As part of our Institutional Links programme, UK and Gulf scientists will be working together on eight cutting edge research projects across the six Gulf countries thanks to 2.8 million in UK government funding allocated to projects in areas ranging from nanotechnology to cyber-security. Through this work we aim to strengthen scientific ties between the UK and the Gulf region in order to help scientists find solutions to shared global challenges.

Together with the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, we launched an open call for joint research applications in 6 Gulf countries in July 2016. In response we received 172 applications from HE institutions and research bodies in the Gulf and the UK. The themes of the call closely tie into Gulf countries research priorities such as food and nutrition, water, energy, food-water-energy nexus and cyber security.

Our work in science in the Gulf has already seen over 226 scientists across the Gulf participate in research symposia and capacity building workshops alongside 42 UK scientists, in the last twelve months. Our other programmes which include capacity building workshops and science collaboration symposia will continue to pave the way for long term research collaboration over the next 3 years, bringing together UK and Gulf researchers, research institutions, funding agencies, industry, Higher Education councils, and education ministries. 

Find out more about UK Gulf Institutional Links research project themes

Nano-technology (Saudi Arabia)

Bringing together researchers from University of Kent and King Abdullah University of Science and Technology the project aims to better understand new nano-particle technology based on rare earth elements.  These special particles can store oxygen and have a broad range of potential uses spanning energy conversion, energy storage and environmental protection and remediation.   Currently, over 100 UK companies form part of the UK hydrogen and fuel cell industry. 

Cyber security (Saudi Arabia)

The collaboration between King Saud University and Loughborough University in the UK is looking to develop better cyber-security for the “Internet of Things”. As more of our devices from consumer products to lighting systems and energy networks are connected to the internet, the cyber threat to everyday life becomes greater.  Using game theory to predict what actions and outcomes will characterise a cyber-attack, this project also seeks to create better dynamic detection methods for attacks on these critical systems.

Renewable energy (Qatar)

Bringing together researchers from University of Newcastle and Qatar University the project seeks to better understand the combustion processes for biogases.  This renewable energy source obtained from landfill and animal and human bio-waste processes offers a potential fuel for electricity generation and automotive industry.  The partnership has identified opportunities in Qatar due to the presence of existing oil and gas companies and will pair gulf experimental expertise with UK supercomputer modelling.    


Desalination (UAE)

The partnership between University of Manchester and Masdar Institute of Science and Technology aims to use world-class graphene technology to improve membrane-based water desalination techniques.  These new materials seek to reduce the energy required and increase the volume of fresh water produced.  Current desalination is limited by energy consumption and during the progress of the project they will identify suitable industrial partners for exploiting the research results.

Food Security (Oman)

This partnership between University of Sheffield and Sohar University concerns the development and demonstration of an innovative method for the expansion of agriculture that significantly reduces fresh water consumption. The collaboration will build the in-country research capacity and in the medium term demonstrate the technological and business potential for a sustainable, resource-efficient 'soil-less agriculture sector' optimised for the environmental and market conditions in Oman.

Sustainable Waste treatment (Kuwait)

The proposed project will bring together a team of experts from Cranfield University, Aston University and the Public Authority for Applied Education and Training (PAAET) in Kuwait on improving thermal treatment of waste. The process involves using solar energy to convert waste to useful bio-oils in a less resource intensive method. The team will work with the Kuwaiti advisory bodies Kuwait Environment Protection Authority (K-EPA), Kuwaiti and UK waste handling and processing companies, as well as investment companies, to continue developing the process and to scale up the technology. The technology has the potential to be rolled out across other Gulf states and beyond.

Renewable energy (Bahrain)

The collaboration will establish a permanent Research Centre for Sustainable Energy and Water at the University of Bahrain, strongly linked to the Centre for Renewable Energy Systems Technology (CREST) at Loughborough University and to the Bahrain Sustainable Energy Unit (SEU).  The new Centre will have a strong, positive impact on these priority areas. It will work alongside the Bahrain Electricity and Water Authority, providing research and technical support in the development and implementation of the Bahrain National Renewable Energy Action Plan (NREAP).  Ultimately it will develop a quantified and technically viable pathway towards a sustainable energy and water system for Bahrain in 2030. The collaboration will have a strong focus on capacity building at the new Centre.