Scholars call to set up science academies
Joseph Varghese DOHA The second edition of Annual Research Forum (ARF) organised by the research division of Qatar Foundation opened in the presence of Her Highness Sheikha Moza at the Qatar National Convention Center (QNCC) on Sunday. During the panel discussions that followed the opening session many research scholars called for setting up of science academies for the benefit of the entire MENA region.
In the keynote address at the opening, Vice-President for Research at Qatar Foundation Dr Abdelali Haoudi presented a brief outline of the research activities initiated in the country by Qatar Foundation. He said that these efforts would position Qatar as a major regional contributor to science. He added, "The national research forum includes the whole research community in Qatar. The very idea of science and research has been strengthened through the provision for world-class education, and the allotment of 2.8 percent of the national GDP has given a big boost to research activities in Qatar." Dr Haoudi also underlined the fact that there was a huge increase in the number of participants in the forum as well as in the abstracts received. He said, "The number of participants has moved up from 500 to 1,500 while the number of participating institutions as well as the number of abstracts has gone up considerably. We received 353 abstracts out of which 280 have been selected for presentation during the forum. There are now more opportunities for the students even as the number of awards for student participants has gone up." He affirmed that the efforts wouldresult in pursuit of cutting edge research and scientific technologies.
The opening session was followed by a panel discussion at which the panelists came up with a number of proposals to strengthen research activities in the Arab world. Dr Richard Klausner, managing partner of The Column Group and former director of National Cancer Institute, who chaired the proceedings, projected the areas where to focus, and the panelists responded with clear ideas and visions. Dr Fathy Soud, president of Qatar Foundation referred to the efforts of Qatar Foundation to make use of the human talent. For example, he said the model of collaboration with world-class educational organisations made best education possible in Qatar. The establishment of Qatar National Research Fund was another step towards boosting research in Qatar. Marc Walport, chief executive of The Welcome Trust suggested that communication was the key to the development of science and true channels of communication should be opened up between the researchers and other members of the community. Dr Ahmed Elmagarmid, the executive director of Qatar Computing Research Institute said, "Technology, vision, ambition and commitment have enabled Qatar to become the laboratory of the world science. The globalisation of research is becoming a reality in Qatar which is sure to bring about fundamental changes in the whole scenario." Prof Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu called for setting up more science academies as well as supporting the research activities such as mapping the scientific activities in the entire Arab world. Dr Ellis Rubinstein called for setting up a contemporary academy to bring together talented Arab scholars and make them work in the region. This would, he argued, also stop the brain drain from the region. The panelist also suggested the need for taking the message of the need for scientific research to the common people so that awareness can be created among people about the need to be updated in science.