x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Paris Sorbonne joins forces with UAE University for archaeology project

Sorbonne and UAEU hope research will start wider partnership

ABU DHABI // UAE University and the Paris Sorbonne University in Abu Dhabi are preparing for their first joint research project, in the new field of geoarchaeology.

UAEU in Al Ain will host a student researcher from the Paris campus of the Sorbonne University, who will identify areas for research in geoarchaeology.

The field applies earth-science techniques to archaeology, in a first for the UAE. Work on the project is due to start in September.

Prof Eric Fouache, new campus director of the Sorbonne in Abu Dhabi, said the collaboration was vital in helping to build a research department.

"We're trying to build a network and something original," Prof Fouache said. "We can be more effective together."

The Sorbonne will work with UAEU's college of humanities and social science with a view to developing public policy.

"It's a priority at the federal level and for the Government of Abu Dhabi," said Prof Fouache.

The Paris-based student will spend three months in Al Ain, teamed with an Emirati researcher at UAEU.

Prof Fouache said mixing cultures was an important part of the project, "blending people who have real experience to create a real community of students who can move to a PhD within one or two years".

Dr Mohamed Al Baili, dean of humanities and social science at UAEU, said the university was keen to develop more partnerships with international institutions.

It already works with New York University Abu Dhabi in public health and neurological science.

"It's very important to exchange ideas and do collaborative research to help strengthen our programmes, which will benefit the students and academics," Dr Al Baili said.

UAEU has facilities for geoarchaeology, unlike the Sorbonne Abu Dhabi, which was only launched in 2006.

That, combined with Al Ain's rich archaeological heritage and varied geography, make it a perfect place to start the research.

"We have the equipment to assist the researcher, as well as the labs and software which will allow her to do the field work," said Dr Al Baili.

The visiting student will also assist her UAE peers who are studying French.

Such collaborations are also a key source of funding for UAEU.

"When budgetary issues are challenging here, each institution needs each other and we can help fill in areas others may be lacking in," he said.

Working with the Sorbonne, he said, would also help to broaden the university's perspectives.

"We follow an American model, so it's good to expand our horizons with people from institutions other than American ones," Dr Al Baili said.

mswan@thenational.ae