In a meeting held in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia from 4 to 7 February, the IDB board of executive directors approved the allocation of an extra two per cent of the bank's annual net income (a minimum of US$2 million) to its Merit Scholarship Programme (MSP) for doctoral and post-doctoral research.
This is in addition to the IDB's existing investment of nearly US$1 million each year.
Also at the Jeddah meeting, Faisal Abdul Aziz Al-Zamil, the IDB's executive director, called for the establishment of a foundation to award fellowships and travel grants to researchers in Muslim countries. The foundation, he said, should be financed by the private sector in Muslim countries.
The MSP provides scholarships to scientists of member nations of the IDB to undertake training in research institutes in industrialised nations, in emerging high-tech Asian countries and in centres of excellence in the Muslim world.
The report indicated that the 57 predominantly Muslim countries have 23 per cent of the world population but less than two per cent of the world’s scientists.
It called for an 11-fold increase in the number of scientists in Muslim countries, to bring the number of postdoctoral researchers to 3,000. To achieve this target, nations would have to increase investment in science and technology to 1.4 per cent of their gross domestic product, according to the report.
Speaking about proposed foundation for gifted scientists, Al-Zamil said it would award fellowships, international science prizes, and medals to talented researchers.
It would also provide a forum for researchers in the Muslim world and Muslim scientists living in the West to meet, exchange knowledge, and develop programmes for achieving excellence in scientific research and the transfer science and technology to Muslim countries.
Among its other activities would be training courses, workshops, and conferences.