

Scientific projects targeting cooperation between MENA and EU scientists are being promoted, e.g. EUROSUNMED which focuses on the potential for plentiful solar power to adapt solar technology to the region’s environment. What regards MENA-EU collaboration there are existing and emerging needs on different scales for advancing science communication and networking, capacity-building, Career-Development-Plans and Transfer-of-Knowledge to coordinate and bridge R&D, science and technology both within the MENA region and between the MENA and EU countries. 

There are growing and increasing interests in the MENA region as a whole what regards Sustainability, Mega structures and Solar Power. In particular in the Gulf region, Saudi Arabia and Morocco. At the edge of the Sahara desert in Morocco under the scorching sun lies an important mega structure harnessing an abundant source of energy. One of the largest solar projects in the world is being built in phases with a potential to provide electricity to a million people. An increasing number of new solar energy technologies are invented every year, the successful development of which depends heavily on accurate measurements of performance, reliability, and durability. Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, UAE, is a global platform that addresses the interconnected challenges that affect the widespread adoption of sustainable development and clean energy. Our world is increasingly embracing innovative solutions in order to create a sustainable future, and the Zayed Future Energy Prize is a unique platform that recognises and rewards today’s innovators for their contributions to change.

For the MENA region there are several new possibilities for supporting and funding academic and professional staff at research centers, universities and industries. EU collaboration projects and International Cooperation, e.g. EU H2020 international research, is vital in this context. Active and more strategic international cooperation will also contribute to achieving the EU’s wider policy objectives including those in the MENA region and beyond. 

There are also other funding options for the MENA region, e.g. The Middle East Science Fund. The Middle East Science Fund is an initiative to support young scientists and education in the sciences throughout the region. KAUST Funding, for example, is the mission of the Innovation & Economic Development to help maximize KAUST’s contribution to the economic diversification of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and its transformation to a knowledge-based economy. The Fogarty International Center support research and provides funding for Advancing Science for Global Health

For more information on Middle East and North African (MENA) Grants and Resources please visit:

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