x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Saudi dean offers a lesson in research

A university researcher from Saudi Arabia comes to Abu Dhabi to call on governments for more research funding.

ABU DHABI // A government funding mechanism is essential for building a successful research environment, the dean of scientific research at King Saud University said in the capital last week.

Still, researchers need to be vigorous in pursuing funding, particularly with government entities, Dr Waheed al-Hindi told local university officials during a round-table session at Insead, an international business school with a branch in Abu Dhabi.

"The government in Saudi Arabia funds many projects concerning things the government will highlight, such as the disease of diabetes, which is an issue also in the UAE," he said. "But our researchers often reach out to the ministry of interior, or the ministry of industry and other agencies to offer them solutions."

Nearly half of the funding for research at King Saud University (KSU) comes from government , while other funding comes from contracted projects for private companies.

Dr Chet Jablonski, the dean of graduate studies at Zayed University, said he was impressed with the advancement of research programmes at KSU and Saudi Arabia's King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology.

"It is nice to see a developed science policy, a government grant-making system and outside funding bring projects to fruition," he said.

Outside funding and government contracts are necessary to improve the quality of projects, rather than "research for research's sake," said Gautam Sen, the vice provost of research and graduate studies at the American University of Sharjah.

The UAE has established a national grant-making arm, the National Research Foundation, but the pipeline of approved grants has been bottlenecked for years.