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Thread: Obligation for Gulf states to improve science 2/20/2010

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    Obligation for Gulf states to improve science 2/20/2010

    Obligation for Gulf states to improve science
    Published Date: February 20, 2010

    KUWAIT: Kuwait and countries of the Gulf region have an obligation to improve their science and technology, if they are to compete in the international economic arena, said US Science Envoy Dr Elias Zerhouni. "This country (Kuwait) and this people, and all the people in the region, have an obligation to improve their science and technology ... if you're not in at the level of competition, you will not be looked at as a country where people want to come and invest ...
    I think education at a level that is internationally competitive requires science and technology," he said. The envoy, who arrived here on Wednesday and will be leaving later Friday, said that prospects for cooperation between the US and Kuwait in the field of science and technology were "terrific, especially when we focus on common needs and common problems.

    Having visited Qatar and Saudi Arabia before coming to Kuwait, Dr. Zerhouni said his mission was to "explore" means to built "positive relationships" between the US and the Gulf in the field of science and technology. The envoy will also be visiting the UAE as part of his tour. Zerhouni is one of three envoys appointed by US President Barack Obama, after the announcement of his new initiative to reach out to the Middle East in his Cairo speech on June 4, 2009.

    President Obama in Cairo really wanted to launch the idea of what he desired, which is a new beginning in terms of the content and tenure of the relationships between the US and the Muslim world," he said. And while the US may have "issues" with some countries, this does not mean that positive relationships cannot be developed in other areas such as science and technology, education, research, and job creation or entrepreneurship, Dr. Zerhouni explained.

    He added that in order to launch such interchange and partnerships, President Obama felt the need for "qualified expert science envoys that could visit, travel, meet, understand, not just what could be done but also understand the needs of the various countries and the various partners, and then come back and advise him (Obama) and the Secretary of State and the US government on what would be the best way to approach it, if any.

    Dr. Zerhouni said that President Obama was emphasizing this "global issue of partnering" due to common problems the world was facing - generating jobs for young people, improving the environment, access to water, food security, and energy. "We know from history that if we have good knowledge relationships, there is a higher chance of solving problems than if you don't have them." Asked about his visit to Kuwait, the envoy said that he met with officials from Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research (KISR),
    Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences (KFAS), Dasman Institute for Diabetes Research, Regional Organization for Protecting the Maritime Environment (ROPME), as well as with Minister of Health Dr. Hilal Al-Sayer.

    He described his meeting with Dr. Al-Sayer as "very lively" one, during which he was briefed on the programs that the minister was working on and the new five-year plan. As for his meeting with Dr. Kazem Behbehani, Director General of Dasman Institute for Research, Training and Prevention of Diabetes and other Chronic Diseases, he said that "clearly there is both a challenge and an opportunity in diabetes in this region." He said that he agreed with Dr. Behbehani to "continue to discuss this issue, not jus
    t in Kuwaiti terms, but maybe in regional terms, and maybe use this center to enhance our relationships with the whole region relative to the problem of diabetes and chronic disease.

    The envoy said that the science and technology areas where Kuwait and the US could cooperate most at this point would most likely to be health and chronic disease, particularly diabetes. "We have the same problems, we have the same needs, and I think we have expertise on both sides that can be truly leveraged. So I am very keen on continuing this conversation about joint approach for the problem of diabetes and its consequences." He said that another area of cooperation would be the exchange of information
    to create digital libraries, which was a desire expressed by both KFAS and KISR. "In other words ICT (information and communication technology) at the service of science, technology and economic development.

    Dr. Zerhouni also said that at the ROPME he talked with Executive Secretary Dr. Abdulrahman Al-Awadhi about surveying the Gulf and understanding its marine biology. "We have an interest in working together on that, but nothing very specific." He also noted with interest KISR's fisheries project, saying that fish was one of the "most economic sources of food in terms of water consumption." Only 10 liters of fresh water are needed to generate one kilo of fish, while 20,000 liters are needed for a kilo of mea

    We think about these things in terms of mathematics and science, and in Kuwait you have already a very good base with KISR's fisheries program ... so the question is whether or not this an economic opportunity for Kuwait to play a role and develop more fisheries in the region," he said. Asked about cooperation in terms of climate change, he said that scientists always looked at this matter in two parts; adaptation to climate change and then managing climate change.

    He explained that from the standpoint of a biomedical scientist, there was enormous evidence of the consequences of climate change on health. Dengue fever is now expanding north and south because the change in temperature is creating larger areas where mosquitoes can live. Malaria-carrying mosquitoes are now found at higher altitudes because of the same reason.

    Climate change creates changes in the range of microbes and mosquitoes that carry these microbes and viruses, he explained, adding, "I think that first and foremost we need to understand how to mitigate and adapt to climate change, because that's short-term and something you can do something about in five, ten years time." In terms of overall carbon dioxide emission reduction, he said that scientists were urging for "the generation of an agreement that everyone can live with," as well as more research on a
    lternatives and how carbon dioxide emissions could be lowered or re-absorbed.

    Dr. Zerhouni received his medical degree at the University of Algiers School of Medicine before going to America. He completed his residency at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, where he later served as a professor and Chairman of the Radiology Department.

    He has served as a consultant to the White House and to WHO. In 2002, Dr. Zerhouni was appointed as the 15th Director of the National Institute of Health. He rejoined the faculty of Johns Hopkins University in 2008, and became a Senior Fellow in the Global Health program at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
    His research has focused on the development of quantitative imaging methods based on CAT and MRI scanning to diagnose and treat cancer, pulmonary and cardiovascular diseases. His has 212 publications and holds eight patents. Dr. Zerhouni is a member of the Board of Trustees of the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia, and of Khalifa University in the UAE. - KUNA ... MwNDQyNDM0

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    Re: Obligation for Gulf states to improve science 2/20/2010

    Good post, thanks.

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