Thank you, Sima. It is a great pleasure to join you all this morning. It’s unfortunate that the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation could not be here with us today. I am pleased to be here on behalf of the managing director, Mr. Jamal bin Huweireb.

Excellencies, colleagues,

Esteemed Audience,

I would like to start my statement today by thanking Ms. Sima Bahous and the members of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the Regional Office of Arab States for the longstanding and fruitful partnership between Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation and UNDP in building and developing knowledge at the national, regional and international levels.

It gives me great pleasure to join you today in introducing the Arab Knowledge Index which monitors the status of knowledge in the Arab world and aims at knowledge development. This important work is very timely to our region which is in dire need for achieving development and enabling its youth to effectively participate in the local and global knowledge markets and address the current challenges.

The launch of the Arab Knowledge Index reflects the depth of partnership between the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation and the United Nations Development Programme, and culminates their continuous efforts and constructive cooperation in promoting development and knowledge in the Arab world.

Knowledge and innovation are two words that have enjoyed perhaps the fastest ascendancy into the UN lexicon of recent years. This is because we have made knowledge and innovation both aspirations and indicators of progress, and also for their strong relevance to sustainable development.  People with access to information and education are empowered to make more informed choices and have more options. Societies also benefit from these resources, gaining resilience and strengthening pathways to dignified, fulfilling lives for all, especially for the young people, who represent a significant element in building knowledge societies. That is why we view knowledge from a development lens.

The UAE values are based on its own experience and the wise vision of its founders, who established a culture of investment in future generations, enabling our nation to shift in three generations from limited education opportunities to one in which most students earn a university degree. That approach has fostered a culture of openness and intellectual curiosity in the areas of technology, environment and governance.

The question of how a society advances its values, in this case knowledge and innovation, is a challenge. The question here is what does knowledge and innovation look like from a policy perspective? And how can success be measured?

That is why the Arab Knowledge Index is such an important contribution to decision-makers and policy makers throughout the region, not least in the context of Agenda 2030. Also the dominant demographic reality of our societies draws a strong focus on policies to provide young people with opportunities to contribute to the development of the societies they live in.

We believe that the Index provides a substantive Arab contribution to global thinking on these issues. Though the detail is specific to the Arab world — its evaluation criteria and categories can be tailored to the specific contexts and demands of other regions. The Index provides powerful opportunities to measure challenges, gaps and our successes over time, and can be regarded as one of the innovations devised for the implementation of the sustainable development agenda for 2030, helping countries to measure knowledge in their societies and identify actions to be prioritized.

In conclusion, on behalf of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation, I would like to thank the United Nations Development Programme on this important achievement, wishing all success for its efforts and partnership with our foundation to launch more initiatives contributing to the development of our Arab societies.