Earlier this month, the League of Arab States finally held the founding meeting for the launch of the Arab States Research and Education Network (ASREN), in Cairo, Egypt.
ASREN will be a network between universities and research centres in the region, aiming to digitally connect students, Arab scientists and academics and promote collaboration across barriers in the region. The network will be based in Dusseldorf, Germany. It will also have a regional office in the Arab region.
While ARSEN aims to link Arab states together, there are several other networks that have created nodes in specific Arab countries.
Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, the Palestinian Territories, Syria and Tunisia are already members of the ultrafast network EUMEDCONNECT2, dedicated to research and education in the Mediterranean region.
Earlier in April 2010, the Global Ring Network for Advanced Applications Development (GLORIAD) was extended to the Middle East, with a new node set up in Egypt. GLORIAD’s extension was aimed at linking Egypt and the other Arab states to the large hemisphere network to promote science research and education in the region.
By connecting to these global networks, ARSEN can serve an estimate of 250 million people, delivering these networks to a wider array of countries in the region, such as Gulf States in the Arabian Peninsula.
The member countries are hoping the expanded networks will improve e-infrastructure in the region.
But more importantly, these new networks may help researchers from the Arab states to network with international peers and cooperate in research. They can facilitate the Arab World’s attempts to become part of the international science community, collaborating more effectively with international counterparts.
They will also offer students in the region access to large digital libraries and databases, surpassing borders that can often limit research and opportunities, especially for the poorer countries in the region. It can be a boon ti improve education in a region that has long suffered of outdated educational tools.
Talal Abu-Ghazaleh, chair of the Global Alliance for ICT and Development of the United Nations (UN GAID), was chosen to chair ARSEN as well.