Prospects for Policy Advances in Science and Technology in the Gulf Arab States: The Role for International Partnerships

David P. Hajjar, George W. Moran, Afreen Siddiqi, Joshua E. Richardson, Laura D. Anadon, Venkatesh Narayanamurti


Science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) policies in the Gulf Arab States are as diverse as the individual economies and political processes that characterize its member states. During the past decade, a number of expert review groups have argued that science and technology policy needs to be reformed and revitalized in the Gulf Arab States. Several reports and studies have identified the need to develop and adopt more rigorous plans to raise the level of research and development (R&D) in the region.   In several of the Gulf Arab States, policy makers have sought to address this issue through establishment of new “Education Cities” wherein university campuses have been co-located with industrial parks in order to build regional knowledge economies. Many of these initiatives have attracted foreign talent and global R&D firms. Our research aims to understand the etiology of the under-performance of the R & D efforts in the region. In this paper, we report on results obtained from in-person interviews with the Ministers of Education and other educators in the Gulf Arab States. We interviewed experts in the field of science and technology policy in the Gulf region to address the following major questions: 1) how can science (e.g. biomedical, agriculture, engineering) be strengthened in the Gulf Arab States; 2) how effective are the science policies enacted by regional governments in the Gulf, and how can these policies be enhanced; 3) what role do regional or international collaborations play in a research and training network system, and how can these regional partnerships be bolstered; and, 4) how can the international community assist to accelerate progress and reduce the science knowledge gap. Our results show that the under-performance of the Gulf region in science and technology appears to be due to a: 1) lack of early exposure of young adults to science, 2) low perception of the societal value of science, 3) lack of institutional (e.g. university) resources, 4) too few scientists who make science their long-term careers, 5) lack of an integrated, international research network of collaboration, and 6) lack of motivation among students. 

We also report on our findings regarding the state-of-the-art of the research enterprise, and the strengths and weaknesses of the research and training environment as perceived by educators/administrators in the region.

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International Journal of Higher Education
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