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Dubai’s fake Oxford University foundation denounced by British MP

Image of British MP Layla Moran delivering a speech in London, UK on 22 September 2012 [Liberal Democrats/Flickr]
British MP Layla Moran delivering a speech in London, UK on 22 September 2012 [Liberal Democrats/Flickr]

A British MP has denounced Dubai’s attempt to promote an Oxford University research centre that does not exist as “disgraceful”.

According to a press release issued by the government the UAE was funding a state of the art research facility for one of the most prestigious universities in the world

The facility, named after the founder of the Emirati city, aimed to “incentivise future-oriented research and innovations in various scientific fields, such as 3D technology, physics, and other advanced sciences”, said the press release.

However, it turns out that the Mohammed bin Rashid Future Design Centre research facility does not in fact exist.

The debacle prompted a response from Liberal Democrat MP, Layla Moran. The MP from Oxford West and Abingdon said: “It’s disgraceful that Dubai is using Oxford University’s good name without prior permission.”

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Moran, who is of Palestinian heritage, added: “This diminishes the value of the university and its brand. I call on the government of Dubai to desist and I will do whatever I can from within Parliament.”

According to the BBC, the university said it hoped it would be taken down “as soon as possible”.

In their press release the Dubai government said that the opening ceremony was attended by Mohammed bin Abdullah Al-Gergawi, Minister of Cabinet Affairs, and the Vice-Chairman of the Board of Trustees for the Dubai Future Foundation.  A second Minister Omar bin Sultan Al-Olama, who is also a member of the board of trustees for the Dubai Future Foundation, was also at the ceremony.

The Dubai Future Foundation said the announcement had been made in good faith and that it had been in discussions with the university about setting up such as centre, but said the announcement was made before the plans had been finalised.

A photo of the apparent opening of the centre, which included Dubai’s minister of cabinet affairs and the future and minister for artificial intelligence, was included with the release.

Oxford University confirmed that no centre with that name exists, reported the BBC.

“This is unfortunately a case of crossed wires in communicating what was a very preliminary set of discussions”, a spokeswoman added.

“We hope the news release will be taken down as soon as possible.”

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