UAE grants first long-term visas to scientists

The UAE government granted the first set of long-term visas to the winners and finalists of the first and second editions of the Mohammed bin Rashid Medal for Scientific Excellence, following the decision issued by the UAE Cabinet to grow the country's status as an incubator of talent and innovation.

The announcement came after the second annual meeting of the Mohammed bin Rashid Academy of Scientists, which saw the attendance of over 150 scientists from around the world.

Recipients of the first long-term visas include winners of the Mohammed bin Rashid Medal for Scientific Excellence, as well as 18 experts and researchers in the fields of science and knowledge, who were shortlisted for the medal.

Commenting on the announcement, Sarah bint Yousif Al Amiri, Minister of State for Advanced Sciences, said, "The granting of long-term resident visas to scientists and researchers is a reflection of the UAE leadership's vision to enhance the country's position as a destination for creative minds and talents.

"It further emphasises the UAE’s leading role in honouring scientists and providing innovative solutions that would ultimately serve mankind.

"We look forward to continuing our efforts towards attaining the UAE's goal of becoming a global scientific hub, and providing an environment conducive to scientific advancement while building an integrated scientific community capable of meeting all future development needs."

She concluded, "The initiative serves the fundamental goals of the UAE National Advanced Sciences Agenda, which aims to harness scientific research in a bid to achieve a qualitative leap forward in key and vital sectors, which would serve to consolidate the UAE's position on global competitiveness indicators."

The UAE Cabinet issued a decision in November 2018, which says a 10-year visa shall be granted to innovators, doctors, specialists and inventors, with similar advantages for their spouses and children. Scientists must be accredited by the Emirates Scientists Council, and must also meet at least two of the following prerequisites: they must have a PhD degree from one of the world’s top 100 universities; a contribution to major scientific research in the applicant's field of specialisation; high academic achievement (a PhD degree at least); in addition to a 20-year professional experience; among other conditions.

The decision to grant innovators, scientists and creative talents a 10-year residency visa underlines the UAE’s firm belief in scientists’ role in enriching culture and human sciences across their various fields and in their relevant countries.

Following is the list of scientists, who have been granted the 10-year residency visas.


1. Dr. Lihadh Al Gazali, Senior Consultant at the Clinical Genetics and Pediatrics at the UAE University, winner of the second edition of the Mohammad Bin Rashid Medal for Scientific Excellence.

Dr. Lihadh is a Fellow of the Royal Colleges of Physicians and the Royal College of Pediatrics and Child Health, MRCPCH, in the United Kingdom; a Member of the Executive Council of the Arab Center for Genomic Studies and several other global organizations.

Dr. Lihadh is one of the first scientists in the world to successfully identify recessive genes that cause more than 40 common genetic disorders among Arab populations. She was also the first female physician to describe phenotypic patterns of genetic disorders in the United Arab Emirates.

2. Dr. Hassan Arafat, Professor at Khalifa University, winner of the first edition of the Mohammad Bin Rashid Medal for Scientific Excellence.

Dr. Arafat was awarded this medal in recognition of his contributions to scientific research and development of technology for water desalination and treatment based on renewable energy, in collaboration with researchers from the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology (MI) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA.

Dr. Arafat has a Jordanian nationality and is an Associate Professor at Khalifa University.

3. Dr. Omar Yaghi, the Founding Director of the Berkeley Global Science Institute, Co-Director of the Kavli Energy NanoScience Institute, and the California Research Alliance by BASF.

Dr. Yaghi is the first to become the James and Neeltje Tretter Chair Professor of Chemistry at UC Berkeley and is a Senior Faculty Scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

In the past two decades, Dr. Yaghi has developed new innovative methods to produce new materials and leverage their applications in various fields, including the introduction of biocrystals and gas separation such as carbon dioxide and hydrogen. His persistence, innovation, technical ability and in-depth understanding of molecular composition and interactions have contributed to better development of these organic components.

4. Prof. Andrea Macchio, Associate Professor at the Physics Department and Head of the Physics Programme, New York University-Abu Dhabi, NYUAD.

Prof. Andrea’s work focuses on delving into the nature and origins of the dark components of the universe, especially dark energy and dark matter. He is also engaged in astrophysics, with particular interest in numerical simulation.

5. Prof. Fikri Abu Zidan, Professor and Head the Incidents Research Group at the Department of Surgery, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, UAE University, since 2007.

Prof. Fikri Abu Zidan has contributed to numerous research projects, and published in more than 330 international journals, books and scientific journals. He has been involved in scientific research for over 33 years in various countries including Kuwait, New Zealand, Sweden and Australia. He has given more than 550 lectures and chaired more than 60 local and international conferences. He currently serves as president of the Human Medical Research Ethics Committee at the UAE University.

Prof. Abu Zidan has contributed to the development of an internationally recognized curriculum on Focused Assessment Sonography for Trauma, FAST, in the UAE in 2004, and has trained nearly 500 physicians in this field.

6. Dr. Enas Al Nashef, Associate Professor at the Department of Chemical Engineering, Khalifa University.

Dr. Al Nashef’s main research focuses on chemical engineering and chemical analysis. He received 8 patents from the US and EU Patent Offices. He was also awarded several prestigious awards, including King Abdullah Award for Best Invention in 2013.

7. Prof. Linda Zou, Khalifa University, Professor at Khalifa University of Science and Technology.

Prof. Zou research interests include applying nanotechnology and membrane science to the development of low energy and high efficiency novel desalination and water purification solutions. She currently heads a groundbreaking research project on nanotechnology for the development of rainfed materials, which was approved by the Emirates Rainfall Research Program between 2016 and 2018.

Prof. Linda has 6 patents and has published more than 150 journal articles and conference presentations.

8. Prof. Afaf Kamal Eldin, Professor at the Department of Food Science, UAE University.

Prof. Kamal Eldin is specialized in the field of food composition and analysis, and "Nutrition for Health". She has published more than 150 review articles in international journals on topics related to food and health, focused on antioxidants and their mechanisms of action, as well as biologically active compounds in foods.

9. Dr. Ala’a Al Dahhan, Professor at the Department of Geology at the UAE University.

Dr. Al Dahhan has made numerous scientific contributions in the fields of geochemistry, environmental oil sciences, radioisotopes, and has published more than 400 scientific researches in international journals and conferences. He co-designed and participated in many international scientific missions such as the Arctic Ocean, Greenland, Antarctica, Siberia and the Baltic Sea.

10. Prof. Lourdes F. Vega, Honorary Professor at the Gas Research Centre, Khalifa University and author of the book "CO2 Capture and Utilization".

Prof. Vega has published more than 200 scientific papers and has 5 industrial patents. She managed to raise more than USD 50 million in research scholarships and serves as an editorial board member in 5 scientific journals and 5 international conference committees.

11. Prof. Lakmal Seneviratne, Director of the Khalifa University Robotics Institute, KURI, and Associate Provost of Research & Graduate Studies.

Prof. Seneviratne research interests include robotics and automation, with special emphasis on the use of engineering mechanics-based algorithms to enhance the autonomy of complex systems. He has published more than 350 scientifically revised papers on these topics.

12. Prof. Wesley Cantwell, Director of Aviation Innovation Research Centre, ARIC, and Professor in the Department of Aerospace Engineering at Khalifa University.

His research interests include aircraft structures, composites, light aircraft structures, environmentally friendly components, polymers and fracture mechanics that examine cracks in materials.

Prof. Cantwell has three patents and has published more than 220 scientific articles.

13. Prof. Ernesto Damiani, Founding Director of the Center on Cyber-Physical Systems at Khalifa University.

Prof. Damiani’s research spans Cyber-security, Big Data and cloud/edge processing, where he has published over 600 peer-reviewed articles and books. He received an honorary doctorate from the National Institute of Applied Sciences of Lyon, France (2017) for his contributions to research and teaching on Big Data analytics.

14. Prof. Galeb Al Hussaini, Professor of Chemical Engineering and Head of Chemical Engineering at Dana Gas.

Prof. Husseini’s areas of interests include non-viral gene delivery, ultrasonic bone-healing and surface modification. He won the Technology Innovation Pioneer, TIP, Healthcare Award in 2018 and received second place in the ICHEME International Award for the Institute of Chemical Engineers' Best Project in 2016, for his project titled "Nanoparticles and Ultrasound in Cancer Treatment".

He also won several awards from the American University of Sharjah, Petrofac, Al Jalila Foundation, Takamol, and Emirates Foundation.

15. Prof. Abdul Rahim Nimar, Professor of Physiology at the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, UAE University.

His main areas of expertise include the underlying physiological pathological mechanisms behind the effects of air pollution on the respiratory and cardiovascular systems.

Prof. Abdul Rahim received research awards from CMHS, the UAE University and several international communities, including the American Thoracic Society, ATS, the European Respiratory Society, ERS, the Belgian Thoracic Society, the British Association for Lung Research and the European Society of Clinical Pharmacy, ESCP.

16. Prof. Omar Amin, Professor of Biology at UAE University.

His main interests include the biological application of nanotechnology, cancer biology, cell biology and biological applications of MRI. Prof. Omar studies the roles of natural products in the treatment and prevention of cancer. He has also received several national and international awards

17. Prof. Ehab Al Saadani, Professor at the Khalifa University Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering

He has received numerous national and international awards for his contributions in the field of energy Systems, including the Ontario Innovation Research Award. Prof. Ehab has more than 405 published scientific articles and five patents.

18. Prof. Abdo Adam, Professor at the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, UAE University.

His research interests include research into the Alzheimer’s Disease, cancer, clinical pharmacy and diabetes. Prof. Abdo has more than 200 research articles and three patents.

19. Prof. Ernest Adghati, Professor at the Department of Anatomy at the College of Medicine and Health Sciences, CMHS, at UAE University and former Head of the Research Group on Diabetes and Cardiovascular Diseases

Prof. Adghati’s work particularly focuses on diabetes research. He has published more than 150 articles in this field.

20. Dr. Hatem Zeineldin, Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Khalifa University.

Dr. Hatem has led the Energy Group at Masdar Institute and the Electrical and Computer Engineering, ECE, Department. His research interests include renewable energy, smart grids, energy systems and renewable energy integration and its impact on the operation of the energy systems.

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