The EU-funded SIERA (Integrating Sina Institute into the European Research Area) project worked to strengthen and enhance scientific cooperation between EU and Palestinian scientists. Specifically, the focus was on multilingual and multicultural knowledge-sharing technologies. Project activities helped rejuvenate the research and development strategy of Birzeit University (BZU) Sina Institute, Palestine's largest information and communications technology research centre. SIERA also fulfilled its objectives regarding joint research and cooperation with regional and EU institutes in the field, facilitating PhD students' co-supervision and joint summer courses. During SIERA's mandate, more than seven articles were published, including one co-authored paper. Targeted workshops facilitated the submission of two Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) proposals, one of which was funded. Another is being prepared for Horizon 2020. Four multilingual knowledge-sharing portals (MICHAEL, KYOTO, OKKAM and OrganicEduNet) were localised to Arabic and Arabic content was imported to the portals. This will support EU-Arab research projects and facilitate the introduction of Arabic language resources to EU societies and EU resources to Arab societies and markets. A cross-language mapping framework was also set up through which concepts across different languages can be interlinked. To increase BZU Sina Institute's visibility and create networking opportunities, various members organised and participated in social and scientific national, regional and international events. Two symposiums related to multilingual and Arabic technologies were held at BZU, and a discussion panel on the semantics of cross-language mapping was hosted at the 7th Global WordNet Conference (GWC'14) in Estonia. Through close cooperation of SIERA core and associate partners as well as with the Palestinian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, a SMART multilingual tourist guide was developed and deployed for Bethlehem. Tourists can scan a QR code with their smartphones and listen to an audio file, watch a video and read more information about a certain heritage site. Drawing on the collective expertise and scientific excellence of four leading European research organisations helped integrate BZU Sina Institute into the European Research Area (ERA). BZU has enhanced its capacity for research cooperation, and a strong foundation has been laid for EU-Arab knowledge sharing.
Knowledge sharing, cultural diversity, language barriers, scientific cooperation, knowledge-sharing technologies