The Director-General of the Islamic World Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (ICESCO), Dr Salim bin Mohamed al-Malik, has hailed Qatar's contributions to ICESCO programmes, saying they are honourable and important to the organisation and the public administration. The co-operation between ICESCO and the Qatar National Commission for Education, Culture and Science (QNCECS) was and remains fruitful, he added.
He praised the co-operation with Qatar and the success of the celebration programmes in Doha, the Capital of Culture in the Islamic World 2021, in highlighting Doha as a civilizational and cultural landmark.
In an interview with Qatar News Agency (QNA), al-Malik said that ICESCO launched many initiatives and programmes, organising annually diverse and different activities, whether in Qatar or with its support in other countries, with the participation of Qatari experts and competencies.
Regarding future cultural co-operation between ICESCO and Qatar, he said that the organisation was keen to strengthen it with member states, identify the priorities and needs of each country, and build plans for programmes and activities appropriate for each country.
This highlights ICESCO's keenness to have a distinguished partnership with Qatar, he added.
During his current visit to Doha, the ICESCO Director-General met HE the Minister of Culture, Sheikh Abdulrahman bin Hamad al-Thani, where they discussed the study of cultural policies, the valuation and registration of heritage on the ICESCO list, and training some young men and women on heritage preservation and registration.
They also discussed the fields of literature and thought, indicating that these discussions will turn into projects, work programmes, and co-operation between Qatar and ICESCO.
He met with HE the Minister of Education and Higher Education Buthaina bint Ali al-Jabr al-Nuaimi, where they discussed developing and enhancing co-operation and partnership between the two sides by exchanging experiences in the education and scientific research fields between the countries of the Islamic world, he said.
Al-Malik also met Qatar Charity's Chief Executive Officer Yousef bin Ahmed al-Kuwari, discussing the co-operation from the Qatari side in adopting the initiatives that ICESCO will launch during 2022.
Regarding his evaluation of the activities that were implemented during Doha, the Capital of Culture in the Islamic World, the ICESCO Director-General said that the activities, which continued throughout the year under the slogan "Our Culture is Light", witnessed a diverse cultural movement, despite the exceptional circumstances imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic.
"Throughout the year, we tried to adapt the celebration programmes to the conditions of the pandemic and to mitigate the negative effects of the pandemic on the cultural sector, believing in the pivotal role of culture in achieving economic development and prosperity of countries, and making it a tributary of development," he said.
The events in Doha included several cultural, artistic, and literary fields, seminars, competitions and workshops, and witnessed wide participation from local and regional educated elites, and a wide audience from inside and outside Doha, and a large number of partners and relevant ministries participated in its preparation, directed to various segments of society, including youth, women, and children, he said.
Al-Malik stressed that the celebration programmes of Doha, Capital of Culture in the Islamic World 2021 succeeded in highlighting Doha as a civilisational and cultural landmark, emphasising the uniqueness of the manifestations of Islamic civilisation, strengthening the bonds of cultural co-operation in the Islamic world.
It ensured openness and broadening of the contents of cultural concepts with the inclusion of youth, women, children, and those with special needs.
He said that normally there are three capitals of culture every year. However, Doha was the only one during 2021 because other cities have apologised due to the challenges of Covid-19.
Doha was able to set up its programmes in person and virtually, and what happened in it is the preemption of what the organisation is heading to develop the Islamic capitals of culture.
The ISESCO Director-General pointed out that the cultural movement witnessed by Qatar is promising and distinct, with Doha possessing distinct cultural and artistic components and infrastructure, which enables creators and artists to accomplish their projects in the best way, pointing out that ISESCO's vision of the cultural movement in Qatar was a key factor in choosing Doha to be the Capital of Culture in the Islamic World 2021, stressing that the long history of Doha and its cultural and civilisational heritage, and its multiple sites, made it reflect the true image as one of the capitals that shows the depth of civilisation in the Islamic world.
ISESCO is working to develop strong partnerships and co-operation mechanisms with reputable international institutions and bodies in space sciences, artificial intelligence, big data and other future sciences, which can enable the countries of the Islamic world to face challenges in all fields, al-Malik said.
He pointed to the interest in space science as one of the most important future sciences, as recent studies have shown that what is spent on space industries annually exceeds $300bn, and it is expected that the investment will rise to $3tn in 2040.
There are only less than 20 member states of the organisation that have investments in space sciences, which will create a huge gap for some countries to enter into space illiteracy.
On the existence of a database of scholars from the Islamic world who immigrated to the West, he said that "we began to communicate with Muslim and non-Muslim scholars who have a desire to co-operate with the Islamic world, as well as women scientists in various fields of science, and we will create a database of these scientists and women scientists to co-operate with them."
Concerning the organisation's interest in encouraging scientists in the Islamic world to create a treatment for the coronavirus, he said that since the beginning of the pandemic, the organisation has announced a prize of $200,000 to whoever creates an effective treatment or a protective vaccine.