New Research Centers Focused on Water Research, Human Behavior, Art and Art History

Plan for Greater Baghdad by Ala Younis. Photo by Alessandra Chemollo. Courtesy la Biennale di Venezia 3.

The introduction of these new multidisciplinary centers come in the year of NYUAD’s 10th anniversary

Press Release

NYU Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) has launched three new research centers: the NYUAD Water Research Center; the Center for Behavioral Institutional Design; and The Arab Center for the Study of Art.

Since its launch in 2010, the University has established more than 80 faculty labs and projects, and 16 distinctive research centers led by accomplished thought leaders. Many of these are multidisciplinary, in line with NYUAD’s vision to be one of the world’s great research universities that addresses complex challenges of global significance and local relevance.

Led by Professor of Engineering and Director of Water Research Center Nidal Hilal, along with Co-Principal Investigators, Professor of Mechanical Engineering Raed Hashaikeh, Program Head of Chemistry and Associate Professor of Chemistry Ali Trabolsi and Program Head of Environmental Studies and Associate Professor of Biology John Burt, the NYUAD Water Research Center (NYUAD-WRC) will focus on the critical role of water, which is linked to many global societal issues such as health, food security, the economy and public policy. Growing scarcity demands novel solutions for managing existing water resources and increasing supply, which are also some of the objectives of the UAE Water Security Strategy 2036.

In the Gulf region, rapid economic and demographic growth has resulted in the dramatic expansion of urban areas. In recent years there has been dramatic growth in desalination capacity to support the development of cities – with high energy and environmental costs. The NYUAD-WRC will address these challenges and further NYUAD’s research in sustainability.

The center will bring together the faculties of Engineering and Science from across the NYU network, to establish a world-renowned knowledge hub for advancing water research. NYUAD-WRC seeks to place the UAE in a leading position for cutting-edge research and development in water technologies, in line with the country’s vision for water security and the efficient use of resources.

Professor of Engineering and Director of Water Research Center Nidal Hilal

The Center for Behavioral Institutional design (CBID) will be led by Principal Investigators Global Network Professor of Economics Nikos Nikiforakis and Global Network Professor of Economics John Wooders, along with Co-Principal Investigators, Associate Professor of Economics Olivier Bochet and Associate Professor of Economics Ernesto Reuben. Their long-term goal is to construct empirically validated models of human behavior, using them to design and implement policies and institutions that will improve social welfare.

To this end, CBID will bring together faculty from the NYU global network and from across the social and behavioral sciences. They will be joined by leading policymakers to establish a globally recognized knowledge hub for behavioral social science and public policy.

The potential public and societal impact of CBID is clearly substantial at a time when the Abu Dhabi government is looking to incorporate insights from behavioral social science in policy making and establish a Behavioral Unit. CBID can help directly in designing better policies, and also play a critical role in building capacity in behavioral social science inside the government by offering new undergraduate and graduate courses to train local talent and plan executive education programs for existing government employees.

Principal Investigators Global Network Professor of Economics Nikos Nikiforakis

Wooders added: “Better behavioral policies are in line with three of the seven goals outlined in the 2030 Economic Vision for Abu Dhabi: building an open, efficient, effective and globally integrated business environment; driving significant improvements in the efficiency of the labor market; and developing a highly-skilled, highly-productive workforce. In line with this, we will expand our Advisory Board to include additional senior public officials.”

The Arab Center for the Study of Art will be led by Principal Investigator, Associate Professor Practice of Art History Salwa Mikdadi and Co-Principal Investigators, Professor of Literature and Art History Shamoon Zamir, and Assistant Professor of Social Research and Public Policy May Al-Dabbagh. Building upon recent calls to decenter cultural histories and social theory, the Arab Center for the Study of Art will move both research and pedagogy beyond the established canons of art history by investigating the histories of art from the region. The Center aims to become a nexus for dialogue, conversations, and collaborations on art and photography, open to scholars and to art practitioners from across the region and beyond. The Center’s archive will be an essential tool for teaching art history and will include documents, images and publications from regional art institutions, visual artists, and interviews with artists and practitioners in the Gulf region in the form of audio and video interviews. 

Deliverables include book publications and peer reviewed monographs; the development of undergraduate courses at NYUAD; supporting plans for graduate programs in art and art history; output from research fellowships and artists’ residencies; the creation of the archive; conferences, colloquia and workshops; and the creation of a cross regional network of scholars and artists involved in dialogues and exchanges. 

We aim to become a major resource and contributor to the study of art of the Arab World and the cultural exchange with countries in Western Asia. The Center’s program and research projects will contribute to a theoretical framework that is grounded in the region’s culture for teaching at the undergraduate and graduate level.

Associate Professor Practice of Art History Salwa Mikdadi

About NYU Abu Dhabi

NYU Abu Dhabi is the first comprehensive liberal arts and research campus in the Middle East to be operated abroad by a major American research university. NYU Abu Dhabi has integrated a highly selective undergraduate curriculum across the disciplines with a world center for advanced research and scholarship. The university enables its students in the sciences, engineering, social sciences, humanities, and arts to succeed in an increasingly interdependent world and advance cooperation and progress on humanity’s shared challenges. NYU Abu Dhabi’s high-achieving students have come from over 115 countries and speak over 115 languages. Together, NYU's campuses in New York, Abu Dhabi, and Shanghai form the backbone of a unique global university, giving faculty and students opportunities to experience varied learning environments and immersion in other cultures at one or more of the numerous study-abroad sites NYU maintains on six continents.