Middle East lags behind in R&D

According to Madar Research, the Arab world spends just 0.2% of total Arab GDP on R&D - the lowest in the world while developed nations spend 1.6 to 2.5% and developing countries allocate 0.6% of their GDP on R&D.

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By  Maddy Reddy Published  January 7, 2004

According to Madar Research, the Arab world spends just 0.2 % of total Arab GDP on R&D - the lowest in the world and eight times lower than the world average, while developed nations spends 1.6 to 2.5% of their GDP on R&D. Other developing countries are estimated to allocate 0.6% of their GDP to R&D, which is three times higher than the Arab average. A a study released by the Dubai-based Madar Research Group highlights that the progress in technology in the Arab World has been restrained due to lack of attention to Research and Development (R&D). The study further states that government initiative is necessary to encourage R&D activities, and to persuade the industrial sector to utilise research data to develop innovative commercial products and services that will benefit citizens' lives. The Middle East has largely focused on trading, exports and been dependent on the oil & gas sector for revenues and growth. The research firm points out that this has to change for the region to maintain a competitive advantage in the global market place. “Enough attention has not been provided to R&D efforts on both government as well as industrial level. 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. Without adequate and accurate information, it is impossible for national decision makers to get a clear idea about the progress levels they have achieved, or which sectors need additional attention and resources,” says Colonel Saeed bin Belailah, director of Dubai Naturalisation and Residency Department (DNRD). Globally R&D is driven by an ecosystem of government initiatives, universities and commercial ventures. In the Middle East, barring basic IT spending and e-government initiatives in the UAE, research is still limited and hampered by low penetration of information and communication technology (ICT) and few universities for higher learning and a low literacy rate. The World Bank, which measures research progress in terms of scientific papers per million inhabitants, in its 2002 report, rates the Arab world as average. The report adds that with major ICT initiatives like setting up free zones such as the Dubai Internet City, Silicon Hills in Jordan, Knowledge Village in Muscat, UAE, Dubai Silicon Oasis, and more universities deploying technology initiatives, things could change.

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