Qatar Foundation

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Qatar Foundation
Qatar Foundation logo.jpg
Formation 1995 (1995)
Type Non-profit organization
Headquarters Education City, Doha, Qatar[1]
  • 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 then-emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani and his second wife Moza bint Nasser. In addition to private funding, it is government-supported and in some ways government-funded.[2] Qatar Foundation (QF), chaired by Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, has spearheaded Qatar's endeavors to establish itself as a leader in education, science, and cultural development on both, a regional and global scale.[3] QF has stated an aim "to support Qatar on its journey from a carbon economy to a knowledge economy by unlocking human potential."[4]

The organization's initiatives are oriented towards education, science and research, and community development. It has solicited a number of international universities to establish campuses in Qatar as part of its goal to develop a youth population with the necessary expertise to maintain a knowledge economy. Its main science and research agenda is developing Qatar's technological capacity by researching new technologies which can be successfully commercialized. In addition to diversifying the economy, this strategy also helps satisfy Qatar's aim of becoming a research and development hub.[5] The foundation's social development programs aim to preserve Qatar's culture, "foster a progressive society" and to confront pressing social issues.[6]

Joint venture partnerships in the areas of design, information and communication technologies, policy studies, and event management also contribute to fulfilling the objectives of Qatar Foundation. Several small Qatari firms have thrived under the auspices of the Foundation; one example being Pragmatech, a subsidiary of United Development Company which has established a reputation for its text processing, document summarizing and referencing software.[7]


K–12 education[edit]

In primary and secondary education, Qatar Foundation has several initiatives. Examples include establishing five Qatar Academy branches,[8] opening Awsaj Academy, a school for children with learning difficulties,[9] and opening Qatar Leadership Academy in collaboration with the Qatar Armed Forces.[10] Furthermore, the foundation launched the Academic Bridge Program, a post-secondary school program that helps students transition from high school to university.[11]

A major reform of the K–12 education system was embarked upon by Qatar Foundation in 2003, resulting in the formation of the RAND-Qatar Policy Institute and the subsequent publishing of the institute's assessment and recommendations in Education for a New Era: Design and Implementation of K-12 Education Reform in Qatar. As a response to declining standardized test scores, Qatar Foundation terminated its partnership with the RAND Corporation in 2013.[12]

Higher education[edit]

In higher education, Qatar Foundation established branch campuses of eight international universities at the main campus just outside Doha:

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 master's degrees in Islamic finance, contemporary Islamic studies and Islamic public policy.

Roughly half of these universities' students are Qatari,[21] and it is claimed that around 90 different nationalities in total are represented by the students, faculty and staff at the Foundation campus.[22]

The Foundation has managed to make an 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.[23] 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.[24]


As part of the Foundation's activities 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.[25]

Science and research[edit]

A program known as the Qatar Science Leadership Program was initiated in 2008 in order to help develop aspiring applied science students. In 2014, the program's first PhD scholar graduated from university.[26] The majority of the universities on Qatar Foundation's campus run their own research programs, often collaborating with QF's own applied research bodies.[27] 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.[28]

Stars of Science, a reality TV show was launched in 2009 in order to discover "young Arab innovators". The show features Arab innovators who compete to transform ideas into marketable products. A cash prize of $1 million is awarded to the winner.[29]

Research initiatives[edit]

A notable research initiative organized by Qatar Foundation is the Qatar National Research Fund (QNRF), which was established in 2006.[30] The QNRF subsidizes competitively selected research by both local and international researchers for projects that adhere to Qatar's national research strategy. This initiative is geared towards the development of a knowledge-based economy.[31]

In 2007, a research division was established at Qatar Foundation to manage developing a scientific community in Qatar. It has hosted several international conferences in the fields of biotechnology, nanotechnology, and stem cell research.[32] The research division also formed the Distinguished Lecture Series, which exposes Qatari students, researchers, and the public to distinguished scientists.[33]

The Qatar Science & Technology Park (QSTP), a research and development hub, was inaugurated in March 2009.[34] At an investment of more than $800 million by Qatar Foundation,[35] it became Qatar's first free-trade zone.[36] In 2010, the Qatar Computing Research Institute (QCRI) was founded as a vehicle to conduct multidisciplinary applied computing research. Research topics include Arabic language computer technologies, computer security and data analysis.[37]

Environmental initiatives[edit]

In the environmental sciences, Qatar Foundation founded the Qatar Green Building Council in 2009 with the aim of promoting the importance of environmental sustainability.[38]

The Qatar Environmental & Energy Research Institute (QEERI) was launched in 2011 and encompasses the fields of energy, environment, food and water resources. The institute's vision places an emphasis on the research of alternative energy technology.[39]

Medicine initiatives[edit]

In 2012, the Qatar Biomedical Research Institute (QBRI) was established to develop translational biomedical research and biotechnology, focusing on diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular diseases.[40] Another initiative launched by Qatar Foundation is the Sidra Medical and Research Center, which is set to be the first hospital of its kind in the Middle East region. Endowed with $7.9 billion by Qatar Foundation, it is a large-scale project designed with upscale healthcare and education facilities intended to provide health services to the whole GCC region.[41] After several delays, the opening was postponed to 2016.[42]


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.[43] 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 under the auspices of Qatar Foundation.[44] The inaugural World Innovation Summit for Health (WISH) was launched by Qatar Foundation at the Qatar National Convention Centre in December 2013. The event witnessed over 500 attendees from 40 different countries discuss international health problems.[45]

Social development[edit]

Qatar Foundation's community development initiatives are based on three primary pillars. The first pillar mandates the "fostering of a progressive society". Secondly, "enhancing cultural life and protecting Qatar’s heritage" is enshrined in the foundation's community development policy.[6] This goal is signified by the presence of the a sidra tree in the foundation's logo, a symbol associated with the Islamic Sidrat al-Muntaha and an evergreen tree, Ziziphus spina-christi, which is native to Qatar.[46] The last pillar involves "addressing the community's immediate social needs".[6] An example of an initiative designed to meet this goal is the Qatar Diabetes Association, which was incorporated in Qatar Foundation in order to raise public awareness of the rising rates of diabetes and assist in its management.[47]

Arts and culture initiatives[edit]

Al Shaqab, an equine education resource centre, became a member of Qatar Foundation in 2004.[48] The institution is considered a testament to the historic role that horse racing and breeding played in Qatari culture.[49] Facilities include a riding academy, an endurance training complex, and a centre for the breeding and showing of Arabian horses.[50]

Al Jazeera Children's Channel (JCC) was launched in 2005 as a joint venture between Al Jazeera and Qatar Foundation with the aim of "preserving Arab cultural identity". With 90 percent of the channel being owned by Qatar Foundation, it broadcast from the Foundation's Doha campus along with Baraem, the Arabic channel aimed at preschoolers. Al Jazeera announced in 2013 that it was in the process of acquiring full ownership of the channel.[51]

In 2006, Qatar National Library (then known as Dar Al Kutub Library) became a member of Qatar Foundation.[52] On November 19, 2012, Moza bint Nasser, chairperson of Qatar Foundation, announced plans for a new national library.[53] Education City was chosen as the location of the new library.[54] A notable attraction within the library is the Arab and Islamic Heritage section which contains a historic collection of books, periodicals, manuscripts, maps, and scientific instruments dating back to the 15th century.[52] One of the largest online collections of historic records on the Persian Gulf countries was digitized in October 2014 and made available on the website of the Qatar Digital Library (QDL).[55] The website was the culmination of a partnership established between Qatar Foundation, Qatar National Library, and the British Library in 2012.[56]

In 2008, the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra was established.[57] Founded with a base of around 100 musicians, the orchestra's mission is to augment Qatar's cultural climate by honoring both Arab and Western musical culture through public performances.[58]

Qatar Foundation opened Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art in December 2010 in association with Qatar Museums Authority. In addition to hosting exhibitions, the museum holds one of the largest collections of sculptures and paintings by Arab artists in the world.[59] The museum has also published an online encyclopedia of Arab artists.[60]

Msheireb Properties (a subsidiary of Qatar Foundation) initiated a $5.5 billion commercial development project in Doha in January 2010.[61] Originally called "Heart of Doha", the project was renamed "Msheireb Downtown Doha" in reference to the historical name of the area.[62]

Community initiatives[edit]

The Qatar Diabetes Association, founded in 1995, became a member of Qatar Foundation in 1999. Its mission is to provide programs and services to assist the general public in the management and prevention of diabetes.[63]

The Social Development Center was established in 1996 by Moza bint Nasser to organize community programs for Qatari families.[64] It promotes the building of stable and self-sufficient families by offering workplace training and providing courses in financial management. Another cardinal goal of the center involves promoting Islamic social values.[65]

Qatar Foundation established Reach Out To Asia (ROTA) – a charity initiative focused on assisting community development projects in Asian countries – in 2005. ROTA campaigns for education in developing countries.[66] The organization has carried out activities in countries such as Pakistan, Indonesia, Lebanon, and Gaza.[67]

In 2006, Moza bint Nasser founded The Doha International Family Institute (DIFI). The institute conducts research and promotes scholarship on the legal, sociological and scientific basis of the family as the fundamental unit of society. It has consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (UNECOSOC).[68]


The QatarDebate Center was established in 2007. In addition to organizing workshops and competitions with the intent of raising the standards of open discussion among Qatari students, the center also hosted the World Schools Debating Championship in 2010.[69] Also launched in 2007 was the Qatar Career Fair (QCF), an annual event held at the Qatar National Convention Centre which showcases the range of career options available to Qatari students and graduates.[70]

The Qatar National Convention Centre was inaugurated by QF in December 2011.[71] It features a 2,300-seat auditorium.[72]

Joint ventures[edit]

Joint ventures in the fields of science and research, education and social development are deemed essential to Qatar's transition from an oil-based economy to a knowledge-based economy, as outlined in the Qatar National Vision 2030.[73] Thus, 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 portion being distributed into its core nonprofit activities.[74]

Fitch Qatar is a joint venture design company that creates brands and develops corporate identities for businesses and other organizations.[75] It was jointly created by QF with Fitch London. Some of the company's clientele include the National Health Authority, the Qatar Museums Authority, and Barwa Group.[76]

Qatar MICE Development Institute (QMDI) is a joint venture created with Singex Global to manage conferences, conventions, and other events.[77] It was formed in 2007. One of the company's main areas of focus is the QF's Qatar National Convention Centre.[78]

Vodafone entered in a partnership with QF to establish Vodafone Qatar in 2008. It was granted a fixed telecommunications in September 2008, thereby becoming the second mobile network operator to be licensed in the country.[79] It officially launched its services in Qatar in March 2009.[80]

Launched in November 2008, MEEZA is a joint-venture IT service provider catering to businesses.[81] It was established to support Qatar's ICT sector amidst the country's population boom and technological transition.[82] A major agreement was reached by Meeza in December 2015 stipulating the management of Maersk Oil's IT operations in Qatar.[83]

Qatar Solar Technologies (QSTec) is an alternative energy company created in 2010 as part of a partnership between Qatar Foundation, SolarWorld and Qatar Development Bank.[84] In December 2011, QSTec announced that it would be constructing a production plant in Ras Laffan Industrial City with a planned initial capacity of 4,000 metric tons of polysilicon every year.[85]

Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation Publishing (BQFP), launched in tandem with Bloomsbury Publishing, became the first publishing house to be established in Qatar in December 2008.[86] It formerly published books in Arabic and English with the mission of promoting a culture of literacy throughout the region.[87] It became defunct in December 2015 and all of its publications were incorporated in the newly established HBKU Press, a member of QF. At the time of BQFP's dissolution it had published over 200 books.[88] Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation Journals (BQFJ), an open access, peer review academic publisher, was also incorporated in HBKU Press.[88] BQFJ began publishing journal research articles through its website in December 2010, during the 2010 Qatar Foundation Annual Research Forum.[89] The website maintained more than fifteen specialized and multidisciplinary journals in 2014.[90]


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.[91][92]

In October 2011, the Wikimedia Foundation announced a plan to work with the Qatar Foundation to support the growth of the Arabic Wikipedia.[93] Later, the media reported that the Wikipedia page for the Qatar Foundation was allegedly edited by a public relations associate of the foundation, for which there was "strong, if circumstantial evidence".[94] It was claimed by Qatar Foundation in November 2015 that the partnership had culminated in the creation of over 6,000 articles on the Arabic Wikipedia.[95]


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External links[edit]