Arab Human Development Report 2003

20 Oct 2003

Building a Knowledge Society

The first Arab Human Development Report (AHDR 2002) addressed the most important development challenges facing the Arab world at the beginning of the third millennium. This second Report continues the process by examining in depth one of these challenges: the building of a knowledge society in Arab countries.


The AHDR series aims at building human development in the Arab world. As part of a continuing watch on human development in the region, this Report therefore opens by surveying some of the most salient trends and events at the global, regional and national levels that influenced the process of human development in the Arab world in 2002-2003. The remainder of the Report is a close study of one of the three cardinal challenges facing the region: its growing knowledge gap.


The Report starts by outlining the conceptual basis of an Arab knowledge society and moves on to evaluate the status of the demand for, and the diffusion and production of knowledge in Arab countries at the beginning of the 21st century.


It next analyses the cultural, economic, societal and political context influencing knowledge acquisition in the region at this critical junction in its history. The last section of this analysis culminates in a strategic vision that delineates the landmarks of a deep social reform process for establishing a knowledge-based society in the Arab countries.


Table of Contents

  • Introductory Section: Introductions, Table of Contents
  • Part I: Changes in Human Development in Arab Countries During 2001-2002

Part II - Section I: The Concept of an Arab Knowledge Society

  • Chapter 1: Conceptual Framework: Knowledge, Human Development and the Knowledge Society in Arab Countries

Part II - Section II: The State of Knowledge in Arab Countries

  • Chapter 2: Knowledge Dissemination in Arab Countries
  • Chapter 3: Knowledge Production in Arab Countries
  • Chapter 4: Measuring Knowledge Capital in Arab Countries
  • Chapter 5: The Organisational Context of Knowledge Acquisition

Part II - Section III: The Cultural, Socioeconomic and Political Context

  • Chapter 6: Culture
  • Chapter 7: Socio-Economic Structure
  • Chapter 8: The Political Context

Part II - Section IV: A Strategic Vision - The Five Pillars of the Knowledge Society

  • Chapter 9: A Strategic Vision: The Five Pillars of the Knowledge Society
  • Annexes: References, Tables and Figures

Document Highlights

  • This Report is an independent publication.
  • Development challenges represented by the three deficits in knowledge, freedom and women’s empowerment remain serious.
  • One of the worst consequences of freedom-constraining measures in developed countries was that they gave some Arab authorities another excuse to enact new laws limiting civil and political freedoms.
  • The number of books published in the Arab world does not exceed 1.1% of world production.
  • Importing technology has not led to its adoption and internalisation in the host country, let alone to its diffusion and production.
  • Historically, Arab culture did not constitute a closed system, but rather displayed a profound ability to open up, develop and transcend itself
  • Demand for knowledge has been weakened not only by faltering economic growth but also by the over-concentration of wealth in a few hands.