The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has announced its first national authority for scientific research (NASR) to coordinate and fund scientific research in the country.
The national authority for scientific research was announced by Shaikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, UAE minister for higher education and scientific research, last week (7 March) with an annual budget of 100 million UAE dirham (around US$27.2 million). The authority hopes to receive additional contributions from the public and the private sector.
NASR will look to fund research projects in various fields, including engineering, technology, medicine, water and agriculture, proposing specific projects to be competed for by researchers at universities and private research institutes.
"Projects are going to be selected to help promote scientific research and the growth of UAE society and we will compare them with international scientific research criteria," Gulf News quoted Al Nahyan as saying at the launch.
NASR will also train scientists and develop programmes for promoting public science awareness. It will also coordinate with government authorities on the issue of intellectual property rights, by providing advice on how companies and research centres should go about protecting their discoveries in the form of patents or licenses.
It will also provide scholarships for researchers in the UAE to work on international research programmes, and organise national scientific conferences.
NASR forms part of the UAE's strategic plan to improve higher education and scientific research (see United Arab Emirates launches science strategy).
Zakaria Maamar, associate professor at the College of Information Technology at Zayed University, UAE, told SciDev.Net, "This initiative is another boost to the research and development activities that are carried out in the UAE. It will definitely provide researchers with the appropriate funds to sustain such activities and promote best practices in the community."
Said Elnaffar, assistant professor at the college of information technology at the United Arab Emirates University, told SciDev.Net that, with this initiative, the UAE is taking the lead and setting a good example by building a strong development infrastructure founded on knowledge discovery and research.