Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi, Crown Prince and Deputy Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah, yesterday opened the first International Workshop on Advanced Materials (Iwam-09), in which he unveiled the emirate's plans to create a flagship centre for materials science research in the region. Construction will start in early 2009.
Delivering the keynote address at the inaugural session, Sheikh Saud said Ras Al Khaimah will set up by 2010 one of the most sophisticated research facilities for advanced materials in the region under the banner of RAK-Cam, which was launched in 2007.
"The construction of a stunning 7,500 square metre building for RAK-Cam will begin in early 2009 at a site close to the Emirates Road. By early 2010, the facility will be equipped with state-of-the- art equipment such as electron microscopes, X-ray diffractometers, optical spectrometers, etc," he said.
The three-day workshop, organised by Ras Al Khaimah Centre for Advanced Materials (RAK-Cam) under the patronage of Sheikh Saud, is being attended by world's leading materials scientists and 100 researchers from 20 countries.
He said the scope of RAK-Cam will cover materials science in its broadest sense, from well-known construction materials like concrete and glass, to sophisticated materials that underpin the function of solar cells, catalytic converters, computers and moble phones.
"RAK-Cam will play a number of roles as its programmes develop over the next five years, including the pursuit of world class scientific research here in RAK, providing facilities and support for local industries, and offering training and educational opportunities for young people in the community who are interested in science," he said.
A scientific advisory board, under the chairmanship of Professor Anthony K Cheetham of the Department of Materials Science at the University of Cambridge, has been established for RAK–Cam.
Professor Samy El Shall, who was recently appointed the Director of RAK-Cam, said nano-technology and nano-materials would be in the forefront of research at RAK-Cam, along with cutting-edge research.
"Our strategy is based on selecting a research area and hiring the most qualified researchers in the world to accomplish the project and making sure that the research team is equipped with state-of–the-art tools in an inspiring and nice facility. RAK-Cam will in the first phase create eight interdisciplinary research groups, each consisting of four to five scientists including post doctoral researchers and visiting professorship from across the world," he said.
RAK-Cam has started providing "Sheikh Saqr Al Qasimi Research Fellowship' to support post-doctoral research. It will also establish research initiatives for undergraduate students.