An editorial published today (March 6, 2015) in Arab News, an English language Saudi Arabian daily newspaper, urges Saudi companies not to neglect the funding of research and development of new technologies.
The article states:
Even though the payback of research is obvious, most companies will feel that they cannot afford it. This is as true here in the Kingdom as anywhere else in the world. For a manufacturing company to be running its own R&D facility may seem an unnecessary extravagance.
But as Prince Turki bin Saud bin Mohammed Al-Saud, the president of King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) made clear this week, in one way or another most Saudi companies should be thinking about funding research.
The basic thrust of the article is that technological advances are taking place at unprecedented rates in various parts of the world (Europe, North America, India, China) and Saudi Arabia needs to keep up in order to stay relevant. The article gives the example of how graphene research has taken off and now companies are seeking to use the material to create better batteries and materials lighter, stronger cars — perhaps eventually leading to a car which is a battery itself.
The editorial also mentions cold fusion:
Some answers today seem frankly unreachable. The issue of Cold Fusion, generating a nuclear reaction at room temperature, rather than with the immense heat currently required, is one such inquiry. Just as medieval alchemists sought the Philosopher’s Stone that would turn base metal into gold, so Cold Fusion currently seems unattainable. But never say never.
Saudi Arabia, as everyone knows, is a kingdom built on oil wealth. And here we see the mention of two new energy technologies that could potentially severely disrupt their primary source of wealth. If people in the higher echelons of the Saudi business world are urging businesses to fund research, even thought the costs are high, and the chances of failure are real, it could indicate that they are thinking of how they can move on from an oil economy and find another, more modern, source of wealth.