A delegation of 38 students and faculty from Emirates Diplomatic Academy (EDA), the UAE’s leading international relations and diplomatic institution, will travel to Brussels and Geneva from 24 to 31 March as part of an educational and cultural exchange programme.
Throughout the trip, EDA students will visit high-profile international, government and educational institutions, which will offer them the opportunity to apply their acquired academic and practical knowledge into experience. In addition, the group will tour several historic sites and exchange cultural insights with European diplomats that will contribute to strengthening the Academy’s ties with partner organisations in the two prominent European political hubs.
His Excellency Bernardino León, Director General of EDA, said: “As an Academy that strives to ensure we graduate well-rounded students, it is crucial for them to get hands-on experience, to meet established diplomats in the field and to learn about international organisations that operate in the sphere of foreign policy. In preparation for their diplomatic careers, EDA student delegates will also take the opportunity to cement ties with our European friends in the institutions they visit.”
Kicking off their European sojourn in Brussels, the delegation will visit the historical town of Ypres, which includes some of the most significant World War One memorial sites. The students will also meet with His Excellency Mohamed Issa Hamad Abushahab, Ambassador of the UAE to the Kingdom of Belgium, and attend a presentation on the European Union’s (EU) political and institutional landscape given by Tim Eestermans, Senior Counsel at DLA Piper. The delegation will also be visiting the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS) where they will engage in discussion on EU foreign policy towards the Gulf with James Moran, the former EU Ambassador to Egypt. Additionally, they will meet Colin Scicluna, Director of MENA at the European External Action Service (EEAS), the EU’s diplomacy and foreign policy body.
Furthermore, the students will attend a European Commission press briefing with Maja Kocijancic, the Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations at the EU. They will also meet Margaritis Schinas, Chief Spokesperson of the EU Commission. Moreover, the programme also includes a roundtable with select members of the European Parliament, an experts networking dinner at Brussels business club Cercle de Lorraine, and visits to Politico Magazine and the European Council.
In Geneva, the EDA delegation will visit the headquarters of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Palais des Nations, home of the United Nations (UN) Office at Geneva. At the ICRC, the delegation will meet with Yehya Khalil, Operations Coordinator for the Near and Middle East and Dr Hugo Slim, the Head of Policy of the International Law and Policy Department. They will also meet with His Excellency Ambassador Obaid Salem Al Zaabi, the Permanent Representative of the UAE to the UN in Geneva, and UAE Mission staff members, as well as Ambassador Wolfgang Amadeus Bruelhart, the current head of division of Political Affairs for the MENA region at the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs and former Swiss Ambassador to the UAE.
The Europe trip is part of the third edition of EDA’s annual cultural exchange programme. In 2016, a delegation from the Academy visited the US, and in 2017, one group of students and faculty toured Belgium and the Netherlands while another travelled to China.