Qatar Foundation logo
|Headquarters||Al-Rayyan, Doha, Qatar|
|Key people||Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani, Founder; Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, Chairperson|
Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development (Arabic: مؤسسة قطر) is a semi-private chartered, non-profit organization in Qatar, founded in 1995 by Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani, the Father Emir (the current Emir is His Highness Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani), and his second wife Mozah bint Nasser Al Missned. In addition to private funding it is government-supported and in some parts government-funded. Qatar Foundation is chaired by Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser Al Missned, and it has spearheaded Qatar's drive to make itself a leader in education, science, community development and the arts in the region and beyond. It describes its aim as being to "support Qatar on its journey from a carbon economy to a knowledge economy by unlocking human potential". The logo of the foundation is the sidar tree, a symbol in connection with the Islamic Sidrat al-Muntaha and the evergreen tree Ziziphus spina-christi native in Qatar.
The organization focuses on education, science and research, and community development. It has brought a number of international universities to Qatar to help develop an education sector in which young people can develop the attitudes and skills required for a knowledge economy that is not based on revenues from energy resources. Its main science and research agenda is to build up Qatari innovation and technology capacity through research that results in technologies that can be successfully commercialized for the benefit of the economy. One of Qatar's aims is to become a commercially successful research and development (R&D) hub that attracts the best and brightest. The community development programs aim to help foster a progressive society in Qatar, while also enhancing the cultural landscape, protecting Qatar's heritage, and addressing immediate social needs in the community. The Foundation has played a key role in Qatar's transformation into a political, economic and cultural powerhouse in the region, despite its small size.
The Foundation is trying to equip Qataris with the skills, education and qualifications to be competitive in the global economy, challenging perceptions of a population spoiled by its natural gas wealth. Joint venture partnerships in the areas of design, information and communication technologies, telecommunications, policy studies, and event management also contribute to fulfilling the objectives of Qatar Foundation. Qatari firms have begun to make a name for themselves internationally in the computer software industry, on the back of Qatar Foundation's encouragement of research and development. As Qatari firms have begun to invest in R&D as a result of the Foundation's efforts, Pragmatech, a subsidiary of United Development Company (not part of QF), has established a reputation for its text processing, document summarizing and referencing software.
In primary and secondary education, Qatar Foundation has several initiatives, including:
- Qatar Academy, Qatar Academy Al Khor, Qatar Academy Al Wakra and Qatar Academy Sidra, all schools offering a range of international and comprehensive pre-school and primary level education programs.
- The Academic Bridge Program, a post-secondary school program that helps students transition from high school to university.
- Awsaj Academy, for children with learning difficulties.
- Qatar Leadership Academy, a partnership between Qatar Foundation and Qatar Armed Forces that aims to encourage athletic, social and character development of students, in addition to academic studies.
In higher education, Qatar Foundation established branch campuses of eight international universities at the main campus just outside Doha:
- 1998 – Virginia Commonwealth University, with programs in art and design.
- 2002 – Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar opened, offering a two-year pre-medical program and a four-year medical program leading to an MD.
- 2003 – Texas A&M University at Qatar opened, offering programs in chemical, electrical, petroleum, and mechanical engineering.
- 2004 – Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar opened, offering programs in computer science, business, and information systems.
- 2005 – Georgetown School of Foreign Service in Qatar opened, offering programs in international affairs.
- 2008 – Northwestern University in Qatar opened, offering programs in journalism and communications.
- 2011 – HEC Paris in Qatar, with executive education programs for mid-career and senior executives.
- 2011 – University College London Qatar opened, offering postgraduate qualifications in museum studies, conservation, and archaeology in partnership with Qatar Museums Authority.
- 2013 – Hamad bin Khalifa University (HBKU), an emerging research university with colleges of science, engineering, technology, humanities and social sciences, public health and business.
These centers sit alongside the Qatar Faculty of Islamic Studies which began its first graduate classes in the 2007-2008 academic year. An international center for Islamic thinking and dialogue, it aims to produce scholars who are grounded in Islamic faith, practice and civilization. It offers masters degrees in Islamic finance, contemporary Islamic studies and Islamic public policy.
Roughly half of these universities' students are Qatari, and around 90 different nationalities in total are represented by the students, faculty and staff at the Foundation campus.
The Foundation has managed to make a significant impact within its first decade or so in operation. Scholars at the centers such as Weill Cornell Medical College have made contributions to studies on genetics and AIDS, and the peer-reviewed periodical Academic Medicine published a study on Weill Cornell Medical College’s Medical Ethics and Humanities course for premedical students. The course, first offered in 2003, is designed to prepare students for the medical school curriculum, and the report pointed to challenges such as cross-cultural tensions that could emerge when introducing themes from Western medical ethics and humanities into an Islamic context like Qatar. "The authors outline the response to this challenge and strategies to broaden student inquiry without engaging in indoctrination," it said.
As part of the Foundation's efforts in education, it sponsors the World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE), a global forum that brings together education professionals, opinion leaders and decision-makers from all over the world to discuss educational issues. The summit has been held in Doha since 2009:
- The first summit was held from 16–18 November 2009.
- The second was from 7–9 December 2010.
- At the third edition from 1–3 November 2011, the first $500,000 WISE Prize for Education was awarded to Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, Founder and Chairman of BRAC, one of the largest non-governmental organizations in the world that has contributed directly to the education of more than 10 million children from pre-primary to secondary levels.
- At the fourth summit from 13–15 November 2012 the prize went to Dr. Madhav Chavan, co-founder and CEO of Pratham, the largest education NGO in India, for his contribution to low-cost mass literacy and numeracy learning.
- The fifth summit will be held from 29–31 October 2013.
Keynote speakers at annual convocation ceremonies, where graduates from various Foundation centers are honoured together, have included in recent years Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales (2013).
Science and research
Qatar Foundation's main aim in this field is to help build Qatar's innovation and technology capacity by developing and commercializing solutions in key sciences. It is also developing a research strategy built on complementing Qatar-based research efforts with expertise from abroad, to build networks that provide home-grown solutions for Qatar and the region.
A research division was established at Qatar Foundation in 2007 to manage developing a scientific community in Qatar. It has hosted several international conferences in the fields of biotechnology, nanotechnology, and stem cell research.
Qatar Foundation's science and research projects include:
- Qatar National Research Fund (QNRF), which funds and supports original, competitively selected research by both local and international researchers for projects that fit with Qatar's national research strategy, and that incorporate a Qatar-based partner.
- Qatar Science & Technology Park (QSTP), a research and development hub and Qatar’s first free-trade zone, inaugurated in March 2009. Tenants include: ExxonMobil, Royal Dutch Shell, Total, Rolls-Royce, EADS, and Microsoft.
- Qatar Biomedical Research Institute (QBRI), established to develop translational biomedical research and biotechnology, focusing on diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular diseases.
- Qatar Environmental & Energy Research Institute (QEERI), focusing on energy, environment, food and water resources.
- Qatar Computing Research Institute (Arabic: معهد قطر لبحوث الكمبيوتر) (QCRI), which conducts world-class, multidisciplinary, applied computing research that is relevant to the needs of Qatar, the wider Arab region and the world, leveraging Qatar's unique historical, linguistic and cultural heritage.
applied computing research relevant to the needs of Qatar, the wider Arab region and the world.
- Sidra Medical and Research Center, encompassing clinical care, medical education and biomedical research.
Other science and research initiatives include:
- RAND Qatar Policy Institute, which provides analysis of public policy problems and helps implement long-term solutions for clients across the region.
- Qatar Science Leadership Program, which develops Qatari ss build prestigious and rewarding careers in the fields of science and research, with guaranteed placements at QF and its centers.
- University research programs: the majority of the universities on Qatar Foundation's campus run their own research programs, often collaborating with QF's own applied research bodies to bring new ideas to commercialization.
- QF research programs: in addition to the university programs, QF has formed international partnerships, including with the Royal Society and the James Baker Institute for Public Policy at Rice University.
- Distinguished Lecture Series, which introduces Qatari students, researchers, and the public to world-class science and scientists.
- Qscience.com, which publishes high-quality, open-access, peer-reviewed research articles.
- Stars of Science, a reality TV show featuring young Arab innovators who compete to transform ideas into marketable products.
In June 2011 Qatar Foundation hosted the seventh World Conference of Science Journalists, which had been scheduled to be held in Cairo but was moved to Doha as a result of the 2011 Egyptian Revolution. In 2012 the 18th United Nations Climate Change Conference (or 'Conference of the Parties', or more commonly 'COP18') was held at Qatar National Convention Centre (part of QF). It will launch the inaugural World Innovation Summit for Health (WISH) at the Qatar National Convention Centre in Doha on 10–11 December 2013.
Qatar Foundation's community development initiatives fall into three categories:
- Fostering a progressive society.
- Enhancing cultural life and protecting Qatar’s heritage.
- Addressing the community's immediate social needs.
- QatarDebate holds workshops and competitions to raise the standards of open discussion among Qatari students (it hosted the World Schools Debating Championship in 2010).
- Qatar Career Fair is annual event showcasing the range of career options available to Qatari students and graduates.
- Al Jazeera Children's Channel (JCC) is part of Qatar Foundation and is broadcast from the Foundation's Doha campus along with Baraem, the Arabic channel aimed at preschoolers.
- Al Shaqab is an equine education resource centre. Its amenities include a riding academy, an endurance training complex, and a centre for the breeding and showing of world-class Arabian horses. In March 2013 it held the international equestrian competition CHI Al Shaqab 2013.
- Qatar National Library includes collaborative and individual learning spaces, a children's library, 300 public computer workstations, digital media production facilities, performance spaces, a cafe, an adaptive technology center, writing and tutoring center, as well as the Arab and Islamic Heritage Library with its prized collection of books, periodicals, manuscripts, maps, and scientific instruments dating back to the 15th century.
- Mathaf: the Arab Museum of Modern Art was opened in 2010 in association with Qatar Museum Authority and hosts to exhibitions, programs and events that explore and celebrate art by Arab artists.
- Msheireb Properties is a commercial development south of the Diwan area, showcasing best practice architecture in rebuilding a new heart for the city. This project, originally called "Heart of Doha", was renamed "Msheireb" in reference to the historical name of the area.
- Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra was established in 2008; with around 100 musicians, it aims to enhance musical culture in Qatar.
- Reach Out To Asia (ROTA) is a charity initiative focused on assisting community development projects in Asian countries. It has responded to crises in places such as Pakistan, Indonesia, Lebanon, and Gaza.
- Qatar Diabetes Association provides programs and services to people coping with diabetes, a prominent problem in the Middle East.
- Social Development Center runs targeted community programs to help Qatari families achieve self-reliance. It promotes the building of stable and self-sufficient families by offering workplace training and engendering a positive work ethic in low-income families, women, and young people.
- The Doha International Family Institute (DIFI) conducts research and promotes scholarship on the legal, sociological and scientific basis of the family as the fundamental unit of society and challenges faced in the Arab region. The institute has special consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council ((UNECOSOC).
Qatar says it needs certain specialized skills for developing its economy, as outlined in Qatar National Vision 2030, so the Foundation has set up a number of commercial joint ventures with global partners. Profits generated are shared by both parties, with Qatar Foundation's share being ploughed back into its core nonprofit activities.
- Fitch Qatar is a joint venture design company that creates brands and develops corporate identities for businesses and other organizations.
- ASTAD Project Management is a 50/50 joint venture with Qatar Petroleum offering project management, engineering and construction consultancy services to Qatar and the region.
- Qatar MICE Development Institute (QMDI) is a joint venture with Singex Global to manage conferences, conventions, and other events.
- Qatar National Convention Centre was inaugurated in December 2011. It provides convention facilities including a 2,300-seat auditorium.
- Vodafone Qatar the second mobile operator in Qatar launched March 2009.
- MEEZA is an IT service provider catering to businesses.
- Qatar Solar Technologies (QSTec) is building a production plant in Ras Laffan Industrial City that will produce an initial 4,000 metric tons of polysilicon every year.
- Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation Publishing publishes books in Arabic and English to promote a culture of literacy throughout the region.
- Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation Journals is an open access, peer review academic publisher that makes research relevant to the region publicly available.
On 10 December 2010 FC Barcelona announced it had agreed a (shirt) sponsorship deal worth up to €170 million with Qatar Sports Investments to place Qatar Foundation's name on the front of the team's shirts, ending Barcelona's tradition of not accepting payment for sponsors displayed on its jersey. The deal included a clause allowing a switch in sponsor after the first two seasons, so Qatar Airways took over as the main sponsor in July 2013.
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- Qatar Foundation Establishes $500,000 WISE Prize for Education.
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