On October 10th, 2019, the Secretary General (SG) of Qatar’s National Human Rights Committee (NHRC), Maryam bint Abdullah Al Attiyah, reiterated that mental health remains one of the central strategic pillars of the Committee. The SG’s pronouncement was made on the occasion of the UN’s World Mental Health Day, demonstrating Qatar’s solidarity and commitment in raising mental health awareness on a national and international scale.
Most notably, health, including mental health, is one the main human development pillars contained in Qatar’s National Vision 2030 (QNV2030). The following passage illustrates the significant role of health in QNV2030, “Improving the health of Qatar’s population, through an integrated healthcare system, managed according to world-class standards. Designed to meet the needs of existing and future generations…”
So far, as the SG commented, the National Committee has been proactive in urging the development of a comprehensive mental health legislation that services all residents in the State of Qatar. In fact, the SG noted that the Committee has regularly visited and engaged with domestic mental health institutions and experts for qualitative input in order to actualize improvements, address problems, and find patient-centered solutions.
In addition, the SG stated that the NHRC welcomed the country’s positive progress in psychological care and/or services. Such progress can be seen with the greater resources being allocated in hospitals and health centers and with increased accessibility and availability to specialized mental/psychological care as well. These measures underscore Qatar’s dedication in ensuring that all of its citizens are given the adequate support they need to live healthy and fulfilling lives.
In order to understand Qatar’s vigorous efforts in tackling mental health, consider the nature and role of the country’s National Health Strategy (NHS), which incorporated a National Mental Health Strategy (NMHS) as well.
The NHS 2011-2016 laid the solid foundations and framework for future projects and policies for each of the identified objectives. One of the objectives was the first National Mental Health Strategy, which was drafted and launched by the Mental Health Implementation Committee in 2013. Both the NHS and the NMHS have been subsequently revised and updated as the goals were being reached and new ones were being identified.
Currently, Qatar has modified its course of action by implementing two strategic national policies: the National Development Strategy 2018-2022 and NHS 2018-2022. In tandem, Qatar has also adopted Triple Aim, and selected 7 priority/targeted populations. Individuals diagnosed with mental health (or related conditions), are one of the seven targeted populations.
The NHS 2018-2022 seeks to improve access and availability to mental health services and increase mental health awareness. This rigorous approach was justified by a study of 1,660 people between the ages of 18-65 that was conducted and that found that nearly 25% of adults who attended a public health consultation had at least one type of mental disorder.
Since its inception in 1994 by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), October 5th of every year marks World Teacher Day. This year’s theme was ‘Young Teachers: The Future of the Profession.’ The day provides the occasion to celebrate the teaching profession worldwide, to take stock of achievements, and to address some of the issues central for attracting and keeping the brightest minds and young talents in the profession.
Qatar celebrated with the participation of a number of UNESCO-affiliated schools in a ceremony held at the headquarters of the Ministry of Education and Higher Education.
Education plays a vital role in the Human Development Pillar of the Qatar National Vision 2030 (QNV 2030). The Human Development Pillar looks to enable the Qatari people sustain and grow the country’s progression in all areas. Education is the foundation of the Human Development Pillar. Qatar is actively focusing on education from primary school all the way to higher education levels, in an effort to have one of the top education systems in the world.
Education City is a major part of Qatar’s education initiative. There are various programs ranging from IB-accredited school systems to specialized schools for K-12. For higher education, there are offerings that include a range of degrees from undergraduate to postdoctoral degrees. In total, there are 20 schools located in Education City; 11 are K-12 schools and 9 of them are universities. Of the universities, six of them are American universities: Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar School of the Arts, Weill Cornell Medicine – Qatar, Texas A&M University at Qatar, Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar, Georgetown University in Qatar, and Northwestern University in Qatar.
“Education is one of the basic pillars of social progress. The state shall ensure, foster and endeavor to spread it.”
– Permanent Constitution of Qatar
The State of Qatar has been a member of UNESCO since 1972, and currently holds a seat on the Executive Board. Qatar has 82 UNESCO associated schools (6 pre-schools, 39 primary, 9 primary and secondary, and 28 secondary schools). Qatar also hosts a UNESCO office in Doha, which was established in 1976 and serves as a cluster office for Qatar and other countries in the Gulf region.
(Image Source: Qatar Foundation International)
On September 23, 2019, world leaders convened in New York for the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly. Prior to the start of the high-level debate, world leaders convened for the UN Climate Action Summit to discuss the damage that rapid climate change is causing on our ecosystems and societies.
Qatar’s Amir, HH Sheikh Tamin bin Hamad Al-Thani, participated in the UN Climate Action Summit 2019 – specifically, for the Climate Finance and Carbon Pricing Coalition session. At the session, the Amir was joined by foreign counterparts, such as President of the French Republic, Emmanuel Macron, and the Prime Minister of the Republic of Jamaica, Andrew Holness.
During the session, the Amir reiterated Qatar’s responsibility and commitment to confront and resolve the transnational threats emanating from climate change.
This was displayed by Qatar’s ardent support for the Paris Climate Agreement in 2015. At the national-level, the Amir declared that Qatar has implemented and pursued many measures to develop sustainable technologies. Qatar, under the Amir’s stewardship, has tackled clean energy, increased the overall efficiency in the gas and energy sector, aimed to improve waste-management and recycling processes, and to increase the usage of green technology in infrastructure. Many of these environmental policies and objectives are a part of Qatar’s National Vision 2030.
Most notably, the Amir referenced the transnational and indiscriminate effects of climate change by stating the following:
“…The phenomenon of climate change is undoubtedly one of the serious challenges of our time. It is a problem that is continuously exacerbating and causing many problems which intertwine in their economic, environmental and social dimensions and have very serious negative repercussions on all forms of life including human life and on both developed and developing countries alike, especially on the tracks of the sustainable development which all peoples aspire to.
This serious phenomenon makes it incumbent upon the international community to cooperate and double efforts to confront it and reduce its repercussions.”
Within the same context, the Amir mentioned the importance and exemplary role that the Qatar Sovereign Wealth Fund has taken in combating climate change. The Qatar Sovereign Wealth Fund is a founding member of the “One Planet” Global Sovereign Wealth Fund. The latter was established as part of an initiative with France’s President Macron. The fund actively promotes green investment activities and will seek to adopt low-carbon economic growth, which will complement the goals of the Paris Agreement and those of the Sustainable Development Goals.
Furthermore, as Qatar prepares itself to host the highly anticipated 2022 FIFA World Cup, the Amir highlighted Qatar’s commitment the make the mega-event a carbon neutral tournament. This will be achieved via the use of solar-powered stadiums and the application sophisticated cooling/lighting technology that will be water and energy efficient.
Lastly, the Amir announced Qatar’s financial contribution of $100 million to support small developing island states and least developed states to tackle the challenges of climate change, natural hazards, environmental degradation, and to support state/institutional capacity building initiatives that focus on countering the destructive impacts/effects of climate change.
On July 8th, 2019, the Emir of Qatar, H. H. Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, and other high-ranking cabinet officials, such as Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, attended a dinner hosted by Steven Mnuchin, Secretary of Treasury, at the Treasury Department in honor of the Emir’s official visit to the U.S. The dinner was also presided by President Donald Trump.
At the dinner, Secretary Mnuchin acclaimed Qatar’s strategic partnership and efforts in the fight against terrorist financing by stating the following:
”I am pleased that you have joined us in the Middle East region to open the Terrorist Financing Targeting Center. We are sharing intelligence and operational capabilities to ensure that our financial system is not used by those seeking violence… Our governments continue to work together on your counter-terror financing legislation, and we are grateful for your country’s commitment to uphold the U.N. counter-terror obligations.”
Furthermore, during the dinner, President Trump praised US-Qatar military-to-military strategic relations and cooperation by adding the following:
“I know everything is going to be very positive. You’ve been a great ally, and you’ve helped us with a magnificent military installation and military airport, the likes of which people haven’t seen in a long while.”
Instead, on July 9th, 2019, President Trump hosted H. H. Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani at the White House for a bilateral meeting. At the White House, the President and the Emir discussed regional security in the Gulf region and their economic and military partnerships.
During the meeting, H. H. Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani highlighted and emphasized the close ties between respective countries by stating that:
“…our economic partnership has been more than $185 billion, and we’re planning to double this number…We have a lot of investments in the U.S. We trust the economy here. We do a lot in the infrastructure, and we’re planning to do more investments.”
Subsequently, the two leaders signed a commitment which includes, among other things, the purchase of Boeing Airplanes, the agreement between Chevron-Phillips Chemical Company LLC and Qatar Petroleum on petrochemical development in Qatar.
The Emir’s visit and the signing of the agreement illustrated the strength and vibrancy of bilateral and diplomatic ties between Qatar and the United States.
The Qatari government has been investing in tourism through the Qatar National Tourism Council (QNTC). QNTC has created several programs to promote tourism and increase the number of visitors to Qatar. This summer, a wide variety of programs and promotions are being offered to welcome tourists during the summer season. This summer’s program, called ‘Summer in Qatar’, runs from June 4 to August 16.
“This year’s summer season promises to attract visitors from across the globe showcasing Qatar as a destination for its unparalleled hospitality and authentic experiences”-Akbar Al Baker, Secretary-General of QNTC and GCEO of Qatar Airways.
QNTC has partnered with companies in both the public and private sectors to deliver the program. Partnerships with companies from the travel and hospitality industries provide discounts to tourists. Qatar Airways has been offering 25% discount on flights to Doha from more than 160 destinations worldwide. The promotion lasts until August 16. Furthermore, a wide variety of hotels offer promotions of up to 25% throughout the summer.
‘Summer in Qatar’ offers a large variety of programs, including indoor and outdoor activities and entertainment. Tourists can attend concerts by both international and Arab artists, or watch performances and comedy shows.
Visitors can also tour Doha, or go on adventures in the surrounding area. Indoor and outdoor theme parks also offer fun for the whole family. There are many opportunities for indoor entertainment, including a wide range of museums and exhibitions that promote the art of Qatar and the surrounding region. Shopping malls also provide entertainment, activities and retail discounts.
(Image Source: Flickr)
June 5, 2019 marked two years since regional neighbors severed diplomatic ties with Qatar, as well as imposed a trade embargo. Even though Qatar ranks first among Arab countries and 22nd in the world in the Global Food Security Index (GFSI), Qatar has had to strengthen its food security.
With all food supplies and access to medicine from these four Gulf states cut off, Qatar had to develop new trade routes and expand trade with regional neighbors. Doha also opened a multibillion-dollar port, making it a new transport hub in the Gulf region.
Companies such as Baladna and Mazzraty, Qatar’s largest livestock farm and Qatar’s largest poultry farm respectively, have expanded exponentially due to the blockade.
Baladna received an order of thousands of cows just weeks after the implementation of the blockade. Baladna now not only supplies Qatar with over half of its milk, it also exports to multiple nearby countries.
Agrico has developed a new system to keep greenhouse conditions cool enough to grow fruits and vegetables year-round, even in the harsh Gulf climate. The polycarbon greenhouses and growing system have helped fruit and vegetable outputs more than triple.
Qatar has implemented a strategic food security project in its efforts to become self-sufficient. Two years ago, Qatar only produced about 15% of its dairy and poultry but is now completely self-sufficient. Qatar’s food security goes beyond domestic milk and poultry. Fruit and vegetable outputs are up 20% to roughly 66 tons per year. This number is projected to increase by 30-60% next year with more farms opening. Qatar also produces roughly 85% of its grains and 75% of its fish, both of which are increasing.
On 15 May 2019, the Qatar-America Institute hosted a representative of the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC), a Qatari entity mandated to deliver the infrastructure and legacy programs for the upcoming FIFA World Cup™ in Qatar, who shared relevant information about the mega-event set to take place in November and December 2022.
The SC is tasked with delivering the proposed tournament venues and projects for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ – the first to be held in the Arab world – while ensuring its preparations align with the Qatar National Vision 2030.
For the FIFA World Cup™ in 2022, there will be a total of eight stadiums, all being built within a 55km radius, making it the first compact FIFA World Cup™ in the modern era. Each stadium will fulfill multiple purposes, not just sporting; community-based workshops were held to address and express the needs of local constituencies in the surrounding areas. The aim was to maximize benefits by realizing and integrating local demands as the stadiums are being completed to ensure they are used long after the last ball has been kicked in 2022.
This strategy will foster local development, promote and increase social cohesion, avoid bureaucratic mismanagement of resources duplication, and decrease the likelihood of disenchantment or skepticism from the local population towards the perceived benefits of hosting a sporting mega-event such as the FIFA World Cup™.
A concrete example of this strategy can be seen with the construction and completion of the new state-of-the-art Doha Metro Red Line South. The Red Line runs from Lusail to Al Wakra and connects Hamad International Airport with Doha.
The Doha Metro project will serve a dual purpose. Firstly, it will offer sustainable and accessible transportation to tournament venues and Qatari attractions for the 1.5 million fans Qatar expects in 2022, and secondly it will enhance accessibility and connectivity among the eight municipalities that make up Qatar. Therefore, the FIFA World Cup™ will act as an opportunity for Qatar to showcase its position as a primary international destination for sports, while also acting as a catalyst for the modernization of the country’s infrastructure.
Another noteworthy characteristic of the eight stadiums for the FIFA World Cup™ is that they are being built according to a criterion that incorporates sustainability and efficiency. For instance, the under-construction Ras Abu Aboud Stadium will be a clear example of such commitment and, furthermore, demonstrate the country’s degree of technological sophistication. Like a Lego set, the stadium will be fully demountable, and is being built via the assembly of repurposed shipping containers that were used to transport materials to Qatar. Thus, once the tournament ends on 18 December 2022, state-of-the-art software will be employed to assist the disassembly of the structure. The various parts and components will be re-allocated to create both sporting and non-sporting facilities in Qatar. Ras Abu Aboud Stadium will be the first fully demountable tournament venue in FIFA World Cup™ history.
The completed Al Janoub Stadium in Al Wakrah City, which was launched on 16 May, and will be one of the eight venues for the FIFA World Cup 2022™. Al Janoub Stadium was designed by Zaha Hadid and AECOM Architects. The arena has a capacity of 40,000 and boasts a fully retractable roof. It also features innovative internal cooling technology for the benefit of both supporters and athletes. This sophisticated technology will allow local residents to enjoy the stadium all year round. Once the FIFA World Cup 2022™ is over, half of the stadium’s capacity will be removed and allocated for foreign and/or external development or sports projects. All of which further illustrating Qatar’s commitment to sustainability and development.
During the briefing, the SC representative noted Qatar’s recently implemented reforms for workers’ welfare, all of which reflect the commitment to respecting the standards of hosting the tournament and to improve the welfare of the country’s expatriate workforce.
This was emphasized by the following policy decisions: Qatar’s unilateral decision to sign a three-year technical cooperation agreement with the United Nations’ International Labor Organization to promote labor laws, increase government officials’ capacity to implement them and ensure recruitment practices are in-line with best international practices. Additionally, the Amiri’s promulgation of Law No. 13 of 2017, which established a judge-led Labor Dispute Resolution Committee, and Law No. 15 of 2017, which limited working hours and secured paid leave, and the creation of a Workers’ Support and Insurance Fund to ensure workers are paid overdue wages are just a few of the other significant reforms made.
Most notably, the SC pledged to allocate between $40-50 million (USD) to write off the debts that supply-chain migrant workers may have incurred as a consequence of unscrupulous non-affiliated recruiters in key labor markets. The recruitment and placement industry, which is a global phenomenon, is a $464.3 billion industry that affects more than 150 million migrant workers. The SC’s pledge will transform the lives of those affected by these illegal practices.
The SC representative also discussed safety and security preparations for the FIFA World Cup 2022™ and INTERPOL’s Project Stadia, which was established by INTERPOL in 2012 and funded by Qatar. The aim of Project Stadia is to create a Centre of Excellence to help INTERPOL member countries in the planning and executing policing and security preparations for major sporting events. The ten-year project will contribute to policing and security arrangements for the FIFA World Cup 2022™ in Qatar and will leave a lasting legacy for the world’s law enforcement community.
Lastly, the representative emphasized the existing degree of U.S.-Qatar economic ties in relation to the mega-event. Qatar has worked with over 30 U.S. organizations across a range of industries to date, all of which have been involved in some of the country’s most important tournament projects.
Turner International, CH2M, Jacobs and AECOM have been integral to a number of construction projects. CISCO, Oracle and Amazon have been working with Qatar on everything from IT to networking to cybersecurity solutions, all to ensure 2022 will be the most connected tournament ever, for fans and businesses. Leading U.S. universities including Georgetown and Northwestern and tech giant Facebook have been helping support Qatar’s innovation legacy programs. Overall, $10 billion will be invested in American services and expertise for the upcoming tournament in 2022.
On May 20th, 2019, Fatma Al Nuaimi, the Communications Director for Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy (SC), held an interview with Goal about the pioneering features of the upcoming 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
To clarify, the SC is an institutional entity mandated to oversee, monitor and deliver all the projects for and relevant to the mega-event. In-tandem, this body actualizes various legacy programs: it uses the mega-event as a catalyst for social and economic development, thus complimenting the objectives enumerated in Qatar National Vision 2030.
Fatma Al Nuaimi asserted that the 2022 World Cup in Qatar will be an innovative one: there will be tangible and intangible benefits.
Firstly, Fatma Al Nuaimi detailed a concrete tangible benefit or advancement with the new cooling technology that was installed in Al Wakrah stadium. In fact, the SC representative stated the following:
“We have been successful in making innovations in two fields. Firstly, the cooling technology – as one will witness when the weather is hot outside. But inside the stadium, during the match, the atmosphere and experience will be very pleasant.
Furthermore, the representative mentioned the long-term benefits of this technology by stating the following:
“The cooling technology and the cooling helmets for the workers are innovations that the state of Qatar has invested in. These are something which can be a legacy for countries who have the same atmosphere and climate for mega-events, sporting or otherwise they want to host even beyond the 2022 World Cup. This could be a transfer of knowledge that we could give out”
This example of technological innovation clearly illustrates Qatar’s capacity to employ sophisticated technologies and demonstrates the country’s commitment to sustainable development via technological transfers to external entities or countries. For the intangible benefits, thus, legacy programs, the SC launched Challenge 22 and Generation Amazing. In essence, these initiatives serve the purpose to attract and engage regional/local entrepreneurs and talents in order to integrate them in the preparations for the World Cup.
The SC representative detailed the following on Challenge 22 initiative:
“In Challenge 22, people submitted their ideas and the winning idea got a grant of USD 100,000. From that, they would be working towards commercialization and as a commitment, we would be contracting them as our suppliers. That would help improve the profile of the companies and they could be set up and continue beyond the World Cup.”
Lastly, the SC representative shed light on the Josoor Institute, which was established in December of 2013. The institute aims to provide short courses and diplomas pertinent to delivering mega-events. Most importantly, the institute is linked with internationally acclaimed institutions, such as Georgetown University and the University of Liverpool. Most recently, Bocconi School of Management, which offers FIFA Masters programs, affiliated itself with Josoor.
Qatar has been under intense scrutiny as it undergoes preparations of the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Amid the preparations, calls for Qatar to update and strengthen its labor conditions and employment laws have been at the forefront. Since the announcement, Qatar has introduced a series of labor reforms since its selection as the 2022 World Cup host, with the event setting in motion a huge construction program that employs thousands of foreign workers.
Some of those reforms have been the removal of the Kafala system for the majority of workers (although some workers were still required to gain approval from their employers to leave the country), formally establishing a minimum wage for migrant workers (750 riyals | $206), and the implementation of a Wage Protection System (WPS), among various other reforms.
In an effort to alleviate additional concerns held by international rights groups that those reforms did not go far enough, the state of Qatar facilitated in opening an office of the United Nations’, International Labor Organization. Earlier this year, Qatar reiterated its commitment to implementing labor reforms following the release of an Amnesty International report. The report, titled “Reality Check,” concludes that the 2022 World Cup host needs to do more to combat labor abuse.
The Government Communications Office (GCO) of Qatar responded in a statement saying that:
“From the outset, we have said that we understood labor reform would be a journey and not an end in itself. We have publicly stated, and restate here, our commitment to labor reform so that Qatar would have a suitable labor system that is fair to employers and employees alike…Far from seeing time as running out, the government of the State of Qatar understands further change is needed and we remain committed to developing these changes as quickly as possible, while ensuring they are effective and appropriate for our labor market conditions.”
The GCO stressed that the State of Qatar will continue to engage and work with foreign governments, both international and multilateral organizations, and NGOs, to ensure that its labor code meets international standards. In response to the criticism and as a testament to its commitment to labor reforms, the state will now proceed to permanently abolish the controversial exit visa system for all foreign workers by the end of 2019.
The head of the agency’s office in Doha, Houtan Homayounpour stated,
“Last year, the exit visa was eliminated for the majority of workers, this year, that will be extended to all remaining categories of workers,”
In September 2018, Qatar approved legislation that would eliminate the “kafala” system that required foreign workers obtain permission from their employers to leave the country. The reform came into effect In October for majority of workers but for a select 5% of a company’s workforce — reportedly those in the most senior positions. Mr. Homayounpour said the system “will officially be eliminated” by the end of 2019 and no worker will be required to obtain permission to leave the country.
In October of last year, Qatar University’s College of Law entered into an agreement with Boston University Law School to develop a joint-program that would train students and officials in how to combat the threat of terrorist financing. The program, “Counter Terrorist Financing,” will aim to further develop and refine the institutional capacity of Qatari organizations.
Boston University School of Law Dean Angela Onwuachi-Willig stated that “A partnership with Qatar University College of Law to develop a customized training program gives us a unique opportunity to support the country’s efforts to fight terrorist financing.”
The courses on counter-terrorist financing will be specifically tailored to meet the needs of Qatari prosecutors, government ministry officials, and financial services professionals that are responsible for stemming the flow of illegal funds to terrorist organizations.
The courses will be led by Boston University academics and faculty that specialize in national security, anti-money laundering, Financial technology, and financial regulations, in conjunction with Qatar University College of Law’s faculty.
The two organizations will develop class simulations and case studies that are based on experiences dealing with real-world threats. The program will also feature experts from the US Treasury department, the US Department of State, and the FBI. The programs inaugural course will feature 11 Qataris from the legal, financial, and governmental sectors. Topics that will be addressed will be strengthening institutional capacity to counter cyber-attacks and the usage of cryptocurrencies in terrorist financing.
In addition to Boston University;s diverse faculty coming from the university’s other schools, such as the Hariri Institute for Computing, The Pardee School of Global Studies, and the Cyber Security, Law, and Society Alliance, the following government officials will also be participating in the program.
Michael Madon, former deputy assistant secretary, US Department of the Treasury
Adam Isles, former deputy chief of staff, US Department of Homeland Security
Jason Blazakis, former director of the Office of Counterterrorism Finance & Designations, Bureau of Counterterrorism, US Department of State
Debra LePrevotte, former supervisory special agent, FBI International Corruption Unit
Kate Eyerman, former director of the Office of Terrorist Financing and Financial Crimes, Middle East/North Africa, US Department of the Treasury