Abu Dhabi: Shaikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, has criticised the lack of funding of scientific research in the Arab world.

He also said students in UAE state universities will continue to be instructed in both Arabic and English languages.

"We will not deny our young generation the opportunity to interact with the outside world in English, today's language of science and technology," he told journalists who are visiting the UAE at the invitation of the National Media Council on the occasion of the 38th National Day.

Shaikh Nahyan described the development of the UAE since the establishment of the federation as "a miracle" in all sectors- education, health, housing, environment, agriculture.

"Shaikh Zayed laid the foundations of the country adopting human development as an essential element of renaissance. Thus he gave prime importance to education without making any discrimination between men and women," he explained.

National development

The UAE investment in education is aimed "to support the overall national development taking place under the leadership of President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and General Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces".

Shaikh Nahyan said the UAE is proud of its national heritage and Arab identity.

He said, however, this doesn't mean denying students the chance to learn other languages, such as English, which he described as "today's language of science and technology".

He was replying to a question on the recent debate at the Federal National Council (FNC) over the need to protect the Arabic language and to make it the primary language of instruction in state universities.

He said UAE universities continue to do very well, noting that the UAE University was recently ranked at number 274 among the most important 500 places of learning in the world.

He also stressed the UAE's support for gender equality in education and employment. Quoting official statistics, Shaikh Nahyan said that girls outnumber boys in schools and higher educational institutions, colleges and universities.

But he said there is an urgent need to allocate more funds to support scientific research in the UAE and other Arab countries.

"Unfortunately, we have no real funding to speak of," he said, adding that meetings of Arab ministers of education on the development of research were futile.

"I stopped attending those meetings long time ago. They are useless," he added.

Should a curriculum be taught in a country's mother tongue? Or should subjects be taught in a universal language? Are there subjects that work better when taught in a certain language?