As members of the Society for the Advancement of Science and Technology in the Arab World, we strongly believe that engaging the scientific diaspora — the research community of Arab scientists working abroad — is crucial for successful science in the region.
In addition to the underlying political and societal problems and failed economic policies responsible for recent dramatic events in Arab countries, the failure of the educational systems is to blame. Academic institutions are not producing the skilled workforce necessary to meet local challenges and compete in global economies (Nature 470, 147–149; 2011). The domino effect of the protests and change we are witnessing today, and its potential consequences for regional stability, indicate that correcting this shortcoming should be a regional and international priority.
The international community must, through focused research and funding initiatives, assist in the areas of education, research and technology likely to have the highest impact on society. Arab scientists abroad represent a huge reservoir of talent for catalysing these efforts and strengthening partnerships with countries in the region. Investing in training and research programmes that harness the expertise, resources, networks and enthusiasm of these Arab scientists would contribute significantly to reversing the 'brain drain'. And it would encourage local efforts to establish academic and research institutions to nurture creativity and entrepreneurship.