Major Conference Puts the Spotlight on Knowledge Development in Arab World

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, Dec. 8, 2014

  • Inventor of world wide web and co-founder of Wikipedia honored with first Knowledge Award worth US$ 1 million
  • First Knowledge Conference announces start of work on Arab Knowledge Index to measure knowledge in the Arab world

Knowledge and its dissemination in the Arab world have come under intense focus for the first time in the region as an international knowledge event got under way in Dubai yesterday. Organized by the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation (MBRF), a leader in the dissemination of knowledge, the First Knowledge Conference has brought together knowledge influencers, experts and stakeholders under one roof, giving a new momentum to the knowledge movement in the region.

“The exchange of experiences and the introduction of best practices as well as recommendations and innovative solutions at the First Knowledge Conference will serve as a road map to the development of scientific and technological research in the region,” said Jamal Bin Huwaireb, Managing Director of MBRF.

Notable speakers at the conference include Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web, and Jimmy Wales, co-founder and promoter of the online non-profit encyclopedia Wikipedia.

Addressing the conference, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, said: “As a platform that serves humanity through knowledge dissemination, the internet must reach all parts of the world. Today, majority of the people in the world still do not have access to the internet. While those who have access to the web are empowered, it is the responsibility of all to help extend the reach of the internet to everybody,” Sir Berners-Lee told the conference.

The First Knowledge Conference also witnessed the launch of the Arab Knowledge Report 2014, a joint initiative of the MBRF and the Arab Bureau in the United Nations Development Programme, focusing on the integration of youth and the localization of knowledge in the Arab world. The annual report, which is the third in its series, has highlighted this year the huge gap in the knowledge field in the region. At the same time, the report sheds light on some interesting findings such as the increasing female academic presence in the Arab countries, most notably in the UAE, Tunisia and Jordan.

The conference honoured Sir Tim Berners-Lee and Jimmy Wales with the first Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Knowledge Award for their efforts to build the largest platforms in knowledge dissemination. The award, worth US$ 1 million, is the highest award of its kind and was split between the two winners.

In another key initiative, the conference announced that start of work on the Arab Knowledge Index, which has been designed as a practical tool to measure knowledge in the Arab world. The index will provide accurate and practical information about the status of knowledge in the Arab communities to decision-makers, experts and researchers, to offer guidance in the formulation of development plans and policies.