The Middle East is gaining impetus in building knowledge-based economies to aid long-term growth
As GCC countries and the wider Middle East embark on a path towards innovation to ensure long-term sustainable economic growth, references to the Islamic golden age a period that brought tremendous scientific progress to The World are hard to avoid.
It was during this period AD750-AD1050 that the Middle Easts geographic location between Africa, Asia and Europe put it at the heart of the worlds most important trade route.
Arab merchants truly became global players, trading with regions as far away as China, India and parts of Europe. The period brought wealth and knowledge to the Arab world, and led to the rise of Muslim scholars and scientists who would shape the world for centuries to come.
The innovation hubs of the Islamic golden age were cities such as Alexandria and Baghdad. The scientific advances these centres and the wider Arab world produced ranged from astronomy to chemistry and alchemy, to mathematics, medicine and technology.
Faced with the regions harsh environmental conditions, Arab engineers during the time built water wheels and irrigation systems, helping the advancement of agriculture.
Islamic scientists established algebra from the Arabic al-jabr, which translates as restoring balance as a maths field in its own right, while also making significant progress in geometry and trigonometry. Medicine too benefited during Islams golden age. Centres for the treatment and study of diseases were set up, providing the basis for todays hospitals.
But the global centre of innovation subsequently shifted north, where the European renaissance in the 16th century and the industrial revolution in the 19th century brought about a new era of progress in science, technology and innovation. In the 20th century, it was North America that largely shaped the world.
It is too early to say whether the Middle East will return to the forefront of innovation, but recent initiatives give rise to hopes that it is once more moving in the right direction.
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