Parliamentarians’ forum to build bridges with science, technology
December 25, 2017 | 9:47 PM
by Times News Service
Oman, represented by the State Council, yesterday began hosting the three-day forum. – ONA

Muscat: The ‘Regional Forum of Parliamentarians in Science and Diplomacy’ aims to enhance the role of lawmakers in developing policies in support of science and technology; building bridges of cooperation among member states through science diplomacy; and engaging the society in science, technology and innovation issues.

It also aims to deepen cooperation among scientific associations and entities in the member states to support decision-making on science.

The Sultanate, represented by the State Council, yesterday began hosting at its headquarters the three-day forum organised by the Islamic Educational, Scientific Cultural Organization (ISESCO). The forum will conclude on December 27.

The forum was held under the patronage of Dr Yahya bin Mahfoudh Al Mantheri, Chairman of the State Council. The forum was attended by parliamentarians, experts and thinkers from a number of Arab countries.

The forum will hold five sessions to discuss several papers and will issue recommendations to strengthen the role of Arab parliaments in science and diplomacy.

The participants discussed topics related to enhancing regional cooperation in science, technology and innovation; science and diplomacy in the Arab world in the light of globalisation and competition; and obstacles and challenges.

The forum started with speeches by Dr. Khalid Al Saidi, State Council’s Secretary General; Dr Amina Al-Hajri, Director-General of ISESCO; and Khamis bin Said Al Sulaimi, State Council member, who spoke on behalf of Dr. Meshaal bin Fahmi Al-Salami, President of the Arab Parliament. A documentary film on the State Council followed the speeches.

Dr. Al Saidi said that the Sultanate’s participation in the forum comes within the framework of its support for the joint Islamic and Arab work, in line with the supreme concern of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said for all that would serve the nation’s causes and promote its prosperity.

Oman is hosting the forum as part of the constructive cooperation between the State Council and ISESCO, which has proved itself as an effective international Islamic entity. ISESCO has been working for more than three decades to strengthen cooperation among member states and encourage their integration in the fields of education, science and culture, in accordance with the Islamic civilisational perspective.

It represents the foundation of the organisation, inspired by the motivation to contribute to the progress of human civilisation and provide them with a value system that supports their development. He added that ISESCO has become one of the world’s most prestigious organisations because of its wide membership and the universality of its impact. This forum is a reflection of the organisation’s relentless endeavour to build a sustainable system of scientific development.

The forum has ambitious goals to achieve, especially enhancing the role of parliamentarians in science diplomacy, ensuring the adoption of the necessary measures and legislating laws that contribute to scientific and technical empowerment, and strengthening the bridges of regional cooperation and exchange of experiences in these vital fields. It also aims to raise the community interest on issues of science, technology and innovation.

He further added, “It goes without saying that science, technology and innovation in the Arab region still needs more attention and support to keep abreast of the aspirations, and match the human and material potentials that are abundant in our Arab region. This can only be achieved by adopting ways to improve in these areas and by overcoming difficulties that hinder its development and activate its expected contribution to the renaissance of Arab and Islamic societies. In this context, the role of the parliamentary councils, whose functions in contemporary political life are limited to legislation and control, is becoming more comprehensive. It raises hopes for the role of the Arab parliaments in achieving these lofty goals.”

Dr Al Saidi referred to the efforts made by the Council of Oman to support the scientific renaissance witnessed in Oman. These, he said, would encourage scientific research and innovation through the exercise of its powers and competencies, which include submitting proposals and studies in all fields that aim to accelerate the pace of science and knowledge and open up to new developments, thus enhancing the Sultanate’s modern and renewable knowledge.

The National Strategy for Scientific Research in the Sultanate aims to promote comprehensive development on scientific bases and establish the Research Council, as part of the Sultanate’s efforts to support innovation and dissemination of culture in society. The National Strategy for Innovation was adopted, which establishes an integrated and effective national innovation system that meets the aspirations of sustainable social and economic development, and is in line with global trends.

Dr. Al-Hajri conveyed the greetings of Dr Abdulaziz Othman Altwaijri, Director General of ISESCO.

She expressed her happiness for the joint holding of the forum by ISESCO and the State Council. She said it would focus on strengthening regional cooperation through science diplomacy and support, and develop the role of Arab parliaments, their contribution to the development of member states, as well as the development of Arab policies to create high quality research institutions at various levels. It will also promote the use of diplomacy to advance scientific objectives and programmes to help build linkages between countries to achieve sustainable development in the Arab region. She also commended the cooperation between ISESCO and the Sultanate in the fields of education, science, culture and communication.

ISESCO organised the first parliamentary in 2003 and since then, has organised a number of forums globally, which aim to promote science, technology and innovation policies among member states to keep up with the priorities, relevant national and regional mechanisms and legislation.

ISESCO has been UNESCO’s main partner in organising the Inter-Parliamentary Forum on Science, Technology and Innovation in the Mediterranean region since 2015, which included scientists, parliamentarians, media and scientists to share experiences related to future developments in science, technology and innovation in solving problems by enhancing the roles and functions of parliamentary assemblies.

She added that the role of the parliamentary committees was very important to mobilise human and financial resources at the highest level and direct the attention of decision makers to translating the vision into reality. This enables strengthening of efforts and support in various fields, as well as the procedures that should be taken to better evaluate the strategies and legislation through performance indicators and partnership governments, parliaments, universities, civil society, the media and dialogue with stakeholders. It is also useful to strengthen the roles of the scientific committees in parliaments and improve their effectiveness in contributing to national development plans based on the content of the reference document prepared by ISESCO and submitted to the World Summit on Sustainable Development, Johannesburg (2002).

Al Sulaimi conveyed the greetings of Dr. Meshaal bin Fahmi Al-Salami and his wishes to the forum, and thanked ISESCO for the invite extended to the Arab Parliament to participate in the forum. He appreciated the role of the Sultanate under the leadership of His Majesty in promoting and supporting joint Arab and Islamic action, and thanked the State Council for hosting such an important and effective forum.

The speech outlined the role of the Arab Parliament and its initiatives, which reflect its objectives and competencies, stipulated in its statutes. It touched on the subject of scientific research and information and communication technology, as well as all aspects of the digital information architecture, which have become an integral part of the security of countries, besides their progress and development, and is based on the firm belief in the right of the Arab nation to build a scientific and civilisational renaissance. It noted that the Arab Parliament emphasises the role of information technology and innovation as the main engines of economic growth in the Arab region, along with the development of official diplomatic work, popular and civil, because of the serious challenges facing the Arab region, Arab issues and interests. The Arab Parliament operates in accordance with the conviction affirmed by the Arab leaders through the resolutions issued at the Amman Summit in 1980, on linking Arab national security to the progress achieved at the economic level and the promotion of economic relations and intra-Arab trade.

The speech mentioned that the Arab Parliament attached great importance to technological development and its relation to economic development, as one of the pillars to promote sustainable development in the Arab region. It also valued the Arab National Security Document, which the Parliament has studied and made recommendations on, particularly through the Second Conference of the Arab Parliament and the Presidents of Arab Parliaments and Councils in 2017, and submitted to the Council of the League of Arab States at the summit level held in Jordan in 2017.

It has also enabled through the Cairo Declaration the meeting to discuss the current challenges of the Arab nation, issued by the First Conference of the Arab Parliament, and the Presidents of Arab Parliaments and Councils in February 2016. It was later submitted to the Council of the League of Arab States, held in Mauritius in 2016, and the results of the symposium ‘Arab National Security’, organised by the Arab Parliament in October 2014, was raised to the League of Arab States.

The stand of the Arab Parliament to cooperate and coordinate with the Organisation of Education, Culture and Islamic Sciences to achieve its goals and objectives that will advance the progress of the Arab nation was reinforced.

The session included the following presentations:

Dr. Hossam Badrawi, a prominent physician and politician, and President of the Badrawi Foundation for Education and Development, presented a paper titled, ‘Role of Arab Parliament in politics related to science, technology and innovation’.

Hatim Hamed Issa Al Tai, State Council member, presented a paper titled, ‘Omani Parliamentary diplomacy and its role in supporting regional scientific cooperation’.

Dr. Yousef Avdellat from Jordon presented a paper titled ‘Role of science, technology and innovation in effecting sustainable development’.

Dr. Ali Al Kutaish from Bahrain presented a paper that displayed the case study of Bahraini experience.

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