Wednesday 3 December 2008 (05 Dhul Hijjah 1429)
Kingdom, US forge science and technology cooperation
Mohammed Rasooldeen | Arab News
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia and the United States yesterday signed an agreement for cooperation in science and technology. Claudia McMurray, assistant secretary of state for oceans, environment and science, inked the agreement with Prince Turki bin Saud, vice president of the King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST).
Speaking after the ceremony, Prince Turki said it was a historic agreement that would take the Kingdom to greater heights in the field of science and technology. Although the duration of the agreement has been limited to 10 years, it could be extended.
Prince Turki said the two parties formed a joint committee, which will meet in March to work out details of the program. “The joint committee will initially focus on research and industrial development in the private sector. We will also attract industrial investments in the process,” he said.
McMurray said the agreement formalizes a decades-long, low-key relationship between the two countries involving numerous US technical agencies, academic institutions and private business.
She added that the agreement would permit greater agency-to-agency cooperation in a range of scientific and technological fields.
“It will enable enhanced cooperation between Saudi Arabia and the United States in priority areas, including science and technology entrepreneurship, materials sciences, water purification, education methods, plant genomics, and other advancements in agriculture, health and biotechnology,” said McMurray.
The agreement will also facilitate mutual efforts to develop national and regional capacities in monitoring and protecting the marine environment, studying and identifying ways to mitigate negative aspects of climate change and learning how to better conserve energy resources.
McMurray said the success of Saudi Arabia’s leadership in advancing science and technology activities in the country and region is evident in the Kingdom’s significant decision to implement a five-year, $30-billion program to upgrade its science and technology infrastructure.
McMurray said the agreement will benefit the US by giving its scientists greater access to new research opportunities, US academic institutions the chance to form new partnerships with centers of learning in the Middle East, and the US science and technology business community new ways to be more globally competitive.