x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Crown Prince: spend on research

Arab states, including the UAE, should spend dramatically more on scientific research, the Crown Prince of Ras al Khaimah, Sheikh Saud bin Saqr, said.

RAS AL KHAIMAH // Arab states, including the UAE, should spend dramatically more on scientific research, not just higher education, the Crown Prince of Ras al Khaimah, Sheikh Saud bin Saqr, told a conference on Sunday. "Apart from developing education, we must invest in research that will propel us to a new era. The Arab world and this region must go into overdrive to keep up with those around and to overcome our problems and create new opportunities for wealth and prosperity," said Sheikh Saud.

His comments were echoed by a German academic who presented findings of a study showing that countries with a high gross domestic product (GDP) invest heavily in education and scientific research. "Countries with a high GDP have usually a very high education index," said Dr Hanns-Ulrich Habermeier, head of scientific services technology at the Max-Planck-Institute for Solid State Research in Germany.

"There is a gross correlation between education in science and economic prosperity," he said, and the same relation can be found between a country's number of scientific researchers and its GDP. "Education alone is not the issue. It must be complemented by research." Citing the example of South Korea, Dr Habermeier said that, for nations that invest in both education and research, "there is a good chance that within a couple of decades a country can lift the GDP from a low level to a high level".

Though the Gulf states have dramatically increased education spending in recent years, especially at university level, Dr Habermeier said ambitions to develop post-oil economies would require further investment, especially in research. "In the Gulf region, the governments pour a lot of money into universities. They pour a lot of money into education in science. "However, their goal is to have the number one university in the world, which is from my point of view not a real thing that should be pursued. It should be a building up of a broad knowledge base of a large amount of people in natural science," he said.

"Countries like the Emirates, or let's say Egypt, they need an educated working force to spin off companies and to attract existing high tech companies into their country," he said. klewis@thenational.ae