Interdisciplinary Research as a Bridge Among People in the Middle East

Sunday, February 14, 2016: 1:00 PM-2:30 PM
Wilson B (Marriott Wardman Park)
Ron Naaman, Weisman Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel
The Middle East has two kinds of important resources. The first are the people, many of them well educated. The second are energy-related resources, such as oil and sun. These two kinds of resources are underutilized. Oil is sold as is, while additional value of refinery processes and production of material for the plastic industry is garnered elsewhere, outside the region.  As a result, there is high percentage of unemployment among educated people in the region and countries do not fulfill their economic potential.

The development of expertise and industry that can both produce high value product from oil and gas and provide jobs to educated people is clearly a multidisciplinary task. It is important to combine scientific disciplines like Chemistry, Physics, and Biology with Engineering and to produce knowledge that is relevant to the area.

Part of the difficulty in going ahead with such an endeavor is that the requisite resources are distributed in different countries, which, in many cases, are facing both internal and external political/military conflicts. The solution lies in a “triangular” approach. Countries from outside the region should serve as the matchmakers that combine resources from different Middle Eastern countries. It is important to initiate interdisciplinary research within countries in the region and to take care that results from this type of research will be used for the benefit of the countries in which they take place, as well as other countries in the region.