Ruler of Dubai launches new education foundation
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Dubai, launched the "Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation", a major initiative to promote human development and provide hope and opportunity by investing in education and the development of knowledge in the region. Sheikh Mohammed, made the announcement in a keynote address at the World Economic Forum on the Middle East being held at the Dead Sea in Jordan.
The Foundation, which will be launched with an endowment of US$ 10 billion, aims to open doors for forthcoming generations of leaders of the region to shape their future by equipping them with world-class knowledge and education.
The Foundation will source and manage a wide range of initiatives including the establishment of high-quality research programmes and research centres, and the provision of scholarships to students to attend leading universities and institutes. It will also support research in universities across the region. In addition, the Foundation will provide leadership programmes for youth in government, the private sector and in non-governmental organizations. Scholarships and research grants will also be given to authors and researchers in the region.
Sheikh Mohammed, said: "It gives me great pleasure to announce a personal initiative aimed at building a knowledge-based society throughout the region."
"The Foundation's mission is to invest in knowledge and human development, focusing specifically on research, education and promoting equal opportunities for the personal growth and success of our youth. The Foundation's programmes are also aimed at enhancing the standing of scholars and intellectuals in the Arab world."
The initiative, the largest of its kind in the region, will put in place the necessary infrastructure to facilitate and encourage knowledge creation and dissemination.
In his address, Sheikh Mohammed acknowledged the need to bridge the knowledge gap between the region and the developed world. He said: "The illiteracy that is still rampant in the region's communities limits the region's growth and advancement." He pointed out that the most alarming indicators are the 18% illiteracy in the under-15 age group and the 43% illiteracy among females in the region.
Sheikh Mohammed also said that if the goal of creating a knowledge-based society is to be achieved, the levels of knowledge creation need to be increased in the Arab world. According to human development reports, literary and intellectual books published in the Arab world represent only 0.08% of the world's output, less than those published in Turkey alone. For every 100,000 books published in North America, there are 42,000 published in South America, and only 6,500 books published in the Arab world.
In terms of spending on scientific research, Sheikh Mohammed said the Arab world spends only 0.02% of its GDP while developed countries spend between 2.5% and 5%. In the Arab world, for every 10,000 people in the workforce there are 3.3 academic scholars, while the developed world has 110 for every 10,000.
Sheikh Mohammed stated that unemployment in the region is 14% and that 15 million jobs are needed right now in the Arab world, and 74 million to 85 million new jobs will be needed over the next 20 years. He said that the business environment in the Arab world would need to be improved if these jobs were to be created, but there are challenges that will need to be overcome. "On average, Arab countries ranked 107 out of 175 in terms of the amount of red tape involved in setting up a business and this situation cannot be allowed to continue."
He stressed that the Foundation will undertake concrete initiatives to encourage innovation and entrepreneurship throughout the region, thus creating significant new employment opportunities and providing hope for the region's youth.
Sheikh Mohammed pointed out: "We have a population where half its members are under the age of 20, and it is our responsibility to develop this human capital to the best of our ability. We have the vision and the will to set the stage for the benefit of future generations through the development of this Foundation, which will provide the prerequisites for moving our region forward."
Well-known role models will also support the initiative, helping to build and sustain positive momentum for development of the Foundation.
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