Dubai: Despite unprecedented circumstances, the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Knowledge Foundation (MBRF) made significant achievements in 2020, tailoring its knowledge projects to cope with last year’s rapid developments and continue to upskill young people and spread knowledge around the world.
MBRF concluded the year with the launch of the Global Knowledge Index (GKI) 2020, in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The index covered 138 countries and featured 199 variables – 96 originals and 103 newly developed by experts – from more than 30 databases and international sources.
The UAE maintained its position among the global top 20 on GKI 2020, advancing three ranks from last year to come in 15th place. The UAE maintained its spot on the economy variable, ranking second in the world for the fourth year in a row. It also ranked 10th in the world for pre-university education, and first across 15 sectoral indexes, sections, sub-sections, and variables.
“The accomplishments that we have made at the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Knowledge Foundation are a manifestation of the wise leadership’s forward-thinking vision, which prioritises knowledge as the cornerstone for the prosperity and progress of nations,” said MBRF’s CEO His Excellency Jamal bin Huwaireb. “Our Chairman His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum directed us to support the establishment of a knowledge-based society, foster young people’s potential, and invest in knowledge infrastructure.”
“The Foundation has achieved remarkable successes over the years, establishing itself as an influential player in the effort to produce and promote knowledge, not only in the UAE but around the world,” H.E. continued. “We were able to provide support for many young people in the Arab world and beyond to develop their skills and expand their knowledge in various fields. This year, we intend to double our efforts and develop innovative plans that enrich the knowledge sector and contribute to the UAE’s sustainable development plans.”
Literacy Challenge Forum
In February 2020, MBRF organised the Literacy Challenge Forum, gathering experts and stakeholders in the literacy and education sectors to exchange ideas and set plans for cooperation towards eradicating illiteracy. The event included a portion to honour individuals who have made significant contributions in that regard. The forum came out with the Dubai Declaration for Literacy, which offers a road map towards literacy in the Arab world and was approved by the Arab League Educational, Cultural, and Scientific Organisation.
As the UAE rolled out precautionary measures to curb the spread of COVID-19, MBRF held 15 virtual KnowTalks that brought together prominent experts in the field, along with thousands of viewers from around the world. The sessions sought to promote the exchange of knowledge and drive sustainable development; they addressed key issues in the sector, discussed best practices and global experiences, and offered solutions to the challenges standing in the way of progress, sustainable development, and the wellbeing of people in many nations in light of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Furthermore, 2020 saw the launch of MBRF’s Digital Knowledge Hub, which seeks to provide a comprehensive digital platform that facilitates self-learning and enriches Arabic content on the internet. The Hub supports online Arabic content by creating Arab platforms to publish and promote it, offering readers access to aggregated and enjoyable knowledge content that caters to the fast pace of modern life. It also provides an audio library with a sizeable collection of audiobooks, resources, and content for People of Determination, allowing them to easily access and listen to books and publications or download them to their own devices.
In parallel, a campaign titled Invest in Knowledge was launched to encourage researchers, students, and all members of the community to use the Digital Knowledge Hub to acquire knowledge as social distancing measures were implemented. The Hub allows users to conveniently access knowledge using their smart devices and without using paper.
The Foundation carried on with more virtual activities in 2020, including training workshops as part of the Dubai International Programme for Writing focusing on short stories, as well as children’s and young adult literature. The workshops welcomed 25 trainees from across the Arab world to train in creative writing methods, supervised by prominent Arab experts to explore various knowledge and creative writing topics. Nine creative young participants graduated from the workshops, having completed nine story collections that met high literary standards. Moreover, six authors wrote six young adult novels, while another 10 young writers completed 10 children’s stories.
In December, MBRF held the eighth annual ‘Bil Arabi’ event under the slogan ‘Bil Arabi: The Language of the World’ to great enthusiasm from the public around the world. The event aims to promote the use of the Arabic language on social networking sites and coincides with UN Arabic Language Day on December 18 of every year.
For its part, the Foundation’s House of Poetry organised 15 poetry nights, most of which were virtual. They included an evening for Emirati women poets, ‘Al Shilla’ poets evening and the National Poets’ Forum, as well as an evening for poets from around the Arab world, and separate evenings for Kuwaiti, Omani, and Saudi poets. Furthermore, the series included ‘Majd Al Watan’ night, which brought several national poets together, UAE Flag Day poetry night for Emirati poets, poetry talent show for students at the Higher Colleges of Technology, poetry talent show for school students, and a poetry night for women poets from around the Arab World. The virtual poetry nights concluded with two major events on the occasion of the UAE National Day in Burj Park Square opposite Burj Khalifa, which welcomed a large live audience, all while implementing precautionary measures and social distancing.
MBRF signed a partnership agreement with the Vodafone Egypt Foundation for Community Development, which seeks to facilitate the exchange of experiences and knowledge content between the two parties, allowing MBRF to reach a wider audience. The Foundation also signed a cooperation protocol with the ‘Al Masry Al Youm’ foundation to strengthen cooperation towards spreading knowledge among the youth of the region by relying on their ability to communicate via all print and digital media.
MBRF’s ‘Knowledge Lounge’ held a total of 170 sessions since the beginning of 2020 in which 187 books were discussed. It also organised live online sessions attended by 5000 viewers, covering topics such as poetry, translation, knowledge management in crises and disasters, and awareness management in addressing crises. On another note, the Foundation cooperated with the UNDP to organise a virtual forum titled ‘COVID-19: Accelerating the Steps Towards the Knowledge Society’ to discuss various knowledge issues and accelerating the pace towards building knowledge societies, based on the lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic. The forum included 10 sessions presented by 21 experts with more than 2,800 people from over 40 countries in attendance.
Furthermore, a seminar titled ‘The Coronavirus Pandemic and its Impact on Literacy Efforts’ was held online, in collaboration with the UNESCO Regional Office and the UNDP to mark International Literacy Day and discuss literacy and adult education. Another event on the agenda was a session on ‘The Role of Knowledge Management in Achieving the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)’, in collaboration with the British Standards Institution, which showcased the UAE’s pioneering experience in addressing the challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Knowledge Foundation offered the Oxford-Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Graduate Scholarship to a group of students to complete their higher education at Oxford University.
Meanwhile, the Foundation’s knowledge platforms saw a surge in views in 2020, where the Digital Knowledge Hub recorded 2,234,060 views, while Wamadat magazine and Book in Minutes reported more than 23,000 views each, and MBRF’s knowledge page reported 120,000 views in Al-Bayan newspaper besides 11,400 on views on MBRF website.