Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah has urged industrialists in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries to collaborate with institutions of higher learning in conducting scientific and industrial research in order to make the Gulf region a knowledge-based society. “I submit the following recommendations: Promotion of cooperation between universities and industrial companies in the field of scientific research, support for scientific research in industry, and adoption and support of the work of GCC youth in the scientific research field,” King Abdullah said in a speech addressing the 13th Conference of GCC Industrialists in Riyadh on Tuesday. The king’s speech was read out by Minister of Commerce and Industry Tawfiq Al-Rabiah at the opening of the conference which carried the theme “Knowledge-based Industries and Modern Technologies,” the Saudi Press Agency reported. “The Kingdom has adopted a SR8 billion national plan for science and technology,” the king said. The implementation of the national plan would bring about a qualitative shift in scientific research, technical development, transfer and indigenization of technology, and the shift to a knowledge-based society, the king said. The king said the national plan would enable the Kingdom’s educational system to produce indigenous manpower capable of meeting the current and future needs of the country. “Despite the achievement we made we know that there are several things to be done,” the king said. Al-Rabiah opened the conference with an inaugural address welcoming guests including ministers, princes and other participants. In his key speech at the event, Czech President Václav Klaus outlined the transition of his country’s economy from the state controlled socialist system to a free market economy based on the principles of demand and supply. His country has been dealing with the European Union with caution and it was not affected by the debt crises the Europe. He attributed his country’s economic stability to policies such as keeping the ownership of its companies within the country. “My country has no plan at present to join the EU in view of the special political and economic atmosphere in the Czech Republic,” Klaus said. In his speech, the president said he did not see any solution to the credit crisis in Europe in the near future. “The only solution to it is to speed up economic growth in Europe and also to remove the obstacles in the way of its progress and face the real issues,” the president said. He concluded his speech with a warning that Europe will not serve as an engine of economic recovery in any global economic crises in the near future. On the other hand, he believed that oil-exporting countries would become more dynamic in energizing the global economy. Gulf Organization for Industrial Consultation Secretary-General Abdul Aziz Al-Aqil said in his speech in the opening session that the Gulf states have made giant leaps in achieving advanced industrial infrastructure that attracted investors. These countries also provide soft industrial loans. He said Gulf countries have increased the number of their downstream industries to 13,035 in 2010 from 7,490 in 2000. He said the value of investments in these projects grew from $87 billion to $222 billion and the investments in the projects are expected to reach $260 billion by the end of 2011. The strategic investments in oil refining, liquid gas, petrochemicals, iron and steel, aluminum smelting and cement have strongly boosted the competitiveness of the economies of the GCC countries, making the region the most vital economic hub in the world. Al-Aqil also stressed the need to speed up drawing up policies to develop knowledge based industries in the Gulf region.