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Government accountability and freedoms of opinion, expression and association are key if the Muslim world is to build a knowledge-based society, Nader Fergany argues in this commentary in Nature.

Fergany, the lead author of a series of reports on development in Arab countries, says the obstacles to progress are primarily political and calls for reforms at the national, regional and global levels.

A first step, he says, is to draw on the potential of the Arab scientific diaspora to contribute to the creation of a knowledge society by offering scientists incentives to return home.

He adds that high-quality education must be ensured for all, research and technological development should be integrated into all societal activities and knowledge needs to be seen as a valuable resource.

For such measures to be effective, an enlightened Arab knowledge model needs to be established, which promotes the Arabic language, furthers historic Arab knowledge, celebrates cultural diversity and opens up to other societies.

Link to full article/paper in Nature