On Friday, March 7th, 2008 His Excellency Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan, Minister of Higher Education & Scientific Research, United Arab Emirates (UAE), signed a decree creating the National Research Foundation (NRF). The decree signing ceremony represents a seminal milestone event in the growth and development of research activity in the UAE and research leadership by H.E. Sheikh Nahayan. NRF is a Ministry of Higher Education & Scientific Research initiative that will help promote research activity in private and public universities, colleges, centers, institutes and companies, by individuals or teams of researchers in UAE. NRF has been established to provide research leadership in the country and to provide funding support on a competitive basis to researchers in the country. Research projects that survive international peer review, that contribute social and economic benefits to UAE, and enhance the development process in the country will be supported.

The UAE Government Strategy 2011-2013 lays the foundations to achieve the UAE Vision 2021. It forms the basis upon which the Federal Entities develop their strategic and operational plans, and consists of seven general principles, seven strategic priorities and seven strategic enablers. Amongst the seven priorities identified in the UAE 2011-2013 Government Strategy Document is “Competitive Knowledge Economy”. Within the Competitive Knowledge Economy Strategic Priority, nine Major Directions are identified, including “Promote and enhance innovation, research and development”.

The National Research Foundation (NRF) was created by His Excellency Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan, Minister of Higher Education & Scientific Research in March 2008 to help build a competitive knowledge economy in UAE and be a key element in the UAE national innovation system. There are three interdependent components of a national innovation system: (i) knowledge production; (ii) knowledge application; and (iii) knowledge diffusion.

These components involve extensive participation of universities and colleges in the country and their faculty. Without a strong university research base it is impossible to have a successful national innovation system and competitive knowledge economy. A strong university research base enables a competitive knowledge economy to be created. A strong research base in the UAE universities with high quality doctoral programs in place will produce the next generation of national researchers who will help build the competitive knowledge economy.

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