Dubai’s ruler has unveiled a $10bn endowment fund to develop education in the Arab world, aiming to create the infrastructure needed to allow an Arab renaissance in learning.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, addressing the World Economic Forum in Jordan, cited alarming factors such as 15 per cent illiteracy among under-15s and 43 per cent among women, and the fact that Turkey publishes more books than the Arab world combined.
’We (in the Arab world) have a population where half its members are under the age of 20, and it is our responsibility to develop this human capital to the best of our ability,” he said.
After an illustrious history of scientific advances in the ”Golden Era” of Islam a 1,000 years ago, the region has fallen behind, with the influential UNDP Human Development Report of 2002 having identified poor governance, women’s empowerment and access to knowledge as prime factors behind the region’s troubles.
The foundation, to be based in the United Arab Emirates and named after Sheikh Mohammed, will start investing money later this year.