Dr. Samir Abu Rumman writes: Who monitors our social development and sets indicators ‎of our progress‏?‏

It was an unforgettable situation, while observing the features of the faces of the attendees from the leaders of charitable and social work, during the presentation of the British Executive Director – boldly – to the slide of the results of the host country in the Social Progress Index, which is filled with red color to indicate the negative results, and the lagging of its progress from others in progress. Social! At the same meeting; It presents the latest results slides showing the progress of the State of the Zionist entity in several social, economic and other indicators.

Arab and Islamic countries usually appear lagging behind in many of these indicators. It is not surprising for those who follow these reports and global observatories that are based on published statistics and data or opinion polls, or those that are proud that they collect several tools in building their information and data to extract and evaluate their results.

Are we really that bad and backward, as these results show in creative and interesting ways that cross continents? How do we deal with these results between receiving them in good faith, publishing them, relying on them, protesting them, or in bad faith by rejecting them altogether and criticizing them, and considering them as tools of conspiracy? Are these indicators – really – implemented in scientific ways, as evidenced by the speed of their spread, and the sponsorship of their implementation in Washington and other Western cities? Even if some of them were funded by the governments of our Arab countries?

It cannot be argued about the importance of these indicators, and that we contribute to increasing their impact. Some studies, reports, and perhaps Arab decisions; It has become dependent on these Western studies and imported indicators, and sometimes they are justified. I mention while reviewing a report on Arab youth that was based mainly on data from opinion polls carried out by Western parties, on the grounds that this is easily available and published electronically and on paper, in addition to that includes several countries and periodically; Which facilitates comparison and analysis, and some of the implementing agencies are now entering the analysis service within their websites, so that the researcher dispenses with complex statistical programs to understand the relationships and links!

The nature of my work required reviewing some of these indicators, monitoring the beginnings of their establishment, how to deal with them, using their results, supervising some of them in our Arab region for the benefit of international organizations, and interacting with each other. These experiences had many benefits, features and important suggestions, some of which I have referred to -Here- on the occasion of the recent increase in interest in it, and serious attempts to present models in our region, including a vision in my hands – now- about establishing social observatories and building their indicators.

It is no secret that most of these projects were launched – tens of decades ago from the Western environment – and academics have made strenuous efforts in trying to measure and change everything, and compare everything at the level of regions and the world, and under the umbrella of governments, major research institutions and others. The international level has reached a hundred years from now, and others are still monitoring the behavior of the same human samples for decades.

Despite the attempt to decipher the global trend and the impact of the environment from which these indicators were launched, the biggest challenge will remain that it built the environment that produced it, and the experts who supervised it. Where regional measurement models were placed within the same indicators, based on the fact that what cannot be asked and measured in Europe; It does not mean not asking about it in another region and vice versa, and so these bodies allowed the opportunity to amend or delete some questions from the original form, as happened – during my work as a representative of the World Values ​​Survey in consultation with the General Administration of Statistics in Kuwait – in the question about the extent to which anomalies are considered sexually justified, and in return we retained questions relating to financial aspects such as unanswered borrowing in Europe and the United States; Because the culture of society rejects this type of question.

Also, the dissemination of the results of the indicators has an impact on the local and global levels from several angles, such as: others follow the opinion of the majority, so these results become in influence like a snowball, and this explains how the results were accepted from a majority rejecting anomaly decades ago in the United States to a majority supporting it, until the matter came. Legislation by the Supreme Constitutional Court!! But the most dangerous thing – what is directly related to our topic – is to consider the result of accepting homosexuality in some reports and indicators as features and evidence of tolerance and progress of peoples in many observatories, justifying them, and then marketing them, and so on in accepting an atheist and others!

In order not to leave this important arena empty, and to apply it in twisted ways – perhaps -; It is necessary for governmental and academic bodies in our country to provide an alternative to this volatile information from here and there, and it is also possible to coordinate with the external parties themselves. At the very least, if these indicators are implemented by several bodies, they become a deterrent to control the quality of these data by comparing the results and their compatibility with each other? Here, I mention how some parties resorted to contacting from outside Saudi Arabia to inquire about the views of the Saudis on some sensitive issues, and an Israeli party also polled the views of Iranians over the phone!

If poor countries are forced – in return for receiving support from countries and external institutions -; To implement such indicators, as foreign funding is the most important source of these research projects, there is no justification for rich countries to fail to implement these projects on their own. Rather, creating its own projects and implementing them globally, and not turning to oneself, which he touched at Qatar University, by working with her on the “Identity Survey in the Gulf Cooperation Council Countries” project in order to strengthen her project to increase the impact of these indicators and disseminate them to others and use them in documentation and studies in-depth.

These countries should be careful to be a tool for strengthening other projects and with their money, as well as making the second grade – reserve – and ensuring the transfer of knowledge, as is the case with some countries that implement such projects on their soil, and find in their team only a few of the people of the country, and here I evoke the evaluation of a colleague A statistic that deals with the data of all the Gulf countries. It describes each country and the nature of knowledge transfer from local experts or external experts.

While not denying and ignoring the experiences, experiences and methodologies in many of these reports; However, it is naive to accept everything that is contained in its results as well as their interpretation, for example, from the important international reports that I have been eagerly awaiting – and followed by many specialists – for years, as at the beginning of each year the results of the evaluation of think tanks and studies are announced, especially the results of Arab centers Then follow up on the reactions and celebrations of discussing the results. Such as the one established by the Al Jazeera Center for Studies in Qatar last month for being ranked fifth for 2015.

This indicator is issued by TTCSP GLOBAL GO TO THINK TANK INDEX by the University of Pennsylvania, and it was surprising that in its results – several years ago one of the centers – the Center of Strategic and Future Studies (CSFS), which was canceled years ago in Kuwait University, and even takes a percentage and ranking at the level of Arab countries, reaching No. 43 in 2015! It is no longer exists!

Like some; We believe that foreign reports are carried out with high professionalism, and criticism of them should not be approached. Therefore, I was suspicious every time I saw the name of this center among the first centers in the Arab region; Until I made sure of my colleague Prof. Dr. Yaqoub Al-Kandari that it was merged with the Center for Gulf and Arabian Peninsula Studies years ago, and there is no longer any production, activities or official name under this name, and I informed the supervisor of the indicator, James G. McGann, so that the error will be rectified in the next report!

Sometimes the motive for participating in these indicators to improve our image and ranking becomes apparent, without substance, as happened in some Arab universities when they formally attracted some senior researchers and academics, to publish their research, and put the university’s name as one of the university’s employees; To raise its academic rank among international universities, which caused a scandal for this university, which is considered to be the first university in its country, especially with the publication of some foreign academics – ironically – of the form of the contract sent to them and the huge sums and temptations offered, while ensuring that they are not obliged to visit the university only several times. few a year!!

It is important for the success of many indicators and increasing their impact and dissemination; Coordination with official and governmental authorities as much as possible, while ensuring that the credibility of the results is not affected, and just as some officials are the way to convince them of these projects is to closely look at global practices, as happened to a colleague who strives to develop the non-profit sector in Saudi Arabia and try to contribute to development A fighter on several official and academic fronts – when he coordinated official meetings with some foreign researchers to convince the decision-maker of the necessity of adopting these long-awaited indicators and standards to implement them in our hands and develop them professionally and use them in our development and decisions.