HRH Sophie the Countess of Wessex from the United Kingdom, travelled to Doha this week onboard the ORBIS_Flying_Eye_Hospital to meet local medical specialists and ambassadors in Qatar. This builds on the success of last year’s inaugural visit of the unique training facility housed within a DC-10 airplane.


Having most recently seen the sight-saving work of the charity in Kolkata, the Countess  is visiting Doha to engage with Qatar’s philanthropic community in support of ORBIS’s initiatives providing eye care to children in low income areas like rural India, Cameroon, Bangladesh, Ethiopia and Zambia.

Together with ORBIS, a press roundtable was held at the Oryx Rotana Hotel to share views on childhood_blindness and highlight the ORBIS message that education is much harder to access if a child has sight problems.  Members of the ORBIS team explained that if sight problems aren’t addressed early on in life, they can become irreversible. The Countess highlighted how life with no access to education or employment can mean a loss of independence, so by restoring sight ORBIS can also restore opportunity.

Dr Robert Walters, ORBIS EMEA Chairman, said:

According to the World Health Organisation, there are approximately 1.5 million blind children in the world, of whom approximately one million live in Asia and approximately 300 000 in Africa. Each year, an estimated half a million more children become blind, up to 60% of whom die in childhood.’


The Countess said:

In 2012, ORBIS and its partners provided some 4,500,000 treatments, more than 55,545 surgeries and trained over 20,830 doctors, nurses and others. International sight-saving charity ORBIS trains eye care teams in developing countries so they can prevent blindness in their communities.’

The education of the young, a subject I know that is close to the heart of HH Sheika Moza, is of enormous importance in tackling poverty and in providing a brighter future.  But if a child cannot see they find it almost impossible to gain access to education, therefore becoming an untenable burden on their family and turning an already desperate situation into a crisis.’

Visits Qatar Foundation


Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development hosted The Countess on 24 September 2013. A welcoming committee received the Countess and her delegation at the Qatar Foundation Visitors Center.

The Countess of Wessex and her delegation were first shown a presentation that outlined the vision and mission of Qatar Foundation. They were also introduced to Qatar Foundation’s many educational initiatives, community development plans, and scientific research programmes.

During the visit, the Countess was also briefed on Qatar Foundation’s various sustainability initiatives and climate action solutions. After the presentation, she was shown an impressive 3D scale model of the buildings and construction projects that are underway at Qatar Foundation.

As the visit to Qatar Foundation drew to a close, the Countess signed the visitor’s book and was later accompanied on a tour of Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar.

Visits Qatar Science And Technology Park

HRH the Countess of Wessex on 26 September 2013 toured the Qatar Robotic Surgery Centre (QRSC) at Qatar Science and Technology Park (QSTP) in her capacity as Patron of the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness.


The Countess of Wessex and ORBIS Chairman Dr Robert Walters
welcomed to QSTP by Dr Thomas Zacharia and Hamad Al Kuwari

Welcomed to QSTP by Dr Thomas Zacharia, Qatar Foundation’s Executive Vice President of Research and Development, and QSTP Managing Director, Hamad Al Kuwari, the Countess lauded ambitious training efforts underway at QRSC, highlighting the critical role technology development in the health sector plays in combatting conditions like blindness.

QRSC, a pioneering training, demonstration and technology-development facility, has taken a leadership role in the MENA region by training more and more doctors each year to improve surgery outcomes using minimally-invasive, cutting edge medical technology.

Dr Zacharia said:

QSTP and ORBIS have lots in common as we work in parallel to apply research and develop technologies that lift our communities. Both QRSC and the famous Flying Eye Hospital have track records of excellence in training practitioners and using cutting edge developments from the laboratory to improve lives outside of it. We are grateful to have had the opportunity to share our vision, exchange knowledge, and learn from our peers.

Qatar Science & Technology Park and Qatar Foundation were key stops on a wider tour by the Countess held in conjunction with ORBIS, a global non-profit committed to treatment and prevention of blindness in developing countries around the world.