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UAE Honors Nine Faculty Members with Golden Residency Visas

December 7, 2019
UAE Honors Nine Faculty Members

Nine Khalifa University faculty members were granted permanent residency during a special ceremony in Abu Dhabi on 12 November 2019. The permanent residency, also known as the Golden Card Visa, is a renewable 10-year residency program granted to qualified investors, entrepreneurs, chief executives, scientists, and outstanding students.

The following are the nine deserving KU professors who received permanent residency:

Dr. Lourdes Vega

Dr. Vega is a Professor of Chemical Engineering and the Director of the Research and Innovation Center on CO2 and H2 (RICH Center). A recognized authority of molecular thermodynamics, clean energy, and sustainability, she has authored and co-authored more than 200 publications and has five patents to her name.

“I feel very excited, honored, and immensely grateful to the leaders of this country for granting me this permanent visa. One of the things that attracted me the most when I decided to come to the UAE to continue my research on clean energy and sustainability was the eagerness of its people to learn, to progress, and to contribute from this country to a better future for the next generation. This motivated me to work from here and to try to make an impact in the UAE, addressing its needs, and helping shape the expertise and education of its people, so I decided I wanted to be part of this adventure in which I’m fully engaged now, and I’m very happy about it. I have also been fascinated since the beginning by the vision and commitment of the UAE leaders regarding the advancement of science and education, as shown by the support of research and innovation we receive through Khalifa University and the activities developed through the Mohammed bin Rashid Academy of Scientists, among other things. Granting this golden visa to scientists is, once more, a clear example of the deep commitment of this country to the advancement of science, technology and innovation.” – Dr. Lourdes Vega

Dr. Linda Zou

Dr. Zou is a Professor of Civil Infrastructure and Environmental Engineering at KU. She is known for leading the ground-breaking research project of using nanotechnology to develop cloud seeding materials, which was awarded a three-year grant by the UAE Research Program for Rain Enhancement Science (UAEREP) in 2016. Now, actual seeding operations using her research have begun in the UAE.

“It is a good feeling when your work and effort as a scientist and researcher have been directly recognized by the government and such honor is only possible with the great opportunity and continued support provided by Khalifa University and other UAE sponsors on advancing scientific research and innovation.” – Dr. Linda Zou

Dr. Hassan Arafat

Dr. Arafat is a Professor of Chemical Engineering and Director of the Center for Membrane and Advanced Water Technology (CMAT). His expertise in developing desalination technologies and systems, with particular focus on sustainable, low-energy technologies has tremendous impact since the UAE relies on desalination plants for most of its potable water. Dr. Arafat was also one of the awardees of the Khalifa Award for Education in 2017. He won the ‘Distinguished University Professor in the Field of Scientific Research’ award in the ‘Higher Education within the UAE and the Arab World’ category.

“The permanent residency is a major step in the right direction in cementing the UAE’s position as a knowledge hub in this region. It ensures the sustainability and long term stability of our activities as scientists and researchers working in the UAE. Surely, the research ecosystem available to us at KU has played a key role in me achieving the status of research excellence that led to this residency.” – Dr. Hassan Arafat

Dr. Wesley Cantwell

Dr. Cantwell is a Professor of Aerospace Engineering and Director of the Aerospace Research & Innovation Center (ARIC). The ARIC is a research initiative funded by Mubadala and Khalifa University, which focuses on manufacturing strategies for producing high-quality composite structures, as well as the automated assembly of composite parts. The center is unique in the region as it hosts a range of manufacturing, non-destructive testing, and robotic equipment. It also supports manufacturing initiatives at Strata in Al Ain and works closely with leading aerospace OEMs.

“I am honored to be among the first scientists to receive this award. It is nice to be recognized by the nation for one’s efforts to build a knowledge-based economy here in the UAE. I believe that 10-year visas will serve to attract leading international scholars to the UAE. Research often involves long-term horizons and having the option to stay in the UAE for a long period, build a research group and establish a strong research activity will be appealing to many internationally-recognized academics. The research facilities and funding levels in my own university are excellent and this is creating a highly attractive environment in which to work and undertake cutting-edge research.” – Dr. Wesley Cantwell

Dr. Lakmal Seneviratne

Dr. Seneviratne is a Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Director of the Khalifa University Center for Autonomous Robotic Systems (KUCARS). As director of KUCARS, he leads his team of researchers working on innovations that could potentially save lives. His projects include building drones to fight fire in high-rise buildings, systems designed to prevent industrial accidents, and even developing self-driving cars.


Dr. Ernesto Damiani

Dr. Damiani is a Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Senior Director of the Artificial Intelligence and Intelligent Systems Institute, and Director of the Cyber-Physical System (C2PS) Center. His research interests include secure service-oriented architectures, privacy-preserving big data analytics, and cyber-physical systems security. In 2015, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation granted US100,000 for Dr. Damiani’s ‘Pay with a Selfie’ technology to be developed.

Dr. Hatem Zeineldin

Dr. Zeineldin is a Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. His research focuses on renewable energy, smart grids, energy systems and renewable energy integration and its impact on the operation of energy systems.

Dr. Enas Nashef

Dr. Nashef is an Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering whose research interest is in green engineering and sustainability, focusing on the use of ionic liquids and deep eutectic solvents in engineering applications. He has co-authored more than 100-peer reviewed journal publications and has eight patents from the US and EU patent offices. He has also received the ‘King Abdullah Award for Best Innovation’ in 2013.

“Everyone nowadays is looking for stability and peace of mind, and so this initiative will really help when it comes to attracting the best scientists from around the world. Personally, I am really happy with the 10-year visa, it shows that you and your work are appreciated. Having the long-term visa also encourages me to strive harder in my work now because we have received a big honor from the government of the UAE. This s a very big motivation.” – Dr. Enas Nashef

Dr. Ehab El-Saadany

Dr. El-Saadany is a Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and Director of the Advanced Power and Energy Center (APEC). His research interests include distribution system operation and control, smart/micro grids, renewable integration, and power quality and protection systems. Dr. El-Saadany also has five US patents.

“The UAE has set many ambitious and strategic energy goals and launched many pioneering energy projectst to achieve said goals. Our objective at APEC is to develop the country’s intellectual and human capital to provide innovative ideas and solutions. We are also working on electric energy systems, allowing seamless and economical operations of renewable and clean energy resources.” – Dr. Ehab El-Saadany

The group was among the first batch of scientists to receive permanent residency visas as part of the government’s move in strengthening the nation’s talent pool and positioning the UAE as an incubator and hub for talents, creatives, and innovators.

Ara Cruz
News Writer
5 December 2019

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