Global-Knowledge-Index-02_photo-by-Angel-Tesorero-1639412940033
Hussain Al Hammadi, Minister of Education (centre) and other officials during a panel discussion at the launch of the Global Knowledge Index 2021 at Expo 2020 Dubai on Monday Image Credit: Angel Tesorero/Gulf News

Dubai: The UAE has emerged number one in the Arab world and 11th globally in the latest Global Knowledge Index (GKI), officials announced on Monday during an event organised by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Knowledge Foundation (MBRF) at the UN Hub at Expo 2020 Dubai.

The event was held under the patronage of Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairperson of the Dubai Culture & Arts Authority (Dubai Culture).

Produced annually since 2017 by UNDP, GKI is a summary measure for tracking the knowledge performance of countries in seven areas, including pre-university education, technical and vocational training, higher education, research, development and innovation, information and communications technology, economy and the general enabling environment.

GKI is also used as a “systematic tool for guiding and informing policy makers, researchers, civil society and the private sector to collaborate on different aspects of policies to foster knowledge-based societies and bridge knowledge gaps”.

Globally, the country level participation at GKI 2021 was at 154, compared to 138 last year.

Jamal bin Huwaireb, CEO, MBRF, said: “The world is not completely out of the grip of COVID-19, but without doubt what stands out as we negotiated these trying times, is the relentless quest for knowledge that led us to develop vaccines as well as remedial and precautionary measures against the virus. Obviously, this continuing focus on knowledge and its triumph is what has led us to bring back careful normalcy in our daily life, and what has enabled this face-to-face meeting today.”

Top spot

Achim Steiner, UNDP administrator said GKI this year covered 154 and 232 indicators.

Switzerland was once again ranked number one in the GKI leaders for 2021 and has retained the first place spot for the fifth consecutive year. Sweden came in second place, followed by US in third spot. Finland and The Netherlands came in fourth and fifth places respectively.

Rounding up the sixth to 10th places were Singapore, Denmark, UK, Norway and Iceland.

UAE’s best performance

The UAE came 11th overall and first in the Arab world, followed by Qatar and KSA at 38th and 40th places globally.

The UAE’s best performance rate was for pre-university education at 60.8 percent, followed by enabling environment (55.3), economy (52.9), technical learning and professional training (51.2), higher education (46.1), ICT (43.3) and research and development and innovation (31.4).

UNDP officials said this year has seen greater participation globally and regionally in GKI with countries like Iraq and Palestine making their debut.

‘Challenging crossroads’

“When the word stands at these challenging crossroads, the increased global participation at GKI is a robust indicator of how knowledge is the single most factor that will help world nations prosper and lead in front for the benefit of posterity with sustainable focus. In this context, the GKI series has developed into an accepted and prudent benchmark in assessing knowledge-based societies and their growth,” said Dena Assaf of the UN.

“It is encouraging to see that in certain key branch indexes that drive knowledge, innovation and education, Arab countries have been faring well and is firmly on the road to progress. Significantly, it shows the positive impact of the awareness that the new world is largely shaped and led by countries that have an edge in knowledge,” said Khaled Abdel-Shafi, Regional Hub Manager, UNDP Regional Bureau for Arab States (RBAS).

Ministerial panel

The launch ceremony was followed by a ministerial panel on ‘Rethinking Policymaking in the Age of Knowledge’, with the participation of Hussain Al Hammadi, Minister of Education; Dr Tarek Shawki, Minister of Education of Egypt; Ahmed Hanandeh, Minister of Digital Economy and Entrepreneurship of Jordan; Dr Fadia Kiwan - Director General, Arab Women Organizationl; and moderated by Dr Hany Torky, Manager, Knowledge Project, UNDP RBAS.

“Over the years the Knowledge Project and GKI have been able to facilitate a strategic and forward looking policy push among countries and decision makers to give more weightage to knowledge-centric development. This shift in developmental vision is imperative in times when sustainability has also become a core issue that needs to be addressed with alacrity, and the institution of GKI has added immense value to this context,” said Dr Torky.

Buy your Expo 2020 Dubai tickets here