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Some 500 scientists from across the Arab world will meet later this month to set research priorities for the Arab Science and Technology Foundation (ASTF), which aims to raise up to US$150 million over five years to award peer-reviewed grants to the region’s scientists.

The foundation’s leaders face an enormous task, says an editorial in Nature. Most Arab governments have long neglected science, and distrust organisations over which they do not exert direct control.

But initial signs are encouraging. The ASTF has gathered together working scientists interested in strengthening research capacity across the regions, and is committed to building links between Arab and Western labs.

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Reference: Nature 416, 109 (2002)