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2015 Go To Global Think Tank | University of Pennsylvania | Al Qasimi Foundation | Education policy | Nataha Ridge

Four UAE Think Tanks Named Top in Region, Influence on Education Policy Uncertain

Al Qasimi Foundation
February 10, 2016

The Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi Foundation for Policy Research was again named one of the Middle East’s best think tanks in the University of Pennsylvania's latest global think tank rankings, marking its sixth consecutive appearance in the respected report.

In the 2015 Global Go To Think Tank Index Report, Dr. James G. McGann explains that think tanks “are public-policy research analysis and engagement organizations that generate policy-oriented research, analysis, and advice on domestic and international issues” so that policymakers and the public can work to make informed decisions for local and global communities.

According to the report, more than 6,800 think tanks were invited to participate in the ranking process.

Emirates Center for Strategic Studies and Research (ECSSR), Economic Policy and Research Center (EPRC), and Future Center for Advanced Researches and Studies also appear on the 2015 list of top think tanks in the MENA region. The institutions are ranked 15, 38, and 69 respectively.

Two other UAE think tanks—the Delma Institute and Emirates Policy Centre (EPC) made the list of Best New Think Tanks.

2015 represents the Al Qasimi Foundation’s third year as one of the top regional think tanks in the Think Tank Index Report (2013, 2014, and 2015). The Foundation was also ranked as a top new think tank from 2010-2012 after its establishment in 2009.

Because these rankings are based on the feedback of the more than 4,750 peer institutions and expert panelists invited to participate in “an open and democratic process” of evaluation, a think tank’s rating in this index indicates its level of influence and the quality of its work from a global perspective.

“We are very pleased to appear again in this year’s report as it is a testament to the hard work and dedication of our team, community, and the research being done in the region,” says Dr. Natasha Ridge, Executive Director of the Al Qasimi Foundation.

For the Al Qasimi Foundation, education is one area of public policy that is crucial to the development of the UAE. In its Vision 2021, the government of the UAE has prioritized building its knowledge economy, the cornerstone of which is education.

“When we think about issues that are relevant to the sustainable growth of the UAE, we have to think about the nation’s education structures: What are their strengths? What kind of progress remains to be made?” says Dr. Ridge. “For example, issues like teacher quality and the gender gap in education are challenges still facing the UAE and also many countries around the globe.

“The issues that we’re looking at are challenges for the international education community as well as in the MENA region, and we want to continue contributing to these sectors by producing relevant research and offering practical policy solutions.”

Another signal that the work the Al Qasimi Foundation is helping to meet a tangible need for regional research on teaching, schools, students, and higher education is that—on the GGTTI report—Arab countries are underrepresented among the worldwide leaders in education policy research.

The Think Tank Index describes Top Education Policy Think Tanks as those members of the “global community” who “provide superior innovative research and strategic analysis regarding educational issues to policy makers and the public.”

This year, the Index has listed the top 65 education policy think tanks in the world. None of the institutions included in this ranking are based in an Arabic-speaking nation, signaling the importance of developing new education research and strategies for the Arabian Gulf and North Africa.

It also indicates a need for more interaction between institutions in the MENA region and those in other parts of the international education community.

“Research bodies in the Arab world have been ranked and recognized throughout the report,” notes Dr. Ridge, “and the region has put an unprecedented emphasis on education development and sustainability in recent years.

“What the absence of Arab think tanks among the rankings of top education policy bodies really represents is an invitation for us to learn more and share more about education in our region with our counterparts in Europe, Asia, Australia, and the Americas. We are learning a lot, and we have a great deal of insight to share.”