TEHRAN (Press Shia) – The first ever Summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation on Science and Technology with the participation of the heads of several states, including Iranian President Hassan Rouhani started in the Kazakh capital Astana on Saturday.

The Iranian President arrived in Astana on Saturday for an official two day visit and to give lecture at the OIC summit.

Astana Summit will witness a historic milestone as it will evolve a unified collective position at the highest levels of decision-making in OIC Member States with a view to advancing the different fields of science, technology and innovation, while emphasizing the Muslim world’s resolve to promote scientific and technical development.

The Summit is important as it underscores the member States’ support for scientific fields by demonstrating the Muslim world’s knowledge contributions away from the negative stereotypes that have become widespread recently.

The Summit is also of significance considering that Muslims constitute a quarter of the world population and their countries possess abundant natural resources, although many Islamic countries still suffer poverty and diseases. It is therefore imperative to address these challenges using available resources, especially as this Summit is only the starting point for finding solutions to the countless problems facing the Muslim world using science and technology, the official website of the summit reported.

Statistics have shown that OIC Member States are below the 2016 innovation index general rate standing at 36.9, particularly in the areas of space, information technologies, pharmaceutical industries and electronics. Muslim countries, however, have a large youth population; a situation that imposes more challenges but also offers greater opportunities. The Summit could contribute to combating extremism and terrorism by reducing unemployment rates and attracting the youth to work in scientific and technological fields.

It is worth mentioning that Member States’ interest in the areas of science and technology started since the 10th Islamic Summit held in Malaysia in 2003, the 3rd Extraordinary Islamic Summit in Makkah Al-Mukarramah which adopted the OIC 10-Year Program of Action, and the 13th Islamic Summit Conference held in Istanbul in 2016, which launched the 2nd 10-Year Program of Action 2016-2025. The 12th Islamic Summit held in Cairo in 2013 had mandated the OIC General Secretariat and the Standing Committee for Scientific and Technological Cooperation (COMSTECH) to organize the first Islamic summit on science and technology in the history of the OIC. All those summits emphasized the need to attach importance to the areas of science, technology and innovation for the development of socio-economic sectors in OIC countries.