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The Middle East has traditionally been important for the world economy. The Middle East situation today has an impact on all aspects of life in America and much of the world.

Only by understanding the motivations of the various factions in the Middle East can we hope to understand how to promote peace and national security for Middle Eastern nations, Europe, and the United States.

Dec 21, 2009

The State of Knowledge in the Arab World

The United Nations Development Program (UNDP)and the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation initiated a research project to investigate the 'State of Knowledge' in the Arab world. The result of the research was published in the United Arab Emirates. It stated that the 'state of knowledge' in the Arab world is lagging behind, and recommended that Arab governments should seriously address such problem.

Arab governments have been spending 5% of their GPD, and 20% of their general budgets on education during the past 40 years. More than 1/3 of their adult population cannot read and write. This equal to 60 million people classified as illiterate (The Middle East, December 2009).

It is of interest to compare the literacy rates in relation to gross enrolment (2007) in primary and upper stages of basic education between the Arab world and other regions. In the Arab world it was only 81%, while in North America and Western Europe it was 103%, 95% in Central Asia, and 102 in Latin America and the Caribbean region.

The UN report stated that insufficient funding in certain areas of education are needed, such as in the area of scientific research, where only 0.3% of the GPD of Arab countries is being allocated for such research. This will be equal to $10 per capita by comparison to $33 per capita in Malaysia and $1,304 per capita in Finland.

Since their independence, in the late 40s-50s, Arab governments have been preoccupied with foreign wars, and internal civil conflicts. Tens of billions of dollars were allocated for military hardware instead of spending some of it on education and human development.Furthermore, the absence of democratic institutions and transparency, which are two important ingredients for the development and nourishment of a 'state of knowledge,' were lacking.

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