By Ben Flanagan
WEF special: the Dubai ruler's move to tackle 'rampant' illiteracy will mark one of the largest donations in history.
The ruler of Dubai has pledged $10bn to establish an education foundation in what is thought to be one of the largest charitable donations in history.
The new foundation will tackle poor standards of education and literacy in the Arab world, according to a keynote address made on Saturday by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum at the World Economic Forum for the Middle East in Jordan.
Sheikh Mohammed said "the illiteracy that is still rampant in the region’s communities limits the region’s growth and advancement", adding that - alarmingly - more than two in five females in the region cannot read or write.
The entire Arab world accounts for just 0.08% of the world's output of "literary and intellectual books", less than those published in Turkey alone. Spending on scientific research accounts for just 0.02% of GDP, compared with between 2.5% and 5% in developed countries.
The creation of the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation will focus on “research, education and promoting equal opportunities” for the youth, and also be “aimed at enhancing the standing of scholars and intellectuals in the Arab world."
The initiative, the largest of its kind in the region, will establish university research programmes, give scholarships to students, and launch youth leadership programmes.
It will be based in the United Arab Emirates and be supported by “well-known role models”, according to a press statement by a UAE government-linked press agency. The foundation will commence work later this year.
The news follows
a recent World Economic Forum report
that singled out education in the Arab world as a particular topic of concern, especially in