Qatar ranks 22nd in the entire world – in between Italy (23rd) and Spain (21st) – a remarkable feat for a small desert nation with little arable land and no natural fresh water source. Qatar’s high ranking underscores its robustness in the face of an illegal blockade cutting off its only land border and much of its surrounding airspace.
The intense environmental roadblocks to securing domestic food sources in Qatar have led the country to make food security a national priority. This prioritization has been spearheaded by the Qatar National Food Security Program, which researches and implements agricultural innovations to develop local farms and food sources.
The illegal blockade on Qatar has accelerated the country’s food security initiatives. Hassad food, Qatar’s main food and agriculture investor, launched the Iktefa Initiative to improve domestic farm productivity and the Qatar Islamic Bank is spending $435.8 million on a food security facility to manufacture and store rice, sugar, and edible oils.
(Image Source: Qatar Foundation)
Benjamin Cieslinski and Dr. Mohamed Gharib of Texas A&M University at Qatar launched this year’s Science and Engineering Road Show. The road show introduces younger students to STEM concepts, including subjects like temperature, pressure, polymers, and more. Last year, the six-month show reached 6,100 students from 23 schools.
The aim of the road show is to increase the level of student interest in STEM fields. This years mission hopes to expand on last years numbers by increasing the student count by 2000+ students, including adding 100+ teachers, and reaching out to over 60 schools in Qatar.
About Texas A&M in Qatar
The satellite campus for Texas A&M opened in the fall of 2003. The campus in Qatar specializes in Bachelor of Science degrees in chemical engineering, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, and petroleum engineering. The campus also offers two graduate degrees in chemical engineering: a Master of Science (M.S.) and a Master of Engineering (M.Eng.).
The inaugural class of Texas A&M at Qatar began with 29 students, 24 of whom were Qatari and 15 female. To this day, the campus has produced almost 850 engineers, hosts more than 20 student organizations and clubs, and produces research relevant to the Qatari state worth around $236.4 million.
(Image Source: Texas A&M – Qatar )
$2.5 million of the $30 million Qatar Harvey Fund will help reopen Harris County’s Third Ward Riverside Hospital. The hospital is planned to reopen in 2021. The Qatar Harvey Fund was committed in September, 2017 following the devastation of Hurricane Harvey to the Houston, Texas area. The announcement was made at a news conference at the site of the former Riverside Hospital with a focus on having the site be redeveloped into a primary care facility with a focus on mental health.
The announcement was jointly made by H.E. Sheikh Meshal bin Hamad Al-Thani, the Qatari ambassador to the United States; U.S. Rep Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Houston; and Harris County Precinct 1 Commissioner Rodney Ellis.
“The Qatar Harvey Fund is proud to partner with Harris County on the Riverside Hospital Project. From its very beginning, the fund’s goal has been to support long-term rebuilding efforts for families and communities most affected by Hurricane Harvey. This redevelopment and expansion will both restore a historic neighborhood institution and provide the Third Ward with much needed health services — a critical need for enduring recovery.” – H.E. Sheikh Meshal Bin Hamad Al Thani, Qatari Ambassador to the United States
The hospital was originally opened in 1918, then renamed Riverside Hospital in 1961. The hospital closed in 2015 due to financial instability. Harris County purchased the site in 2018, but it has remained vacant and in need of serious repair.
“There’s nothing like having a hospital like this in our neighborhood… It provides jobs and opportunities.” – J.A. Ward Junior, former Houston ISD teacher
Qatar’s efforts following Hurricane Harvey fall under a greater pattern of assistance that the nation has offered globally. In 2005, Qatar made a $100 million relief contribution to the Gulf Coast states of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama after Hurricane Katrina. The Qatar Katrina Fund donated the $100 million in aid relief to three main aspects of reconstruction: $38.2 million to education, $34.4 million to housing, and $27.4 million to healthcare.
(Image Source: Houston Chronicle)
1- “We have always to be sensitive to our culture, because the idea is not to provoke, in terms of go against our beliefs – but to provoke a thought. To make people think of what is happening around the world.”
Within a few years since she founded and chaired Qatar Museums (QM), Sheikha Al-Mayassa has uniquely acquired her position as a global leader in arts, culture, and philanthropy. She has has developed Qatar’s vision for arts and culture blending the global with the local arts. For instance, Qatari artists, like Hana Al-Saadi, sharpen their talent and gain world-fame through art educational programs and exhibitions sponsored by Qatar Museums. On the other hand, international artists and art pieces from all around the world find a new home in Qatar, such as American artist Richard Serra’s East-West/West-East found to complement the Qatari desert.
2- “I do believe, yes, that culture gives you an opportunity – or an excuse even – to talk about things that you may find difficult.”
Since the establishment of the Museum of Islamic Art (MIA), which was designed by the renown Chinese-American architect I.M. Pei and is celebrating this November its 10th opening anniversary, Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, or the new National Museum of Qatar, Qatar has provided the world with an opportunity for enlightenment and dialogue; to engage and understand the multifaceted Islamic traditions, Arab heritage, and Qatari identity. In addition to establishing institutions for the visual arts, Sheikha Al-Mayassa has founded the Doha Film Institute (DFI), Reach out to Asia (ROTA), and the newly Fashion Trust Arabia which are other creative cultural outlets built to empower, bridge cross-cultural divisions, and connect with local and regional stories through film, education, and fashion respectively.
3- “You’re right, we have done a lot of exhibitions with female artists. But to be honest, when we look at the exhibitions, we think about the content and the story. Less about the gender – supporting male artists is just as important to us as supporting female artists.”
Historically, the art scene in Qatar has been dominated by male artists. Providing more opportunities for female artists have increased women participation in arts and shifted this male-dominance. However, both women and men in Qatar can find equal opportunities to express their artistic aspirations and inspirations. Whether at schools teaching fine arts such as Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar (VCU-Q), or through professional art-residency programs at home and overseas, the growing Qatari talent capital is one of the country’s rich assets and legacy.
4- “Women have made tremendous leaps into different sectors, and hold many important roles in Qatari society.”
Indeed, women in Qatar are granted equal constitutional rights alongside their male counterparts. For decades, women in Qatar have had the right to equal education and employment, competed for leadership and executive positions, and enjoyed the freedom to drive. H.H. Sheikha Moza bint Nasser Al-Misnad, the mother of H.E. Sheikha Al-Mayassa, is one of the first leaders to adopt and implement women rights and social reforms in Qatar through education projects, such as Qatar Foundation. From women politicians and ICT reformers like Dr. Hessa Al-Jaber, to female Olympian athletes like Nada Arkaji, Qatari women subtly defy the stereotypical image about them and other women in their region.
5- “When centers of economies and powers change, then the artistic directions also change. So – I don’t know what the situation is going to be in 100 years from now, but I think things are continuously evolving.”
When Qatar announced its National Vision (QNV2030) 10 years ago, the country’s mission to diversify its economy and build a knowledge-based nation has been clear. Whether preparing to deliver a mega-sports event like the 2022 FIFA World Cup, or fighting against unforeseen regional rifts, Qatar aims for sustainable change. Sheikha Al-Mayassa’s strive is contributing immensely to this growth placing Qatar as a pioneering hub in the art and culture world.
To learn more about the 100 years of arts in Qatar, visit our page
(Image Source: Harpers Bazaar)
The Qatar News Agency, through the Ministry of Defense, announced the arrival of the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier Essex (LHD-2) at Doha Port, within the joint military cooperation between the State of Qatar and the United States to combat terrorism and extremism. The visit reaffirmed the bilateral commitment between Qatar & the United States to maintain regional security, ensure continuous operations of the business’ in the region, and to protect the surrounding navigation routes. It is important to note that this is the largest US vessel to have ever entered Qatari waters.
Additionally, a few days prior to the arrival of the Essex, Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani met with U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad. The two officials agreed to support progress toward a negotiated settlement to end the war in Afghanistan in cooperation with both the people and government of Afghanistan. The Special Representative, Khalilzad, stressed how appreciative the United States was for the Qatari government’s partnership within the ongoing Afghan peace process.
Late last month, The 2017 annual terrorism report on Qatar was released marking a significant achievement in US – Qatar security relations, highlighting Qatar’s historic progress in combatting terrorism & terrorism finance, unprecedented cooperation with U.S. counterterrorism agencies, and regional and international efforts to counter violent extremism, in line with the U.S. military’s strategic counterterrorism objectives and strategies.
Qatar is both a pioneer and humanitarian leader in food security. The Qatar Fund for Development is the donor of the United Nations Fund for Recovery Reconstruction and Development in Darfur, a project whose focus includes securing access to clean water and creating agricultural spaces for grains, livestock, and more to secure local supply of staple foods. Supporting food and water security internationally is a major priority in Qatar’s foreign policy.
“Get ahead” participants are now ready to feast on the delicacies they have learnt to produce in the training provided by @ilo under the #Livelihoods #FaST_Activity in North Darfur funded by @qatar_fund through the #UNDF pic.twitter.com/f4GliJvYXx
— UN Darfur Fund (@UNDarfurFund) August 12, 2018
Food security has also been a domestic priority for Qatar. With no natural source of clean water and heavy reliance on food imports, Qatar justifiably aims to secure its domestic food supply. In 2012, Qatar launched the Qatar National Food Security Program, which aims to research and implement innovations in agriculture to secure access to food. The program has ramifications not just for Qatar, but for the entire world as climate change endangers agriculture in developing nations. The strategy has been tested and accelerated as the illegal blockade has endangered Qatar’s food supply.
The Qatar Biomedical Research Institute, an institute within Hamad Bin Khalifa University, has signed a research agreement with the Harvard Stem Cell Institute to research stem cell biology, a key field in treatment of diabetes. Recent advances in stem cell biology at Harvard have helped identify treatments for both type 1 and 2 diabetes.
“This partnership with HSCI is another step towards our primary goal of conducting research that has tangible, meaningful impact on the wider community. Innovation and entrepreneurial vision are at the core of QBRI’s activities. This partnership with leading stem cell researchers at Harvard is a crucial step in spurring progress towards our strategic vision, to solve some of the critical challenges facing Qatar and the region. Thanks to this agreement, newly recruited investigators at QBRI will be engaging in ground-breaking research within the largest collaborative network of stem-cell researchers in the world.” -Dr. Omar El Agnaf, acting executive director at QBRI
The collaboration will focus on exchanging knowledge and best practices to discover clinical applications in stem cell biology, and will include stakeholders like the Hamad Medical Corporation and Sidra Medicine.
“Qatar has been proactive in building scientific capacity in the Middle East, and its current focus on stem cell biology shows its commitment to supporting progress in personalized medicine. Partnering with QBRI allows us to share knowledge and expertise efficiently through advanced training, and to conduct meaningful research with a focus on translation. We are really looking forward to working together, and to seeing what new opportunities for discovery arise as a result.” –Brock Reeve, executive director of HSCI
Georgetown Announces New Executive Master’s in Leadership, Policy, and Innovation with Qatar Leadership Centre
Yousuf Al Jaida, CEO of the Qatar Financial Centre, spoke to CNBC’s Nancy Hungerford on Thursday about the impact the illegal blockade has had on Qatar. He characterized the blockade as an opportunity for Qatar to accelerate its reforms and diversify its trade.
“We are seeing a shift in Qatar economics and the entire region. As you know, Qatar is currently going through a blockade from neighboring countries but that hasn’t been all that bad… It’s been a catalyst for change for the entire nation.” -Yousuf Al Jaida, CEO of the Qatar Financial Centre
Al Jaida said that the blockade prompted Qatar to pursue more foreign direct investment. The Qatar Financial Centre focuses on promoting Qatar as an ideal environment for businesses to establish operations, based on its English common law legal environment, the right to trade in any currency, the 10% corporate tax on local profits, and more.
“We’ve allowed 100 percent foreign ownership across all sectors, we’ve allowed visas from 80 different nations and (allowed citizens) to get visas on arrival, which hasn’t happened in the past ever before, and we’re at looking at also doing things differently.” -Yousuf Al Jaida
Due to the airspace restrictions from the blockade countries, it is now difficult for multinational companies with business in Qatar to travel to Qatar. Qatar has responded by establishing a hub for multinationals to open offices. The number of firms licensed to operate in Qatar rose 66% in 2017, and the number of firms using QFC’s platformed increased 32.5% in 2017.
“Companies that used to service Qatar from outside the country can no longer do that so they’ve been relocating to Qatar to service their clients, which means more FDI, more companies on the ground and more jobs being created because of the blockade. So it’s a very interesting dynamic that’s happening during the blockade and we expect this to continue all the way to 2022.”
(Image Source: Francisco Anzola)
On Thursday, October 4th 2018, QAI proudly sponsored the One Night One Goal fundraiser for DC Scores– the official youth soccer club of D.C. United. The event took place at Audi Field, the new home of Major League Soccer team D.C. United.
Event attendees were joined by special guests, including: D.C. United forward Wayne Rooney and his teammates, head coach Ben Olsen, Maryland Congressman John Delaney, and executives from the Audi Group.
The fundraiser featured tours of the new stadium, specialty cocktails and cuisine from Jose Andres’ ThinkFoodGroup, and a live auction, including a broadcast with Dave Johnson, a new Audi R8, and tickets and roundtrip airfare to see Chelsea vs. Manchester United. The event raised $320,000 for DC Scores, which will help in supporting enormous sports activities and programs throughout the year.
Sports play a large role in Qatari culture. In 2004, Qatar established a renown Sports Academy called Aspire Academy, which is is mandated to provide sports training and education to students with sporting potential not only locally from Qatar but also from all over the world. Then in 2006, Qatar hosted the Asian Games, the second largest multi-sporting event in the world after the Olympics. Qatar’s excellent delivery of the Asian Games was a clear indication of the country’s readiness and willingness to host more Mega-Sports Events, such as the FIFA World Cup.
In 2010, Qatar won the bid to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup becoming the first Arab and Middle Eastern country to host the popular tournament. The World Cup has served as a catalyst for a series of national reforms, such as reforms in migrant labor rights, including a minimum wage, an anonymous grievance hotline for World Cup workers, and the lifting of the exit visa requirement.
Another reform that Qatar focused on is developing its social and human capital, and one example of this development is establishing Qatar National Sport Day. Since 2012, the second Tuesday of February each year is a national holiday dedicated to celebrate the country’s mission in encouraging its people for healthy and active lifestyle. From the Emir of Qatar, H.H. Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, joining youth groups to play soccer, to women empowered by H.H. Sheikha Moza bint Nasser Al-Misnad cycling in public spaces, or citizens, expats, and migrant workers competing in marathons and free all-day sports events and classes, Qatar’s strive to build a culture of athleticism and sports is integrated in its national vision, (Qatar National Vision 2030).
“One Night, One Goal” – Event Gallery
On Sep 21st, 2018, QAI was thrilled to start its first collaboration and outreach on the US’s west coast by attending the opening of the DeYoung’s Contemporary Muslim Fashions Exhibition in San Fransisco, CA.
According to the exhibition, Contemporary Muslim Fashions showcases 80 fashion pieces and 40 photographs of garments from established and emerging designers in high-end fashion, streetwear, sportswear, and couture from all across the Muslim world. For instance, Qatari fashion icons and designers have key participation and presence in this exhibition.
Qatari fashion designers like Wadha Al-Hajri , Fahad bin Mohammed (known as “Fahad Signature“), and Mariam Al Remaihi, in addition to Qatari jewelry designers such as Papillon Jewelry have all contributed with unique designs that reflect both Qatari identity and Muslim modest-wear. Sheikha Raya Al-Khalifa lent a couple of her traditional outfits and her unique “Fanar,” Arabic for traditional lamp, clutch.
The exhibition’s “grand finale” is dedicated to Her Highness Sheikha Moza bin Nasser Al-Misnad, with four distinctive outfits from her fashion collection accomplished by a short film demonstrating Her Highness’s international humanitarian efforts, especially in education. The exhibited pieces are symbolic of Her Highness’s career not only in diplomacy as the Father Emir’s wife, but also as a prominent leader, philanthropist, and advocate for education through her worldly initiatives, such as Qatar Foundation and Education Above All.
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“We are so pleased to have so many Qatari loans in the exhibition. The exhibition ends with a grand finale with four exquisite pieces from Sheikha Moza, and they have really captured the essence of everything that we want to express in this exhibition; that women are stylish, world leaders, and making positive changes in the world.”
– Jill D’Alessandro, Curator in Charge of Costume and Textile Arts at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco and Co-Curator of Contemporary Muslim Fashions exhibition
Diana Untermeyer, who is QAI’s Cultural Advisor, facilitated the loans between the Qatari designers and participants and the exhibition team, and QAI’s Director of Development & Senior Fellow for Culture, Fatima Al-Dosari, managed the outreach of the opening through social media.
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“It is exciting to have this show on Contemporary Muslim Fashions, here in San Francisco, and what was really important is that we had the support of Sheikha Moza and Sheikha Al-Mayassa for this exhibition as a lender but also seeing what’s happening in Qatar in culture field at the great institutions and programming there, as well as how we can participate in that cultural dialogue from San Fransisco, New York, and elsewhere.”
– Max Hollein, New Director of The Metropolitan Museum (The Met)/Former San Fransisco Museum of Fine Arts.”
About Contemporary Muslim Fashions
It is the first major museum exhibition to explore the complex and diverse nature of Muslim dress codes worldwide. Organized by the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, this pioneering exhibition examines how Muslim women—those who cover and those who do not—have become arbiters of style within and beyond their communities and, in so doing, have drawn attention to the variations and nuances of their daily lives.