The prime minister of the United Arab Emirates has announced a $10 billion fund to promote education and human development in the Middle East.
Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum said Saturday in Jordan that the initiative will support research, and will provide scholarships and grants to students, authors and researchers.
Sheik Mohammed, who also is the ruler of Dubai, announced the fund at a World Economic Forum meeting at the shores of the Dead Sea.
He said the illiteracy rate in the Middle East is 18 percent for those under the age of 15, while for women in the region it is 43 percent. He also said the Arab world lags behind developed countries on scientific research spending.
At the opening of the three-day forum on Friday, Jordan's King Abdullah made an urgent appeal for peace between the Israelis and Palestinians.
Organizers say this year's meeting is to highlight the need for economic diversity, while promoting peace and understanding in the religiously and ethnically diverse region.
The organizers say participants include more than 1,200 business, government and civil society leaders from 56 countries.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.