Need to bridge gap between Arab, international scientific research stressed

Speakers during the Asbar World Forum in Riyadh. (AN photo by Saad Al-Dossari)
Updated 07 November 2018
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Need to bridge gap between Arab, international scientific research stressed

  • Arab countries face shortcomings in scientific research and technological advancements and are still behind the developing countries, a report indicates
  • scientific development is necessary to achieve critical thinking and for innovative work: expert

RIYADH: In a call for the implementation of an integrated framework that paves the way for scientific research leading to sustainable development in the region, panelists at the Asbar World Forum (AWF-2018) in Riyadh this week pointed that it is time to bridge the huge gap between Arab and international scientific research and development.

They were speaking on the concluding day of the forum on Tuesday in a panel discu wellbeing ssion on the 10th Arab Report on Cultural Development issued by the Arab Thought Foundation (ATF) under the title “Innovation or extinction, scientific research in the Arab world: Realities, challenges and perspectives.”

Referring to the gap in scientific research and developments, Henri Awit, ATF director general, said the annual report indicates that Arab countries face shortcomings in scientific research and technological advancements and are still behind the developing countries.

He said the report recommendations ask for collaboration between the public and the private sector which will help usher in a new era of scientific developments. He also highlighted the role of women in this field.

Advocating bridging the gap, Emad Eldin Adeeb, a writer and journalist, said scientific development is necessary to achieve critical thinking and for innovative work.

Scientific research, technological advancement and innovation are necessary for sustainable development, he added.

Ziad Al-Drees, former permanent delegate of Saudi Arabia to UNESCO, pointed to the need for practical experience, for a knowledge-based society that generates, disseminates and invests in knowledge to support the well-being of its people as well as prepare its youth.

Saud Kateb, undersecretary for public diplomacy at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said as the Arab countries trail behind European countries, we need to speed up the pace of scientific works to bridge the gap.

He added that the report significantly contributes to a scientific base of knowledge, data and statistics in various scientific fields and the recommendations will help in bridging the gap through its monitoring of scientific research and development in Arab countries.

Another session moderated by Ibraheem Alzuhimeel, CEO of Oceanx, outlined strategies and objectives of Young Investment Funds, achieving investment benefits in the context of limited resources, new methods of management for investment funds and the supporting system of the investment funds.

The Asbar World Forum launched last Sunday. Riyadh Gov. Prince Faisal bin Bandar was there in the opening ceremony along with a number of ambassadors from Saudi Arabia, and officials from the public and private sectors.

The forum lasted for three days from Nov. 4 to 6, with 90 speakers from 17 countries around the world. The forum organized an exhibition titled “From Innovation to Influence” in collaboration with King Abdulaziz University of Science and Technology (KAUST). The exhibition reflected KAUST’s efforts to develop and foster a welcoming environment that supports entrepreneurs, people with skills and promising ideas from the national youth. 

On day three, the forum discussed the environment in the future in a panel discussion moderated by Dr. Abdulrahman Al-Ibrahim, adviser to the president of KAUST. 

During the discussion, Muhab Benten, director general of the building technology stimulus initiative at the Ministry of Housing, discussed the idea of innovation in building techniques. He said: “Building a house is considered an obsession for each individual, and it may be difficult to do so. We need electronic procedures that facilitate and ease everything related to construction for individuals.”

He added: “Yesterday, the Eskan Program and the National Industrial Development and Logistics Program announced their success in building the first home construction experience using three-dimensional printing technology in Saudi Arabia.” 

Dr. Saeed Al-Amoudy, who has a Ph.D. in creative cities from the University of Salford in England, talked about the future for creative cities: A combination between city imaging, quality of life and creativity. Al-Amoudy also mentioned some of the creative cities in the future such as Paris, London and New York. Surprisingly, Makkah is expected to be one of the future creative cities. 

“Innovation in the services provided in Makkah makes it one of the most important cities in the future. And technology is one of the most important reasons to make Saudi regions creative,” he added.

Dr. Ali Alazzawi, city experience adviser from Smart Dubai Office, and Abdulkader Lamaa, associate partner at McKinsey & Company, asserted that cities are not only buildings and roads, but also individuals, people, and societies, and that smart cities have a holistic vision, not fragmented, disconnected visions.

While debating energy in the future and how it can be preserved, Dr. Mohammad Al-Sabban, former chief economist adviser to the Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources, said: “It is expected that in 2040, 300 million electric cars will be used.”

Dr. Ammar Al Nahawi, Director of Saudi Aramco Research & Development Center, said technology contributes to the sustainability of energy and this is what the Kingdom is trying to reach in 2030.


FaceOf: Rayed Al-Ajaji, CEO of KSA's Universal Metal Coating Company

Rayed Al-Ajaji
Updated 17 November 2018
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FaceOf: Rayed Al-Ajaji, CEO of KSA's Universal Metal Coating Company

  • Al-Ajaji professional experience spans more than 20 years and includes the markets of Saudi Arabia, the GCC, and other Arab countries
  • Al-Ajaji earned a bachelor’s degree in engineering management and a master’s degree in industrial management from the University of Miami between 1992 and 1997. 

Rayed Al-Ajaji is the CEO of the Universal Metal Coating Company Ltd. (UNICOIL) and chairman for the National Committee for Steel Industry (NCSI). He recently spoke at the 13th annual Arab Steel Summit in Amman about how the government and the private sector can work together to ensure future market competitiveness. 

“Despite the fact that so many of our manufacturers are producing at less than 50 percent capacity due to unfair competition, as a country we are a net importer of steel,” he said. “We are leaving billions of economic value on the table.

“We have an opportunity today to work together to stop that and keep this revenue in the country to help achieve our ambitious national growth plans. Our country has invested billions over the years in world-class facilities that manufacture the highest-quality steel products and we must work together to ensure it remains competitive and thriving.”

Al-Ajaji earned a bachelor’s degree in engineering management and a master’s degree in industrial management from the University of Miami between 1992 and 1997. 

He subsequently gained a diverse range of experience in various steel-manufacturing processes, including the commercial steel trade, building materials, and business process re-engineering. 

His professional experience spans more than 20 years and includes the markets of Saudi Arabia, the GCC, and other Arab countries.

NCSI is a not-for-profit organization set up by the Council of Saudi Chambers with a mandate to meet challenges, engage with industry members, and develop a culture of industrial and communal responsibility and commitment toward the realization of Saudi Vision 2030.