The recent establishment of the Sultan Qaboos Academic Chair for Middle East studies at the College of William and Mary (CWM) in Virginia, USA, will work to boost already existing programmes and researches on the region, according to senior faculty members at the college.
Following the agreement and formal inauguration ceremony on Monday, college officials told Muscat Daily that the chair would complement work being done in intercultural studies. A large Omani delegation was present to formalise the link-up, including the Minister for Higher Education H E Dr Rawiyah bint Saud al Busaidiyah and Omani Ambassador to the US H E Hunaina al Mughairy.
"Last year, we launched a new programme in Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, which places our research and teaching on the Middle East in a larger context of the region's historical and emerging economic and cultural ties with South Asia and East Asia.
"The Sultan Qaboos Chair will allow us to add faculty members to our ranks to expand this vision, bolstering our existing faculty strengths in research on the Arab world in general and Oman in particular," said Stephen Hanson, vice provost for international affairs and director of the Reves Center for International Studies at CWM.
H E Dr Rawiyah applauded the status of CWM as a cutting edge research institution in the 21st century. "The establishment of the professorship in Middle East Studies represents a significant step forward in building a partnership between the two countries that will continue to benefit the international world of scholarship and diplomacy."
Hanson added that it would take time to find a suitable candidate to fill the academic chair at the college, but it was expected that the search and recruitment would be completed by the beginning of the 2012 academic year.
He also expressed hope that the college would be able to invite colleagues from Oman and the network of Sultan Qaboos chairs around the globe to boost cooperation.