Monday 7, December 2015

Dubai – MENA Herald: The winners of the US$ 1 million Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Knowledge Award, which honours individuals or institutions at the international level for their contribution to the dissemination, transfer and localisation of knowledge, were announced at the opening of the Knowledge Summit 2015, which began in Dubai today.

The award was shared between National Geographic Channel; Hiroshi Ishiguro, Professor of the Department of Innovation Systems in the Graduate School of Engineering Science at Osaka University; and Ahmed Alshugairi, presenter of ‘Khawatir’ television programme.

Gary E. Knell, President and CEO of National Geographic, received the prize of half a million US dollars on behalf of the channel while Hiroshi Ishiguro and Ahmed Alshugairi received quarter million US dollars each in prize money.

The opening ceremony of the second edition of the Knowledge Summit was attended by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai; His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai; His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman of Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation (MBRF) and other dignitaries including Gordon Brown, former British Prime Minister.

In a video address at the opening of the Summit, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon called for investments in knowledge and empowerment initiatives to overcome the challenges facing the region, and praised the efforts of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum in this regard.

“Successive Arab human development reports warn that the region needs more knowledge, women empowerment and several countries suffer from the effects of extremism, but these challenges can be overcome by empowering young people with new opportunities,” Ban Ki Moon said.

“We need to invest in quality education, encourage critical thinking and foster dialogue. The Arab world has contributed to human progress over many centuries. Now again, this dynamic region can advance through local innovation, scientific research, cultural diversity and exchange programmes. The United Nations stands with you in this effort which will help secure our common future,” the UN Secretary General added.

Organised by Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation (MBRF),  under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the three-day Summit focuses on the theme, ‘The Way to Innovation,’ and will continue until December 9 at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Dubai.

Addressing the opening ceremony, His Excellency Jamal bin Huwaireb, Managing Director of MBRF, said: “Our region faces several challenges, particularly in the economic area, where there is an urgent need to secure jobs and decent livelihood for millions of young people. The Knowledge Summit comes as a unique opportunity to achieve innovative solutions to overcome these challenges. The Summit offers a global platform that brings together innovators and experts to create visions and ideas, showcasing the best practices to restore the value of knowledge in Arab societies.”

HE Bin Huwaireb said that the initiatives and projects associated with this Summit, such as the Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Knowledge Award, the Arab Knowledge Index and the Arab Knowledge Portal will add momentum to developing knowledge.

Stating that innovation in education, information technology and scientific research is fundamental to achieving the shift towards a knowledge-based economy and building societies based on the values of co-existence, HE Bin Huwaireb said knowledge is the weapon to confront extremism and build paths towards development and prosperity.

Education, information technology and scientific research are key pillars on the agenda of the Knowledge Summit 2015 in view of their crucial role in ensuring the sustainable and positive dissemination of knowledge.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr. Sima Bahouth, United Nations Assistant Secretary-General, and Director of the Regional Bureau for Arab States in the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), said: “The Arab Knowledge Index and the associated ‘Knowledge for All’ electronic platform that we are launching today elaborate, in an innovative and interactive manner,  the essential link between knowledge, innovation and sustainable development. This is highlighted through the three Arab Knowledge Reports that we have produced with the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation.”

She added: “Together they provide two key tools in the pursuit to of knowledge societies and economies, which are critical to achieving sustainable human development in the Arab region. They represent a qualitative and new addition to the record of the Arab Knowledge Project, which could not have achieved the results it has accomplished without the distinguished partnership between UNDP and MBRF. I express my sincere thanks and great appreciation to His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum for his continuous support for development and knowledge efforts in the Arab region and the world.”

The results of the Arab Knowledge Index, which monitors the status of knowledge in the Arab world, will be released during the Knowledge Summit.

Highlighting the importance of the Arab Knowledge Index at the opening of the Summit, Ahmad Alshugairi, prominent Arab television personality, said that measuring knowledge is important to achieve sustainable development.

“The Arab world has witnessed growing literacy rate over the last few decades. In 1960, only 18 per cent of the people in the region were literate. By 2015, the literacy rate in the region has gone up to 82 per cent. At the same time, the literacy rate in several countries experiencing unrest in the region has come down drastically to 38 per cent. We hope that by 2020 all Arab countries will achieve complete literacy,” Alshugairi said.   

Education is one of the key pillars of the Summit this year, considering its importance in achieving the development and progress of the community. Another key pillar is Information Technology, which has come to play a critical role in building the future of nations and the development of major projects. Discussions at the Summit will also focus on Scientific Research in view of its significance in the development of societies and human capacity development. Innovation in the field of Media and Film Industry will be another focal area.