08 February 2019

Council for Australian Arab Council (CAAR), Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), funded a trip for a delegation of CITE and UniSA academics and staff to visit Oman, Qatar and Kuwait mid-January, 2019. The aim of the trip was to build bridges of understanding between Australia and the Middle East through academic collaborations. A Letter of Agreement was signed by UniSA and Sultan Qaboos University (SQU) in Oman, which will lead to further collaborations, joint conferences, research and student and staff exchanges.  UniSA just received three fully sponsored PhD students from SQU who will research in the area of Early Childhood Development.

The current (and third) visit to Qatar was a great success with a host of media being present at a Roundtable Discussion, hosted by HE Axel Wabenhorst, Ambassador, Australian High Commission in Doha. The local English and Arabic media covered the discussions, with a host of high profile attendees from the Education and other sectors of Qatar (Ministry of Higher Education, Ministry of Religious Affairs, Hamad bin Khalifa University among others). In depth conversations on research collaborations were made over a day of meetings with various faculties and centres at Qatar University, where an MoU is currently in place from the previous year’s visit. The delegation also visited Education City, Qatar Foundation, a world class exemplary education vicinity where prominent international universities offer their key degrees. This is the first time a connection has been made with Qatar Foundation and strong links have been made where a representative is expected to participate in CITE’s upcoming 4th Annual Australian Islamic Schooling Conference and Forum in July 2019. University Foundation College, a newly formed college, in Qatar is very much interested in connecting with CITE and UniSA to discuss further regarding study abroad for Qatari students.

The last stop for the delegation, Kuwait, was organised by the Australian Embassy in Kuwait and proved a very fruitful exploratory visit.  The Ambassador, HE Jonathan Gilbert and his colleagues, discussed the drop in Kuwaiti students studying in Australia over the years, and discussed the various reasons and possible areas of concern for Australian Universities to address to ensure that it is a destination of choice for Kuwaiti university students. The delegation met a number of Kuwaiti alumni two from UniSA, to discuss possible ways to promote Australian Universities. The meeting was held at the Australian Ambassador’s residence. They are all now successful in their careers but very passionate about education and have extended their hands to assist where possible.

University of Kuwait was a last minute meeting organised by the Australian Embassy, but proved to be highly fruitful. The Vice President Academic Affairs received the delegation and was very keen for the two universities to work together to build strong academic collaborations.

 Internally, CITE and UniSA have started strategic conversations to discuss how best to take full advantage of the fruitful visit to all three countries. .