BOSTON — A celebration was held at Harvard University here yesterday to inaugurate the Sultan of Oman professorship in international relations.
Yousuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah, minister responsible for foreign affairs; and Mohammed bin Ali bin Thani Al Khusaibi, Sultanate's ambassador to the US; attended the ceremony along with American academic, political, media and diplomatic figures.
Yousuf bin Alawi signed an agreement in October 1999 with John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University to establish a professorship chair in international relations in the name of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said. It was also agreed to establish a permanent fund to support and finance the chair which is financed by the Foreign Ministry, government authorities, some personalities and private sector institutions in the Sultanate.
The professorship chair is aimed at appointing a well-known academic figure to conduct research and teach contemporary international relations with special focus on the role of regional and international cooperation and to encourage advanced academic studies in areas related to the Sultanate's contribution to international relations and continuation of dialogue and understanding between academics and policy makers in the Sultanate and the US.
During the ceremony, Prof. Joseph Nye was officially appointed as the first incumbent of the chair.
Alawi conveyed the greetings of His Majesty the Sultan and his best wishes to the Harvard community and Kennedy School of Government, saying the inauguration of the chair in His Majesty's name reflected the longstanding relations of friendship and partnership between the Sultanate and the US. He added: "We confidently expect that the distinguished scholars appointed to this chair will devote their intellectual efforts towards the enhancement of relations between our distinct but related cultures, as well as promoting the values of research and education, of which Harvard University is such an outstanding example.
"The research and analysis that comes out of this great institution has a global ramification. We are proud to be associated with the Kennedy School and hope to expand working relationship.
"We know that this extraordinary academic and intellectual community, proud of its history of academic excellence and exceptional for its practical engagement with the complex realities of government and international relations, is a fitting place for the development of the work for which this chair has been endowed."
Alawi noted: "At a time when the world is beset by conflict and misunderstanding, it is a matter of great pride to the people of the Sultanate of Oman that, in supporting the endowment of this professorship, they are making a contribution to the dialogue between cultures and to the greater good of both the academic and the wider international community".
The minister concluded: "It is with great satisfaction, therefore, that once again on behalf of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos, in whose name and at whose generous behest this chair is established, I commend to you the Sultan of Oman Professorship in international relations, in the safe and secure knowledge that those values that His Majesty has tirelessly sought to instil and promote in Oman over the last 34 years will be taken up and promoted here in the Harvard University John F. Kennedy School of Government".
The dean of the college said embracing His Majesty's Professorship Chair in international affairs will give an impetus to Middle East studies at Harvard University and reflect the strategic importance of the Sultanate in the university which its educational services to other students from 71 countries.
He praised the achievements realised by the Sultanate in various fields during the reign of His Majesty, saying that the Carter Centre for Studies accorded special attention to the progress of the Sultanate, particularly in peace and women development issues.
It is noteworthy that the Arabian Gulf University in Bahrain inaugurated a chair in His Majesty's name in desert farming in 1994 and in March 2003 an agreement was signed with the Australian University of Melbourne to establish a chair in His Majesty's name in Arab and Islamic studies. — ONA