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Egypt Announces Zewail Science City Plans

June 17th, 2011 | by MuslimScience
Egypt Announces Zewail Science City Plans
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By: Editors, Muslim-Science.Com

Nature Middle East on its blog titled “House of Wisdom” reports in a post titled Zewail City of Science and Technology:

“The Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research has announced plans to build the “Zewail Science and Technology City”, a research and innovation -centered project that Nobel laureate Ahmed Zewail has envisioned in since early 1990’s.

The ministry has not provided much details of the project, but did mention that Nile University, whose turbulent future was a source of much controversy recently amidst accusations of corruption in its founding, will be the nucleus of this project.

Zewail is scheduled to arrive in Egypt next week where he will unveil details of the project. The Egyptian daily Al-Shorouk has reported that he is putting together a board of trustees of reputed scientists and Nobel laureates.

Meanwhile, the minister of higher education and scientific research, Amr Salama, also announced that UNESCO have offered full backing for the project. The type of support it will offer, however, was not announced.

There is still little information to go on, but hopefully next week we would have more information to report on regarding the project. Suffice to say for now that there is probably much to be excited about here. Zewail’s project was indefinitely delayed during the previous regime and has only resurfaced again post the January 25 revolution in Egypt which toppled Mubarak after a 30-year rule.”

Shafaa Abdoun, writing in Daily News Egypt, on June 1, 2011 provided some more details of the project:

“Prime Minister Essam Sharaf and Nobel laureate Ahmed Zewail announced on Wednesday the launch of the Zewail City of Science and Technology, a project rejected by the former regime.

“This project…or dream has started coming true yesterday,” said Sharaf. “It’s an[initiative] for scientific research as countries do not move forward except with scientific research.”

The complete name of the project is “The Zewail City of Science and Technology:  Egypt’s National Project for scientific Renaissance.”

“Egypt is in a crucial moment in its history … [It] can’t rise without local production and the key to this is education and scientific research,” he added.

“This is not a university; this is a city to which outstanding graduates of secondary school would go to,” explained Zewail, adding that it will have a maximum of 5,000 students.

“There [in the city] they will learn the modern sciences,” he pointed out.

The city will have preeminence centers. “Today not can only country do everything, we have to be outstanding in a certain field,” for example energy, biotechnology or natural resources which Egypt is rich in, explained the 1999 Nobel chemistry price winner. “We have to compete in the international market.”

“This is not a university; this is an integrated city of sciences and research for the market and the economy,” he stressed.

The Zewail City of Science and Technology is an independent non-profit organization, which would have its own draft law to ensure transparency, and will be proposed to the elected parliament.

To ensure the independence of the organization, a board of trustees will be set. It’s members so far comprise six Nobel laureates and leading figures in a variety of fields, including Susan Hockfield, the President of MIT, and Gregorio L. Escario, the President of the Cebu Institute of Technology (CIT), as well as renowned international Egyptians Sir Magdy Yacoub, Dr. Mohamed Ghonim and businessmen Mohamed El Erian and Amr Younis.

The board of trustees will meet once or twice a year, while a board of consultants who will be based in Egypt with all-Egyptian members, who include Dr. Mohamed Ghonim, Mostafa El Sayed, Hazem El Biblawi and others yet to be announced.

The preliminary budget for the project is $1 billion fund and $1 billion in cash, said Zewail. A bank account is to be set up to encourage Egyptians to fund the project through donations.

The project was first proposed when Zewail was honored for receiving the Nobel in 1999. The construction of a facility in Sixth of October City for a national educational project was announced in 2000. But the project came to a quick halt. Ahmed Shafiq, in his month-long stint as prime minister earlier this year, said the project would be revived.
The Supreme Council for Armed Forces (SCAF) only approved the establishment of the Zewail City this week.

Zewail profusely thanked the SCAF, and the ministers who unanimously agreed on the project, the people and the youth “without whom the revolution wouldn’t have happened and the project seen the light.”

The ministerial legislature group headed by Yehia El-Gammal, deputy prime minister, which includes the ministers of planning, international cooperation, education, justice and foreign affairs, has agreed to the law approving the creation of the “City of Science” proposed by Egyptian scientist and Noble laureate Ahmed Zewail. ”

Pasadena Star News, in Zewail’s adopted City of Pasadena where he teaches at Caltech, noted that the City will be modelled after Pasadena. PSN quoted Zewail as saying:

“I think we have the idea of focusing on excellence and Caltech is a true example of excellence in this country and throughout the world,”  Zewail of San Marino said Friday after the commencement ceremony, for which he served as keynote speaker. “The idea is not to deviate from true excellence in science, engineering and technology. This the first time it’s going to be in this part of the world.”

“The Egyptian government is contributing by offering the land, he said, while the people of Egypt will contribute more of the funds needed in a major campaign. In addition, the United States, Europe and China – all of which are very interested in building education and science – will also be contributing”, he said.

As for Zewail’s political ambitions, the scientist, who has played an active role in his native country’s transition to a democratic state, said he has no intention of running as a presidential candidate or as a minister in Egypt.

“I’d rather influence the world through my science,” he said.

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