Keeping in touch

Bridge-building in the MENA region

How the Regional Office Amman contributes to science diplomacy.

Issue 2 | 2023

Text Benjamin Schmäling

Jordan plays something of a bridge-building role on account of its good relations with many countries in the MENA region. Regional networking is therefore an essential part of the Regional Office Amman’s work. Just how important Jordan is for science diplomacy is clear from the fact that the DAAD’s office in Amman was transformed in 2020 from an Information Centre into a Regional Office that officially opened in 2021.

Germany and Jordan have been linked for 70 years by a close political partnership that is also evident at the academic level. The two countries established diplomatic relations in 1953 and continue to work as partners in today’s very multifaceted development cooperation. Germany enjoys an excellent reputation in Jordan, which explains why academic mobility to Germany – with around 2,300 Jordan­ian students enrolled at German universities – is extremely high by regional standards. The number of DAAD alumnae and alumni in Jordan now exceeds 1,500, with intensive exchange taking place between researchers and universities from both countries, as the 125 higher education collaborations currently underway testify.

This reciprocity is the foundation for successful science diplomacy. Jordan has always proven to be a reliable partner in the past decades; not only in terms of its politics, universities and those participating in the respective projects, but also with respect to its administrative processes and structures and the general political and security situation. Projects and programmes can be put into practice in Jordan that would be more difficult to implement in other countries. The Regional Office is responsible not only for Jordan, but also for Iraq and Lebanon, as well as for the United Arab Emirates, where there is great interest in Germany – above all as a place to study.

One of the most important projects for academic networking in and with the MENA region in the spirit of science diplomacy is currently the Ta’ziz Partnership programme. 13 of the 47 projects are being jointly implemented by German universities and their Jordanian partners. These projects are flanked by measures run by the Regional Office to accompany the programme, with outreach activities designed to make them accessible to a non-academic audience. The MENA-wide kick-off conference took place here in Amman in October 2023.

The German Jordanian University (GJU) is a good advertisement for German-Jordanian academic re­lations and a successful example of binational higher education cooperation. It is hugely relevant for the way Germany is viewed in the region, for students and for the younger generation that may be interested in coming to Germany to study, research or work.

The current situation in Jordan’s immediate vicinity is also having an impact on the country and on the mood at its higher education institutions. The possibility cannot be excluded that academic relations with Germany and the role they play for science diplomacy in the region will be affected for some time to come. It is to be hoped that the longstanding ties, joint projects and great engagement on both sides will also provide a solid basis for successful cooperation in the future. —

Benjamin Schmäling has headed the DAAD Regional Office Amman since 2021.