The Gulf cooperation council states (GCC) are moving towards creating concrete bases of Knowledge-based economy and industry in a nascent shift from profit-based economy to a more diversified economy, a step that has been highly considered by the GCC governments recently to achieve sustainable developments plans. The GCC General Secretariat has accordingly decided to back scientific, technological research and stimulate innovative ideas for an even better Knowledge-based economy, making a good use of the recent innovations and new inventions for the aims of sustainable development. The GCC industrial map, recently launched by the Gulf Organization for Industrial Consulting (GOIC) showed that many Gulf countries are heading towards enhancing Knowledge-based economy and have indeed achieved recognizable results - including Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. The map forecasted that Qatar, along with Saudi Arabia and the UAE, would be ready to shift to Knowledge-based economy and industry by year 2020. It also unveiled many promising future industries and what it called "absent industries" that are not yet produced in some GCC states despite the increasing demand and having the needed resources for their production.
The map suggested that the GCC states could make use of the available resources to start on the absent industries, owning around 40% of world oil reserves, 23% of world natural gas reserves and being a hydrocarbon-rich region that is a major factor to push the production forward. The map highlighted that chemical industry is one of the most significant absent industries in the GCC countries as study points to a decrease in the production of catalysts in this industry, and estimated the import volume of these materials at about one billion dollars annually according to the latest statistics, noting that their absence is relatively connected to the absence of the development of scientific research. Acrinols, one of the primary materials used in plastic industry, is an example of the absent materials in the chemical industry due to the absence of the needed technical methods to produce it. Recent statistical data showed that 20,000 tons of Acrinols have been imported within the Gulf region in 2009 and are expected to rise to 50,000 tons during next 5 years costing over $1 Billion. Also, the production of chemicals used in producing Aluminum, Water desalination, and construction materials were among the most prominently absent industries. The map showed as well a significant absence in the food industries within the GCC states as they have been importing up to 90% of their food needs.
It indicated that a clear gap between the percentage of food demand and the GCC's food production stems from the lack of research work carried out to improve food industries within the region. The study encouraged the GCC states to create effective strategic partnerships between their research centers and industrial firms in the field of scientific research and to work jointly, emphasizing the need to increase the amount of budget allocated for research purposes to enhance the production processes within each of them. The study also identified the key issues hindering the progress of scientific research in the field of industry such as the absence of both private sector's funding and a GCC's development strategy, besides the lack of some industrial firms' awareness of the role of the scientific research in developing an industry. Speaking of the possible solutions, GOIC's Secretary General Abdulaziz bin Hamad Al-Aqeel emphasized in a statement to Qatar News Agency (QNA) the role of the development banks and funds in the GCC countries in funding the Knowledge-based economy sector and providing the infrastructure facilities and specialized industrial units for this sector. He noted that a wide range of initiatives have already been taken by many business figures and by the private sector in the GCC to enter into the Knowledge-based economy sector.
According to the study, the government's efforts to enhance scientific research in the field of industries in GCC states are relatively limited compared to other countries that saw economic and industrial prosperity. The percentage of GCC states contribution to knowledge-based economy was 0.2% as compared to 4 - 4.5 % within the developed countries. The map however saw Qatar achieving significant accomplishments in scientific research field and improving research centers, according to the global indicators of knowledge-based economy, global competitiveness indicators, and research centers survey results. Qatar came as the top country generously spending on scientific research, allocating 2.8% of its GDP to endorse research and development programs since 2009, an amount surpassing the developed countries' allocated amount of GDP (2.5%) to support the same field. Qatar also allocated special funds for expanding scientific research, and managed to attract a wide range of prestigious universities so it could pioneer in the areas of education and research. With the biggest entity investing in the field education and research, Qatar Science and Technology Park (QSTP), Qatar managed to attract up to 33 technology-related firms from around the globe. HE Minister of Energy and Industry Dr. Mohammad bin Saleh al Sada has mentioned earlier that the petrochemicals industry was the main benefiting sector from the development taking place in the field of research and technology, rendering it the most dynamic and safe industry in terms of production and transportation.
It has been noted that the local demand and the available raw materials are not by themselves sufficient to carry out an industrial projects but also experience and systematic skills are much needed. GOIC has been recently devoting some attention to the Knowledge-based economy sector, being a key factor to face the current GCC's industry challenges and to accomplish their future visions. It also considers the Knowledge-based economy as one of the available strategic options to enhance the industry sector within the GCC states and to increase the value of its outcomes. From that vein, GOIC decided "The Knowledge-based economy and the modern technologies" to be the theme of the 13th Gulf industrialists' conference that took place earlier this year 2012 in a bid to encourage the GCC member states to adopt the idea of knowledge-based economy and industry, highlighting the needed requirements for its adoption. Qatar has hosted the first Gulf conference on Knowledge Based Industries and Nanotechnology Conference that worked on identifying the key techniques and methods to enable the GCC states to spearhead towards knowledge-based industries.