The outbreak of the coronavirus (covid-19) has meant the closure of public spaces, business establishments, and self quarantining in countries around the world. With 439 confirmed cases in Qatar, officials are taking all necessary measures to ensure safety for all citizens. This has meant the closure of public spaces, business establishments, and cultural programs. Qatar Museums has closed all of its museums, including cultural programs, initiatives, and workshops, until further notice. People have been advised to stay indoors, to stop the spread of the disease and keep those most vulnerable safe. For those with access to wifi, you are still able to enjoy the riches of art and culture through virtual tours.
Working alongside the Google Cultural Institute, both the Museum of Islamic Art and MATHAF: Arab Museum of Modern Art give virtual tours. Museum of Islamic Art was one of the first institutions to work with Google Cultural Institute; an initiative started in 2011, that is currently in partnership with over 2,500 cultural institutions, allowing visitors from around the world to visit exhibitions and collections archives all around the world. The tour offers galleries and information on the work exhibited. Guests can enjoy the comfort of their own homes.
(Image Source: Wikipedia)
On March 14, 2020, in the midst of a global health crisis, Her Excellency Sheikha Hind, Vice-Chairperson and CEO of Qatar Foundation (QF), addressed Qatar’s resilience and capacity to persevere in the face of adversity. In these times, the strength and adaptability of a nation can be found at the heart of its civic and institutional engagements. Qatar has indeed raised to the challenge in the past and is set to continue building on innovative responses to such crises.
Solidarity and resilience are core elements of social cohesion – especially in the aftermath of unprecedented precautionary measures to curb the spread of the virus. While state institutions must provide adequate support to its population, every sector – public or private – must contribute to the wellbeing of its community. In this instance, Qatar Foundation (QF) took the necessary steps of “closing its public facilities and programs at Education City and canceling forthcoming events, with school and university classes also being suspended across the country.” Further, on March 15, recognizing the financial impact of closing measures, QF announced the waiving of rents for its external SME retail tenants for six months.
In her address, Her Excellency Sheikha Hind provides a positive and realistic outlook on the disruptions of COVID-19. The response to the crisis is one based on readiness and determination to rally a nation towards a common goal and rise above the public health challenge. Most importantly, HE referred to how Qataris from all walks of life are taking part in the nation’s response. In her words, “The stories I’ve been hearing are heartwarming. Teachers thinking of ways to keep our children motivated, our teams at QF are ensuring third-party vendors are not affected, scientists and researchers offering their support to our government agencies”. These stories testify not only to the importance of civic duty but also to the adaptive resilience of Qatari society. The latter can only be propelled by the endurance and courage of individuals and organizations alike.
In addition to the creation of new solidarity networks, other challenges arise along with innovative ways to tackle them. As demonstrated by QF’s measures in its “activation of tried-and-tested remote working processes for many of its staff,” the disruptions of the health crisis can be managed via novel work practices. According to HE, “This is our opportunity to redesign the future workplace […] With the right mindset, we can increase productivity and reinvent the way we work in the long run.”
As mentioned by Her Excellency, preventive measures and social distancing can be inadvertently overwhelming. However, the focus is on alleviating the strain on health providers and services, and on the protection of the most vulnerable. These momentums prevail beyond the uncertainties of the health crisis and can shape long-term outcomes.
(Image Source: QF)
On January 20th, 2020 in Washington, D.C., Her Excellency Sheikha Hind bint Hamad Al Thani, Vice-Chairperson and CEO of Qatar Foundation (QF), met senior figures from the home campuses of QF’s international partner universities. During her visit, HE Sheikha Hind attended the President’s Council meeting in Washington, D.C., which comprises representatives from Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU) and U.S. universities with branch campuses in Qatar’s Education City.
HBKU is Qatar Foundation’s homegrown institute of higher education. The U.S. universities with campuses in Doha include Carnegie Mellon University, Georgetown, Northwestern, Texas A&M, Virginia Commonwealth University, and Weill Cornell Medical College.
These universities equip students with the skills and knowledge for success in fields ranging from engineering and medicine to international affairs and design – all supporting Qatar’s National Vision for human, social, and economic development.
Her Excellency Sheikha Hind also visited Carnegie Mellon University’s main campus in Pittsburgh, where she participated in a roundtable discussion on artificial intelligence, automation, and machine learning with Carnegie Mellon University faculty.
(Image Source: Twitter – @Amb_Althani)
The 30th edition of the Doha International Book Fair (DIBF) was held from January 9th to 18th, 2020 in its namesake city. Under the patronage of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, the Qatar Center for Cultural and Heritage Events supervised the DIBF. The date coincides with the launch of the Year of Culture Qatar-France 2020, an initiative of the Ministry of Culture that aims to celebrate the unique history and relationship between Qatar and a given partner country.
The DIBF is one of the largest international book fairs in the region and enjoys the prestige of hosting people from across the globe. Attendance has increased steadily every year since its inauguration in 1972.
Originally, DIBF was held every two years, but in 2002 it became an annual event. Since then, it has become more renowned, attracting some of the largest and most prestigious publishing houses in the world. The exhibition was ten days long, in order to give visitors an excellent opportunity to experience all of DIBF and to allow publishers to showcase their diverse publications.
Three hundred thirty-five publishing companies, as well as several embassies of countries including the USA, Japan, Palestine, Kyrgyzstan, and the Philippines, were housing 797 pavilions. In total, 31 countries participated in this edition of the Doha International Book Fair with the first time participation of Belgium and Australia, along with the guest of honor, France.
(Image Source: US Embassy in Qatar)
Image is from 2019 book fair
On Monday, 09 December 2019, QAI hosted its first Doha salon dinner, titled “Qatar- America: Forging New Paths” at Doha’s newly-opened American hotel, Park Hyatt. The intimate dinner aimed to introduce invitees to QAI’s new leadership and highlight past accomplishments, ongoing activities, upcoming projects, and strategic goals. It also introduced new key partners to the organization, such as the programmatic partnership with the Doha Film Institute (DFI) starting October 2019 and the corporate sponsorship from ConocoPhillips starting in 2020.
Twenty American and Qatari guests with backgrounds ranging from the arts, culture, business, education, and diplomacy enjoyed the family-style dinner served by Qatari Chef Shams Al-Qassabi of Doha’s Opus Restaurant.
In addition to the delicious food, guests also enjoyed an exhibition of artwork graciously loaned by the Al-Bahie auction house, which featured works by Arab and Islamic artists, such as a contemporary bronze horse sculpture by the artist Mohammed Hussain Alkhaldi, a vintage Tabriz rug, and a painting by Baya Mahieddine. QAI’s Executive Director Fatima Al-Dosari led the dinner conversations which included remarks by the dinner’s guest of honor Mr. William Grant, who is the Chief of Mission and Chargé d’Affaires of the United States in Qatar and Mr. J. Todd Creeger, President of the Qatar Business Unit for ConocoPhillips.
Through December 14th-15th 2019, the Qatar-America Institute (QAI) was pleased to attend the Doha Forum. Widely regarded as one of the world’s premier international policy conferences, this year’s theme was “Reimagining Governance in a Multipolar World.” The Forum convened heads of state, policymakers, scholars, journalists, business leaders, and other distinguished participants to explore new approaches for a more pragmatic, sustainable, and collaborative governance around the world.
HH the Amir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, opened the Forum with a speech calling for greater international cooperation and emphasizing the vital role that non-governmental and non-profit organizations play in civil society.
In between dozens of official panels and sessions covering every topic from foreign affairs to culture, the Forum also serves as a convening space for stakeholders in the U.S.-Qatar relationship. QAI’s leadership attended the 2019 Doha Forum in order to build relationships, gain valuable insight into the topics our audience cares about, and raise international awareness of QAI’s mission.
Additionally, a broad array of American individuals, including Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Senior Advisor to the U.S. President Ivanka Trump, among others, participated in this forum. Also, entities extended their support to this forum with organizations such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Bloomberg, the Stimson Center, The McCain Institute for International Leadership, The Wilson Center, The Middle East Institute, The Brookings Institution, Aspen Institute, The U.S. State Department and USIP, as well as academic institutions such as Yale University, Georgia State University, and Cornell University, and the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace, and Security.
Dr. Khalid Al-Ali, former Executive Director, Advisor, and Scientist at NASA and a member of QAI’s Advisory Council was a speaker on the panel titled “Developing the High-Tech Sector in Russia: Prospects for Venture Investment.” Dr. Al-Ali previously participated in QAI’s Expert Voices program touring Stanford, UCLA, The Rand Corporation, Larta Institute, and The Pacific Council on International Policy.
“Technology is disruptive. It’s going to be interesting to see a multipolar approach to governance to see who owns the technology that comes out of the 4th industrial revolution.” pic.twitter.com/ZlMlmBtlYF
— Doha Forum (@DohaForum) December 15, 2019
(Image Source: Twitter – @arightside)
On 21 November 2019, HH Sheika Moza bint Nasser, Chairperson of Qatar Foundation awarded the 2019 WISE Prize for Education Laureate to Larry Rosenstock, CEO, and founder of High Tech High, a network of public charter schools in San Diego, California. Mr. Rosenstock received the award at the opening session of the World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE). The event included leaders in education from around the world, as well as thought leaders and experts in modern education.
Mr. Rosenstock praised past recipients of the award and offered hopeful words for the future of education stating:
“I am tremendously honored to receive this prize from such a distinguished jury. For me to be in the company of past winners of this prize, who have now made an impact on education around the world, is very moving…
I hope the prize will allow us to share the work of High Tech High students and teachers even more widely. The prize confirms two of my strongest beliefs: that the work of hands and minds can and must be integrated into our schools. And that all young people are capable of doing work that matters when we give them the opportunity.”
Additionally, the CEO of WISE Stavros Yiannouka said of the award and Mr. Rosenstock:
“The prize aims to raise awareness about the crucial role that education plays in all societies for creating a platform for innovative and practical solutions to alleviate some of the challenges around the world.
The work of the 2019 laureate encapsulates the essence of the prize. His decades-long work on education was a force for positive individual and social transformation manifested through impactful work and tangible achievements as a visionary educator, policymaker, thinker, and social entrepreneur.”
QAI congratulates Mr. Rosenstock and the World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE) for their successful efforts in advancing education around the world.
2019 marks the ten year anniversary of the inception of Qatar Foundation International (QFI). QFI, which is an entity of the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science, and Community Development, launched its operations in 2009 in Washington D.C.
QFI fosters cross-cultural dialogue and discourse by focusing on student-centered learning framework to provide a deeper understanding of the Arab world. QFI primarily achieves this by providing Arabic classes that are coupled and integrated within a comprehensive syllabus that deals with the region’s diverse cultural heritage.
Specifically, QFI is committed to accomplishing the following objectives: increasing primary and secondary students’ accessibility to high-quality Arabic language programs; partnering and engaging with key universities and/or academic institutions to augment greater understanding of Arab societies; supporting effective professional development of Arabic language teachers, including pertinent subjects that cover the Arab world; and improving global competence, a long-term educational objective identified and deciphered by the OECD.
QFI’s global reach and capacity underline the institution’s commitment to amplifying transnational exchanges, understanding, and harmony.
Most notably, this factor also demonstrates Qatar’s exemplary leadership in recognizing the value of education, research, and community development in the international arena as a means in forging and solidifying relationships with societies and cultures across the globe.
The Qatar-America Institute congratulates Qatar Foundation International on 10 years of outreach and education, and wish it every future success!
(Image Source: Twitter – @AmalChmouny)
On November 20th, 2019, Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service (SFS) celebrated its 100 years of service via its School of Foreign Service Centennial Gala Weekend, which convened and attracted more than a thousand alumni, students, and special guests from around the world.
The Centennial Gala Weekend featured a series of panel discussions and lectures about a range of topics pertaining to international affairs from esteemed scholars, public officials and former heads of state.
Speaker of the United States House of Representative Nancy Pelosi gave the opening remarks:
“The School of Foreign Service has given the world generations of presidents, public servants, professional diplomats who have built a future worthy of the sacrifices of the men and women in uniform and the aspirations of our children.”
While these celebrations were unfolding in Washington D.C., Georgetown University in Qatar contributed to this historic commemoration via GU-Q 100 – a special collection of the institution’s first 100 published books since its inception in 2005.
Furthermore, GU-Q’s celebrations also emphasized and highlighted the institution’s commitment to SFS’s mission by promoting intellectual understanding via sustained cross-cultural engagements and dialogue.
This was demonstrated by key events held at GU-Q throughout 2019 that include the following: “Annual Faculty Research Conference: Transformations and Continuities in Islamic Intellectual Thought; Indian Ocean World Symposium: Towards a Re-mapping of Diasporic Circularities in the Indian Ocean World; Palliative Care Conference: Muslim and Christian Perspectives on Palliative Care and End of Life”.
Other notable events held at GU-Q with both a local and global scope and focus included “In Conversation with H.E. Saad Al Kaabi, Minister of State for Energy Affairs”; “In Conversation with H.E. Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, Deputy Prime Minister & Minister of Foreign Affairs”; and “Public Lecture on Workers Movements and the Arab Spring”, to cite a few.
In essence, the events that GU-Q hosted underscore the institution’s pledge in upholding and sustaining SFS’s mission and international reputation. Here, Qatar Foundation has played a fundamental role in developing Qatar’s knowledge economy, which is one of the objectives contained in Qatar National Vision 2030.
On November 3rd, 2019, Qatar Foundation congratulated two students from Northwestern University in Qatar, Juyoung Choi and Saad Ejaz, on receiving a grant from Pulitzer Center. The grant was announced after the Pulitzer Center’s sixth annual Campus Consortium Student Fellows Washington Weekend, which was held in Washington D.C on October 18th – 19th, 2019. For the first day of the Washington Weekend event, presentations and discussions focused on migration and displacement, the impact of religion, cultural identity, and women’s health.
Saad Ejaz and Juyoung Choi were lauded for their valuable video-reporting about Yemeni refugees in South Korea. “Our story isn’t really about the politics around the war, or the politics in South Korea […] What our story is about is the people who are being affected by it,” commented Ejaz. As the students emphasized, the purpose and intent of their video-reporting project were to capture and reveal the experiences of refugees on Seju Island, South Korea. Their project reported the love story between a Yemeni refugee and a South Korean dancer.
(Image Source: Pulitzer Center)
On October 21, 2019, Qatar Science & Technology Park (QSTP) celebrated its 10 year anniversary. QSTP, which is a free zone and business park, has three main objectives: to support entrepreneurs via funding, technical expertise, training, and mentorship; to accelerate and facilitate product innovation and/or development by collaborating with the private sector or with the Qatar Foundation; and to foster an environment of cooperation to attract and/or assist the commercialization of promising products or services.
QSTP’s avant-garde work in research, development, and innovation can be seen with the Arab Innovation Academy (AIA). AIA is the largest entrepreneurship program in the Arab region that offers the unparalleled opportunity for entrepreneurs to successfully build and establish their start-ups in only 10 days. Currently, QSTP houses a total of 108 companies from 17 different countries worldwide. Examples of such companies and/or entities include Gulf Organization Research & Development, Meeza, Qatar Mobility Innovation Center, Cisco, Siemens, and ConocoPhillips.
In addition, QSTP’s Incubation Center attests to Qatar’s global leadership in the fields of innovation, research, development, and entrepreneurship.
This can be seen with MENA Dojo, an accelerator program that organizes intensive one-on-one business mentoring sessions over a period of six weeks, or with the center’s technical assistance to Qatar-based start-ups to enable them to develop and finalize their products for commercialization. So far, more than 1,000 entrepreneurs have benefited from such a platform and opportunity.
Yousouf Abdulrahman Saleh, executive director of QSTP, emphasized its important role in Qatar by stating, “research, development, and innovation (RDI) are integral to Qatar’s sustainability and resilience, and it is, for this reason, it is a priority in the country’s agenda. RDI will play a key role in developing and diversifying the economy as well as enhancing the capacity to create solutions to address national challenges and make a global impact. The unique ecosystem we have created here at QSTP encompasses the entire value chain of education, research and development, innovation, and entrepreneurship. QSTP is the place where technology goes to work.”
In essence, QSTP underscores Qatar’s commitment to becoming an international hub for technology and innovation, while augmenting the country’s long-term national development goals delineated in the Qatar National Vision 2030.
(Image Source: Qatar Museums)