Growing Film Education and Culture Together: Doha Film Institute Partners with The Qatar-America Institute
Qatar-America Institute (QAI) and the Doha Film Institute (DFI) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to formalize a partnership between the two organizations and to promote the cultural ties between the U.S. and Qatar.
NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK– November 17, 2019 : The Qatar-America Institute (QAI) – an independent cultural and educational nonprofit organization with mission to facilitate dialogue, research, and exchange on the strategic relationship between Qatar and the U.S. – is pleased to announce a new partnership with the Doha Film Institute (DFI), a leading film organization from the Middle East and North Africa, effective from October 23rd 2019.
With culture, community, and education at the core of both institutions, QAI and DFI pledged to work together to promote and foster an appreciation and understanding of the cultural and social intersections between Qatar and the US through creative storytelling and community-driven programs and exchanges.
DFI serves as an all-encompassing film hub in Doha and a resource for the Arab region and is dedicated to film appreciation, education, and building a dynamic film industry in Qatar that focuses on nurturing regional storytellers while being entirely global in its scope. DFI also hosts the annual Ajyal Film Festival which takes place from November 18th- 23rd at Katara Cultural Village, Doha. ‘Ajyal’, Arabic for ‘generations’, consists of screening and events that bring people of all ages together, especially youth, to inspire creative interaction and stimulate cinematic dialogue.
The signatories of the MoU were Ms. Fatma Alremaihi, Chief Executive Officer of DFI and QAI’s Executive Director, Fatima Al-Dosari. Among attendees were DFI’s Chief Administrative Officer, Abdulla Jassim Al-Mosallam, and Fatma Al-Ghanim, DFI’s Director of Marketing & Communications.
QAI Executive Director, Fatima Al-Dosari, said “The MOU represents the beginning of a key relationship that will provide new opportunities and platforms for creatives in film and media from both Qatar and the United States. Since 2010, DFI has remarkably organized workshops featuring many renowned international creatives, in addition to hosting and participating in film festivals and premieres. QAI aims to capture the American-Qatari synergy in film culture and increase awareness, forge introductions, and establish important ties and partnerships between the US and Qatar. This partnership with DFI will definitely serve as another cultural bridge towards that goal.”
“The cultural and business connection between Qatar and the United States are historic”, said DFI Chief Executive Officer, Fatma Hassan Alremaihi. “I want to thank Fatima and the team at the Qatar America Institute for this great opportunity to deepen understanding between the two nations through mutual exchanges of arts and culture. We look forward to an exciting program of activities with our partners at QAI, focused on strengthening a single world connected by education, appreciation, and collaboration.”
On October 24th, 2019, Qatar became the first Arab country ever to host the annual UN Day celebrations. The Permanent Mission of the State of Qatar to the United Nations partnered with the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, the organizing body for the soccer World Cup in 2022, to host a cultural showcase that brought the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra to the UN General Assembly.
The event’s theme, “Building Prosperity for All through Culture, Education, Gender Equality, Sports and Sustainability,” encapsulated many of the values and tools Qatar has embraced to promote cross-cultural dialogue and promote the unity of diverse nations and people. To mark the 74th anniversary of the UN Charter entering into force, UN Day 2019 featured keynote addresses from Qatari and UN officials, including the following:
-H.E. Hassan Al Thawadi, Secretary-General of the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy
-Melissa Fleming, Under-Secretary-General & Communications and Chief Spokesperson for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
-Tijjani Muhammad-Bande of Nigeria, President of the UN General Assembly
-António Guterres, Secretary-General of UN
The celebration was made possible thanks to the generous support of the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy. In his remarks to the audience at the General Assembly, the Secretary-General of the Supreme Committee of Delivery and Legacy highlighted the powerful synergy of music and sports in tapping into the creative energies of communities worldwide. The Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra, founded in 2007, is made up of artists from East and West who practice together in Qatar and stands as a testament to the power of culture in bringing people together.
Following speeches by officials, the evening’s cultural segment was kicked off by a solo piano score performed by Qatari female pianist, Hala Al-Emadi. The Orchestra then delivered an inspiring performance against the backdrop of a Doha Film Institute production that cinematically portrayed Qatar’s journey from a pearl-diving economy to a leading global energy exporter.
Each musical piece was supported by vignettes produced by Amal Al-Muftah and Amna Al-Baker, students at Northwestern University in Qatar. Trailblazing Qatari composer Dana Al Fardan collaborated with Hala Al-Emadi to compose every piece of music performed in the celebration.
To quote HE Alya Ahmed Saif Al Thani, Permanent Representative of Qatar to the United Nations, Qatar can be proud of the young Qatari women artists who have broken the glass ceiling in the arts and film industry in the region and beyond.
(Image Source: Twitter – @antonioguterres)
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 17-18, 2019 — CHICAGO, IL: The Qatar-America Institute (QAI) completed a two-day outreach trip to the city of Chicago with His Excellency Nasser Allenqawi, Consul General of the State of Qatar from New York. The visit included a series of high-level engagements in the city focused on education and culture. The visit is part of a series of outreach visits focused on enhancing the US-Qatar bilateral relationship.
As part of the Qatar America Institute’s Expressions Series on those that have been inspired by Qatari art and culture, noted author and architectural critic Philip Jodidio and former Senior Associate Dean of Northwestern University in Qatar, Richard J. Roth, kicked off the Chicago-based events with a dialogue on contemporary architecture and urban development in Doha, Qatar.
The event gathered Chicago area architects, engineers, business leaders and students for an overview by Mr. Jodidio that included discussion of Qatar’s state-of-the-art museums and internationally acclaimed original architecture including the I.M. Pei-designed Museum of Islamic Art; the Qatar National Library; Msheireb Downtown Doha with major design and sustainability innovations by Chicago-based architects and engineers; the Sidra Medical and Research Center, and a host of Pritzker-laureate architecture that forms the campus of the Qatar Foundation and six top U.S. universities in Doha; and the newly-opened National Museum of Qatar—Jean Nouvel’s second iconic work to be built in Doha.
Mr. Jodidio and Mr. Roth expanded the discussion with audience members to focus on ways the special relationship between the U.S. and Qatar has led to an increasingly progressive and open country, radical innovations in sustainable public transit for Doha, and the highest concentration of original architecture by Pritzker Prize in the world.
“There is a desire for openness, there is a desire for lasting quality, there is desire for modernity,” said Mr. Jodidio. “Some of this must seem strange for people who listen to the news and sometimes hear negative things about the region, but after 18 visits and extensive time working in Qatar, I can tell you this is a truly inspiring place that is open, forward-thinking, and preparing its own people for a future which might just be one without carbon-based fuels, gas, and oil.”
QAI also hosted the U.S. representative from the Qatar World Cup organizing entity, the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC), in a briefing session with Chicago-area executives and leaders from across the sports sector.
The SC shared currents and updates, and address questions about the mega-event expected to attract 1.5 million fans to Qatar in November 2022. During the briefing, the SC’s representative emphasized Qatar’s commitment to deliver a “not only national, but also tournament showcasing all countries and cultures of the region.”
Another commitment that was highlighted was the SC’s pledge to allocate between $40-50 million to pay off construction migrant workers debts at their home-countries. The representative stressed the existing U.S.-Qatar economic ties in relation to the Qatar World Cup which will reach $10 billion invested in American services and expertise for the upcoming tournament in 2022.
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 labor laws in the country and build government officials’ capacity to implement them and ensure that recruitment practices are in line with best international practices.
The two-day run of events concluded with a packed reception that gathered more than 100 local business and community leaders to celebrate the impacts, cultural and education links, business opportunities and jobs created by the long-standing partnership between Qatar and the U.S. Consul General Allenqawi and Illinois Secretary of State the Honorable Jesse Clark White addressed the guests and underscored the commitment to continued collaboration between Qatar and Chicagoland businesses and cultural institutions.
In his concluding remarks, Consul General Allenqawi thanked QAI and Chicago’s local business and cultural communities for a successful series of meetings and events. “I sincerely hope this was energizing and inspiring for you all, as it was for me, and that we can build and inspire on the ideas exchanged to further the relations between our two nations.”
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.
The Qatar Harvey Fund will give $1 million in scholarships to support Texas A&M University System students who were forced to withdraw during Hurricane Harvey. The grant will be provided in coordination with the Rebuild Texas Fund, a collaboration between the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation and the One Star Foundation.
The scholarships will be available starting in the fall to any undergraduate or graduate students with qualifying GPAs (2.0 for undergraduates, 3.0 for graduates) who were unable to attend school as a result of Hurricane Harvey. The Texas A&M System Chancellor John Sharp stated that “The Texas A&M University System is very thankful for this grant. This money will help rebuild the future for hundreds of deserving Texans whose dreams of obtaining a degree were rained on by Harvey.”
The scholarships will cover tuition, fees, books, living, and emergency expenses at five colleges within the system: the College Station flagship, Texas A&M at Galveston, Prairie View A&M University, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, and Texas A&M Kingsville. Qatar has also supplied aid to students at Houston Community College, the University of Houston, and Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas. The Qatar Harvey Fund is a $30 million fund established in 2017 to support recovery in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.
Other projects that have been funded by the Qatar Harvey fund include $2.5 million for the City of Houston’s Fund to Reduce Homelessness, $2.5 million for the renovation of the Riverside Hospital Center and $241,000 for the Wesley A.M.E Church. Additionally, the Qatar Harvey Fund has also partnered with the Bob Woodruff Foundation (BWF) to establish the Qatar Veterans Fund. BWF will establish the Qatar Veterans Fund using a grant from the Qatar Harvey Fund (a $30 million gift from the state intended to help the 41 Texas counties impacted by the storm). The investment in the new veterans fund will be managed by BWF and will support Texas’ large population of former service personnel and military families.