"According to the World Bank knowledge-based economy index (KEI) for 2009, Bahrain is ranked 49 worldwide, the same position as in 2008, while in the Arab world it came third after Qatar and the UAE," wrote Mansoor al Jumari in an opinion piece for the Bahraini newspaper Al Wasat. KEI is a tool that benchmarks each country by assessing four main indicators: economic and institutional, educational, and IT technology incentives. While Bahrain scored high in information technology and telecommunications infrastructure, it stills lags in terms of innovation.
In this context, "We need a national strategy for innovation to be supported by a network of research and development centres with the aim of promoting the country's scientific and technological capabilities. Bahrain needs to encourage its citizens' talents and be the catalyst for new invention patents and trademarks." "This call is not new, but the steps taken into this are less than expected. Lots of efforts have been invested in developing education, which is the locomotive of the innovation, but this is obscured by a common belief that the true development lies in growing real estate investment. This is what propelled sea reclamation projects, which only benefit a narrow segment of society." Bahrain must establish new development zones to host innovative projects and make the best of the land to promote high-yield economic projects.
"For an external observer, much of what is happening in Sudan in the run-up to the upcoming elections in April seems confusing and exciting as well," wrote Ali Ibraheem in a comment piece for the London-based newspaper Al Sharq Al Awsat.
"On the one hand, the president gave up command of the army, while the Sudanese People's Liberation Movement proposed a candidate from the north to run for presidency elections against Omar al Basheer. What is more, The National Islamic Front proposed a candidate from the south for the same purpose. Amid all this political polarisation stood the parliament, heatedly debating the self-determination referendum laws."
The 2011 referendum would likely to determine the political map of Sudan, but before that the presidential elections could give a preview of what the country would undergo as a result. A senior member of the ruling party forecasting Sudan's split called for friendly relations between the two future republics. Other indicators pointing to that prediction were the active preparations of southerners to overhaul their institutions for a new role, while the northerners seemed to have prepared themselves to be in the mood to accept the imminent separation. This is said not to hail the split but to remind Sudanese that they should accept the outcome of the referendum, and avoid all avenues that may lead again to war.
Haiti's devastating earthquake inspired the Israeli journalist Akiva Eldar to compare it with the Gaza calamity, stressing that the Israeli relief action in the Caribbean island would only help shift the attention away from the burden of the Palestinians in Gaza, wrote Mazen Hammad in an opinion article for the Qatari newspaper Al Watan.
Hammad quoted Eldar as sttressing that few care about the fact that 80 per cent of Palestinians live below the poverty line, and that half of Gazans live on humanitarian aid. Moreover, the assault on Gaza produced hundreds of amputees and destroyed the already frail infrastructure. "Many Israelis know that the Israeli team in Porte au Prince pulled a child from the rubble. Few, however, know that there are scores of children who still live under the wreckage of their destroyed homes in Gaza."
The Israeli writer underscored that Haiti's disaster was natural, while Gaza's was manmade. The army does not send food or medical supplies to the Palestinians encircled there; instead it bombards them with rockets. Eldar noted that just before dispatching the Israeli rescue team to Haiti, the Israeli authorities prevented a patient to enter Ramallah in the West Bank to have a cornea transplants. He concluded that the good impression the Israeli doctors gave in Haiti could not hide the atrocities done in Gaza.
"The World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi brings into focus two important facts: the growing importance of clean and renewable sources of energy worldwide, and the prominent role of UAE in this endeavour," observed the UAE newspaper Al Bayan in its editorial. Being a pioneer in this field does not come only from hosting such an international event, but also from taking on the challenge of adopting alternative sources of energy. The UAE, although it is one of the biggest oil producers and exporters, was among the first countries to address the environmental challenges at a time when major industrial polluters elsewhere tend to avoid taking responsibility.
It is this attitude which has led to the failure of the last summit in Copenhagen, and pushed industrial countries not to be heavily involved in investing in alternative energy. The UAE took the lead and started solidifying its vision on environment, such as building a zero-emissions carbon environment, Masdar City, and hosting Irena's headquarters. The present energy summit and the meeting of the Irena preparatory committee, in addition to other agreements, further confirms the UAE's commitment to sustainable energy and sets itself a model for others to follow.
* Digest compiled by Mostapha Elmouloudi @Email:email@example.com