Dr. Ali bin Smaikh Al-Marri is the chairman of Qatar’s National Human Rights Committee (NHRC). The NHRC was established in 2002 and functions as an independent non-governmental organization. In this interview, Dr. Al-Marri discussed the major legislative reforms that have been undertaken by the Qatari government to protect the rights of migrant workers, as well as the human rights violations Qatar has endured due to the political and economic blockade imposed by regional neighbors.
Below are key excerpts from His Excellency’s conversation:
Qatar’s initiatives in building bridges to peace have seen the U.S. as a critical stakeholder:
In 2007, Qatar started interfaith dialogue between Christians, Jews, and Muslims so that co-existence could be a reality. Qatar invited many U.S. universities to join our Education City to give the region access to excellent and unrestricted education. To bring about these reforms, we invited help from experts—financial, environmental, academic, and human rights specialists.
Qatar has been a critical partner of the United States in securing peace in Afghanistan:
AL-THANI: Well, in fact, what we see in Afghanistan now for over the last few years since this office been established for the purpose of the peace talks between Taliban and the Afghan government and the U.S., there were not much progress in it. But in the recent—in the recent months, we have seen a lot of positive things.
Qatar’s Year of Culture program will see the U.S. as its marquee partner in 2021, showcasing the cultural and people-to-people ties that bind the two allied countries together:
We will have the Year of Culture between Qatar and United States in 2021, which is a showcase for this cultural exchange between the countries. We have it every year in a different country and it has been a successful model for promoting the Qatari culture and inviting the other cultures.
Outline of Qatar’s engagement-driven foreign policy that emphasizes dialogue, development, and global partnerships:
Over the past twenty years, Qatar has engaged with the world through foreign diplomacy, forged economic global partnership(s), developed human capital, invested in the region. Two decades ago, my country decided to begin a new chapter of openness. This decision shaped Qatar’s signature foreign policy of engagement, dialogue, and collaboration. This was new for the Middle East and the outreach paid off.
Outside the neighborhood, Qatar found friends, allies around the globe. Within the neighborhood, Qatar became a skilled mediator in the region largely closed off to negotiation. For example, in Lebanon we were able to help calm the sectarian fighting and fill the vacuum of power. In Sudan, we helped stop a genocide and sustain peace in Darfur. Today, we are facilitating talks between U.S., the Afghan government, and parliament.
Qatar’s liquified natural gas strategy has transformed the global energy landscape:
This engagement-driven foreign policy meant that a political partnership ran parallel to economic ones. Reciprocal investments across the globe made in numerous industry sectors meant that Qatar could partner with the global specialists who supply the world with liquefied natural gas. This was no easy task because scientists had not developed an efficient way to liquefy natural gas and to ship it.
So Qatar and experts around the world collaborated and brought the energy industry into a new era of liquefied natural gas. Simultaneously, Qatar was able to diversify its economy to move away from fossil fuel dependency. Today, Qatar supplies almost 30 percent of the world’s natural gas.
Qatar’s hosting of the 2022 World Cup will be the most environmentally-friendly rendition of the games in history:
So there is a lot of programs that are taking place within the country in order to transform our country to a more green country, more environmentally friendly, and we are experiencing this especially in the World Cup—in the World Cup Project, which will take place in 2022, and I hope all of you come there and enjoy it in Doha.
The stadiums—the way it’s built—the buildings over there, all of them they are maintaining the maximum standard of environmentally friendly. We have also—we take the same consideration on our industrials because Qatar is an industrial country as well where we have industries which are derivatives from the gas industry or from the oil industry. All of this the environment is taken into consideration.
Full Video – Council on Foreign Relations: A Conversation with Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani
Her Excellency Sheikha Hind Bint Hamad Al Thani, the CEO of the Qatar Foundation, published an editorial in Quartz yesterday on women’s rights and empowerment in Qatar. In it, she addressed the Me Too and Time’s Up movements, and dispelled the misconception that women’s empowerment in the Middle East and Arab World are categorically worse than in the West. She highlighted the high volume of female participation in STEM fields compared to the U.S., as well as the fact that the female labor participation rate in Qatar is above the global average.
“[I]t fills me with pride to walk into boardrooms at the Foundation and know that 40% of the leadership working at the 5,000-strong organization is female.” – Her Excellency Sheikha Hind Bint Hamad Al Thani
Qatar has the highest female labor participation rate in the Arab World, and women comprise a majority of the students in its higher education system. While Sheikha Hind acknowledges that there is still room for further progress in Qatar, gender relations in the country provide a profound example for the world of how societal progress can be achieved without sacrificing cultural traditions.
The conference attracted over 300 Qatari undergraduate and graduate students from universities across the United States. QAI participated in the conference with a booth at the Exhibitor’s Hall, where conference attendees were educated on QAI’s work by staff members, recruited for internship, fellowship, and advisory board positions at QAI and at organizations throughout Washington, D.C.
In addition to Qatari students, special guests at the conference included:
- H.E. Deputy Minister of Education & Higher Education Dr. Ibrahim Bin Saleh Al Nuaimi
- H.E. Consul General of Los Angeles Khaled Al Saada
- Qatar’s U.S. Cultural Attaché Mr. Mohamed Al Hamad
Qatar expects six F-15 warplanes to be delivered to its air force by March 2021, a military official said on Monday, the first batch of 36 it agreed to buy from the United States last year for $12 billion.
Brigadier General Issa al-Mahannadi told reporters at the Al Udeid air base in Qatar that a further six F-15s would be dispatched three months after the initial batch, with four more expected every three months thereafter:
“This is not a purchase, it is a strategic partnership with the U.S.,” Mahannadi said.
Qatar will send its pilots to the U.S. for training beginning this year:
The tiny but wealthy Gulf state will begin sending eight pilots per year to the United States for training this year, Mahannadi added, while transitioning some of its experienced Qatari pilots to fly the F-15s in order to establish a 53-person aircrew for them by 2023.
U.S. company Boeing will manufacture and deliver the jets to Qatar:
Boeing was awarded the contract for the F-15s.
Brigadier General Issa al-Mahannadi said Boeing will begin construction on the planes in 2020:
Mahannadi said construction on the area for the F-15s would start in 2020 and be completed by 2021, in time to receive the first delivery.
A 35-year-old Palestinian neurosurgeon named Walid Albanna won Stars of Science‘s tenth season competition. Albanna won 32.5% of the online vote for his “Neurovascular Retina Analyzer,” a wearable retina camera that improves care treatment for patients who have suffered a stroke. His first place victory won him $300,000 in investment. Runner ups included Nour Majbour‘s “Parkinson’s Early Detection Kit,” Sylia Khecheni‘s “Home Privacy Drone Blocker,” and Salim Al Kaabi‘s “Safe Frankincense Varnish for Artists.”
Stars of Science is a Qatar Foundation “edutainment” reality show, where innovators from across the Arab World compete in Qatar Science and Technology Park for funding for their inventions. The show has been profiled and praised by outlets like the Harvard Business Review for offering smarter content than most of the reality TV genre and for showcasing and supporting the under-recognized ingenuity of the Arab World.
— شبكة مرسال قطر (@Marsalqatar) November 24, 2018
(Image Source: @StarsOfScience )
On Tuesday, the Qatar-America Institute worked with Luke’s Wings to host a group of wounded veterans and their families for a game between the Washington Wizards and the Los Angeles Clippers. Luke’s Wings is a nonprofit dedicated to supporting wounded and ill U.S. veterans and their families, which this year marked its tenth anniversary. The Wizards made a stunning comeback after a bruising first quarter, taking the lead and winning 125-118. While at the suite, QAI and the veterans were visited by Gheorghe Mureșan, the ambassador of the Wizards and the tallest player in NBA history.
In four short years, the 2022 World Cup will open in Qatar! Qatar’s plans for its World Cup tournament to be family-friendly, groundbreaking, forward-thinking, and unique. Here are four quick facts about Qatar’s World Cup:
1. The 2022 World Cup in Qatar is projected to generate $10 billion in investment in U.S. companies.
2. Qatar is the first Middle Eastern country to host a World Cup. Qatar is working hard to ensure every detail of the tournament is family friendly, such as easing the transportation methods between stadiums to allow fans to view multiple games a day, and organizing tournaments during a time of year when Qatar experiences cool temperatures.
3. Qatar has implemented labor reforms to responsibly develop World Cup infrastructure at breakneck speed, including three (1, 2, 3) worker protection laws since 2015, opening an International Labor Organization office in Qatar, and hiring an independent consultancy to issue public reports on the 2022 World Cup’s worker welfare compliance.
4. The Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy established the Challenge 22 program which gives awards to innovative designers for creative and cost-effective technologies that promote sustainable energy and water solutions. The Supreme Committee’s Engagement team has worked hard to ensure that facilities will not only enhance each World Cup fan’s visit but will also create a positive lasting impact on the community.
Here’s a short video showing the progress Qatar has already made in its stadiums:
(Image Source: Arch Daily)
SpaceX launched Qatar’s Es’hail-2 spacecraft using the reusable Falcon 9 rocket. The launch took place at Florida’s Kennedy Space Center. The launch is the first mission for Qatar that SpaceX has undertaken. The Es’hail-2 satellite, built by Japan’s Mitsubishi Electric, will be operated by the state-owned Es’hailSat.
Es’hail-2 will be the first satellite dedicated solely to Qatar. Qatar’s previous satellite, Es’hail-1, was jointly owned by French telecommunications company Eutelsat. Qatar recently bought the rights from Eutelsat earlier this year.
The satellite is intended to be used for both broadcasting and transferring secure communication to devices within Northern Africa and the Middle East. This function will primarily be utilized by the Qatari armed forces that currently rely on external contractors to ensure safe and secure communication. Additionally, Es’hail-2 will also be the first satellite that will carry amateur radio relay capabilities opening up access to satellite and radio enthusiasts within the region.
The launch was attended by several high-profile Qatari officials, including the Qatari Ambassador to the United States, H.E. Sheikh Meshal Bin Hamad Al-Thani, as well as Qatar’s Defense Minister Khalid Mohammad Al-Attiyah, among others.
(Image Source: NASA)
On November 04, Qatari forces and U.S. Army Central Forces began military drills and exercises to expand military cooperation between the two nations. The exercises hope to enhance understanding between the forces and promote long-term stability within the greater region. U.S. soldiers from the 2nd Battalion, 198th Armor Regiment, 155th Armored Brigade, and Task Force Spartan joined their Qatari counterparts for a series field training exercises. The drills follow an earlier announcement made my Qatar’s Major General Mohammad bin Ali Al-Ghanim this year that called for an increase in joint exercises between Qatari and American forces.
At the opening ceremony, Lt. Col. Khalifa Al-Swaidi of the Qatar Land Forces stated that it “honors me today to announce the opening ceremony of Eastern Action.” His US counterpart, Army Col. Robert Kuth, Commander of Area Support Group-Qatar spoke on behalf of Lt. Gen. Michael Garrett and states “we are excited to continue to strengthen our bilateral relationship and continuing to promote regional stability.”
This years exercise was the first time that both a Field Training Exercise and a command post exercise were held concurrently. Col. Kuth commented that, “Since the first iteration, we have focused upon enhancement of interoperability of land forces, as we build partnership capacity together. Both of our nations are committed to promoting security and stability, in pursuit of shared mutual interests, throughout the region.”
Qatar is host to the largest U.S. military base in the Middle East, Al-Udeid, and hosts more than 10,000 U.S. troops and several dozen Air Force jets. Earlier this year, Qatar announced that it would spend one billion dollars to upgrade the facilities at the base. Additionally, Qatar is a major customer for the U.S. defense industry, including last year’s purchase of $12 billion worth of F-15s. “We have bought a lot of military equipment from the U.S. so we can fly hand in hand with our partners.”