Islamic states have given the green light to the establishment of a science and technology innovation organisation or STIO to maximise utilisation of the scientific talent and technological potential of the Muslim world by pooling the resources of the private and public sectors for research and development.
Creation of the STIO was announced at the 27th meeting of the Committee for Scientific and Technological Cooperation of the 57 member states of the Organization of Islamic Conference held in Riyadh in Saudi Arabia last month.
"This was a historic meeting as the statutes of STIO were adopted and 20 OIC countries have agreed to become founding members of STIO that will begin its monumental task once the programmes and budget have been approved," Atta-ur-Rahman, Coordinator General of the committee, told University World News.
"STIO is now a specialised organ of OIC that has been established to empower the committee so it can implement the decisions taken at various OIC summits by the Heads of States, particularly the 10 Year Plan of Action approved in Makkah, Saudi Arabia, and Vision 1441 approved in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia," Atta-ur-Rahman said.
The Muslim world comprises about 25% of the world's population although its total proportion of science and technical manpower represents only 3.7% and its R&D manpower is only 1.1%.
The three oldest universities in the world are located in the Islamic world, including the Morocco-based University of Al-karaouine, the Egypt-based Al-Azhar University and the Iran-based Nizamiyya. But in the most recent list of top 100 universities in the world, not one was from an Islamic country.
Islamic states have also approved Iran's proposals for the establishment of a joint science and technology park, a 'cyber university' and a world-class nanotechnology network to boost science and technology and strengthen research capacity, science education and innovation-based industries.
"Such regional projects for collaboration and capacity building in Islamic countries stretching from Indonesia to Morocco are crucial for strengthening R&D, not only in nanotechnology but also in biomedical technologies, emerging science and technologies," said Ali Karami, an associate professor at the Research Center of Molecular Biology of Baqiyatallah University of Medical Science, Tehran in Iran.
"If Islamic countries based-universities and research centres get together and increase the culture of collaboration, team work and support creativity of our young scientists, and especially establish regional research centres, the Muslim world will be able to achieve its scientific goals and establish knowledge-based society."
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