It has long been known that Japan has a bigger GDP than the entire Muslim world put together, and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) is finally admitting for the first time that such figure might be embarrassing. The group’s Chairman of Higher Education Commission (HEC), Dr. Javaid R. Laghari highlighted the issue while interacting with Education Attaches of other OIC member states in Islamabad, Pakistan this week.
Dr. Laghari said that the 57 members of the OIC have a population of 1.6 billion, 70% of world’s energy resources, and 40% of its natural resources, but the collective GDP of these countries ($4.7 trillion) was less than that of Japan ($4.8 trillion). “The OIC only contributed 8% towards the world GDP but account for 40% of the population living below poverty level. It is upsetting to know that the Muslim World has so far only produced two Nobel Laureates in Chemistry and we spend 0.81% GDP on Research and Development (R&D), compared to the world average of 2.4%.” In total, the Muslim world produced 10 Nobel laureates while the Jews over 150.
But not everything is gloomy, Dr. Laghari also talked about some success stories from the OIC countries in higher education, saying Qatar has doubled its spending on research from 0.8% to a 2.8% of GDP while Saudi Arabia has allocated $20 billion endowment fund to its KAUST university. “Research work is on the rise in Muslim countries and by 2018, it is expected that Iran will stand at number 4, Malaysia at 13, Turkey 18, Pakistan 27, and Egypt 40 in worldwide scientific publication work.”
In term of GDP (Purchasing Power Parity), the European Union has an economy worth $16.1 trillion, the United States $15.7 trillion while China $12.4 trillion. Owing to massive natural endowment, the 57 OIC members were able to export a total $1.329 trillion worth of materials last year, though the figure still trailed that of Germany $1.492 trillion, the United States $1.612 trillion, and China $2.15 trillion. Among the 57 nations, Brunei has the highest HDI (Human Development Index) at 0.855 - though that remain dwarfed by Israel’s 0.900.
Dr. Laghari underlined the importance of acquisition of science and technological knowledge for the promotion of creativity and innovation within the Muslim world. The Executive Director of HEC, Professor Dr. Mukhtar Ahmed informed his audience that the Vice Chancellors Forum 2013 of OIC member states would be organized on 23-24 September at Islamabad. The purpose of this forum would be to provide a platform for university leaders in the OIC member states to forge linkages for initiating joint programmers, promoting research, pooling resources, offering scholarships, promoting exchange of students, and establishing centre of excellence.
Dr. Mukhtar believes that through the collaborative efforts and availing one another experience/expertise in the fields of higher education and science and technology, the OIC countries can work for welfare, progress and prosperity of the Muslim Ummah.