Category: Analysis

BU Law School & QU Law School Launch Inaugural Counter Terrorist Financing Course

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 specoifically 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.

 

Andrea Gacki, director of the Office of Foreign Assets Control, US Department of the Treasury

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Qatar Completes 6th Session of Municipal Elections

 

On April 16th, Qatar held its sixth session of elections for the Central Municipal Council. The most recent round of elections featured a total of 85 candidates, aiming to represent a total of twenty-seven out of twenty-nine districts. Two of the districts had already been decided through acclimation (unanimous consent). It was estimated that the participation rate in this election reached 50%. In order to participate in the elections, voters must fulfill three main conditions – be 18 years or older, born in Qatar or have been nationalized for 15+ years, and possess no criminal record. However, if one is a member of the military or law enforcement, they are not eligible to vote.

 

During this election season, several women faced off against men vying for council seats. Many candidates ran public campaigns, employing social media, advertisements, and other means to gain votes during a highly competitive election. The participation of women, in a mostly conservative society, marks a stark difference between Qatar and its regional neighbors. Since 1999, the year in which the first election for the municipal council was held, women in Qatari society have been further integrated into governing and building the nation.

 

In the most recent round of election, two women won seats on the 29-member municipal council. The first, Fatima al-Kuwari, represents the 9th district, which covers Al- Thumama, Ras Bufontas (North), and Mesaimeer (North). Fatima initially ran an unsuccessful first attempt in 2011. However, in 2015, Fatima was able to win the majority of her constituents’ votes. Fatima al-Kuwari is also represented among Qatar-America Institute’s, Zubara Council, where she serves as an advisor on Qatari affairs.

 

The second candidate that won her district, for the third time, is Sheikha al-Jafari, who represents the 8th district that covers the ad Dawhah municipality. She stated in an interview that “There was a large turnout by women and the number of female voters in my constituency exceeded the number of males, which indicates their political awareness…I wish there were more women but I tell them do not despair and continue to fight.”

 

The remaining women that were unable to gain a seat on the council were Aisha Saqer Saleh Mohammed al-Kaabi (district 18), Fatima bin Yousef al-Ghaza (district 10), and Maryam al-Humaidi (district 25).

 

The municipal council will be responsible for maintaining municipal affairs, dictating priorities of maintenance and construction of infrastructure, and overall adherence to Qatar’s legal system. Furthermore, members of the municipal council must be well informed and are mandated to examine proposals and legislation in order to provide effective policy proposals to the executive branch of Qatar’s government. Council members are also mandated to give time to their constituents and provide a forum for them to address any grievances.

 

 

 

 

Qatar announces Central Municipal Council Election 2019 results

 

 

 

Qatar Forges Ahead With North Field Expansion Project
Qatar National Museum Unveiled
The Origins of Qatar’s National Sports Day
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Qatar Forges Ahead With North Field Expansion Project

– In 2017, Qatar Petroleum (QP) announced plans to raise LNG production capacity from 77 million tonnes to 110 million tonnes per year.

 

– In April 2017, QP declared a new expansion/development project of the North Field.

 

– On November 14th, 2018, the IMF released the findings of its visit to Qatar. The IMF stated the following: “The near- to- medium-term outlook for the Qatari economy is benefiting from increased oil prices and prudent macroeconomic policies. We anticipate overall real GDP growth of 3.1 percent in 2019, with still robust non-hydrocarbon growth and recovery in oil and gas production. Over the course of 2020-2023, real GDP growth of about 2.7 percent annually is projected, underpinned by still significant public infrastructure spending, expansion of liquid natural gas production, and the hosting of 2022 World Cup”.

 

– QP selected Japan’s Chiyoda Corp for the front-end engineering and design of the onshore facilities of the North Field expansion project. Furthermore, it awarded McDermott a contract for the offshore engineering work.

 

– On April 15th, 2019, QP issued a tender package for the engineering procurement and construction (EPC) of four liquified natural gas (LNG) mega-trains of its North Field Expansion (NFE) project. The completion of the NFE will boost Qatar’s GDP growth.

 

 

North Field Expansion (NFE) project

On April 15th, 2019, Qatar and McDermott International, a Houston, Texas, based multinational engineering, procurement, construction and installation company, signed a contract worth $50 to $250 million.

The contract stipulates that McDermott will provide engineering, procurement, construction and installation (EPCI) of four liquified natural gas (LNG) mega-trains as part of country’s North Field Expansion objective, which will increase Qatar’s LNG production from 77mm tonnes per annum (Mta) to 110mta by 2024. The EPCI of the four mega-LNG trains will be equipped with gas and liquid treating facilities, ethane and liquified petroleum gas production and fractionation, a helium plant, and utilities infrastructure to support the processing units.

McDermott International has planned to deploy its project management and engineering teams in Doha in order to monitor and fulfill the terms of the contract. Works are expected to begin immediately. Following the tender package, Qatar’s Minister of Energy, HE Saad Sherida al-Kaabi, stated the following: “I am pleased to announce that further contract awards related to the project will be announced shortly”. This illustrates Qatar’s commitment and plans to further expand extraction and production capacity of the North Field.

The North Field, which is located off the north-east shore of the Qatar peninsula, is one of the largest non-associated natural gas fields in the world. It has been estimated that the North Field hosts more than 900 trillion standard feet (tscf) of reserves. Previously, Qatar awarded a different contract to McDermott for the fabrication and installation of eight NFE offshore jackets, and the early site works for the onshore project to the joint venture between Consolidated Contractors Company (CCC) and Teyseer Trading and Contracting Company. This project was entrusted to Qatargas, a subsidiary of QP.

 

 

Cover Image Source: Reuters (REUTERS/Naseem Zeitoon/File Photo)

 

 

 

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Umm Al Houl Power Plant: Water & Energy Security in Qatar

Overview

– The Umm Al Houl Power Plant is an unprecedented water security and energy project located 10 miles south of Doha, Qatar. Construction on the water desalination and power generation plant began in 2015, and the plant became fully operational in March 2018.

The plant was built by Qatar Electricity and Water Company, Mitsubishi Corporation- Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) operating as a consortium, Qatar Petroleum and Qatar Foundation.

 

– The project aims to bolster Qatar’s water and energy efficiency, attract foreign investment, and spur economic development; key objectives of Qatar’s Vision 2030.

 

– Umm Al Houl Power Plant is one of the largest water desalination and power generation plants in the region. The plant generates 2,520 megawatt of power and 136.5 million gallons of drinking water per day, which meets 30% of Qatar’s need for power and 40% of its desalinated water [1] [2].

 

– Qatar Electricity and Water Company (QEWC) owns 60% of the Umm Al Houl Power Plant, Qatar Petroleum and Qatar Foundation own 5% each, and Mitsubishi-Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) owns the remaining 30% as a consortium [1].

 

Introduction

As a small state with limited access to natural freshwater resources, Qatar’s water and energy security is a vital component of its national security. Qatar’s population of 2.6 million people rely on an integrated water and power generation scheme to ensure access to drinking water and electricity. As Qatar’s population grows at an annual rate of 2.7%, Qatar’s desalinization capacity will receive a manifold boost by the completion of Umm Al Houl Power Plant.

The $4.6 billion Water Security Mega Reservoirs Project that was completed in 2018 will also augment Qatar’s water security by acting as a strategic buffer in the event of disruption to desalinization capacity.

Now one of the Gulf region’s largest water desalinization and electricity power plants, Umm Al Houl Power Plant is Capable of generating 2,520 megawatt of power and 136.5 million gallons of drinking water per day, satisfying 30% of Qatar’s need for power and 40% of its need for desalinated water.

Construction of the plant began in 2015, and the plant went online in March 2018. The plant was built by Qatar Electricity and Water Company, Mitsubishi Corporation- Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) operating as a consortium, Qatar Petroleum and Qatar Foundation.

Umm Al Houl Power Plant is a key part of Qatar’s National Vision 2030. The project supports strategic goals of creating infrastructure to support economic development. It aims to develop the electricity and water utility sectors and increase foreign and local investments in both. The project site was chosen based on the availability of infrastructure, particularly water and gas pipelines and the salinity of the water near it.

 

Work on the $4.7 billion Water Security Mega Reservoirs Project began in 2015, with the initial phases that were slated to be done in 2016/17.

Strategic Water Reserve:

The Water Security Mega Reservoirs Project, which is the largest of its kind in the world, has a total water storage capacity of about 1,500 million gallons, a 155% increase from the current water storage capacity of 900 million gallons [3]. The current phase of the project will ensure water security until at least 2026, followed by future stages that will meet water demand after 2036 by adding additional reservoirs. In its current phase of completion, the project extends the strategic water stock in Qatar’s water network from 2 to 7 days which will increase the capacity of water storage by 10 times.

 

Umm Al Houl Power Plant Operations

Umm Al Houl Power Plant generates electricity utilizing combined cycle gas turbines (CCGT) and desalinizes water utilizing both reverse osmosis (RO) technology and multiple stage flash (MSF) technology (See Figure 3 for a comparison of water production technologies).

In 2014, Qatar General Electricity & Water Authority identified that Qatar faced a potential shortfall of power and water production in the short to medium term, 2016 for water and 2017 for power. This projection drove urgent demand for Umm Al Houl Power Plant.

The plant now produces 2,520 Mega Watts of electricity and 136 million gallons of water per day. This is a 22% increase in the current electricity output and a 25% increase in water production.

Careful attention was given to environmental concerns during the planning and construction phases of the project. Extensive marine surveys undertaken at the site considered water quality, in-situ habitats and flora/fauna and sediment quality. All laboratory testing was undertaken at a nationally accredited laboratory using internationally standardized testing methodologies [1].

Umm Al Houl Power Plant marks the first instance of large-scale reverse osmosis (RO) to desalinate water for drinking in Qatar. RO technology utilizes methods that are proven to emit substantially less CO2 into the atmosphere. The system uses minimal power during the filtration process, making it a green system that conserves energy and the surrounding environment [4].

 

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[1] Umm Al Houl Independent Water and Power Plant Environmental Impact Assessment

[2] Gulf Times: “Amir opens Umm Al Houl Power Plant”

[3] Peninsula Qatar: “Amir inaugurates Water Security Mega Reservoirs Project”

[4] Journal of Water Reuse and Desalination: “Carbon footprint of water reuse and desalination: a review of greenhouse gas emissions and estimation tools”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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2022 FIFA World Cup Brief

On March 26th, 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 2022.

 

The SC is tasked with delivering proposed tournament venues and projects for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ – the first to be held in the Arab world – while ensuring that its preparations align with Qatar National Vision 2030.

 

For the FIFA World Cup™ in 2022, there will be a total of eight stadiums that are 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 instituted to address and express the needs of local constituencies in the stadiums’ surrounding areas. The aim was to maximize the benefits from these projects by integrating and satisfying local demands as these structures 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 of the new state-of-the-art Doha metro system that will serve a dual purpose: firstly, it will offer sustainable transport to tournament venues and Qatari attractions for the 1.5 million fans Qatar expects in 2022, and secondly it will enhance accessibility and inter-connectivity amongst the eight municipalities that constitute Qatar. Therefore, the mega-event will be an opportunity for Qatar to promote its role as a main international destination for sports and to modernize the country’s infrastructure for its population.

 

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, 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.

 

During the briefing, the SC’s representative noted Qatar’s recently implemented reforms for workers’ rights, which reflect their commitment to respect the standards of hosting the tournament and to improve the welfare of the country’s expatriate labor force. This was witnessed with the following policy decisions: Qatar’s unilateral decision to sign a three-year technical cooperation agreement with the United Nations’ International Labour Organization to promote labour laws in the country and build government officials’ capacity to implement them and ensure that 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 with 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 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. Unfortunately, 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 2022 World Cup 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 10-year project will contribute to policing and security arrangements for the 2022 FIFA World Cup™ 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. organisations 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 and 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. And 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.

 

 

(Image Source: Archinet.com)

 

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Qatar’s Minister of Finance meets with the IMF & World Bank

Qatar’s Minister of Finance – Mr. Ali Shareef Al-Emadi – is leading Qatar’s delegation to the Spring Meetings of the World Bank Group and the International Monetary Fund from April 12-14. The Qatari delegation’s participation in the Spring Meetings is set against a backdrop of Qatar’s strong 2019 growth forecast of 2.6% and fiscal performance that will see the country post a surplus this year. This is despite the global economy entering “synchronized slowdown” according to the latest update of a tracking index compiled by the Brookings Institution and the Financial Times.[1] The IMF also cut its global growth forecast from 3.5% to 3.3% for 2019. Investor confidence in Qatar’s economy was reinforced in March 2019, with a $12 billion issuance that was well oversubscribed by investors globally.

 

Qatar Economic Update:

– Qatar is forecast to post a fiscal surplus of $1.2 billion in 2019 — the first surplus in 4 years — supported mainly by higher hydrocarbon prices translating into stronger budgetary revenues.

– Qatar’s macroeconomic resilience allows it to enjoy high investment-grade credit ratings from the three international credit ratings, Moody’s, S&P and Fitch. Despite the uncertainty created by recent geopolitical conditions, all rating agencies have rated Qatar’s economic outlook as “stable”.

– The non-oil and gas sector account for 64% of the overall economy in 2018, with construction and manufacturing driving GDP growth.

– Qatar’s economy grew by 2.7% in 2018, outperforming the GCC average of 2.4%.

Non-hydrocarbon exports have grown to represent a more material element of Qatar’s export mix, currently at 13.9% of total exports. The government’s diversification agenda will continue to increase the non-hydrocarbon contribution to economic activity.

– Qatar’s crude oil prices increased by 32.9 % for the first three quarters of 2018 to average US$71.5/barrel compared to an average of US$53.8/barrel in 2017.

 

 

Qatar Key Economic Facts:

Metric
Qatar
Population (December 2018)
2.67 million
Long-Term Credit Ratings1
Moody’s Aa3 Stable
S&P AA- Stable
Fitch AA- Stable
Nominal GDP
US$ 166.9bn (2017)
US$ 142.5bn (9-Month 2018)
Nominal GDP per Capita
US$ 64,705 (2017)
Fiscal Balance
Surplus/(Deficit)
US$ 1.2bn Surplus (Forecast 2019)
Debt/GDP ratio
50.2% (September 2018)
Trade Balance
US$ 53bn Surplus (2018)

 

  1. Qatar is in the same rating horizon as the likes of Belgium, Taiwan, Macau and the Cayman Islands. AAA rated countries include (not limited to) Australia, Canada, Denmark, Germany, New Zealand, Singapore and the U.S.

 

[1] “Global economy entering “synchronised slowdown” Financial Times, April 7, 2019

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Qatar National Museum Unveiled

Located in Qatar’s capital of Doha, the National Museum of Qatar (NMoQ) is an institution that celebrates the culture and heritage of Qatar and embodies the pride and traditions of its people while offering international visitors a dialogue about Qatar’s rapid change and modernization. The National Museum of Qatar generates a national spirit of participation and promote a cultural legacy.

The museum honors the traditions of the past, while embracing the future of Qatar through exhibitions, educational activities, cultural site visits, and technology-based programming.The museum aims to develop, promote, and sustain the cultural sector at the highest standards, in addition to creating, supporting, and inspiring the next generation of cultural audiences. The museum is divided into three chronological chapters of Qatari history that are showcased across eleven galleries. The galleries include a research center and laboratories that provide new study opportunities for students and dedicated researchers.

Everything in this museum works to make the visitor feel the desert and the sea,” said Jean Nouvel, the Pritzker Prize-winning architect who designed the innovative museum. Nouvel’s design was inspired by the Qatari “desert rose” with its curved disks, intersections, and cantilevered angles that grow organically around the original Emiri palace, a much-loved local landmark where the original National Museum was housed. Not to be confused with the plant of the same name, the Qatari “desert rose” is a natural phenomenon found in the deserts of Qatar where arid conditions create these unique clusters of gypsum crystals underground.

Nouvel hopes the design will have visitors questioning the mysteries of the desert’s concretions and crystallizations, bringing new meaning to the desert rose, all the while marveling at the Museum’s employment of futuristic design and modern innovation. “This building is at the cutting-edge of technology, like Qatar itself,” remarked Nouvel.

When planning the design of the Museum, Nouvel envisioned a site that would symbolize the growth and evolving identity

 of Qatar since the 1950s. It is for this reason that the Palace of Sheikh Abdullah bin Jassim Al-Thani sits in the center. Originally built during the early 20th century by Sheikh Abdullah bin Jassim bin Mohamed Al-Thani, the Palace has served as both a family residence and the seat of government.


“…from a little village, [Doha] has become a capital. What could be more natural, then, than the desire to testify, to talk about identification, about the evolving identity of this country as it reveals itself on the sensitive paper of history? And what could be more logical than to give concrete expression to this identification process in a National Museum of Qatar that will relate the physical, human and economic geography of the country, together with its history?”

 

 

 

 

 

Read more about the Qatar National Museum at the Links Below:

 

Qatar National Museum Tells a Country’s Story at Every Turn
The new National Museum of Qatar is a desert rose of mutant scale
Why Soft Power Is in Style in Qatar
The Middle East’s hottest new museum is here
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QAI Attends International Forum of the America’s

 

The Qatar-America Institute was represented at the International Forum of the America’s, appearing on the panel Envisioning the Cities of the Future.

A Summary of QAI’s Remarks

Qatar experienced an energy-driven economic boom that at one point made it the world’s fastest-growing country in the world, and made available the infrastructure that today makes it the largest exporter of liquified natural gas in the world – with 30% of global market share in that commodity – and with less than four years until it becomes the first country in the Middle East to host the FIFA World Cup in 2022.

This boom was of course enabled by hydrocarbon exports, but Qatar has built sustainability into the National Vision 2030 that was adopted as far back as 2008. That Vision has cascaded through to initiatives ranging from hosting the 2012 Conference of Parties – also known as COP 18 – that was an important milestone in concluding the Paris Agreement in 2015 (COP 21), all the way to efforts to ensure that 2022 will be the first ever carbon-neutral edition of the FIFA World Cup.

These events have acted as catalysts for sustainable management, including a drive to rationalize the consumption of water and electricity by the residents of Qatar through more realistic pricing mechanisms. That campaign is known as Tarsheed, which is Arabic for rationalization of resources. Tarsheed has succeeded in reducing harmful carbon emissions by about 5 million tons since its launch in 2012, due to the reduction in per capita consumption of electricity and water.

Food Security in Qatar has gone hand-in-hand with water conservation. The national plan for food and water security has enacted policies that have discontinued by law the practice of aquifer depletion for agriculture and incentivized the adoption of greenhouse and hydroponics technology to locally grow fruits and vegetables

 

About the International Economic Forum of the America’s

IEFA is a Montreal-based organization dedicated to convening global forums in four cities, including the World Strategic Forum in Miami. The Forum has grown to become a landmark organization bringing together more than 9,500 participants and over 540 speakers combined under the auspices of four annual conferences: the Conference of Montreal, the Toronto Global Forum, the World Strategic Forum in Miami and the Conference of Paris in conjunction with the OECD.

The choice of Miami for the World Strategic Forum is due to its location as the so-called “capital of Latin America” and recognition of the concentration of South American wealth and influence in Miami.

 

 

 

 

Curious to learn more about Qatar’s sustainability efforts and economic policy?

Find two resources below for more information. 

 

Qatar’s Domestic Sustainability Initiatives
Qatar’s Economic Competitiveness
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Qatar and California: Partners in Advancement

 

The Qatar-America Institute (QAI) has launched a new initiative, the Expert Voices Series. The initiative is envisioned as a medium for encouraging broader and more diverse conversations between Qatari experts and/or experts on Qatar with U.S.-based leaders in business, academia and politics.

In an effort to diversify outreach beyond the traditional East Coast hubs of Washington, D.C. and New York, QAI sought to initiate new channels of engagement with the key West Coast hubs of San Francisco and Los Angeles. With a population of 39.5 million and a GDP of $2.7 trillion – the fifth largest economy in the world – California (CA) was QAI’s natural choice for a first foray to the West Coast. The state boasts some of the world’s premier academic institutions and science labs, as well as America’s motion picture industry (Hollywood).

Silicon Valley in California’s Bay Area is the global capital for hi-tech innovation and entrepreneurship; the co-location of a critical mass of venture capital investors and a talent pool of unparalleled depth and quality has produced some of the world’s most valuable companies. California’s industrial origins in defense and aerospace remain integral to the state’s research and development (R&D) nexus and economic export composition.

 

Dr. Khalid Al-Ali – Qatari Tech Entrepreneur and Former NASA Specialist

The first participant in QAI’s Expert Voices Series was Dr. Khalid Al-Ali, a Qatari technology entrepreneur and Co-Founder and Executive Chairman of Senseta, a Silicon Valley-based data analytics firm.

In the field of aeronautics and exploration technology, Dr. Al-Ali spent 10 years in NASA’s Ames Research Center and Jet Propulsion Laboratories. Dr. Al-Ali was also the CEO of the Qatar Science and Technology Park (QSTP), Qatar’s premier business “free zone” dedicated to the development of market-ready tech products

Having earned his PhD at UC Berkeley and worked at NASA and DARPA-administered labs, Dr. Al-Ali has made California his second home both professionally and personally. He is uniquely well positioned to provide a nuanced outlook of promising and fertile areas of collaboration between Qatari entities and the State of California.

 


California Engagement Snapshot

 

 

Stanford University

QAI hosted Dr. Al-Ali in Northern California, where he featured as a speaker on a panel, “Technology Trends in Emerging Markets,” at Stanford University’s inaugural MENA Forum. As the CEO of tech firm, which has created knowledge-intensive jobs in both Silicon Valley and Doha, Dr. Al-Ali spoke about Qatar’s commitment to increasing its GDP contribution to R&D that forms the basis of commercially successful tech-enabled products.

On the panel, Dr. Al-Ali spoke about his experience leading the complex negotiations that brought two of the seven U.S. universities that have established full degree-granting campuses in Doha’s Education City. With his appointment as the first CEO of QSTP, he spoke of the vision to “capture the intellectual property from the academic institutions and providing a finance bridge from QSTP to create value from knowledge.” Dr. Al-Ali spoke of his leadership role on national steering committees that have shaped Qatar’s technology policy and articulated Qatar’s vision of integrating its industry with the research and higher education infrastructure that it has been investing massive resources to develop.

On the sidelines of the Stanford MENA Forum, Dr. Al-Ali held meetings with Research Fellows at the Hoover Institution, a leading American think tank, to discuss potential partnerships between Hoover Fellows and research institutes in Qatar, such as the Qatar Computing Research Institute and the Qatari Energy and Environment Institute.

Similar consultations were held with Distinguished Fellows at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Affairs, with a specific focus on food security and energy markets and with the Stanford’s Program on Energy and Sustainable Development.

 

 

UCLA

UCLA’s Center for Middle East Development (CMED) hosted QAI and Dr. Al-Ali at the university’s Faculty Club for discussions that will reinforce UCLA’s already deep ties with Qatar. CMED is UCLA’s dedicated center for Middle East expertise and, for many years, has partnered with Qatar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs to host an annual conference in Qatar under the banner of “Enriching the Economic Future of the Middle East.”

 

 

RAND Corporation Santa Monica

At the RAND Corporation’s Santa Monica headquarters, Dr. Al-Ali gave remarks on “Qatar’s Economic Diversification and Tech/Innovation Policy” to a select group of researchers, followed by an engaging Q&A session under Chatham House rules. He highlighted the nexus approach of linking Qatar’s universities with government-backed funding mechanisms, such as Qatar Development Bank (QDB) and QSTP. He emphasized that enabling the private sector through access to credit and business incubators will facilitate the creation of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) that will help Qatar diversify its economy away from hydrocarbons.

Though the RAND Corporation no longer maintains an office in Doha, it remains an important strategic partner to many Qatari institutions who rely on RAND for research and advisory support.

 

 

Larta Institute

The Larta Institute defines itself as providing a “mesh network” of mentorship resources, expertise, funding and connections to patient capital. In that sense, Larta is an Institute and not in the mold of traditional Bay Area “accelerators” that tend to be a source of one-time funding, office space for a limited time, and a scattered feedback loop.

Larta recognizes the fiercely competitive space of emerging technology start-ups and instead seeks to support nascent tech companies in every step of their lab to market transition. This starts with pairing companies with Principal Advisors who are experienced practitioners in both academia and industry. Larta is organized around the four pillars of Feed, Fuel, Heal and Innovation, with long-standing partnerships with the federal research funding arms of the National Institute of Health, Department of Energy and United States Department of Agriculture.

QAI and Dr. Ali had a very positive meeting with the Larta leadership. QAI expressed enthusiasm for converging some of Larta’s internationally renowned experience with Qatar’s efforts to cultivate its own organic “mesh network” of business enablers. This will help advance the Qatar National Vision 2030, which prioritizes economic diversification and human capital development.

 

 

The Pacific Council on International Policy

The Pacific Council is the West Coast’s premier member-based public diplomacy institute. It has hosted sitting U.S. Secretaries of State, Members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, former presidents, and the list could go on.

The Pacific Council hosted a lunch in their LA headquarters in honor of Dr. Khalid Al-Ali. The lunch was well attended by Pacific Council members who hail from diverse industries: financial services, aviation, law enforcement, defense, academia and literature.

Dr. Al-Ali offered some remarks on Qatar’s journey from seeking partners in the 1960s to finance and provide the technology for a world-leading LNG industry, to its current investment-led boom in human capital development and a sovereign wealth fund with a global and diversified portfolio of assets. Under Chatham House rules, Dr. Al-Ali fielded many thought-provoking questions about Qatar’s role in international affairs, its sporting ambitions and engagement with the U.S.

 

 

 

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The Origins of Qatar’s National Sports Day

In an unusual move, the Emir of Qatar issued an Emiri decree in December of 2011 announcing the creation of a National Sports Day. Presently, Qatar’s National Sports Day acts as an important annual occasion (on the second Tuesday of every February) with the goal of engaging the local community in Qatar with sports activities and fostering the adoption of a healthy lifestyle.

 

The impetus behind the declaration of a National Sports Day also coincides with the launch of Qatar’s National Vision 2030 (QNV 2030). The National Vision serves as a framework for Qatar to achieve an advanced society providing a high standard of living for its residents by the year 2030. The vision has 4 main pillars, with Qatar National Sports Day, primarily aimed at the pillar of Human Development. The other three pillars of QNV 2030 are Economic Development, Environmental Development, and Social Development.

 

The Human Development pillar specifically states, “The prosperity of any country depends on the health of its people. Qatar aims to build a comprehensive world-class healthcare system that is effective, affordable and universally available to all citizens.” It is common knowledge that leading an active lifestyle with a diet rich in nutrients is vital to one’s health. Yet, urbanization and technical advancements in Gulf countries has resulted in increased obesity in major cities and towns.

 

 

 

Qatar’s National Sports Day also serves a dual purpose. Not only does it aim to supporting the pillar of Human Development, but it also serves to support the pillar of Economic Development. Qatar is increasingly serving as a hub for Sports tournaments in the Middle East. Most famously, the nation will host the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Qatar has also successfully staged the 2006 Asian Games, the 2011 AFC Asian Cup, and the Qatar ExxonMobil Tennis Open, among several others. Qatar’s aim of serving as a regional hub for sports will not only bring the nation name recognition but will also serve as a basis of a domestic and international sports market, supporting both local entrepreneurs and attracting foreign investment.

 

 

(Image Source: Flickr – Jadi)

 

 

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