Waving fields of wheat are a familiar sight across the Cotswolds but the latest challenge is to create crops that can withstand the baking heat of the desert.
In a unique partnership, experts at the Royal Agricultural University in Cirencester are teaming up with key members of the Emirate of Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates and the University of Bristol to deliver new education and research programmes in sustainable agriculture and veterinary medicine.
They'll also build research capacity and expertise to solve global challenges, such as how to grow wheat in a desert.
By creating undergraduate programmes, for the University of Al Dhaid, in veterinary, sustainable agriculture, zoology and desert science, all three institutions hope to cultivate innovative academic offerings that align with the evolving needs of the global agricultural landscape.
The partnership will also give students from all three universities the opportunity to collaborate and visit each other while the new programmes will help the Emirate of Sharjah to address the key issues of food security, climate change, and animal welfare by creating more sustainable crop and livestock systems while building critical veterinary and agriculture capacity.
His Excellency Engineer Ali Saeed Bin Shaheen Al Suwaidi, chairman of the Sharjah Department of Public Works, said: 'The collaboration between the universities will leverage the expertise and knowledge of both parties, fostering intellectual exchange, research partnerships, and joint initiatives.
'Through the exploration of innovative techniques in sustainable agriculture, zoology, and desert science, the University of Al Dhaid aims to cultivate a new generation of graduates equipped with the skills and acumen to tackle critical issues related to food security, biodiversity preservation, and environmental sustainability.
'The shared experiences and collaborative efforts will pave the way for a fruitful partnership and provide a solid foundation for the development of ground-breaking educational programs.'
RAU vice-chancellor Professor Peter McCaffery said: 'This is the start of a long and fruitful relationship with Sharjah which will foster research collaboration and opportunities for student and staff exchanges.
'It will help Sharjah develop more sustainable crop and livestock systems and build critical agricultural and veterinary capacity while providing us with revenues to invest in enhancing the student and staff experience and improving our campus infrastructure here at Cirencester.'