DUBAI // A centre to train and encourage innovators in the Middle East will be in place by 2012 as Dubai focuses on advancing knowledge and development, delegates to the Arab Strategy Forum were told yesterday. The collaboration between the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation and the Charles Edison Fund, a US-based charity founded by the son of the inventor Thomas Edison, was made official in the presence of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.
Sheikh Mohammed was attending the final day of the forum, a platform for the region's political, business and intellectual leaders. The Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum - Edison Innovation Centre Dubai will aim to widen the region's knowledge and encourage innovation. Lecturers and experts will be brought in to help entrepreneurs reach their full potential. "The new centre is to enhance 'innovatication' - a mixture of innovation and education," said Adel al Shared, vice chairman and managing director of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation, which aims to develop the Arab world's knowledge and capabilities, and bring on a future generation of leaders. "We want to create ideas which will have a commercial impact here, and the programmes that will be offered will help develop them."
The Charles Edison Fund mainly supports scientific and research developmental projects. Referring to Charles Edison's belief that "any idea which doesn't have a commercial impact is not an idea", Mr al Shared said the centre would offer programmes, conducted in Arabic, to expand innovation. A need for education and awareness to bridge the gap between knowledge and development was emphasised over the two-day meeting.
The forum highlighted obstacles facing the Middle East in knowledge and development. The Arab Knowledge Report 2009, released at the forum on Wednesday, addressed areas of weakness. In education, information and communications technology, intellectual property, and research and development, the report found that there were large gaps in access to information and knowledge, as well as a lack of funding and governmental priority.
Dr Ali Fakhro, the former minister of education in Bahrain, said while there should be a huge drive to push education, political will was just as important. "Arab societies are capable of achieving developments," said Dr Fakhro. "They can become scientists and scholars in every field, but what we need is political determination to charter the way forward." @Email:email@example.com