In Historic Visit, UAE Representatives Attend Ben-Gurion University Ceremony


Photo: Left to right: H.E Mohamed Al Khaja, UAE Ambassador to Israel, Dr. Michael Mirilashvili, President and CEO of Watergen, BGU President Prof. Daniel Chamovitz and H.E Mariam Almheiri, Minister of State for Food & Water Security, UAE. Photo Credit: Dani Machlis/BGU

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 last week. The ceremony featured honored guests, including H.E Mariam Almheiri, Minister of State for Food & Water Security, United Arab Emirates (UAE); H.E Mohamed Al Khaja, UAE Ambassador to Israel; and Dr. Michael Mirilashvili, president and chief executive officer of Watergen and Vertical Field, who is a partner in and supporting the center named after his father. Watergen’s innovative technology makes water out of humidity in air, and Vertical Field develops vertical farming systems for smart cities.

H.E. Minister Almheiri attended the ceremony after the inauguration of the UAE’s embassy in Tel Aviv. “This is a series of firsts today,” she said. “First time in Israel, first time in Tel Aviv, first time opening an embassy, and now our first time here at Ben-Gurion University in Beer-Sheva. It is another milestone in our movement to bring our two countries together.”

The new center will be located 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, is guiding development of the Center.

“I am really excited about this new initiative with Watergen and Vertical Field says Prof. Chamovitz. This was really bashert [meant to be].” 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. 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.”

“Americans for Ben-Gurion University is proud to support the new Center as part of the BGU the School of Sustainability and Climate Change,” says its CEO, Doug Seserman. “Watergen and Vertical Field are pioneers in their fields. Their involvement will lift BGU’s already remarkable research and innovation to even greater heights as the University continues to lead the way towards sustainable growth in the Negev region.”

The School incorporates internationally renowned scientists from BGU’s Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research, as well as those in various Departments including Geography and Environmental Development, Earth and Environmental Sciences, Life Sciences, Health Sciences, and Environmental Engineering. They will collaborate with students on a wide range of areas such as renewable natural resources, environmental and sustainability policy, and management. The multidisciplinary approach will also strengthen research being carried out in fields numerous fields including water, food security, clean energy, environmental engineering, public health, and social justice.

Americans for Ben-Gurion University and BGU will be co-hosting a unique trip to the United Arab Emirates, followed by a retreat at the BGU Sde Boker campus. Participants will learn about how BGU’s research is helping other desert communities thrive. Participants will also have exclusive access to high-level officials and local leaders for a deep understanding of the potential of recent geopolitical changes following the signing of the Abraham Accords. The trip takes place on October 24-31and will include a visit to Dubai as well as Sde Boker. For more information, visit

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