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United Arab Emirates’ NREN Ankabut establishes direct link to GÉANT in support of transnational education

Ankabut, the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) National Research and Education Network (NREN) has recently established its first direct interconnection with the GÉANT network in Europe. This successful operation will provide direct, secure and high-quality connectivity primarily between the many European International Branch Campuses (IBCs) present in the UAE and their home institutions.

The 1G dedicated circuit is now connected at the GÉANT Open service facilities in London and it will be entirely funded by Ankabut for the first 12 months.

This achievement is the result of joint efforts between GÉANT, Ankabut, ASREN and Jisc, the UK agency for digital and data for the education and research sector, and representative NREN for eight UK Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) with a branch campus in the UAE. Furthermore, the new connection is set to benefit remote campuses of other European universities, out of over 30 international institutions currently established across the UAE, concentrated around Dubai, which make the country the second largest host of international campuses in the world.[1]

Traffic to European countries, previously transiting through the Internet2 network in the US, will now follow a direct route to European NRENs through the GÉANT network, resulting in lower latency, greater capacity and reduced costs for both existing IBCs and those which may be established in the future.

Mr. Fahem Al Nuaimi, Ankabut CEO, comments: “We are very pleased to join forces with GÉANT and GÉANT members in support of transnational education (TNE). The new Ankabut connection to the GÉANT network will create new opportunities for our research and education community, greatly benefit researchers, educators and students, support our growing programs and foster innovation and collaborations between our regions. Furthermore, Ankabut will continue to expand its partnership with the global research community to provide state of the art e- infrastructure for UAE research and education community. This partnership will create a great opportunity for the UAE to be a global hub of research and education in the region.”

Dr Esther Wilkinson, Head of international at Jisc adds: “Jisc has been working closely with GÉANT and Ankabut to establish a reliable and robust connection between the UK, Europe and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to support research and education. The work of our partnership and the timing of this improved connection couldn’t be more critical. Our UK higher education institutions with campuses and partnerships across UAE, as well as students and researchers unable to travel, are all reliant on such infrastructure and will offer support more broadly to European universities in the same way. We welcome the generosity and drive of Ankabut in this partnership, including funding the link for its initial year. We will continue to work in partnership to encourage and optimise the use of this enhanced connection and establish this route as a sustainable solution.”

Erik Huizer, GÉANT CEO says: “I congratulate ASREN and Ankabut on this important achievement and thank them for their support and efforts. Their connection to the GÉANT network marks the first step towards a more cohesive regional approach across the Gulf in support of R&E collaborations between Europe and the Gulf, which will ensure longer-term sustainability by optimising capacity sharing and utilisation.”

About Ankabut

Ankabut is the United Arab Emirates’ Advanced National Research and Education Network (NREN) offering academic institutions connectivity to other education networks around the world; is an initiative of Khalifa University and funded by ICT Fund. In addition to connecting universities, Ankabut can connect schools and public institutions together across the UAE with an effective cost model. Ankabut also co-operates on a national, GCC, regional and international arena representing the UAE in conferences, exhibitions and forums. Ankabut aims to offer QoS based networks with IPv4/IPv6, multicast and introduce advanced services on a “Closed Group Network” with “Public Interest Purposes”.

About Jisc

Jisc’s vision is for the UK to be the most digitally advanced education and research nation in the world. At its heart is the super-fast national research and education network, Janet, with built-in cyber security protection.  Jisc also provides technology solutions for its members (colleges, universities and research centres) and customers (public sector bodies), helps members save time and money by negotiating sector-wide deals and provides advice and practical assistance on digital technology. Jisc is funded by the UK higher and further education and research funding bodies and member institutions.

[1] C-BERT, Cross-Border Education Research Team. January 2021

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