President Obama Addresses Innovation, Tech Issues in Cairo

Earlier today, President Obama spoke on American and Muslim relations.  At Egypt’s Cairo University, Obama discussed Islam’s glories and rights, the legitimate rights of Israel and the Palestinians, Iranian nuclear aspirations, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, women’s rights, religious rights and democracy in the Muslim world.

The U.S. President’s speech also discussed economic development and tech innovations, the full text of which appears below (video starts at 45:43):

“Finally, I want to discuss economic development and opportunity.

I know that for many, the face of globalization is contradictory.  The Internet and television can bring knowledge and information, but also offensive sexuality and mindless violence into the home.  Trade can bring new wealth and opportunities, but also huge disruptions and change in communities.  In all nations — including America — this change can bring fear.  Fear that because of modernity we lose control over our economic choices, our politics, and most importantly our identities — those things we most cherish about our communities, our families, our traditions, and our faith.

But I also know that human progress cannot be denied.  There need not be contradictions between development and tradition. Countries like Japan and South Korea grew their economies enormously while maintaining distinct cultures.  The same is true for the astonishing progress within Muslim-majority countries from Kuala Lumpur to Dubai.  In ancient times and in our times, Muslim communities have been at the forefront of innovation and education.

And this is important because no development strategy can be based only upon what comes out of the ground, nor can it be sustained while young people are out of work.  Many Gulf states have enjoyed great wealth as a consequence of oil, and some are beginning to focus it on broader development.  But all of us must recognize that education and innovation will be the currency of the 21st century — (applause) — and in too many Muslim communities, there remains underinvestment in these areas.  I’m  emphasizing such investment within my own country.  And while America in the past has focused on oil and gas when it comes to this part of the world, we now seek a broader engagement.

On education, we will expand exchange programs, and increase scholarships, like the one that brought my father to America.  (Applause.)  At the same time, we will encourage more Americans to study in Muslim communities.  And we will match promising Muslim students with internships in America; invest in online learning for teachers and children around the world; and create a new online network, so a young person in Kansas can communicate instantly with a young person in Cairo.

On economic development, we will create a new corps of business volunteers to partner with counterparts in Muslim-majority countries.  And I will host a Summit on Entrepreneurship this year to identify how we can deepen ties between business leaders, foundations and social entrepreneurs in the United States and Muslim communities around the world.

On science and technology, we will launch a new fund to support technological development in Muslim-majority countries, and to help transfer ideas to the marketplace so they can create more jobs.  We’ll open centers of scientific excellence in Africa, the Middle East and Southeast Asia, and appoint new science envoys to collaborate on programs that develop new sources of energy, create green jobs, digitize records, clean water, grow new crops.  Today I’m announcing a new global effort with the Organization of the Islamic Conference to eradicate polio.  And we will also expand partnerships with Muslim communities to promote child and maternal health.

All these things must be done in partnership.  Americans are ready to join with citizens and governments; community organizations, religious leaders, and businesses in Muslim communities around the world to help our people pursue a better life.”

Click here for the full transcript.

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