Emirati Minister of Education visits Bern

Bern, 14.09.2021 - On 14 September 2021, President Guy Parmelin received Emirati Minister of Education Hussain bin Ibrahim Al Hammadi on a courtesy visit. Prior to this, the minister held a working meeting with Martina Hirayama, State Secretary for Research, Education and Innovation. Their talks focused on the Swiss vocational education and training (VET) system and bilateral cooperation in the fields of research and innovation. The World Expo in Dubai was also discussed.

During both the courtesy and working visits, both sides welcomed the good relations between their countries and discussed cooperation opportunities in the fields of education, research and innovation. Expo 2020, which will take place in Dubai from October 2021 to March 2022 under the motto ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’, is expected to play an important role in this regard. Switzerland will have its own pavilion at the World Expo, organised by Presence Switzerland of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs. The State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation will also be represented, by swissnex. The swissnex programme there is based on the Expo ‘theme weeks’, which are linked to the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Joint events between Swiss players and Emirati partners are intended to generate innovative solutions to achieve these goals and further promote bilateral relations in education, research and innovation.

The topics addressed by Mr Al Hammadi and Ms Hirayama in their discussion on VET included the division of roles between the players and how to make VET attractive to young people going forward. At Expo 2020 in Dubai, SERI is also planning various VET-related activities in the Swiss Pavilion, with the general aim of raising awareness of Swiss VET and promoting knowledge transfer. Meetings between Swiss VET partners and stakeholders in the Emirati VET landscape are currently being set up.

An important instrument in cooperation in science between Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates is the federal government's bilateral programmes. These promote research and innovation cooperation with regions that have scientific and technological development potential. For the 2021–24 funding period, SERI has once again entrusted the leading house mandate for North Africa and the Middle East to the University of Applied Sciences of Western Switzerland (HES-SO).

During his stay in Switzerland, Mr Al Hammadi will visit EPFL in Lausanne, which has been running ‘EPFL Middle East’ research centre in Ras Al Khaimah (UAE) since 2009. His tour also includes ETH Zurich, and various universities of applied sciences and international research organisations.

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