The Kuwaiti government has endorsed a five-year plan to reform the country's policy on science and technology.
The plan, announced this month (15 October), is part of Kuwait's US$131 billion development plan for 2009–2014, which aims to promote the development of a knowledge-based sustainable economy.
Under the plan, the budget for science and technology will be increased from 0.2 per cent to one per cent of Kuwait's gross domestic product. A national strategy for science, technology and innovation will also be prepared by the Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research (KISR) in cooperation with higher education institutions, and the technological and scientific sectors.
To improve the quality and competitiveness of science-based companies, the government intends to build new science and technology excellence centres for harnessing science, adopting new technologies, and providing professional training as well as scientific, technological and research consultation services.
Open access scientific and technological databases will also be set up to provide reliable reference data for technical problem-solving, research and development.
The plan also emphasises the importance of promoting science and technology awareness as tools for development and calls upon KISR and the Kuwait Science Club to develop specific programmes for promoting science literacy as well as teaching science in schools.
The government will strengthen research infrastructure in Kuwait University and encourage the use of scientific studies in the state's economic and social development by promoting collaboration with science-based companies.
The plan was sent to parliament for debate this month (21 October). Upon final approval, an action plan will then be prepared and implemented.
"With oil prices declining to a very low level as a result of the current global financial crisis, this science and technology reform plan has come at the right time," says Aly Nada, professor of pharmaceutics at Kuwait University.
Nada says that the plan is essential to promote science-based industrial development for boosting non-oil economic activities, which currently accounts for less than ten per cent of Kuwait's revenues.