Rami M. Ayoubi is Senior International Development Consultant. PhD Supervisor School of Management at Cardiff Metropolitan University, United Kingdom. Last year, he participated at the regional event organized by MERID in Beirut. As a researcher with direct experience in the field of scientific exchanges between countries and international programmes of funding for research, we asked him to share with us his ideas, hopes and critiques about the state of science diplomacy.

According to the current situation, which are, in your opinion, the most significant difficulties that science diplomacy faces? Could these difficulties be considered actual limits for science diplomacy?

I think that science diplomacy is an innovative concept and activity by itself. If implemented comprehensively, science diplomacy could result in better life for people. However, there are constraints and difficulties which could limit its implementation. In summary, the main challenges are around three major constraints: macro support from governments, implementation support from funding bodies, and micro support from the scientists themselves.

I listed some of these below:

  • There is no comprehensive approach to science diplomacy. It is rather micro small attempts from activists in cultural and science dialogue.
  • The policy of most countries is still under-represented when it comes to science diplomacy.
  • The traditional view of people towards scientist as non-leader of change in the society, makes it very difficult to get positive public opinion in most countries when it comes to border-less science.
  • Most scientists around the world are not lobbying enough with each other aiming at establishing organizations of scientists without borders.
  • The funding bodies, including the European Commission, should play and pay a bigger attention and role to potential projects that would enhance dialogue and science diplomacy between nations. MERID is a good example, but the question is how many MERIDs are there?

Do you think that science diplomacy could have a proactive role for the topics of instability and migration?

When it comes to issues like instability and migration, I prefer to adopt the scientists’ dialogue. In my opinion, I think that the scientific approach of most scientists and their objective approach of putting solutions to global issues will help for better life internationally. Therefore, science diplomacy could have a proactive role for the current critical topics of instability and migration. However, this is very much linked to the current difficulties that scientists are facing with the biased behavior of some of their governments. The scientific approach of creating solutions to instability and migration with a flavor of leadership skills and diplomacy skills will enhance the possibility to create some immediate solutions that could ease these issues.

Can you describe whether and how the MERID project has an impact on your activities?

I think the aims of the MERID project are both holistic and doable. Myself, when I first participated in the activities of this project, I was not very clear of its outcomes. However, by time and after joining some of its activities and practicing science diplomacy practices through the workshops, I felt personally that this project will have an impact on my current activities and work. Working previously with Erasmus+ in Syria, with the Ministry of higher education and currently as adviser for international development at Cardiff Met university in UK, the MERID project enhanced my thoughts towards science diplomacy with the current Syrian Government (despite the European sanctions), and supported my current activities at Cardiff Met of working with colleagues towards establishing global academies for global crisis solutions.

Since 2015, MERID project has been working to contribute to the development of science diplomacy, with a particular focus on the Middle East region, through the organization of webinars, regional events, dissemination of information, etc.., mainly addressing the issues of brain circulation and science diasporas. 

MERID project includes 13 partners from 13 European and Middle East countries, coordinated by Euro-Mediterranean University EMUNI.

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