Today, The King officially opened the Dubai campus of Heriot-Watt University. Accompanied by Scotland’s First Minister, Humza Yousaf, The King inaugurated the state-of-the-art building, which caters to nearly 5,000 students from 115 nationalities.
Heriot-Watt was the first British university to open a campus in Dubai back in 2005 and since then, we have grown to become the largest international university in the UAE.
Speaking on the occasion, Professor Richard A. Williams, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of Heriot-Watt University said: “We are deeply honoured by the visit of His Majesty King Charles III to open our campus in Dubai.
“Heriot-Watt was the first British university to open a campus in Dubai back in 2005 and since then, we have grown to become the largest international university in the UAE.
“When our University was founded more than 200 years ago, it set out a clear purpose to benefit society by making education accessible, inclusive and industry-focused – helping our students and academics to have a positive impact on the world.
“We are committed to taking a global lead on sustainability and, as the UAE hosts COP28, we will be showcasing some of our deep expertise in areas including industrial decarbonisation, energy transition and sustainable logistics.
“Universities play a vital role in advancing knowledge and solutions around climate change, and we are proud to be hosting a dynamic Climate Hub here at Heriot-Watt University Dubai, to help move conversations into action.”
The King also heard outcomes from a roundtable on climate action through partnership and met with the academic leaders and students from commonwealth universities.
Youth engagement is a key theme of the Climate Hub, and several students are participating as volunteers, and actively assisting cleantech exhibitors.
The King, accompanied by the UK’s Foreign Secretary Lord David Cameron, visited Heriot-Watt Climate Hub and met with several British companies who were part of the Cleantech exhibition and displaying innovative solutions to the threat posed by the climate crisis.
Set up at the Dubai campus to run alongside COP28, which is being hosted by the UAE, the Climate Hub embodies Heriot-Watt’s ambition to take a distinctive lead in defining the route to global sustainability. The university is utilising its convening power in collaboration with event partners to host a schedule of daily events that will mirror and complement the themes of COP28.
Speaking on the occasion, Deputy Vice Principal Professor Tadhg O’Donovan said: “Building flourishing communities, through our positive influence and impact as a university, is one of our key values at Heriot-Watt – and our Climate Hub embodies this in its role as an interactive space for collaboration, innovation and discovery. We recognise that higher education institutions have a role in society beyond just the curriculum they teach, and we greatly look forward to bringing people together to discuss the climate crisis, find real solutions and drive positive action for a more sustainable future.”
The Cleantech exhibition at Heriot-Watt Climate Hub is partly funded by the UK government and will give exhibiting companies a chance to meet policymakers, potential investors, and industry leaders who are visiting the UAE for COP28.
Exhibits include the world's first self-assembled, flat-packed solar thermal collector from Heriot-Watt spinout company, SolarisKit. The system reduces carbon emissions by converting solar energy into affordable hot water. Other exhibits include Smartrawl, a robotic underwater sorting device that uses artificial intelligence to help fishing trawlers avoid wasteful fish discards and bycatch.
A separate Research Showcase at the Climate Hub displays selected outputs from Heriot-Watt’s Global Research Institutes (GRIs) and looks at their impact. The GRIs are centres of excellence and collaboration, created to address global challenges by leveraging our global reach, our significant international collaborations and our long-standing connectivity to business and industry.
Finally, a Future Skills Showcase at the Climate Hub will include initiatives that Heriot-Watt is leading to shape the graduates of the future. These include a carbon literacy training programme to enable participants to make more sustainable decisions, and the Empower programme, which teaches purpose-driven leadership.
Read more here about Heriot-Watt University at COP28.
0:20 (Professor Richard A Williams, Principal and Vice-Chancellor)
"Your Majesty, we are so pleased to celebrate the opening of our Campus and to have you here today. For some 18 years we've been bringing Scottish heritage, Scottish values into education and research here in the UAE and this is our 203rd year of operation as a University. So we're so delighted to invite you to reveal and formally open the Campus.
We want a little momento to leave with your Majesty. Upstairs we had a look at a laser cutting of things that were familiar to you and we have taken that and made it into a small jigsaw which I'd like to invite Ruth Moir, the Secretary to present to you."
1:11 (King Charles)
"That looks extremely complicated!"