His Highness Sheikh Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah affirmed that the well-planned urban development in the Emirate of Sharjah started five decades ago with a high consideration given to the rapid growth of population which increased from 28 thousand residents in 1970 to 1.4 million in 2019.
This came during the speech His Highness delivered Friday at the historic Castello del Valentino as part of the ceremony held by the University of Turin and Politecnico di Torino to confer on His Highness the first of its kind Honourary Doctorate in Urban and Regional Development.
His Highness said: “It is a pleasure and an honour to attend this ceremony in the magnificent Valentino Castle, in the presence of so many esteemed academics and guests. It is also my pleasure to extend my sincere appreciation and gratitude to the University of Turin and Politecnico di Torino, their administrations and all members of the committees that nominated, reviewed, and endorsed this dear Award.
His Highness added: “This is a special day for me. An Honourary Doctorate from the Politecnico di Torino, the oldest technical university in Italy, and one of Europe’s leading universities for engineering, computer science and technology, is a prestigious award that I will dearly cherish, not to forget the dear University of Turin which offers distinguished scientific programmes. I wish both good luck.”
As for the urban development for which His Highness was conferred the Honourary Doctorate, His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah said: “Today’s Award is in the important field of Urban and Regional Development. This is one of the fields I have enjoyed for the last five decades. Those of you that visited Sharjah may have seen my fingerprints on almost every district of every city in the Emirate of Sharjah.”
“It was enjoyable but not easy! The growth of the population of the city of Sharjah in the last five decades was phenomenal. The city population was about 28 thousand residents in 1970 and it is now 1.4 million. The population grew 50 times during that period, and is currently growing at the rate of about 7% per year, His Highness added.
Explaining the key goals of urban development in Sharjah, His Highness said: “From the very beginning, we had three main goals in mind the first of which is that the cities of the Emirate of Sharjah should have the necessary planned zoning and modern infrastructure networks that deliver the desirable level of quality of life for the growing number of residents; the second goal is the layout and architecture of some of the buildings in the cities should reflect the distinctive character of each city; while the third goal addresses the preservation and restoration of as much as possible of the historic heritage-buildings and sites.”
Elaborating on Sharjah’s efforts in urban development projects represented in the Sharjah University City, His Highness cited a model of that, “About 25 years ago, we decided to develop quality higher education institutions in Sharjah. This was also the time of the peak of the population growth rate in the city. Although there were sites that are much nearer to the center of the city, we selected a site that was beyond the then outskirt of the city.”
He added: “Construction began in 1996 and the first cohort of students joined the simultaneously established American University of Sharjah, and the University of Sharjah in October 1997. The large site with its distinctive spacious planning and very attractive buildings and structures is named University City. The associated around and beyond it considerably extended the boundaries of the City and contributed to the fulfillment of a significant percentage of the demand resulting from the population growth.”
“In addition to the first two universities, University City now is home to the Higher Colleges of Technology in Sharjah, the Sharjah Police Academy Al Qasimia University Skyline University College, and the Sharjah Research Academy. In total, there are about 32,000 students from 85 different countries, 1,700 faculty members, and 2,600 administrative staff. Currently. over 120 undergraduate and graduate programs are offered in a broad spectrum of disciplines and fields of study,” His Highness continued.
Concerning the level of University graduates, His Highness commented: “Thousands of new talented young men and women join the universities and colleges of University City every year. The quality academic programs they enroll in enable them to acquire the academic and intellectual knowledge and skills, needed to work effectively in a knowledge-based digital economy. Tens of thousands of students have already graduated and joined the world of work since 2001. Their positive impact on all aspects of life in their communities is a major source of pride to us.”
Pointing to continuous development of research institutions and effective partnerships with world leading in the field, His Highness said: “We continue to develop research partnerships with world-class research centres all over the world. The development of a Technology Park and an Innovations Cluster to facilitate and strengthen the links between our research centers and the community is already underway. We hope this visit will trigger a dialogue between the professors and researchers at Politecnico di Torino and our professors and researchers, not only in urban and regional development but also in the wider areas of mutual interest such as clean water technologies and renewable energy systems, and others.”
He continued: “Like you, we strongly believe quality education and the search for new knowledge are essential elements for the sustainable development of cultural, social, and economic domains of societies everywhere.”
His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah concluded his speech thanking his hosts for their warm welcome and kind hospitality since His Highness and the accompanying delegation arrived in the Politecnico di Torino. He extended his sincere thanks to all the people who worked diligently to ensure the success of this visit.
After his speech, His Highness was conferred the Honourary Doctorate from Guido Saracco, President of Politecnico di Torino, a special medal and a model of the historic Castello del Valentino.