The Arab Thought Foundation launches its 10th Annual Arab Report on Cultural Development in Dubai

The Arab Thought Foundation launches its 10th Annual Arab Report on Cultural Development in Dubai

  • Report launched in advance of FIKR16 Conference, taking place between the 10th and 12th of April
  • H.R.H. Prince Khalid Al Faisal calls for the implementation of an integrated framework that starts with scientific research and leads to sustainable development

  • Noura Al Kaabi: A huge gap exists between Arab and international scientific research
  • Dubai, UAE:  Under the patronage and presence of the Her Excellency Noura Al Kaabi, UAE Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development, the Arab Thought Foundation launched the 10th Annual Arab Report on Cultural Development. At a special ceremony held at the Grand Hyatt Dubai, the report, titled Innovation or Extinction? Scientific Research in the Arab World: Realities, Challenges and Perspectives, was presented in the presence of His Royal Highness Prince Khalid Al Faisal, President of the Arab Thought Foundation.

    The event was attended by: His Royal Highness Prince Khalid Al Faisal, President of the Arab Thought Foundation, His Royal Highness Prince Bandar Bin Khalid Al Faisal, Chairman of the Arab Thought Foundation; Dr. Henri Al Awit, Director General of the Arab Thought Foundation; His Excellency Nabih Shuqum, Minister of Culture of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan; His Excellency Mohamed Ali Alhakim, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), Dr. Farouk El-Baz, Director of the Center for Remote Sensing and Research Professor at the Departments of Archaeology and Electrical & Computer Engineering, the Arab Thought Foundation’s Board of Directors and Board of Trustees; as well as numerous high-caliber intellectuals, academics, scientists and diplomats.

    The launch of the 10th Annual Arab Report on Cultural Development was opened with a speech by H.R.H. Prince Khalid Al Faisal, during which he thanked the United Arab Emirates and Dubai for hosting the FIKR16 Conference and for their support in nurturing the development of culture and thought in the Arab world. His Royal Highness noted that the UAE has become an example for young countries in the region by continually setting new benchmarks for advancement, prosperity and knowledge. His Royal Highness also thanked Her Excellency Noura Al Kaabi, UAE Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development for her attendance and support.

    In his speech, His Royal Highness Prince Khalid Al Faisal said: “The Arab Thought Foundation has now published 10 consecutive Arab Reports on Cultural Development, despite the Arab world witnessing wars, conflicts and political differences resulting in economic, social and cultural crises that coincided with environmental challenges such as desertification, declining forest areas, water scarcity and pollution.”

    “The tenth report objectively and comprehensively reviews each of these subjects, with a focus this year on scientific research, technological developments and innovation, in addition to their roles in supporting comprehensive sustainable development. Such efforts stand as a reflection of our faith in knowledge, science and culture when it comes to alleviating the bitterness of our reality,” continued H.R.H. Prince Khalid Al Faisal.

    His Royal Highness then added: “The study of scientific research, technological advancement, and innovation – and their relationship to comprehensive and sustainable development – is a requirement for the creation of modern development strategies. In today’s world, relationships have naturally been formed between knowledge generation and investment on one hand, and economic growth on the other; where information technology occupies a central and key position.”

    “In today’s world, economic growth is no longer the sole method by which quality of life and living standards can be raised. Knowledge in general, and scientific and technological advancement in particular, are now the key elements that drive such efforts. A knowledge-based society generates, disseminates, and invests in knowledge to support the well-being of its people and nations.

    His Royal Highness also added: “The report significantly contributes to a scientific base of knowledge, data and accurate statistics in various scientific fields, through its monitoring of scientific research and development in Arab countries. The report also provide invaluable comparisons of past performance as well as highlighting the performance of other regional countries. As such, the report serves as an indispensable first step towards developing concrete recommendations that will allow planners, researchers and decision makers to put an end to our crises.”

    “As the systems of science and technology become an organic part of a society’s cultural fabric, the report urges us to take heed of future research strategies and to allocate methods to finance them—it acts as if it has sounded an alarm—an alarm that warns us of missing the opportunity to catch up to the ongoing fourth knowledge revolution. Today, we face one of two scenarios: either we face poverty, unemployment, migrations, political tensions and societal unrest or through the adoption and advancement of scientific research, technology and innovation, we set ourselves free of our current crises and emerge as sustainable and developed nations.”

    In conclusion, His Royal Highness Prince Khalid Al Faisal thanked everyone involved with the development of the report including: the advisory committee, thought leaders, experts, academics, specialists from within the Arab Thought Foundation as well as external contributors. His Royal Highness also expressed his belief that the report would prove to be exceptionally beneficial and useful for Arab researchers, decision makers, and readers – in accordance with the Arab Thought Foundation’s mission to support the Arab world in achieving its sustainable development goals.

    Following His Royal Highness’ speech, Her Excellency Noura Al Kaabi, UAE Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development, addressed attendees and highlighted the pivotal role of the Arab Thought Foundation in developing and encouraging cultural cooperation and collaboration between Arab countries. Her Excellency emphasized the significance of the 10th Annual Arab Report on Cultural Development, which scientifically addresses the realities of cultural development in 22 Arab countries and does so in a way that integrates research with practical recommendations for addressing the Arab world’s challenges, particularly when it comes to cultivating sustainable development and tackling future issues.

    Her Excellency also highlighted that scientific research in the Arab world is underrepresented in comparison to the region’s resources, resulting in a huge gap between Arab and international scientific research. In her speech H.E. Noura Al Kaabi also focused on the role of knowledge as a strategic tool for economic growth and sustainable development, describing it as an inexhaustible resource. Her Excellency went on to stress that cultural innovation is required to build a knowledge-based society and the related creative industries that are based on culture and thought generation.

    H.E. Noura Al Kaabi pointed out that the 10th Annual Arab Report on Cultural Development addresses these topics by providing a detailed diagnosis of the scientific research and technological development and innovation in the Arab world. Her Excellency also highlighted that the UAE has launched its National Innovation Strategy, which aims to make the UAE one of the world’s leading countries when it comes to innovation by enhancing innovation’s role in governmental development and economic growth.

    H.E. Noura Al Kaabi also called for the report to be an important step on the road to enhancing cultural development in the Arab world, through deepening the understanding of the importance of research and innovation, and by developing new forms of integration between Arab and international research centers.

    Her Excellency also thanked the Arab Thought Foundation for choosing the United Arab Emirates to launch the report which coincided with the UAE’s celebration of the Year of Zayed, a leader who understood the importance of culture and knowledge as the main components for a strong country and supported numerous major cultural projects and laid the foundation for the UAE to become what is today - an oasis for thought, culture and the arts.

    Professor Henri Al Awit, Director General of the Arab Thought Foundation, delivered a speech focusing on three key points regarding the report’s preparation, characteristics and theme, and its most prominent conclusions and recommendations.

    During his speech, Al Awit highlighted that: “The main reasons for compiling such a report are twofold. First, the recent research, technologies, and innovations of the Arab world that we have witnessed over the past few years have been both successful and profound on a global scale. Second, there is a lack of integrated Arab-centric reports that display the latest scientific research conducted, hence we wanted to compile a document that better highlighted the achievements of our countries while also focusing on the current challenges and future horizons.”

    The Director General then pointed out that the Foundation does not seek to monopolize the preparation of such reports. In the past, it has supported and promoted the work of other organizations who have studied Arab scientific research systems, technological developments and innovation in the Arab region. Al Awit stressed the importance of issuing Arab reports that address scientific research matters—due to the continuous development of scientific research and in order to address the challenges faced by Arab nations.

    Al Awit then focused on the themes and characteristics of the report, which center around providing Arab countries and communities with the services they need and aspire to provide. The inclusive characteristics of the report are prominently reflected in the first five chapters, titled Scientific Research and Higher Education; Leveraging Innovation and Development; Cultural and Scientific Trends; Innovation and Technological Development; Mechanisms to Build a Knowledge-based Economy; and Community Service Research.

    The report contains 25 research papers, with more than 500 pages of information on various aspects of scientific research, technology, and innovation. The geographic scope of the report is all-inclusive, with every Arab nation represented. In addition, the report’s authors are from nationalities from all four Arab regions, representing the Gulf, the Levant, the Nile Valley and the Maghreb countries.

    Moreover, Al Awit also pointed to the report’s abundance of new topics, which include: Arab scientific research in social and human sciences; the ethics, principles and credibility of scientific research; the Arab scientific culture; the role of the Arabic language in creating a knowledgeable Arab society; open science and creative commons; the developmental outcomes of systematic research and innovation; artificial intelligence and robotics; patterns of Arab-European cooperation; women, technology and knowledge generation; scientific media; and additional topics that have yet to be addressed by Arab publications or those that have not yet received their due recognition.

    The report is also characterized by its skillful integration of research with practical recommendations for addressing the regions challenges. “One of the report’s main advantages is that it unites research with real-world strategies related to the developmental goals of Arab countries,” said Al Awit.

    Within this context, it is important to note that the report comes as a response to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development launched by the United Nations in early 2016. “Our report stresses that sustainable development must be comprehensive in nature, and we urge Arab states to adopt appropriate and effective mechanisms to bind their scientific research and technological development with the priorities outlined in the 2030 Agenda,” said Al Awit. “This report represents an attempt to analyze the performance of Arab countries in their efforts to create active national systems of science, technology and innovation in light of the Agenda’s objectives.”

    Al Awit remarked that the conclusions drawn during previous decades are mostly unsatisfying—and at times even contradictory to real-world evidence. “Despite the bright spots here and there, the prospects for the development of scientific and technological capabilities and the advancement of meaningful innovations based upon the previous policies and initiatives implemented may not yield the desired result,” he said.

    Concluding with the recommendations and final points of the report, Al Awit highlighted the mechanisms for implementation based on the experiences of developed countries that have carried out comprehensive reviews of their existing science and technology systems—most notably those relating to: promoting contributions from the central government, fostering stronger and closer levels of cooperation within the private sector, the need to develop scientific and technological capabilities, stimulating local innovation within specific disciplines, and the importance of focusing on every level of education.

    In addition, Al Awit noted the need to adopt innovative methods for Arab cooperation in the fields of science, technology and innovation based on a solid foundation of policies and legislation; and to generate creative initiatives that allow Arab institutions to benefit from Arab scientists and innovators. The report also recommends the establishment of future developmental policies capable of disseminating science and technology; and of promoting innovation amongst Arab communities.

    FIKR16 Conference

    An endless series of consecutive, sudden and unforeseen crises and events are interfering in a complex way and their repercussions are casting their shadows all over the world. These changes are occurring in the midst of a fast-paced evolution of scientific and technological breakthroughs, an expansion of knowledge economies and societies in addition to what is referred to as the “fourth industrial revolution”, which is bringing forth a drastic change to the quality of life.

    Against the backdrop of a number of major international changes, the world is witnessing a combination of cooperation, rivalry and conflict between nations.

    There are many different positions and policies being adopted, with ever-changing alliances as well as conflicts between the forces seeking to maintain the established world order and those trying to overturn it.  This situation is described in the literature using terms such as “chaos”, “turmoil” and “disorder”.

    This reality resulted in significant changes to the resources and forms of power in addition to disparities within the global framework of the distribution of power among the military, economic and technological powerhouses further increasing the fluidity and uncertainty of the situation.

    This year, the goal of our conference will be to examine and analyze the various elements of this global situation and in particular to focus on our own region, to investigate the impacts and repercussions on Arab nations and to suggest possible ways to address the challenges and to promote the stabilization. That being said, the term “stability” does not imply stagnation or preservation of the status quo, but rather the adoption of policies and the establishment of institutions that foster structured development and meet demands in order to achieve societal peace and prosperity.

    The conference shall gather high level international and Arab officials, in addition to delegations from leading regional and international organizations (the League of the Arab States, the Gulf Cooperation Council, the United Nations, etc), as well as cultural entities, media, think-tanks, experts and academics.

    The FIKR Conference Series

    Since 2002, FIKR Conference constitutes a landmark in the history of cultural conferences in the Arab World, and an interactive platform for constructive exchange of ideas, expertise and leading experiences. The Conference raises every year and emerging topic affecting the Arab World and addresses it in a scientific, civilized and responsible manner.

    The conference brings together more than 600 leading figures representing heads of states and governments, policy-makers, officials, thinkers, intellectuals, researchers, experts, delegates from governmental and non-governmental bodies, international federations, private sectors associations, research and studies centers, cultural and media organizations, and Arab youth.

    FIKR Conference seeks to generate the support of regional and international entities to achieve the strategic goals of the Arab Thought Foundation that aim at accomplishing a paradigm cultural shift, as well as to encourage sustainable development on the basis of affluent human values.


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