KUALA LUMPUR - Islamic countries are lagging behind their non-Muslim counterparts in embracing new technology, and this will not change unless there is a complete shift of mindset by their leadership.
That is according to Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad, who told an international conference addressing economic development of the Muslim world on Thursday (Dec 19): “We have to work doubly hard to catch up with the rest of the world.”
Addressing the conference, Malaysia’s prime minister urged Muslim leaders to find ways to rival the West in embracing technology.
“To my mind, we have no choice but to develop and progress as fast as possible if we are to remedy all the misfortunes that have befallen our ummah,” Mahathir said.
“On one hand, we are dependent on the creations and technologies of the non-Muslims, and when we manage to catch up, they are already ahead with new technological advancements that we now need to acquire and familiarise.
“If we do not start creating and developing our own technologies we will forever be playing catch-up with the rest of the developed nations,” he warned.
His speech coincided with the signing of five agreements between government agencies and commercial enterprises.
Among the initiatives was the Work4Malaysia programme by Mental HR Consultancy of Turkey, which will provide training for Malaysians that prepares them to secure jobs in Turkey.
A partnership was also signed between Qatar’s dairy firm Baladna Food Industries, and Malaysian government-owned rural development company Felcra to build a large-scale dairy venture that seeks to double Malaysia’s milk production.
Agencies in four Islamic countries signed an agreement to set up a centre of excellence dedicated to research into advanced technology.
Indonesia’s LIPI science institute and Malaysia’s Industry-Government Group for High Technology, known as MIGHT, joined the International Center for Chemical and Biological Sciences of Pakistan and Turkey’s Scientific Research Council to establish the facility, which will research areas of technology of most interest to the Islamic world.
Composites Technology Research Malaysia, a subsidiary of Malaysian conglomerate DRB-HICOM, and Turkish Aerospace Industries also exchanged documents to pave the way for the development of new defence and security technology.
The Malaysian and Turkish governments’ respective media organisations also agreed to establish a communication centre to address Islamophobia issues around the world.
The economic development conference was part of the Kuala Lumpur Summit that the Malaysian prime minister clarified on Tuesday did not set out to replace the role of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).
(Reporting by Richard Whitehead; Editing by Emmy Abdul Alim [email protected])
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