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Arab Knowledge Report 2009


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Mohammed bin Rashid Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation, United Nations Development Programme / Regional Bureau for Arab States (UNDP/RBAS): Arab Knowledge Report 2009

Mohammed bin Rashid Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation, United Nations Development Programme / Regional Bureau for Arab States (UNDP/RBAS): Arab Knowledge Report 2009

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  • 1. United Nations Development Programme Arab Knowledge Report 2009 Towards Productive Intercommunication for Knowledge
  • 2. Arab Knowledge Report 2009 Towards Productive Intercommunication for Knowledge
  • 3. This Report has been produced through joint sponsorship and support of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation (MBRF) and the United Nations Development Programme/ Regional Bureau for Arab States (UNDP/RBAS) Cover is printed on 350 GSM paper that is chlorine–free and meets the Sustainable Forest Initiative guidelines. Text pages are printed on 100 GSM uncoated white opaque, wood free paper. Both cover and text papers are printed with vegetable- based inks and produced by means of environmentally–compatible technology. Cover Design: Pro Creative Concepts Advertising Agency, Cairo, Egypt Layout and Production: Al Ghurair Printing & Publishing House L.L.C Printed at: Al Ghurair Printing & Publishing House L.L.C, Dubai, UAE Printed in Dubai - United Arab Emirates The analysis and policy recommendations of this Report do not necessarily reflect the views of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation or the United Nations Development Pogramme, its Executive Board Members or UN Member States. The Report is the work of an independent team of authors jointly sponsored by Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation and the Regional Bureau for Arab States, UNDP. This work was originally published in Arabic. In case of discrepancy, the original language shall take precedence.
  • 4. Foreword by the Chairman of the Board, Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation It gives me great pleasure to announce to you the creation of a generation of future today the release of The Arab Knowledge public and private sector leaders capable Report 2009—Towards Productive of seizing knowledge by the forelock Intercommunication for Knowledge, a fruit and setting it to work on confronting the of the shared efforts of the Mohammed development challenges of their societies, bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation while at the same time raising the standard and the United Nations Development of scholarly research and development, Programme that lays the foundation of a stimulating leadership in business, fostering strategic partnership that we hope will be innovation and creativity among youth, both long lasting and of ongoing benefit revitalizing the concept of productive for our Arab societies and their upcoming culture, and strengthening ways of bringing generations. different cultures closer together. Given that analysis of the state of The Report now before us focuses knowledge in the Arab homeland requires on the organic relationship within the tireless effort and rigorous follow-up, knowledge-society-development triad that this report can form no more than a is linked to modernisation, productive first link in a continuing series of Arab openness to both the inside and the Knowledge reports that will embody, from outside, and all that contributes towards more than one perspective, the essential the strengthening of Arab human dignity. principles outlined by His Highness Sheikh It views the current knowledge revolution Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice- as a point of entry capable of making President, Prime Minister of the UAE and development in the Arab homeland a reality. Ruler of Dubai, in his book My Vision, In the view of this report, knowledge, in principles to which His Highness gave both its enlightenment and developmental voice when he wrote, “I do wish for all my dimensions, is renaissance itself. It is also Arab brothers and sisters what I wish for a road that requires a further sharpening my people of the UAE. I just want them of the tools of creative human intelligence to reach the same advanced levels achieved in order to establish and reinforce the by developed countries. Moreover, I would foundations of the knowledge economy in like them to take control over their issues our region for the sake of the wellbeing and proceed with accomplishing their and self-esteem of the Arab citizen. goals, ambitions and aspirations” The induction of knowledge concepts The issuing of the Arab Knowledge constitutes the cornerstone of any reports falls within the framework of effective process of human development the more prominent initiative of the and as such makes a critical contribution Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum to the escape from the vicious circles of Foundation—the largest development poverty, unemployment, ignorance, and initiative of its kind in the region— fear. It follows that the right to acquire, which aims to establish and develop a indigenise, and develop knowledge is comprehensive knowledge base through beyond dispute. I
  • 5. This year’s report may perhaps establishing the desired knowledge society. best be described as a thoroughgoing We may not all agree on what is to be methodological and scholarly effort to found in this report. The goal, however, study Arab knowledge in great detail, is to instigate constructive discussion that up to the point of its deployment in will lead to adoption and application of the service of the Arab individual. The policies and programmes that will translate aim is to furnish the Arab decision-maker, its insights from the realm of reporting to specialist, and citizen with a reference study that of effective actions on behalf of Arab that includes reliable indicators by which societies capable of bringing about their to measure the condition of knowledge in wellbeing and self-esteem. the Arab countries and thus assist with the This work of ours will neither be development of plans and the assessment completed nor born fruit without the of performance and to kindle the spirit of cooperation of all—governments, civil competitiveness in a field in which this is society, and specialists from different of the essence. parts of the Arab homeland. From this The Report departs from the norm in perspective, I sincerely call on all involved, formulating a daring proposed vision and and indeed on all concerned parties, to work plan for the establishment of the peruse these reports and subject them to knowledge society that embrace primary discussion, critique, and fruitful debate, elements and required mechanisms likely with the express goal of creating the to be of use in filling in the numerous gaps means of putting into practice, whether that dot the Arab knowledge landscape at an Arab regional or an individual and in leading us through the portals of country level, the ideas resulting from this knowledge so that we may engage with interactive process. its society and participate in its processes It also gives me great pleasure, in of production. The Report also opens for this context, to express my thanks and general discussion, critique, and review a appreciation to the United Nations proposed vision of work and action along Development Programme’s Regional three axes—the provision of enabling Bureau for Arab States and in particular environments; the transfer, indigenisation the report team in Dubai, as well as to and implantation of knowledge and then all those—thinkers, writers, editors, and its deployment in the service of Arab technical personnel—who participated human development. in bringing this report into being. I look The series of Arab Knowledge reports forward to further fruitful collaboration constitutes a cultural podium prepared by to reinforce the foundations of the an elite of Arab specialists and intellectuals intellectual edifice of knowledge in this whose objective will be to ponder the region and secure the mainstays of the state of Arab knowledge and suggest human development to which the Arab the methods most likely to succeed in world aspires. Sheikh Ahmed bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Chairman of the Board Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation II
  • 6. Foreword by the Regional Director, UNDP Regional Bureau for Arab States With the publication of this first report on The diagnostic analysis contained in knowledge in the Arab region, the United this first report on Arab knowledge shows Nations Development Programme/ that some progress has been made in the Regional Bureau for Arab States and the outward forms of knowledge in the Arab Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum world. It has also made plain, however, Foundation inaugurate what may be the existence of numerous gaps that must considered one of the most ambitious and be addressed, seriously and resolutely, competent projects to build and reinforce if we wish to establish a society capable the knowledge society in the Arab region of producing knowledge. We endorse the and to implant there its epistemological, Report’s assumption that the ground lost intellectual, and cultural principles, in all by the Arabs in the knowledge field can be their dimensions. This report represents a made up, provided, first, that the aspiration first step in a strategic partnership, of which to do so is there, along with the political we are proud, between our development will, supported by the allocation of the programme and that pioneering resources needed to build the enabling enlightenment foundation established environments and the institutions capable at the initiative of His Highness Sheikh of nurturing progress in knowledge and Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice the conversion of the gains achieved into President, Prime Minister of the United means to realise comprehensive human Arab Emirates and Ruler of Dubai, and development. for which generous resources have been The Report presents a number of allocated. important analyses of the conditions of While this report extends and goes knowledge in the Arab region. We agree deeper into the issues presented by the that these must be dealt with urgently. It Arab Human Development Report 2003, expatiates on monitoring the situation of which addressed the subject of knowledge the most important pillars of the hoped- as one of the most important of the for knowledge society and dedicated special three challenges facing the Arab region in attention to knowledge capital, making addition to protection of freedoms and clear in so doing the large discrepancy in women empowerment; the co-publication capital acquired through education, not of this series of reports on Arab knowledge only among the Arab countries themselves demonstrates the harmoniousness and but within each individual Arab state accord of the efforts of the United and between males and females, as well Nations Development Programme and as between young people and adults. the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum On the question of Information and Foundation, their shared dedication to a Communications Technology (ICT), single goal, and the exalted nature of their which constitutes a central pillar for the mission and objective. All of these form knowledge society, a set of proposals and a part of the range of regional and global initiatives have been formulated that will effort in this field. help to improve the current situation of III
  • 7. ICT in the Arab countries and reinforce and through productive and creative its importance in the health, economic, integration. This vision therefore suggests social, and fields of knowledge in an achievable plan that includes markers general. The report also emphasises that along the route to an intercommunication a revitalisation of the Arabic language is that will lead to integration into spaces of required to make it capable of mastering knowledge that fly the flag of humanity Arabic epistemological and digital content. and human intelligence, for the sake of The writers of the Report focus on the partnership and creativity in the Arab fact that the tasks designed to provide the societies. optimal investment of ICT in the building The Arab Knowledge Report 2009– of the Arab knowledge society lie beyond Towards Productive Intercommunication the means of individual Arab states and for Knowledge has laid the foundation make plain the necessity of mastering and for a practical treatment of this issue deploying modern technology through based on properly documented facts and cooperation both within Arab countries and a realistic view of the building of the with their regional and global partners. knowledge society. We look forward to The Report also touches on the subject future reports that treat, through research of the innovation that, in reinforcing and more profound study, the chief all that helps humankind transcend elements along the path to the building of obstacles and constraints, enriches both the hoped-for knowledge society; from the the emotions and the mind. It is made firm grounding of enabling environments clear that the concept of innovation and the transfer and indigenisation of sanctioned in the Report goes beyond the knowledge to its optimal deployment in significations of the term “inventiveness,” the service of human development. which is linked fundamentally to the purely Space will allow me here to do no more technical field and its tools, to embrace the than express my thanks and appreciation Arab particularities of innovation in the to all those who shared in the realisation of arts, literature, and the human and social this report, including the writers, advisers, sciences. The Report presents a set of coordinators, and editing teams, as well proposals on how to instigate innovation as the work teams at both the United and tie it in to the various fields of Nations Development Programme and production. the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum The select group of thinkers and Foundation. It also gives me special scholars from all parts of the Arab region pleasure to express my gratitude to His who have participated in the writing of Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid this report justly acknowledge that their Al Maktoum for his help and support for various proposals, which encapsulate a this series of reports on knowledge in the vision for the building of the knowledge Arab region, and to declare my hope that the society in the Arab homeland, favour collaboration between us in all matters that the spirit and the options of human enrich and deepen the Arab knowledge and development. Special weight is given in cultural base and strengthen the outlook the Report to defence of the principle for sustainable human development in the of intercommunication both inside and Arab homeland and the world as a whole outside the region, through partnership will continue. Amat Al Alim Alsoswa Assistant Secretary-General and Assistant Administrator, Regional Director, Regional Bureau for Arab States, United Nations Development Programme IV
  • 8. Report Team (Alphabetically) Advisory Board Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Abdul Monem Saeed, Abdul Rahman al- Rashed, Foundation (MBRF) Adnan Shihab-Eldin, Ahmad Legrouri, Antoine Adel Rashid Al Shared (Vice Chairman and Zahlan, Anwar Gargash, Atif Kubursi, Aziz al- Managing Director), Sultan Lootah (Vice Azmeh, Baqer al-Najjar, Clovis Maksoud, Fahmy President-Employment & Entrepreneurship), Howidy, Farida Allagi, Ziad Fariz, Hani Fahs, Alia Al Muttawa, Janine el-Tal, Marwan Al Kaabi, Hassan Risheh, Hazem el-Beblawi, Hisham Ali Muath Al Wari, Walid Aradi, Wesley Schwalje. bin Ali, Inaam Bayyoud, Issam Rawwas, Maitha al-Shamsi, Malak Zaalouk, Modhi al-Homoud, Translation Mohamed el-Amin el-Tom, Nabeel I. Kassis, Naila Humphrey Davies, Iman Seoudi, Jennifer al-Sellini, Nemir Kirdar, Rafia Ghabash, Sheikha Peterson, Lisa White, Peter Daniel, Raphael Abdulla Al-Misnad, Taher Kanaan, Tarik Yousef. Cohen, Susan Smith Abou-Sheikha. Core Team Editors Kamal Abdul Latif, Mouin Hamza, Arabic: Fayiz Suyyagh Nagla Rizk, Omar Bizri, Ramzi Salama. English: Humphrey Davies Report Director/Coordinator Statistics Expert Ghaith Fariz (UNDP). Mohammed H. Bakir Authors of Background Papers Cover design Abd al-Ilah al-Diwahji, Abd al-Razzaq al-Dawway, Pro Creative Concepts, Cairo, Egypt. Abd al-Salam bin abd al-Ali, Ahmad Abd al-Latif, Research Assistants for the Core Team Al-Arabi al-Wafi, Al-Tahir Labib, Amr al-Armanazi, Dalia Adel Zaki, Dana Abu Shakra, Rula Atweh. Antoine Zahlan, Asif Diyab, Atif Kubursi, Aziz al-Azmeh, Dina Waked, Fahmy Howidi, Fathi Mustafa al-Zayyat, George Tarabishi, Hani Fahs, Hasan al-Sharif, Idris Binsaid, Ilham Kallab, The Lebanese Association for Educational Studies, Muhammad al-Said, Muhammad Arif, Muhammad Imara, Mohammed Bakir, Mahmud Abd al-Fadil, Nabil Ali, Nadir Firjani, Naila al-Sellini, Naomi Sakr, Nawwar Al Awwa, Nur al-Din Afaya, Rafia Ghubash, Ruqayya al-Musaddeq, Sari Hanafi, Said Ismail Ali, Said Yaqtin, Zalfa al-Ayoubi. United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Amat Al Alim Alsoswa (Assistant Secretary- General and Assistant Administrator, Regional Director, RBAS), Adel Abdellatif (Chief, Regional Programmes Division, RBAS), Ghaith Fariz (Report Director/Coordinator), Ahmad Mansur, Caroline Rosberg, Dima Al-Khatib, Deena Abul Fottouh, Madi Musa, Manal Habash, Mary Jreidini, Melissa Esteva, Mohamed Showman, Theodor Murphy. V
  • 9. CONTENTS PREAMBLE 1 Introduction 1 Preliminaries to the Report 2 The dialectics of the Report 2 The topics of the Report 3 The Theoretical Framework: concepts and problematics of the knowledge society (Chapter 1) 4 Arab Knowledge Performance Environments: expanding freedoms and building institutions (Chapter 2) 4 Education and the formation of knowledge capital (Chapter 3) 5 Information and Communications Technologies in the Arab Countries: the pillars and tools of 6 knowledge (Chapter 4) Arab research and innovation performance (Chapter 5) 6 Building the Knowledge Society in the Arab Nation: a vision and a plan (Chapter 6) 7 The Arab nation and the world in 2009 9 The state of human development in the Arab region 9 Concepts and indicators of Arab human development 9 The most important evolutions in Arab human development 9 Governance and the weakness of institutional performance 13 Variables exerting pressure on the Arab knowledge scene 13 War, occupation, internal conflict, and the disruption of knowledge 13 Extremism and its effect on the knowledge society 16 The stagnation of political reform and its effect on the enabling environment for knowledge 17 The world financial crisis: opportunities and challenges for the establishment of the 18 knowledge society Overview of the current knowledge situation in the Arab region 20 CHAPTER 1 27 THE THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK: CONCEPTS AND PROBLEMATICS OF THE KNOWLEDGE SOCIETY Introduction 27 Premises and principles: The knowledge-development-freedom triad 27 The conceptual building blocks 28 From knowledge to knowledge society 28 The development of the concept of knowledge in Arab culture 28 The interaction and intersection of concepts 30 Poles of the knowledge society: the society-economy-technology triad 31 The networked society: the most conspicuous feature of the knowledge society 34 The knowledge society: towards expanding choices for renaissance and development 35 The basic frame of reference for the knowledge society 36 The positivist trend: the quantitative orientation 38 The political modernisation mindset: evoking human rights 39 Problematic issues of the knowledge society 41 The knowledge society and expanding political participation 42 The knowledge society and identity 44 The Arabic language and the challenges of information technology 46 The knowledge society and Arab women 48 Information technologies and virtual spaces 50 VI
  • 10. The knowledge society and the legitimacy of a new ethical code 52 Conclusion 54 CHAPTER 2 59 ARAB KNOWLEDGE PERFORMANCE ENVIRONMENTS: EXPANDING FREEDOMS AND BUILDING INSTITUTIONS Introduction 59 The state of knowledge environments in the Arab world: constraints and pressures 60 Political environments: the paradox of political reform discourse and the decline in freedoms 61 Expanding political participation: the path to knowledge and creativity 61 Continued curbing of public freedoms 64 Freedom of opinion and expression: additional restrictions 64 Arab Media and government hegemony 65 Economic environments: towards responsible freedom and a balanced economy 67 Measuring economic freedoms 68 Toward expanding economic freedoms 68 The oil boom did not foster economic freedom as hoped 70 Media, cultural, and social environments 75 Poverty and social marginalisation 75 Trends towards religious radicalism and intolerance 76 Freedom of intellectual property 77 Global debate, Arab absence 78 Regulating intellectual property in the Arab world: disparity and occasional exaggeration 79 Challenges and opportunities for access to knowledge 81 Opportunities for creative Arab cooperation 81 Summary: Freedoms: A comprehensive cluster or disparate elements? 82 From nurturing environments to supporting institutions 83 Pioneering institutions and shining examples 84 Legislation as the way to support institutionalism 87 On the need for an alternative index: a project in critique and transcendence 89 Peering into the future: Trajectories of the enabling environment 90 CHAPTER 3 97 EDUCATION AND THE FORMATION OF KNOWLEDGE CAPITAL Introduction 97 The general state of knowledge as provided through education in the Arab countries 98 The need to draw an accurate picture of knowledge capital 99 Measuring a society’s knowledge capital 99 Knowledge capital formation by children 101 Quantitative indicators 101 Qualitative indicators 104 Time allocated to school subjects in basic education 104 Quality of knowledge acquired through basic education 105 Knowledge capital formation by youth 107 Quantitative dimensions 107 Qualitative Indicators 110 General secondary education and the formation of knowledge capital by youth 111 Technical secondary education and the formation of knowledge capital by youth 111 The role of higher education in the formation of knowledge capital 112 VII
  • 11. Quantitative indicators 112 Tertiary education and the formation of the specialised knowledge capital needed to meet 114 development needs Distribution of undergraduate and graduate students by discipline 114 Qualifications of graduates 116 Knowledge capital acquired by adults through education 118 Knowledge capital required for participation in the knowledge society 121 Quantitative dimensions 121 Qualitative dimensions 123 Investing in the formation of human knowledge capital through education 123 Spending on education 124 National income and the formation of quantitative knowledge capital 124 National income and qualitative capital formation 126 Educational reform efforts 126 Conclusion 131 CHAPTER 4 143 INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATIONS TECHNOLOGIES IN THE ARAB COUNTRIES: THE PILLARS AND TOOLS OF KNOWLEDGE Introduction 143 ICT in the Arab countries 144 The spread of computers and the internet 144 The Arabic language and the internet 149 Anticipated advances in ICT 151 Technology applications and Arabic digital content 153 Regulatory frameworks 153 The ICT sector in the Arab countries 154 Hardware production or assembly 154 The software industry 155 ICT applications and building the knowledge society 156 E-government services 156 ICT and education 159 E-commerce 162 Technology applications for healthcare 163 Technology and social development 163 Arabic digital content production 165 Arabic language internet content and problematics 167 Technological advance and future initiatives 171 Conclusion 173 CHAPTER 5 181 ARAB PERFORMANCE IN RESEARCH AND INNOVATION Introduction 181 Innovation and the knowledge economy 181 The correlation between Gross Domestic Product and innovation in the Arab region 183 Demographics and the challenge of inclusion of youth 183 Science and technology policies 184 Arab initiatives and strategies 185 The production and dissemination of scientific knowledge 185 VIII
  • 12. Partnership with the private sector 186 The reality of Arab research centres 186 The capacity of research centres for innovation 189 The performance of Arab researchers 190 Science research funding in the Arab world 192 The outputs of Arab scientific research 196 Global engagement 199 Social science policies and artistic innovation 201 Social science research 202 The Arabic language and innovation 203 Literary and artistic innovation 204 The innovation gap and its indicators in the current state of Arab knowledge 206 The innovation gap 206 Flight of human capital 207 The social and economic impact of innovation 209 The dissemination of knowledge and innovation 211 Boosting Arab research and innovation performance 212 CHAPTER 6 219 BUILDING THE KNOWLEDGE SOCIETY IN THE ARAB WORLD: A VISION AND A PLAN Introduction 219 The Arab knowledge gap: deficits and holes 219 The knowledge gap can be overcome 223 A proposed vision for building the knowledge society 225 Principles and foundations for movement towards the construction of the knowledge society 225 in the Arab world Broadening the scope of freedom 225 Positive interaction with the growing needs of society 226 Openness and intercommunication 227 Proposed axes of action for the creation of the knowledge society 227 The first axis: the creation of enabling environments 228 The second axis: the transfer and indigenisation of knowledge 228 The third axis: deployment of knowledge 229 Axes and bases: intersection and interaction 229 Aspects of action towards building the components of the knowledge society 230 Action in the area of the enabling environment 230 Action in the field of transfer and indigenisation of the knowledge society 232 Action to deploy knowledge 235 Towards a new mechanism to measure Arab knowledge 237 The Arab knowledge index 237 Conclusion 238 REFERENCES 241 ANNEX 1. LIST OF BACKGROUND PAPERS (AUTHOR NAME; PAPER TITLE) 251 ANNEX 2. PROJECT FOR A DATABASE ON KNOWLEDGE IN THE ARAB REGION 253 ANNEX 3. MEASUREMENT OF THE ARAB COUNTRIES’ KNOWLEDGE ECONOMY 257 (BASED ON THE METHODOLOGY OF THE WORLD BANK) IX
  • 13. LIST OF BOXES Box 1 The Effect of the Financial Crisis on Development Funding 19 Box 1-1 The Concept of Knowledge 28 Box 1-2 “Knowledge” in al-Tahanawi’s “The Terminology of the Arts” 29 Box 1-3 A Linguistic Perspective on “Knowledge” 30 Box 1-4 The Power of Knowledge 34 Box 1-5 Building the Information Society: a global challenge in the new millennium 40 Box 1-6 Knowledge in an Age of Globalisation 44 Box 1-7 Cultural and Linguistic Diversity and Local Cultural Identities 45 Box 1-8 Women’s Freedom is a Key to Many Doors 48 Box 1-9 The Virtual as Interrogation of the Actual 50 Box 1-10 The Genome, a New Triumph for Knowledge 53 Box 2-1 The Contradictory Nature of Economic Freedom Indicators 72 Box 2-2 Towards Productive Intercommunication for Knowledge: Translation in the Age of al-Ma’mun 85 Box 2-3 The Legal Framework for the European Union 88 Box 3-1 The Aims of Education for All 101 Box 3-2 Oman’s New Plan for Education 106 Box 3-3 The Growing Numbers of Universities in the Arab Region 108 Box 3-4 The knowledge students should acquire: the contemporary French approach 112 Box 3-5 Expansion in General and Technical Secondary Education in Bahrain and 113 its Impact on Female Enrolment Box 3-6 More PhDs Needed as University Teachers 114 Box 3-7 The Educational Level of Saudi Arabians 118 Box 3-8 The Contribution of Non-Public Schools to Education in the Arab Region 127 Box 3-9 Human Capital Formation to Meet the Needs of Instruction and Pedagogy 128 Box 3-10 The Lebanese Association for Educational Studies: a model for national and pan-Arab 130 networking for the development of educational knowledge Box 4-1 Open Source Software and Educational Content 160 Box 4-2 Evaluating the Performance of Projects to Network Educational Institutions 161 Box 4-3 ICT and Local Development: Examples from Arab countries 164 Box 4-4 ICT Incubators and Arabic Digital Content 165 Box 4-5 Arabic Language Processing Systems: machine translation, grammar checking, and searching 168 Box 4-6 Digital Content in Entertainment and the Media 169 Box 4-7 Preserving Tradition through Digitalisation 170 Box 5-1 Official Arab Initiatives for Invigorating Research and Development 184 Box 5-2 A Policy for Science, Technology, and Innovation in Lebanon 185 Box 5-3 Expenditure on Research and Development 187 Box 5-4 Pioneering Arab Innovators in Genetic Science 191 Box 5-5 The Ten Commandments for Researchers in Low-income States 191 Box 5-6 Jordan’s “A Professor in Every Factory” 194 Box 5-7 The European Growth Strategy 195 Box 5-8 ICARDA 196 Box 5-9 Arab Innovators in Architecture and Music 205 Box 5-10 Knowledge Transfer via Migrant Scientists 208 Box 5-11 Corporate Funding of Research and Development 209 Box 6-1 Rationalist Critique and Historical Vision 224 Box 6-2 The Legitimacy of Ambition 227 Box 6-3 The Indigenisation of Science 234 Box 6-4 Scientific Progress and Social Progress 236 X
  • 14. LIST OF FIGURES Figure 1 Decline in human poverty rates by country (per cent): 1996-2007 11 Figure 2 Unemployment rate among Arab youth (A) and their share in total unemployment (B) 12 (per cent) in 2005/2006 Figure 1-1 The poles of the knowledge society 33 Figure 2-1 Press freedom in the Arab countries, 2008 62 Figure 2-2 Perceptions of corruption in the Arab World 2008 62 Figure 2-3 Perceptions of corruption 2003-2008 63 Figure 2-4 Distribution of Economic Freedom in Arab Countries, 2009 69 Figure 2-5 Average economic freedom index for seventeen Arab countries 69 Figure 2-6 Heritage economic freedom index for 2009, Arab countries-comparison countries 71 Figure 2-7 Fraser Institute index of economic freedom of Arab countries vs. comparison countries 72 Figure 2-8 Index of global competitiveness for Arab countries 73 Figure 2-9 Average growth of per capita GDP 74 Figure 2-10 Net exports of manufactured goods in Arab countries 75 Figure 3-1 Education and human resources index for Arab Countries (most recent statistical period 99 compared to 1995) Figure 3-2 Basic knowledge capital formation opportunities for children in Arab countries against 104 per capita GDP Figure 3-3 Advanced knowledge capital formation opportunites for Arab youth against per capita GDP 110 Figure 3-4 Adult knowledge capital acquired through education in Arab countries against per capita GDP 120 Figure 3-5 Actual (or expected) knowledge capital formed through education among different age groups 122 in Arab countries against per capita GDP Figure 3-6a Maths performance of eighth-year students in Arab countries against per capita GDP 125 Figure 3-6b Math performance of eighth-year students in Arab countries against per capita GDP 125 (excluding Dubai) Figure 3-7 Science performance of eighth-year students in Arab countries against per capita GDP 126 (excluding Dubai) Figure 4-1 ICT index values for Arab countries and selected groups of non-Arab countries 145 (1995, most recent statistics with + and – change values) Figure 4-2 Number of computers per 1,000 inhabitants, Arab region, and selected groups of 145 non-Arab countries Figure 4-3 Internet users – Arab world, world, and selected non-Arab country groups by per 146 capita GDP Figure 4-4 Bandwidth of global internet access for the Arab World and selected non-Arab country groups 147 Figure 4-5 Price basket for internet (in US dollars per month) in some Arab countries, worldwide, 148 and in selected non-Arab groups of countries by income Figure 4-6 Language access to internet and ratio of speakers to total internet users 148 Figure 4-7 Growth of languages on the internet 2000-2008 150 Figure 4-8 Availability of e-government services (2006 values) 158 Figure 4-9 Change in business internet use plotted against per capita income in some Arab countries 162 and worldwide Figure 4-10 Paper consumption worldwide and in some Arab countries by per capita GDP 166 Figure 4-11 Paper consumption and internet use worldwide and in some Arab countries, 2004-2005 167 Figure 5-1 Innovation system index for the most recent period in comparison to 1995 182 Figure 5-2 Innovation and development 182 Figure 5-3 Per capita GDP and the innovation system index 183 Figure 5-4 Arab-international cooperation in scientific dissemination, 2004 187 Figure 5-5 Arab participation in the European Union’s Sixth Framework Programme (2002-2006) 195 Figure 5-6 Number of scientific papers published in the Arab region 197 XI
  • 15. Figure 5-7 Published scientific articles according to specialisation (1998-2007), based on Table5-7 198 Figure 5-8 Scientific impact of Arab publications 199 Figure 5-9 Percentage of Arabic language-use in research papers published in the Maghreb, 1980-2007 203 Figure 5-10Languages used in human and social science research publications in the Maghreb, 2007 203 Figure 6-1 Mechanism for movement towards the Arab knowledge society 226 Figure 6-2 Priorities for action to build the elements of the knowledge society in the Arab world 231 Figure 6-3 Priorities for action to build the elements of the knowledge society in the Arab world 233 Figure 6-4 Priorities for action to build the elements of the knowledge society in the Arab world 235 Figure A-1 The Knowledge Economy Index for the Arab countries 259 Figure A-2 Normalised values for indicators concerning knowledge for the Arab countries, the G7, 261 and the world Figure A-3 Index values for the pillars of the knowledge economy for the Arab countries, the G7, 262 and the world Figure A-4 The latest KEI compared to 1995 262 LIST OF TABLES Table 1 Human development indicators for the Arab countries (2001 versus 2006) 9 Table 2 Population and GDP per capita in Arab countries (2008, projections) 10 Table 3 Incidence of extreme poverty in a sample of Arab countries 11 Table 4 The employment challenge: projected numbers of new jobs required 13 Table 2-1 Arab Countries that realised positive reforms in the field of business, 2007-2008 70 Table 2-2 Arab Countries according to their ties to trade agreements and intellectual property 79 Table 2-3 Rights and responsibilities of Arab members in the World Trade Organisation in the field of 80 copyright and access to knowledge Table 3-1 Opportunities for basic knowledge capital formation in children through education in 2005 103 (per cent) Table 3-2 Opportunities for the formation of knowledge capital by youth (ages 15-24) in Arab countries, 109 2005 (per cent) Table 3-3 Comparison of overall results of students in Arab countries and students in USA on the 117 business administration test Table 3-4 Comparison of overall results of students in Arab countries and students in USA on the 117 computer science test Table 3-5 Estimated knowledge capital acquired through education among adults (25 to 50 years) 119 in Arab countries in 2008 (per cent) Table 3-6 Summary of estimated quantitative capital obtained through education for the different age 121 strata of Arab societies in 2005 (per cent) Table 4-1 Top ten languages used on the net (number of internet users by language) 149 Table 4-2 Readiness of Arab countries to adopt e-government applications 157 Table 4-3 Readiness to adopt e-government applications in some comparable countries 157 Table 5-1 The quality of Arab research institutions 189 Table 5-2 Ranking of Arab countries in the Assimilation of Technology index (out of 134 countries) 189 Table 5-3 The number of researchers in the Arab region 190 Table 5-4 Expenditure on research in the Arab region 193 Table 5-5 Expenditure on research and development and percentage contributions from private and 193 public sectors in comparison countries Table 5-6 Number of scientific publications in selected Arab Countries 197 Table 5-7 Number of scientific articles published in the Arab world, 1998-2007 198 Table 5-8 Arab-international cooperation in scientific publishing 199 Table 5-9 Patents registration with the USPTO by seven Arab countries 201 Table 5-10 Sizes of cinema audiences and numbers of cinema screens, 2004-2005 205 Table 5-11 Human capital flight index 209 XII
  • 16. Table 5-12Trade in technological products 210 Table A-1 Indicators of the knowledge economy index for the Arab countries 257 Table A-2 Knowledge Economy Index for the Arab countries compared to other countries 258 Table A-3 Economic performance and KEI indicators for the Arab countries compared with 260 the world’s geographic regions Table A-4 Availability of knowledge indicators for the Arab countries included by the World Bank 264 STATISTICAL ANNEX 271 LIST OF FIGURES Figure b-1 Growth in average total number of telephone lines (fixed and mobile) 306 per thousand people plotted against per capita income for the world’s states, some Arab states, and selected groups of states Figure b-2 Growth in average number of fixed telephone lines per thousand people 307 plotted against per capita income for the world’s states, some Arab states, and selected groups of states Figure b-3 Growth in average number of mobile phone lines per thousand of population 307 plotted against per capita income for the world’s states, some Arab states, and selected groups of states LIST OF TABLES Table 1 Total population, population growth, and proportion of children in the Arab region 271 Table 2 Human Development Indices 272 Table 3 Economic Indicators 273 Table 4 World Bank Knowledge Economy Index (most recent compared to 1995) 274 Table 5 Relationship of Arab market competitiveness with knowledge production 2008 275 Table 6 Worldwide governance indicators in the Arab region and comparison countries 2007 276 Table 7 Press Freedom Index in the Arab region 2008 277 Table 8 World Bank Economic Incentive and Institutional Regime Index 278 (most recent compared to 1995) Table 9 Adult literacy rates by gender in the Arab states 1980 and 2005 279 Table 10 Gross enrolment ratio in secondary education in the Arab states by gender, 1980 and 2006 280 Table 11 Gross enrolment ratios in tertiary education in the Arab states by gender, 1980 and 2005 281 Table 12 World Bank Education and Human Resources Index (KAM) 282 (most recent compared to 1995) Table 13 Adult illiterate population and children (of primary school age) out of school in 283 the Arab countries by gender 2007 (or closest two years) Table 14 Regional literacy rates and gross enrolment in primary and the upper stage of 284 basic education 2007 (or the closest two years) in the Arab region and the other regions of the world Table 15 Ratios of gross enrolment in upper secondary and tertiary education and 284 average school life expectancy in the Arab countries and the other regions of the world 2006 (or the closest two years) Table 16 Net and gross enrolment in primary education and proportion of over-age pupils 285 for this stage 2006 Table 17 Gross enrolment ratios in upper stage of basic education by gender, average school 286 life expectancy, and number of years of compulsory education around the year 2005 Table 18 Lessons in basic education devoted to each subject as a proportion of all lessons (per cent) 287 Table 19 Time devoted to education in the two stages of basic education in the Arab states 288 Table 20 Literacy rates among young people (15-24 years of age) and gross enrolment in 289 upper secondary education by gender 2005 XIII
  • 17. Table 21 Time devoted to secondary education in the Arab states 290 Table 22 Evolution of enrolment rates in vocational and technical secondary education in the 291 Arab states from 1970 till 2005 (per cent) Table 23 Enrolment in tertiary education by level of study around 2005 (per cent) 292 Table 24 Student enrolment rates in tertiary education by field of specialisation 2005 (per cent) 293 Table 25 Number of specialists in the health fields in the Arab states 2005 (per thousand people) 294 Table 26 Distribution of graduates of tertiary education by field of specialisation around 2005 295 Table 27 School life expectancy in the Arab states from 1970 to 1990 (in years) 296 Table 28 Estimated educational level of people aged 25-50 in the Arab states 2005 297 Table 29 Government expenditure on education in the Arab countries in the five years 2002-2006 298 Table 30 Enrolment rates in non-government schools at pre-university educational stages in the Arab 299 countries 2005 (per cent) Table 31 Number of students from some Arab countries in the US before and after the events of 300 September 2001 Table 32 Number of patents granted in the US in 2007 and spending on research and development 301 Table 33 World Bank Innovation System Index (most recent compared to 1995) 302 Table 34 Indicators on research and development activity and innovation in the Arab countries 303 and other country groups Table 35 World Bank indicators for the Innovation System Index 304 Table a-1 World Bank ICT Index (most recent compared with 1995) 305 Table c-1 Classification of the Arab countries according to some indicators of ICT infrastructure. 309 Table c-2 Classification of the Arab countries according to internet use, access cost, and bandwidth 310 Table c-3 Ranking of some Arab countries according to networked readiness index (2008/2009) 310 Table c-4 Ranking of a group of Arab countries according to some criteria related to ICT policy 311 for 2008/2009 Table c-5 The Global Competitiveness Index and rank for some Arab states with respect to selected 311 pillars, 2008/2009 XIV
  • 18. PREAMBLE Introduction Arab world may be overcome. Subsequent reports will cast further light, from other The Arab Knowledge Report 2009 examines perspectives and analytical approaches, on the current state of Arab knowledge. It the state of Arab knowledge with the aim derives its legitimacy from the pressing need of developing knowledge performance for information about knowledge performance and so bringing about the realisation of in the region at a time when the importance the knowledge society in the Arab region. of knowledge for the realisation of the many The Report starts with the view that new prospects it has opened up for all areas of the literature of research into knowledge Chief among the society is increasing. and its various trajectories is in its infancy. reasons for the An analytical approach to the evolution The approach thus targets two poles. current Arab interest of knowledge and the knowledge revolution The first is theoretical and provides the in establishing the witnessed by the world at the end of the last conceptual and philosophical foundations knowledge society and the beginning of this century is new to upon which the Report depends. The the agendas of the relevant national and second concerns itself with some of the is the desire not international research institutions. Chief among formative components of the different to miss out on the the numerous reasons for the current Arab domains of knowledge in the Arab reality, anticipated effects interest in the subject is the desire not to miss thus permitting diagnosis and measurement of the knowledge out on the anticipated effects of the knowledge of the size of the existing knowledge revolution and revolution and to be alert to the roles it plays gaps. This preamble will summarise the in generating progress, whether on the political, major sections of the Report, namely, the to be alert to the economic, or social level. preliminaries to the Report, the dialectical roles it plays in issues, and the topics of the Report. generating progress, Today’s knowledge revolution and the different Before considering the arrangement of whether on the material and symbolic effects it has generated the Report’s content, we should point out have opened up new possibilities to develop political, economic, human livelihoods and strengthen the efforts that the task alternates between considering or social level to increase forms of knowledge that contribute innovations associated with the knowledge towards the achievement of human welfare. society in countries that have already entered the latter’s portals, and the state of knowledge in the Arab countries, with all This report on knowledge in the Arab its gaps and deficits. In all its chapters, the region is one of a series whose object is aim of the Report is to produce a diagnosis to open up a diversity of avenues by which that reveals the status of Arab knowledge. to approach the status of knowledge and At the same time, it attempts to sketch in speculate on the means and requirements general terms aspects of the triumphs and for a renaissance in the Arab nation. gains of knowledge and the horizons it has Because the project is a large one, this first opened up for human societies. Given the report offers a general introduction to the dearth of data and absence of regional and state of the Arab knowledge society and national monitoring bodies issuing reliable its components. It also attempts to sketch information and statistics, the Report has the major features of a vision of how scrutinised the data from international some aspects of the knowledge gap in the organisations and in so doing has generated PREAMBLE 1
  • 19. an internal debate that aspires to build and In the Name of God, the Merciful, the develop Arab knowledge performance. Compassionate The Report has been careful to make Recite: In the name of thy Lord who created, use of available data and to evaluate the created man of a blood-clot. Recite: And thy Lord is Most Generous, who taught by the pen, growth of the nuclei of an Arab knowledge taught Man that which he knew not. society. It has also been keen to come to The Holy Qur’an, Surat al-‘Alaq (The Blood-clot)* grips with the major problems that afflict knowledge in our societies, whether in The knowledge research, education, or the use of the Given the novelty of the subject and of field and revolution new technological mediums that underlie the horizons it is unceasingly opening today form an today’s knowledge networks. up in the various fields of knowledge, Crucial to the Report is the idea that the Report seeks to work on two fronts: a avenue for reform the local and particular should be taken as description of the state of knowledge in the in the Arab world the starting point for speculation about the Arab world and a sketch of some aspirations universal and worldwide generalisation of to overcome the flaws observed. The gains in knowledge. This concern is not the Report thus combines the identification result of any desire to deny the universal of the faults in knowledge performance gains in knowledge but has been adopted with the formulation of defined proposals, because it supports the indigenisation which, when implemented, will help to fill and reproduction of these gains. The some of those gaps. goal is to achieve creative participation in them and transcending the various aspects of knowledge commoditisation and The Report starts with the principle of the right to knowledge, which it considers non-negotiable, consumption. especially in an Arab world most of which still Another dominating idea forms part suffers from knowledge and digital illiteracy. of this Report: that the knowledge field Knowledge is also perceived of as a tool and an and revolution today form an avenue for outcome of development. The Report links the right to knowledge and development to hopes reform in the Arab world. Hence, the for renaissance and enlightenment. It takes Report’s conception of knowledge has innovation to be the means to reinforce all that been broadened to include the spirit of may aid humanity to overcome the obstacles Knowledge is knowledge, and thus its enlightenment and constraints it faces. The linking of these principles allows some of the Report’s chapters freedom, and and development dimensions. In doing to take on a composite character. Taken together, as such a path so, it seeks to transcend those views of the Report’s chapters assume that the Arab knowledge that emphasise technological historical regression in the domain of knowledge that requires can be overcome, when the ambition to do so further honing and quantitative indicators, overlooking is present, and when there is the political will to the fact that knowledge is freedom, and as provide the resources needed to build enabling of the creative such a path that requires further honing environments and institutions capable of guiding mechanisms of of the creative mechanisms of human knowledge evolution and transforming its gains into comprehensive human development. human intelligence intelligence. PRELIMINARIES TO THE REPORT THE DIALECTICS OF THE REPORT The Report’s chapters are open-ended in structure and attempt to take stock of The Report discusses a number of arguments, existing conditions. This supposes that combining description and observation, subsequent reports will contemplate and highlighting contradictions and defined questions, a specific knowledge paradoxes. At the same time, it exercises index, or one of the issues of the care in making judgements and adopting knowledge performance improvement in positions. The Report attempts to free itself the Arab region. from the purely economic perspective on 2 ARAB KNOWLEDGE REPORT 2009
  • 20. knowledge and from the consequences of opening up to the gains accrued by the a technologically determinist viewpoint. contemporary revolutions in knowledge. Equally, it tries to highlight the breadth of the concepts of both the knowledge THE TOPICS OF THE REPORT society and innovation. In these choices, the Report is always conscious of the The Report comprises a preamble and need–at times openly, at others implicitly, six chapters. The preamble examines the expressed–to seek a knowledge society contextualisation of the Report, placing it that is in harmonious interaction with among developments lately witnessed in the Arab social environment, for the the state of human development in the The Report frees fundamental goal of knowledge is the Arab region. It reviews the main challenges itself from the service of humanity, its revitalisation, and that have succeeded one another on the purely economic the transcendence of the problems that regional political and economic scene and perspective on limit its potential for self-liberation. highlights their pressures and impacts on Arab knowledge performance. It knowledge and from Knowledge and the pen are far stronger than any also deals with the global financial crisis the consequences other force. that intensified at the end of 2008 and of a technologically Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum beginning of 2009 and its effects on the determinist knowledge society and repercussions for viewpoint the Arab situation. The preamble also One of the chief points of contention offers a perspective on the outcome that the Report strives to make apparent of reform in the region following the is that of knowledge’s relationship to inception in Arab thinking, at the onset of freedom, modernisation and the fostering the third millennium, of third-generation1 of human dignity. When some of the concepts of reform. Report’s chapters defend the importance of Because the task of the preamble goes freedom, institutions, and legislation, they no further than an indication of the most have the aforesaid principles in mind as keys significant challenges in the Arab reality to the creation of a climate of rationality and their link to fields of knowledge, and proportionality. Such a climate should attention is given to the continuing US open the door to accountability, oversight, intervention in Iraq and the resulting The Report defends auditing, transparency, and all the other situation within Iraqi society. The Report the principle of values needed to lay the foundations for a also examines the continuing Israeli intercommunication modern knowledge society. occupation of the Palestinian Territories, with the world The Report also reviews contentious shedding light on its negative implications issues linked to identity, such as language for the establishment of the knowledge while not neglecting reform. In so doing, it seeks to highlight society. its original the pressing nature of this issue in the hope Nor does the Report neglect to deal with starting point of that the Arabic language will survive to the problems raised by extremist trends intercommunication provide an effective and responsive vehicle within Arab society and their relationship with the self for the gains made by the new knowledge to knowledge, trends that are inclined not technologies. The Report also defends to recognise the Other and that give their the principle of intercommunication with stamp of approval to a one-dimensional the world while not neglecting its original and closed logic. These trends of thought starting point of intercommunication with have considerable impact on the climate of the self. This can only be achieved through freedom, which is considered a reinforcing the correction of the shortcomings of element necessary for the construction of the self in such a way as to provide it with the knowledge society. the capability for productive and effective The preamble also devotes a summary intercommunication with the world. section to a rapid overview of the state of This argument falls under the heading of knowledge over recent years and presents PREAMBLE 3
  • 21. some of the knowledge indicators to be technology (ICT), the knowledge treated in detail in the following chapters. economy, and the networked society, The Report’s analyses and conclusions are with the object of highlighting the based on events and available data and philosophical perspectives that stand information up to the end of the first behind these designations. Two primary quarter of 2009. frames of reference emerge as a result of The six topics of the Report are these processes of investigation and arranged as follows: construction. The first takes aspects The literature on of positivism, particularly in its most human rights places THE THEORETICAL strident manifestation of technological the discourse of the FRAMEWORK: CONCEPTS determinism, as its reference. The second knowledge society AND PROBLEMATICS OF THE frame of reference is laid bare by the rights at the heart of the KNOWLEDGE SOCIETY concepts that find their backing in the (CHAPTER 1) diverse literature on human rights, which calls for political places the discourse of the knowledge modernisation This chapter contains four main axes. The society at the heart of the calls for political first treats the foundations and origins modernisation. directing the mechanisms of understanding The chapter concludes with a fourth axis and imagination. The second axis treats the which treats the chief problematics of the formulation of the concepts, scrutinising knowledge society, whether in its universal the concept of the knowledge society and dimensions or in aspects specifically attempting to delineate the boundaries that linked to the knowledge transformations have been drawn up to delimit its various underway in Arab society. This section significations. This section also attempts to develops a dialectic that alludes both to construct an operational definition based aspects of these problematics and at the on the results of the various chapters of same time to their potential horizons, in the Report. This should be seen as a first the context of the developments taking attempt to view the foundations of the place in the knowledge society. concept from the perspective of the actual needs and ambitions of Arab society in the ARAB KNOWLEDGE field of knowledge. The chapter examines PERFORMANCE the different significations of the concept ENVIRONMENTS: in contemporary knowledge discourse, EXPANDING FREEDOMS with special attention paid to those current AND BUILDING INSTITUTIONS in international reports. This process of (CHAPTER 2) constructing a specific definition aims to avoid a complacent acceptance of current While Chapter 1 is concerned with the wisdom. This is particularly necessary general theoretical framework of the The oil boom given the complex nature and the depth of knowledge society, this chapter deals has not boosted the Arab knowledge gap, which requires with the conditions needed to enable economic freedoms us to draw upon the state of knowledge the development of knowledge in the in the Arab region in the world and in the Arab region to Arab world. Thus the two chapters are formulate a definition that corresponds complementary in more ways than one. to, and harmonises with, Arab specificities Chapter 2, using a set of lines of inquiry or and ambitions. axes, and using examples from the political The third axis of the chapter examines and economic, as well as the social, cultural, the theoretical norms and frames of and media environments, highlights the reference which form the starting pressures and restrictions that prevent point for the construction of concepts the formation of a nurturing and holistic synonymous with the knowledge society, environment for the requirements of the such as information and communications knowledge society. 4 ARAB KNOWLEDGE REPORT 2009
  • 22. In the course of its speculation creation) on the other. The topic allows us to about the political environment framing speculate about the role of education in the knowledge, the chapter displays concern generalisation of knowledge. It also provides over the reversal of freedoms in the Arab an opportunity to deal with educational tools region. Likewise, in its analysis of the and the function of education with regard economic environment, it touches upon to cognitive and social development and the continuing absence of freedoms in allows us to deal with broader relationship the economic sphere, making clear that between education and knowledge capital Continued the oil boom has not boosted economic and among that capital, the market, and the poverty and social freedoms. The chapter also alludes to the deployment of education in the service of marginalisation situation regarding intellectual property liberation and development. Additionally, exacerbate the rights, clarifying Arab progress and education occupies a special position in the shortcomings weakness in this field. In the area of lives of individuals and communities due to culture, Chapter 2 deals with restrictions the length of time those individuals spend in the enabling on knowledge and the rise of extremist in educational institutions, to the ongoing environment religious tendencies. On the social level, regeneration and accumulation occurring of the desired it points out that continued poverty and in the various fields of knowledge and to knowledge society social marginalisation exacerbate the the role played by education in preparing shortcomings in the enabling environment, individuals to join the labor market the supposed catalyst for knowledge. equipped with productive and innovative Using all these elements, the chapter works skills. to shed light on many of the restraints In the knowledge society, the importance and restrictions that lay siege to the hope of education has grown thanks to the for a renaissance in the Arab knowledge amazing technologies that have come to situation. In doing so, the chapter views be deployed in that field. We have come freedom as an engine of knowledge to talk about distance learning, collective whose absence leads to a deepening of the laboratories, educational technologies that knowledge gaps. create virtual spaces, and technologies On another axis, the chapter discusses that give lessons, examinations, and the institutions, legislations, and various qualifications online. These may not, mechanisms for review, oversight, and however, reflect very closely the reality accountability that ensure the guidance and of education in the Arab region, where, support required to establish the knowledge in many of these countries, universal society. On a final axis, the chapter then education is yet to be achieved and where deals with the different trajectories of Arab illiteracy rates for adults, children, and enabling environments and makes it clear young people remain a challenge. The that the only way to enter the knowledge requirements of the knowledge society In several Arab society and qualify Arab society to produce in terms of quality of education, the use countries illiteracy and create knowledge is by laying the of up-to-date technology in teaching, rates for adults, foundations for these environments. and the creation of networks for the new children, and young education are part of Arab reality in only people remain EDUCATION AND THE some countries, where they exist in the FORMATION OF KNOWLEDGE shape of pioneering experiments that a challenge CAPITAL (CHAPTER 3) are difficult to generalise, at least for the moment. When we add to all the preceding Consideration of the relationship of the content of education, the training of education to the knowledge society raises manpower, the reality of the universities many issues, given the link between and their graduates, and the state of education and upbringing on the one side scientific research, we find ourselves faced and knowledge acquisition (followed by with a range of complex topics that cannot knowledge production and knowledge easily be confronted all together. PREAMBLE 5
  • 23. Aware of the thorniness of the subject, that have eliminated obstacles of time the chapter pays attention to the pivotal and place (for example, through internet issue of Arab knowledge capital as it is built services) and have become essential tools up in and by schools and universities. In for the increased use and expansion of the order to define the nature of this capital, the various spheres of knowledge and their first part of the chapter reviews the general deployment. These technologies have landscape of knowledge acquired through become the convenient and easy way to education in the Arab region. In its second obtain knowledge and have been widely part, which forms the main body of the applied in life’s various realms, including chapter, it turns, through the study of a set the economy, management and education, of quantitative and qualitative indicators, thus demonstrating how far they have Arabic is to how knowledge capital is developed. penetrated society. technologically These indicators are based on a three-part The chapter thus deals with the presence poor in comparison division into children, young people, and of ICT in the Arab countries, by attempting adults. Starting with the available data, the to showcase current applications and their with the languages chapter presents a map which elucidates limits. It reviews examples from the fields dominating the nature, deficits, and paradoxes of of education, business, healthcare, and the ICT field knowledge capital and clarifies the areas social development, clarifying the existing of distinction, difference, and similarity gaps in these applications, and highlighting between the Arab countries at the different gains achieved. stages of education. The third part of the On another axis, the chapter devotes chapter, while revealing the limitations of attention to the challenges confronting this capital and highlighting some gaps and Arabic digital content by contemplating barriers that still prevent it from attaining its comparative weakness in the global the knowledge society, deals with the kind context. The chapter concerns itself with of knowledge capital appropriate for entry how the Arabic language can be developed into the knowledge society. in order to make it capable of acting as a vehicle and medium to produce knowledge INFORMATION AND that conforms to the requirements of Arab COMMUNICATIONS reality. On this point in particular, mention TECHNOLOGIES IN THE ARAB is made of the technological poverty of The Report intends COUNTRIES: THE PILLARS Arabic in comparison with the languages to measure the AND TOOLS OF KNOWLEDGE dominating the ICT field. Attention is also degree to which the (CHAPTER 4) drawn to the importance of developing the tools of the language to render it Arabs have entered While Chapters 1 and 2 direct attention to capable of constructing digital content, the knowledge the theoretical frameworks and preparatory which will expand Arab gains in this field. society taking as a and supportive environments for the In conclusion, the chapter formulates starting point their knowledge society and Chapter 3 examines initiatives to overcome some of the levels of ICT access the subject of education (one of the most obstacles which, in the Arab environment, and acquisition important of the latter’s pillars), Chapter 4 is prevent widespread access to, and use and concerned with the technology pillar, which development of, ICT. today occupies such a significant position in terms of knowledge development and ARAB RESEARCH AND information acquisition. The chapter INNOVATION PERFORMANCE intends to measure the degree to which the (CHAPTER 5) Arabs have entered the knowledge society, taking as a starting point their levels of In Chapter 5, the Report investigates the ICT access and acquisition. topic of innovation in Arab knowledge, The chapter highlights the triumphs of starting with an attempt to broaden the ICT in assembling knowledge networks indicators used in some international 6 ARAB KNOWLEDGE REPORT 2009
  • 24. reports, which equate this concept in acknowledgment is made of the differing general with technical scientific innovation. levels of knowledge performance in In these reports, levels of innovation the Arab countries. Any cooperative are measured in terms of numbers of policy would have the power to deploy discoveries in the applied sciences and resources in diverse and complementary technology and quantity of patents applied fashion among the Arab countries and for. Other areas of knowledge such as the thus strengthen the possibility of creating humanities, the social sciences, and artistic a common Arab enabling environment. creativity, are overlooked, despite their However difficult this may look today in important role as a space for innovation view of the absence of coordination and and creative synthesis. cooperation, the existence of a political On its first axis, this chapter highlights will capable of developing an Arabic science and technology policies in the perspective on knowledge and creativity, Imagination, affect, Arab world through observations on the once in place, will make it possible. and values, are, diffusion and production of scientific loci of innovation knowledge and consideration of the data BUILDING THE KNOWLEDGE on Arab research centres. The issue of SOCIETY IN THE ARAB scientific research funding in the Arab NATION: A VISION AND A PLAN region is also addressed. The second (CHAPTER 6) axis of the chapter moves on to Arab policies towards the humanities, the social The previous chapters of the Report have sciences, and artistic creativity, going here aimed to describe, observe, and investigate beyond current indicators to include the state of Arab knowledge and the research discoveries in the humanities nature of Arab knowledge performance. and social sciences, as well as the role of They have carried out this task using a the arts in synthesising innovations linked two-pronged approach. The first prong to imagination and affect. The plastic outlines the current features of Arab arts, and creative works in literature, knowledge based on available data and the theatre, and cinema have in turn the records major critical remarks related to capacity to produce creativity which the absence of an Arab monitoring body enriches the emotions and fecundates to monitor evolution in the state of Arab The Report the memory. This shifts the concept of knowledge. The second prong introduces formulates a vision innovation and scientific research from a speculation on how to develop Arab and action plan quantitative and mathematical mindset to knowledge performance with regard to the to respond to one characterised by imagination, affect, topics of the different chapters. and values, which, while difficult to In its conclusion, the Report formulates the knowledge quantify are, equally and undeniably, loci a vision and action plan to respond to the gaps that have of innovation. knowledge gaps that have been identified. been identified The third axis of this chapter observes This plan creates a form of proposal that, the manifestations of the creativity gap if adopted, at least in spirit, will lead to the within the present Arab knowledge closing of some aspects of the knowledge situation. It approaches this gap by gap and to the exploitation by Arab examining the social and economic returns society of the knowledge gains needed of innovation and the Arab brain drain, to support its efforts for renaissance and while also dealing forthrightly with the development. importance of intermediate migration This chapter does not fall into the within the Arab countries, which expands trap of sketching ‘what must be done’ and contracts in the absence of any clear and of resorting to fanciful exhortations policy aimed at integration. The chapter that underplay the distance between demonstrates how the importance the knowledge society in the advanced of Arab cooperation increases when nations and the realities of knowledge PREAMBLE 7
  • 25. marginalisation in the Arab region. It as the establishment of the enabling prefers to sketch the major landmarks environment, the indigenisation of that must be passed and difficulties that knowledge, and its deployment in the must be transcended if obscurantism and service of development and renaissance knowledge poverty are to be overcome. in the Arab nation. The third pillar of the This sketch takes the form of a specific plan sketches priorities for action. Here Intercommunication proposal that clearly acknowledges the tasks are prioritised in terms of urgency with the self means differences existing between the Arab according to the data on knowledge gaps accurate diagnosis countries in the field of knowledge and in the Arab countries. of its shortcomings is conscious, at the same time, of the The chapter explains that momentum enormous gaps that exist and the difficulty towards entry into the knowledge society with regard to of confronting them. Hence the plan must begin with action in the area of the knowledge and of promotes a step by step approach to the enabling environment as a preliminary its flaws with regard closure of knowledge gaps and works to step towards transfer and indigenisation. to knowledge prioritise short, medium, and long-term Thereafter the chapter turns towards environments plans for action to enable the Arabs to momentum in the deployment of communicate with the self and with the knowledge in such a way as to ensure world on the basis of the gains that modern its engagement with knowledge creation knowledge provides. and production. The chapter does not Intercommunication with the self means neglect to mention that this plan leaves accurate diagnosis of its shortcomings the field open to any combinations with regard to knowledge and of its flaws of interaction, interconnection, and with regard to knowledge environments, gradualism that may be required, bearing followed by courageous, ambitious in mind that momentum, confrontation, intercommunication with the world, and multiplicity of points of entry will undertaken in the faith that partnership in always encourage entry into membership knowledge production requires dialogue. of the knowledge society. Equally, the building of alliances requires This chapter also includes suggestions the building of rational relationships that related to the pressing need for an Arab do not view the self from a fixed angle, but knowledge observatory. The latter could see it as the product of complex historical be included as a component on more than processes. This will give the Arabs the one of the axes of this proposed plan, to Momentum towards possibility of realising their plans to expand strengthen and provide launching power entry into the the spheres of knowledge and achieve the for it. knowledge society hoped-for Arab renaissance. The Arab Knowledge Report 2009 The concluding chapter takes the initiates a series of reports that are to must begin with position that the proposed vision must follow in the years to come with the aim action in the area conform to Arab ambitions and desires of building a data base of information of the enabling to overcome the gaps in knowledge from on and prescriptions and proposals for environment which they suffer. In this context, the the improvement of Arab knowledge chapter is concerned with articulating a performance. It is assumed that the data plan, which rests on three foundations. and results included in this Report will The first is related to the necessary bases support the possibility of approaches from for the knowledge society, these bases other angles to the subjects of knowledge, are defined in terms of three principles: freedom, and development. These are the expansion of the scope of freedoms; axes linked to the epistemological change harmonisation and correspondence needed in society in order to open and with the needs of human development; broaden the road to the anticipated Arab and openness and intercommunication. renaissance. The second foundation puts forward the axes of the vision, which are defined 8 ARAB KNOWLEDGE REPORT 2009
  • 26. THE ARAB NATION AND THE choices with regard to the life of dignity WORLD IN 2009 he or she wants (Sen, 1999). Development is equivalent to the expansion of choices, The second section of this preamble freedoms, and individual possibilities in provides a set of data to place the Arab various aspects of life. This vision starts Knowledge Report 2009 in context. The from the view that the prosperity of an state of knowledge and the developments individual is not to be measured only by within it cannot be approached without the goods and services he or she acquires, a general contextualisation that explains but depends in the first degree on the the evolution of the existing knowledge individual’s capacity to choose the life he deficits and without careful observation wants and can be proud of. Thus capacity of their interwoven relationships, whether is the freedom that enables the individual Knowledge is these be with the changes underway in the to transcend and overcome obstacles and considered a central world, with internal conflicts, or with the attain various degrees of human welfare. axis of human transformations occurring in the area of In this brief contextualisation we development, and human development in the Arab region at rely on the global measures that are best its importance the beginning of the twenty-first century. known and most pertinent to knowledge, In this brief preamble, we shall follow as represented by the UNDP’s Human has multiplied the following axes of inquiry: the state of Development Index and the Human thanks to the many human development in the Arab region Poverty Index. These two indexes consist transformations in in 2009; the changes and pressures on of indicators such as the capacity to its numerous forms the Arab knowledge scene; and the most enjoy a long and healthy life and live at a important developments in the state of reasonable economic level, as well as the knowledge over the past decade. The data capacity to acquire knowledge and to read used and the events referred to extend to and write, a capacity that forms one of the the end of March 2009. most important pillars of the knowledge society. THE STATE OF HUMAN DEVELOPMENT IN THE ARAB THE MOST IMPORTANT REGION EVOLUTIONS IN ARAB HUMAN DEVELOPMENT Knowledge is considered a central axis of human development, and its importance The latest data and indicators on human has multiplied thanks to the many development in the Arab world show that transformations in its numerous forms.The the Arab states have made some slight same is true of the technology revolutions progress in human development since of recent decades. Knowledge today, by virtue of its role in the development process, constitutes an instrument of empowerment. Table 1 Consideration of human development Human development indicators for the Arab countries in the Arab region and its relationship to (2001 versus 2006) knowledge thus sheds light on some of the most important developmental issues and Life GDP Life Human indicators linked to the establishment of Year expectancy Per Expectancy Education GDP Development at birth capita index index the knowledge society. index index (years) (PPP US $) CONCEPTS AND INDICATORS OF 2001 66.0 5038 0.70 0.63 0.65 0.662 ARAB HUMAN DEVELOPMENT2 2006 67.8 7760 0.71 0.70 0.73 0.713 The Report views development as the means Source: UNDP website, on 13 April 2009 by which an individual expands his or her PREAMBLE 9
  • 27. While the Arab Gulf states have achieved Table 2 the highest rates in terms of achievement Population and GDP per capita in Arab countries of the Millennium Development Goals, (2008, projections) particularly in the fields of health and universal education, some other Arab states Total Population GDP GDP Per are expected to fail to reach these goals Country capita Population Share (PPP US$ Share by 2015, the year set by the Millennium Group GDP (million) (%) billion) (%) (PPP US$) Declaration. The list of Arab states unlikely to reach the Millennium Development Group 1: Oil economies 40.2 13.2 1117 45.9 27786 Goals covers those that still fall within the category of least developed states Group 2: Mixed 39.9 13.1 332 13.6 8313 (Comoros, Djibouti, Mauritania, Sudan, oil economies and Yemen), as well as states suffering from Group 3: conflict, internal disputes, and occupation, Diversified 156.4 51.5 833 34.2 5328 economies such as Iraq, Palestine, and Somalia. One of the most important negative Group 4: Primary export 67.1 22.1 153 6.3 2277 phenomena to characterise development economies performance in many countries of the region is the dutiful compliance with the Total 303.6 100 2435 100 8020 so-called economic and social reform Group 1: Oil economies: the Gulf Cooperation Council states (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, programmes, which for the most part Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE). originate abroad. It is clear to an observer Group 2: Mixed oil economies: Algeria and Libya. Group 3: Diversified economies: Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Syria, and Tunisia. that most Arab societies, in the structure Group 4: Primary export economies: Comoros, Djibouti, Mauritania, Sudan, and Yemen. of authority and the state, depend on a paternalist social contract which holds the Source: League of Arab States and UNDP, 2008, from the IMF and the CIA World Factbook state responsible for the welfare of society and the provision of services in exchange the beginning of the current decade, and for the political allegiance that imparts that at the beginning of 2006 not a single legitimacy to the state. Arab state fell into the category of low Economic and social, as well as human development (see Table 1). For demographic, changes on the Arab scene the most part, progress was basic, with, have, however, placed such systems and perhaps, the exception of advance in per social contracts under intense pressures capita GDP, which has risen from $5,038 that may threaten their survival. Population in 2001 to $7,760 in 2006, and to more growth, changes in ways of life within Poverty in the than $8,000 in 2008. However on the society, weak and falling incomes, and Arab region is level of the Arab region, the significance growing awareness among citizens are increasing despite of this improvement is reduced because perhaps among the most significant of of the great variation between the Arab these changes. To deal with these pressures, all the efforts aimed states and the clear concentration of at least on the economic level, many Arab at reducing it the increases in per capita GDP in the states have engaged in economic and oil-exporting countries as opposed to social structural reform programmes with others of the region (see Table 2). This clear encouragement from international variation also holds true for the overall institutions and the Western world. There Human Development Index, which is near consensus, however, that most shows that only seven Arab states (the of these corrective programmes, largely Gulf Cooperation Council member states launched in the 1980s, have not produced and Libya), making up 15 per cent of the the desired results and have exacerbated population of the Arab region, fall within economic and social problems. Poverty the high human development band ( HDI in the Arab region is increasing despite all of 0.8 or above). the efforts aimed at reducing it. In 2005, 10 ARAB KNOWLEDGE REPORT 2009
  • 28. Table 3 Incidence of extreme poverty in a sample of Arab countries3 Poverty Number Poverty Number Country Survey Survey Incidence of Poor Incidence of Poor Group Year Year (%) (million) (%) (million) Diversified economy 1991-1999 14.7 18.4 2000-2005 16.8 22.8 (six states) In rural Egypt and Mixed oil economy 1995 14.1 4.1 2000 12.1 3.8 Morocco, one (one state) in four people is Primary export economy 1996-1998 41.3 8.0 2000-2006 36.2 8.1 poor, compared (two states) with one in ten in Overall Average 17.9 30.5 18.4 34.7 urban areas, and Source: League of Arab States and UNDP, 2008 families supported by women are much more affected by the proportion of people living below the nine Arab countries, shows that there was lowest national income poverty line in the a slight increase in the poor as a proportion poverty than those Arab region reached approximately 18.4 of the population in the first decade of the supported by men per cent. Wealth is also badly distributed, millennium in comparison with the 1990s for rural areas suffer much more poverty (18.4 and 17.9 per cent respectively). than urban ones. In rural Egypt and Regarding the Human Poverty Index, Morocco, one in four people is poor, we find an improvement in the Arab states compared with one in ten in urban areas. from the end of the 1990s until 2007. Egypt, Similarly, families supported by women Syria, Tunisia, Jordan, Oman, Djibouti, are much more affected by poverty than Qatar, and the UAE have reduced their those supported by men. Table 3, which scores on the Human Poverty Index by at is based on the results of field research in least 25 per cent over the first decade of Figure 1 Decline in human poverty rates by country (per cent): 1996-2007 50% 45% 40% 35% 30% 25% 20% 15% 10% 5% 0% Djibouti Jordan Sudan Yemen Saudi Arabia Oman Tunisia Algeria UAE Syria Mauritania Lebanon Libya Egypt Comoros Morocco Qatar Source: League of Arab States and UNDP, 2008 PREAMBLE 11
  • 29. Food Sovereignty index of 1.6.4 Some Figure 2 see the aridity of large swathes of Arab Unemployment rate among Arab youth (A) and territory as the determining factor in this their share in total unemployment (B) area. However, much evidence points to (per cent) in 2005/2006 poor management of available resources, including environmental resources. The data point to significant facts, perhaps (A) 50 45 the most important of which is that 40 food imports formed 15 per cent of total 35 imports to the region in 2006. Worse, while 30 Arab countries are mostly self-sufficient 25 20 in terms of producing foodstuffs for the 15 wealthy, such as meat, fish, and vegetables, 10 foodstuffs for the poor classes, such as 5 grains, oils, and sugar, are largely imported. 0 Thus, the Arab poor are more affected than So n a an o ria Su n ia Le ain est oun ya n Tu a Ku n Jo ti ia E it iA t n T ries Al q Ba ria Dj ries Ye r E oro d ud gyp M mali ta da i cc rda me no u wa Ira UA nis rab l an others by changes in world food prices. c Lib or Om ge Sy ibo hr Qa ito t ba rit W err au M From the 1980s until now, unemployment inia ab Sa Ar rates have remained at high levels, or even Pal ied cup increased in many Arab states. In the Oc 1980s, for countries like Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Tunisia, and Syria 80 (B) (which comprise about 57 per cent of the 70 Arab labor force), the weighted average 60 unemployment rate was 10.6 per cent. The 50 highest rate at that time was in Algeria (16.5 40 per cent), and the lowest in Syria (4.8 per 30 cent). In the 1990s, however, the weighted 20 average unemployment rate was 14.5 per 10 cent, with the highest level in Algeria (25.3 0 per cent) and the lowest in Syria (8.1 per Ar Al n Oc Qa cco tinian Ba coun Jo a Le in ies Eg itan Ku Sa t Tu M Lib So i Ara Ye Dj lia Sy on Su n M ied P UA Ira W ge ab rda cent). Preliminary evidence for the 2000 cup ba au ibo oro ale nis hr ria ud yp or me ma bi tar da q wa ya E ria a ld n r i n ut it i decade indicates that the weighted average ia tr a s unemployment rate in these states has risen Ter rito to 15.5 per cent (League of Arab States rie s Source: League of Arab States and UNDP, 2008 and UNDP, 2008). Studies indicate that Arab women suffer more than men in relation to the millennium (Figure 1). However, when unemployment (International Labor we compare the performance of these Organisation, 2009). countries with that of other countries of The youth unemployment rate remains The Arab poor are the world with similar rankings on the very high: in 2005 it varied from 46 per more affected than Human Development Index, we find that cent in Algeria to 6.3 per cent in the United others by changes it could have been better. Arab Emirates (see Figure 2). The Arab in world food prices The Arab countries also constitute states still face a major challenge in the one of the regions of the world most creation of job opportunities for youth. dependent on imports for the food security Table 4 refers to forecasts made in a recent of their inhabitants. International reports 2008 study carried out by the UNDP in show that most Arab states fall in the cooperation with the League of Arab States band of states with very low sovereignty which clearly show the tangible need to find in terms of food supply, with an Arab work opportunities for the ever growing 12 ARAB KNOWLEDGE REPORT 2009
  • 30. Table 4 The employment challenge: projected numbers of new jobs required. Labor Unemployment Number of Number of new Number of new Number of new Country force in 2005 rate 2005 jobs 2005 jobs by 2010 jobs by 2015 jobs by 2020 group (millions) (%) (millions) (millions) (millions) (millions) Mixed economy 48.3 11.82 42.59 6.55 14.16 21.78 (six states) Mixed oil economy 15.5 15.61 13.08 2.26 4.92 7.56 (two states) Oil economy 13.7 4.53 13.08 3.37 7.73 12.08 (six states) Primary export economy 22.8 18.68 18.54 2.85 6.17 9.49 (four states) Total (eighteen 100.3 12.97 87.29 15.03 32.98 50.91 Arab states) Source: League of Arab States and UNDP, 2008 numbers of Arab youth who each day join poor, reform of the education system, and the ranks of the unemployed. It is obvious diversification of the economic systems so that the picture has become gloomier in as not to be dependent on one commodity view of the current world financial crisis (in particular oil based economies), in and its repercussions for the region. addition to the provision of food security (League of Arab States and UNDP, 2008). The employment GOVERNANCE AND THE picture has become WEAKNESS OF INSTITUTIONAL VARIABLES EXERTING gloomier in view of PERFORMANCE5 PRESSURE ON THE ARAB the current world KNOWLEDGE SCENE financial crisis The Arab states have remained weak and hidebound over the last two decades, WAR, OCCUPATION, INTERNAL without any notable change in terms CONFLICT, AND THE of institutional performance. Available DISRUPTION OF KNOWLEDGE indicators make clear that the Arab states’ weak performance in 1996 in terms of Occupation, wars, and internal conflicts governance6 indicators did not change have an overwhelmingly disruptive greatly in the ten years to 2006 (League of influence on the knowledge society. Arab States and UNDP, 2008). The effect Not only do they affect its mainstays, Occupation, of this weak performance on many aspects in the form of education, technology, wars, and internal of development and the components and innovation, they also, through the conflicts have an of the knowledge society, in particular economic destruction, disruption to overwhelmingly freedoms, is no secret. development, suppression of freedoms, disruptive One of the most recent reports has and restrictions on movement, strike at influence on the concluded that the major challenges the heart of the enabling environments facing the region can be summarised as needed for the establishment of the knowledge society institutional reform, good governance, knowledge society. Furthermore, the lack the provision of job opportunities– of security means that people are unable particularly for youth–, the ring-fencing to obtain their basic needs, to say nothing of funds for development that serves the of realising their hopes of setting in place PREAMBLE 13
  • 31. the pillars of the society to which they equivalent. aspire. Some sources point to a recent With regard to Iraq, it cannot be claimed improvement in the state of education that education prior to the US intervention and knowledge on the heels of a relative in 2003 was devoid of the problems known improvement in the political and security to other Arab countries. However, many situation. This gives hope for better studies and indicators confirm that the opportunities to deal in the most effective standard of education has declined after way with the existing and cumulative 2003, and that educational problems have knowledge challenges if the building of In the period been exacerbated and have accumulated as knowledge society is to be renewed in Iraq 2003-2007, more a result of the conflicts that broke out. and if Iraqi energies are to be released than 830 Iraqi For example, a report of the UN Office anew in support of development and a for the Coordination of Humanitarian better future. academics were Affairs (OCHA) stated that net enrolment Palestinians continue to suffer the killed, most of them rates in basic education had reached 46 per negative effects of the occupation on doctors, engineers, cent in the 2006-7 school year compared all the operative axes of the knowledge and physicists to 86 per cent in the previous year, and society. The Israeli occupation and that only 28 per cent of graduation-age repeated incursions into the Palestinian students had been able to attend their end territories have had enormous effects on of year final exams, which only 40 per cent the educational process, considered the of them passed (UN OCHA, 2008). corner stone of any knowledge society. A UNESCO report published in Many pupils, teachers, and support staff April 2007 and entitled Education under have been killed, over and above the Attack, disclosed that political and military continual danger of detention and abuse at violence that targets educational systems is the occupation’s barriers and checkpoints. causing growing numbers of children to During 2008, and without taking account be deprived of the right to education. The of the losses suffered during the attack on report depicted Iraq’s educational system Gaza that began at the end of the year, as “the education system most impacted statistics from the Palestinian Ministry by the severity of attacks, whose scope and of Education show that forty Palestinian numbers of casualties have reached a level students were killed and eighty others Palestinians continue so extreme as to threaten the collapse of the received a range of wounds. Also, 260 to suffer the school and university systems” (UNESCO, students, teachers, and support staff were negative effects of 2007b, in Arabic). The report made clear detained. To this should be added the the occupation on that over a period of not more than ten Israeli incursions that led to the ongoing months between February and November closure of 100 schools and the loss of all the operative 2006, 280 Iraqi teachers were killed, and 150 school days (Palestinian Ministry of axes of the that only 30 per cent of Iraq’s 3.5 million Education and Higher Education, 2009a, knowledge society pupils attended classes in 2007, compared in Arabic). UNICEF reported that “nearly to 75 per cent in the previous school year. half of all students have seen their school The UNESCO report mentioned that besieged by troops, and more than 10 per enrolment at Baghdad universities declined cent have witnessed the killing of a teacher by 40 per cent while more than 3,000 in school” (UNICEF, 2009). academics fled the country. A report Nor have the universities been spared presented in June 2007 to the British attack and the infliction of varied damage. Cross-party Commission on Iraq7 stated Israeli forces raided the University of that in the period 2003-2007, more than Bethlehem and Al-Najah University in 830 Iraqi academics were killed, most of Nablus in 2002, and Hebron University in them doctors, engineers, and physicists; 2003, besieging them and causing lessons more than 70 per cent of the victims were to be suspended. The Al-Quds Open university professors, PhD holders, or the University in Ramallah, the Palestine 14 ARAB KNOWLEDGE REPORT 2009
  • 32. Technical College in Tulkarem, and Birzeit while total primary, secondary, and tertiary University have also been raided. Attacks on education enrolment reached 82.4 per cent universities culminated in the destruction (UNDP, 2007c, in Arabic). Palestinian of the College of Education of Al-Aqsa professionals of recognised competence, University in 2004 and of the buildings of such as teachers, engineers, and artists are the Islamic University in Gaza in January to be found in many Arab and non-Arab 2009, during the most recent invasion of countries. the Gaza Strip (Palestinian Ministry of The effects of war are not restricted Education and Higher Education, 2009b, only to Iraq and the Occupied Palestinian in Arabic). Territories; Sudan too is suffering the Testimonies confirm All these practices, as well as further woes of civil war in Darfur. With the end that Sudan’s plunge constraints such as the Separation Wall, of 2006, the number of those adversely into internal conflicts have been detrimental to the Palestinians affected by the conflict had reached 4 will inevitably lead with regard to all the mainstays of million, including 2 million internally to the complete knowledge—education, importation of displaced. This has shaken the stability of technology, and internal and external Sudan and caused a humanitarian crisis to breakdown in the communication—not to mention that erupt whose repercussions continue to be already faltering they have been deprived of the freedom felt until now (UN OCHA, 2006). One establishment of the of movement and security that constitute million, eight hundred thousand children knowledge society the enabling environments needed for the under eighteen years of age are among establishment of the knowledge society. those adversely affected. Education Towards the end of the writing of this in the schools has obviously suffered report (at the end of 2008 and the beginning extremely. Many schools have been set of 2009), Israel launched a major assault on fire and razed to the ground (Amnesty on Gaza during which populated areas, International Morocco, 2006, in Arabic). schools, and UN buildings were shelled. The war has brought ruin to all aspects of Israeli military operations destroyed Gaza’s life in Darfur, and as a result has generated infrastructure, both educational and that a society of refugees and migrants. The related to the other pillars of knowledge, people have moved to distant locations as and left behind them what Amnesty a result of the sharp escalation in fighting International called a “humanitarian in many parts of Darfur, and the number catastrophe” (Amnesty International, of refugees has reached 120,0008. 2009, in Arabic). In addition, the human Despite the dearth of data, testimonies population suffered appalling losses, with confirm that Sudan’s plunge into internal 1,326 Palestinians, most of them civilians conflicts will inevitably lead to the complete and 41 per cent of them children and breakdown in the already faltering women (430 children and 110 women), establishment of the knowledge society. In Somalia, killed. A further 5,450 Palestinians were (In terms of knowledge status, the World a great deal of injured. During the same period and as Bank puts Sudan in a low category, with a effort needs to be a result of military operations, fourteen score of 1.68 on the knowledge index in exerted to set up the Israelis were killed and a further 182 2005, compared with a world average of knowledge society were wounded. Among them, civilians 6.79 and an African average of 3.3.)9 accounted for three deaths and eighteen In Somalia, which has long been wounded (UN OCHA, 2009a and 2009b). plagued by internal conflicts and wars, all Despite this, the Occupied Palestinian the indicators make it clear that a great deal Territories hold an advanced position of effort needs to be exerted in order for among the Arab countries with regard the country to reach a point at which it will to a number of indicators related to be possible to initiate discussion on setting knowledge in general and education in up the knowledge society. At the beginning particular. At the start of 2006, the adult of this millennium, Somalia’s illiteracy literacy rate indicator reached 92.4 per cent rate stood at 62.2 per cent (2001), with a PREAMBLE 15
  • 33. higher rate for women (74.2 per cent).10 merely excessive zeal for a particular idea According to 2007 statistics, the number or affiliation. When this goes too far, it of internet users has topped 98,000 out falls into the snare of extremism, which in of a total population of 9 million, putting turn leads to obscurantist, inward-looking Somalia in 127th place out of 155 states.11 positions incapable of discrimination. This Given that Somalia has long suffered brings us up against extremism in forms from the absence of government or a that generate its counterpart of counter- single administrative body, and given its extremism, thus preventing the dialogue particular makeup and continuous conflicts, and outreach that are the foundations for the roles of other non-governmental recognition, mutual understanding, and Extremism negates civil society parties have grown, in an eventual cooperation and partnership. the Other, halts attempt to create the mainstays on which What interests us in this context is the the process of the knowledge society depends. For extremism that negates the Other, halts dialogue and example, education networks, such as the process of dialogue, and prevents prevents mutual the Formal Private Education Network mutual understanding. If we are to become (FPENS), which is one of the largest familiar with the effects of extremism on understanding active education networks with a number knowledge in the Arab countries, we must of primary and secondary schools in more also become familiar with some of its than half the regions of Somalia, exist characteristics and manifestations. (Abdulle, 2008). However, large sections Knowledge can only flourish in of poor and marginalised groups cannot an atmosphere of freedom, and the take advantage of the health and education knowledge society can have no foundation services provided by these NGOs because as long as extremism remains in play. these services are generally provided on a Extremism which threatens freedom or cash basis. In one form or another, all these bans it–whether through the behaviour of efforts contribute to development. But certain groups or the tyranny of regimes are they enough to establish a knowledge that practise extremism through the society, especially in view of the absence suppression of freedoms–has a negative of the state for around two decades? effect on the enabling environments of Knowledge can the knowledge society. This is dealt with in only flourish in EXTREMISM AND ITS EFFECT detail in Chapter 2 of the Report. an atmosphere ON THE KNOWLEDGE SOCIETY12 Extremist trends oppose both the of freedom, and acknowledgment of the Other, and dialogue the knowledge “Extremism” has become one of the major and outreach. For the most part they rely on terms associated with current Arab reality calls and conceptions which they formulate society can have and is in wide circulation, despite the lack with a private logic that tolerates no dissent. no foundation as of agreement over its meaning. Some extremist movements have reverted long as extremism If there is extremism in religion then, to tradition as a weapon in current political remains in play logically, it applies to all religions, and this and epistemological battles, indicating is what we find in our contemporary world, that we have not yet rid ourselves of the where the literature teems with reports frozen view of past tradition nor come to a detailing extremism among Muslims, positive reconciliation with our past in all its Christians, and Jews. There are even reports components. Reference to the relationship of extremism among Sikhs in India and in modern Arab thought between the Buddhists in Myanmar. Besides religious cultural heritage and knowledge impels us extremism, there is also political extremism, to refer to the wide public that has brought as represented by the extremist wings of certain traditional discourses and symbols the political tendencies. back into Arab knowledge and society. A distinction should be made between While the invocation of some traditional extreme loyalty (Ta'asub) and extremism symbols may be positive in encouraging (Tataruf). Extreme loyalty may remain contact with reality and progress, this 16 ARAB KNOWLEDGE REPORT 2009
  • 34. reversion, in many cases, is not associated from those who colonised us, our battles with readings that set tradition in a for renaissance and a completion of our historical context. The symbolic traditional liberation depends above all on us. This archive has come to be widely deployed in requires that we work on solutions to the the battles over our present within and many problematic issues that have their outside our societies and during their roots in our historical environment: the confrontations with others, and attempts problematics of innovation and renewal in to employ it in political battles have Islamic jurisprudence, of creativity, and of revived in recent years. On this front in the establishment of a voluntary political particular, political action requires a new harmony that will, in our hypothesis, The cultural contemporary reading of our historical facilitate the reform process and the heritage should tradition and ourselves that is responsive movement of our societies towards the not be abandoned to the passage of time. building of the hoped-for Arab future. to become the The cultural heritage, as one component of knowledge, should not be abandoned THE STAGNATION OF undisputed arena to become the undisputed arena of POLITICAL REFORM AND ITS of unexamined unexamined readings. Rather, research EFFECT ON THE ENABLING readings projects should be launched in this area ENVIRONMENT FOR that can arrive at an understanding that KNOWLEDGE responds to the questions of our age and our need to respond positively to what At the beginning of the third millennium, is happening in the world. The Islamic the language of political reform was once tradition, like any other product of again revived in modern Arab political humanity in history, has innumerable faces. culture, and a consensus was reached It is a repository capable of more than one over its necessity. The failure of the form of creative and innovative use. The majority of the Arab states to find suitable continuing presence and domination of a avenues to overcome underdevelopment closed literalist understanding of tradition has contributed to this revival. Similarly, over minds and consciences in our society numerous external factors have reinforced casts into relief aspects of the images that the calls for reform that seeks to develop we create for ourselves and that others, Arab societies and leave their deepening relying on the evidence of the nature crises stage. of knowledge prevailing among us, will Talk of reform is certainly not new. Our momentum thereafter apply to us. What distinguishes the new calls for reform should start with It can be said that our momentum is the wholesale nature of their adoption a correction of our should start with ourselves–that is, in the majority of Arab states, whether by self-perception with with reform of our historical self- existing regimes or such organisations of characterisations and correction of our civil society as political parties and civic fuller reconciliation self-perception through action aimed at institutions active on the political and with the values fuller reconciliation with the values of the social scene. of the world world we belong to. This will enable us This reformist trend is subsumed within we belong to to join together with all those involved in a historical context that transcends current the making of contemporary history. This Arab circumstances and the accompanying does not mean that the others are without interactions and events on the international responsibility for the situation we find level. Here we refer particularly to the ourselves in and the problems we face; it events of 11 September 2001, which is well known that our recent past, and our revealed the presence, especially in areas present and future, cannot be understood suffering from occupation, extremism, without taking external factors into and marginalisation, of forces using new consideration. However, we do believe that methods of political action with the aim now, after the battles for independence of inflaming conflict, whether within the PREAMBLE 17
  • 35. Arab countries or on the global level. the Arab knowledge situation. The data on The reformist tendency in its new form education and the reform of knowledge is marked by its reliance on a discourse that environments continue to be expressed calls for gradual and peaceful transition in abbreviated form, in the shape of and accepts democracy as the best option slogans and general demands. If we cast The reformist for building a new consensus aimed at the a quick glance at the reform programmes tendency calls generalisation of the language and logic of of most states or organisations, we will for gradual and peaceful reform. However this call, which notice the absence of knowledge in its has crystallised third-generation concepts various manifestations and dimensions as peaceful transition of political reform, has not been able to an area of particular interest. This may and accepts maintain its ardour, despite the positive be explained by the fact that the tyranny democracy as effects it has produced in such Arab states of the general political orientation both the best option as Morocco, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and overwhelms knowledge and dominates some Gulf countries. society’s thinking. However, the failure We spoke above of “third-generation to specify the contours and horizons of reform concepts,” a term that affirms knowledge reform should be considered a the deep roots and continuity of hopes failure to recognise the significant pivotal for reform on the Arab political scene. role that knowledge has come to play in The history of reform in the Arab region human societies. The stagnation of has marched in step with the thought of reform in various the Arab renaissance, during which the THE WORLD FINANCIAL Arab countries first generation of concepts of reform CRISIS: OPPORTUNITIES AND constitutes a kind were formulated. The conceptual fabric CHALLENGES FOR THE of the second generation of reform is ESTABLISHMENT OF THE of regression linked with the movements for liberation KNOWLEDGE SOCIETY.13 that impoverishes from colonialism. Thus reform has a long political life and history in the Arab world, and the concepts The increasing disassociation of capital reduces the options that have crystallised at the beginning of flows and financial transactions from the for comprehensive this century complete and fulfil previous workings of the real economy (real, that steps in the evolution of the reformist is, in terms of production, consumption, development orientation in Arab thought. However, commodity export, and true investment) we note a halt in the recent revival now has led to greater “fragility” in the world that we find ourselves face to face with financial system, a rise in the level of risk a stagnation that promises a reversion to on the world’s money markets, and growing old patterns of rule regarding the way in failure to achieve monetary and financial which phenomena within Arab society are stability on the global level. This has led dealt with. This stagnation that has affected to the major financial crisis that escalated the waves of reform in various Arab at the end of 2008 in Wall Street and has The financial crisis countries in recent years constitutes a kind since caused the bankruptcy and collapse that escalated in of regression that impoverishes political of major financial institutions. We believe 2008 will further life and reduces the options intended to that this crisis will have repercussions for slow the process respond to the demand for comprehensive production and the different knowledge human development. programmes as it has on economic and of knowledge Without going into the details of social development. We also assume there indigenisation in past and current reform programmes, will be ramifications that further slow the the Arab milieu we would point to the absence of one process of knowledge indigenisation in fundamental element, that represented by the Arab milieu. the declaration of freedoms, even though The countries of the Arab region have the discourse of reform has raised such been affected by the global economic crisis slogans. We also note the absence of according to their degree of engagement systematic and productive monitoring of with the currents of financial globalisation. 18 ARAB KNOWLEDGE REPORT 2009
  • 36. Thus the Arab region in general, and the oil-producing countries of the Gulf in BOX 1 particular, have been affected by the fall in The Effect of the Financial Crisis on Development Funding the price of crude oil. The most significant negative effects of The Doha Declaration for Financing is critical to adopt further decisive and the global financial crisis on the economies of Development issued in December prompt actions to contain the current 2008 stated, “We are deeply concerned crisis and restore sustained economic and societies of the Arab region can be by the impact of the current financial growth. Given this global context, we summed up as follows: crisis and global economic slowdown call the attention of all donors to the • A sharp fall in the Arab region’s stock on the ability of developing countries situation and needs of the poorest and to access the necessary financing most vulnerable. We also urge all donors exchanges and money markets, which, for their development objectives. to maintain and deliver on their overseas by the estimate of the international Developing countries and countries development aid commitments... In investment house, Global, have suffered with economies in transition risk this context, it is also important for suffering very serious setbacks to their developing countries to maintain sound losses of around 47 per cent to the end development objectives, in particular macroeconomic policies that support of November 2008. the achievement of the internationally sustained economic growth and poverty • A dramatic fallback in crude oil prices, agreed development goals, including eradication.” the Millennium Development Goals. It which have tumbled from a record high of $147 per barrel as a result of a fall in Source: Doha Declaration on Financing for Development: outcome document of the Follow-up International Conference demand–mostly from the US–of around on Financing for Development to Review the Implementation of the Monterrey Consensus, Doha, Qatar, 29 November – 2 December 2008. 3 million barrels per day. • Ahmed Goweili, the secretary of the Arab Economic Unity Council, estimates total above) economy, leading in turn to further losses for individuals, organisations, and contraction in the economic variables. governments, including sovereign wealth This subsequent contraction in the real There are fears funds, in the Arab region as a result of economy then impacts on the social that shrinkage of the global economic crisis to be in the sectors, resulting in a rise in unemployment aid, will have a region of $2.5 trillion. The negative levels, a fall in salaries, erosion of savings, negative impact effect of these losses will in turn affect and from there, cultural and knowledge the budgets for personal consumption impoverishment. These interactions in the on development and private and public business sector social sectors lead to the impoverishment programmes and investment programmes. This will lead of the middle and lower classes. It is likely knowledge society to a vicious circle of further economic that the three sectors will suffer great contraction and stagnation due to economic and social hardships during feedback loops. 2009, and that these may extend till the • A fallback in foreign direct investment first half of 2010 and perhaps further. to the Arab region, and in particular that This interval provides a good opportunity originating from the US and the Euro for those concerned with the conditions zone. of knowledge in the Arab world to make It is expected that the crisis will have its effective plans to manage the crisis and The financial crisis most violent effects on those Arab states contain its negative repercussions. may open up new that are highly dependent on foreign aid. Like all crises, just as the current one opportunities that There are fears that shrinkage of this aid, has negative results and ramifications on can give forward given the current crisis, will have a negative the Arab region, so it may also open up impact on development programmes and, new opportunities that can give forward momentum to in consequence, on the building of the momentum to the course of development, the course of knowledge society. It may also take some innovation, and the knowledge society. In development, time for the ramifications of the negative what follows we will attempt to indicate innovation, and the impact of the current financial crisis the most important new prospects open to knowledge society on the state of knowledge to become the Arab economies and societies, so long apparent. Such crises normally break out as good assessment and good planning are first in the financial sector, spreading only maintained over the coming months and after an interval to the real (as defined years. PREAMBLE 19
  • 37. • Curtailment of the “culture of directed. This will lead to the opening speculation” and of speculative of other doors for partnership in the behaviour in general, especially with future and encourage the transfer of regard to stock markets and property. knowledge. • The redirection of savings into The current crisis may also open up The current crisis productive investment channels that new prospects for a creative adaptation may help to restore have large development and knowledge to globalisation through knowledge the status of honest returns. This should be followed by and technological cooperation with the work and sincere transition in the Arab economy to a advanced nations of the South such as mode of production that encourages India, Brazil, China, South Korea, and effort, and build creativity and innovation. Malaysia and by means of other South- a new system • Direction of intra-Arab investments South arrangements and partnerships of incentives to to areas with high development more closely tailored to the levels of encourage creativity returns rather than those with rapid economic, social, and knowledge progress and development and purely financial returns such as in the Arab region. This should give us were characteristic of the 1990s and the opportunity to share in the potential the beginnings of the twenty-first benefits of globalisation through merit, century, when excessive investment rather than suffering merely the downsides, in the financial and property sectors as has often been the case. came at the expense of productive and While over the last ten years property knowledge-based activities with long- and stock market speculation has led to an term development effects. unprecedented centralisation of income • Import substitution as a result of the and wealth in the Arab region, it has decline in foreign currency reserves. also led to the “divorce of effort from This will provide impetus to further return,” and thus dealt a severe blow to efforts to improve quality, spread a the values of hard work, innovation, and culture of “excellence” and raise the creativity innate in our culture and society. level of competitiveness of products and The current crisis may help to restore the services in the Arab market. This again status of honest work and sincere effort, will lead to the concentration of efforts and this will help to build a new system on the local manufacture of knowledge of incentives to encourage creativity and tools, upon whose import from abroad development. we are presently largely dependent. This Given the current crisis and the will help to solve the special problems pressures on public and private budgets, Many key problems of the state of knowledge in the Arab there must be caution with regard to still form a major states by developing output to serve our dipping into allocations for research obstacle to the needs and priorities. and development activities and cultural, establishment of the • Increased technological and knowledge creative, and artistic projects. The welfare knowledge society, self-reliance through a gradual move of coming generations is at stake. away from very high cost “turn-key” the most prominent technology contracts and packages. OVERVIEW OF THE CURRENT among them being This would include the acquisition of KNOWLEDGE SITUATION IN continuing illiteracy technology and knowledge by processes THE ARAB REGION of creative practice, or what is known in the economic literature as technological The Report will treat of the condition and knowledge progress via on-the-job of knowledge and sustain an analysis learning. aimed at revealing its most significant • Expansion in the development of intra- deficits and formulating suggestions to Arab commerce to compensate for the help its revival. Here we present a brief foreign export markets in Europe and preliminary review of some of the major the US to which most Arab exports are developments that have occurred in Arab 20 ARAB KNOWLEDGE REPORT 2009
  • 38. knowledge over recent years. This will in place. Many key problems still form a permit us to detail, and closely scrutinise, major obstacle to the establishment of the various manifestations and foundations the knowledge society, perhaps the most of knowledge in the Arab region. prominent among them being continuing Arab states have, over the last quarter illiteracy. Around one third of the adult century, witnessed marked progress on the population is unable to read and write, In terms of indicator set relating to the proliferation of meaning that there are still some 60 million qualitative knowledge among their citizens, starting illiterate people in the Arab countries, performance, with the drop in illiteracy rates and ending two-thirds of them women, and almost students from Arab with the numbers of people holding higher 9 million children of elementary-school countries score university degrees. When we consider age outside school, most of them in the the three key indicators for education countries that have not solved the illiteracy much lower than used by the World Bank to measure a problem.18 It is impossible to realise the world averages in state’s readiness for involvement in the ambition of setting up the knowledge the sciences and knowledge society–that is, adult14 literacy economy and society as long as the mathematics rates, enrolment in secondary education, regional gross enrolment ratio in upper and enrolment in higher education–the secondary education remains below 55 progress is demonstrable. In 1980, the per cent for males and females alike, when average adult literacy rate in the Arab the industrially advanced states and those countries had reached approximately 55 of Central Asia have achieved enrolment per cent for males and 25 per cent for rates around 84 per cent.19 females. In 2005, this average had reached In addition to this quantitative shortfall 82 per cent for males and 62 per cent for in the dissemination of education, the females.15 The median of gross enrolment region suffers from numerous qualitative ratio in all programmes of secondary problems. In terms of qualitative education had reached, in 1980, 57 per performance, studies from 2003 make cent for males and 38 per cent for females, clear that students from Arab countries whereas in 2006 it reached 70 per cent for score much lower than world averages in males and 65 per cent for females.16 In grade-8 international tests in the sciences 1980, gross enrolment in tertiary education and mathematics. The average scores in exceeded 25 per cent for males and 20 per mathematics and science in the Arab region cent for females in Lebanon only (41 and were 393 and 419, while the world averages 21 per cent respectively), while the median were 467 and 474 respectively (UNDP, reached 8 per cent for males and 4.6 per 2007a, in Arabic). Similar international cent for females. Tertiary education was studies undertaken in 2007 show that the absent or virtually absent in one-third low performance of pupils from Arab The correlation of Arab countries (with gross enrolment countries in mathematics and the sciences between education ratio of less than 5 per cent). However by continues; in 2007, the performance and economic 2005, only three Arab states were left with of Arab pupils did not exceed 388 in growth in the Arab enrolment rates of less than 5 per cent, mathematics and 424 in the sciences, while world is weak while the median had reached 18 per cent world averages were 445 and 466 (UNDP, for men and 29 per cent for women.17 2007d, in Arabic). These achievements should not deflect Over and above this, it seems that our gaze from the failures that are causing the correlation between education and many Arab states to fail to bridge the economic growth in the Arab world is knowledge gaps. Despite the Arab region weak. This may be due to a number of having spent 5 per cent of GDP and reasons, such as lack of conformity of 20 per cent of government budgets on education and training programmes in education over the past forty years (League terms of quality or quantity to pressing of Arab States and UNDP, 2008), many of developmental needs. The human assets the structural aspects of weakness remain formed by education also have not been PREAMBLE 21
  • 39. utilised as required to serve society. performance remains the major weak spot On the ICT axis, it is evident that the on the current Arab knowledge scene, Arab states have made reasonable progress, and the scientific innovation and research in that the region has continued to invest gap between the Arab countries and the in infrastructure, recording, in 2008, rest of the advanced regions of the world progress in technological performance that remains clear, deep, and serious. The Arab exceeded that in all other regions of the region’s expenditure on scientific research world.20 Four Arab countries came within is one of the world’s lowest in terms of the top fifty states most ready to utilise Arab GNP. Research and development ICT and eleven Arab countries witnessed institutions are weakly integrated with the On the ICT axis, the a rise in the value of the ICT index in cycle of production. The development Arab states have comparison with 1995. Yet, despite these returns of Arab scientific research are made reasonable achievements, the gap between the Arab very weak and do not correspond to the countries and the rest of the world remains magnitude of annual Arab expenditure on progress substantial. The performance of the Arab them, which tops $2 billion and which, in countries also varies from state to state. the period 2002-2006, resulted in no more Such variation between the Arab countries than approximately 38.2 patents per year in their utilisation of new technologies and 5,000 published scientific papers.21 and in the use and production of Arabic The weakest point in Arab knowledge digital content holds true also for the performance may be the lack of enabling different social categories within each environments appropriate to the country, and warns of more fragmentation establishment of a knowledge society, and extremism should these countries not particularly in relation to the key index institute equal access to technology. of freedom; as a whole, the Arab states It is to be noted that improvement have made no tangible progress with in Arab country performance according respect to freedom of thought and of to the ICT index does not correlate with expression. Apart from the proliferation national revenue. Even though some Arab of Arab satellite channels and internet countries that enjoy high revenues occupy blogs, which have provided a safety valve advanced positions on the ICT index, for a noticeable upsurge in activity by the these positions remain lower than those region’s youth, the outlook for freedom of occupied by other countries of the world thought and of expression remains gloomy. that enjoy comparable national revenues. Some Arab governments have imposed The weakest point Interest in investment in the field of restrictions on Arab satellite broadcasting. in Arab knowledge research and innovation as one of the Additional broadcasting and media performance may be pillars of knowledge has grown in the legislation and laws have been enacted Arab states since the beginning of the which have strengthened governments’ the lack of enabling 1980s. Arab academic research centres grip on the media, press, journalists, environments have steadily and noticeably developed internet blogs and bloggers, as well as appropriate to the in all specialisations, so that most Arab intellectuals. Most media and knowledge- establishment of a countries now have research centres and diffusion mechanisms remain state-owned knowledge society institutions, whereas in the middle of the and operate alongside a limited number of last century such institutions were limited large media and entertainment companies to Egypt, Iraq, Morocco, and Lebanon. transmitting to the Arab countries from After having been virtually absent from the the countries of the Gulf or from outside field of international scientific publication, the region. the Arabs now contribute 1.1 per cent of In contrast, a slight improvement in output in that field (TWAS, 2005). In spite the development of economic freedoms of progress on the research and innovation can be observed in states such as Egypt, index, particularly from a quantitative Tunisia, and those of the Gulf, where angle, in recent years, Arab innovation this has led to increased rates of growth. 22 ARAB KNOWLEDGE REPORT 2009
  • 40. However, this progress remains limited and does not necessarily reflect a vision focused on establishment of the knowledge society or improvement of knowledge performance. Arab countries are still exporters of primary resources and importers of high value-added products with high knowledge content. There must be a focus on the It is not possible impossibility of achieving an Arab knowledge and development renaissance through to create Arab reliance solely on improvement in economic freedom–even if the latter is supported by environments intellectual property rights– given the continuation of the restrictions imposed on other that stimulate freedoms, particularly those of thought and of expression. It is not possible to create knowledge without Arab environments that stimulate knowledge without the existence of an integrated package of freedoms. Similarly, any hope of the equitable social distribution of the results the existence of an of development will disappear in the absence of a democratic climate that provides integrated package popular oversight and fights corruption. of freedoms The Report will deal in detail with these issues in order, seeking to draw a clearer picture of many aspects of knowledge in the Arab region and bring together data that will prepare the way, in the widest possible form, for Arab societies to deal realistically with their challenges and deficits. Once they have done so, these societies will be capable of investing their available capacities in achieiving a breakthrough to the world of knowledge and the establishment of the knowledge society to which they aspire. PREAMBLE 23
  • 41. End Notes * Arberry, Arthur J. The Koran Interpreted. Oxford World’s Classics. Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1998. p.651. 1 See the section devoted to stagnation in political reform and its effects on enabling environments for knowledge. 2 This paragraph depends on the statistical update of the Human Development Report 2007-2008, which gives the latest data available about the Arab region until 2006. It also depends on the data from the Human Development Report 2003 for comparative purposes ( 3 Based on the proportion of the population under the lower national poverty line. 4 The Arab Food Sovereignty Index has been calculated for fifteen Arab countries. It is divided into the following bands: 4.5>6.0: High food sovereignty; 2.5>5: Food sovereignty; 1.0>2.5: Low food sovereignty. 0>1.0: Extremely low food sovereignty. 5 Chapter 2 discusses this matter in more detail in terms of its impact on the knowledge society. 6 The governance indicators are based upon six dimensions: Voice and Accountability, Political Stability and Absence of Violence, Government Effectiveness, Regulatory Quality, Rule of Law and Control over Corruption. 7 An independent multi-party commission formed to issue recommendations around the future of British forces in Iraq. Source: Jalili, Ismail. “Iraq’s Lost Generation” from the website alJalili170607.pdf 8 From a speech by the president of the International Committee of the Red Cross upon his return from Darfur in February 2007 ( 9 The Knowledge Index measures the capacity of a country to produce, indigenise, and diffuse knowledge. It is the average of a country›s score on the indicators of the three key pillars of knowledge economy (education, innovation, and ICT). See the World Bank website (KAM), asp. 10 CIA website,, on 13 March 2009. 11 and http://www.worldpress. org/profiles2/Somalia.cfm on 13 March 2009 12 This paragraph relies on the background papers prepared by Fahmi Huwaydi (“Extremism and its Effect on the Knowledge Society”) and Hani Fahs (“Fanaticism as an Obstacle to Knowledge” and “The Arab Knowledge Renaissance between the Need for Agreement and a Landscape of Division”). 13 This section is based on a background paper to this report prepared during the first quarter of 2009 by Mahmud ‘Abd al-Fadil, “The Ramifications of the World Financial Crisis for Arab Economies and Societies: Losses and Opportunities.” 14 Adult, here, means a person over fifteen years old. 15 See Statistical Annex, Table 9. 16 See Statistical Annex, Table 10. 17 See Statistical Annex, Table 11. 18 See Statistical Annex, Table 13. 19 See Statistical Annex, Table 15. 20 This is according to the majority of available indicators, including the report of the World Bank on the Knowledge Assessment Methodology published in 2008. See Chapter 4. 21 World Bank website, Knowledge Assessment Methodology (KAM) 2008, on 25 December 2008. 24 ARAB KNOWLEDGE REPORT 2009
  • 43. CHAPTER ONE THE THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK: CONCEPTS AND PROBLEMATICS OF THE KNOWLEDGE SOCIETY Introduction PREMISES AND PRINCIPLES: THE KNOWLEDGE- This chapter presents a general theoretical DEVELOPMENT-FREEDOM framework for the knowledge society, based TRIAD on four major axes linked by the concerns and issues invoked by the project to create a Two fundamental premises lie behind the There exists a “knowledge society” as an integral part of a driving concepts of the Arab Knowledge triadic relationship comprehensive programme of Arab renaissance. Report and provide orientation for its various among knowledge, The first of these axes presents the premises chapters, be it this chapter concerned with development, and principles guiding the knowledge society. inquiry into the concepts, problematics The second deals with the conceptual structure and frames of reference, chapter 2 dealing and freedom of the discourses that have attempted to shed with the enabling environment, or those light on the changes in modern societies since chapters on the knowledge society’s most the information revolution. Here we have significant foundations and manifestations. constructed an operational definition of the The first premise is that there exists a knowledge society in the Arab world, based on triadic relationship among knowledge, the ideas put forward in the Report’s various development, and freedom. When we chapters. The third axis constructs the systems speak of the relationship between human of reference that have guided, and continue to development and knowledge, we evoke guide, knowledge discourse in the contemporary the teleological dimension that places world and allows us to become acquainted knowledge at the service of development. with the dimensions and options underlying When we speak of freedom, we have in earlier reports on the same topic. The fourth mind the social and political frameworks axis examines some of the problematic issues that support knowledge and innovation posed today by information and knowledge through creative interaction between the development in contemporary society, believing expansion of freedom and the creation of that reflection on these issues will influence efforts knowledge. Knowledge is to close knowledge gaps in the Arab world and The second premise concerns the a human right achieve comprehensive human development. relationship between development and and a means to While subsequent chapters of the Report the building of a knowledge society, as it overcome many examine the quantitative and qualitative is widely recognised that knowledge tends dimensions of the most significant foundations to engender social development, including of the difficulties of knowledge, this chapter deals with the economic, social, and cultural efforts to and obstacles theoretical structure of Arab knowledge overcome the deficiencies that limit the facing mankind performance and constructs the intellectual expansion of human well-being. frame of reference that underlies it. It seeks Knowledge is a human right and to provide insights that will help us acquire a means to overcome many of the keys to the knowledge society, develop the field difficulties and obstacles facing mankind. of knowledge in the Arab world, and support Today it is increasingly becoming a vital active intercommunication with the knowledge requirement of development. Current advances of our age. data from countries with high levels of THE THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK: CONCEPTS AND PROBLEMATICS OF THE KNOWLEDGE SOCIETY 27
  • 44. intellectual and technological property the gap in an age in which the gains confirm that the successful deployment from knowledge are indispensable. The of the knowledge produced in all difficulty in terminology is exacerbated by The successful spheres of economic and social activity the novelty and speed at which new terms deployment of contributes effectively to the expansion are introduced to the literature. Most terms the knowledge of human choice and emancipation. This are no more than four decades old and in turn results in the achievement of have been in common use for only three produced in comprehensive human development. decades. They lack “epistemic saturation,”1 all spheres of It is important to stress here that for they are still marked by an operational economic and social the relation between knowledge and character, and this renders agreement on activity contributes development should not be understood in their limits of application difficult. a framework of mechanistic determinism. It follows that our goal in creating a effectively to the On the contrary, this relationship must be conceptual structure for our work is expansion of understood in light of the historical debate to be able to delineate the limits of human choice and that establishes interactions between epistemic saturation and, at the same emancipation these fundamentals and thus creates the time, to scrutinise the operational manifestations and poles of the knowledge dimension behind the concepts in order society, as we aim to show. to reach a minimum of agreement on the significations assigned to particular concepts in the contemporary discourse BOX 1-1 on knowledge. The Concept of Knowledge FROM KNOWLEDGE TO This report uses the term “knowledge” and an honourable life. Knowledge— KNOWLEDGE SOCIETY to embrace all forms of a society’s whether we are talking in terms of its epistemological and cultural assets and acquisition, production, indigenisation views it as a major organizing principal or deployment—thus becomes a tool THE DEVELOPMENT OF of holistic human development. and goal that affects all levels of society THE CONCEPT OF THE Knowledge in this sense seeks to equally and involves all of fields, from expand options and opportunities the scientific, technical, cultural, and KNOWLEDGE IN ARAB available to the individual Arab and traditional to accumulated community CULTURE to achieve for him or her freedom wisdom. The term “knowledge” (ma‘rifa) is used in the Arab linguistic and cultural tradition THE CONCEPTUAL BUILDING in several ways and with more than one BLOCKS meaning. Knowledge is the opposite of ignorance, as the term “knowledgeable” The relation The concepts prevailing in the literature on (‘arif ) is given to one who is well versed between the information age fall into two categories. in something that he undertakes. When knowledge and The first category is that of central concepts a multiplicity of cognitive specialisations that outline the intellectual space of the took shape in Islamic Arab thought in the development age; these are still in a stage of theoretical Middle Ages, the same word, in the sense of should not be formation and development. The second one who acquires and becomes a bearer of understood in is that of intermediate concepts that go knowledge, began to refer to the specialist a framework into the production and reproduction in the finer points of information within a of the discourse on knowledge. Those specific field of knowledge. of mechanistic concerned with the knowledge society have Arabic use of the term ma‘rifa allows determinism formulated a group of concepts that seek for a positive value since its opposite, jahl to capture the transformations occurring (ignorance), carries a negative value (Sa‘id within new realms of knowledge. These Yaqtin, background paper for the Report). concepts, however, are plagued with The dictionary entitled al-‘Ayn, for example, ambiguity and conflicting significations, brings together the meanings given in the and this increases confusion and widens entry for the letters that form the root 28 ARAB KNOWLEDGE REPORT 2009
  • 45. BOX 1-2 “Knowledge” in al-Tahanawi’s “The Terminology of the Arts” “The term ma‘rifa is used in a number of meanings. One is ‘ilm, it is (b) “direct and automatic witnessing” (shuhudiyya daruriyya)—that meaning perception, whether this be conceptualisation (tasawwur) or is, it consists of using the existence of the Creator of the signs as assent (tasdiq). Thus it has been said, “Every instance of ma‘rifa and evidence for the signs themselves; this is the rank of the Veracious, ‘ilm is one of either conceptualisation or assent.” who are those to whom such witnessing is granted. A sheikh has “Another meaning of ma‘rifa is just tasawwur, in the sense said, “I saw God before all else,” and this is the gnosis that comes indicated above; in this case tasdiq is called ‘ilm, also in the sense through faith and good works, and it means that they have come to indicated above. know everything through Him, and not that they have come to know “Another meaning of ma‘rifa is perception of the simple, whether Him through any thing’ . . . this be conceptualisation of its nature or assent to statements that “Ma‘rifa is more particular than ‘ilm because it may be applied may be made about it. Perception of the complex on the other hand to two meanings, each of which is a kind of ‘ilm, one being ‘ilm of [is specific to ‘ilm], whether this be conceptualisation or assent. With something esoteric the evidence for which is provided by something this meaning, then, there is a distinction between ma‘rifa and ‘ilm, exoteric, as would be the case if one scrutinised a person and as a both being more limited than ‘ilm as perception in an absolute sense. result understood what was hidden within him through some mark This existence of a distinction is also the case for the second meaning that was manifest upon him . . . and the other being ‘ilm of something of ma‘rifa and ‘ilm [i.e., that which restricts ma‘rifa to tasawwur and one saw and of which one had previously been aware . . . . ‘ilm to tasdiq] . . . . “Al-Wasiti has said, ‘Ma‘rifa is [knowledge of] what I have “seen” “One says, “The Almighty knows (has ‘ilm)” and not “(He) through my senses, and ‘ilm is [knowledge of] what I have “seen” recognises (has ma‘rifa)”, because His perception is not (a) based as a result of information I have received,’ that is, information on evidence, nor is it (b) preceded by a lack of knowledge, nor is provided by the prophets, peace be upon them . . . it (c) subject to forgetfulness. Ma‘rifa and ‘ilm can be considered “Another (meaning of ma‘rifa) is the technical usage by the coterminous when used in these [last two] senses. grammarians, namely, ‘a noun adopted conventionally to indicate “Another (meaning of ma‘rifa) is a technical sense used by the a specific thing,’ or, according to others, ‘a noun adopted Sufis . . . . [As a certain writer says,] ‘Ma‘rifa strictly speaking means conventionally to be applied to a specific thing’; its opposite is ‘ilm simply, whereas in actual usage it means ‘ilm preceded by non- ‘indefiniteness’. . . knowledge. But in Sufi parlance ma‘rifa means that ‘ilm which is not “What is intended by ma‘rifa is a thing that is defined, for the subject to doubt, if, specifically, the thing known is the essence of hearer, with regard to its being defined, as if it were functioning as a God Almighty and His attributes . . . . Furthermore, ma‘rifa is either pointer to that thing by being expressed that way. By the indefinite, (a) “evidential” (istidlali)—that is, it uses signs as evidence for the on the other hand, is intended the turning of the mind to what existence of their Creator, since some of the Sufis see things and is defined, with regard to its essence, with no attention being paid to then see Him by means of the things; this ma‘rifa, if one considers its being defined, even if it is so defined in itself. There is a clear it carefully, occurs only to someone to whom something from the difference between a thing being endowed with specificity and the realm of the unseen is revealed, so that he uses both the visible and recognition of its being so endowed.” invisible signs as evidence of the existence of Almighty God . . . . or Source: al-Tahanawi, Muhammad ‘Ali al-Faruqi (d. 1745). Kashshaf Istilahat al-Funun (The Unveiler of the Terminology of the Arts). Beirut, Dar Sadir, Vol. 3, pp.994ff. of the Arabic word meaning “to know” “knowledge” is “what is written to show and the changes those meanings undergo something specific.” In other words, it is according to their vowel signs or etymology “perception of the thing as it is.” Change (al-Khalil ibn Ahmad al-Farahidi, 2002, in in meaning is a movement towards a Arabic). Thus ma‘rifa means “the appearing signification in a specific area of knowledge, and being revealed of what is hidden” and such as grammar, jurisprudence, logic, or al-ma‘ruf (“that which is known”) means mysticism, resulting in the development of As Islamic culture “what is clearly viewed” since the word a distinction between knowledge (ma‘rifa) became ever “viewing” (nazar) here comprehends both and learning (‘ilm) and the knower (al-‘arif ) more diverse and seeing and observing, as well as thinking. and the learned (al-‘alim) (al-Jurjani, 1985, vigorous, the Arabic In this context, ma‘rifa indicates transition in Arabic). language was from one state to another; i.e., transition The word ma‘rifa continued to carry its further enriched from ignorance to learning. old meanings as found in the lexica until the As Islamic culture became ever more beginnings of the twentieth century, after diverse and vigorous, the Arabic language which it expanded under the influence of was further enriched. Some specialised the second cultural exchange between Arab dictionaries highlight the change in thought and trends in modern European the meaning of the term “knowledge.’ thought, during the Arab renaissance. The Al-Ta’rifat by al-Jurjani explains that word thus came to mean intellectual and THE THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK: CONCEPTS AND PROBLEMATICS OF THE KNOWLEDGE SOCIETY 29
  • 46. philosophical output and research in the tradition, the term “knowledge” refers various different sciences and theoretical to a symbolic product and to intellectual fields. In the last two decades, however, enquiry. Those who possessed knowledge it has evolved further under the influence were called the elite—the select few who of several changes and developments. were possessed of exceptional abilities in These have affected the fundamentals scrutiny and contemplation. However, the The knowledge and bases of the concept of knowledge, knowledge revolution at the end of the revolution at including its philosophical, scientific, and twentieth century, and above all in the field the end of the cultural fundamentals and brought about of information technology, has brought twentieth century, its shift from being the preserve of an society to the threshold of a new age, in elite to a right belonging to all individuals which knowledge has become the upshot and above all in the in society and a precondition for human of a combination of higher technology field of information development. Mechanisms and means have and evolved human experience. This has technology, has become available too that allow knowledge resulted in a revolution in the density brought society to play these roles, as in the case of the and availability of knowledge and in revolutions in information technology. the expansion of economic, social, and to the threshold Thus, the present age has witnessed a recreational roles made possible by the of a new age radical change in the signification of the diverse spheres and worlds of production term “knowledge,” with new synonyms and that fashion the knowledge society. meanings that differ from those used in the Arab cultural patrimony, a development THE INTERACTION AND that may lead to a disjunction between the INTERSECTION OF CONCEPTS term “knowledge” as used in the latter and the meanings that the compound term In contemporary usage, the phrase “knowledge society” bears today. “the knowledge society” is taken to In the Arab linguistic and intellectual be synonymous with several terms or BOX 1-3 A Linguistic Perspective on “Knowledge” Careful observation of the significations and derivatives of the other person cognisant of it (mu‘tarifun ‘alayh) and aware of it word ma‘rifa (knowledge) and the syntactical and morphological (‘alimun bihi). transformations to which it may be subject, reveals that it has the By examining these two semantic fields (appearance, and movement following meanings: from ignorance to awareness) along with their various associated • “The appearance and revelation of what has been hidden and sub-significations, we find that knowledge means, in sum, “acquiring concealed.” Thus the various words built from the root ‘–r-f, awareness of something.” This has led many to define knowledge as whether ‘arf meaning “wind” or “perfume,” or ‘urf meaning “awareness,” in all its general and specific senses. This explains how “a good deed, or act of generosity or open-handedness” or it comes about that the various derivative forms of the words for “a projecting part of the body” (as in ‘urf al-faras (“the mare’s knowledge (ma‘rifa) and awareness (‘ilm) are, by and large, syntactically mane”)), or ‘arafat in the sense of “an open space” or as a verb and semantically identical, as illustrated by the following: (‘arifa, imperfect ya‘rifu) meaning “to know,” are all indicative of • Ma‘rifa = ‘ilm; ‘arif = ‘alim; ma‘ruf = ma‘lum; ma‘arif = something becoming conspicuous, appearing, and becoming ma‘alim; ta‘arruf = ta‘allum; ta‘rif = ta‘lim. wide-spread to the point of being plain to the eye. The same meaning is to be found in ma‘arif (“acquaintances”) and ‘arif, The two concepts also share antonymy with the words in the which is to say “the chief man among a group of people and following list (in the same order as the above): the most conspicuous among them.” • Jahl/nakira; jahil/munkir; majhul/munkar; majahil/manakir; • “Movement from one state to another.” Semantically related tanakkur/tankir. is the transformation of the signification to that of movement In the latter case, tajahhul is not used as the opposite of tanakkur from ignorance of a thing to awareness of it, or from disavowal and tajhil is a recent coinage. This may be explained by the fact that and denial to knowledge and acknowledgment. Thus someone “adoption of ignorance” (tajahhul) and “imposition of ignorance” who acknowledges (ya‘tarifu) or recognises (yasta‘rifu) or (tajhil) both imply intent, which means that they cannot be realised characterises (yu‘arrifu) a thing moves from a state of keeping in actual usage because both conditions (of ignorance, assumed or it secret or denying its existence to one of confessing his guilt imposed) are involuntary. with regard to it or revealing its nature, thus making some Source: Sa’id Yaqtin, Min al-Ma’rifa ila Mujtama’ al-Ma’rifa (From Knowledge to the Knowledge Society), background paper for the Report, in Arabic. 30 ARAB KNOWLEDGE REPORT 2009
  • 47. phrases that do not display theoretical or of characteristics of economies in post- functional equivalence. This points to a industrial society. Sociologists, on the other number of difficulties, in which the logic hand, view the knowledge society through of nomenclature becomes entwined with the lens of the post-modern age, in that the mechanisms of interpretation. Linking the main traits of this society are being the knowledge society with widely used formed in a new perspective of precise concepts such as the information society, technical ideas and innovations generative the knowledge economy, the networked of a composite world. society, the digital society, the information On this basis, we will explain the major society, or the technology society fails to difference between the term “knowledge” yield a unified concept. This diversity of in the Arab linguistic tradition and the terms shows that the central concept has concept of knowledge in the contemporary yet to achieve “knowledge saturation.” knowledge society. It may also be the case Thus we are faced with concepts that grow that there is no link between the term up side by side with significations most of “knowledge” as used in “the knowledge which have resonances that tie them in society” and the theory of knowledge in The concepts some way to the concept of the knowledge the history of philosophy. Today the world of “knowledge” society. finds itself confronted with new meanings and “knowledge The connotations of the term arising from the information revolution, “knowledge” in “knowledge society” differ communication techniques, and genetic society” are from those in “knowledge economy” and engineering, in addition to those of still in process “information technology.” Similarly, the mathematics, sociology, anthropology, of formation, term “information” is not the theoretical economics, and linguistics. The distinct undergoing equivalent of the term “knowledge,” since meanings and nuances that arise from “knowledge” implies more than the mere these different uses of the term are often moments of quantity of information and data gathered.. ironed out in intellectual approaches that maturation that On the other hand, if we look at the many commoditize knowledge. accompany any definitions of the word “information” that Before, we seek to construct an process of birth are subsumed within the term “information operational definition that is in keeping with explosion,” we see that it is at the core of our vision for the Report, we shall attempt the concept of knowledge. This explosion to bypass the confusion of nomenclature is creating the salient characteristics of by condensing the question into major the human information landscape—the poles. These may help us approach our images that today are establishing a new subject, since the interconnectedness and world and a new society. mixing that are on-going today with regard This description of nomenclatural issues to the significance of the concept “the and the asymmetry of synonyms reflects knowledge society” may force us to create only part of the challenge that we face in our a way out that will advance our thinking current endeavour, since disciplinary frames and help us to stay in touch with the of reference that influence researchers in achievements of our age. their specialised fields themselves control the construction of nomenclature. Engineers POLES OF THE KNOWLEDGE believe that they are behind the creation SOCIETY: THE SOCIETY- of intelligent technology, and that the ECONOMY-TECHNOLOGY latter has banished the traditional educated TRIAD person from the new knowledge arena and replaced him with the media and technical Let us begin by acknowledging that the engineer. Economists likewise believe concepts “knowledge” and “knowledge that the “knowledge-based economy” is society” are still in process of expressive of the major transformations of formation, and, at the beginning of the age and use the concept when speaking this new millennium, are undergoing THE THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK: CONCEPTS AND PROBLEMATICS OF THE KNOWLEDGE SOCIETY 31
  • 48. one of those moments of maturation that industry, and develop educational systems accompany any process of birth, or of whose universities and research centres transition from one area of knowledge to foster innovations and inventions. another. Caution is therefore called for Such societies also provide an enabling when we use these concepts if productive atmosphere, institutions, laws, and a firm dialogue about their meaning is to be base of individual and political freedom achieved. At the same time, the diversity that stimulate the production and use of of synonyms reveals the existence of three knowledge. major areas—technology, economy, and The transformations seen by human Technology, the society—that intersect at the heart of the societies at the end of the last century economy, and concept. Thus, we find ourselves facing as a result of changes in the content and society, constitute knowledge technology, a knowledge- mechanisms of the knowledge society and elements based economy, and a knowledge society of the information technology revolution (Wolton, 1997, in French). There is no have necessitated the reorganisation of fundamental to disputing the importance of information society and the economy. The result has the understanding technology to the knowledge society, just been disruption in numerous areas of life. of the knowledge as no one downplays the importance of The epistemological paradigms and applied society the role it plays in the formation of the mechanisms that once prevailed within concept itself. Similarly, there is agreement society have ceased to be appropriate for on the transformations that knowledge the structural changes this revolution has technologies perform on new economies unleashed. The terms “economy,” “society,” and societies. This can only imply that “culture,” “education,” and “media” are no technology, the economy, and society, longer understood according to the logic in their contemporary manifestations, of the nineteenth or the first half of the constitute elements fundamental to the twentieth century. Rather, they call for a new understanding of the knowledge society. approach using innovative mechanisms The new age, with all its visions and designed to meet the requirements of a hopes of expanding the limits of human new age. Within this vision, new economies options, is being established within the have formed, as have new means of radius of these poles. In this context, we communications and new principles of cannot overlook, either, the concept’s work, perception, and interaction. It is no Utopian significance, for to speak of a longer adequate to do the right thing; one knowledge society is, fundamentally, to also has to do it in the right way. speak of an open-ended historical vision Technology has become one of the Technology has in the process of formation (Breton, 1997, manifestations of our existence, and its limits, but in French; Nur al-Din Afayah, background our age has indeed become “the age there are no limits paper for the Report, in Arabic). The term of technology.” Constantly and rapidly to innovation “knowledge” in “knowledge society” also evolving information channels dominate refers to the outcome of the combination and have become electronic markets of information, expertise, and capacity producing and distributing an infinite to govern, an outcome which makes the array of goods and services. Globalisation, construction of knowledge possible and with its new economic order, has helped opens new horizons in terms of greater transform man into a consumer. This human control over nature through composite effect, represented by the possession of resources and systems information and knowledge-based in spheres of work, knowledge and economies made possible by technology, production. At the same time, it must has had its substantial impacts on human be said that the societies whose major cognition and behavior. features most closely approach those As we have shown, in the knowledge of the knowledge society operate at the society, technology, economy, and society forefront of the information technology intersect and interact, nurtured by an 32 ARAB KNOWLEDGE REPORT 2009
  • 49. enabling institutional and legal environment based on freedom, intercommunication, FIGURE 1-1 and openness. If the knowledge society The poles of the knowledge society forms and evolves in the light of technological variables, it simultaneously constructs the major features of the new economy, an economy dominated by Societal Pole networks of transnational corporations; these, in turn give rise to new facilities and services benefiting from human expertise and intelligence. These networks also open to the knowledge society the gates of globalisation, which is capable of building new markets in a world where Economic Technological barriers both visible and invisible fall Pole Pole daily. The third side of the knowledge society triangle is represented by the Knowledge new consumer within society, who Industrial is distinguished by new patterns of Society Society behaviour, by globalised cultural patterns, and by intercommunication patterns that create new phenomena, as shown in Figure 1-1, which compares the poles in question in such a way as to allow us to Technology diagnose several current examples of this Digital* Analogue transformation. Knowledge processing Data processing Sequence machines Calculators These data are not complete. They are an Logic of use Operational logic attempt to capture aspects of phenomena Electronic informatics directed at the public Special and specialised informatics that are in process of formation and Installation of data Large quantity of raw data Worldwide Web Personal home computers transition from the industrial society to the System profitability System strength knowledge society, an attempt to examine Processing by topic Bundling in detail what is happening in a changing Different media Multiple media Interactive electronic carrier Paper carrier world. Even though Arab societies are not Dynamic document Rigid document industrial, and despite the knowledge gap between the Arab world and the developed Economy world, the Arabs are a part of this world Content Form that aspires to a firmer mastery of scientific Strategy of cooperation Strategy of competition knowledge and technology. Many novice users Experienced users Tangible Value Tangible Cost The preceding data help us understand Non-paper management Paper-dependent management the concept of the technology-economy- Collective knowledge Technological knowledge knowledge triad. Technology has its limits, Knowledge-based economy Production-intensive economy Demand-driven market Supply-driven market but there are no limits to innovation, and Intercontinental markets National markets the economy has its spaces, albeit in the new economies such spaces exist outside Society of national borders. Despite these facts, Knowledge society Society of industrial units the term “knowledge society” goes Intermingled culture National cultures Interest groups Mass spectators farther than the opening-up implied by Data glut Shortage of information the two previous terms, and has taken Horizontal hierarchy (networks) Vertical hierarchy up residence in society and in those Democratic participation2 Democratic representation minds that are capable of building and *A digital description of information technology data, a central pole of the knowledge society. developing it. THE THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK: CONCEPTS AND PROBLEMATICS OF THE KNOWLEDGE SOCIETY 33
  • 50. When reviewing what has been said such as the “digital society” and the “digital about these poles, we must emphasise divide.” At the end of the last century, interaction, rather than alignment or Manuel Castells published an important juxtaposition. The focus on interaction thesis in three volumes entitled La Société brings us into contact with productive en Reseaux (The Networked Society), a huge processes, narrows distances, and produces work that is courageous, powerful, and forms of interaction that are difficult to original, and touches on many complex No one pursues separate or isolate unless for temporary or aspects of the spirit of our age. Castells knowledge for procedural reasons, or for expediency. believes that the digital character of the its own sake, we knowledge society raises numerous issues. It THE NETWORKED SOCIETY: constitutes the most exciting characteristic mostly seek it for THE MOST CONSPICUOUS of the information revolution by virtue of “what it can do” FEATURE OF THE the ease with which its tools, techniques, KNOWLEDGE SOCIETY and software may be used in production systems. At the same time, this very ease A strong synonym for the “knowledge leads to outcomes and problematics that society” is the “networked society,” which touch the core of the transition to a high- itself has given rise to several synonyms tech precision technology within the knowledge society. The UNESCO Report Towards Knowledge Societies illuminates the BOX 1-4 issue with a telling simile, saying that the The Power of Knowledge difficulty of finding the appropriate item of information in the information age is I say, then, that the “power of specifically. Today no one pursues like “drinking water from a fire hose: there knowledge”—and I might just as well knowledge for its own sake, i.e., for say “powerful knowledge”—is the first the pleasure produced by its magic, is plenty of water, but one must beware of reality which presents itself in our its exoticism, its revelations, or its drowning” (UNESCO, 2005, in French). current age. I am not saying anything beauty; we mostly seek it for “what it In Volume II of the former work, new. We all know that the shift from can do.” Linguistics and the literary knowledge as “contemplation,” as in arts themselves, at the end of the day, entitled The Power of Identity (Castells, 1999, the Greek, to knowledge as “power” seek human intercommunication and in French), the author devotes special as in the works of Jabir ibn Hayyan, pleasure, and what Spinoza calls the attention to the networked society and Bacon, and the modern West, is not “pleasure of knowledge” operates new. We all know that contemporary within the same framework…. explains that the information age is technology is the direct fruit of this Today the power of knowledge is governed and directed by two central understanding. Here we must bear evident in various forms, particularly poles: the network pole and the active- in mind that knowledge is not an in the technological sector, and it is accumulation of scientific discoveries our inability to produce “technical self pole. In his account, the concept of but, before anything else, a method that knowledge,” either now or perhaps “the network” does not mean any specific encompasses the rules according to in the foreseeable future, that reveals network, but multiple networks controlling which all the world’s data is viewed— our inadequacy, weakness, and misery. man, nature, society, values, creations, We are able to participate at present sources of power, wealth, and information and manufactured goods—and that only within the confines of the spaces and enhanced with digital technology. knowledge has its rigorous critical that produce that knowledge, i.e., The network is “the new social structure and methodological instruments. Its those of the “European West” or the instrumental or pragmatic nature “American West.” Nothing, however, for the information age—the age of the today not only deals with the applied prevents us from producing “human networked society made up of networks or technical aspects, but includes all and social knowledge.” From within activities of man, society and the our own national spaces, we can direct of production, power, and experience, a state, to the extent that, if “scientific our research towards human issues and culture that by virtue of these networks knowledge” on these various fields values, society and its values, and the plays a part in building a virtual culture of human activity were accumulated, state and its principles. We can treat it would be possible to shift to action. these issues on the basis of scientific, within a framework of globalised flows and This means that knowledge would rational methodologies and we can transcends the concepts of time and place. become a “tool” for the “governance” benefit from them in our reformulation In this age of ours, all societies have been of man, society, and the state, and what of humanity, society, and the state, and we call the “human” and the “social” thus bestow on “knowledge” a power it breached by the sweeping power of the sciences could pursue these goals does not at this time possess. networked society.” Opposed to globalised Source: Fahmi Jad‘an, 2002, Riyah al-‘Asr, Al-Mu’assasa al-‘Arabiyya lil-Dirasat wal-Nashr, Beirut, pp. 14,15,16. networking, which is the salient feature of the knowledge society, stands the “self ”— 34 ARAB KNOWLEDGE REPORT 2009
  • 51. the individual and collective identity (the production. At the same time, they have individual, the citizen, the human being, changed how work is conducted and how the group) that seeks to preserve its life authority and control are exercised. amidst the sweeping transformations in The Internet is now the largest registry knowledge. This tension between the of reference information for all areas “network” and the “self ” produces new of knowledge. In addition, its networks “The Internet has forms of social conflict, of which knowledge provide interactive possibilities throughout become the primary is a salient feature. Humanity faces, in place the fabric of society through rapid digital international vehicle of class conflict, a conflict in which mechanisms. As a result, the “place” in the for conveying networks, with their multiple symbolic networked society is not physical but is bases, play a dominant role in feeding and equivalent to “flows.” Capital flows and the ideas; indeed, it marshalling its main features. Thus, Castells abundant information made available on has the power to stresses the roles played by new social and the internet have no relation to a specific globalise the world” cultural movements, such as students’ and place; they are in a “non-place” that is Castells feminist movements, the peace movement synonymous with all places. Furthermore, and environmental movements. There is “time,” according to Castells, is “non- something in these different movements, time,” since it is no longer connected to as in the collapse of the socialist block the clock that, in the industrial age, defined and its continuing repercussions, as well its role. In the networked society, time is a as in the retreat of the symbolic power of sort of vessel that allows us to be in several the patriarchal system within the family places at once. and in society at large, that reflects the contradictions ignited by the information THE KNOWLEDGE SOCIETY: age. TOWARDS EXPANDING From this perspective, the importance CHOICES FOR RENAISSANCE of the networked society concept is AND DEVELOPMENT represented by the social and informational axes. Because Castells highlights the role The 2005 UNESCO Report adopted the of information in our age, information, concept of the knowledge society in the viewed as the product of technological plural, as “knowledge societies,” viewing systems and biological models, is his this as the most appropriate term for Expanding the paradigm for the new world. Thus the the changes taking place in a world of significations of network becomes an expression of a which technology forms the cornerstone, the “knowledge” complex activity; it resembles the human and the central manifestations of whose genome strand supported by knowledge, general structure are the new economy in “knowledge by advanced, that is, and very precise and communication networks. The society” requires mathematical data. Accepting the network manifestations and epiphanies of the that the concept no concept means accepting that technology, latter are, in their turn, reflected in human longer be restricted and specifically information technology, realities, confronting humanity with new lie behind social organisation. In Castells’ challenges and questions. This highlights to the scientific words, “information” capitalism becomes the importance of broadening the and technological the alternative for what Marx in the significations of the term to embrace all the dimensions nineteenth century called “industrial changes and social challenges influenced capitalism.” by this new perspective, or, perhaps more The Internet has become the primary accurately, this new world. international vehicle for conveying ideas; The importance of expanding the indeed, it has the power to globalise significations of the “knowledge” in the world (Castells, 2002, in French). “knowledge society” requires that the It has helped destabilise all tools of concept no longer be restricted to the communication and has restructured their scientific and technological dimensions, architecture, their uses, and their modes of as it clearly is in the indices and indicators THE THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK: CONCEPTS AND PROBLEMATICS OF THE KNOWLEDGE SOCIETY 35
  • 52. related to the knowledge-based economy with its multiple gaps, calls upon us to popular in some literature, such as the define a vision that will help us prepare reports of the World Bank. While it is true the appropriate points of entry to the that scientific knowledge is important, the requirements of Arab knowledge as it scope of knowledge is broader than that. now is. In this regard, we believe that A more inclusive perspective on human the concern for knowledge innate in the knowledge is called for, one that does not Arab renaissance project, and especially in exclude the humanities and other sciences those of its dimensions devoted to cultural The Report adopts related to aesthetics, values, and the arts, enlightenment, is part and parcel of the a concept of one that excludes none of the symbolic orientation of this report. knowledge that product that fashions humanity’s wisdom This report adopts a comprehensive is broad enough and infinite capacity for invention, and for vision for an Arab knowledge society. material and symbolic production. It seeks to build a society in which to encompass Expansion of the significations of the knowledge is a product of the union of the link between term “knowledge” makes the concept information technology, experience, and knowledge of the knowledge society better able to the capacity to govern with an eye to the and human embrace several aspects of humanity’s wise use of resources, exploitation of the theoretically recognised competence. The means available to attain renaissance, and development interdependence and interaction among an ability to seize the achievements of these aspects are no longer in dispute, since human development. The Report adopts a the capacity for rational thought is equal to concept of knowledge that is broad enough the potential of the imagination, and since to encompass the link between knowledge epistemological synthesis is an act that and human development. It seeks to includes the outcome of the human effort expand options and opportunities available to understand and innovate (UNESCO, to the individual Arab and to achieve for 2005, in French). What makes it desirable to him or her freedom and an honourable expand these significations is the tendency life. Knowledge—whether we are talking of certain reports by some international in terms of its acquisition, production, organisations to impose knowledge data indigenisation or deployment—thus linked to certain specific societies. A critical becomes a tool and goal for all levels of examination of the indices and indicators society equally and involves all of its fields, Knowledge fashioned by the World Bank on the subject from the scientific, technical, cultural, acquisition, of the knowledge society and knowledge and traditional to that of accumulated production, economies, for example, reveals that the community wisdom. unit of analysis in these reports is based on indigenisation and data from Western Europe and the United THE BASIC FRAME OF deployment is a States. How can terms be transferred and REFERENCE FOR THE tool and goal for generalised to other social paradigms that KNOWLEDGE SOCIETY all levels of society were not under consideration at the time when the research was conducted and the The intellectual frames of reference equally and involves terms constructed? How, in fact, can the and philosophical underpinnings that all of its fields economy or the enabling environment for encompass the system of fundamental the knowledge society be reformed assumptions underlying the reports without a precise diagnosis of the of international organisations on the forms of knowledge accumulation and the knowledge society must be made explicit, knowledge gaps linked to the Arab reality? since these establish the latter’s goals, The knowledge society, sometimes indicators, and working strategies. Even referred to as the “digital society,” is if these reports are, on the whole, issued a collective project. It is more than in a neutral language, rely on quantitative its instruments and its networks. methods, and are careful to benefit in Furthermore, the state of Arab knowledge, the construction of their data from the 36 ARAB KNOWLEDGE REPORT 2009
  • 53. services of seasoned experts and scholars, side of their work has assumed various this is insufficient to give them an objective, dimensions. The most prominent of neutral stamp, which would, in any case, these has been the construction of topics be hard to achieve. This observation to diagnose the dilemmas of our world, does not imply doubt about the scientific important theses of these has been based and practical value of the reports of on various topics, such as the environment, international organisations or reservations gender, world peace, issues of health and about their approaches and results; rather, nutrition. These and others once appeared in order to construct a more humane under other labels and today refer to new and more cooperative human space, it research areas related to comprehensive aspires to shed light on the “relativity” of human development. their results and conclusions at a time of Since it is clear that these reports belong increasing interdependence between states to a new tradition of research and writing, and societies, and of burgeoning questions those negative positions that totally reject about human co-existence dedicated to them may not be justified. The heated constructing a human space that is more political and ideological positions opposing Important efforts humane and cooperative. these reports are for the most part based have been made An understanding of the frame of on pre-conceived stances and may not be by scholars reference of such reports and studies allows of value in advancing intercommunication and experts us to grasp messages that are not always with the world, its institutions, and the clearly expressed, as well as to benefit from reports issued by these institutions. to go beyond their data. Since the World Bank’s 2002 This in no way, however, means that the ideological report on the knowledge society, its 2007 disciplined criticism should be set aside, positions that report on the knowledge economy, the for the latter seeks among other things describe world 2005 UNESCO report Towards Knowledge to play a role in deepening the dialogue, economic Societies, the 2003 Arab Human Development developing the discussion, and enriching Report, and other reports issued during the approaches and outcomes of these conditions in the 1990s on the subject of knowledge reports by using local and idiosyncratic terms of the and development have taken as their comparative indicators and analytical crises created by starting points particular theoretical tools. This helps to develop concepts and global capitalism perspectives based on certain philosophical expand significations. frameworks and methodologies. Further, The reports of international these reports have relied on similar data organisations on the knowledge society and comparative indicators to address the may be approached with this positive subject of knowledge performance in our outlook. Thus, the aim becomes that age. of modifying and developing their The introductions, conclusions, and methodology and results in light of the action plans of reports issued on the actual situation of Arab knowledge subject of the knowledge society, whether performance and Arab attempts to bridge by the World Bank or the United Nations the information gap and gain access to the and its educational, cultural, and scientific information age. Critical examination of institutions, may be read as efforts to deal the reports of international organisations with the predicament brought about by on the knowledge society reveals that they the lexicon of economic analysis that are informed by at least two main frames remained in use after the end of the Cold of reference: War. Important efforts have been made 1. A positivist tendency in which the by scholars and experts to coin new terms quantitative orientation dominates. This that go beyond the ideological positions orientation limits the comprehensiveness that continued to describe world economic of the phenomena under discussion, conditions in terms of the crises created as well as subjecting the development by global capitalism. The theoretical and knowledge trajectories to a notion THE THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK: CONCEPTS AND PROBLEMATICS OF THE KNOWLEDGE SOCIETY 37
  • 54. of technological determinism, with no concentration on the economic dimension alternative to its results and decisions. and its view of the Western experience This position makes the triumph and with its underlying values as the exclusive hegemony of technology the symbol model whose data it then seeks to transform of an age still in fact in the process of into indicators by which to measure what formation. happens in the rest of the world. The goal of this 2. The political modernisation trend that An objective historical view of the critical review is invokes the bases and principles of knowledge society cannot be limited to not to diminish international human rights charters. observations on the relationship between the value of This tendency is inadequate and ridden knowledge and technology or discussion with many contradictions and paradoxes of knowledge-based economies. In the international (Ruqayya al-Musaddaq, background current state of knowledge, we assume that reports, but to paper for the Report, in Arabic). discussion will be more comprehensive and uncover their Before clarifying the contradictions in will turn to the subject of the knowledge limitations these systems of reference, it is important society in those of its dimensions that to emphasise that the goal of this critical are not blind to the importance of a review is not to diminish the value of these critical perspective to the construction reports, but to uncover their limitations of knowledge and the realisation of and highlight their shortcomings, innovation. If we cannot construct particularly in aspects related to knowledge from a critical perspective, we Arab society, in order to advance the will continue to describe and quantify Arab theoretical discourse around the phenomena without reaching a diagnosis establishment of the knowledge society. of the deep-seated weaknesses that produce the current state of Arab THE POSITIVIST TREND: knowledge (al-‘Arabi al-Wafi, background THE QUANTITATIVE paper for the Report, in Arabic). ORIENTATION This critique does not question the The shortcoming value of the epistemological paradigm of the prevailing The contemporary knowledge scene revels of scholars who have developed several positivist trend in the positivist mindset that is drawn methods and tools for studying new in the literature to science and technology. This positivist phenomena and have sought to illuminate trend is undoubtedly a powerful many of their aspects. Nevertheless, we of international continuation of the ideas of the Renaissance must be aware of the implicit ideological institutions is its and Enlightenment philosophy. However, dimensions in reports by international concentration the developments affecting the state of the organisations, and we urge that their on the economic world today warrant caution with regard results and recommendations be read with to its general drift, with its optimistic caution. dimension and and self-confident attitude towards the For example, the indicators for the Western course of history, no matter what claims an information and communications experience as the may be made as to its capacity to assist technology (ICT) index proposed by exclusive model man in his dealings with nature and life. the World Bank reveal that we are faced to measure what The most conspicuous characteristic with an exercise in quantification that of the positivist mind set is its resort to pays not the slightest attention to the happens in the quantitative methods in its epistemological background of the quantitative data. rest of the world paradigms. Although these methods allow The index is measured on the basis for neutral and objective examination of population counts, income levels, of phenomena, the final conclusions and level of spending. Some scholars often support predetermined intellectual have pointed out the shortcomings of preferences. The greatest shortcoming these indicators, believing that they give of the prevailing positivist trend in the insufficient importance to the fruits of literature of international institutions is its economic and social knowledge, and 38 ARAB KNOWLEDGE REPORT 2009
  • 55. pay too little attention to the qualitative happens, the broadening of the orbit of dimension. Education indicators, for the study of knowledge, especially from example, concentrate on the number of a critical perspective, may become one of students enrolled and not on other, more the means of expanding our options in knowledge-relevant aspects, such as the life and establishing a knowledge society quality of education available from fulfilling our aspirations for our societies. instructors, what qualifications the latter hold, and the presence or absence THE POLITICAL We need to of buildings, science labs, and so on MODERNISATION MINDSET: shake up what is (Mohammed Bakir, background paper for EVOKING HUMAN RIGHTS stagnant in our the Report, in Arabic). The paradigms that give rise to these The second major system of reference knowledge and indicators, with their operational character, guiding the construction of knowledge rock the pillars of claims to objectivity, and technological society reports, emerging at the end of our unquestioned determinism, could be useful in the the last century and the beginning of the convictions and societies in which they were constructed. third millennium rests on the premises preconceived These paradigms may acquire a limited of a liberal and neo-liberal political efficacy outside their historical context. modernisation. notions However, they must be modified and This becomes clear when we study augmented so that they become suitable the principles of the World Summits on for a new unit of analysis related to a the Information Society (Geneva 2003, new reality, such as that of the Arabs. Tunis 2005), especially in their strong link This gives the methodology a universal with the “human rights” vocabulary as character, since testing it in varied established in the Universal Declaration of research areas would provide an occasion Human Rights of 1948 and the Covenants to reconstruct or create alternatives that on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights meet new requirements. Reports issued of 1966 and 1976. The 2005 UNESCO by international organisations have Report Towards Knowledge Societies springs not been able to rid themselves of this from the same perspective as portrayed positivist mindset, and the indicators by its appeal for adherence to the principle and concepts devised within these of “the right to knowledge” and its Access to reports are not merely vessels to store defence of the principles of tolerance and information, everything and nothing. Similarly, the fact solidarity. and difference that we can measure the knowledge gap Some human rights issues are framed quantitatively does not exempt us from a in the context of a defence of the of opinion are more profound diagnosis of knowledge values of transparency and democratic unquestioned performance in the Arab world, since the reform as a pre-condition of the enabling requirements for prevalence there of systems of reference environment that fosters knowledge. In the establishment that have no connection to what happens this way, the right to knowledge, access in the world around them compounds the to information, and difference of opinion of the knowledge knowledge gap. This is what makes the are transformed into unquestioned society challenges of closing the knowledge gap requirements for the establishment of the in the Arab world complex and multiple. knowledge society and the improvement We do indeed most urgently need to close of knowledge performance (UNESCO, the existing knowledge gap. However, we 2005, in French). also need to shake up what is stagnant Declarations of principles defending in our knowledge and rock the pillars of the rights to development, knowledge, our unquestioned convictions and our and access to information have, however, preconceived notions in such a way as nothing to do with what actually happens to help us to go beyond our text-bound, on the ground. They are no more than traditional epistemologies. When this declarations of intent and hope cast in THE THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK: CONCEPTS AND PROBLEMATICS OF THE KNOWLEDGE SOCIETY 39
  • 56. the language of solidarity, cooperation, political project, which, when examined, and common destiny (Cenre Europe- turns out to be the maker and organiser of Tiers Monde, 2007, in French). What the network of institutions and laws that controls actions in reality is the logic of rule the world. power and domination, whose rigidity the In our bid for economic and human contradictions innate in the knowledge development in the Arab world, we society have made more extreme. There is cannot be content with the benefits of the no longer any hesitation over declaring the “invisible hand” of the market—the hand power of knowledge or of its possessors, that is the common factor in many reports In our bid since the knowledge gap has become on development and knowledge. The for economic synonymous with poverty, weakness, invisible hand may do its work through and human marginalisation, and, subsequently, strangulation, which, where knowledge dependency and subordination. is concerned, means cutting off its life- development in The political modernisation mindset is blood. This is all the more grave given that the Arab world, we distinguished by its ability to incorporate life is interdependent with knowledge. cannot be content political values linked to the neo-liberal The global financial crisis that began with the benefits of model. It converges with political and in late 2008 showed that financial choices the “invisible hand” strategic choices supportive of the based on the invisible hand of a completely interests of the strong, of those who open market with no effective societal of the market possess knowledge and deploy it to run supervision necessarily have negative effects the world. This “neo-liberal” view does on the various enabling environments and not hesitate to declare a pragmatic goal existing markets. The choices by which with respect to the conclusions fostered the future of global financial institutions by such reports, thus confirming the is determined reveal in turn further incompatibility between the economic dimensions of the crisis. policies of the knowledge economy and Thus there are innumerable difficulties the political goals of the democratic in bridging the knowledge gap in the Arab BOX 1-5 Building the Information Society: a global challenge in the new millennium Excerpts from the 2003 Geneva Declaration of Principles on Building the Information Society In the Declaration of Principles of the 10-12 December 2003 of all social organisation. It is central to the Information Society. meeting in Geneva, we read: Everyone everywhere should have the opportunity to participate Our challenge is to harness the potential of information and and no one should be excluded from the benefits the Information communication technology (ICT) to promote the development Society offers. goals of the Millennium Declaration, namely the eradication of We are aware that ICTs should be regarded as tools and not as an extreme poverty and hunger; achievement of universal primary end in themselves. Under favourable conditions, these technologies education; promotion of gender equality and empowerment of can be a powerful instrument, increasing productivity, generating women; reduction of child mortality; improvement of maternal economic growth, job creation and employability and improving the health; to combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases; quality of life of all. They can also promote dialogue among people, ensuring environmental sustainability; and development of global nations and civilisations. partnerships for development for the attainment of a more peaceful, We are also fully aware that the benefits of the information just and prosperous world. We also reiterate our commitment to the technology revolution are today unevenly distributed between the achievement of sustainable development and agreed development developed and developing countries and within societies. We are fully goals, as contained in the Johannesburg Declaration and Plan of committed to turning this digital divide into a digital opportunity for Implementation and the Monterey Consensus, and other outcomes all, particularly for those who risk being left behind and being further of relevant United Nations Summits. marginalised. We reaffirm, as an essential foundation of the Information We affirm that development of ICTs provides enormous Society, and as outlined in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of opportunities for women, who should be an integral part of, and key Human Rights, that everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and actors, in the Information Society. We are committed to ensuring that expression; that this right includes freedom to hold opinions without the Information Society enables women’s empowerment and their interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas full participation on the basis on equality in all spheres of society and through any media and regardless of frontiers. Communication is a in all decision-making processes. To this end, we should mainstream fundamental social process, a basic human need and the foundation a gender equality perspective and use ICTs as a tool to that end. 40 ARAB KNOWLEDGE REPORT 2009
  • 57. region, greatest among them that the and balance (Kamal ‘Abd al-Latif, 1997, in bridging of this gap hinges on a sharing Arabic). These are the shared values whose of power. The appeals for solidarity, general principles all of humanity tries cooperation, and joint action in the to reconstruct, in a spirit of agreement conclusions and data of these reports may over the importance of interdependence, be nothing more than a mask to obscure consensus, and mutual assistance in the real face of power, which in fact creates international relations. At the same time, and widens the knowledge gap (Centre the necessity of benefiting from the new Europe-Tiers Monde, 2007, in French). realities to allow the emergence of the We are affected Reading Chapter 10 of UNESCO’s 2005 knowledge society cannot be overlooked. by everything that report on “The Renewal of Democratic Using the tools that brought about the happens in the Practices in Knowledge Societies,” and knowledge revolution, declarations of world since we are Chapter 9, which calls for “Linguistic principles and intentions can be converted Pluralism, Strengthening Cultural into deeds and action, not simply in order an active party— Diversity, and Sharing Knowledge,” we to bring about political modernisation even though, as see the distances that are opening up in Arab society, but to achieve a form Arabs, we may be between report discourses and the reality of political modernisation that is merely second or of the situation in countries of the South, reinforced with solidarity and cooperation third level actors including the Arab countries. At the worldwide. same time, the thickness of the walls that separate knowledge from the external PROBLEMATIC ISSUES OF mechanisms that create the knowledge gap THE KNOWLEDGE SOCIETY and the meagreness of the Arab knowledge performance become apparent. As a reality still in process of formation, the This does not mean that we are calling knowledge society, with all its components for an adoption of the values of others, and programmes, raises many theoretical or arguing that we should become issues and practical questions, requiring that dependent on and compliant with the visions be formed and positions taken. If wishes of power. It does not mean the ICT revolution that helped prepare for what Ibn Khaldun called “imitating the the birth of new economies and drew the conqueror.” What we mean first and borders of knowledge in a new society is foremost is the incorporation within our described by most as “the soft revolution,” We should not own thinking of the knowledge that is the softness was merely the superficial delay dealing available today to all mankind (‘Abdallah outward form of actions intended to carve with problematic Al-‘Urawi, 1996, in Arabic), or, in other out new directions in a rapidly globalising issues raised by the words, the values of knowledge and world. Faced by the “softness” of the scholarship and the fundamentals of symbols used to penetrate the worlds of the knowledge society, policy, economics, and management. In image, of information, and of the market, whether local or this last sphere, specifically, we believe that to manage them in new ways, and to lay global, on the openness to the world is an expression the foundation for a new society, we must pretext that most of the desire to achieve reconciliation pay attention to the problematic issues Arab countries with our historical identity and the world that have arisen and will continue to arise. and to attain the human development to We must look at the issues consequent on have not yet joined which we aspire. this revolution, particularly given that their this society The battle over political modernisation results affect us all in our concern to enter continues under various guises, just as the knowledge society and experience its the values of enlightenment and reason advances and achievements. are still embraced to varying degrees We should not delay dealing with in the majority of Arab countries, as a problematic issues raised by the knowledge way to build a political discourse more society, whether local or global, on the faithful to the values of reason, justice, pretext that most Arab countries have not THE THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK: CONCEPTS AND PROBLEMATICS OF THE KNOWLEDGE SOCIETY 41
  • 58. yet joined this society. However prepared point out that the political reform project or unprepared the Arab region may be to remains a sine qua non for societies that indigenise the knowledge society, its likely are seeking, to different degrees, to build repercussions are a pressing concern. We environments supportive of the knowledge are affected by everything that happens in society. At the same time it is clear that the world since we are an active party—even many of the values and achievements of though, as Arabs, we may be merely second the knowledge society are inseparable from or third level actors—to events that have freedom and the construction of social The political reform already unfolded, as we shall be to others and institutional contracts in support of a project remains a that have yet to unfold. This in and of itself state in which individual rights and the rule sine qua non for gives us numerous opportunities to upgrade of law are preserved. Attempts to achieve societies that are our knowledge systems and to begin dealing these goals and aspirations proceed at with the issues of the new society. different rates in most of the Arab world, seeking to build Given the number of problematic and have done so for decades. environments issues that have come to the fore as the We cannot favour the political supportive of the main features of the knowledge society democracy project above all others, for knowledge society begin to form, we have decided to focus on the political scene globally we find that on a limited sample of the former that are this project in its various forms has raised connected to the knowledge society and its many problematic issues that require us to relationship to identity, the Arabic language, take a new look at the democratic political new ethical values, and the performance system. Furthermore, in many parts of the of Arab women in the knowledge society. world, including the Mashreq (eastern) In addition, we will deal with political Arab countries, certain appropriations participation, while not ignoring the of language used within the international topic, central to our age, of technology conflict and that concern the need to itself. Clearly, in these problems there is establish “societies dedicated to freedom, an interaction between the local and the democracy and human rights” do not universal, the private and the public. The conform to the principles of political justification for this selection of issues is modernisation and the spirit of the their link, as a whole, to the Arab reality democratic message (Kamal ‘Abd al-Latif, and our wish to develop an objective 2008, in Arabic). Rather than respecting discussion leading to the theoretical difference and diversity, they satisfy In the Arab region, preparation that must accompany the themselves with making political reform enabling environment that will permit into a pre-packaged technical prescription. the legitimacy the Arabs, to bridge, in word and deed, Recent and more distant historical of democratic the knowledge gap and to enter into experience has not seen it as such: the shift reform received epistemological intercommunication with towards democracy in numerous cases was its highest official the rest of the world (Kamal ‘Abd al-Latif, the outcome of lengthy experience and the 2003, in Arabic). product of much laborious spade work to recognition at the prepare the road for democracy. 2004 Tunis Summit THE KNOWLEDGE SOCIETY In the Arab region, the legitimacy of AND EXPANDING POLITICAL democratic reform received its highest PARTICIPATION official recognition at the 2004 Tunis Summit, when, in their closing statement, With regard to this particular problematic, Arab leaders announced a consensus on we seek to compare the current political the need to expand democracy to enhance changes in the Arab world, directing our participation in decision-making and gaze at political participation, hoping in so respect for human rights. In addition, an doing to highlight the importance of the observer of Arab political life may see the political factor in bringing about enabling political disputes of political parties and conditions of the knowledge society. We civil society institutions as embedding 42 ARAB KNOWLEDGE REPORT 2009
  • 59. the values of democratic political the last century, the Arab political elite has reform in varied ways, and these efforts been moving towards the promulgation have recently borne fruit in the form of a new vocabulary, through which they of calls for agreement on peaceful hope to build an agreed-upon democratic In order to continue democratic transformation. None of transformation that will transcend the to defend political this, however, excludes the possibility defeats and shortcomings so prevalent in reform, more of disingenuousness, meaning that the many areas of Arab political life. discussion is carried on with two sets of If some global paradigms indicate efforts must be logic and two languages, the disingenuous lack of an organic, causative link between made to achieve language helping in turn to build other political reform and establishment of the a free society, types of deception. This issue has become knowledge society, this does not mean that since it is the more acute with the entrance of certain political reform is not necessary. In fact, political forces that appropriate religious it serves as a catalyst for the processes of cornerstone of the slogans for the service of politics. innovation and allows them to appropriate knowledge society In addition, approaches that jump to for themselves new values and advances. unjustified conclusions about Arab society Indeed, we might even go so far as to say do not fully comprehend that democracy that freedom is the other face of knowledge in the West took shape over a long period (see Chapter 2). of historical experience and, in fact, is still The UNESCO Report Towards reshaping itself to address the challenges Knowledge Societies stressed the importance posed by the knowledge society. This of revitalizing the democratic public spaces means that in order to continue to defend in knowledge societies. It revealed that, in political reform, more efforts must be the view of the report writers, the dilemma The Arab political made to achieve a free society, since it is of democratic reform is a universal one, elite has been the cornerstone of the knowledge society since reform of the democratic political moving towards (Markaz Disarat al-Wihda al-’Arabiyya, system is a challenge to all–a challenge 2000, in Arabic). that includes that of how to ingrain their the promulgation Some may have reservations about experiences in democracy (UNESCO, of an agreed- the relationship between knowledge and 2005, in French). upon democratic freedom, since this link is not always In this context, the report underscored transformation required. In many countries that have the importance of technological democracy, reached the threshold of the knowledge pointing out that the benefits of that will transcend society, we find signs of a lack of freedom. information technologies must be made use the defeats and However, for the Arab region freedom is of in political practice. This position raises shortcomings of an inescapable condition if many of the significant doubt about the compatibility Arabic political life shackles that prevent the blossoming of of democratic government with post- innovation are to be removed and the modernist societies, some scholars way prepared for the knowledge society believing that the age of democracy in (Ruqayya al-Musaddaq, 1990, in Arabic). Europe has only a short life ahead of it. Expanding the ambit of freedom They base this position on the internal will help Arab societies to indigenise the and external contradictions of the so- mechanisms and values of the knowledge called democratic countries, in addition to society. In the wake of the failure, especially the decline of traditional moral authority in Egypt, of the late nineteenth- and early and the restrictions placed on freedoms twentieth-century renaissance project, and within these societies after the events of Freedom is the that of the second generation reformist September, 2001 (Saint Mary, 1999, in other face of vocabulary that took shape after the 1967 French). knowledge defeat, the political reform movement in The preceding comments pertain to the the Arab region has been constructing developed world. In the Arab world, the for two decades past a third generation problem primarily concerns the need to reformist vocabulary. As of the end of continue to expand the package of freedom THE THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK: CONCEPTS AND PROBLEMATICS OF THE KNOWLEDGE SOCIETY 43
  • 60. in its basic elements (‘Azmi Bishara, 2007, globalisation mechanisms are governed in Arabic). The 2005 UNESCO report, by network systems and directed by the Globalisation is dealing with the democratic question in Worldwide Web, which is overseen from dependent on the Arab countries from this perspective, afar by global financial institutions. These information and stresses the importance of continued institutions seek to regulate and adjust the efforts to achieve political reform. This Web so that its equilibrium is not disturbed, is not restricted makes it clear that demand for reform in particularly since, in the eyes of the neo- to one site the Arab world cannot be avoided. Given liberals, the state has become a hindrance the many challenges it has to face, it will to unfettered market activity (Albert, 1991, be a complex battle. in French). Globalisation is dependent on THE KNOWLEDGE SOCIETY information, the foremost actor in on- Conflict continues, AND IDENTITY going global standardisation. The new over wealth and knowledge-based economy does not On-going global transformations show operate in a single place and is not power and over synchronicity between the formation of restricted to one site, and it is this information, knowledge societies and the appearance phenomenon that links globalisation and identities, and of globalisation. We cannot separate information. However, this linkage, in cultures globalisation from the information which major forces that own the coffers explosion and the latter’s economic and symbols of knowledge play the central and knowledge ramifications. Today’s role, places new challenges before societies BOX 1-6 Knowledge in an Age of Globalisation Today the “power of knowledge” intersects with the “the impact identity and one pattern of assimilation of these values. The truth of universal cultural dissemination,” for knowledge, if it is not itself is that contemporary Arab culture is not completely homogeneous, culture, is most certainly a part or aspect of it. As everyone is aware, but has numerous cultural systems, including the religio-cultural, for years, “globalisation” and “the effect of globalisation on cultural the national-cultural, and the liberal-cultural. The first is epitomised identity and cultural personality” and especially on “Arab culture” by the “Salafist” view, which emphasises its incompatibility and its particular characteristics have been on every tongue. with universal cultural values. The other two systems, however, There is no doubt that the “universal cultural system” propagated tend towards conditional acceptance of aspects of the universal by globalisation through advanced media tools that place everyone cultural system. Believers in “cultural Islam,” Muslim and Christian at the centre of the world is a strong wind knocking at our doors, Arab nationalists, and humanist socialists—the largest groups of blowing through the chambers of our houses and of our minds, and secularists and liberals—willingly accept the basic principles of this awakening our aesthetic and emotional sensitivities. Our authors, universal culture, with occasional reservations. In this regard, the scholars, and media have gone to great lengths in describing the belief prevails that what all Arab spaces lack is specifically these phenomenon and monitoring its influence and effects. Naturally, values that the universal culture claims it alone advocates. The truth some of us have praised it from a neo-liberal point of view and is that the main difference between the globalised neo-liberal space others have criticised it from the standpoint of religion, cultural and the Arab space in all its manifestations centres on questions of tradition, or nationalism. The rational, realistic view, however, freedom and utilitarianism. It is these two principles, which dominate clearly tells us that in the framework of the current age and in the the philosophy of the universal culture, that generally appear in Arab context of our political, economic, and cultural circumstances, we contexts in their rough, overzealous (here I mean “extreme”) form. must “live” this reality and be at home in its midst whether we It is possible to reorient these principles, rethinking the meaning of like it or not. However, it is imperative that we assimilate to this freedom and turning the individualistic overtones of utilitarianism “living” critically, with open eyes. The most important thing about into a more collectivist; more social connotation of “interest.” In such an assimilation is that we realise that the universal cultural other words, we could change from “expedient individualism” to system that accompanies globalisation rests on a neo-liberal vision “interest-oriented community.” The concept of democracy—one shaped by a host of ethical, social, political, and economic values of the most salient of the values that the universal cultural system spread by forces of communication and modern information media claims for itself—could also be channelled in such a way as to mean across borders and through local spaces, reformulating in so doing a “collective” democracy in keeping with the requirements of Arab our cultural existence and special identity. The values of freedom, societies rather than those of the liberal democracy that is suited democracy, multiculturalism, and human rights established by the to the new capitalism in the American-dominated West. This much universal cultural system, in which some of us see an overwhelming needed transformation has already attracted a substantial group of danger to our culture and our distinct identity, represent this danger intellectuals in the liberal West itself. only with regard to one particular understanding of this cultural Source: Fahmi Jad‘an, 2002, Riyah al-‘Asr, Al-Mu’assasa al-‘Arabiyya lid-Dirasat wal-Nashr, Beirut, pp. 16-18. 44 ARAB KNOWLEDGE REPORT 2009
  • 61. that occupy the lowest rung of the indices BOX 1-7 and indicators of the knowledge society. Manuel Castells addresses this matter, Cultural and Linguistic Diversity and taking as his starting point the fact that Local Cultural Identities the network age generates new patterns of Excerpts form the 2003 Geneva Declaration of Principles knowledge-related conflict, patterns that on Building the Information Society are caught between the logic of identity and the unchecked and explosive logic Cultural diversity is the common creative work and due recognition of heritage of humankind. The the rights of authors and artists. It is of information (Castells, 1998, in French; Information Society should be essential to promote the production Nur al-Din Afaya, background paper for founded on and stimulate respect for of and accessibility to all content— the Report, in Arabic). cultural identity, cultural and linguistic educational, scientific, cultural or diversity, traditions, and religions, recreational—in diverse languages It is true that the conflict continues, at its and foster dialogue among cultures and formats. The development of local deepest level, to be over wealth and power, and civilisations. The promotion, content suited to domestic or regional but it has further complex manifestations, affirmation, and preservation of needs will encourage social and diverse cultural identities and languages economic development and will including the conflict over information, as reflected in relevant agreed stimulate participation of all identities, and cultures. United Nations documents including stakeholders, including people living The confrontation of cultural identities UNESCO’s Universal Declaration on in rural, remote and marginal areas. Cultural Diversity, will further enrich The preservation of cultural in a rapidly globalising world requires us the Information Society. heritage is a crucial component of to clarify certain phenomena, for Arabs are The creation, dissemination and identity and self–understanding of a party to this many-fronted battle within preservation of content in diverse individuals that links a community languages and formats must be accorded to its past. The Information Society a quadripartite globalisation process that high priority in building an inclusive should harness and preserve cultural consists of the following trends: Information Society, paying particular heritage for the future by all appropriate (1) continual expansion of information attention to the diversity of supply of methods, including digitisation. capital, (2) rapidly paced evolution of technological discoveries, in the chain of an information economy (3) the desire of political powers to control that has exceeded all the previous century’s The knowledge- the world, and expectations for the material economy. based economy (4) the insertion of the world into a single Current uses of the concept of identity and the information cultural mould. in the context of current conflicts show revolution fiercely The information technology revolution how ambiguous the word is. It is a term supports these trends and choices that seek used frequently in times of war, when the and destructively to take ownership of knowledge, power, parties to the conflict need to give each other permeate all and influence. The question to consider well defined features in preparation for the local cultures here is how can national culture and confrontation. Historical events, however, and economies mother tongue be preserved; how, in fact, indicate that there is no closed, complete can we rethink the meanings of identity identity. A pure identity is merely a fantasy, in the face of the spate of material from since market logic requires acceptance of networks promoting informational and a degree of the standardisation that shapes economic uniformity whose trademarks the destiny of the world (Kamal ‘Abd al- and cultural icons have filled the cities, Latif, 2003, in Arabic). Here, the world and the even villages, of the world? Before faces a paradox. At their conferences Historical events we answer, we should point out that in and meetings, international organisations indicate that the view of some to talk of identity in adopt the vocabulary of solidarity, sharing, there is no closed, an era that recognises only the logic of and respect for identity and difference. complete identity. competition, profitability, and increased They explain that diversity should be seen production is to dream, or indulge in as a source of wealth and employ a lot of A pure identity is nostalgia. This is an era dominated by a other similar vocabulary useful for dealing merely a fantasy search for architectural plans for markets with the problematic issues of identity and yet to be built and the goods to fill them globalisation. In contrast, the knowledge- and for the accumulation of further assets based economy and the information THE THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK: CONCEPTS AND PROBLEMATICS OF THE KNOWLEDGE SOCIETY 45
  • 62. revolution fiercely and destructively develop appropriate tools for work and permeate all local cultures and economies. production. Are we dealing with a smoke-screen Two positions may be identified designed to conceal the interests that with regard to linguistic reform. The govern international relations? first is the “nihilistic” position, which It appears that, in contemplating how assumes the death of local languages best to deal with the information age, we and cultures as a result of globalisation. The battle over cannot set aside the principle of benefiting This ignores the importance of linguistic knowledge in our from the new technologies. This thinking and cultural diversity in a complex societies is a multi- is likely to construct a defined space in a world with contradictory interests and layered, all-out world governed by institutions with the goals. Indeed, it fails to take in that the capacity to transcend hopes and dreams supposed universality is subject to all struggle, which and to use the missteps of the past to parties playing a role in its construction. requires greater build the present and produce a future that The second issue is the “political and indigenisation of is more open to the advances of human ideological debate” over the state of the the notions of knowledge, both present and future (Djait, Arabic language. This is a debate that 1978, in French). generally fails to address the heart of the reason, history, To summarize, all discussion of the subject, which is the state of educational enlightenment and repercussions of the knowledge society institutions. It also ignores the state of critical thought on Arab culture and identity overlook the language teaching and the competence fact that the knowledge society essentially of teachers and students in the areas of requires rational economic management communication, expression, and writing. and relies on a social structure supported For this reason, the debate tends towards by a contemporary culture, as well as great the adoption of political positions based capacities of intercommunication with the on emotion and incapable of visualizing outside world. Can the Arab region enter the fate that awaits the Arabic language the knowledge society on this basis? Can it in the absence of a defined and publicly grasp that buying the technologies of luxury announced linguistic strategy. with money does not create a knowledge The reality of linguistic pluralism in society and does not lay the foundations our society includes inherited features on which an enabling environment capable linked to our history and accumulated of creating a knowledge-based economy experience of dealing with the problematics Arabic made can be built? The battle over knowledge of the Arabic language. To ignore what tangible advances in our societies is a multi-layered, all- this has cost us will make it doubly difficult that played out struggle, which requires above all for us to initiate a programme of resolute their part in the greater indigenisation of the notions of reform for the Arabic language that will reason, history, enlightenment and critical equip it to join the knowledge society. development thought. In creative languages, the rules are not of written, transformed into hindrances. On the auditory, and THE ARABIC LANGUAGE contrary, these rules are likely to generate visual media with AND THE CHALLENGES OF new ones to replace antiquated matrices INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY through the renewal of the linguistic the construction structures that innovation calls for. This of new forms What has been said about identity applies is something that has not happened in unknown to our equally to the Arabic language, with which the history of Arabic to date. Modest old linguistic it is interdependent. Arabic’s continuing modifications in the practise and writing system inadequacy with regard to the challenges of Arabic have been made starting of the knowledge society, particularly from the time of the Arab renaissance. in the area of information technology, Nevertheless, the classical language results in linguistic isolation that reveals has continued to be generally content the powerlessness of linguistic media to with values and vocabulary preserved from 46 ARAB KNOWLEDGE REPORT 2009
  • 63. the Middle Ages, as if all that has happened role in the dessication and mummification and is happening in the development of the language. of knowledge and the world concerned The sentimental position on the language neither ourselves nor our means of comprises a group of epistemological intercommunication with the world and values, such as its absolute perfection, and a its new products (Sa‘id Yaqtin, background closed rule set. These require examination. paper for the Report, in Arabic). Both positions ignore the fact that Arabic, In the last century, the Arabic language like all languages, develops, declines, made tangible advances that played their and is affected by the same incidental The problems part in the development of written, transformations that have affected cultural of the Arabic auditory, and visual media with the media and symbols throughout history. language are due construction of new forms unknown to The problems of the Arabic language to the neglect that our old linguistic system. The increased are due to the neglect that it has experienced volume of books and other printed media, in recent decades, since most Arab states it has experienced the satellite channels, broadcast stations suffer from a lack of a clear linguistic policy in recent decades, and other media have given expression aimed at reforming linguistic performance. since most Arab in Arabic new abilities to grasp subjects Arabic will not regain its position until a states suffer from and approximate them with new linguistic linguistic reform policy takes shape a lack of a clear mechanisms. Text books, movies, and that allows it to exercise its proper Arabic novels have also played important role in administration and economics, linguistic policy roles in expanding linguistic sensibilities, in commerce and contracting, and in all enabling them to translate contemporary the other areas of modern life, and until psychological and social emotions, feelings, we fashion within it the determinants of and trends. our existence in a changing world (UNDP, In the area of informatics in Arabic, it is 2003, in Arabic). now possible to find software that offers an If we take language to be the vessel electronic library with edited encyclopaedias that preserves and conveys culture and and books, as well as software teaching the knowledge, we must also believe that the Arabic language for different age groups. problems of language cannot be solved These positive indications are no excuse by improvisation or in haste. First and for the continuing decline of the Arabic foremost, they require inventive, innovative language, which faces several challenges construction of knowledge-related options. posed by information technology and the After this we can proceed to institution- knowledge revolution. The question of building and the development of The problems whether the Arabic language can confront programmes, leading to the accumulation of language the challenges of knowledge globalisation of experience and expertise in developing require inventive, is addressed in Chapter 4. the Arabic language. This is a particularly innovative Those who see language as a closed, pressing challenge since we live at a time self-sufficient system confuse the rules when languages that are not in harmony construction for a specific stage of development of a with the mechanisms of innovation, of knowledge- specific system in a language with the way production, and development are slated related options in which that language is used to produce for oblivion. Today these mechanisms and create knowledge, to create new are a prominent feature on the universal rules appropriate to its evolving course, linguistic landscape, since, while four its shifting system, and its self-renewing thousand languages compete in the world, symbolic reserves. The sentimental and the only fourteen enjoy an effective, productive static non-historical views of language presence in the universal language network encourage the evaluation of a language (UNDP, 2003, in Arabic). according to criteria of perfection. We Challenges to the Arabic language believe it is important to isolate and group have been exacerbated by the information these two views together, since both play a revolution and easy access to the highways THE THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK: CONCEPTS AND PROBLEMATICS OF THE KNOWLEDGE SOCIETY 47
  • 64. of the knowledge society. Its current reality comprehensive strategy. This is a political not only requires growth and development, issue and, at the same time, a technical but the building of new languages within choice to be confided to specialised and the language as well, as with all languages qualified people, who are required to put in that play a creative and interactive role in place new rules and mechanisms in keeping The most obvious the knowledge society. This issue may also with the requirements of the knowledge example of the gap have a political dimension, in addition to age. There can be no doubt that success in between the status the historical and structural givens that with this realm is possible, so long as attention of Arab women the passage of time have become part of is paid to the exigencies of the age and the the structure of the language itself. These issues of change posed by the knowledge and men in the call for serious critiques that can move us society (see Chapter 6). knowledge society from language to ideas, or, in other words, is the high illiteracy to a critique of petrified ways of thinking THE KNOWLEDGE SOCIETY rate among girls (see Chapter 4). AND ARAB WOMEN Linking the Arabic language with and women, as well the knowledge society strengthens its In comparison to their situation in society as the low rate of position and enables it to develop its in the early part of the second half of female educational media, symbols, and systems (Nabil ‘Ali the twentieth century, Arab women have enrolment and Nadiya Hijazi, 2005, in Arabic). The registered advances. These gains are still history of the formation of Arabic tells of not commensurate, however, with the innate capacities that we must now release actual role required of them in society. in order to tear down the barriers that the Nor are they fully in accord yet with the language has tended to turn into absolute values of the knowledge society. norms. These two facets—the language’s The most obvious example of the gap innate capacities and the technologies between the status of Arab women and of the knowledge society—provide the men in the knowledge society is the high opportunity for Arabic to overcome the illiteracy rate among girls and women, as stagnation that dominates it. Both call for well as the low rate of female educational conscious effort, inspiring vision, and a enrolment compared with that of males, especially in higher education (UNDP, BOX 1-8 2005, in Arabic). It is a fact that the Arab presence in Women’s Freedom is a Key to Many Doors the knowledge society is still in its infancy Giving women the same opportunities these expansions and intersections and lacks a unified, concrete strategy, and as men is basic for women’s that open the door to the enjoyment that much energy is squandered because of involvement in the knowledge society. of education as a right, one that is in poor management and the lack of a clear It poses the empowerment of women effect a debt owed to the individual by vision and goal. This said, the position as an integrated system including the state under the rubric of “rights and law, politics, society, economics, and obligations,” and a freedom to be enjoyed of women on this unsteady ladder is still culture, as a way to end the multi- at the same level as those of choice and unquestionably lower than that of men. It dimensional digital divide and to conduct and that falls under the rubric is vital that a multi-pronged approach be establish the conditions needed for “freedom—independence.” This can the assumption of citizenship on the only happen through empowerment adopted that seeks to bring women further political, economic, social, and cultural considered as a societal act in which into the knowledge landscape, with efforts levels. That we recognise education the legal, political, economic, social, as a fundamental driving force of the and cultural aspects of life intermingle. on multiple fronts of empowerment to knowledge society should not lead us The active parties in this effort cannot overcome the many problems that leave to restrict empowerment of women to be limited to civil society organisations women at a lower level in society than this critical sector. Education can in fact concerned with women’s issues but play that role only if we deal with it as must include all institutions, be these men. a right and a freedom that expands to political parties, trade unions, or even The 2005 UNESCO Report Towards and intersects with, not only economic, government bodies and international Knowledge Societies raised the subject of social and cultural rights, but also civil organisations. and political freedoms. It is precisely the relationship between women and science and revealed the issue of the Source: Ruqayya al-Musaddaq, background paper for the Report, in Arabic. underrepresentation of women and that 48 ARAB KNOWLEDGE REPORT 2009
  • 65. of various ethnic, religious, and other To transform this slogan into reality, we marginalised social groups, as well as of must reinforce the successes accumulated young people in that area. According to by human experience, since education the report, this applies equally to advanced should be considered a central motor and developing countries, in that the crisis in the drive to prepare women to be in science education for women may be productive agents in the knowledge society. understood as an indicator of gender In recent times, a certain consensus has In Arab countries, inequality. This report called for support been arrived at on the importance of political and cultural of initiatives to make science education education in the life of women and in pressures and accessible to all regardless of gender. Even social revival. Reformist writings of the though the influence of the positivist Arab Renaissance tend to link education social constraints approach on the report is clear, what and work and their joint role in putting an form multiple and matters is that, in general terms, education end to the inferior status of women in our complex restrictions is an appropriate way to approach the society. In 2007, UNESCO dedicated a that strengthen status of women in the knowledge society report to the relationship between science project. To release the freedom and and technology learning and gender. Its tradition and innovativeness of Arab girls and women most significant recommendations were: conservatism requires preparation of numerous enabling 1. Expanding women’s participation in the environments. These should include those scientific and technological professions of the family, of societal education and and in scientific research. upbringing, and of culture, in order to 2. Raising public awareness of issues discourage gender discrimination in its related to science, education, and various shapes and foster everything gender. that may encourage women to play 3. Increasing the amount of data collected a distinguished role in development, in this area in order to support research knowledge, and public life. Difficult as it and construct suitable policies to end may be, this choice may equip Arab society existing disparities (UNESCO, 2007a, to expand human well-being and give new in Arabic). generations of girls more opportunities In Arab countries, political and cultural to enhance their dignity within society. pressures and social constraints form Arab women Discussion of the status of women multiple and complex restrictions that have been in the knowledge society requires an strengthen tradition and conservatism and subject to much acknowledgment of the complex nature create options contradictory to those of of the subject. Inequality between men justice, equality, and freedom. The effects discrimination, and women is longstanding and rooted of these restrictions may be seen on the since information in history. Ending discrimination means various structures of society and help delay technology has upsetting many delicate balances that have establishment of the knowledge society, employed new become immutable principles (Kamal ‘Abd whose material and symbolic options are mechanisms to al-Latif, 2006, in Arabic). To confront this unlimited. The Tunis Commitment issued problematic issue requires caution and by the World Summit on the Information draw stereotyped, courage—caution in constructing and Society (United Nations, 2005, in Arabic) degrading images analysing the data and courage in building contained a clear recognition that a “gender of women, such visions and perspectives that are capable divide exists as part of the digital divide in as those prevalent of shaking loose the discriminatory society” as well as clear support for gender behaviours and beliefs which have been equality and empowerment of women to in the media and perpetuated in society through extant overcome this divide.3 the internet rules, laws, and cultures (Ruqayya al- Women in general, and Arab women Musaddaq, background paper for the in particular, have been subject to Report, in Arabic). Let us then proclaim much discrimination, since information the slogan: “No knowledge society technology has employed new mechanisms without women!” to draw stereotyped, degrading images THE THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK: CONCEPTS AND PROBLEMATICS OF THE KNOWLEDGE SOCIETY 49
  • 66. which science and its technologies have BOX 1-9 permeated civil societies since the first and The Virtual as an Interrogation of the Actual second industrial revolutions has reached an extreme in information technologies. The French word virtuel apparently came must renew and invent. The possible At the heart of individual and civil life, into Arabic from the field of optics, is a composite of solutions, while the where the virtual image meets the actual virtual is composed of problems . . . and in the knowledge society itself, the body in front of the mirror—that image For entrepreneurial work, for result has been uncontrolled outcomes that we assume is at the same distance example, to become virtual is for and unimagined prospects. from the mirror as that of the body and the spatial and temporal dimensions which is assumed to be the source of of the work to become a permanent Today, at the start of the twenty- the rays reflected from the mirror that problematic, an issue constantly posed, first century, our lives are framed by make us believe we are seeing an image rather than a static condition. Instead, the growing fusion between man and of ourselves. then, of being a solution, these become This carry-over from the field of a problem, or a complex of problems. machine. We are living in the age of optics brought with it meanings that The entrepreneurial work becomes technology and its manifestations par are still linked with the concept of the virtual if its centre of gravity is no excellence, at a point when it is no longer virtual, in that it is closer to the realm of longer a stationary group of institutions, hypothesis, illusion, and imagination, jobs, and timetables and turns into possible for man to dispense with many of and faces and opposes reality. an act of harmonization that, in an technology’s advances and achievements. The French term, it is true, is uninhibited and fluctuating fashion, Its overwhelming presence, and that of its derived from the idea of “potential” constantly reorders the spatial and as contrasted with “actual” existence. temporal dimensions of the work team instruments and perspectives, embraces However, the virtual is not merely in accordance with imposed conditions all manifestations of production within illusion and imagination, or even merely that are constantly being recreated. society. This situation has nothing to do with possibility. Virtual is to possible as actual Virtuality, then, is not a shift from a is to real. The possible, according to reality to a variety of possibilities and is information technologies and their new Deleuze, is ready and waiting to become not e fortiori a cancellation of reality. It is and old economies, which in information real; it is in a state of perfect readiness a new way of looking at the traditional contracts took on the characteristics of for realisation and is therefore fixed, concepts of definition and identity and stationary. The possible confronts the of forcibly inserting the possible “into” the dominant technical format, whether real, but the virtual confronts the actual. the existing. It is a convulsion of the as foundation or as framework, or in For the virtual to become actual it must actual. face difficulties and solve problems; it the fields of organisation and the search for markets. Instead, it transcends this Source: ‘Abd al-Salam bin ‘Abd al-‘Ali, 2008, Fi al-Infisal, Dar Tubqal, Casablanca, p. 58. specialised sector of knowledge to enter other sectors in numerous areas, such as the environment, mining, and the of women, such as those prevalent in the chemical industry. Today, labor is oriented media and the internet (UNDP, 2005, in to constructing more new research spaces Arabic). However, information technology employing new methods. Information itself can present alternatives to such technologies are applied to the construction examples of gender discrimination so long of natural disaster early warning systems, as the environments and institutions exist biotechnology, genetics, space technology, Today, at the start that guarantee construction of a society micro-electronics, new applications of of the twenty- of knowledge citizenship built on equal biotechnology in the diagnosis and first century, our ownership of the power of knowledge, treatment of disease and desalination, as lives are enframed thus placing mankind on the path to well as increased agricultural production innovation and well-being. and energy production and conversion. by the growing Man seeks to know and to control nature fusion between INFORMATION to achieve human well-being and a life of man and machine TECHNOLOGIES AND dignity. VIRTUAL SPACES It should be noted here that technological innovation no longer We assume that those who call our age requires prolonged periods of time, as in the “information age” want to highlight the case of the first and second industrial the fundamental role of information revolutions. New technologies allow for technology in the formation of the speedy development. Through combined knowledge society. Certainly the pace at efforts, and an appropriate institutional 50 ARAB KNOWLEDGE REPORT 2009
  • 67. infrastructure, effort, energy, and resources Today, therefore, technology has are saved. What have come to be known as become one of the manifestations of collective laboratories provide prominent existence, and our age has indeed We live in the examples of such infrastructure. In these become the “age of technology.” Diverse midst of a new labs, the same work is carried out in different manifestations spring from the technology technological locations and the pace of research is that moulds so many of the outward facilitated through the use of information expressions of our lives, most prominent revolution, whose and communication technologies, which among them the homogenization of life impact touches the complement the distributed research styles and thought, the industrialisation ways in which life efforts. This reduces wasted effort, energy, of technological, cultural and tourist and knowledge and resources and enhances the potential activity, the dislocation of place and time, are organised for cooperation and complementarity for the loss of a sense of closeness, excessive innovation. consumption and consumerism, planning This revolution has brought us high and programming, the depletion of levels of production, as well as continually natural resources and formation of huge tearing down the relationships inherited energy reserves. These manifestations and from the first and second industrial characteristics define the role of technology revolutions. Simultaneously, it has brought in standardisation and homogenization, us continuous tension and uncertainty. All while at the same time revealing the main that was once solid vanishes like smoke, features of new questions that we are and new scientific ideas and discoveries called upon to construct and solve (‘Abd become obsolete before they are able to al-Salam bin ‘abd al-‘Ali, background paper mature and take root. for the Report, in Arabic). Technology has There are those who believe that We live in the midst of a new become one of the technology is merely the application technological revolution, whose impact manifestations of of scientific knowledge. This belief has touches the ways in which life and existence, and our gained strength through its association knowledge are organised and has with profit, since technology in its current generated an unprecedented efflorescence age has indeed manifestations has been viewed merely of knowledge. As we know, digital become the “age as a means to realise specific gains and technology has produced new, apparently of technology” benefits. For this reason, the importation limitless means to store knowledge. The of technologies is always defended on the Internet has created a revolutionary basis that they are no more than neutral enlargement of our mental capabilities, as means to an end. This is not only an in the fields of memory, representation, Arab way of thinking, it is popular in the and innovation. However, in the opinion West as well, many Western philosophers of some, increasing reliance on the taking the same position on technology. machine and dependence on it when called It is only recently that technology has upon to remember weakens the memory become a philosophical question in itself, which maintains its functionality itself: “Technique is a kind of knowing” through use. Apprehension is rising in (Heidegger, 1958, in French). Mechanism, the knowledge society over new forms in its contemporary meaning, is not merely of technology and their effects on our an application of science (except in so far psychological skills and ability to work. as it contains mathematical calculations), We cannot separate knowledge from We cannot separate but encompasses a certain theory and power. The technological boom that knowledge embodies it. Mathematics is the field of created many aspects of “virtual reality” from power knowledge through which practice took gives those involved new means to control a mechanistic character. Science itself the world. “The United States and Western became mathematical only because of its Europe together own by far the largest link with the desire for knowledge and share of knowledge technologies and control over nature. monitor all global systems. They monitor THE THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK: CONCEPTS AND PROBLEMATICS OF THE KNOWLEDGE SOCIETY 51
  • 68. the financial, economic, media and becoming increasingly complex in the information systems, the systems by which knowledge society. It has manifested The upsurge in knowledge and expertise are transferred itself in the many aspects of life where technological and armies and military material moved. contradictions and new forms of conflict prowess has They monitor strategic points of entry are rife, such as the question of gender and exit, controlling the global monetary equality, and issues of migrant labor and raised a number markets, the markets for primary and migration, combating terrorism, violence, of complex issues, manufactured goods, the entertainment corruption, and organised crime. This most significant of markets, and the worlds of virtual education; is particularly the case on the internet, them its effect on in fact, they are trying to establish a single, where new crimes such as banking fraud, universal style for the world in behaviour, violations of personal data, copyright the system of ethics clothing, and taste” (Muhammad Sabila, violations, and the repercussions of and the future of 2007, in Arabic). virtual reality, have arisen as a result of societal values We are not portraying here a fantasy permeation by the systems and symbols of octopus. However, in the manifestations of the knowledge society. the current and continuing technological In addition, the scientific revolution has revolution we see a world still developing, raised issues about innovations in genetic some of the aspects of which are engineering (UNESCO, 2005, in French), predictable while others remain to be for humanity finds itself confronted by discovered. Our abilities to see the big ethical issues that the values of the past picture and project the likely results have have no ways to address or solve (Centre There is a become limited in a world changing too fast Europe-Tiers Monde, 2007, in French). consensus that to respond to. We may need to maintain Environmental ethics, which have become knowledge societies caution in our relationship with technology part of our new view of the world (UNDP, in order to succeed in our new relationship 2007c, in Arabic) and the ethics of new are linked to the with ourselves and with our new tools in a knowledge systems call for the rethinking basic system of world that we are fashioning. The pace of of the concepts of freedom, equality, human values of this world is too fast for us to absorb, and security, and trust, concepts that in the freedom, equality, we will become its victims if we do not past had specific meanings and now must manage our affairs vigilantly, wisely, and be rebuilt to meet the needs of the changes justice, solidarity, with insight. occurring in knowledge societies. and respect for True, there is a consensus among cultural diversity THE KNOWLEDGE SOCIETY international institutions that seek to AND THE LEGITIMACY OF A influence aspects of these on-going NEW ETHICAL CODE changes to the effect that knowledge societies are linked to the basic system of The upsurge in technological prowess in human values of freedom, equality, justice, human societies has raised a number of solidarity, and respect for cultural diversity. complex issues, most significant of them True too, these values are spelled out in the effect this has had on the system of successive human rights charters, making ethics and the future of societal values. them a foundation of the new code of The need for a new While values systems have interacted values. Nevertheless, we must ask: Are the code of ethics for with the challenges unleashed by change significations and appeals to be found in the the knowledge and development throughout history, letter and the spirit of these rights charters they have also restricted the impact enough, or must we strive to include the society cannot of transformations generative of new variables that arise under the influence of be denied realities and questions, since processes the knowledge and information revolution of adaptation and acclimation must take and thus establish values that fit the current place before such shifts can have impact reality? on value systems. Inherited philosophical meaning in the Certainly, the ethical question is age of enlightenment awarded a specific 52 ARAB KNOWLEDGE REPORT 2009
  • 69. value to the lexicon of ethics, but we deliberation went into their preparation cannot think or work at the beginning of in this form. We must look at the actual Promises of the the third millennium using eighteenth- indicators that the on-going global conflicts international or nineteenth-century values. The reflect. These data show the transformation community knowledge society practices constructive of the contents of the declarations into concerning the transcendence by creating new aspirations acts. They form a pattern of relationships knowledge society that require the building up of codes containing a major paradox—the have not kept up of individual and collective values in the confrontation between these declarations with the widening area of rights, with content appropriate of principles and their signature, and what and deepening of to the transformations taking place on actually happens on the ground. the gaps between the ground. The disconnect between Looking at the harsh struggle taking the North and inherited significations, the information place on the ground, we may say that the South explosion, epistemological transformation, promises the international community and the mounting revolution in high- precision scientific discovery and the life BOX 1-10 of humanity requires us to fashion new meanings that encompass the spirit and The Genome, a New Triumph for Knowledge logic of epistemological change (‘Abd al- Razzaq al-Dawway, background paper for The Genome Project has at its core the being and a better standard of living on tracing and drawing of the information the other. Entering the genome age the Report). contained by the cell (twenty-three pairs means, in the best case scenario, that a The need for a new code of ethics for of chromosomes for organisms that global commercial network will provide the knowledge society cannot be denied. In reproduce sexually, such as man, and a increased and improved agricultural smaller number for other organisms). yields and remove pesticides from 2007, UNESCO released the draft of just These single-cell chromosomes give us the environment. In preparation for such a code. Before we provide any ideas in the complete story of the organism’s this change, human societies will be defence of this new draft and highlight its characteristics—physical, psychological, obliged to review economic concepts and intellectual—and are the basis on and geo-political boundaries, which in most important points, we must present an which we may make predictions (in turn may lead to a new understanding inventory of the most important advances some cases with certainty) about the of the role of governments and their in this area, advances that must be further course the natural development of this relationships to individuals, and the organism will take. . . . role of international institutions. The developed to respond to the challenges and What makes the Genome Project new genome society will have amongst questions posed by the knowledge society important is that it can draw the genetic its goals the treatment of illness before (UNESCO, 2007, in French). map of a living being in its mother’s it strikes and the tailoring of medical womb, before it is a complete foetus. treatment to the genome blueprint of The Declaration on “The Right to The result is analogous to finding each individual. This will complement Development” issued by the UN General the mistakes in the letters, words, the currently only theoretical capacity Assembly in 1986 represented a qualitative paragraphs, and chapters of a recently to provide the sick person with spare written novel before the original is sent parts taken from his or her own body. shift in the history of international to the printer’s, fixing those that can Undoubtedly, getting nearer to some of charters, especially with regard to its be fixed and predicting defects that these achievements means a new type of cannot be fixed with available medical medicine and different medical training, support for equal opportunity of access technologies. as well as health care of a sort the to basic resources such as education, We are, therefore, at the threshold foundations of which do not yet exist. health services, food, housing, work, and of a new triumph that will open up Increasing longevity and the possible vast new prospects for the human race elimination of some of the diseases of income. This Declaration was reinforced and be the dominant feature of the aging will mean an increasing burden of by a second document containing the twenty-first century, surpassing the elderly people on society and a change Declaration and Programme of Action of developments in the natural sciences in the age map, with collateral impacts and related technologies of the previous on other aspects of life. All of this, the 1993 World Conference on Human century... of course, is in addition to possible Rights, Vienna. This added to the rights With this new beginning, we find nightmare scenarios—such as the in the first Declaration the recognition of human societies forced to review their deliberate interference with the human ethical values and economic principles genome map leading to human cloning, democracy, development, and respect for to form appropriate legislation to limit with all the scientific, ethical, legal, and human rights and fundamental freedoms, man’s excessive aggressiveness on the even catastrophic, repercussions that which are interdependent and mutually one hand and to steer these discoveries that implies. towards uses conducive to society’s well- reinforcing. These declarations were not easy to Source: Mustafa Ma‘rafi, “Al-Bahth ‘an Al-Kamal Al-Bashari” in ‘Alam al-Fikr, vol. 2, issue 35, pp.10-11. bring about. More than four decades of THE THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK: CONCEPTS AND PROBLEMATICS OF THE KNOWLEDGE SOCIETY 53
  • 70. has made concerning the knowledge and its accelerating breakthroughs for early society have not kept up with the widening diagnosis of artificially fertilised embryos and deepening of the gaps between the before they are implanted in the womb societies of the North and those of the (Habermas, 2001). In his book Consequences South. The problematic of varying rates of the Biotechnology Revolution, Francis of development today creates symbolic Fukuyama deals with the relationship facts that exercise frightening control over between the new biotechnology revolution access to knowledge. These facts produce and the value system, highlighting the forms of marginalisation, isolation, and importance of the subject and the necessity suffocation that have compounded and of creating concrete foundations to guide continue to compound the disparity among it (Fukuyama, 2002). countries of the world, especially between Collective human effort must therefore the wealthy nations and the developing be directed towards the development world. of a code of ethics broad enough to The official position in some developed encompass the spirit of older codes. countries remains ambiguous. It speaks Above all, it must include the new variables Collective human with two tongues and employs double brought about by the unprecedented effort must be standards. It finds no contradiction in revolution in knowledge areas and directed towards its proclaimed positions and thus helps modern communications networks. A the development to create further forms of unequal new generation of crimes and ethical relationship in the world. This question contradictions accompanies the on- of a code of ethics was very accurately analysed by the 2005 going revolution and defines certain of broad enough to UNESCO report Towards Knowledge Societies its repercussions. This is evident in many encompass the (UNESCO, 2005a, in Arabic). The 2001 of the double standards that govern spirit of older codes UNESCO Universal Declaration on international relations, requiring that we Diversity considered protection of cultural work collectively to reach thresholds of and inclusive of diversity a human right, calling at the same harmony and balance that create and the new variables time for it to be viewed as a moral demand guarantee more humane international brought about by that must be respected. relations. We must urge that the new the revolution in The advances of the knowledge society ethical framework for knowledge societies knowledge areas raise several issues that must be resolved advance our hope to build a more with Arab participation. Is the world flourishing, humane world, founded on today moving towards becoming a mere values of human solidarity, coexistence, victim of the “soft” but overwhelming cooperation, and connectedness. technological revolution, a revolution that is difficult to stop or divert? In thinking CONCLUSION about knowledge societies, will we continue to use approaches and ethical systems that It is no simple matter to pin down the fail to assimilate the changes taking place concept of the “knowledge society” in the world? and its synonyms or to grasp its related By way of example, the most explosive concepts. The process of argumentation issue in the area of knowledge society followed in this chapter has constructed ethics is that of the limits of innovation several arguments that have helped us in biology and the life sciences. Discovery to take a closer look at the concept and of the genome, today considered one its corollaries. We have in the process of the greatest advances in science and consciously dispensed with two important technology, has prompted some to re- facets of the concept of knowledge: launch “gene selection” in the framework first, significations implied by the term of the “liberal inclination towards “knowledge” that have been inherited eugenics.” This has led to consideration of from Arab historical tradition, and, the possibilities provided by biotechnology second, the positivist implications that 54 ARAB KNOWLEDGE REPORT 2009
  • 71. limit knowledge exclusively to the realm The knowledge society will never be of science and technology. The remaining brought into being through the mere facets of the definition were presented transfer of technology or its complacent in the form of assertions that identified consumption, nor will it come about the technological and economic poles through acceptance of the status quo and as the main reflections of the knowledge of dependency, or of the unreflective society. The knowledge society based on commoditization of knowledge. Effective innovation creates its new manifestations and creative involvement can only be through the give and take of technological attained by building an all-embracing development and the improvement of vision of the topic, a vision that does human theoretical acuity, and contributes not ignore the fact that epistemological to the goal of expanding human options. commodities and tools, and technologies, Attaining the In the repertoire of concepts now repress certain values and create others, knowledge society commonly used, “synonymity” has been and that the progress to which we aspire requires of the replaced by “interaction,” which better calls for a major infusion of knowledge, Arabs that they expresses the relationship of the terms alertness, and awareness. within whose framework the discourses Passage through the portals of complete two of the knowledge society are organised. knowledge—the rite of passage of our steps at one and A critical attitude was necessary with regard age par excellence—requires of the Arabs the same time: to the positivist quantitative mindset that they complete two steps at one and reconciliation with and the modernisation orientation in its the same time: reconciliation with the self, the self, through human rights and political aspects. This through the diagnosis of its weaknesses attitude allowed us to deconstruct these and failures, and reconciliation with the the diagnosis of two positions, uncover their ideological rest of the world, through a commitment its weaknesses dimensions, and scrutinise some of their to learn from its achievements. Both steps and failures, and paradoxes and contradictions of reality. The call for considerable daring and courage— reconciliation with meaning of the concept of the knowledge qualities that are essential if history is to society was expanded by reference to be made. the rest of the the requirements of the state of Arab world, through epistemological reality. The axis dealing a commitment with the problematics of the knowledge to learn from its society raised a sample of the most important questions posed, such as those achievements related to identity, language, technology, gender inequality, and challenges to values and ethics. It also raised the question of political participation and democratic reform in the Arab world. We expressed our belief that the reinforcement of the path to attaining the knowledge society in the Arab world is inseparable from the twin demands for a renaissance and for human development, which form the long range goals of this report. Our objective in the above has been to formulate an Arab perception of these topics and problematics and thus produce a vision that combines an analysis of the data and indicators with consideration of them in the light of the complex and composite nature of the knowledge society. THE THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK: CONCEPTS AND PROBLEMATICS OF THE KNOWLEDGE SOCIETY 55
  • 72. End Notes 1 Epistemic saturation refers to the absence of the lines that set the limits of the connotation of the concept. Early in the process of their formation, concepts emerge in a specific epistemic field in a pre-saturated form by virtue of their novelty and the absence of agreement among their users. Saturation takes place during the process of the cumulative use of the concept, and as a result of agreement on its signification among specialists and practitioners. We must not here associate epistemic saturation with obscurantism and static constancy. Concepts have their own life-spans and forms of crystallization. A signification therefore varies then settles down, then becomes a vocabulary item in the knowledge repository within the frame in which it is used. 2 Michel Cartier, and Idris Binsa‘id, background paper for the Report, in Arabic. 3 Tunis Commitment, Article 23. 56 ARAB KNOWLEDGE REPORT 2009
  • 74. CHAPTER TWO ARAB KNOWLEDGE PERFORMANCE ENVIRONMENTS: EXPANDING FREEDOMS AND BUILDING INSTITUTIONS Introduction rapid economic growth through the provision of enabling environments. At the forefront of such Knowledge is no longer the purely intellectual and environments are those that have provided a contemplative issue it once was; today it is an climate characterised by freedom of thought and The relationship economic, political, and social issue influenced by expression and broad participation. of knowledge the regulatory environment, development policies, In the midst of this global activity, issues to a society and and the sum of political, economic, and social have emerged of paramount concern to developing its culture and freedoms. It is influenced also by recent global nations, among them the Arab countries. The developments that, due to the communications most pressing of these issues may perhaps be heritage is not a revolutions underway around the world, know formulated as follows: What is the nature of unilateral one no barriers. the relationship between knowledge performance The relationship of knowledge to a society and freedom? Is knowledge a public good and and its culture and heritage is not a unilateral to what extent can it be made more democratic, one; it is a multi-faceted interactive dialectic. in the sense of being accessible to all? Debate Knowledge acts as a support to development, has also ensued over intellectual property. What powerfully leveraging it and improving the is its connection to the exercise of monopolies quality of life. Thus, any positive progress in by trans-national corporations? How legitimate knowledge performance reflects on the totality of are the alternatives available to developing development performance. countries? Global knowledge environments have Sharp disagreement has also arisen over witnessed continuous activity, particularly tariff barriers to knowledge exports and the Knowledge acts with the emergence of the globalised economy, role of a free media in a world of open satellite as a support to which does not recognise traditional borders channels, the internet, and digital media. These and depends to a high degree on knowledge are but a sample of the issues and questions on development, and intellectual capital. Ideas and information the table in a world teeming with the dynamics of powerfully have emerged as the basic engine for economic knowledge, technological activity, and intellectual leveraging it and development, or even for development in its debate. These issues reflect fundamentally improving the broadest sense. This corroborates Endogenous new tensions and contradictions, while also quality of life Growth theory, wherein knowledge is both a constituting what may be described as fuel for fundamental underpinning for development and those enabling environments which come together the result of steadily increasing dividends on to promote the establishment of a new society investments in human and intellectual capital; as that might be broadly labelled a “knowledge a result the “ideas gap,” considered a basic cause society.” of the development gap, is closed (Romer, 1986, This chapter cannot do justice to all the 1993). This theory is supported by actual events: components of these enabling environments in developed countries and some in the developing the Arab world, which range from regulatory, world which have emerged as pioneering legislative, institutional, and legal, to social, epistemological paradigms have succeeded in economic, and political. Nor will it list all exploiting digital economic innovations so as the factors which stimulate or impede Arab to tie knowledge to development and realise knowledge advancement. Instead, it will focus ARAB KNOWLEDGE PERFORMANCE ENVIRONMENTS 59
  • 75. on the enabling environments from a particular only bring about legitimacy and rationality angle, that of freedoms, since they are the through the agency of the arsenal of laws cornerstone of such environments. It will and legislation that guarantee that they will Freedom is the basis also make reference to the role of supporting continue to thrive and develop. of development. institutions, given the important role their It contributes to organisational structure plays in paving the way THE STATE OF KNOWLEDGE a broadening to a knowledge society. ENVIRONMENTS IN THE This chapter takes as its starting point the ARAB WORLD: CONSTRAINTS of choices fundamental premise that freedoms in their AND PRESSURES and individual various forms are the most salient feature of possibilities those environments that stimulate knowledge. We take this dependence of enabling in the various This premise has become a touchstone of the environments on participation and era and a guide to all experiments in the freedom as our starting point. We may, spheres of life advancement of knowledge. Every enabling however, ask ourselves: What is meant environment that fosters freedoms provides an by knowledge environments? And do appropriate framework for the establishment Arab environments stimulate or impede of a knowledge society. Knowledge and freedom the production, use, and acquisition of are two sides of the same coin. Similarly, knowledge? If we take as our premise freedom, according to Amartya Sen, is the basis that development is freedom and that of development (Sen, 1999). It contributes knowledge is a human right as well as a to a broadening of choices and individual basic component in the implementation Arab environments, possibilities in the various spheres of life. As a and realisation of development, most as a whole, still lack consequence, freedoms, here, are both an end and indicators show that Arab environments, the most important a means to development, a cause and a result. as a whole, still lack the most important mechanisms for A cluster of political, economic, and social mechanisms for empowerment based on freedoms constitutes the best environment for knowledge. Political, social, and economic empowerment based the production and optimal use of knowledge. restrictions are the rule, freedoms the on knowledge It is the most important motivational tool for exception. Achievements in public development in the broad, humanistic sense of freedom, social and economic freedoms, the word—development, that is, that transcends and the freedom to create are modest mere economic growth and rises in average in Arab countries, despite a degree of individual income to include the enrichment of progress and some signs that give grounds individuals’ lives, improvement in their living for hope. That freedoms in the Arab conditions, and the advancement of the active, world are abused is no value judgment or contributing citizen. In this sense, freedoms prejudice but rather a fact corroborated Achievements in constitute a fundamental axis of knowledge by reports, statistics, and qualitative and public freedom, environments. quantitative indicators. It is true that there social and economic However, our concern with loosening the is considerable disparity in some of these reins on freedoms does not mean overlooking data from one Arab country to another. freedoms, and This is because the state of freedoms the frameworks of responsibility which allow the freedom to for the protection and investment of the fruits experiences ups and downs, periods of create are modest of freedom. These frameworks are comprised progress, retreat, and instability according in Arab countries, of the institutions that support and preserve to external pressures and states’ priorities, everything that helps develop knowledge and over and above the givens of any internal despite a degree brings a knowledge society into being. While struggles. However, the general trend of of progress and the environments which enable knowledge are freedoms in the Arab world is from bad some signs that give established thanks to a prevailing climate to worse, not from good to better, despite grounds for hope of freedom, they can only ensure continuity some successful reform initiatives and and efficacy through sponsoring institutions despite the indicators of rapid economic that organise systems for the production and growth in some Arab countries in recent propagation of knowledge. Furthermore, they years, previous to the aggravation of the 60 ARAB KNOWLEDGE REPORT 2009
  • 76. current economic crisis in the autumn of these can only flourish in the Arab region 2008. when they are linked to leaderships open The cluster of freedoms necessary for to the outside world and intent on reform The cluster of the knowledge-enabling environment is through investment in human capital and freedoms necessary not limited to political freedom; it includes knowledge industries that rely on Arab economic, social, intellectual, academic, human and physical potentials. for the knowledge and creative freedoms, all of them linked includes economic, to the principles of equality and justice POLITICAL ENVIRONMENTS: social, intellectual, espoused in the principles of human THE PARADOX OF POLITICAL academic, and rights. While human rights are considered REFORM DISCOURSE AND THE an integral whole the Arab reality shows DECLINE IN FREEDOMS creative freedoms a clear disparity in the provision of some freedoms as opposed to others. Thus, a EXPANDING POLITICAL realistic analysis requires that we study PARTICIPATION: the state of each facet of freedom on its THE PATH TO KNOWLEDGE own. AND CREATIVITY Freedom of thought It is impossible to rely solely upon and expression is a improvements in the domain of economic Freedom of thought and expression is a freedoms to bring about an Arab principal component, along with political principal component, knowledge revival in development if there participation, of the enabling environment along with political is a continued imposition of curbs on other that contributes to the advancement of participation, freedoms, especially those of thought knowledge performance. Despite some of the enabling and expression. Relying on economic improvement in some Arab countries environment that freedoms alone, in fact, leads to diminished in the realms of political participation, development whose sustainability can democratic reform, and human rights and contributes to not be guaranteed. In addition, hopes freedoms, there has been palpable retreat the advancement of achieving a fair distribution of in others. This is because the democratic of knowledge development’s social yields will also recede opening up in the last decade did not performance in the shadow of an undemocratic climate achieve the desired results. Many freedoms in which the people have no oversight and of opinion, expression, and participation in which corruption burgeons. in Arab countries are bound by fetters Limiting political, social, and both visible and invisible, some of which intellectual freedoms threatens to produce have turned into a reality that constrains negative repercussions not only on Arab knowledge and creativity. knowledge performance or development Talk of reform is common in a performance; it may bring harm to number of Arab countries, but seems in the body politic as a whole, especially most instances to be suspended in the Talk of reform in the midst of attempts to contain air, unable to come to ground in the real is common in a extremism and eliminate terrorism. As world. Since the events of 11 September number of Arab long as oppression, poverty, and social 2001, and perhaps before them, there has marginalisation remain, extremism and been serious—though also, at times, countries, but seems terrorism in all of their forms will abound, prevaricating—talk of the necessity in most instances with negative impact on the establishment of political reform and relaxation of to be suspended of the hoped-for knowledge society. constraints on freedoms, without even the in the air, unable Furthermore, in the absence of political least of these being accomplished. The freedom accomplied by tranparency, Arab Human Development Report of to come to ground accountability, and oversight by judicious 2004 on the state of freedoms concluded in the real world governments whose goal is to realise that the problem of freedom in the Arab structural reform linked to new vision, world was increasing due to the spread of possibilities for responsible economic repression, the hegemony of censorship, development will dwindle. Freedoms like and the proliferation of mechanisms that ARAB KNOWLEDGE PERFORMANCE ENVIRONMENTS 61
  • 77. FIGURE 2-1 Press freedom in the Arab countries, 2008 8 7 7 7 Number of Arab Countries 6 6 5 4 3 2 2 1 0 0 Good Satisfactory Noticeable Difficult Very Serious problems situation situation Source: Reporters without Borders, 2008 restrict freedoms. That diagnosis continues index published by Reporters without to apply, despite a few harbingers of Borders ranks all Arab countries among change in some Arab countries (see the those which restrict the press, though to Preamble). differing degrees. This index delineates the This perception finds support in margin of freedom that both journalists numerous international statistics and and media organisations enjoy and the studies, to which we must have recourse efforts they expend on behalf of press given the almost complete absence of freedom. We find that the situation in the authoritative and credible Arab scholarship majority of Arab countries according to in this field. The Freedom of the Press this index1 falls between “very serious” FIGURE 2-2 Perceptions of corruption in the Arab World 2008 7 6 6 6 Number of Arab Countries 5 4 4 3 3 2 2 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 8.0 9.0 1.0 4.0 6.0 7.0 2.0 3.0 No 5.0 -8 -1 -1 -4 -6 -7 -2 -3 -5 Da .9 0.0 .9 .9 .9 .9 .9 .9 .9 ta M Le Av os as a tC ila tC or b or le ru ru p t pt Source: Transparency International: Corruption Perception Index 62 ARAB KNOWLEDGE REPORT 2009
  • 78. FIGURE 2-3 Perceptions of corruption 2003-2008 7 6 5 4 2008 3 2 2003 1 0 uth a n Ma a o Dji n n ia Co ya ia ia Ba n So ies in Alg a Le b a en ica ina isia uti ros n T Iraq key Mo ait tar Ma gypt E zil So laysi li da i eri Sa rocc o da a tan S yr UA Ind rab hra Lib ma Yem Om an bo r w Afr Bra Ch Qa mo Tun ito Tur Su Jor Ku E iA uri err ud tia len Pa ied cup Oc Source: Transparency International: Corruption Perception Index (May 11, 2009) and “difficult” (Figure 2-1). We note too of corruption in 180 countries on the that in 2008, all but two Arab countries basis of experts’ evaluations and opinion ranked at the very bottom of 173 countries polls. The index depends on statistics studied. from thirteen independent sources in In this context, it is possible to compare the public sector and the political sector. Arab countries to other areas of the world Evaluation is based on a normative scale using the Democracy Index published by running from zero to ten. Every step up the Economic Investigations Unit of The on the scale indicates a fall in the average In the Arab Economist2. This index is based on sixty rate of corruption in the opinion of those countries, there indicators which track performance in the surveyed. In seventeen of the twenty- clearly is a direct following five areas: the electoral process two Arab countries studied, the level of and plurality, civil liberties, government perception of corruption was less than correlation between performance, political participation, and half the value of the scale, i.e., less than the decline in the political culture. Most Arab countries five (Figure 2-2), while Somalia came levels of freedom received rankings on this index that in last with a score of one. Iraq had the and democracy, point to a lack of democracy, and only next lowest score, of 1.3. Thus, we find the spread of three—Iraq, Lebanon, and the Occupied that the situation of Arab countries on Palestinian Territories—received relatively the world map according to this index4 corruption, and higher marks. is not much better than their situation the decline of All Arab countries receive a low ranking on the map of freedoms. This implies a government compared to others such as Malaysia, direct correlation between the decline in performance India, Brazil, and South Africa. Sweden the levels of freedom and democracy, the topped the list of 165 countries included spread of corruption, and the decline of in the 2008 study with an average of 9.88, government performance. while North Korea came last with 0.863. It should be pointed out that The other side of the coin is the Qatar and the UAE recorded the best performance of government itself. Here performance in combating corruption we refer to the Corruption Perception on the Arab front (Figure 2-3). The most Index published by Transparency important indication of this is that they International, which assesses the magnitude maintained this good performance in the ARAB KNOWLEDGE PERFORMANCE ENVIRONMENTS 63
  • 79. Corruption Perception Index from 2003- citizenry in choosing their representatives 2008, in addition to achieving a marked in elected representative bodies on a improvement in the 2008 report. Jordan, sound democratic basis. The restrictions Morocco, Algeria, and Libya also recorded imposed on public freedoms, alongside a improvement, while Lebanon maintained rise in levels of poverty, and poor income its status quo, and performance deteriorated distribution, in some Arab countries, have in the remainder of the Arab world. led to an increase in marginalisation of the poor and further distanced them from Stringent legislative CONTINUED CURBING OF obtaining their basic rights to housing, and institutional PUBLIC FREEDOMS education, and employment, contributing restrictions in to the further decline of social freedoms. numerous Arab In the realm of public freedoms, Arab Given this climate, it is only natural countries as a whole failed to realise that rigid social ideas which reject ‘the countries prevent tangible gains in terms of freedom other’ should spread and take root, and the expansion of the of thought and expression. With the that discrimination against women and public sphere and exception of the spread of Arab satellite minorities should be practiced, with all the consolidation of channels and internet blogs, which have the negative corollaries for knowledge provided a very active outlet for youth and development performance in Arab opportunities for the in the region, the dossier on freedom countries. political participation of thought and expression continues to make depressing reading. Arab states FREEDOM OF OPINION AND have imposed additional restrictions EXPRESSION: ADDITIONAL on Arab satellite channels and issued RESTRICTIONS additional regulations and laws that have tightened their grasp on the media, While Arab countries announce their journalism, journalists, blogs, bloggers, determination to guarantee public and even on intellectuals: many Arab freedoms and political reform and to dissenters and innovators are targets of expand and actualize participation of the investigations, exposed to various forms citizenry, they actually provide little scope of restriction on their ability to earn for freedom of opinion and political and a living or travel, to surveillance and trade union activities, thus widening the possible arrest. Arab countries lead the gap between word and deed. Publicised world in arrests of bloggers, imposing on discourse, especially when addressing them fines and prison sentences. Books major powers or world opinion, is have been impounded, newspapers and reformist and distinctly democratic, but internet sites closed, and some opposition actual practice on the ground differs While most Arab authors or those who have promulgated from or even contradicts it. And while constitutions views deemed indecent have even been most Arab constitutions stipulate human stipulate human declared infidels. Most news media and rights and freedoms, martial laws such as rights and freedoms, outlets of knowledge dissemination in anti-terrorism laws serve to limit these in the Arab world are still state-owned, practice, leaving the door wide open to martial laws such as though a limited number of large news the authorities to interpret what is unclear anti-terrorism laws and entertainment media companies are in the legal texts. Some Arab states serve to limit these operational in the region, most operating acknowledge the principle of a plurality rights in practice out of the Gulf, or even from outside the of political parties while practicing Arab region. repression in the name of security and on Stringent legislative and institutional occasion throwing leaders of opposition restrictions in numerous Arab countries parties into prison. prevent the expansion of the public sphere In addition, we note that at the and the consolidation of opportunities same time that lavish investments are for the political participation of the being made in upgrading information 64 ARAB KNOWLEDGE REPORT 2009
  • 80. technology infrastructure, blogs are Nor have bloggers and activists escaped closed down and young bloggers security surveillance or even arrest. In repressed, as if a distinction could be one Arab country, an editor of electronic made between knowledge dissemination sites belonging to one of the country’s Digital content and mechanisms and their knowledge content, minorities was arrested and brought the internet in the even though it is the latter that is more before a military tribunal on the charge of Arab world have not deserving of patronage, protection, and ‘maligning the president, disparaging the escaped censorship concern. This is closely tied to academic government, and inciting ethnic unrest.’ In and literary freedoms, for Arab writers another country, a blogger was imprisoned and government and scholars risk being declared infidels or for four and a half months for writing interference in legally interrogated on the opinions they on religious subjects. In a third country, recent years espouse or the books and creative works three participants in an electronic chat they publish which express opposition, room were arrested in 2005 for messages innovation, or criticism. This can be ‘inciting hatred of the government,’ and partially explained by cultural seclusion the government obliged everyone with an and the outward adherence to constants internet site to register it with the ministry that this entails. In some instances, of information or risk legal proceedings. unfortunately, this seclusion is actually It is thus not surprising that the The list of the fifteen promoted to isolation from the world list of the fifteen most internet-hostile most internet-hostile and its latest cultural innovations and countries in the world should include countries in the intellectual developments (al-Tahir Labib, four Arab countries. Five Arab countries world includes four background paper for the Report, in appear on another list of ten so-called Arabic). ‘countries under observation’ (Naomi Saqr, Arab countries, and Digital content and the internet in the background paper for the Report). five of them appear Arab world have not escaped censorship on another list of ten and government interference in recent ARAB MEDIA AND so-called ‘countries years. More and more cases of censorship GOVERNMENT HEGEMONY5 and internet site prohibition have been under observation’ recorded; these are a straightforward The Arab media have been established and violation of a citizen’s right to privacy continue to develop under the hegemony and access to information (al-Tahir Labib, of Arab governments or large multimedia background paper for the Report, in companies operating on the Arab regional Arabic). In one Arab country, a decree level. The alliances and interaction between was issued requiring internet site owners these are no secret, with the two parties to record the personal data of writers of between them owning most of the media articles and comments published on the outlets, which are put to work for their The Arab media have sites. In another, a blank page appears mutual interests. Thus, content proffered been established instead of the banned site. And in a third, in the newspapers, radio, television, and continue to a message appears saying that the site has and satellite channels is characterised develop under the been blocked for ‘political, moral, and to a large degree by its superficiality, the religious’ reasons. One Arab government predominance of shallow entertainment hegemony of Arab obliges companies providing internet pieces, and diminishing knowledge governments or service to implement systems that permit content, along with a political discourse large multimedia the blocking of internet sites on a religious characterised by loyalty to governments companies operating and moral basis. And finally, internet and praise of their achievements. All cafes in at least two Arab countries are of this confirms the need for some sort on the Arab subject to the possibility of inspection of separation between knowledge and regional level and surveillance, and the owners of these politics, or more precisely, an end to the cafes are required to submit information dependency of knowledge on politics. on those who use them (Naomi Saqr, In the Arab region, knowledge content background paper for the Report). is subject to a number of restrictions ARAB KNOWLEDGE PERFORMANCE ENVIRONMENTS 65
  • 81. exercised through a chain of official security services prohibited production oversight on more than one level and of a documentary film despite its having according to more than one law. Among obtained permission from the country Arab creative these restrictions are the penal code, the with which it dealt. Films, by a number of production, press law, laws governing the content of different directors, have been repeatedly especially in the films, censorship laws for books, theatre, banned, and this may lead Arab film literary and artistic and cinema production, and even, at times, makers to produce their works outside emergency and counterterrorism laws. the Arab world, adding one more form fields, collides not The concept of censorship of knowledge of brain drain to the haemorrhaging of only with laws content has also been broadened to intellect from the region. restricting freedom include other restrictions, such as those The production, publication, and of opinion and that impinge on political party activity and distribution of books in Arabic suffer the holding of elections, the granting of from similar restrictions, and these expression but also licenses to civil society institutions, and limit the diffusion of printed Arab with administrative constraints on volunteers who work in knowledge content. For example, the impediments the field of human rights and companies authorities of a certain Arab country working in so-called “free zones.” prohibited the publication of seventy- Some governments have announced three books for reasons associated with guidelines and instructions prohibiting ‘moral principles, derision of religions, the arrest of journalists, but the latter are the public interest, and issues affecting still subject to imprisonment and criminal specific individuals.’ In another country, The production, proceedings under the penal code rather books are reviewed before publication by publication, and than the press law. Publishing a newspaper religious authorities and security bodies, distribution of books requires a government license, which is and ten to fifteen books are turned down in Arabic suffer granted primarily on a political basis. In every year. Censorship and surveillance addition, a huge sum of money must be are not confined to the pre-publishing restrictions that paid in advance as collateral or the like phase; books may be impounded, limit the diffusion (Naomi Saqr, background paper for the sometimes a number of years after their of printed Arab Report). These conditions constitute publication. Among recent examples is knowledge content additional restrictions on the freedom the impounding of a work by a female of the press and on the right to publish writer on the grounds that it offends newspapers, freedoms and rights that are religion. A book may be exhibited in the considered among the most important book fairs of one country and prohibited pillars of freedom of opinion and in those of another. The phenomenon expression. of multiple standards for permission Arab creative production, especially to circulate books has sometimes led in the literary and artistic fields, collides to reviewing the books and editing the With the continuing not only with laws restricting freedom original text so that they might be put restrictions on of opinion and expression but also with on sale in those Arab countries which freedom of thought administrative impediments, foremost impose stricter standards. Such revisions of which is the need for licenses, which constitute self-censorship, which is and expression may be withdrawn at any time. Forms destructive of innovation and bold in many parts of of discrimination on the basis of endeavours (Naomi Saqr, background the region, it is specialization, profession, and nationality paper for the Report). difficult to foresee are also practiced. The greater the number In view of the above, and with the of administrative and security restrictions, continuing restrictions on freedom of an upsurge in the greater the possibility for being turned thought and expression in many parts of the Arab knowledge down. For example, a certain director was region, it is difficult to foresee an upsurge asked to ‘tone down’ some scenes in one in Arab knowledge. Accomplishments of his films that were deemed demeaning in this field will, therefore, remain quite to the police. In another Arab country, limited, especially so long as the Arab 66 ARAB KNOWLEDGE REPORT 2009
  • 82. nations continue to occupy their present We cite the outstanding economic position on the world map of freedoms and performance built over the course of democracy. No distinction can be drawn several decades on economic freedom between democracy in the broad meaning in industrialised countries and even in The global economic of the word and the democratization of those of recent growth, like South Korea, crisis has put the knowledge, with all the latter carries which have realised the greatest benefit subject of economic in terms of opportunities for political from economic freedoms by focussing on freedom on the participation and, in particular, development, which has led to outstanding communicativeness, since the latter can economic performance derived largely docket for review not be achieved in isolation from the from knowledge industries of advanced and has produced first. technical content. doubts about its Those countries most open and most credibility and ECONOMIC ENVIRONMENTS: committed to the cluster of responsible TOWARDS RESPONSIBLE economic freedoms record high averages effectiveness FREEDOM AND A BALANCED of success in participating in and benefiting ECONOMY from the global knowledge reserve. This confirms the assertion that economic The economic environment which freedom and the encouragement of stimulates the production and spread of competition within a stimulating economic knowledge is based on a cluster of freedoms, environment are elements of success in such as free enterprise, the freedom to connecting with the world on the basis Economic invest, the encouragement of competition, of knowledge. This is particularly so in freedom and the and fair trade. These are practiced through light of international entanglements and encouragement of the agency of a judicious and responsible the appearance of new business models competition within a administration that imposes transparency in the global economy which depend and accountability. The existence of such principally upon technology and ideas, stimulating economic a cluster leads to the creation of the proper and in which knowledge performance environment are climate for advancement in knowledge plays an important role in promoting elements of success performance and for connectedness with development. in connecting with a rapidly evolving world which is growing On the economic front, competitive ever more open and interdependent. markets and open economies stimulate the world on the There is no doubt that the global competition for domestic and foreign basis of knowledge economic crisis has put the subject of markets among companies in any given economic freedom on the docket for country. As a consequence, the relative review and has produced doubts about growth of open economies depends on the credibility and effectiveness of this the ability to innovate and acquire market freedom as a matter of principle. Some share among consumers. Knowledge have even gone so far as to call for the plays a fundamental role in penetrating abolition, or restriction, of economic these markets by virtue of its role in freedoms. This logic is, to a great extent, the production and development of fallacious. It is not reasonable to demand competitive products. On the other The relative growth that freedoms be abolished simply because hand, knowledge itself is regenerated of open economies they have been abused by an irresponsible as a result of this competitive process depends on the minority. In this context, as with all through new, ‘dynamic and sequential,’ ability to innovate other freedoms, we differentiate between models and the economy moves ‘from responsible and irresponsible uses of one temporary equilibrium to another.’ and acquire market economic freedom. We look at economic According to economist Paul Romer’s share among freedom as an enabling tool for the proper theory of endogenous growth, up-to-date consumers exploitation of resources, which includes knowledge is an essential element of the catalyzing a healthy business sector and development process; this differs from promoting a varied and vibrant economy. neo-classical theory, which focuses on ARAB KNOWLEDGE PERFORMANCE ENVIRONMENTS 67
  • 83. closed economies and considers technical economic freedom. The first is the change an external factor, not determined Heritage Foundation’s Index of the by the will of the local economy and the Economic Freedom. 6 The second is the internal knowledge and technological Economic Freedom Index published development policies (‘Atif Qubrusi, by the Fraser Institute for International The Arab countries background paper for the Report, in Research, which consists of five most prepared Arabic). indicators.7 In addition, we have used the to produce and In view of the above, the Arab Competitiveness Report published by the countries most prepared to produce and World Economic Forum,8 as well as the put knowledge put knowledge to use, especially business- World Bank’s Doing Business indicators.9 to use are those related knowledge, are those that observe that observe the the largest number of the cluster of TOWARD EXPANDING largest number responsible economic freedoms while ECONOMIC FREEDOMS of the cluster encouraging local competition. They also limit monopolistic practices and the In the Economic Freedom Index of the of responsible hegemony of mega-corporations over the Heritage Foundation, performance is economic freedoms market. Although most Arab countries have evaluated using ten components of equal encouraging local passed laws which encourage competition, weight.10 Each of the ten freedoms is competition the challenge lies in actual compliance evaluated on a scale of 1-100, where 100 with these laws. In addition, the creation represents the maximum in freedom. In of a balance between the interests of evaluating the ten freedoms, the authors consumers and foreign companies on the depended on reliable, internationally one hand, and local heads of business on recognised sources. The index for 2009 the other, is also a challenge, especially in includes data from the second half of that many of the latter participate, under 2007 through the second half of 2008.11 other guises, in the game of politics and Hong Kong led the list of 183 countries decision-making in the Arab world. studied with a total of 90.0, while North Korea came in last with a balance of two MEASURING ECONOMIC points. FREEDOMS The average of economic freedom for the Arab countries studied12 was below the The best method to measure economic international average on the basis of the Although most freedoms might be that which focuses Heritage Index. This places them among Arab countries on opportunities to produce knowledge those countries that are ‘mostly unfree’. have passed laws from the inside and fend off the In addition, no Arab country is found which encourage advance of knowledge products coming amongst those designated as ‘free’ (Figure in from developed countries and giant 2-4). However, nine of the seventeen competition, the multinational corporations. Based on Arab countries studied rank among those challenge lies in that method, an Arab index could be described as ‘largely unfree,’ and six are actual compliance constr ucted, focusing on the amongst those designated ‘moderately with these laws competitiveness of knowledge output, the free.’ free flow of knowledge products, and the By measuring the chronological extent of Arab participation as equal, and performance of the Arab countries not simply dependent, partners in global studied, it becomes clear that the knowledge industries (see the sections predominant trend for the average of devoted to a proposed Arab index in economic freedoms since 2003 is one of Chapters 2 and 6). decline followed by recovery, despite the The absence of such an Arab index realisation of some progress in the field, makes it necessary to rely on available most of it in the form a slight increase international indicators. Here we present in the last three years, 2006-2009 (Figure two indices fundamental for tracking 2-5). This slight increase may be linked 68 ARAB KNOWLEDGE REPORT 2009
  • 84. to the third oil boom, which reached its 2007). The lowest levels of freedoms climax between 2006 and 2008, propelling in this index for Arab countries overall freedoms to the increase shown over their are in the categories of property rights Egypt came among 1999 values. and freedom from corruption, both of the top ten countries Arab countries included in the study which play a vital role in the promotion enacting reforms for recorded a noteworthy superiority in one of business and competitiveness and, as a the third time in four category of the Heritage Index, and that result, the enrichment of the knowledge is fiscal freedom. This is attributable to society. years, particularly the low rate of taxation, and indeed its In addition to the low rate of taxation, in terms of the tax absence in a number of Arab countries, fiscal freedom, and the stability of the system and the field particularly those of the Gulf (World Bank monetary system, there were some other of business start-up and International Finance Corporation, successes in the business environment in FIGURE 2-4 Distribution of Economic Freedom in Arab Countries, 2009 9 Number of Arab Countires 6 1 1 0 0-49.9 50-59.9 60-69.9 70-79.9 80-100 Repressed Mostly Unfree Moderately Free Mostly Free Free Source: Heritage Foundation, 2009 FIGURE 2-5 Average economic freedom index for seventeen Arab countries 60.0 59.5 59.0 58.5 Economic Freedom 58.0 Average 57.5 57.0 56.5 56.0 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 The Heritage Foundation, 2009 ARAB KNOWLEDGE PERFORMANCE ENVIRONMENTS 69
  • 85. TABLE 2-1 Arab Countries that realised positive reforms in the field of business, 2007-2008 Starting a Dealing with Employing Registering Getting Protecting Paying Trading Enforcing Closing a business construction permits workers* property credit Investors Taxes across contracts* business borders Egypt Egypt Egypt Egypt Egypt Morocco Egypt Saudi Arabia Jordan Mauritania UAE Morocco Saudi Arabia Tunisia Djibouti Lebanon Tunisia Tunisia Morocco Mauritania UAE Syria Oman Occupied Saudi Arabia Palestinian Syria Territories Tunisia Occupied Palestinian Territories Yemen * No Arab country undertook positive reforms in the business domains of employment contracts enforcement. Source: World Bank and IFC (International Finance Corporation), 2007 some Arab countries. This was the case THE OIL BOOM DID NOT FOSTER in Egypt, which came among the top ECONOMIC FREEDOM AS GCC countries ten countries enacting reforms for the HOPED were able to realise third time in four years, particularly in cash surpluses terms of the tax system and the field of The Heritage Index for 2009 shows that business start-up, as well as in dealing with the Arab Gulf countries realised the thanks to a rise in building permits and property registration, highest relative average for economic petroleum revenues obtaining funding, and protecting freedoms among Arab countries, and that investors. Similarly, positive reforms in the this happened thanks to the policy of field of business start-up were carried out economic openness, the attraction of in Tunisia and Yemen, where the minimum foreign investments, and the modernisation for capital required for that purpose was of the infrastructure. In addition, cancelled, and in Jordan, where it was initiatives were undertaken that gave the lowered. It is worth mentioning that private sector a larger, wider role in the According to some Saudi Arabia made progress in reforms in production process. Member countries of reports, there is no the field of business closure, a category the Gulf Cooperation Council were able positive conditional which included no Arab countries to realise cash surpluses thanks to a rise relationship between between 2003 and 2007. These reforms in petroleum revenues (Fraser Institute, include the introduction of declaration 2008). However, with the exception of increased oil and of bankruptcy as a means of liquidation Qatar and Bahrain, per capita income gas revenues and a market exit device, as well as a ‘averages’ witnessed a decline as a result and support for reduction in the role of the courts, setting of the swelling demand for imports. This economic freedoms of time frames, and the maintenance of resulted in the depletion of resources that transparency through use of the internet would have been better invested locally (World Bank, IFC, 2007). (World Bank, 2009). Since 2003, certain Arab oil-producing countries (Saudi Arabia, Libya, and Oman) 70 ARAB KNOWLEDGE REPORT 2009
  • 86. have realised a degree of progress with 2006 (Figure 2-7). This index relies on forty- regard to economic freedoms as compared two variables in five areas of economic with five non-oil-producing countries freedom: size of government (spending, Certain non-oil- (Egypt, Lebanon, Yemen, Syria, and Jordan) taxes, and commercial enterprises); legal producing Arab (Figure 2-6). The figure also makes clear structure and security of property rights; countries enjoy more the absence of any positive conditional access to sound money; freedom to trade economic freedoms relationship between increased oil and internationally, and the regulation of credit, gas revenues and support for economic labor, and business. Overall evaluation is than the oil- freedoms. Some Arab countries depend on based on the combined average of the five producing countries oil economically and have benefited from categories on a scale of 0-10 (Mu’assasat when freedom is the third oil boom, yet have recorded no al-Buhuth al-Dawliyya, 2005, in Arabic).14 measured against improvement on the Heritage economic According to the competitiveness freedom index. In contrast, certain index published by the World Economic size of population non-oil-producing Arab countries enjoy Forum, the countries of the Arab Gulf, more economic freedoms than the oil- and in particular Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the producing countries when freedom is UAE, and Kuwait, lead Arab countries and measured against size of population, occupy a leading position among countries and in addition may enjoy lower rates around the world (Figure 2-8). This index of inflation and slightly better rates of is constructed on the basis of twelve both employment and income (Heritage critical pillars of competitiveness and Foundation, 2009). presents a comprehensive picture of the Most Arab countries The index of the Fraser Institute for competitive arena in the various countries studied made International Research points out that at all phases of development. These acceptable progress most Arab countries studied, whether pillars include institutions, infrastructure, in economic non-petroleum producers, such as Egypt, macroeconomic stability, health, primary Tunisia, Jordan, Algeria, and Syria, or education, higher education and training, freedoms between petroleum producers, like Kuwait,13 Oman, goods market efficiency, labor market 2003 and 2006 and the UAE, made acceptable progress efficiency, financial market sophistication, in economic freedoms between 2003 and technological readiness, market size, FIGURE 2-6 Heritage economic freedom index for 2009, Arab countries-comparison countries 90 80 70 60 50 2009 40 2003 30 20 10 0 Bahrain Oman Qatar Kuwait Jordan UAE Saudi Arabia Lebanon Egypt Tunisia Morocco Yemen Algeria Mauritania Djibouti South Africa Syria Libya Malaysia Turkey Brazil India China On a scale of 0 (least free) to 100 (most free) Source: Heritage Foundation, 2009 ARAB KNOWLEDGE PERFORMANCE ENVIRONMENTS 71
  • 87. relatively favourable rating vis-à-vis Arab BOX 2-1 petroleum exporters when compared The Contradictory Nature of Economic Freedom Indicators to their peers in other countries of the same group. The competitiveness report The evident contradiction among contradict each other—as demonstrated attributes this to the modest score in the data produced mostly by western above—or lack the legitimacy and international institutions forcefully authority which accuracy would confer. innovation and business sophistication indicates the need for careful deliberation This is a powerful indication of the in petroleum countries and the negative before issuing judgements based on urgent need to draft Arab indices for effect of this in terms of their overall them. This points to the pressing need knowledge environments and their for Arab society to become more deeply antecedents, indices that should spring economic stability and improvement in involved in the relevant global discourses from the actuality of the Arab world. the institutional environment (World and the production of relevant data and This would lend them credibility and Economic Forum, 2007). reliable indicators. The absence in the respect, and as a result, authority, Arab sphere of institutions capable of whether on the front of Arab society, The composite business environment producing and publishing authenticated in both its formal and civil sectors, or index published by the World Economic indicators leaves the Arab researcher and amongst specialised bodies at the local, planner before a particular selection of regional, and international levels. Forum describes an outstanding information and indicators which may performance by a number of Arab countries, such as Tunisia, the UAE, and Jordan, with regard to its various business sophistication, and innovation. components, namely effectiveness The report also includes comprehensive of anti-trust policy, intensity of local lists of the most significant strengths and competitiveness, and degree of market weaknesses of the countries included in dominance.16 This may afford promising the study. The index is on a scale of 0 signs, however provisional, of the existence to 7, where seven indicates the greatest of enabling environments for knowledge competitiveness. Qatar, Bahrain, and industries in both some petroleum and the UAE were all among the list of the some non-petroleum Arab countries. world’s forty most competitive countries In summary, the Arab region witnessed, (World Economic Forum, 2008b).15 up to the onset of the global economic According to this index, non-petroleum crisis in the autumn of 2008, two principal exporting Arab countries received a changes. First was the third petroleum FIGURE 2-7 Fraser Institute index of economic freedom of Arab countries vs. comparison countries 9 8 7 6 2003 5 2004 4 2005 3 2006 2 1 0 ria ria co t an sia n an t E a sia a ey a il yp i az ric di in ai UA wa oc rk rd Om ge Sy ni ay hr In Ch Eg Br Af Ku Tu Tu Jo or Al Ba al h M M ut So Source: Fraser Institute data base (January, 2009), 72 ARAB KNOWLEDGE REPORT 2009
  • 88. FIGURE 2-8 Index of global competitiveness for Arab countries 6 5 4 3 2 1 0 r bia E it ia ain an an o t ria nia il ey dia a ya ina sia yp ta az ric cc UA wa nis Lib rk rd Om ge lay Qa hr In ra i ta Ch Eg Br ro Af Ku Tu Tu Jo iA Al Ba Mo ur Ma h ud Ma ut So Sa On a Scale of 1.00 (least competitive) to 7.00 (most competitive) Source: The World Economic Forum, 2008b boom, beginning in 2000, from which surge in the growth of the per capita GDP the oil and gas producing and exporting in many Gulf countries. On the contrary, countries in particular derived great benefit, after 2005, these averages actually declined17 and which led to an exceptional economic in a number of petroleum countries, such revival, unlike what was happening at the as the UAE, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and same time in many countries of the world, Kuwait (see Figure 2-9). Likewise, the oil including certain developed countries. boom was not accompanied by a boom in From 2000-2007, there was an increase knowledge mirroring the investment of oil in GNP (gross national product) in Arab revenues in knowledge sectors, nor was it The oil boom was countries, especially the petroleum exporters reflected in an improvement in individual not accompanied among them, and even a number of non- living conditions in all the social brackets in by a boom in petroleum exporters such as Egypt and the Arab world as a whole. In fact, the poor knowledge mirroring Tunisia, which benefited partially from the grew poorer in the shadow of the inflation the investment increase in petroleum prices (World Bank, which swept across the world and through of oil revenues in 2009). Secondly, some Arab countries like the Arab region at least until the autumn knowledge sectors Egypt, Kuwait, and Jordan took important of 2008. Investment in the establishment in the Arab world steps towards openness and on the road to of a knowledge society and economy was the deregulation of their economies and very modest, whether in quantitative or as a whole the removal of some inhibiting restrictions qualitative terms or in terms of impact. This to business and to commercial, banking, is not to deny the numerous praiseworthy and investment activity. This contributed efforts and initiatives that have been to a relatively good economic performance made in this regard, both by the public for this period, which preceded the current and private sectors and by civil society economic crisis. organisations18 whose goals are the transfer However, most of these huge petroleum and indigenisation of knowledge and revenues were invested in specific sectors the enhancement of knowledge content like construction, which relies heavily on or that include knowledge programmes foreign labor, as well as in investments and activities in one form or another. outside the Arab world which produce Numerous initiatives have been undertaken rapid returns. Therefore, petroleum in the region in production fields such as revenues did not produce a comparable industry, agriculture, and services, and in ARAB KNOWLEDGE PERFORMANCE ENVIRONMENTS 73
  • 89. education, involving a reasonable quantity value-added products that embody a high of knowledge value added and including knowledge content. Statistical findings different forms of knowledge transfer. of the UN conference on commerce These initiatives remain, however, modest and development (UNCTAD) point to a and uncoordinated, especially when continuing, even increasing, deficit in net compared to total investment and revenues exports of manufactured goods in most External pressure, and to the opportunities in the field of Arab countries between 2003 and 2006 restrictions imposed knowledge transfer that might otherwise (Figure 2-10). In contrast, most Arab by international have been generated at the Arab regional countries had a steadily increasing surplus agreements, level. All in all, the third oil boom has in exports of raw primary commodities and stipulations not sufficiently contributed to producing during the same period. of free trade long-term Arab development, let alone a Discussion of freedoms is fraught with agreements do not rise in Arab knowledge content. difficulties, and measurements of economic The slight improvement that may be freedom allow for numerous interpretations always contribute detected in the Arab region is embodied depending on the content and implications positively to the in the advancement of economic of each index. No matter how precise establishment of freedoms in some countries, which the indicators, there are reservations as knowledge societies has occasionally led to an increase to the perspective of each in measuring in growth averages, as in the cases economic freedom. This perspective does of Egypt and Tunisia. Nevertheless, not necessarily reflect the circumstances that advancement remains limited and of developing countries, Arab countries does not necessarily reflect a vision included. These indices do not speak, for which aims at establishing a knowledge example, of the need for emancipation society and advancing Arab knowledge from the external hegemony and external performance. This is evidenced by the legal restrictions that play a negative role in fact that Arab countries continued to the rise of Arab knowledge performance. export raw materials and import high Similarly, external pressure, restrictions FIGURE 2-9 Average growth of per capita GDP 9 8 7 6 5 4 1996-99 3 2000-04 2 2005 1 2006 0 Oman Algeria Qatar Libya Jordan Tunisia Egypt Djibouti Bahrain Syria Yemen Saudi Arabia Lebanon Morocco UAE Kuwait -1 2007* -2 -3 -4 -5 *World Bank estimates Source: The World Bank, 2009 74 ARAB KNOWLEDGE REPORT 2009
  • 90. FIGURE 2-10 Net exports of manufactured goods in Arab countries Saudi Arabia Mauritania Lebanon Morocco Bahrain Algeria Kuwait Tunisia Jordan Yemen Sudan Oman Qatar Egypt Libya Syria UAE Iraq 0.00 -5.00 2003 Billions of dollars -10.00 2004 -15.00 2005 -20.00 2006 -25.00 -30.00 -35.00 -40.00 Source: UNCTAD website,, on 22 March 2009 imposed by international agreements, and supporting responsible economic freedom stipulations of free trade agreements do that gives priority to joint Arab investment, not always contribute positively to the especially in knowledge industries, with a establishment of knowledge societies in focus on supporting an Arab capability to developing countries, and, among them, catch up with the knowledge economy. countries of the Arab world. And now that the global economic MEDIA, CULTURAL, AND crisis is upon us, buffeting the economies SOCIAL ENVIRONMENTS of developed and developing nations in succession, the fact remains that Arab POVERTY AND SOCIAL The global countries neglected to exploit the climate MARGINALISATION economic crisis of revival and economic openness that calls for redoubling accompanied the oil boom to bridge the Social freedoms are considered the cooperative efforts knowledge gap, and to invest those returns real guarantee of individuals’ ability to not only to ward in building Arab knowledge content. This exercise their individual freedoms and off the dangers could have allowed for the accumulation political rights as they wish, without associated with it of organisational knowledge which, via violating others’ rights. Specific reference but also to increase the business sector, is engendered in should be made to marginalised groups investment in Arab knowledge industries and knowledge in society and, pre-eminently among these, knowledge capital economies that are open to the world. the poor, who suffer from social exclusion More than ever before, this crisis calls for and inequitable income distribution. redoubling cooperative efforts not only In its modern definition, poverty is the to ward off the dangers associated with curtailment of an individual’s opportunities it but also to increase investment in Arab to attain his or her basic rights in society knowledge capital. It should guarantee (Sen, 1999). Marginalisation constitutes, the sustainability of development built on in all its forms and at all levels, a barrier solid foundations, rather than on economic to the individual’s exercise of social rent-seeking, and should move towards freedom. ARAB KNOWLEDGE PERFORMANCE ENVIRONMENTS 75
  • 91. Despite the discrepancy in the size deep-seated lore that impact convictions of this bracket from one Arab society and codes of behaviour. The limits of to another, this group constitutes an practices that have been handed down important segment of the population in generation after generation are more the Arab world. Reference can be made powerful and more numerous than those to Yemen and Mauritania, among the of the law. This cultural heritage constitutes The Arab poor most difficult Arab cases, for which the the general framework of society and suffer from social Human Poverty Index, published by the determines its trajectories in a way that marginalisation, United Nations,19 shows a poverty rate of makes emancipation from its influence more than 35 per cent. Eight other Arab difficult (al-Tahir Labib, background economic privation countries that together account for about paper for the Report, in Arabic). These and social 60 per cent of all Arabs record averages of constants reflect, in many instances, an inequality–all of greater than 20 per cent on the UNDP’s intellectual inertia which dominates the which have powerful Human Poverty Scale.20 culture, resulting in a society that lives and It is obvious that the Arab poor, thinks with a one-dimensional vision that repercussions some of whom are growing poorer, rejects change, creativity, and innovation, on knowledge suffer from social marginalisation and believing in and preferring to submit to acquisition and economic privation, and that they do not restrictions. As a result, society often takes production enjoy equality with the remainder of their a preconceived stance vis-à-vis ‘the other,’ fellow citizens. If the poor represent one of rejection and condemnation that the most important and most dangerous forecloses dialogue. All of this leads to group among the marginalised, then the drawing up of civilisational battle class differences represent another large lines, to reciprocal bouts of cultural mud- barrier to achieving social equity and slinging, and to an enmity that may reach freedom. And all of the above have the point of symbolic and even armed powerful repercussions in the domain of violence. (see Chapter 1) knowledge acquisition and production. One cannot go into the restrictions imposed on social freedoms without TRENDS TOWARDS referring to the fears that accompany RELIGIOUS RADICALISM writing on certain topics that have a AND INTOLERANCE role in shaping our social situation, such as religion, politics, and sex. These are It is difficult to approach the topic of problematic issues that stir up a host of Arab culture social freedoms and their development taboos, fears, and sensitivities (al-Tahir exists within the without also considering the general Labib, background paper for the Report, framework of a structure of Arab culture, which rests in Arabic, and Nabil ‘Ali, 2003, in Arabic), on a complex of customs, traditions, and the operative spheres of these taboos body of texts, practices, premises, social convictions, and and their interpretations have widened established truths, religious beliefs. Space does not permit in recent decades. This escalation has and deep-seated us to discuss all the areas of dysfunction coincided with the high tide of religious lore that impact within Arab culture. The analysis here is dogma that has been disposed in most of freedoms, especially social freedoms cases to outward forms and ritual at the convictions and and their relationship to the evolution expense of the true essence of religions as codes of behaviour of the environments needed to enable represented by their ethical values, tolerant an Arab knowledge society. Furthermore, teachings, and moderate practices. And this analysis does not proceed from these narrow-minded interpretations have value judgments that either exaggerate or become wide-spread among religions. A underestimate the extent of the matter. number of factors may have assisted the The first thing to be noted is that Arab spread of this radical current among culture exists within the framework of broad social groupings in the Arab world, a body of texts, established truths, and especially the easily influenced young, 76 ARAB KNOWLEDGE REPORT 2009
  • 92. namely the spread of poverty, social FREEDOM OF INTELLECTUAL marginalisation, political frustration, PROPERTY21 and repeated political defeats, not to mention the waves of westernizing Intellectual property is an area of overlap propaganda broadcast by the news between economic and socio-cultural data. media. As a result, obscurantism has It also brings together phenomena with increased, as has people’s reliance on mutually intersecting economic, cultural, A spread of religious radical interpretations of texts as sources and social indicators. These we will deal rulings, or “fatwas”, of religious authority. Likewise, there is with under the rubric of cultural and social labelling certain a spread of religious rulings, or fatwas, stability, while recognizing their direct people as infidels has labelling certain people as infidels as implications on more than one economic reached alarming well as of resort by lay-people to closed- front. minded interpreters in understanding the Economic and social freedoms are proportions with matters of daily life. This phenomenon strongly tied to the issue of intellectual illiteracy in a number has reached alarming proportions with property, which plays a fundamental role in of Arab countries the spread of illiteracy in a number of moving the process of human development Arab countries. Many such mistaken forward. Intellectual property includes the notions and practices have come to be output of the human intellect and all it reflected in aspects of daily life, creating involves in the field of patents, copyrights, restrictions on social freedoms and a trademarks, and industrial design. There is challenge for knowledge advancement much debate in this domain over whether and intercommunication with the outside knowledge is a public or a private good, world. over the congruence between literary and Careful consideration of the content financial rights, and over the consequent of some Arab media, especially that extent of the conflict between excessive broadcast by some satellite channels, protectionism and the principle of reveals a proliferation in production competition, especially in knowledge and dissemination of a radical religious industries. discourse far from the language of religious Intellectual property acquires particular Careful consideration tolerance. An opposite discourse, no less importance through its relevance to the of the content profuse in Arab media, springs from means by which developing countries of some Arab extreme consumerist, materialist values and benefit from and interact with the global media reveals a tries to exploit politics, sex, or the dream of reservoir of knowledge, both in terms proliferation in fame and quick profit. This polarization of production and use. Thus, the issue of in broadcasting between openness to the freedom of intellectual property has come production and point of libertinism, and isolationism to to occupy centre stage, becoming a pivot dissemination of the point of hostility to the age and the for discussion in global discourse on the a radical religious world, that is at odds with knowledge production and distribution of knowledge discourse far from and openness and constantly pulling the and its connection to development. While the language of individual back into the past, has become developed countries, backed by mega- wide-spread. All this redoubles intellectual corporations, call for additional protection religious tolerance and behavioural polarization, which is of intellectual property, developing followed by social polarization. The countries, backed by NGOs, defend the discourse of rationality and moderation margins of available freedoms and affirm has a weak presence on the Arab airwaves that a hard-line approach to protectionism in general, despite the serious effort it and its improper application may have a represents to present a knowledge content negative impact on innovation and the that is modern, critically balanced, tolerant, spread of knowledge, and even on the and in tune with the times, times which other dimensions of development as well. are responsible for many of the great Some developing countries have knowledge feats of our world. succeeded in profiting from these margins ARAB KNOWLEDGE PERFORMANCE ENVIRONMENTS 77
  • 93. of freedom of intellectual property to initiative, and making a rough draft of a subsidise their knowledge industries, with treaty for it in 2005. This treaty is still positive impacts on development. For under discussion internationally. example, in 2007, by national decree, Brazil Perhaps one of the most important used the flexibility related to compulsory axes of global discussion and debate is licensing for immune deficiency medication that of access to knowledge. This involves and obtained permission to import an “the necessity of applying protection in Arab countries have equivalent alternative from India (Martini, a way that supports development and been absent from 2008). Such actions stem from a clear the spread of knowledge, especially by the negotiations vision which stipulates that the individual maximizing countries’ ability to benefit specifically devoted citizen’s right to health is a constitutional from the flexibilities and exceptions right guaranteed to all citizens (Shaver, present in legislation for the protection of to intellectual 2008) and have led to a more than 70 per intellectual freedom.” Among the most property, to cent drop in the price of the medication. important of these are the exclusions for knowledge access, Likewise, India has been careful to promote the purposes of education and scientific and to efforts to the manufacture of generic drugs and research and the manufacture of generic invest in them. It has also decided that drugs classified by quality. Most Arab combat international software programmes do not fall under countries have not made full use of the monopolies the rubric of inventions and thus are not exceptions and provisions for flexibility and external subject to the patent restrictions22 that in the World Trade Organisation’s Trade- monopolistic limit the exchange of knowledge and Related Aspects of Intellectual Property pressures participation in its production. These Rights (TRIPS) agreement of 1994, the actions reflect a vision intent on promoting agreement of international reference that knowledge industries. governs all countries in their dealings with the intellectual property issue. Flexibility GLOBAL DEBATE, ARAB includes numerous facets, most prominent ABSENCE of which are flexibility in implementation, extended grace periods for the intellectual Naturally, we now find in the global arena product, standard setting, 23 and a clear polarization in stances between implementation of intellectual projects, advanced countries on the one hand and especially anything connected to education developing ones on the other. This makes and scientific research. debate and discussion, with an enlarged While NGOs and consumer groups circle of participants, doubly important from other developing countries and adds impetus to the dialogue. participate in the global debate on Nevertheless, Arab countries have no fostering knowledge and development, presence, no active participation, in this Arab civil society is absent from a global Legislation on momentous global discussion. They have scene that is witnessing effective action intellectual property also been absent from the negotiations from a number of countries in Africa, and its application specifically devoted to intellectual property, Asia, and South America. Arab debate has been passed to knowledge access, and to efforts to on the subject is limited to the local combat international monopolies and purview among a restricted circle of legal in Arab countries external monopolistic pressures. Egypt specialists, as if the issue did not extend without regard may be the only Arab country to have beyond the cloisters of the halls of justice. for their particular participated in a number of international Legislation on intellectual property circumstances efforts calling for freedom of intellectual and its application has been passed in property for developing countries. These Arab countries without regard for these efforts include setting up a group of countries’ particular circumstances and development-friendly countries, drafting their need to benefit from the exceptions a development document in 2004, and privileges that international schools launching the Access to Knowledge provide. Neither does this legislation 78 ARAB KNOWLEDGE REPORT 2009
  • 94. TABLE 2-2 Arab Countries according to their ties to trade agreements and intellectual property Arab signatories to a bilateral free Arab Non-Members in the WTO Arab Members in the WTO trade agreement with the USA Algeria Jordan Jordan Iraq UAE Bahrain Sudan Bahrain Morocco Yemen Djibouti Oman Lebanon Kuwait Occupied Palestinian Territories Morocco Syria Saudi Arabia Tunisia Egypt Mauritania Qatar Oman Source: Muhammad al-Sa‘id and Ahmad ‘Abd al-Latif, background paper for the Report, in Arabic. reflect a clear vision directed towards international accords (see Table 2-2). Free trade establishing a national perspective on The first group includes Arab countries agreements usually innovation, the catalysis of creativity, with fewer laws and standards than exist and development of local knowledge in the multilateral international system stipulate additional content. represented by the TRIPS agreement. An and more stringent example is Yemen, which grants copyright restrictions and REGULATING INTELLECTUAL for thirty years, rather than the fifty of the standards for PROPERTY IN THE ARAB accord. Countries of the second group intellectual property WORLD: DISPARITY AND include Arab members of the WTO. All OCCASIONAL EXAGGERATION obligations and standards on the protection protection than of intellectual property as set out in these those set out in the Perhaps without realizing the importance accords are necessarily incumbent upon TRIPS agreement of intellectual property, Arab legislation them as a fundamental and inescapable has codified the restrictions that new condition for membership. The third group international legislation dictates, based is composed of those Arab countries that on the priorities of those countries most are members in the WTO but which, at advanced economically, technologically, the same time, are party to a number of and in terms of knowledge performance. additional trade agreements, such as free There is considerable disparity among the trade agreements or a bilateral economic Arab countries in terms of the features cooperation agreement with the United of regulatory systems that protect the States or the European Union. These rights of intellectual property, depending agreements usually stipulate additional and on how closely tied they are to the TRIPS more stringent restrictions and standards agreement. As a corollary, it is possible for intellectual property protection than to divide Arab countries according to the those set out in the TRIPS agreement. regulations currently on their books for In fact, these agreements reflect the the protection of intellectual property interest of mega-corporations and the into three groups, on the basis of how terms of advanced countries, leaving little closely they apply the standards found in scope for creativity in developing countries. ARAB KNOWLEDGE PERFORMANCE ENVIRONMENTS 79
  • 95. TABLE 2-3 Rights and responsibilities of Arab members in the World Trade Organisation in the field of copyright and access to knowledge Makes exceptions for Accepts special Permits compulsory Number of years author’s libraries and universities Country obligations in technical licensing? rights are protected for scientific and procedures for protection? educational purposes? Bahrain 70 Yes Yes Yes Djibouti 25 No Yes Yes Egypt 50 Yes Yes Yes Jordan 50 Yes Yes Yes Kuwait 50 Yes Yes Yes Mauritania 70 No Yes Yes Morocco 70 Yes No Yes Oman 70 Yes No Yes Nine Arab countries Qatar 50 Yes Yes Yes have accepted Saudi Arabia 50 No Yes Yes special obligations Tunisia 70 Yes No Yes for technical UAE 50 Yes Yes Yes procedures for the protection of Source: Muhammad al-Sa‘id and Ahmad ‘Abd al-Latif, background paper for the Report, in Arabic. digital products not found in TRIPS, There, the strict protectionism in, for agreement, and even accepted additional and these should example, the pharmaceutical industry or commitments in the framework of have been avoided of software protects the interests of mega- other free trade agreements ratified with corporations that belong, for the most developed countries such as the United part, to industrialised countries that built States and the European Union. Similarly, their harvest of knowledge, historically, legislation of many Arab countries in a climate free from restrictions on includes special obligations for technical knowledge exchange. procedures for technology protection, On the legislative level, regulations in such as encryption, even though these are Egypt, Lebanon, and Syria stipulate some not among the requirements of the TRIPS exceptions specific to the pharmaceutical agreement. industry. In addition, some exceptions Table 2-3 on rights and responsibilities from the articles of patent law have been of Arab countries shows that five of twelve ratified in Egypt, Tunis, and Jordan, while Arab countries apply stricter provisions in Syria, Morocco, and Jordan regulations for protection of authors’ rights than allow for some flexibility in copyright laws. those called for by TRIPS, with protection Djibouti and Mauritania remain exempt extending to seventy, rather than the fifty from implementing the provisions of the years mandated by the agreement. Nine Arab TRIPS agreement on medicines until 2013 countries have accepted special obligations and 2016, respectively. Bahrain, Morocco, for technical procedures for the protection and Oman, however, have broadened of digital products not found in TRIPS, some of their commitments under this and these should have been avoided. And 80 ARAB KNOWLEDGE REPORT 2009
  • 96. while some of these nine countries became of the developed countries. In fact, it is subject to these obligations because they are generally the opposite that happens, with linked to secondary free trade agreements all that that entails in terms of negative with developed countries, Egypt included economic and social consequences for them in its own national legislation for no the Arab side. apparent reason. The third challenge relates to how to Arab countries Noticeable in Table 2-3 is the fact that benefit from the Arab knowledge product, suffer from a lack most Arab countries–nine of the twelve however modest, through the provision of competent covered by the sample–have the right of adequate support, accompanied by specialists in legal to issue and use compulsory licensing increased positive interaction with the to exploit intellectual work without the rich and accessible global knowledge texts in the field of agreement of its owner, in cases that reserve, and the beneficial deployment intellectual property. serve the public welfare. However, this of any outcomes. Finally, there must be This highlights right has not been put into actual practice, participation in knowledge production in the necessity for and no compulsory license has been a way that moves sustainable development issued by any Arab country. However, in the Arab world forward and diminishes coordination and all the Arab countries listed in the table the sharp disparities between countries the sharing of obtained exclusions from the agreement in light of the rapid advancements in expertise among for libraries and universities for scientific technology. In this context, reference countries that purposes. This is an issue of critical must be made to the appearance of new have undergone importance which must be implemented business models in the world economy and awareness of which must be promoted that depend principally on ideas. In these such experiences in the Arab world to foster widespread models, knowledge performance plays an access to knowledge. effective role in boosting development through knowledge production, and CHALLENGES AND the promotion of and investment in OPPORTUNITIES FOR endogenous resources, rather than through ACCESS TO KNOWLEDGE the remittance of ever larger annual payments to manufacturers of knowledge The Arab world faces a number of in the developed world. challenges in the field of protecting intellectual property rights and transmitting OPPORTUNITIES FOR and providing access to knowledge. The first CREATIVE ARAB challenge lies in the absence of the subject COOPERATION from national agendas. Here, partnering It is possible to with the global knowledge reserve and The Arab world, like other developing begin with specific gaining access to its sources and resources areas, suffers from a lack of competent and practical of knowledge in important fields such specialists in legal texts in the field of procedural steps as health, education, and development intellectual property, a new field subject is of particular importance. The second to global considerations. Along with to create real Arab challenge is embodied in the bilateral these deficiencies come constant external cooperation in the agreements on economic cooperation pressures, pressures that may be formidable field of knowledge and free trade with industrial countries, in the case of non-compliance with the by freeing up especially countries of the European articles of intellectual property agreements intellectual property Union and the USA, which aim both at and which are often quickly capitulated increasing opportunities for products of to. This highlights the necessity for Arab countries to penetrate these markets coordination and the sharing of expertise and at increasing foreign investment flows. among Arab countries, especially those This has not actually transpired, due to that have undergone such experiences, the great disparity between the resources even if the results were of limited value of these Arab countries and the capacities (Muhammad al-Sa‘id and Ahmad ‘Abd al- ARAB KNOWLEDGE PERFORMANCE ENVIRONMENTS 81
  • 97. Latif, background paper for the Report, in in each of the states separately. The Arabic). Unified Gulf Patent Office in Riyadh takes It is possible to begin with specific an active role in the process of examining, and practical procedural steps to create registering, and protecting the patents. real Arab cooperation in the field of knowledge. For example, one could SUMMARY: FREEDOMS: A The current state of provide latitude for the strengthening of COMPREHENSIVE CLUSTER knowledge-enabling the Arab knowledge reserve by freeing OR DISPARATE ELEMENTS? environments as up intellectual property, in emulation viewed from the of other countries that have realised It can be said that the current state of the importance of providing latitude knowledge-enabling environments as angle of freedoms for freedom to produce and implement viewed from the angle of freedoms in in the Arab world is knowledge, with all the positive effects the Arab world is not one to stimulate not one to stimulate this has had on development. This strategy the advancement of Arab knowledge the advancement requires that government, the private performance. The picture looks bleak of Arab knowledge sector, and civil society organisations when one compares freedoms in the Arab performance participate in the formulation of policies world to those in other regions. However, and practical programmes. It also requires while this characterization is accurate, the the existence of a wise and serious situation with regard to Arab enabling leadership at all levels able to implement environments varies considerably from these policies and present new initiatives. one country to another and conflicting In this context, the maximum degree of pictures sometimes emerge. Caution, coordination and cooperation between therefore, is called for in making Arab countries would have to be realised judgments and generalizing results, even in order to agree on united stances in when defining the relationship between the face of whatever issues might arise knowledge performance and the enabling with regard to intellectual property on environment in any given country. the world stage. An exchange of legal Performance also varies considerably from expertise to review many of the laws one year to another, as the international that some Arab countries have issued reports show. While a particular Arab without benefiting from the allowances country may lead in economic freedoms and flexibilities for which international and occupy an outstanding position in one Knowledge is agreements provide would also be of the pivotal knowledge performance an integral, needed. categories, it may record in the same year homogenous whole These efforts would not begin from a slump on the front of political and in its essential scratch, given that, in fact, there are intellectual freedoms. This will inhibit categories and already examples of Arab cooperation in the pivotal category of innovation that is the field of intellectual property, such as so closely tied to the abundant supply of components, the Arab Agreement for Copyright (1981, intellectual freedom (see Chapter 6). influenced by then 2002), and the special legislation on This phenomenon may be explained the elements protecting author’s rights and associated by the fact that knowledge is an integral, of the enabling rights (1998). Cooperation among homogenous whole in its essential environments members of the Gulf Cooperation Council categories and components, and influenced in the field of patent law is considered a as a single entity by the elements of the and the cluster successful example of Arab legislative enabling environments and the cluster of freedoms coordination; through this, a single system of freedoms. Knowledge, after all, is a for patenting was applied from 1998, harvest of different kinds of information and modified in 2002. This system gives acquired from a number of sources, automatic protection in the six member such as education, scientific research, states of the Gulf Cooperation Council media and publication, economic activity, without the patent having to be registered cultural heritage, historical wisdom, 82 ARAB KNOWLEDGE REPORT 2009
  • 98. and political participation. All of these performance. And the possibility of environmental components are affected separating the various freedoms and by and affect each other in the context defining the role of each in the advancement of whatever freedoms are dominant of knowledge performance remain among Arab countries suffer in the society. As a result, knowledge the most problematic of considerations from tensions and performance can improve in one country that must be addressed. Clearly, exercising contradictions in and deteriorate in another, just as one of just a few types of freedom, and to a their performance the basic categories of knowledge may most minimal degree, will not be enough advance while the other categories relapse to establish a knowledge society in the in enabling as a result of the performance of those Arab world, which lacks both political and knowledge because freedoms, which constitute, in the end, social freedoms. of the lack of a an important and authentic part of any clear vision and an enabling environment for knowledge. FROM NURTURING Arab countries, as societies and as ENVIRONMENTS TO organising strategy individuals, suffer from tensions and SUPPORTING INSTITUTIONS contradictions in their performance in enabling knowledge, because, perhaps, of In the previous section of this chapter we the lack of a clear vision and an organising have laid out what we believe to be the strategy to catch up with the age of cornerstone of the enabling environments knowledge. These tensions may be the that should assist in the formation of a result of security or political fears which knowledge society in the Arab world, and exert pressure in the direction of curbing we have classified these environments freedom and deregulating commerce. within a general orientation that we believe Here, the lack of awareness that knowledge to be central to the formulation of such environments on the global front are a society. All of this relates to what we heading in the direction of greater have called an expansion of the domain democratization of knowledge becomes of freedoms, whether at the political, clear. In that process of democratization, economic, social, cultural, or media level. the principle of sharing by all citizens in The catchword ‘freedom’ is not a Empowerment, the production of knowledge sparkles, panacea for all the obstacles that fall in which is based on offering an expression of thinking by the way of the formation of a knowledge groups of individuals through horizontal society and an advancement of Arab the responsible communication media, not through an knowledge performance. Definitely, other exercise of elite discourse coming from on high. factors besides a shortfall in freedoms freedoms, requires Generally speaking, it can be said that hinder our ability to reach the thresholds the creation change in the actual situation of freedoms of a knowledge society. One might cite of supportive in the region in recent years has been the hegemony of custom, petrifaction confined to an improvement in economic of ideas, closed-mindedness, rejection and protective freedoms. An analogous improvement of innovation, introversion, and a lack of institutional in political and intellectual freedoms, interaction with the latest developments of frameworks that democratic pursuits, and freedom of our age. ensure sustainability, expression has not occurred; they have Freedom, with the possibilities it development, remained as before in most Arab countries. offers of a leap forward towards all evaluation, and There also has been no improvement in that contributes to strengthening and social and cultural freedoms; in fact, they transforming the human experience, oversight may even have suffered a decline in some must be considered a central pillar of areas. empowerment. It is also, as we have The freedom of thought and said, a pursuit that correlates with the expression are still the weakest link in the needs of Arab society. Nevertheless, this cluster of freedoms and environments empowerment, which is based on the for advancement of Arab knowledge responsible exercise of freedoms, requires ARAB KNOWLEDGE PERFORMANCE ENVIRONMENTS 83
  • 99. the creation of supportive and protective turn, the power to access the contacts of institutional frameworks that ensure other institutions at home and abroad. sustainability, development, evaluation, This is particularly true when they have and oversight. This is because institutional encompassed the networked spaces society in the contemporary sense of the provided by the revolution in information To build and word is synonymous with modern society. technology. This generates an environment implement In the knowledge domain, developed that stimulates acculturation, sharing, and an enabling societies have hundreds of institutions learning, and offers opportunities for environment in the capable of accumulating the symbolic taking calculated risks, namely, institutional Arab world, we and material goods of the knowledge action in its responsible, rational form that must propagate society not only at the level of economic is based on calculations of interest and the institutional production but also at that of management return on investment. and its various associated social, legal, and The subject of supportive, regulatory climate that other spheres. legislation for efforts to inaugurate the nurtures the efforts To build and implement an enabling knowledge society ramifies and grows made to establish environment in the Arab world, we must as the issues related to its establishment the hoped-for propagate the institutional climate that expand and proliferate. The Arab world knowledge society nurtures the efforts made to establish the not only lacks an institutional perspective hoped-for knowledge society. The hope on knowledge; it also lacks many of the is that these institutions would then go requirements of institutionalism, such as on to embrace the requirements for its regulations and legislation specific to it. establishment, such as the creation and The delineation and development of these operationalization of a legal mechanism constitutes a basic requirement for the and laws to regulate the institutions that will entire endeavour. have the task of supporting the knowledge conduit and reinforcing its branching side- PIONEERING INSTITUTIONS channels. This will help forward the aim of AND SHINING EXAMPLES generalising, propagating, producing, and patronising knowledge, whether in terms Despite the lack of vision and institutional of human resources or of technological practice and despite the weakness of means. Laws and regulations must assume the legislative framework within which the role of protection, and provide the to promote the advancement of the institutions with their legitimacy so that knowledge society in the Arab world, they may strengthen and elaborate their we find many illuminating institutional Many Arab countries own regulatory mechanisms. This clarifies attempts aimed at embracing, catalysing, have begun the boundaries and parameters of their and propagating knowledge initiatives. attaching particular work, as it does their relationship with the Many Arab countries have begun attaching institutional network of the knowledge particular importance to the role of importance to the society. science and technology in the service of role of science The achievement of transparency development. Certain Arab institutions and technology depends on building institutions and their that try to participate in the building of in the service of regulations, in that institutions contribute a knowledge society are shining examples development. Certain to oversight, accountability, and the rule of this trend; space permits us to mention Arab institutions are of law. They also contribute to a degree of only a small number of them here. In shining examples decentralization and effectiveness in the Jordan, for example, there is the Princess of this trend performance of their defining tasks, in that Basma Centre for Youth Resources, networking and subsidiary creation lead which was founded in 2004. It is the first to a strengthening of the mechanism of such institution to specialise in youth institutionalization, which is synonymous programmes and is known regionally for with modernization. Through networking, its vitality and creative and empowering institutions come to possess, in their curricula. The Centre launched the 84 ARAB KNOWLEDGE REPORT 2009
  • 100. first INTEL computer club; INTEL BOX 2-2 is considered a pioneer in its attention to information technology and its use Towards Productive Intercommunication for Knowledge: in development. This centre is likewise Translation in the Age of al-Ma’mun considered the essential partner to the The Mohammed bin Rashid Al cultures of the rest of the world. This International Youth Foundation (IYF). Maktoum Foundation is translating a pioneering experiment may assist Arab number of the masterworks of world knowledge societies towards wider In Saudi Arabia we should mention, science and culture, at the rate of one intercommunication with other human among a number of examples, Mawhiba book per day, thus calling to mind societies. It may also help in creating (Talent), the initiative of the King ‘Abd al- the Golden Age of the Arabs during a greater openness towards world the reign of the caliph al-Ma’mun—a sciences and scholarship in such a way ‘Aziz and His Men Foundation for Patronage period characterised by its interest as to enrich the existing Arab reserve of the Gifted, whose basic mission is to in translation, by its openness, and of knowledge and the establishment of discover and sponsor those with talent. It by the ability and willingness of the the hoped-for knowledge society. Arabs to communicate with the has held a large number of lectures and seminars in the field of developing talent in various regions of Saudi Arabia, publishes the first Arab electronic newspaper, plans the magazine Mawhiba, and has translated to launch a knowledge page on its site. The many books on the subject into Arabic. It foundation has also launched academic has established a division to support Saudi scholarships for studying abroad, such as inventors that has helped more than two the “Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum In Saudi Arabia, the hundred, introducing them to investors Scholarship Programme”, which falls initiative of the King and issuing patents for their inventions. under the knowledge and education sector. ‘Abd al-‘Aziz and The foundation is working on setting up The programme offers scholarships to the His Men Foundation an invention incubator to develop and top universities of the world for qualified for Patronage of the commercialise Saudi inventions. To this Arab students.24 Gifted has established end, the foundation holds marketing In Qatar, the mission of the Qatar a division to support sessions which bring together the inventor Foundation includes preparing young Saudi inventors and relevant agencies from the private people in Qatar and the region to face the and public sector. The foundation also challenges of an ever-changing world.25 supports artistic and cultural creativity out The Foundation also aims to advance of conviction as to its importance as a the State of Qatar to the point at which facet of knowledge. it can assume a leading role in educating In the UAE, among the most important for innovation and scientific research. The initiatives in support of knowledge and Foundation works on three axes: education, creativity has been the establishment in sciences and research, and society. At its 2007 of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Education City, the Foundation provides Maktoum Foundation, a personal initiative support for a select group of institutions of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin known for the excellence of their Rashid Al Maktoum, vice-president, prime programmes, covering stages from early The mission of the minister, and ruler of the UAE, who childhood to university and higher studies, Qatar Foundation allocated the sum of ten billion dollars as a and that offer integrated programmes includes preparing knowledge endowment. The foundation’s focussing, in the first place, on building young people to face goals can be summarised as follows: to capabilities and developing character. In the challenges of an develop knowledge and human potential in the realm of the sciences and research, ever-changing world the Arab region and to use those potentials the Science and Technology Oasis, which in the creation of a new generation of cost more than three hundred million leaders able to support comprehensive US dollars to construct, is regarded as a development efforts all over the Arab research and development centre in basic world. A second initiative, “Dubai Giving,” fields, such as medicine, bio-technology, is an extension of the first endowment. ICT, environmental sciences, particle In cooperation with the Mohammed bin science, and nano technology. The Qatar Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation, “Elaf,” Foundation’s research division cooperates ARAB KNOWLEDGE PERFORMANCE ENVIRONMENTS 85
  • 101. with its partners in leading a process of for Arab society.26 The new Bibliotheca embedding the mainstays of this research Alexandrina is working hard to revive the environment in order to built technological spirit of openness and research which and innovative capacity in Qatar and create characterised its ancient counterpart. It early solutions for the difficulties and is not only a library, but a cultural centre challenges faced by the country in the areas which brings together a library capable of health, climate change, clean energy, of housing millions of books, an internet and others. Research is also part and parcel archive, six specialised collections, a of the academic programmes of each planetarium, and a discovery hall to university branch present in the Education acquaint children with science, in addition Oman’s World City, the intention being to make a reality to a panoramic mural of civilisation, nine Studies Institute of the linkage between innovation and the permanent galleries, seven academic educational process and to direct both to research centres, and ‘Vista,” a virtual aims to undertake serve the needs of society. The Sciences interactive system for science and studies on local and and Technology Oasis also undertakes technology applications. global economic to commercialise new knowledge and In the countries of the Maghreb, we issues, focusing on inventions via support programmes that find, to name but a few examples, the make it possible to convert research Islamic Foundation for Education, Science, the Arab world projects into marketable products. The and Culture in Morocco, an institution Qatar Foundation also seeks to link its founded in 1979 to coordinate the programmes to the service of the society, specialised agencies of the Organisation in fulfilment of the principle of knowledge of the Islamic Conference in those three as a road to development. fields and that organisation’s member Oman’s World Studies Institute was nations. Recently it has taken an interest in founded in 2005 as a non-profit non- a number of strategies for the development governmental organisation. The Institute of bio-technology in the Islamic world aims to undertake studies on local and global (2003), for water resource management economic issues, focusing on the Arab (2003), for developing university education world. The Institute is the representative (2006), and for cultural solidarity in the in the region for the Fraser Institute for service of civilisation and development Economic Freedoms network. issues for Muslims. In October, 2008, Egypt’s Arab Outside the orbit of these institutions, Academy for Science and Technology a number of other activities have been signed a cooperation agreement with undertaken, such as the dedication of The new Bibliotheca the Egyptian Fund for Science and prizes and the holding of exhibitions, all of Alexandrina is Technological Development (2008 budget, which point to the importance a number working hard to one hundred million Egyptian pounds), to of Arab countries attach to catalyzing, in revive the spirit reinforce cooperation between the two. It expedient fashion, the establishment of aims to offer patronage to Arab inventors, the knowledge society. In Saudi Arabia, the of openness and providing them with an appropriate foundation of King Abd al-Aziz, Mawhiba, research which climate, and directing the results of their with participation by the Saudi Aramco characterised its scientific and technological research Corporation, organised the first Saudi ancient counterpart towards the service of Arab societies. The innovation exhibition, “Ibtikar 2008,” in agreement covers exchange of expertise, March 2008, under the slogan “Innovation arbitration for technological projects, in the Service of Development.” With the and the provision of services in support participation of sixty-three inventors and of networking and cooperation among an estimated twenty-two thousand visitors relevant Arab institutions to support of all ages, the exhibition displayed science and technology and catalyse its selection of over sixty medical and them in the service of the economic, electronic inventions. The exhibition social, and environmental development organised basic prizes for boys and girls 86 ARAB KNOWLEDGE REPORT 2009
  • 102. from the ages of thirteen to twenty-five Our review of institutional initiatives and certificates of appreciation to those reveals actions that truly aspire to strengthen under twelve. Among the goals of “Ibtikar institutionalism and fortify the supporting 2008” were developing inventions and environment for the knowledge society. national innovations, highlighting them, At the same time, however, these actions evaluating them, and investing in them on place us in uncharted territory: they neither Review of an individual basis, with the participation cover all the domains of knowledge, nor institutional of the public and private sectors. It do they reflect a clear policy for doing so. initiatives reveals also strove to provide guidance, help They are, rather, an avant-garde action actions that truly knowledge and technology take root and in dire need of oversight, consolidation, invest in them, and transform innovations and expansion so that together they may aspire to strengthen into products with an economic return, all indeed contribute to propelling us into the institutionalism and of this paving the way for the realisation knowledge society. fortify the supporting of comprehensive development in Saudi These laudable efforts, despite their environment for the Arabia.27 important role in spurring and providing In November, 2008, Qatar began financial support for contributors to the knowledge society. celebrating Academic Excellence Day field, are disorganised and uncoordinated. However, these with the designation of six prizes for high Indeed, some of them overlap and repeat actions place us in school graduates, university graduates, the work of others, leading to a waste uncharted territory: holders of doctorates, outstanding teachers, of effort and of the meagre resources they neither cover outstanding schools, and scientific research available. Here again, we call for openness for secondary students.28 and interaction in order to profit from the all the domains of The Kuwaiti Science Club organised the experiences of others. Many countries that knowledge, nor do first international exhibition for inventors have made progress on the knowledge they reflect a clear in the Middle East in October, 2007. The front have taken competitiveness into policy for doing so Kuwaiti Office for Patronage of Inventors, consideration in this domain and have adjunct to the Kuwaiti Science Club, does worked on drafting treaties and strategic follow-up on Kuwaiti youth, fostering initiatives to prepare an appropriate their talents and helping them register and institutional atmosphere for the knowledge enforce patents. A number of Arab and society. In March, 2000, European leaders international science agencies took part in put forward an agreement known as the this exhibition, helping many inventors to Lisbon Treaty which aims at making get acquainted with each other and with the European Union more competitive the investors; this was especially important and dynamic. The initiative comprised in view of the fact that marketing is the many policies and focused on creating one problem common to all inventors new job opportunities, bringing together around the world. This exhibition invited 2,010 policy initiatives aimed at utilizing Establishing the Kuwaiti investors to offer support funds the possibilities of information and oversight institutions to the inventors by acquainting themselves communications technology to promote that support with the inventions and choosing those of additional innovation and productivity in efforts to establish use for manufacture.29 Europe.31 the knowledge The Syrian Ministry of Economy society requires and Development announced a contest LEGISLATION AS THE WAY TO carefully configured for the best young inventor for 2008 to SUPPORT INSTITUTIONALISM regulations and be chosen from among university and institute students, as part of a programme Establishing the oversight institutions legislation for the dissemination of the culture of that support efforts to establish the intellectual property and the promotion knowledge society requires carefully of creativity and invention. Prizes of over configured regulations and legislation. 30,000 Syrian liras were earmarked for the In a knowledge society, the value of competition.30 institutions increases in proportion to ARAB KNOWLEDGE PERFORMANCE ENVIRONMENTS 87
  • 103. BOX 2-3 The Legal Framework for the European Union The communications market in the European Union was completely gap.” The E.U. also has numerous initiatives of providing high deregulated in 1998. From that time on, a rapprochement of speed broadband connections, expanding e-commerce and business communications technology and broadcasting via digitalization services to companies, putting public services on the web, and in the European Union forced the redrawing of organisational supporting competence and the competitive potential of all sectors borders to include “all internet communications and services” in a of industry and service. new organisational framework which came into force in July, 2003. There are three priorities: In less than five years this framework was reviewed and brought Providing companies and citizens access to a large group of up to date. high-quality, moderately priced services and utilities of the Principal Goals of the Organisational Framework for 2003: communications infrastructure Decreasing organisational burdens on companies that provide Providing every citizen the skills necessary to live and work in services to the information society an information society Making sure that all clients, including those with disabilities, Providing life-long access to learning as a fundamental part of have the right to all basic services at reasonable prices the European social model (telephone, fax, internet access) The organisational authority is an inseparable part of the Encouraging competition through deregulation of the market organisational framework of electronic communications in the and of the monopoly by some national companies that offer European Union and it takes on its shoulders the reform process services like high-speed internet which must be implemented before the end of 2009. The reorganisation that the European Commission launched As for the national organisational authorities, among their at the end of 2007 aims at simplifying and systematizing laws by fundamental tasks are: establishing a single unified European agency to undertake these Encouraging competition in the domain of electronic regulatory tasks. communications networks and services The European Union is determined to guarantee that citizens Guaranteeing users the benefit of the greatest degree of and companies benefit from the knowledge society. In 2006 the choice, price, and quality Commission worked to limit the unwarranted rise in prices for the Encouraging investment in infrastructure development and use of mobile telephones during travel in other E.U. countries, and encouraging innovation it reduced what are known as ‘roaming’ charges by more than sixty Encouraging the active use of wireless and digitalizing per cent in 2007, followed by further reductions in 2008 and 2009. resources In the long range, it gives priority to eradicating the “digital Source: the website of the European Commission: Europe’s Information Society http// the legal framework that endows them made laws governing information; and with the foundations that guarantee their three Arab countries are still waiting to continuity and make them viable in society. implement these laws, laws which have The task of legislation is also to provide come to be taken for granted in free and institutions with the tools that allow for developed countries. self-scrutiny and accountability and thus It is incumbent on us to make use of impart transparency. this aspect of the experience of more Arab legislation The reality, however, is that Arab developed countries. In Europe, the remains, for legislation remains, for the most part, Legal Framework for the Information the most part, insufficient to address the questions Society (LEFIS), was established by the insufficient to and issues of the knowledge society, European Union as an international whether by protecting them, as in the research project under the “Sixth Frame” address the case of property rights, or by supporting programme. The project has more than questions and them, or in drafting guidelines for sixty members, including academic and issues of the their continuity and development. For research institutions, companies, lawyers, knowledge society example, Arab countries’ positions vary and European Union public administration widely as regards the law of freedom experts. of information published by Privacy LEFIS proposes standards for International. Some of them find information technology and communications themselves in the list of countries with in schools and law faculties, promotes the an inferior level of laws guaranteeing study of laws and by-laws, and practices this freedom; a large number fall into in applied arts centres. The project has the category of countries that have not also applied itself to devising teaching 88 ARAB KNOWLEDGE REPORT 2009
  • 104. solutions that allow use of the available to the establishment of the knowledge academic resources on-line. A further society, and to facilitate its movement goal is to draft legal policies arising from and its development. This framework discussions that have sprung up around the is periodically reviewed to help it stay European Union. The aim of the project current with the continuous changes in the is to formulate and implement a plan for knowledge revolution. educational infrastructure as well as for We live in the age of the “fifth freedom,” Arab institutions of research in the legal field to effectively that is, the freedom of movement of scientific research are address the needs of the knowledge and knowledge between countries. This like isolated islands information society. Based on previous expression was coined by the European lacking everything initiatives subsidised by the European Union in 2006 and under its rubric it set Union, it can be expected that this project aside approximately twelve billion euros that is needed for will lead to an improvement in legal to subsidise creativity and technology.34 collaborative work education and succeed in adapting it to It follows that, among Arab countries, aimed at raising the new social, political, and institutional too, this concept must be applied in the levels of scholarship climate. Legal education will thus come exchange of expertise in the knowledge to include electronic, social, economic, fields. and creativity and ethical dimensions as well as policy- Our examination of European examples making.32 reveals the fragility and marginality of the The Free Knowledge Institute, a non- institutionalisation currently in place in governmental organisation, believes that many Arab countries and in the region “by promoting the use of free knowledge as a whole. Arab institutions of scientific in the fields of Technology, Education, research are like isolated islands lacking Culture, and Science more individuals everything that is needed for collaborative and organisations will profit from the work aimed at raising levels of scholarship benefits of sharing knowledge.” The and creativity, be that between the Arab institute supports ‘free knowledge’ in institutes themselves, or between them all its forms in the fields of information and scientific research institutes known technology, and educational, cultural, around the world for their productivity and scientific materials, so that it may and creativity. An analysis of be used, studied, modified, and freely This impels us to consider the the enabling distributed. The institute’s basic goal is to generalisation and prioritizing of environment of support equal opportunity, prosperity, and institutionalism as a way of accessing the Arab knowledge the collaborative ethic in creativity and knowledge society. knowledge exchange. Among the institute’s demonstrates most important initiatives is SELF, funded ON THE NEED FOR AN that an alternative by the European Commission, which ALTERNATIVE INDEX: methodology has drawn up a programme to encourage A PROJECT IN CRITIQUE is needed for creativity, cooperation, exchange of AND TRANSCENDENCE studying the state academic materials, and ongoing training. It gives special importance to free and An analysis of the enabling environment of knowledge open programmes so that all who wish of Arab knowledge demonstrates that and measuring to may contribute by presenting and an alternative methodology is needed knowledge sharing knowledge without restrictions, for studying the state of knowledge performance in drawing inspiration from the example of and measuring knowledge performance Wikipedia.33 in Arab countries. However, this can Arab countries The European Union has also only come about throughº the use of a undertaken the drafting of a legal new index that monitors, as one of its framework to regulate the climate in chief indicators, the various freedoms which such institutions operate, to provide to which this chapter is devoted, to wit, the environments and freedoms necessary freedom of thought and expression, ARAB KNOWLEDGE PERFORMANCE ENVIRONMENTS 89
  • 105. and the political, economic, and social classes and the poor, freedom of religious freedoms. It must do this in addition practice). to monitoring institutionalization and The above is just a summary of the broad enabling and encouraging legislation, as outlines of such an index, and in particular well as measuring actual progress towards for one linked to freedoms. It suggests a the knowledge society. These freedoms starting point for the observation of provide the climate needed to build the Arab knowledge environments from an various branches and types of Arab internal point of view that comprehends knowledge and the institutions that support the interaction between freedoms and them, as well as the laws and regulations knowledge and sustainable development. in force and their implementation. It is It would observe knowledge from the to be hoped that the desired Arab index vantage point of Arab reality itself and will transcend the traditional methods of not according to indicators derived measuring the production of knowledge from industrial countries. This would via indicators imposed from on high, pave the way for the construction of seeking, instead, to measure knowledge an alternative index to monitor Arab production from an internal perspective. knowledge environments and synthesise The desired It should search for evidence of what may perhaps be considered the Arab index will environments that act as catalysts to the nucleus of a project for Arab knowledge transcend the use and production of knowledge content accomplishment. traditional methods and that boost good governance through a method suited to the production of PEERING INTO THE of measuring the knowledge under the umbrella of these FUTURE: TRAJECTORIES production of freedoms. It is an index that would depend OF THE ENABLING knowledge via principally on participation within a broad ENVIRONMENT indicators imposed space of freedoms, and aim to encourage and utilise indigenous resources and the It is possible to peer into the future of from on high, spread of democracy in producing and knowledge-enabling environments in seeking, instead, to disseminating knowledge and creativity the Arab world in light of the diagnosis measure knowledge instead of importing knowledge from presented in this chapter by pausing production from an industrial countries. before three possible future trajectories. internal perspective The alternative index might also The first is pessimistic. It assumes explore scientific knowledge environments that the state of knowledge-enabling and scientific research in creative ways environments will remain as it is, with to motivate scientists in research and the continued imposition of restrictions development groups in an atmosphere that rein in freedom of opinion, thought, of academic freedom and freedom of creativity, social participation, and thought and expression. The index might intellectual property. Slight improvements also be broad enough to measure the level in knowledge performance and a partial of cooperation between scientific and improvement, possibly superficial, in research institutions on the one hand and the state of freedoms, may occur but the industrial sector on the other. It would will not necessarily lead to an advanced, also monitor the extent of participation in competitive economic structure based on the production of knowledge via digital sophisticated local knowledge industries. media (Arab content in Wikipedia, Arab On the contrary, the situation will worsen, sites in the worldwide web) and Arab especially in view of the global economic publications (the number of independent crisis, with the continued squandering of newspapers, for example, and the number natural and human resources, including of detained journalists and bloggers) and it an additional brain drain and loss of would evaluate the state of social freedoms promising scientific and university talents. (gender freedom, freedom of marginalised The Arab world will remain, according 90 ARAB KNOWLEDGE REPORT 2009
  • 106. to this trajectory, a consumer, not a that hampers Arab knowledge, namely, producer, of knowledge. the restrictions imposed on the freedom The second trajectory presents a realistic of thought and expression irrespective of outlook that contains a degree of hope. This how the Arabs may flourish economically. trajectory would take proper advantage of Even if this trajectory leads to some the slight opening to economic freedoms economic success,35 that success will run in the Arab world and give it a little push into the ceiling of restrictions on freedom for the sake of an enhancement of Arab of thought and expression and perhaps knowledge performance, while trying to the ceiling of cultural restrictions, from find vistas for “new levels of freedom” which liberation can be expected, at best, that the world economic crisis may open only in the long term. through new possibilities for the use of Finally, the most desirable trajectory is Arab knowledge (see the section devoted to the optimistic scenario which shows a leap the economic crisis in the preamble). This forward in vision and leadership in the realistic trajectory requires an enlightened Arab world and a consequent expansion leadership aware of the impediments that a in political freedom to complement continued flow of Arab resources abroad economic freedoms. This would come entails, especially in the light of current about as a result of an awareness of the The most desirable global economic conditions. Under such a danger of repressing freedom of thought trajectory is the leadership, Arab investments in two basic and expression. It would happen when optimistic scenario domains would be encouraged. Top priority attention is paid to the implementation of would go to a heavy investment in Arab competitiveness, freedom of intellectual which shows a leap human capital. This would occur through property, the enrichment of intellectual life, forward in vision support of creative initiatives in education, scientific research, and creativity, and the and leadership in establishing and operating endowments for realisation of Arab knowledge unity, based the Arab world research and scholarships, and expanding on a climate headed towards democracy in and a consequent science prizes as a sophisticated means of its broad sense, including the democracy encouraging individuals to participate in of politics, business, and knowledge. In expansion in scientific research, as is done elsewhere this healthy climate, cultural and social political freedom in the world, even by mega-corporations. freedoms would be realised successively, to complement These would be over and above an and Arab countries would cooperate, economic freedoms opening to global knowledge networks particularly in view of the global economic and support for the trend towards the crisis and the coordination of efforts it democratisation of knowledge rather requires of developing countries. than its monopolisation. Second priority The ideal solution is to release all these would go to investment in promoting freedoms. This is in harmony with human knowledge-based industries, such as the rights and will bring about equality and social pharmaceutical industry, software, and justice. If the Arabs direct their attention information technology, and expanding exclusively towards economic freedoms, them by making the greatest possible the basis of Arab knowledge-enabling use of the flexibility available in the laws environments will remain incomplete and on intellectual property and by working far from realisation. A knowledge model together with other developing countries. built on a limited number of freedoms This would lead to a boost for national will lead to the production of only certain knowledge industries as they integrate forms of knowledge, not to a knowledge into global economies, while maintaining society. The likeliness of the success of the priorities of the Arab countries, and such a knowledge model and its longevity, without submitting to the dictates of the not to mention its ability to bridge the developed world. knowledge gap, remains questionable, both Nevertheless, this trajectory does not on the Arab and the global level. remove the fundamental impediment ARAB KNOWLEDGE PERFORMANCE ENVIRONMENTS 91
  • 107. End Notes 1 The index divides the Arab states into five groups according to their degree of press freedom (good, satisfactory, noticeable problems, difficult, very serious) based on a sliding scale according to which the higher the level of press freedom the lower the value on the index. 2 3 Calculations were made according to Table 3 in the Democracy Index, 2008, published by the investigations division of the Economist. Index%202008.pdf. 4 This applies also to the Governance Index issued by the World Bank, which consists of several indicators, the most significant of which are political stability, absence of violence and terrorism, efficacy of governance, quality of institutional performance, freedom of expression and accountability, the rule of law, and control of corruption. See Governance Index, World Bank, 2008, covering the years 1996-2007. worldmap.asp#. 5 This section of the Report draws primarily on the background paper prepared for the Report by Naomi Saqr, “The Impact of Media Laws on Arab Digital and Print Content,” in English. 6 See 7 See 8 See 9 See 10 Components of the Index are: business freedom, trade freedom, fiscal freedom, size of government, monetary freedom, investment freedom, financial freedom, property rights, freedom from corruption, and labor freedom. 11 It should be taken into consideration that some of the freedoms, such as monetary freedom, were based on the average rate of inflation from January 1, 2005 through December 31, 2007. 12 Statistics for 2008 include seventeen Arab countries, namely, Algeria, Bahrain, Djibouti, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Syria, UAE, and Yemen. 13 The Heritage Index reveals conflicting results, showing a sharp decline in Kuwait, Oman, and the UAE from 2003- 2009. 14 The index relies on only thirty-nine indicators for the Arab countries, given the paucity of data and the use of 2006 data for the 2008 report. 15 Evaluation is made on the basis of data available to the public and on opinion polls, according to a comprehensive annual survey conducted by the World Economic Forum in cooperation with its network of institutes (the research institutes and business organisations in the countries covered by the report), and in 2009 information was gathered from more than 12,000 business executives (see World Economic Forum, 2008b). 16 See Statistical Annex, Table 5. 17 Despite the rise in per capita income as an absolute figure in these petroleum countries in the period from 2005- 2007, there was a decline in the rate of growth of GDPs during the same period. 18 See the section of this chapter entitled “Pioneering institutions and shining examples,” which is devoted to efforts and initiatives aimed at the establishment of knowledge-nurturing institutions. 19 The index is calculated as an average of three components: first, adult literacy rate, second the likelihood of not surviving up to the age of forty, and third, the average percentage of the population that does not have reliable access to water and the percentage of children who are underweight for their age. To examine the index for human poverty, 2008, see the website for human development: 20 The list consists of Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Mauritania, Morocco, Sudan, Yemen, and Comoros. Somalia should perhaps be added to the list, despite the lack of supporting data (Statistical Annex, Table 2). 21 The term ‘freedom of intellectual property’ in the sense of emancipation from restrictions on intellectual creativity was used by Naglaa Rizq in her book Intellectual Property and Knowledge Creation in the Arab World: the Political Economy of Knowledge and Development, Edward Elgar Publishers, forthcoming 2010. This section of the chapter relies heavily on the background paper for the Report by Muhammad al-Sa‘id and Ahmad ‘Abd al-Latif, in Arabic. 22 This is according to the third paragraph of the patent ordinance of 1970. For further detail, see (Noronha, 2006). 23 Examples of TRIPS flexibilities include early use, compulsory licensing, and government use of patents in some 92 ARAB KNOWLEDGE REPORT 2009
  • 108. specific cases.These flexibilities have been provided for the sake of public welfare such as the fair and just use of intellectual property for purposes of education. 24 The website Dar Al Hayat, “The Mohammed bin Rashid Foundation and Elaf launch “Ma’rifa” electronic website”. story. html, on 14 February, 2009. 25 See the Qatar Foundation’s website: 26 “Cooperation Agreement to Assure ‘Freedom of Knowledge Movement’ and a Conference on Investing in Arab Inventors,” on 16 March, 2009. 27 “Grounding the Culture of Invention in the Society: Prizes Distributed at Inventors’ Exhibition,” qa/content/resources/detail/19079 on 16 March, 2009. 28 The Qatar initiative to develop education website, March 2009: “Sheikha Al Hamud: Honoring high-achievers is a feature of a developed society,” on 10 March, 2009. 29 “Kuwait hosts the first regional inventors’ exhibition,” id=2757 on 16 March, 2009. 30 ”The Syrian Ministry of Trade announces a contest for the best young inventor for 2008…” on 16 March, 2009. 31 European Commission website: “2010 in the context of information and communications technology and the Lisbon Strategy,”, on March 16, 2009. 32 LEFIS,, on March 10, 2009. 33 For more information on the institute, see the website: 34 The first four freedoms are: the free mobility of humans, capital, services, and products among countries of the European Union. 35 In view of the continuing restrictions of associated freedoms, and particularly political freedom, some observers are placing their bets on economic freedom alone as the lever most likely to raise Arab developmental and knowledge performance, alluding to the possibility of the Arab region repeating the achievements of certain countries in East and South Asia and of China. Such a bet is beset by risks and pitfalls. A large body of literature exists that offers a different assessment of the experience of these Asian countries. In light of the clear differences in the regional and global political situations of each area, and the clear difference between them in terms of economic and social make-up and systems of knowledge and production, such comparisons and bets are fraught with difficulty. ARAB KNOWLEDGE PERFORMANCE ENVIRONMENTS 93
  • 110. CHAPTER THREE EDUCATION AND THE FORMATION OF KNOWLEDGE CAPITAL Introduction become additional indicators of the large and multifaceted gap in our educational systems. The challenges facing From our discussion of an empowering These new challenges to education and the education in the environment and the part it plays in the formation of a knowledge society have helped Arab nation revolve preparations for entrance into the knowledge to crystallise in a general way new problematics around a set of axes society we turn to a survey of Arab knowledge linked to the tasks now assigned to the that include illiteracy, capital. We shall take as our starting point in educational process in its various phases in this crucial area an examination of the state of view of the substantial discoveries of new and appropriateness of education in Arab societies aimed at analysing varied knowledge media, such as information educational systems what and how their educational systems technologies, in a world evolving at unaccustomed to serve development contribute to knowledge and development speed. plans, and greater and to diagnosing the flaws that impede the Most Arab countries face multi-layered openness to the fruits ability of these systems to broaden the scope of problems in their educational systems, problems knowledge in Arab societies. The various levels further aggravated by the many innovations of contemporary and outputs of education form the central base introduced by the revolution in information scientific knowledge of the knowledge society. An assessment of its technology. The demands are manifold and present state in the Arab region should then blend the challenges of the past with those of the lead us directly to the sources of the knowledge present and future. In view of the difficulty of gap between it and the rest of the world. the subject and the many ways of approaching To consider education in the Arab nation in it, we have chosen to examine the role of terms of its achievements and its relationship to education in the creation of Arab knowledge the knowledge society is to broach the challenges capital. This approach will help us, firstly, in confronting the educational systems in most assessing the modes of knowledge accumulation Arab countries. Theses challendges include that currently exist at the different educational illiteracy, appropriateness of educational levels and, secondly, in pinpointing the flaws systems to serve development plans, science and shortcomings that keep our educational instruction with greater openness to the fruits systems from performing their central function of In their educational of contemporary scientific knowledge in fostering the necessary conditions for entry into systems, most Arab its various specializations, the relationship the knowledge society. countries face multi- between education and the market (the need Modern societies have charged their layered problems to link educational systems to the development educational systems with the task of aggravated by the requirements of Arab societies), and the disseminating knowledge among the broader relationship between education, unemployment, public, a responsibility formerly restricted many innovations and job opportunities (placing education at to the family, the religious establishment, introduced by the service of production and the expansion masters of trades and, for the privileged few, the revolution of choices). Following an inspection of these a handful of tutors. Despite the rise of rival in information conventional challenges, we will proceed to the institutions, educational institutions around the technology newer challenges facing those who see education world have maintained their pivotal role in the as an underpinning for and mainstay of the dissemination of knowledge and the formation knowledge society. In this context, issues such of the human energies that form the backbone as the technical utilisation of modern media, of the knowledge society. Moreover, instruction quality standards, and long-distance learning has long since expanded from teaching the EDUCATION AND THE FORMATION OF KNOWLEDGE CAPITAL 97
  • 111. basic skills of reading, writing, and arithmetic to compete in the knowledge economy– and inculcating the essential skills of a trade adult1 literacy rates, secondary school to include the development of analytical and enrolment rates, and enrolment in tertiary critical abilities, organisational and decision- education–the progress these countries making skills, the powers of creativity and have achieved becomes readily apparent. In the last quarter innovation, and other higher behavioural and Whereas in 1980 the adult literacy rate of a century, Arab mental competencies. Nor is the knowledge that across the Arab region was approximately states have achieved an educational system is presumed to impart 55 per cent for males and 25 per cent for remarkable progress limited anymore to the ability to answer the females, by 2005 it had climbed to 82 per on all indicators question, “What do you know?” Educational cent and 62 per cent respectively.2 In 1980, systems are now expected to equip students to the gross enrolment ratios in all levels and used to gauge the answer such questions as, “Do you know how types of secondary schooling stood at a dissemination of to do such and such?” “Where and how do median of approximately 57 per cent for knowledge among you find such and such information?” “How males and 38 per cent for females. In 2006, their people, from do you assess the value of the knowledge you they had reached 70 per cent for males and lower illiteracy rates have obtained?” and “How can this knowledge 65 per cent for females.3 In 1980, tertiary be put to use?” It is through competencies of enrolment exceeded 25 per cent for males to higher numbers of this sort that individuals become knowledgeable and 20 per cent for females in Lebanon only university graduates in varying degrees and ways. Thus they become (41 per cent and 21 per cent respectively). persons aware of the underlying substance and The medians were 8 per cent and 4.6 per intrinsic value of things and of how to deal cent respectively and higher education was with them, educators capable of contributing non-existent or virtually non-existent in a to the dissemination of knowledge, and active third of Arab countries (tertiary enrolment players in their environment and society through was less than 5 per cent). By 2005, only their ability to take decisions and espouse views three Arab countries had tertiary enrolment on the basis of available knowledge, as opposed rates below 5 per cent and the median had to superstitions, traditions, prejudices, random risen to 18 per cent for males and 29 per improvisation, or personal whim. cent for females.4 Figure 3.1 presents the education and “When all have access to the lights of knowledge, human resources5 index for seventeen Arab the time of democracy will have come.” countries from the most recent period - Victor Hugo (circa 1840) of available statistics and the comparison “An ignorant people is more tractable than an of these results with the 1995 levels. The educated one.” indices are based on the World Bank’s - Egyptian ruler Muhammad Sa‘id Pasha, son of Mohammed ‘Ali Pasha Knowledge Assessment Methodology (circa 1860) (KAM).6 The figure throws into relief the huge discrepancies between these Achievements should countries, some of which have progressed not blind us to the THE GENERAL STATE OF significantly since the mid-1990s, while failures that have KNOWLEDGE AS PROVIDED others have declined in comparison with prevented many THROUGH EDUCATION IN other countries in the world.7 It also reveals THE ARAB COUNTRIES that very few Arab countries belong to the Arab countries from upper half of the world’s countries on this emerging into the In the last quarter of a century, Arab states index (a score of 5 or more). knowledge society have achieved remarkable progress on all Nevertheless, these achievements indicators used to gauge the dissemination should not blind us to the failures that of knowledge among their people, from have prevented many Arab countries from lower illiteracy rates to higher numbers of emerging into the knowledge society. How university graduates. Taking the three major can they even see the light at the end of education indicators used by the World this tunnel when more than 60 million of Bank to assess a country’s preparedness their people, two thirds of them women, 98 ARAB KNOWLEDGE REPORT 2009
  • 112. FIGURE 3-1 Education and human resources index for Arab Countries (most recent statistical period compared to 1995). 7 6 5 In the Arab world, 4 more than 60 million people, two thirds 3 of them women, 2 are illiterate, and 1 some nine million 0 school-age children are out of school Most recent period 1995 Source: World Bank, KAM, are illiterate, and when some nine million inability to access written knowledge, school-age children are out of school, most however diverse the material foundations of these in the very countries that have of this knowledge, literate people differ failed to solve the illiteracy problem?8 greatly in knowledge and skills, especially How can these countries possibly build if they have persisted in their studies a knowledge economy if the rate of upper beyond the level of compulsory schooling. secondary school enrolment is less than As we know, public educational systems 55 per cent for both males and females at around the world begin to bifurcate with a time when this rate exceeds 80 per cent the end of basic education, which is to say in industrialised developed nations and from the upper secondary school level. the countries of Central Asia? Indeed, the Consequently, it is possible to imagine that Arab region lags behind most of the rest people might possess a glut of certain types of the world in the three above-mentioned of knowledge and of a paucity of other Completed levels variables, ranking sixth out of the eight types of knowledge due to the differences of education and regions of the world and placing higher between the curricula used in the different official graduation than South and West Asia and Sub-Saharan branches of secondary education and in the certificates do not Africa only.9 different specialisations at the tertiary level. necessarily reflect Moreover, completed levels of education the true quality THE NEED TO DRAW AN and official graduation certificates do not ACCURATE PICTURE OF necessarily reflect the true quality of an of an individual’s KNOWLEDGE CAPITAL individual’s knowledge and skills. knowledge and skills To produce a clear and accurate portrait of MEASURING A SOCIETY’S the knowledge capital of any society one KNOWLEDGE CAPITAL must look beyond the quantifiable variables mentioned above. These indices and the One way to broach the question of criteria used to calculate them provide only knowledge capital in a society is to a preliminary idea of this capital. Whereas observe how knowledge is distributed illiterates, for example, are alike in their among older generations and then to EDUCATION AND THE FORMATION OF KNOWLEDGE CAPITAL 99
  • 113. track the opportunities for knowledge measure “national human capital” by using acquisition available to the younger indices that are so obviously disparate as to generations through the educational render their use in deducing a meaningful system. “Knowledge capital” refers to the indicator difficult.11 sum of epistemological skills possessed To avoid confusing the issues and by the individuals of a community. It losing sight of the distinct character Knowledge is more covers knowledge in the various fields of of knowledge capital acquired through than the information learning, notably languages and literature, education, the approach of this report acquired at school. maths and sciences, technology, health and to “national human knowledge capital” It extends to the environment, the arts, the humanities and will rely solely on the direct relationship information and sociology, and philosophy among others. between the individual, the institutions It also includes various mental skills such of learning, and the learning process. know-how acquired as the ability to acquire information and This focus on what formal educational through experience to learn independently, analytic abilities institutions offer and what students in the economically and rational processing, the ability to gain from them is also determined by productive workplace, evaluate (which involves critical thought) the absence of reliable data on the as well as from life and apply information and know-how to opportunities available to individuals in solve theoretical or practical problems, Arab societies to acquire knowledge outside combinatorial and synthesising skills, of their formal educational systems. We planning and organisational abilities, the will also deconstruct the equation into its capacity to make projections for the future, quantitative and qualitative components, the ability to acclimatise to change and examine these separately, and then bring new givens, the ability to take advantage them together in common conclusions. of opportunities for renovation, creativity Quantitatively, we can presume that and innovation, and other such higher the more education, in its various levels, is intellectual skills. The concept further universalised across society and the higher includes knowledge-based human and the average level of schooling, the greater social competencies,10 foremost among the ability of the members of that society which are communicative skills, the ability to participate in the knowledge society. The Quantitatively, the to form constructive and cooperative best objective gauge for this criterion is the more education is relations with others, the ability to work as level of schooling attained by those who universalised across part of a team and to participate effectively are currently not enrolled in educational society and the higher in public affairs, and leadership, guidance institutions. As for those who are still of and managerial skills. school age or still enrolled in educational the average level Measuring the knowledge capital of the institutions, more than one indicator will of schooling, the members of a community poses an immense have to be brought into play to determine greater the ability challenge to researchers and strategists in the level of formal schooling that these of the members human resource development. Knowledge individuals may ultimately attain. Examples of that society to is considerably more than the information of such indicators are enrolment rates at participate in the individuals acquire at their desks at school. each educational stage and average school It extends to the information and know- life expectancy. knowledge society; how acquired through experience in The qualitative side of the equation is the qualitative side the economically productive workplace, far more difficult, as there are no standing of the equation is as well as from life experience–the agencies for monitoring the knowledge far more difficult informal activities one engages in and the possessed by different sectors of society, interactions with others that lead to various the sources of this knowledge, and the types of awareness about diverse aspects role that the systems for formal education, of life. In the context of the process of training, and continuous learning systems assessing total national wealth, in general, play in shaping it. We will, therefore, have and intellectual capital, in particular, some to use various approaches in order to scholars (Bontis, 2004) attempted to obtain an overall, if only initial, estimate 100 ARAB KNOWLEDGE REPORT 2009
  • 114. of the qualitative knowledge capital that BOX 3-1 a society’s educational system can ensure. Every society has the right to ask its The Aims of Education for All educational system: What is the quality The World Education Forum, held in Dakar, Senegal, in 2000, in response to of the knowledge that will be gained by the call of UN organisations led by UNESCO, produced a framework for action recipients in the various educational levels? entitled “Education for All: Meeting our Collective Commitments.” It provides for Does the education system truly create collective international commitment to the attainment of the following goals: 1. Expanding and improving comprehensive early childhood care and knowledge capital and equip us to compete education; in the knowledge society? 2. Ensuring that by 2015 all children have access to and complete free and The selection of knowledge to be compulsory primary education of good quality; 3. Ensuring that the learning needs of all young people and adults are met taught in formal educational institutions through equitable access to appropriate learning and life skills programmes; derives from a society’s project for the 4. Achieving a 50 per cent improvement in levels of adult literacy by 2015, appropriate rearing of its emerging especially for women, and equitable access to basic and continuing education for all adults; generations. It generally takes the form 5. Eliminating gender disparities in primary and secondary education by 2015; of what are usually termed educational 6. Improving every aspect of the quality of education. curricula, together with their particular The UN General Assembly incorporated goals 2 and 5 into the Millennium Development Goals, thereby entering them into the agendas of all UN development tracks or streams, pedagogic methods, organisations. and means of assessing whether students have attained the desired results. The chain of selections (some of which are For the qualitative aspect of the formation ideological in nature) begins with setting of knowledge capital in children we will the amount of time to be allocated to each survey the different types of knowledge subject–mother tongue, foreign languages, they come into contact with and the levels maths, humanities, pure sciences, the arts, of competence they are expected to attain and so on–at the pre-university levels. in each. How, then, do the Arab countries But the more crucial gauge in this area is stand with regard to the foregoing? whether the recipients have obtained the knowledge, skills, and attitudes expected QUANTITATIVE INDICATORS of them at these levels. The statistics on net primary school The statistics on KNOWLEDGE CAPITAL enrolment rates show that only four net primary school FORMATION BY CHILDREN Arab countries approach the saturation point (95 per cent and above) according enrolment rates Enrolment in basic education is the first to this criterion, eight countries range show that only step in formal education towards the between 80 per cent and 94 per cent, four Arab countries creation of national knowledge capital. and six–Djibouti, Mauritania, Oman, approach the To participate in the knowledge society Palestine, Yemen (and Saudi Arabia)12– saturation point (95 an individual must possess a range of fall below this, with Djibouti showing a per cent and above) knowledge, intellectual skills, and attitudes rate of less than 40 per cent. We should that can only be obtained through note, too, that only two countries (Bahrain continuous schooling for, according to and Tunisia) have attained the saturation most experts, a period of at least nine point for female enrolment. These figures years, or what is commonly referred to clearly reflect large disparities among Arab as “basic education.” Accordingly, this states. Gross enrolment ratios, meanwhile, report has analysed four complementary reveal the inflation in enrolment figures indicators for evaluating the opportunities arising from such unhealthy phenomena to create knowledge capital in children: as high repetition rates and the packing primary school enrolment rates, numbers of classrooms with students beyond the of children outside school, enrolment reasonable limit for the designated age rates in the upper stage of basic education, group of a class. Enrolment rates are and average school life expectancy rates. inflated by more than 10 per cent in six EDUCATION AND THE FORMATION OF KNOWLEDGE CAPITAL 101
  • 115. Arab countries with Mauritania at the top On the basis of the data available on with 21 per cent.13 the four preceding indicators, we can Available statistics also indicate that classify Arab countries according to the some nine million children in the Arab four following categories in terms of region are out of school. Most of these are their ability to ensure opportunities for in Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Yemen, the formation of basic knowledge capital Iraq, and Morocco. But even those countries among new generations of children with a reputation for good performance in (between 6 and 14 years of age)(see Table education, such as Lebanon and Jordan, 3-1): are not immune to this phenomenon. A. Countries that can ensure to a high Although the laws in most Arab degree that the opportunities are countries provide for compulsory available to their children to obtain the education up to at least the end of the fundamental knowledge necessary to Although the intermediate level,14 only eight countries participate in the knowledge society. laws in most Arab have attained gross enrolment ratios These countries (for which the four countries provide meeting or approaching the expected rate indices average out to 85 per cent or of more than 95 per cent through the more) are Bahrain, Tunisia, Algeria, for compulsory active application of this provision. Seven Qatar, Egypt, Jordan, the UAE, and education up to at countries lag well behind (with enrolment Libya. least the end of the rates of less than 70 per cent): Iraq, B. Countries that can ensure such intermediate level, Morocco, Yemen, the Comoros, Djibouti, opportunities to a considerable only eight countries Mauritania, and Sudan. There are no extent, but must exert additional efforts precise statistics for Saudi Arabia and to guarantee that no child remains have attained Somalia. Five countries–Jordan, Kuwait, excluded from the avenue leading to gross enrolment Lebanon, Oman, and Syria–approach the the acquisition of this knowledge. With ratios meeting or expected level (with enrolment rates of overall averages of between 70 per approaching the between 85 per cent and 94 per cent).15 cent and 84 per cent, these countries expected rate of more Lastly, relying on data from the are Kuwait, Palestine, Lebanon, Oman, than 95 per cent UNESCO Institute for Statistics, we can Morocco, and Iraq (as well as Syria and rank Arab countries on the basis of school Saudi Arabia). life expectancy16 for children enrolled in C. Two countries that must exert intensive basic education into the four following efforts in order to equip a greater categories:17 number of children to participate in A. Countries in which the average number the knowledge society: Yemen and of school years extends to the start of Mauritania (with average scores that fall tertiary education. The countries in this between 55 per cent and 69 per cent). category are Bahrain, Tunisia, Jordan, D. Countries with a questionable ability to Libya, Lebanon, and Palestine. provide sufficient numbers of children B. Countries in which the overall average opportunities to access the knowledge of school years is equivalent to the end society within the foreseeable future, or close to the end of secondary school. if educational opportunities remain in Algeria, Egypt, Qatar, Kuwait, the their present state. With average scores UAE, and Oman fall into this category. of less than 55 per cent, these countries C. Countries in which enrolled children are the Comoros, Sudan, Djibouti (and can generally expect not to exceed the Somalia). upper stage of basic education: Iraq, Figure 3-2, which plots the opportunities Morocco, Yemen, and the Comoros. for basic knowledge capital creation in D. Countries in which enrolled children children in Arab countries in relation to can only expect to complete primary per capita GDP, depicts a moderately loose education or a little more: Mauritania, correlation between these two variables. Djibouti, and Sudan. As can be seen, financial capacities exceed 102 ARAB KNOWLEDGE REPORT 2009
  • 116. TABLE 3-1 Opportunities for basic knowledge capital formation in children through education in 2005 (per cent) A B C D Average Country Enrolment Net enrolment Gross enrolment Ratio of score rate rate in primary ratio in upper stage expected (A+B+C+D)/4 education of basic education school years (adjusted*) to age 18** Libya .. .. 100 91.9 .. Bahrain 99 98 97 80.2 93.6 Tunisia 97 96 99.8 73.7 91.6 Algeria 98 95 100 66.5 89.9 Qatar 98 94 94.2 67.2 88.4 Egypt 96 94 91.4 65.9 86.8 Jordan 94 90 87.7 72.4 86.0 UAE 95 88 90.5 62.4 84.0 Tunisia, Algeria, Kuwait 89 83 84.9 68.9 81.5 Jordan, and Egypt Occupied have managed Palestinian 80 76 93.3 70.9 80.1 Territories to ensure high Lebanon 83 82 82.1 70.1 79.3 opportunities for Syria .. 95 85.8 .. .. the creation of Oman 77 74 87.7 64.2 75.7 knowledge capital Morocco 88 88 64.4 51.6 73.0 in children, in spite Iraq 89 89 54.1 49.3 70.4 of their limited Saudi Arabia 75 78 58.8 .. .. financial capacities Yemen 75 75 47.6 43.9 60.4 Mauritania 80 79 25.2 39.4 55.9 Comoros 55 .. 38.3 43.9 .. Sudan 44 .. 43.9 25.4 .. Djibouti 38 38 25.2 19.2 30.1 Somalia .. .. .. .. .. Source: UNESCO Institute for Statistics, Data Centre; figures in columns C and D and average score are provided by Ramzi Salama/Report core team member. * Base averages reduced by 6.7 per cent (average over 100 per cent in the Arab countries in question) to correct for errors in the calculation of gross enrolment figures, which may exceed 100 per cent. ** It may be supposed for the sake of argument that the gross school life expectancy of a given age cohort may, under ideal circumstances, approach eighteen years, as is expected in some countries of the world, such as Ireland and Norway. On the other hand, it may be considered overoptimistic to hope to approach the twenty years that is expected for Australia and New Zealand. The figure of eighteen years has therefore been taken as a maximum for the calculation of the expected figure for all Arab countries. potential achievement in Kuwait, Saudi Saudi Arabia and Oman clearly lag well Arabia, Oman, Djibouti, Sudan, and the behind the norm, whereas countries such Comoros, whereas anticipated achievement as Tunisia, Algeria, Jordan, and Egypt have exceeds relative financial capacities in managed to ensure high opportunities Bahrain, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Egypt, for the creation of knowledge capital in Jordan, Syria, and Yemen, regardless of children, in spite of their limited financial the calculated equation.18 In these terms, capacities. EDUCATION AND THE FORMATION OF KNOWLEDGE CAPITAL 103
  • 117. FIGURE 3-2:19 Basic knowledge capital formation opportunities for children in Arab countries against per capita GDP 100 Knowledge capital formation opportunities for children Tunisia Libya Bahrain Algeria R2=0.4552 90 Qatar Egypt Jordan UAE R2=0.6398 (percentage of possible maximum) 80 Kuwait Syria Lebanon Oman Iraq Morocco 70 Saudi Arabia Yemen 60 Mauritania 50 Comoros 40 Sudan 30 Djibouti 20 0 5000 10000 15000 20000 25000 30000 Per capita share of GDP in dollars QUALITATIVE INDICATORS The average ratio of class time allotted to Arabic language instruction (28.5 per Time allocated to school subjects in cent at the primary level and 26.4 per basic education cent in total basic school education) is Apart from Arabic somewhat lower than the international A study on the time allocated to school average for the time allotted to instruction language and maths, subjects in basic education20 in Arab in the mother tongue (up to approximately the knowledge capital countries during the last decade shows 32 per cent in primary school education) that Arab countries considerable variation between these (International Association for the impart to those countries in the ratios of class time Evaluation of Educational Achievement, who have enrolled allotted to religious education and 2003). Classes allotted to Islamic religious foreign language instruction, a moderate instruction average about 12 per cent of in or completed variation in the class time dedicated to the total in the Arab region as a whole, in basic education science and technology, social studies, contrast to the global rate of about 5 per varies, in terms of the arts, and physical education, and cent among countries whose educational quantity at least general conformity in the amounts of curricula feature religious education time allotted to Arabic language21 and instruction (Majallat Mustaqbaliyyat, maths instruction. It follows that, apart in Arabic, 2003). The quota for Islamic from Arabic language and maths, the religious instruction reaches 28 per cent knowledge capital that Arab countries in Saudi Arabia, which is followed by sought to impart to those who have Yemen (20 per cent), Sudan (18 per cent), enrolled in or completed basic education and Oman (17 per cent). In Tunisia and during this period varies, in terms of Algeria, the time ratio for Islamic religious quantity at least. instruction is around the global average. 104 ARAB KNOWLEDGE REPORT 2009
  • 118. Virtually the only area in which Arab instruction in most subjects is relatively countries conform to the rest of the world low in the majority of Arab countries. is that of the ratio of class time accorded Time allocations for the various subjects to maths instruction (about 16 per cent) should be well balanced, so that no subject (UNDP, 2007a, in Arabic). In science is given time at the expense of another that and technology instruction, including may be regarded as basic for the formation information and communications of the growing child’s knowledge capital. technology, Arab countries as a whole It also stands to reason that the total class The total class time depart moderately from the global norm. time required of basic education in most required of basic However, whereas the average ratio of Arab countries–an average of 802 hours education in most class time accorded to science instruction, per year, consisting of thirty-three weeks Arab countries is not alone, in the Arab region (10.5 per cent) is at the primary level, and an average of sufficient to form a somewhat lower than the global average of 911 hours per year, consisting of thirty- 11.7,22 it is markedly lower in Mauritania, three weeks each at the upper level of knowledge capital Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Sudan, and basic education–is not sufficient to form that would allow the Tunisia. The rest of the Arab countries a knowledge capital solid and robust individual to actively approach the global average in this regard enough to allow the individual to reap the participate in the (UNDP, 2007a, in Arabic). optimal advantage from higher levels of knowledge society Noticeable differences between Arab learning and to actively participate in the countries emerge with regard to the ratio knowledge society. This shortcoming is at of class time dedicated to social studies, its most evident in all the Gulf countries arts, and physical education. Nevertheless, (with the exception of Oman under its new the general averages in these areas rival the system of education), Syria, Iraq, Libya, international norms (three hours per week and Tunisia.23 Indeed, one UNESCO for both social studies and the arts and two report observes that the median number hours per week for physical education). of annual hours allocated to primary In foreign language instruction at the education in Arab countries is lower than school level of basic education there is the levels recommended by numerous little conformity among Arab countries. international organisations and forums, Tunisia, Lebanon, Morocco, and Mauritania which is between 850 and 1,000 hours per have long been accustomed to allocating year. The report adds that if we consider relatively large blocks of class time (from the amount of time actually dedicated six to eight periods out of thirty-five to instruction, children in many Arab periods per week) to this item and Qatar, countries receive less than 70 per cent of Kuwait, the UAE, and Jordan have recently the time allotted for their formal education Children in many introduced it into their curricula with (UNESCO, 2008a). Arab countries significant emphasis. On the other hand, receive less than 70 in Saudi Arabia, Libya, Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Quality of knowledge acquired per cent of the time Egypt, Oman, and Sudan, foreign language through basic education allotted for their instruction is absent or near absent from their curricula. The results of a 2003 study on the formal education One is also struck by the total absence of performance of eighth-graders in maths computer technology instruction in many and sciences (UNDP, 2007a, in Arabic), countries and by the scarcity of countries in which ten Arab countries took part,24 that have introduced this subject into their aroused considerable dismay in Arab primary school curricula. We also observe a educational and political circles. In maths, considerable amount of class time devoted the students from Arab countries that to extra-curricular activities in Egypt, and participated in this study ranked noticeably to political education in Syria. lower than the overall international Due to certain peculiarities of Arab average. They were in the company of education systems, the time allotted for students from ten other countries, mostly EDUCATION AND THE FORMATION OF KNOWLEDGE CAPITAL 105
  • 119. from sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. Thirty results were significantly lower than the countries ranked significantly higher international average, with the exception than the international average. These of Jordan which, with results equivalent to were mostly the advanced industrialised the global average, ranked thirtieth. About countries of Western and Eastern Europe, 21 per cent of Jordanian students achieved North America, Asia and the Pacific and high scores, while only about 10 per cent they also included Malaysia, which came in of Egyptian and Palestinian participants twelfth, and Israel, which came in twenty- and even fewer participants from the other Arab educational third. Only 10 per cent of Jordanian participating Arab countries matched curricula in general participants, 8 per cent of students in this performance.25 Arab countries have are almost entirely Egypt, 6 per cent of Lebanese, and 5 per performed poorly in other international lacking in activities cent of Palestinian participants achieved studies on maths, science, and reading high scores; figures for the rest of the Arab acquisition.26 aimed at developing countries were even lower. Globally, 23 per Arab students continued to perform learners’ abilities to cent of participants in the study achieved poorly in maths and sciences in similar collect, organise, high scores, with higher rates yet in those international studies conducted in 2007. sift, and analyse countries that ranked the highest. In other In the studies of eighth-graders, Arab information words, the knowledge measured by the countries were among the bottom finalists maths test is possessed by a scant minority in maths (between thirtieth and fifty-first of Arab students and absent among the out of fifty-one participating countries)27 overwhelming majority of them. and sciences (between twenty-second Arab countries also ranked at the and fiftieth out of fifty-one participating bottom (coming in at between thirty- countries).28 In the equivalent tests for eighth and fifty-first place out of fifty-two fourth-graders, Arab countries came in countries) in the science test. Again, the between thirty-first and thirty-eighth place out of thirty-eight countries in maths,29 and between thirty-third and thirty-eighth BOX 3-2 place out of thirty-eight participating Oman’s New Plan for Education countries in science.30 No country came The Sultanate of Oman has recently the instruction of computer skills and near to approaching the international made radical changes in its pre- augmented classroom time allocated averages apart from Dubai/UAE, which university public education plans. It has to maths, sciences, and social studies ranked first among all Arab countries in introduced the new Basic Education to levels equivalent to or greater than the four tests (UNDP, 2007d, in Arabic).31 system, which consists of ten years in international norms. English language two phases, the first covering grades one instruction has been introduced into These studies have shown that while, to four and the second grades five to the curriculum, starting in the first with the exception of a few details, the ten. Basic education is then followed by grade of basic education at an average science and maths curricula in countries the Secondary Education phase which of five classes per week. New teaching extends over two years and is divided and self-learning methods have been such as Jordan, Palestine, Egypt, and into Arts and Science tracks. Oman adopted with the aim of developing Bahrain are largely the same as those in has also introduced the principle of learners’ mental, practical, and life-skills coeducation in the first phase of basic faculties. The new plan retains, to a the rest of the world, Arab educational education. These reforms were put large extent, the prominence of Islamic curricula in general are almost entirely into effect in the 1998-1999 academic studies and Arabic language instruction, lacking in activities aimed at developing year with an eye to their gradual roll- while it reduces the number of physical out across the country, as material and education courses in favour of maths. learners’ abilities to collect, organise, sift, human resources permit. In the secondary school science track, and analyse information. They also fail The newly adopted education the number of social science classes to teach how to interpret the phenomena plan marked a clear break with its has been reduced in order to augment predecessor by adding four weeks to the hours allocated to earth- and life- suggested by the information, fully the school year, which is now 180 days, sciences. probing all possible ramifications and and spreading the educational subjects The progress of this experiment possibilities, and other similar skills for over forty-minute long classes per should be monitored with an eye to week, bringing the weekly and annual assessing its impact on the formation the handling of information and natural times allocated to instruction up to of knowledge capital among new phenomena. The acquisition of such skills international levels. The Basic Education generations of Omani youths. is intimately connected to the development curriculum has introduced classes for of the higher mental faculties individuals 106 ARAB KNOWLEDGE REPORT 2009
  • 120. must possess if they aspire to participate the development of the Arab project in the knowledge society. The low for knowledge capital creation through performance expectations with regard to education. language acquisition is also striking, judging Basic education is a crucial phase in the by the fact that the curricula of the Arab intellectual formation of the members of countries in question defer until later years Arab societies. Many will leave the formal Generating sufficient what is taught earlier in other countries. educational system at the end of this phase, and balanced Moreover, the few hours allotted per week which generally coincides with the end of knowledge capital to instruction in foreign languages and compulsory education, in order to enter in Arab children various other subjects such as arts, social the labor market or vocational training. The requires increasing studies, and physical education offer little remainder will follow the various streams of assurance of their proper acquisition. general and technical secondary education the number of annual Science and technology instruction and and receive different types of instruction hours of instruction foreign language instruction seem fated depending on the particular stream. Gaps and weekly periods to get the shortest end of the stick in the in knowledge formation at the level of to appropriate levels distribution of class time. It is little wonder, basic education may not, therefore, be filled therefore, that school graduates of basic by what is offered at the more advanced education come away with a paucity of educational levels or through practical life know-how in these subjects and that this, experience. How can people with such in turn, leads to a general disinclination gaps, lacking the fundamentals that allow among youth to specialise in the sciences them to comprehend the information in later phases of the educational process. they encounter or to deal with problems Generating sufficient and balanced that require certain types of awareness, knowledge capital in Arab children analytical skills, and decision-making requires increasing the number of annual capacities, participate in the knowledge hours of instruction and weekly periods society? Clearly, all Arab countries without to appropriate levels and reviewing how exception must upgrade the various quality these are distributed among the various components of their educational systems curricular subjects, as Oman has recently in order to bring the performance of their done (see Box 3-2). It also requires students up to international averages. an overhaul of the curricula and the pedagogic approach so as to ensure that KNOWLEDGE CAPITAL learners can obtain the required knowledge FORMATION BY YOUTH Every Arab country and develop their higher mental faculties. must ask such To this end, every country must ask the QUANTITATIVE DIMENSIONS questions as: “What following questions: “What knowledge do we really want our school graduates of The literacy rate among youth (ages 15 to knowledge do we basic education to have acquired?” “Will 24) has attained the saturation point (95 really want our this knowledge truly equip our children per cent or higher) in ten Arab countries. school graduates to meet the demands of the knowledge Four others (with literacy rates for this age of basic education economy and to participate effectively in group between 85 per cent and 94 per cent) to have