Arab world underinvests in digital economy, says Arab academic leader

Salama said this will require a shift in thinking about education to prepare students for a new kind of economy.

The knowledge economy does not need fixed skills but continuous learning of new skills to adapt to a changing labor market, he said. More than 50 percent of jobs in the future will be automated, the remaining jobs are mostly unknown as they will be a new technology-related economic activity.

Low research expenses

Salama also criticized the lack of investment in scientific research in Arab countries, where spending does not exceed 1% of total income while it is closer to 3% in Europe and North America. The private sector provided 3% of total financing in Arab countries, 52-70% in developed countries and 80% in Japan.

Salama said that the Arab world must find a formula for joint Arab institutional cooperation between the sectors of education, scientific research, economy, finance and investment and technology companies so that they are all pushing towards digital economic development.

“Student expectations are changing in today’s digital age, as students want to choose what they learn and how, where and when they learn. Online courses or blended formats are becoming new ways to meet their individual needs and interests,” he said.

The future of education

On Wednesday, the first day of the three-day forum, other speakers discussed ideas on improving education and learning opportunities at all levels.

Asmaa Alfadala, Director of Research and Development at WISE, the Global Innovation Summit for Education, established by the Qatar Foundation, spoke about lessons learned from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Alfadala said she hopes teaching in schools will never revert to pre-pandemic methods, as it has prompted teachers to try new methods. Children did not learn in the same way.

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