While emerging countries such as China, India, and Brazil have long been associated with the global scientific community, the presence of Iran, Turkey, Tunisia, and Israel in this very private club may come as a surprise.
A recent study published by the Royal Society, Britain’s national academy of science, reveals that “rapidly” emerging scientific nations, of which several are in the Islamic world, are now embarked on the fast train of science R&D. These emerging countries could soon challenge the scientific superpowers of the West.
Iran, for instance, is the fastest growing country in the world when it comes to the number of scientific papers published in journals. The government of Tehran plans to allocate 4% of its GDP to scientific R&D before 2030. By comparison, the EU average budget for scientific R&D is 1.8% of its GDP. Critics may say that this money will be going toward nuclear research. But the fact is that more and more US scientists are collaborating with their Iranian counterparts on multiple science projects. The number of joint US-Iranian scientific papers published over the past 12 years has increased from 300 to 1,600. And when it comes to science, Iran will go as far as cooperate with its archenemy, Israel. Both countries are working hand in hand on a scientific light source project in Jordan.
But other nations such as Tunisia and Turkey are also thriving when it comes to science. Turkey’s scientific R&D spending has increased six-fold since 1995 and the number of researchers has increased by 43% over the past 12 years. With an R&D budget of 1.25% of its GDP, Tunisia hopes to increase its pharmaceutical exports five-fold over the next five years.
The Royal Society’s report concludes by stating that there are over 7 million researchers in the world today and that the global annual budget allocated to R&D has increased by 45% since 2002. With the arrival of emerging nations, these numbers will surely increase even further. To be continued.