Organized by the Arab Open University (AOU) in cooperation with the Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Services (KFAS), the International Conference on Innovation and Economic Diversification in GCC’s National Developmental Plans IED18 opened Tuesday under the patronage and presence of Prof. Moudhi Al-Humoud, Former Minister of Education and Higher Education.
Attended by Prof. Mohammad Al-Zakri, AOU President, Prof. Naif Al-Mutiri, Director of AOU Kuwait Branch and Chairman of the Conference, the two-day conference brings together more than 37 researchers, policymakers, and practitioners from different backgrounds to present their research, views and insights in the field of innovation and economic diversification.
At the opening of the conference, Prof. Al-Humoud delivered a speech where she said, “The Gulf region is passing through a difficult time due to current political and economic unrest. This has had a great impact on the economies of the countries in the region on one hand and on the prices of oil, being the main commodity in the region. This has resulted in the reduction of these countries' income and influenced its economic and development plans. Therefore, the development of other economic alternatives has become an urgent need and placed greater focus on studies, research and exchange of views and expertise between the Gulf citizens and their Arab brothers as well as their friends around the world.”
Prof. Al-Humoud added, “Universities, being the cradle for thought, innovation, and creativity, are primarily supposed to undertake this enormous task, in collaboration with research and finance institutions. The AOU has hastened to shoulder this paramount responsibility, acting upon its reputation across the Arab World and powered by its goals and objectives outlined by its founder and chairman of its Board of Trustees, HRH Prince Talal Bin Abdulaziz, in cooperation with KFAS, which has been an active partner on cooperation programmes that have existed for years.”
Prof. Moudhi also pointed out that this conference is taking place at a time when Kuwait is reveling in the festivities of its national and liberation anniversaries, which proudly symbolize the ability of the Arab individual in the Gulf and in Kuwait to survive ordeals and participate actively in the reconstruction of his country. On this occasion, she extended her congratulations to H.H. the Amir, H.H. the Crown Prince, and to the Kuwaiti people.
In a speech to mark the occasion, Prof. Al-Zakri stressed on the importance of the cooperation between AOU and KFAS that reflects the educational and research institutes’ interest in issues of innovation and economic diversification through highlighting the best practices and applications in this field. He added, “Efforts made towards achieving economic diversification and its innovation drive all plans that aim to accomplish comprehensive sustainability.” He also said the conference’s aim is to shed light on the efforts of the GCC in terms of National Development Plans and support these efforts. Prof. Al-Zakri pointed out that AOU, represented by its headquarters and many branches supported by Arab states, focuses on investing in the most precious asset which is the human being, and that is the AOU philosophy and mission of its founder HRH Prince Talal Ibn Abdul-Aziz.
Then, the Chairman of the Conference, Prof. Al-Mutiri, delivered a speech where he said that the conference came to express to the AOU’s faith in the need to develop knowledge and promote research potential based on international quality standards. He also said that the response to the conference has been great as there were 40 papers addressing the conference’s various fields of interest including economic diversification and innovation in GCC countries, entrepreneurship in GCC countries, managerial practices and sustainable innovation in GCC countries, and educational institutions and innovation in GCC countries. Finally, he expressed his gratitude and appreciation to KFAS and to the members of the conference committee for their sincere efforts.