Islamic countries told to spend more on R&D

DUBAI - The position of Islam towards science has developed more in the direction of achieving advance knowledge and know-how in a pragmatic way that the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) has encouraged research and development programmes to its member states.

By Lily B. Liboon

Published: Thu 23 Jun 2011, 12:28 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 7:40 AM

Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, Secretary-General of OIC, said at the opening of the three-day Conference on Belief in Dialogue: Science, Culture and Modernity that the OIC had requested member states to ensure that their individual contribution to research and development is not inferior to half of the two per cent of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

He personally proposed that the leading countries of the OIC should reach one per cent of GDP on research and development (R & D) resulting in its member states doubling an average spending to 0.41 per cent from 0.2 per cent in 2005.

The OIC Secretary-General said that Turkey, for instance, has increased its research and development gross expenditure from 0.48 per cent of its GDP in 2003 to 0.85 per cent now, indicating significant progress towards its target to increase gross R&D expenditure to two per cent of GDP by 2013. “I am confident that the continuation of similar trend will help us achieve the target of R & D expenditure of one percent of the GDP specified in the Ten-Year Programme of Action by leading IC countries.”

He said that scientific publications in the OIC member states have more than tripled from 18,391 publications in 2000 to 63,342 publications in 2009. “Turkey alone produced more than 25,000 scientific publications in 2009 which represented a four-fold increase for itself in the period 1998-2009. It moved Turkey up in world rankings for the number of scientific publications from 25th to 16th place. Iran also moved up from 46th place to 21st place, and Pakistan, from 56th to 45th place in the same period.”

To further appraise the existing situation of Science, Technology in the Islamic World, the OIC General Secretariat has launched a project called the Atlas of Science and Innovation in the Muslim World, a three-year partnership between OIC, the Royal Society, Nature, the British Council and the Qatar Foundation.

The project intends to map key trends and trajectories in science and technology-based innovation across the 57 OIC member-states and offer an objective and authoritative assessment of opportunities and barriers to their development and transition to an innovation-driven knowledge economy.

He said that at present there is a need to reform the higher education sector and priority given to science and technology while emphasising the tolerant and moderate understanding of the religion of Islam.

“We have urged member states to strive for quality education that promotes creativity and innovation and to increase their expenditure on research and development.”

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