First Israel-UAE academic convergence to take place at BGU conference

This year's virtual International Drylands, Deserts and Desertification Conference will discuss the issues of desertification and climate change, presenting research from lecturers around the world.

Sunset over the Zin Valley in the Negev Desert.  (photo credit: DANI MACHLIS / BGU)
Sunset over the Zin Valley in the Negev Desert.
(photo credit: DANI MACHLIS / BGU)
In another expression of Israel's recent peace deal with the United Arab Emirates, academic researchers will join a conference at Ben-Gurion University at the Negev (BGU). 
Lecturers from Abu Dhabi's Khalifa University will be present at BGU's 7th International Drylands, Deserts and Desertification Conference.
The international conference, led by the Israeli academic institution, is a "global gathering" of individuals from a wide variety of professions and organizations, focusing on "land and environmental degradation in drylands and living conditions in and around them," according to their website.
Currently, drylands comprise over 40% of the Earth's landmass. This percentage increases every year.
"In light of the changed climate and desertification," said Professor Shimon Rachmilevitch, chairman of the conference, "the research that Israel has produced on arid regions has led to developments in technology and knowledge that not only have changed desert lands to flourishing agricultural centers, but also made Israel the model for worldwide production, specifically for barren areas."
This year's conference, happening from Monday, November 16, to Wednesday, November 18, will take place virtually, due to coronavirus restrictions.
This limitation has actually served to expand the accessibility of the conference to people who wouldn't otherwise be able to make it in-person, as in previous years. It already has more than 2,000 registrants from over 103 countries, including Iran, Iraq, Morocco, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Sudan, and of course, the UAE.
This year's conference, officially titled, 'Feeding the Drylands: challenges in a changing environment,' will feature lecturers from over 90 countries, all convening to discuss the effects of desertification on the planet, specifically in drylands. The challenges of living sustainably, what this means for the world's natural resources and policies to combat desertification will be explained.
Professor Dan Blumberg, Vice-President and Dean for Research and Development at BGU, will lead a session focusing on "the need" to adapt technologically to desert life.
"The coronavirus has very much increased this need," he said, "and Beersheba, with its growing population, serves as a real-life experiment in the matter."
Registration is free. Sign up for the conference here.