Skip to main content

Innovation and technology for advancing the knowledge-based economy in the Arab region

Amman, Jordan

The Information Communication Technology (ICT) revolution which began nearly two decades ago changed the global landscape of socio-economic development. The innovation of ICTs has increased our capacity to gather and analyze information, coupled with a vast increase in data creation and information dissemination. Knowledge has emerged as a main commodity and the driving force behind productivity and economic growth in the 21st century, ultimately leading to the rise of knowledge-based economies (KBEs). Technology and innovation were the impetus behind the development of KBEs, placing data, information and knowledge in the realm of future innovators. In such economy, continuous growth can be sustained through research, development and innovation (RDI).
While the ICT revolution has helped most Arab states in their transition towards information societies, the transformation from information to knowledge societies has been a regional and global challenge. Although KBE has been developing in some parts of the Arab region (especially in GCC), it remains lagging behind other regions of the world. Geopolitical challenges, coupled with dwindling socio-economic development prospects, especially in its least developing countries, and high unemployment rates have further hampered the transformation to KBEs in the region. 
Major hurdles facing the Arab region remain to be tackled before any ongoing transition extends towards sustainable, inclusive, and gender-responsive socio-economic development. Issues such as high illiteracy rates in some countries, outdated educational systems, disconnected innovation systems, inadequate spending on RDI, and in some cases local cultural and legal barriers make the roadmap to KBEs in many Arab states a wishful headline disconnected from reality. 
The main objective of this Expert Group Meeting (EGM) is to explore the role innovation and technology play in building KBEs in the Arab region. As such, the meeting will compile identified needs and priorities of the Arab region and discuss viable approaches for harnessing innovation and technology for the transformation to KBEs, while examining possible linkages with Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and ways for advancing the development agenda beyond 2015.

The topics that will be discussed during the course of the meeting are:

  1. The role of Technology, and RDI in realising equitable and gender-responsive economic development, in particular the SDGs.
  2. Governments' policies and strategies as facilitators in the establishment of an innovation ecosystem.
  3. Establishing an adequate ecosystem conducive to promoting cross-sectoral innovation, including intellectual property management systems, and mechanisms vital for encouraging innovation and promoting entrepreneurship.
  4. Institutions of higher education and research and development as essential providers of skilled human capital, needed for the development of knowledge-based economies.
  5. Assessment frameworks and benchmarking models for measuring the development status of KBEs.
  6. Best practices in research, development and innovation (RDI) in the public and private sector especially in SMEs.
For more information on the website please contact:

Ms. Nibal Idlebi Chief, Innovation Section Technology for Development Division, ESCWA PO Box 11-8575, Beirut, Lebanon Tel: +961-1-981540 Fax: +961-1-981510 Email:

Mr. Nael Almulki National Officer, ESCWA Technology Centre Technology for Development Division Royal Scientific Society, Amman, Jordan Tel: +962-6-5343346 Fax: +962-6-5341092 Email:

Ms. Hania Dimassi Research Assistant, Innovation Section Technology for Development Division, ESCWA PO Box 11-8575, Beirut, Lebanon Tel: +961-1-981546 Fax: +961-1-981510 Email:

F. Session IV: National Initiatives for promoting Innovation in the Arab region
J. Session VIII: Recommendations and Conclusion
Please refer to Final report of the meeting