Today, in its 20th year anniversary, Qatar Foundation can reflect upon two decades of success equipping the country and its people with the knowledge and skills to develop their nation through its dedication to unlocking the human potential of the people of Qatar with groundbreaking initiatives in its three strategic pillars of Education, Science and Research, and Community Development.
This success has arisen thanks to foresight and long-term planning. The Father Emir, HH Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, set out his analysis about how to maximise the nation’s opportunities in the 21st century, as well as the solutions to enable the transition from an economy dominated by oil and gas, at the launch of Qatar Foundation’s Education City campus. He said:
The new world educational system recognises that education is a universal right and hence enables students wherever they might be to have access to the means of innovation, creativity, acquisition of knowledge and expertise and the practice of responsibility.’
This explanation underscored the concept for the future development of the country aimed at providing the Qatari people with greater opportunities in the fields of education, health and social development. It lay at the cornerstone of the inauguration of Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development which HH Sheikh Hamad and his wife, HH Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, made into a reality in early 1995. The driving belief in the importance of knowledge and equipping the nation to make the most of its future came from a very human instinct as explained by HH:
As a mother, I wanted to provide an exceptional, quality education for my children. Education is a principle rooted in a centuries-old heritage, with branches extending in all directions, drinking from the springs of knowledge, whether eastern or western…as soon as I started thinking about this, I was struck. I was struck by the reality that the need for exceptional, quality education was not just for me and my family but it is a universal social issue which needs comprehensive solutions. From that point, I worked in my capacity as wife of the then Heir Apparent – and feeling like a mother to all of Qatar’s children, with everything I could aspire to for them.’
Since initiating the concept dedicated to unlocking human potential, HH has served as Chairperson of QF driving its vision to lead human, social and economic development through education and research, so that Qatar is both a vanguard for productive change in the region and an international role model. Just a year on from Their Highnesses’ visionary conversation, Qatar Academy was opened in 1996 as the first tiny seed in QF’s commitment to education. Starting as young as six months through primary and secondary education before university higher education learning at undergraduate, graduate and doctoral candidate level, the QF system culture of learning nurtures creativity and innovation, and prioritises the cultivation of research skills. Every student has the opportunity to develop the foundation of knowledge that will help them succeed then progress to the next stage of their education within Qatar Foundation ensuring that young Qataris receive a firm grounding as part of the long-term preparation of the nation’s future leaders.
Twenty years on, QF today includes Qatar Academy, The Academic Bridge Program, Awsaj Academy, Qatar Leadership Academy, Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar (VCUQatar), Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar (WCMC-Q), Texas A&M University at Qatar (TAMUQ), Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar (CMU-Q), Georgetown School of Foreign Service in Qatar (SFS-Q), Northwestern University in Qatar (NU-Q), HEC Paris in Qatar, University College London Qatar, Qatar Faculty of Islamic Studies, Qatar National Library, Reach Out to Asia, Mathaf: the Arab Museum of Modern Art, Al Shaqab, Al Jazeera Children’s Channel (JCC) and many more.
The success of QF’s first university partnership underscored the power of QF’s ideas in higher education which soon led to the inauguration of Education City in 2003 and the growth to nine institutions represented on the site today. The concept of bringing together a range of world class universities on a single campus is nurturing the nation’s future doctors, engineers, computer scientists and diplomats, with an increasing number graduating every year. Students receive a broad, open education and benefit from a variety of programmes that fully allows the next generations to forge their own path in life through education, science and research.
In particular, Hamad bin Khalifa University is a home-grown institution that focuses its research on national priorities and has been mandated to initiate graduate degrees supporting the principles set out by the Qatar National Vision 2030. Through these and many other initiatives, the nation’s students are enabled with the skills and experience to fulfill their own aspirations as well as contribute to their communities and enable Qatar to excel on a global level.
QF and its centres’ support for science and research are driving breakthroughs in fields as diverse as energy and the environment, biomedical and cardiovascular research, computing and much more. From the outset comes a commitment to investment in a wide range of research in order to foster commercially viable projects that will contribute to the new knowledge economy through Qatar National Research Fund. This works in tandem with QF’s promotion of a culture of innovation through the entire education cycle that encourages new thinking.
QF then helps students and researchers develop their ideas through its home-grown Research Institutes and other partners. Finally, commercialisation of new innovations is facilitated by Qatar Science and Technology Park, a free-zone where tenants include innovative Qatari start-ups alongside multinational household names.
All of QF’s initiatives have community development at their core in order to foster the growth of a dynamic, caring and progressive society which simultaneously promotes active citizenship and preserves the nation’s traditions and cultural heritage. With initiatives in art and literature as well as health, family policy and sustainability, QF is proving its commitment to social development alongside the growth of the knowledge economy.
As it enters its third decade, QF continues to make breakthroughs across its three pillars of education, science and research and community at a national level, across the region and beyond. With the timeless vision and objectives for unlocking human potential, under the guidance of HH, QF will continue to support the nation as it provides for the needs of the current generation whilst meeting the challenges and promoting the opportunities of tomorrow.