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In the wake of the Connect Arab summit held in Doha, Qatar at the beginning of March 2012, the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO) published a proposal for the establishment of the Pan-Islamic Research and Education Network (PIREN). This regional initiative can be seen as a response to the call issued in the communique of the Qatar summit which focused on the importance of information and communication technologies (ICTs) to the development and prosperity of the Arab countries.
PIREN will join a number of well-established global, regional and national research and education networks (RENs) designed to provide advanced ICT services to researchers and educators for collaboration and studies on the future of the Internet and its application. The main aim of PIREN is to link all of the established RENs in Islamic countries and to provide infrastructure and access for the ones where no such networks exist. Out of the 57 Islamic countries in the world, more than half already have a research and education network in some form ranging from a small group of universities to fully-fledged national or regional networks. PIREN’s focus will be on fostering effective and sustainable links among the countries in order to promote research and education, as well as improve communication and collaboration opportunities between academics and researchers spread across ISESCO’s member states.
With the development of ICT infrastructure across the Arab and Islamic countries, the industry is slowly becoming an important contributor to national and regional economies and offers great potential for future growth and creation of jobs. However, in some of the countries, internet access is censored and heavily monitored by the governments. The interesting question now becomes whether a pan-Islamic REN composed of smaller national networks will be able to escape the watchful eye of the “Big Brothers”.ISESCO – Project proposal Connect Arab summit