In his report, the president of the Russian Union of Rectors, the Rector of the Lomonosov Moscow State University, Academician V. A. Sadovnichy, spoke about the contacts between Russia and the Arab world at the level of heads of state, about the history of Russian higher education, about the main aspects and trends of modern education in Russia and in the world. He stressed that European and Arab science and education are linked by closely intertwined historical roots. Sadovnichy noted that the Forum was the result of joint work of the Russian Union of Rectors, the Association of Arab Universities and the Federation of Rectors of Russian and Arab Universities, and called it a contribution to the successfully developing interstate cooperation between Russia and the countries of the Middle East and North Africa. Speaking about university cooperation between our countries, the Rector of Moscow State University recalled that at the First Forum of the Federation of Rectors of Russian and Arab Universities in February 2018, 25 inter-university agreements were signed, which are already being implemented, and the current forum, in his opinion, will undoubtedly become a new step in the development of bilateral inter-university relations.
Speaking about the cooperation of Moscow State University with the countries of the Arab world, V. A. Sadovnichy recalled the visits to the university of the Crown Prince of Yemen El-Badr Seif Ul-Islam Mohamed, the first President of Algeria Ahmed Ben Bell, the President of the United Arab Republic Gamal Abdel Nasser, the Crown Prince of Jordan Al Hassan bin Talal, who is an Honorary Professor at Moscow University. He said that the Arabists of Moscow University study the history and current state, problems of culture and religion, foreign and domestic policy of the countries of the Arab region, and the center of Oriental studies at Moscow State University is the Institute of Asian and African Countries, which trains specialists in the study of Arab countries-historians, economists, philologists. Scientists of the Faculty of History study ancient Egyptian hieroglyphic writing, the history of Ancient Egypt, and since 1996, an archaeological expedition of the Istfak has been working in Giza, which explores the tombs of the nobles of the Pyramid era.
Scientific-technical and scientific-educational cooperation is being developed. Thus, in November 2018, Moscow University and Saudi Aramco signed an agreement on cooperation in the field of scientific research and the creation of a joint research center. Currently, the cooperation is aimed at conducting joint research in the field of oil and gas production, improving methods for studying deposits, collecting and analyzing data. Scientists of the Scientific Research Institute of Nuclear Physics named after D. V. Skobeltsyna MSU in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Damanhur (Egypt) conduct research in the field of nanotechnology. According to V. A. Sadovnichy, the creation of the Innovative Scientific and Technological Center of Moscow State University "Vorobyovy Gory"will provide a large reserve for the development of cooperation in many industries.
Deputy Minister of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation M. A. Borovskaya stressed that an important task for university cooperation is the development of fundamental research and applied developments in order to increase the competitiveness of our countries and strengthen their industrial power. She wished the forum participants to establish new contacts that will contribute to strengthening academic mobility, building partnerships between research teams, laboratories, including among young specialists.
The Secretary General of the Association of Arab Universities, Professor Amr Ezzat Salama, expressed gratitude for the opportunity to host the forum at the first university in Russia, where the foundations of the country’s university education were laid. He spoke about the activities of the Association of Arab Universities, its educational and research projects aimed at strengthening universities, improving the quality of education, and opportunities for inter-university cooperation. He paid special attention to the importance of work for the recognition of diplomas of Arab universities abroad, the development of academic mobility, as well as the involvement of young people in joint research and educational projects, and the holding of international youth events.
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Egypt to the Russian Federation Ihab Talaat Nasr noted the importance of such forums in the development of inter-university and humanitarian international cooperation and expressed hope that the meeting will give a new impetus to the development of relations between Russia and Egypt.
Today, more than 18 thousand students from different countries of the Arab world study Russian at universities in our country. Representatives of 13 countries of the Middle East and North Africa come to Moscow University to learn Russian. In 2018, the cultural and educational center "Dialog" was opened in Lebanon, in the Bekaa Valley, with the participation of MSU, where 600 preschool and school-age students learn Russian. MSU philologists make a great contribution to the study of the Arabic language in Russia, and their textbooks are considered classics of Arabic studies. It is the knowledge of languages that many participants of the forum called one of the main barriers to the further development of scientific cooperation, the expansion of academic mobility of students, postgraduates and teachers, as well as for employment opportunities for university graduates in partner countries. The heads of Russian and Arab universities also discussed the humanitarian cooperation between our countries, the most relevant and priority areas of scientific and technical cooperation, the experience of organizing joint educational programs that provide for the issuance of double diplomas, the recognition of diplomas in other countries, the impact of digitalization on the educational environment, the creation of joint laboratories, the publication of joint reports, and the organization of conferences.
Many of the issues discussed were reflected in the final Communique of the Forum, which was signed by V. A. Sadovnichy and Amr Ezzat Salama. An agreement was also signed on the establishment of the Russian-Arab Youth Union of the Federation of Rectors of Russian and Arab Universities.
Within the framework of the forum, Moscow University signed cooperation agreements with Al-Andalus University of Science and Technology (Republic of Yemen), Al-Hawash University (Syrian Arab Republic), University of Tikrit (Republic of Iraq), Future University and Ein Shams University (both in Egypt), Jadar University, Princess Sumai University of Technology, Al — Ahliya University of Amman, Isra University and the University of Philadelphia (all in Jordan).
Concluding the working part of the forum, V. A. Sadovnichy noted that the discussions helped to identify priority areas for further cooperation, and expressed confidence that the forum will give a new impetus to academic, scientific and cultural cooperation between Russian and Arab universities.