26 May, 2012
World Economic Forum
WEF and SASTA Parntnership
In 2009, the World Economic Forum (WEF) and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne initiated a call for Arab Scientists to gather at the WEF-MENA summit held in the Dead Sea, Jordan.
Since 2009, the WEF and SASTA have worked closely to highlight the critical importance of science technology and higher education in the development of the Arab region and to engage decision makers and business leaders in regional initiative aimed at achieving these goals. Higher Education, Science and Technology have been among the main issues and pillars of the WEF-MENA summits for the past three years and SASTA board members are regularly invited to attend and participate as panelists and in private planning meetings with local stakeholders and policy makers.
World Economic Forum events bring decision-makers together to address the world’s most crucial issues. These events enable members and constituents to discuss global and regional issues by sharing first-hand information and insights. Incorporated as a foundation in 1971, and based in Geneva, Switzerland, the World Economic Forum is impartial and not-for-profit; it is tied to no political, partisan or national interests. The World Economic Forum is under the supervision of the Swiss.
World Economic Forum on the Middle East 2009, 2010 & 2011
In 2009, SASTA members played an important role in shaping the science agenda for the World Economic Forum on the Middle East held at the Dead Sea in Jordan (May 15-17th) (http://www.weforum.org/events/world-economic-forum-middle-east-2009) and participated as panelist and discussion leaders in the following sessions focused on education and science in the region.
New Science Architecture for the Middle East: Scientific discovery elevates the critical thinking of nations, creates an economic engine and enhances quality of life. Despite a rich history of exploration, however, the Middle East now lags behind many other regions of the world. What barriers inhibit scientific progress and which solutions can be implemented to transform the region into a leading actor in global research?
Role Model Series: Scientist: Participants deliberated role model characteristics for a scientist in the Middle East, specifically considering the aspirations, behaviours, education, background and values that exist within the environment of role model scientists. Although there is considerable disagreement about the characteristics that comprise role model scientists, all agree that, at the core, scientists must possess a passion for empiricism and a respect for scientific discovery. Session summary (pdf)
Rethinking Education in the Middle East: This interactive session, held as part of the World Economic Forum’s Global Education Initiative, brainstormed and discussed several issues related to improving education, educational outcomes and the impact of educational reforms and improvements on social and economic development. Participants concluded that entrepreneurship and innovation can be taught. Without entrepreneurship, education may not necessarily translate into jobs and economic growth. In addition to the hard skills that need to be taught (science, mathematics, technology, writing), there are critical soft skills (curiosity, problem solving, collaboration, creative and critical thinking), and social skills (risk taking, allowance of failure, acceptance of the unknown) that are important for educational and entrepreneurial development. Session Summary
Choosing the Middle East Technology Leap: The session addressed challenges and potential areas where the Middle East could best achieve a competitive advantage. Improving education and human capital was highlighted as a top priority, especially fostering creative and critical thinking and a culture of experimentation and discovery. A bold approach to innovation is needed and to thinking strategically in terms of potential areas of competitive advantage. Session summary (pdf) and Webcast
Privatizing Science: Approximately 0.5% of GDP is spent on research and development (R&D) in the Arab world, much less than in those countries leading scientific exploration. Given this, should Arab governments offer a leadership role to the business sector in setting the scientific research agenda and driving its progress? Panellists agreed that business leadership in applied scientific research is critical to future development. Nonetheless, government vision and support, as well as sustained investment in education and other actions are equally important drivers for the scientific research agenda in the region. The summaries of the sessions that occurred and the ideas that were presented can be reviewed at http://www.weforum.org/events/world-economic-forum-middle-east-2009?idsessions=2795
In 2010, SASTA board members (Dr. Rabih Talhouk, Dr. Hilal Lashuel and Dr. Mohamed Boutijdir) participated as panelists in the Education Summit “The Future of Education: Incentives, Impact and Accountability” held as part of the World Economic Forum on the Middle East and North Africa in Marrakech, Morocco (Oct 25th, 2010). SASTA members were invited to participate as discussion panelists and discussion leaders in the following sessions on 1) Skills for the 21st Century: Good Living and Career Skills (Dr. Mohamed Boutijdir) and 2) Closing the Gap (Dr. Hilal Lashuel and Dr. Rabih Talhouk). (http://www3.weforum.org/docs/ME10/WEF_ME10_FutureEducation_Programme.pdf)
2011, Five SASTA board members were invited to participate in the upcoming World Economic Forum in the middle East to be held at the Dead Sea in Jordan, Oct 23, 2011.
The World Economic Forum is an independent international organization committed to improving the state of the world by engaging leaders in partnerships to shape global, regional and industry agendas. http://www3.weforum.org/docs/ME11/WEF_ME11_Programme.pdf
Left: Dr. Wael Al-Delaimy, SASTA president, moderating a session on Health-Lives Productive future. What behavioural shifts are required to improve the population’s health and support the region in fulfilling its economic potential? Right: Dr. Lashuel and Dr. Talhouk, SASTA board members, meeting with Her excellency Queen Rania of Jordan.
Dr. Lashuel participating as a discussion leader on the Driving Gains in Education session : What interventions are required to improve the Arab world’s education systems?
2012. World Economic Forum on the Middle East, North Africa and Eurasia 2012
Dr. Hilal Lashuel, SASTA secretary general of SASTA, participated as discussion leader and panelist at the 2012 World Economic Forum on the Middle East, North Africa and Eruasia held in Istanbul, Turkey. Dr. Lashuel spoke as a panelist in session that was entitled “Catalysing Partnerships through Science” and moderated by David Ignatius, Associate Editor and Columnist, The Washington Post, USA. The panel shared their views on how science can become a catalyst for partnership across regions? . For a summary of session, see http://www.weforum.org/sessions/summary/catalysing-partnerships-through-science. He also participated as a discussion leader on a brainstorming session focused on Youth Employment Crisis — Time for Action. http://www.weforum.org/node/103928/programme