Arab nations must adopt global strategy on innovation

Tuesday 27th, December 2016 / 20:08 Written by

Haider Al Lawati –
haiderdawood@hotmail.com –

Most Arab countries secured less than 40 points out of 100 on the Global Innovation Index 2016 (GII). UAE was ranked first among Arab countries and 41st globally with 39.35 points, whereas KSA was ranked second among Arab countries and 49th globally with 37.79 points. Qatar was third among Arab countries and 50th globally with 37.47 points, followed by other countries ranging between 70 and lower. This year, the GII report covered 128 countries.
Oman was ranked eighth among Arab countries, 13th regionally and 73rd globally with 32.21 points. It climbed seven points in the GII 2016 global ranking compared with last year’s GII.
GII 2016, recently launched at UN Headquarters in Geneva, revealed Switzerland had earned the No. 1 position on the GII, followed by Sweden, the UK and USA, and Finland in the fifth position.
GII measures the performance and economy of countries in the field of innovation. The latest 2016 report sheds light on exploring the growing share of achieved innovation through global innovation networks. It also examines, based on sufficient data, how innovation can boost the sluggish global economy.
The Director-General of the World Intellectual Property Organization WIPO, a co-publisher of the report, noted that investment in innovation is fundamental in upgrading economic growth in the long term. In light of the current economic condition, exploring new development sources and using opportunities made available by global innovation are considered priorities for all stakeholders.
Among the top countries on the GII 2016, four economies rank high in terms of innovation quality: Japan, USA, UK and Germany. This is a high-level index that takes into account the volume of universities, number of scientific journals and international patents.
Meanwhile, China moved to the 17th position for innovation quality, putting it in the lead among middle-income economies as per the GII, followed by India which overtook Brazil.
This year, GII adopted the slogan: Winning with Global Innovation. The report explores the growing share of achieved innovation through global innovation networks, concluding that gains achieved from global innovation can be shared at a broader level, thanks to the increase in trans-boundary flow of knowledge and talent.
The report concludes that many opportunities are present to expand the range of cooperation in the field of research and development among companies and public institutions for enhancing economic growth in the future.
It is a well-known fact that innovation requires continuous investment. Before the 2009 credit crunch, research and development expenditure grew at an annual rate of 7 per cent.
GII 2016 indicates that those expenses grew only by 4 per cent at the global level in 2014. This was the result of slow growth in emerging economies and decrease in research and development budgets in high-income economies, which remains a cause for concern.
Thus, Arab countries are required to develop medium-range sectorial strategies. Such visions are based on specific pillars and on sustainable development target issues as a reference to review progress towards preserving human integrity and welfare, along with the requirements for achieving sustainable development in the region.
Moreover, it is necessary to eliminate commercial disputes, strengthen governance components and human and institutional rights and increase funding, science, technology, trade and statistics capabilities, in addition to achieving the targets of sustainable development.
This requires taking urgent measures at the national and regional level, developing long-term comprehensive plans based on facts and mobilising investments to tackle instability across the region.
Innovation is no longer an individual feat, but transcends boundaries and depends on cooperation between various entities to create a winning horizon for all. Therefore, all Arab countries must adopt a global strategy to lead innovation at the global level, and bring about comfort and joy in the end to all.

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