The University of Southern Maine held a welcoming tea Monday for two women professors from the United Arab Emirates who are visiting USM this week: Nawar Al-Hassan Golley, professor in Literary Theory and Women’s Studies at the American University of Sharjahe, and Suaad Zayed Ibrahim Al Oraimi, assistant professor of sociology at United Arab Emirates University.

USM’s Women and Gender Studies Program is hosting the professors under a $285,000, three-year grant from Higher Education for Development to help establish a women’s studies program in the United Arab Emirates.

The program is the first formal link of its kind between universities in the U.S. and the Persian Gulf. It will include a visiting lecture series using video-conferencing technology, and research and exchange opportunities for USM students and faculty members.