Opening the new center
Opening the new centerDani Makhlis, Ben Gurion University

Ben Gurion University (BGU) of the Negev together with Dr. Michael Mirilashvili established the Moshe Mirilashvili Center for Food Security in the Desert.

The inaugural ceremony was held on the Marcus Family Campus in Beer-Sheva on Wednesday afternoon.

Honored guests included the United Arab Emirates' (UAE) Mariam Almheiri, Minister of State for Food & Water Security; UAE Ambassador to Israel Mohamed Al Khaja; and Dr. Michael Mirilashvili, President and Owner of Watergen and Vertical Field, who has established the center named after his father.

The new center will be located in Sde Boker at the Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research (BIDR). BGU President Prof. Daniel Chamovitz, a world-renowned expert on food security, and Dr. Michael Mirilashvili will be guiding the development of the center.

"I am really excited about this new initiative with the United Arab Emirates and Watergen. 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 soulmate who was just as passionate about food and water security as I was."

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."

"The opening of Moshe Mirilashvili Center for Food Security in the Desert at Ben Gurion University is a significant step forwards 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," stated Mariam Almheiri.

"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."

Mohamed Al Khaja, UAE Ambassador to Israel, spoke 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."