The 10th Annual Arab Report on Cultural Development Launched in Dubai

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Since 2002, FIKR Conference constitutes a landmark in the history of cultural conferences in the Arab World, and an interactive platform for constructive exchange of ideas, expertise and leading experiences. The Conference raises every year and emerging topic affecting the Arab World and addresses it in a scientific, civilized and responsible manner.

The conference brings together more than 600 leading figures representing heads of states and governments, policy-makers, officials, thinkers, intellectuals, researchers, experts, delegates from governmental and non-governmental bodies, international federations, private sectors associations, research and studies centers, cultural and media organizations, and Arab youth.

FIKR Conference seeks to generate the support of regional and international entities to achieve the strategic goals of the Arab Thought Foundation that aim at accomplishing a paradigm cultural shift, as well as to encourage sustainable development on the basis of affluent human values.

 

This year, the event was attended by: His Royal Highness Prince Khalid Al Faisal, President of the Arab Thought Foundation, His Royal Highness Prince Bandar Bin Khalid Al Faisal, Chairman of the Arab Thought Foundation; Dr. Henri Al Awit, Director General of the Arab Thought Foundation; His Excellency Nabih Shuqum, Minister of Culture of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan; His Excellency Mohamed Ali Alhakim, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), Dr. Farouk El-Baz, Director of the Center for Remote Sensing and Research Professor at the Departments of Archaeology and Electrical & Computer Engineering, the Arab Thought Foundation’s Board of Directors and Board of Trustees; as well as numerous high-caliber intellectuals, academics, scientists and diplomats.

 

The launch of the 10th Annual Arab Report on Cultural Development was opened with a speech by H.R.H. Prince Khalid Al Faisal, during which he thanked the United Arab Emirates and Dubai for hosting the FIKR16 Conference and for their support in nurturing the development of culture and thought in the Arab world. His Royal Highness noted that the UAE has become an example for young countries in the region by continually setting new benchmarks for advancement, prosperity and knowledge. His Royal Highness also thanked Her Excellency Noura Al Kaabi, UAE Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development for her attendance and support.

 

In his speech, Prince Khalid Al Faisal said: “The Arab Thought Foundation has now published 10 consecutive Arab Reports on Cultural Development, despite the Arab world witnessing wars, conflicts and political differences resulting in economic, social and cultural crises that coincided with environmental challenges such as desertification, declining forest areas, water scarcity and pollution.”

 

“The tenth report objectively and comprehensively reviews each of these subjects, with a focus this year on scientific research, technological developments and innovation, in addition to their roles in supporting comprehensive sustainable development. Such efforts stand as a reflection of our faith in knowledge, science and culture when it comes to alleviating the bitterness of our reality,” he continued.

 

His Royal Highness then added: “In today’s world, economic growth is no longer the sole method by which quality of life and living standards can be raised. Knowledge in general, and scientific and technological advancement in particular, are now the key elements that drive such efforts. A knowledge-based society generates, disseminates, and invests in knowledge to support the well-being of its people and nations.

 

He also added: “The report significantly contributes to a scientific base of knowledge, data and accurate statistics in various scientific fields, through its monitoring of scientific research and development in Arab countries. The report also provide invaluable comparisons of past performance as well as highlighting the performance of other regional countries. As such, the report serves as an indispensable first step towards developing concrete recommendations that will allow planners, researchers and decision makers to put an end to our crises.”

 

“As the systems of science and technology become an organic part of a society’s cultural fabric, the report urges us to take heed of future research strategies and to allocate methods to finance them—it acts as if it has sounded an alarm—an alarm that warns us of missing the opportunity to catch up to the ongoing fourth knowledge revolution. Today, we face one of two scenarios: either we face poverty, unemployment, migrations, political tensions and societal unrest or through the adoption and advancement of scientific research, technology and innovation, we set ourselves free of our current crises and emerge as sustainable and developed nations.”

 

 

Her Excellency Noura Al Kaabi, UAE Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development, addressed attendees and highlighted the pivotal role of the Arab Thought Foundation in developing and encouraging cultural cooperation and collaboration between Arab countries. Her Excellency emphasized the significance of the 10th Annual Arab Report on Cultural Development, which scientifically addresses the realities of cultural development in 22 Arab countries and does so in a way that integrates research with practical recommendations for addressing the Arab world’s challenges, particularly when it comes to cultivating sustainable development and tackling future issues.

 

She also highlighted that scientific research in the Arab world is underrepresented in comparison to the region’s resources, resulting in a huge gap between Arab and international scientific research. In her speech H.E. Noura Al Kaabi also focused on the role of knowledge as a strategic tool for economic growth and sustainable development, describing it as an inexhaustible resource. Her Excellency went on to stress that cultural innovation is required to build a knowledge-based society and the related creative industries that are based on culture and thought generation.

 

Al Kaabi pointed out that the 10th Annual Arab Report on Cultural Development addresses these topics by providing a detailed diagnosis of the scientific research and technological development and innovation in the Arab world. Her Excellency also highlighted that the UAE has launched its National Innovation Strategy, which aims to make the UAE one of the world’s leading countries when it comes to innovation by enhancing innovation’s role in governmental development and economic growth.

 

H.E. also called for the report to be an important step on the road to enhancing cultural development in the Arab world, through deepening the understanding of the importance of research and innovation, and by developing new forms of integration between Arab and international research centers.

 

Her Excellency also thanked the Arab Thought Foundation for choosing the United Arab Emirates to launch the report which coincided with the UAE’s celebration of the Year of Zayed, a leader who understood the importance of culture and knowledge as the main components for a strong country and supported numerous major cultural projects and laid the foundation for the UAE to become what is today – an oasis for thought, culture and the arts.

 

Professor Henri Al Awit, Director General of the Arab Thought Foundation, delivered a speech focusing on three key points regarding the report’s preparation, characteristics and theme, and its most prominent conclusions and recommendations.

 

During his speech, Al Awit highlighted that: “The main reasons for compiling such a report are twofold. First, the recent research, technologies, and innovations of the Arab world that we have witnessed over the past few years have been both successful and profound on a global scale. Second, there is a lack of integrated Arab-centric reports that display the latest scientific research conducted, hence we wanted to compile a document that better highlighted the achievements of our countries while also focusing on the current challenges and future horizons.”

 

The Director General then pointed out that the Foundation does not seek to monopolize the preparation of such reports. In the past, it has supported and promoted the work of other organizations who have studied Arab scientific research systems, technological developments and innovation in the Arab region. Al Awit stressed the importance of issuing Arab reports that address scientific research matters—due to the continuous development of scientific research and in order to address the challenges faced by Arab nations.

 

The report is also characterized by its skillful integration of research with practical recommendations for addressing the regions challenges. “One of the report’s main advantages is that it unites research with real-world strategies related to the developmental goals of Arab countries,” said Al Awit.

 

Within this context, it is important to note that the report comes as a response to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development launched by the United Nations in early 2016. “Our report stresses that sustainable development must be comprehensive in nature, and we urge Arab states to adopt appropriate and effective mechanisms to bind their scientific research and technological development with the priorities outlined in the 2030 Agenda,” said Al Awit. “This report represents an attempt to analyze the performance of Arab countries in their efforts to create active national systems of science, technology and innovation in light of the Agenda’s objectives.”

 

This year, the goal of our conference will be to examine and analyze the various elements of this global situation and in particular to focus on our own region, to investigate the impacts and repercussions on Arab nations and to suggest possible ways to address the challenges and to promote the stabilization. That being said, the term “stability” does not imply stagnation or preservation of the status quo, but rather the adoption of policies and the establishment of institutions that foster structured development and meet demands in order to achieve societal peace and prosperity.

 

By Ashraf Aboul-Yazid

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