By Jon Leyne
BBC News, the Dead Sea, Jordan
ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, says he is
giving $10bn (£5bn) to set up an educational foundation in the
Sheikh Mohammed called for a "knowledge-based
The money is meant to improve the standard of education and
research in the region, and aims to stimulate job creation, Sheikh
It is thought to be one of the largest charitable donations in
The announcement was made to widespread applause at the World
Economic Forum, which is being held in Jordan.
Sheikh Mohammed, known as a successful racehorse owner as well as
ruler of Dubai, said his personal initiative was aimed at creating
what he called "a knowledge-based society" in the Middle East.
At the moment, he explained, there was high illiteracy in the
region - where more than 40% of Arab women cannot read or write.
The whole Arab world publishes fewer books than the country of
And spending on scientific research is only a tiny fraction of
that in developed countries.
"There is a wide knowledge gap between us and the developed world
in the West and in Asia. Our only choice is to bridge this gap as
quickly as possible, because our age is defined by knowledge," the
While there may be less learning in the region, there is high
unemployment, and it is likely to get higher with a rapidly growing
Educational opportunities are limited for girls
in the Middle East
"Our region needs at this moment 15 million job opportunities,
and our Arab world will need in the next 20 years between 74 to 85
million job opportunities," the sheikh told the conference.
"We need to develop the infrastructure so we can create jobs."
Sheikh Mohammed hopes to increase education and research, and
also to encourage innovation and entrepreneurship throughout the
"In order to realise these objectives, I have decided to
establish the Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum Foundation to focus on
human development, and have I decided to endow a fund of $10bn to
finance its projects," he said.
As ruler of Dubai, he can share the success of his principality,
which is known the world over as the economic success story of the