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RandD in Arabian, Persian, Turkish Middle East

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Scientific Research in Middle East

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Turkey and Iran lead the rest of the Middle East nations in RandD activity. The nations in the region spend just one-fourth of the world average on RandD.
Islamic world, mainly the Arabian, Persian and Turkish Middle East (referred to as APandTME for the sake of this report) contributed richly to the advancement of science during the middle ages when Europe was into its dark ages. But in the modern era, it has fallen behind and does not show significantly on the international Scientific Research chart.
Investment in higher education and research builds up a country’s knowledge capacity, its ability to use discovery and innovation to create economic wealth, and its potential to realize benefits in health, culture and the quality of life.
The global organization Science Watch sponsored by Thomson Reuters has been compiling reports on progress of scientific research regionwise for the last few years. We present the summary of its observations with regard to the APandTME region. The 14 countries which are covered here are: Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.

  • The OIC’s (Organisation of Islamic Conference which has 57 member-states) research investment (expenditure on RandD compared to Gross Domestic Products or GDP) and capacity (i.e., number of researchers compared to population) is just 25% of world averages. (This means the OIC countries spend just $25 on RandD if the world average is taken as $100).
  • The 14 countries in the APandTME grouping have increased their share of world output from less than 2% to more than 4% in the last decade. The volume of world output indexed by Thomson Reuters increased from around 760,000 to over 1,160,000 publications in the same period, so the region is taking a growing fraction of an expanding pool.
  • Research activity and output by Turkey and Iran has progressed notably. For Iran, 1.7% of its publications in mathematics were ranked in the global 1% most highly-cited: well above global average. For Turkey, 1.5% of its engineering output met the same criterion. Although national average citation impact may lag behind world averages, there is a growing volume of excellence that will undoubtedly enable further growth of high-quality capacity.
  • Among the larger producers, Turkey’s predominance is strikingly evident, as is its steep rise from just over 5,000 papers in 2000 to nearly 22,000 in 2009. Iran, meanwhile, although starting from a lower point with roughly 1,300 papers in 2000, has displayed a similar trajectory following a notable surge after 2004. By 2009, Iran’s output approached 15,000 papers. The rest of the world has been expanding as well. Nonetheless, Turkey’s share of world output nearly trebled from 0.7% in 2000 to 1.9% in 2009 while Iran’s share grew phenomenally from less than 0.2% to 1.3% over the same decade.
  •  Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan have trebled their world share over where it stood in 2000.
  • The United Arab Emirates’ contribution has risen sharply i.e., 900 papers in 2009 while Qatar too has risen from 51 in 2000 to 230 in 2009.
  • Iraq, Qatar and Yemen more than doubled their ““ still small – share of world output between 2000 and 2009.
  • Turkey produces about half of the region’s research articles and reviews, of which medical research makes up its biggest single discipline. Iran produces about one-quarter of regional output, Egypt slightly less than one-eighth, Saudi Arabia about half as much as Egypt and Jordan about half as much again. These five collectively account for more than 90% of total APandTME research publications. The five nations smallest in research productivity came from Syria, Qatar, Iraq, Bahrain and Yemen produced about 3,000 publications over the period.

This report is a summarized on the basis of Global Science Watch report produced periodically by Thomson Reuters. The Science Watch does not include Israel in the APandTME region.
(For detailed report log on to: http://sciencewatch.com/grr/middle-east)