Astana — The first summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on Science and Technology, at the level of head of states and governments kicked off Sunday in Astana, Kazakhstan. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in his capacity as the current chairman of the 13th OIC Summit Conference, President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev, President Mamnoon Hussain of Pakistan, Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev, President of Bangladesh Abdul Hamid, Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, and OIC Secretary General Dr. Yousef A. Al-Othaimeen were among the leaders who attended the opening session.
The Astana Summit marks a historic milestone as it will evolve a unified collective position at the highest level of decision-making in the OIC member states with a view to advancing the different fields of science, technology and innovation, while emphasizing the Muslim world's resolve to promote scientific and technical development.
The summit is important as it underscores the member states' support for scientific fields by demonstrating the Muslim world's knowledge contributions away from the negative stereotypes that have become widespread recently.
The two-day summit is also of significance considering that Muslims make up a quarter of the world's population, and their countries possess abundant natural resources, although many Islamic countries still suffer poverty and diseases. It is therefore imperative to address these challenges using available resources, especially as this summit is only the starting point for finding solutions to the countless problems facing the Muslim world using science and technology.
Statistics have shown that OIC countries are below the 2016 Innovation Index general rate standing at 36.9, particularly in the areas of space, information technologies, pharmaceutical industries and electronics. Muslim countries, however, have a large youth population; a situation that imposes more challenges but also offers greater opportunities. The Summit could contribute to combating extremism and terrorism by reducing unemployment rates and attracting the youth to work in scientific and technological fields.
It is worth mentioning that member states' interest in the areas of science and technology started since the 10th Islamic Summit held in Malaysia in 2003, the 3rd Extraordinary Islamic Summit in Makkah, Saudi Arabia, which adopted the OIC 10-Year Program of Action, and the 13th Islamic Summit Conference held in Istanbul, Turkey in 2016, which launched the 2nd 10-Year Program of Action (2016-2025). The 12th Islamic Summit held in Cairo, Egypt, in 2013 had mandated the OIC General Secretariat and the Standing Committee for Scientific and Technological Cooperation (COMSTECH) to organize the first Islamic Summit on Science and Technology in the history of the OIC. All those summits emphasized the need to attach importance to the areas of science, technology and innovation for the development of socio-economic sectors in OIC countries.
It is worth noting that the Minister of Communications and Information Technology and representative of the President of the Republic, Field Marshal Omer Al-Bashir, Dr. Tahani Abdalla Attiya, is leadins the Sudan's delegation participating at the Summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on Science and Information Technology.