Qatar tops Gulf and developed nations in research spending

Qatar has achieved significant results in scientific and industrial research according to global indicators of a knowledge-based economy as well as global competitiveness indicators, a Gulf Organisation for Industrial Consulting (Goic) study has said.
Qatar is leading GCC countries with regards to spending on scientific research, allocating 2.8% of its GDP to endorse research and development projects since 2009, surpassing the developed countries’ allocation of 2.5%, the study said.
Qatar also earmarked special funds for boosting scientific research, while managing to attract a wide range of prestigious global universities so that it could pioneer in education and research.
With the biggest entity investing in the field of education and research – Qatar Science and Technology Park (QSTP) – Qatar has managed to attract up to 33 technology-related firms from around the globe, the Goic study said.
HE the Minister of Energy and Industry Dr Mohamed bin Saleh al-Sada has said the petrochemicals industry is the main beneficiary of research and technological upgrades, rendering it the most dynamic and safe industry in terms of production and transportation.
The Gulf Co-operation Council states (GCC) are moving towards creating a knowledge-based economy in a nascent shift from profit-based economy. The goal has been highly considered by the GCC governments to achieve their sustainable development objectives, the study said.
The GCC General Secretariat has accordingly decided to back scientific and technological research as well as stimulate innovative ideas, making a good use of recent innovations to facilitate sustainable development.
The GCC industrial map, recently launched by Goic, showed that many Gulf countries are heading towards a knowledge-based economy with significant results achieved, especially Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE.
The plan envisages that Qatar, along with Saudi Arabia and the UAE, would be ready to shift to a knowledge-based economy and industry by 2020.
Goic also unveiled many promising future industrial projects, what it called “absent industries,” for items not produced in some GCC states despite increasing demand.
The map suggested the GCC states could make use of the available resources to start on the absent industries, owning around 40% of world oil reserves, 23% of world natural gas reserves and being a hydrocarbon-rich region.
The Goic plan highlighted that the chemical industry is one of the most significant among the absent industries in the Gulf as the study pointed to a decrease in the production of catalysts, the imports of which are worth about $1bn annually according to latest statistics.
Acrinols, one of the primary materials used in the plastic industry, is an example of the absent materials due to the lack of the technical methods to produce it. Recent data showed that 20,000 tonnes of acrinols was imported into the region in 2009. They are expected to rise to 50,000 tonnes during next 5 years costing over $1bn, the Goic study said.
Also, chemicals used in aluminium production, water desalination and construction materials belong to absent industries.
With the GCC states importing up to 90% of their food requirements, the Goic map highlighted a significant gap in overall food demand and production. It stems from the lack of research on how to improve food industries within the region, it said.
The study encouraged the GCC states to create effective strategic partnerships between their research centres and industrial firms, emphasising the need to increase the budget allocated for research projects on food security.
The study also identified key issues hindering the progress of scientific research such as private sector funding issues and the lack of a GCC development strategy. Some industrial firms’ awareness of the role of research in developing an industry was also low, it said.
Speaking on possible solutions, Goic secretary general Abdulaziz bin Hamad al-Aqeel emphasised the role development banks in funding knowledge-based projects to set up infrastructure facilities and specialised industrial units for this sector. He also noted that a wide range of initiatives have already been taken by the private sector to boost economic diversification.
GCC governments’ efforts to enhance scientific research in the industrial sector are relatively limited compared to other developed countries, the study said. GCC contribution to knowledge-based economy is 0.2% compared to 4%-4.5% in the developed countries, it said.

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