Islamic countries spend little on research and development — less than 0.4 per cent of their gross national product compared to the global average of 2.36 per cent.
Lack of funding is partially to blame, but a bigger problem is a lack of governmental strategies to foster science and prioritise research projects, argues Herwig Schopper in this Nature article.
Muslim nations need drastic changes in their approach to science and technology if they are to compete with the rest of the world.
Political leaders must recognise the importance of research in contributing to the welfare of Muslim societies. Investment in research infrastructure is essential, as is better job security for scientists.
The Islamic world also needs to integrate itself with the international scientific community by participating in regional cooperative projects and establishing global scientific collaborations.
Schopper also believes that science can build trust and promote peace — there is much to gain by embracing the benefits of international scientific collaboration he says.