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Arab civilisation made generous contribution to knowledge: UAE President

posted on 12/12/2007: 989 views

Kuala Lumpur - President H.H. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan has said that the Arab world has made generous contributions to the birth of practical and scientific-based knowledge and that Arab civilisation and the Arab world used to be the focal point of the birth of knowledge and its transfer to other peoples of the world.

In his statement, read on his behalf Tuesday morning by minister of education, Dr. Hanif Hassan, at the 3rd Global Knowledge Conference, currently being held here in the Malaysian capital, the UAE President said the economic boom the UAE is currently enjoying has clearly reflected positively on the serious attention being given to education with strong focus on human resources development and the adoption of knowledge and technology as a basis for achieving education development, making good use of the experiences of successful countries in this regard, adding that this may help the UAE attain a respectable position in the area of creativity and innovation, and would enable the country to make significant contribution to many branches of humanity progress, in general.

Sheikh Khalifa cited the UAE's experience and achievements in various areas of education, with emphasis on investment in information to improve living standards and achieve sustainable development in the country.

The UAE president praised the "Dubai Cares" campaign, launched by the UAE vice president and prime minister, and ruler of Dubai, H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, which is aimed at providing education opportunity for million poor and deprived children worldwide with phase 1 of the project targeting children in Africa and Asia. He said the "Dubai Cares" campaign is a gift from the UAE to the 3rd Global Knowledge Conference, which is being held in the Malaysian capital.

Sheikh Khalifa called for a quick review of the current international policies in the areas of education, technology and telecommunications. He said in so doing, there is the need to take into serious consideration the social dimension of globalisation with its huge positive capability to encourage greater freedom of exchange of commodity and ideas, information and to open the door to all peoples of the world to gain access and use modern technologies.

Following is the full text of the statement of the UAE President, read on his behalf by education minister, Dr. Hanif Hassan.

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. It is a pleasure for me to be with you today and to participate in this important event. It is a special honour to be here representing HH Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the President of the United Arab Emirates, and convey his greetings and his wish that you enjoy this conference and gain important understandings to further your work in the field. He also extents his thanks and appreciation to the Malaysian government and to the sponsors of this conference for hosting these activities.

As I reviewed the participants' list for the conference, it is clear that this is a gathering of knowledgeable and influential leaders from a variety of fields including education, economics, technology and the political arena. As a combined force, there is much potential at this conference to learn from each other and to forge a common agenda for future action. I trust that will be the case! As we look at the issues of the day, there is perhaps none as important for the future of our globe than the transmission of knowledge in an efficient and equitable manner. We now have the capacity to transmit information to the most isolated and deprived corners of the globe. Determining how to do so in a manner that will build the capacity of all citizens of the world will be the challenge for us. The prospect of using knowledge transmission as a means of building strong, healthy and viable communities is indeed exciting and, at the same time, fraught with many vexing and complicated political, economic and ethical decisions.

We, in the Arab world, are anxious to participate in these decisions and to engage others in taking the right path toward peace and justice. As most of you know, the UAE has experienced rapid economic progress over the past 35 years. Virtually every sector within our nation has been impacted by this. The growth of knowledge within the country has been exponential. Yet, we also understand that if we hope to continue this progress we must continue to focus on the transmission of knowledge for the sake of human development. At the core of this is a strong and viable education sector that must be available to all students and adults. Technology has opened the door for us to deliver information in new and speedy ways. How we use that technology will be a critical factor in how successful we will ultimately be in this endeavour. In my role as Minister of Education, we have taken it upon ourselves to engage in a major reform of the education sector to facilitate the transmission of knowledge more effectively. This is a long-term investment that we know will pay off for us as a nation, but we also hope to share our knowledge from this experience with others who will also benefit.

This theme of sharing is essential in our conversations and I hope it is a component of the dialogue throughout this conference. A project of which we are most proud exemplifies this notion of sharing: the Dubai Cares Campaign was initiated under the patronage of HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President, Prime Minister of UAE and the Ruler of Dubai. This initiative has as a target to improve literacy among almost one million children in the neediest sections of Asia and Africa where the current rate of illiteracy hovers at about 90%. Such efforts must become more the rule, rather than the exception. All of us have a stake in human development across the globe and we must carve out a path to deliver the knowledge that will enhance the quality of life for our fellow men and women.

Much has been written as of late regarding the plight of women across the world. We share the concerns voiced by so many that everyone must have the ability to a productive and fulfilling life. Here again, the transmission of knowledge is a key element in bringing about this result. Using my nation as an example again, we have made a concerted effort over the last several decades to provide educational opportunities for women in the UAE. This effort has paid off very well as, today, the percentage of women enrolled in higher education in the UAE is higher than that for the men. In fact, we are now in the process of re-working our incentives to make certain that larger numbers of men pursue higher education as well! Today in the UAE, women are a significant force in the labour market. It has become common practice to see women assuming roles as physicians, lawyers, business women and government officials. Of this we are very proud and look forward to continued development in this area.

I will conclude my remarks today, with a few words about globalization as part of the equation we must consider. I know there are some who view globalization as a negative and they point out the distinct possibility that it will lead to greater inequities between the 'haves' and the 'have notes' of the globe. Clearly, that is one possible scenario. This, however, can be avoided if we make careful decisions regarding the transmission of knowledge and if we do so with an eye toward equity and the good of all mankind. This is a noble challenge for all of us. In many ways, we have the opportunity before us to chart a new course for the development of mankind. We probably won't have too many more chances, so we must make wise decisions now to bring about a better world for the future generations.

These are not too lofty a set of goals for us and for this conference. I hope the conversations and the dialogue throughout this event are at this level of concern and urgency! Finally, I want to express my thanks, once again, to the conference organizers and to you for allowing me this opportunity to speak about some very personal views on these important matters. Good luck with your work and enjoy the conference! Thank you! (Emirates News Agency, WAM)


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