There has been an increasing talk on the feasibility of opening branches for foreign universities in Arab countries, especially GCC ones. Some criticised this approach and considered it as a form of cultural imperialism.
I believe those who criticised the move have extremely exaggerated the issue with no consideration of the scientific and developmental role that can be played by the branches of these universities. We must take into consideration that some of these universities are prestigious ones with rich contributions to the human development for more than 200 years.
We should get rid of the colonial complex and look at the global developments positively, that of benefiting from the huge scientific and technological progress and utilising it to develop the economies of our region.
Education tops the list of advantages of the scientific and technological advances, as it needs to be developed to meet the requirements of the rapid economic growth, especially following the World Bank Report 2008 that highlighted the decline in the level of education in the Arab world.
Another important point is that developing education will help us not to depend on others to meet the needs of various economic sectors of qualified and professional cadres.
In the past, the Arab Islamic Civilisation would not have made the great progress it had achieved in various fields without getting closer to the Greek Civilisation and translating books, dispatching students and bringing scientists and professionals to Arab countries.
In turn, the Western civilisation would not have achieved the rapid progress it made during the Renaissance era, without getting influenced by the Arab Islamic Civilisation and benefiting from its rich culture and prominent universities and institutes. By this, it managed to transfer the rich Arab experience and science to European countries.
Thus, European philosophers do not overstate when they speak about Ibn Rushd, the famous Arab philosopher, with great admiration and considering him the spiritual father of the modern philosophy.
We now see the opposite transfer of technology from the advanced West to the Arab world, but it happens under different circumstances and by means that were not available in the past thanks to the tremendous progress in the information age and digital economy.
Since today's conditions are totally different to those in the past, we should deal with them differently and without historic sensitivities that led to tensions in the last century.
Hence came the first step in the right direction for some GCC countries, which have been trying to improve education for the past few years, and achieved good results on more than one level, such as opening branches of highly acclaimed educational institutes including the Sorbonne in Abu Dhabi and the Cornell Medical School in Doha.
With regards to translation, the Emirates Centre for Studies and Strategic Research has a leading role, which resulted in the translation of dozens of scientific and cultural books.
They include important economic books that explain the current economic developments in the world, which will have a deep impact in the future especially in the Gulf region that the whole world is increasingly relying on for power.
Those who criticise opening branches of well-known foreign universities are controlled by one thought or a single emotion and cannot see the whole picture.
They also do not take into consideration the openness and the new connections between different countries, or the increasing economic competitiveness, which calls for developing education as an utmost priority.
The writer is a UAE economic expert.