If Islamic scientists were having a hard time before 11 September 2001, their plight is now more frustrating than ever. The UN’s Arab Human Development Report 2003, released this week, says that on average, Arab countries spend a mere 0.2 per cent of their national output on research. And many collaborations with the West are now in tatters.
In this article, Richard Stone chronicles the uphill battle many Islamic researchers face to get funding. Only last week Pakistan's science and technology minister, Atta-Ur-Rahman, was unable to persuade representatives of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference to set aside 0.1 per cent of their gross domestic product (GDP) for research programmes.
Some at the conference felt an Islamic version of the US National Science Foundation's Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR), which requires US states to match funds, is the answer. What seems certain to many is that raising the scientific game in Islamic countries is imperative if the world is to become a safer place.
Reference: Science 302, 545 (2003)