A new analysis has retrospectively examined close to 40,000 academic papers published in English worldwide by United Arab Emirates researchers between 1998 and 2017 to chart the rapid rise of research produced in that country over the past two decades. The quality of research has risen too, according to some metrics, but at a considerably slower rate.
“The U.A.E. as a whole, but especially Dubai and Abu Dhabi, are determined to move from a net consumer of technologies to a creator or innovator of technology,” says Senthil Nathan, a former deputy vice chancellor of the Higher Colleges of Technology in Abu Dhabi and the managing director of Edu Alliance, a higher education consultancy firm based in the United Arab Emirates. “The desire to move away from a hydrocarbon economy to a knowledge economy is also a motivation behind this growth.”
Outperforming Its Neighbors
The United Arab Emirates is not alone in wanting to diversify its economy through research. Other Arab League countries, particularly those in the Gulf, have a similar goal. (See a related article, “The Difficulties of Spinning Research Ideas Into Gold.”)
But according to the recent analysis, published in the journal Heliyon, the Emirates are slightly ahead of the pack with an average year-on-year growth of 15 percent. Gulf Cooperation Council countries, meanwhile, saw their research output grow by 12 percent each year and Arab League countries as a whole averaged an annual growth rate of 11 percent.
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The research output was measured by the total number of papers published in peer-reviewed journals across all disciplines, including the humanities and social sciences.