Low R&D hinders Arab countries' progress

DUBAI - The recent studies by Dubai-based Madar Research Group, indicate that progress in the Arab world has been restrained due to lack of attention to Research and Development (R&D) and lack of encouragement from the government for R&D activities. The government also takes no initiative to persuade the industrial sector to utilise research data to develop innovative commercial products.

By A Staff Reporter

Published: Thu 8 Jan 2004, 12:10 PM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 12:04 AM

The Madar research report also stated that countries around the world allocate an average of 1.6 per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP) to R&D whereas Arab countries average spending on R&D is estimated at 0.2 per cent of total Arab GDP, the lowest in the world and eight times lower than the world average.

Colonel Saeed bin Belailah, Director of Dubai Naturalisation and Residency Department (DNRD), said: "We live in an information-driven society where knowledge is the key to progress. R&D is a powerful tool used by every developing country to assist in the decision-making process of policies and services, which ultimately translates into benefits for its citizens. On a positive note, some countries in the Arab World are using R&D tools effectively to identify areas of improvement and initiate social change. This can be illustrated by the recent policy changes within the Middle East to develop educational facilities, especially related to Internet usage. By raising e-awareness among its citizens, it is also complementing the governments' efforts to develop a Knowledge Economy."

As part of R&D programme, DNRD has recently installed a fast-track electronic passport control system at the Dubai International Airport, that offers card-operated access to the airport to travellers through pre-registration and eGate helps passengers complete passport control within a few seconds, using an electronically operated foolproof fingerprint identification system. Mr Belailah also said: "R&D can shape national policies and help government decision makers customise services to the needs of its people. For example, Dubai government's e-initiative meets citizens' demands for transparent and faster access to government services like health and immigration."

"R&D can be used by the industrial sector to develop innovative products and services that meet the needs of the local market. Government can play a part here too, by encouraging industries and businesses to turn to universities and other research organisations for their needs, thus establishing a link between R&D and commerce. Governments also need to pass necessary regulations and set up a database to collect and process various types of statistics and data from all segments of the private sector."

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