Food security and environmental sustainability: an Australian Arab collaboration
DFAT approved a CAAR grant to foster linkage between the agricultural research communities in Australia and Qatar. As part of the scheduled activities two workshops were held, one each in Doha and Sydney. A large number of researchers attended the workshops in both countries.
To enhance collaboration between USyd (The University of Sydney) and MME (The Ministry of Municipalities and Environment in Qatar) various options were discussed on the sidelines of these workshops. Two delegates from USyd visited Qatar to attend the workshop and three delegates reciprocated from MME during the first half of 2019. As a result of this interaction new collaborative research concepts emerged and were proposed to QF (Qatar Foundation) for funding. One of these research proposals worth A$1m spanning over four years, 2019-23, has been recently funded by QF. More research concepts are expected to follow in the coming years.
USyd researchers had long been looking for various collaborative research concepts between MME and USyd but there was no funding available to begin the formal interaction had remained elusive. The CAAR grant, provided an impetus to translate the concepts into reality.
Putting mutually beneficial research concepts in order was a major milestone at the start of the new partnership. Scientific communities in both the countries find each other welcoming and open for a long-term partnership. The CAAR grant worked at the right juncture to overcome the bottlenecks. Understanding each other’s expectations and responding to them in true letter and spirit built the foundation that made the partnership work effectively.
Maintaining effective communication through email was an uphill battle at the start. Down the track, email was replaced by relatively less formal ways of communication using social media. Communicating through social media was quite successful. Overcoming the communication barriers effectively improved the landscape.