Ben-Gurion University of the Negev established the Moshe Mirilashvili Center for Food Security in the Desert during a ceremony on the Marcus Family Campus in Beer-Sheva on Wednesday afternoon.
Honored guests included H.E Mariam Almheiri, Minister of State for Food & Water Security, UAE; H.E Mohamed Al Khaja, UAE Ambassador to Israel; and Dr. Michael Mirilashvili, President and CEO of Watergen and Vertical Field, who is a partner in and supporting the center named after his father.
The new center will be created in Sde Boker at the Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research (BIDR) within the framework of the School for Sustainability and Climate Change. BGU President Prof. Daniel Chamovitz, a world-renowned expert on food security, will be guiding the development of the center.
"I am really excited about this new initiative with Watergen and Vertical Field. This was really bashert [meant to be]," declared Prof. Chamovitz, "When I met Michael Mirilashvili just three months ago, I quickly realized I had found a partner and soulmate who was just as passionate about food and water security as I was.
"Technology always stands on the shoulders of basic science. Together, we are fulfilling David Ben-Gurion's vision and providing solutions. The Moshe Mirilashvili Center for Food Security in the Desert perfectly complements BGU's commitment to finding solutions to the world's most critical problems and why we created the School of Sustainability and Climate Change."
"The opening of the Moshe Mirilashvili Center for Food Security in the Desert at Ben-Gurion University is a significant step forward in enhancing water security in arid and semi-arid regions, with its focus on exploring new ways to conserve water, to treat and recycle grey water, and to deliver supplies to the population sustainably. The UAE has made considerable efforts to enhance its own integrated water resources management, with solar-powered desalination one area where we have made huge advances. We look forward to being able to share our knowledge in this and other areas with Ben-Gurion University’s Moshe Mirilashvili Center for Food Security in the Desert and to develop a reciprocal expertise exchange partnership that can help both our countries enjoy a water-secure future," stated H.E Mariam Almheiri.
H.E Mohamed Al Khaja, UAE Ambassador to Israel talked about peace, "We believe a necessity for a sustainable peace is people engagement. We will share challenges and visions for the future because we can complement each other in many ways, as we are similar in proactively finding new solutions towards a better future. By working together with open hearts, we can pave a new path for our people and the youth of this region, who are the future."
Dr. Michael Mirilashvili stressed the urgency of the tasks at hand.
"We need to take action because people are suffering now and cannot wait decades for long-range plans. What we are doing here will be an example for the region. We will bring in many other countries and do good together.
"This is more than a donation. We will create technologies that will make the world a better place," he said.
Prof. Noam Weisbrod, director of the BIDR, "In the BGU spirit, which has signaled that sustainability and climate change research are a top priority, The Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research have made it our mission to make the wilderness bloom and develop water and agricultural sources in drylands in general, and the Negev in particular. In light of the global changes we are experiencing, creating a center focused on water and food security is vital. We are confident that the center will serve as a catalyst for more research as well as finding solutions for water and agricultural problems in many regions of the world, and particularly in arid countries such as Israel, the Gulf Region, and essentially the entire Middle East."