The Ministry of Planning and the King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) issued a joint statement today explaining the Kingdom's National Policy for Science and Technology, which was approved by the Council of Ministers yesterday. The statement said the policy aims at promoting levels of scientific potential and national technology as well as achieving proper investment of the resources available, to take advantage of opportunities offered in today's fast-changing global economy, and to allow Saudi products to compete successfully in international markets. The policy stresses the provision of an atmosphere conducive to acquiring foreign while developing local technology, especially in vital and strategic fields such as water desalination and petrochemical industries as well as defense and national security.
Preparations for the National Policy for Science and Technology started in 1997, and has to date involved three phases: studying the current situation of science and technology in various development sectors; foreseeing their future in the Kingdom by the year 2020 in priority sectors such as water, new resources, electronics, telecommunications, information technology, agriculture, foodstuffs, petrochemicals, space, transportation, environment, health, construction, energy, education, administration and scientific and technical cooperation; and formulating the elements of the policy. Taking part in these three phases were 220 officials, experts and national specialists, and 35 government bodies. The fourth and final phase, to begin immediately, will be dedicated to setting up detailed strategies, and will deal with various mechanisms and programs necessary for execution of the policy.
A timetable has been set up to increase funding for research and development gradually to reach 1.6 percent of the GDP in 2020. The policy recommends incentives to encourage the private sector to invest in activities of science and technology, and urges the allocation of a fixed percentage of private and governmental institutions to finance research, training and development.