Agreements with Smithsonian Institution, NASA and Fulbright scholars unveiled at US-Qatar Strategic Dialogue

Qatar Foundation and Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU) sealed a trio of agreements with American institutions – including the country’s space agency – that span educational connections, water and climate change research, sport, and heritage preservation, at the latest in a series of annual meetings designed to strengthen ties between Qatar and the US.

The third US-Qatar Strategic Dialogue was held recently in Washington DC, building on the established bilateral relationship between the two countries and opening up more opportunities for new collaborations.

US-Qatar Strategic Dialogue - Education and Culture Session
US-Qatar Strategic Dialogue – Education and Culture Session

These include partnership deals between Qatar Foundation, Qatar Museums (QM) and the Smithsonian Institute – the world’s largest museum and research complex; as well as the announcement of a Mission Concept Formulation Study between HBKU and NASA to analyse the impact of rising sea levels and their effect on Qatar, and how changing climates affect the world’s arid regions.

A further agreement will also see two members of the Fulbright Scholars Program in the US spend a semester in Qatar to conduct research at HBKU.

For Qatar Foundation, partnerships and connections with the US are long-established and immeasurably valued, said HBKU President Dr Ahmad M Hasnah, who represented Qatar Foundation at the US-Qatar Strategic Dialogue, signing the MOU with the Smithsonian Institute and announcing the NASA partnership during the meeting.

From leading US universities who partnered with Qatar Foundation and have branch campuses within our Education City development in Doha, to the myriad research collaborations between our scientists and their US counterparts, these partnerships truly demonstrate how knowledge transcends borders.

To continuously develop the education offered in Qatar, to maximise the impact of the research and innovation they deliver, and foster the cross-cultural understanding that makes such an essential contribution to a more harmonious world, Qatar Foundation and HBKU believe that it is vital that bridges of collaboration are built and that partnership and knowledge are exchanged – benefiting each other by sharing with one another.

This belief is reflected both in our existing collaborations with partners in the US, and in those we have now announced at the US-Qatar Strategic Dialogue.

By partnering with the Smithsonian Institution, QF and the US organisation will work together to build knowledge and skills, and share experiences in innovation and STEM education at K-12 level; promote connections between sports and science through public engagement activities ahead of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™; and work together to preserve heritage documents, explore opportunities to co-develop and deliver digital education, and look at forming sustainability-focused research collaborations.

The MOU will also see QM and the Smithsonian Institute explore collaborations to mark the Qatar-US Year of Culture 2021, and share knowledge in areas including cultural innovation, digital literacy, digitising museum collections, and e-learning. They will also host conferences and joint training programmes, and organise the Woven Treasures Exhibition at the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M Sackler Gallery in Washington DC in 2021, which will showcase textiles from the Museum of Islamic Art.

Qatar Museums Chief Executive Officer Ahmad Musa Al Namla said their partnership with Smithsonian – a global and esteemed cultural institution – paves the way for Qatar and the United States to further strengthen their ties and collaborate in the fields of arts and culture.

Through the collaboration of QF and NASA, researchers from the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Earth Science Program and Qatar Environment and Energy Research Institute at HBKU will work together on a project to design a mission to probe beneath the sand dunes and ice sheets of some of the planet’s driest places.

The project will explore deeper understanding of aquifer systems and is in support of Qatar’s water security goals. It will also provide new knowledge about the effects of rising water levels due to melting polar ice caps. The latter is of critical importance for Qatar, where most urban areas are only a metre above sea level.

The two Fulbright scholars who will be spending a semester at Qatar Foundation in 2021 will work on research projects and teach at HBKU. Their areas of expertise are Alzheimer’s disease treatments and hydrology, and the application of Artificial Intelligence in civil and environmental engineering.

Dr Hasnah said the agreement coincides perfectly with their commitment to exploring and establishing joint degree programmes with US institutions, not to mention enhancing student exchange and mobility.

We would like to host more US students at Qatar Foundation, and enable more Qatari students and scholars from Qatar Foundation to study in the US.

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