Qatar is a global leader in championing the rights and opportunities of those with disabilities, including autism. At the forefront of Qatar’s efforts in autism research, awareness, and other mental disabilities are Her Highness Sheikha Moza.
HH Sheikha Moza has continuously championed the rights of those with disabilities. In 2008, at an annual United Nations gathering, Sheikha Moza proposed the first-ever global “Autism Awareness Day”. This day, now being celebrated for the 13th year in a row, has been complemented and embodied by Qatar’s efforts, in both the political and medical realm, in advancing quality of life for those with autism.
Sheikha Moza, in regard to children diagnosed with autism, stated:
“It is our deep faith that God is compassionate and merciful, and mercy is what he bestows upon His subjects. He is generous and beautiful, and beauty is what he gives. That is how we should see the world, beautiful, with all its resources and contents, known to us or unknown.
Qatar, our beloved, be they human buds or wild flowers, all are blossoms, all are natural, and all are beautiful, bearing Qatar’s name. Let us all work together, caring for our little buds.
Let us plant them deep in the consciousness of our land. Let us nurture them with love and care, to help them blossom into flowers filled with beautiful scents and to fill their surroundings with beauty.”
Additionally, Qatar is a signatory of the “UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities” that both recognizes and advocates for the fundamental human rights of those with disabilities. Domestically, Qatar has also made significant strides in incorporating those with autism into schools and society. In 2009, Qatar’s Supreme Education Council (similar to a Department of Education) established an Additional Educational Support Needs (AESN) unit to supplement children in school.
These actions were followed by a 2012 reclassification of autism as a distinct category rather than being placed under the blanket term of “Mental Disability”. The latest development, domestically, is that Qatar has launched a 5-year plan targeting autism. The official title, “Qatar National Autism Plan, 2017-2021” is composed of six pillars that target autism, as well as 44 recommendations to the government to implement to achieve the goals of the plan.
In 2016, the Qatar Foundation launched several schools specifically designed to assist children affected by autism and their families. Autism awareness and the quality of life of those diagnosed with autism have been dramatically improved by the efforts of the royal family and the people of Qatar. The nation continues to move forward and stands at the forefront of autism awareness, research, and advocacy.
(Image Source: Shafallah Center For Children with Special Needs)
The government of Qatar jumped into action shortly after several reports criticized the government of not doing enough to address the spread of the coronavirus in Qatar’s industrial zone – the epicenter of the nation’s COVID-19 outbreak.
The Industrial Zone, just outside of Doha, is home to Qatar’s large migrant population, where residents are housed in close quarters unable to effectively institute social distancing to prevent the further spread of disease.
In response to the residents’ concerns and international organizations, the Government Communications Office of Qatar reported that the area had been placed in a lockdown. Doctors and medical personnel have been deployed to test, treat, and monitor any individual who is suspected or has been confirmed to be a victim of the coronavirus.
Additionally, in response to some reports of workers being placed on unpaid leave, the government has stepped in to ensure that the salaries of all migrant workers would continue to be paid until the crisis has subsided.
Lastly, the government is supplying regular shipments of food, water, masks, and cleaning supplies to limit the anxiety created by the lockdown and to ensure safe and healthy environments.
(Image Source: Andalou Agency)
On March 5th, The Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC), FIFA, and the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 LLC received special recognition from the Qatar Green Building Council for the delivery of the Sustainability Strategy for Qatar’s World Cup in 2022. Yet, not much is known about Qatar’s sustainability strategy within the general public.
The three primary partners responsible for delivering the 2022 World Cup in Qatar are FIFA, the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 LLC, and the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy. The tournament will be held from November 21st to December 18th in 2022. The event will feature a total of 32 teams, eight stadiums, and consist of a budget of 8 billion dollars.
As part of the overall vision that Qatar has for the 2022 World Cup, one of the most important pillars is that of Sustainability. The Pillar of Sustainability consists of several significant points. Some of the most relevant aspects are the following – gain sustainable building certification for stadiums and offices; sustainable building practices; sustainable procurement and disposal of construction materials; and overall reduction and minimization of greenhouse gas emissions.
Much of the infrastructure currently under construction employs highly energy-efficient design from air conditioning and ventilation, lighting, and wastewater recovery systems. During development, “in some cases, over 90% of construction waste is recycled and reused.
Greenhouse gas emissions are also prioritized throughout the construction phase, tournament operations, and post-tournament phases. Within the construction phase, regional material is primarily employed for construction to reduce fossil fuel waste preventing materials from traveling long distances. Materials discarded during construction are reused and recycled, and local biodiversity is given the utmost consideration to avoid disruptions in the surrounding natural environment.
In addition to these measures, the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy is managing one of the largest tree nurseries in the region. As construction of the stadiums comes to completion, over 5000 trees will be planted, covering 850,000 square meters of land, allowing for the absorption of thousands of tons of carbon from the atmosphere. Furthermore, a public transportation system will allow for the free transfer of tournament fans as they shuffle from one stadium to another, back to their hotel room, and travel through the city. The Doha metro also serves as a piece of national infrastructure, limiting the use of private transportation within Qatari society.
Lastly, temporary power solutions are being employed to minimize impact and reduce waste from the overall power grid. Qatar aims to build a utility-scale solar power plant producing 500 MW of energy throughout the tournament. Further limiting the environmental impact and employing sustainable solutions to modern-day problems of energy generation.
(Image Source: Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy)
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 18, Her Highness Sheikha Moza Bint Nasser spoke at Georgetown University in a seminar titled “The Right to Education for All.” The Thought Leadership Seminar was co-hosted by the Education Above All foundation and Georgetown University.
During the panel discussion, she stressed the need for education to continue during and after times of crisis so that upcoming generations gain the capacity of creating and sustaining more stable futures.
She also urged universities and educational organization to take the lead in using innovative technology’s and techniques to find solutions that can accelerate progress for protection of education.
The event also featured Dr. Alaa Murabit, who currently serves as the United Nations High-Level Commissioner on Health, Employment & Economic Growth and Ambassador Melanne Verveer, the executive director of the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security. The panel discussion was moderated by Georgetown University President John J. Degioia.
On Tuesday, September 10th, the Qatar-America Institute hosted a special luncheon for the Women’s Leadership Group, a member of the Boys & Girls Club of the Greater Washington. The luncheon aimed to welcome new members to WLG, highlight past accomplishments, and discuss upcoming events, such as: WLG’s anniversary celebration on December 3rd, 2019 and WLG’s Holiday Swing concert at the Kennedy Center on December 28, 2019.
Among the attendees was WLG’s Founder & Chairman, Patty Perkins Andringa who thanked QAI for its continuous generous support to the BGCGW and and other youth and education initiatives in the DC area.
The WLG was established in 1999, and is entering its 20th year. So far, WLG has been able to raise $6 million in support of its programs, enhancing educational initiatives, scholarship opportunities and cultural arts exposure.
Images of Women’s Leadership Luncheon
July 15 marks World Skills Day for Youth. 1.2 billion people between the ages of 15 and 24 make up 16% of the world’s population. The UN’s sustainable development goals require citizen participation from all age groups. Young people, as the decision-makers of the future, play an enormous role in this citizen participation. Young people are the key to building sustainable, just, inclusive and stable societies in order to avoid or address the threats of tomorrow. These include climate change, unemployment, poverty, gender equality, global conflicts, and exponential migration.
However, young people between 15 and 24 years of age are three times more likely to be exposed to unemployment than adults. In addition, they are continually exposed to lower quality jobs, greater labor market inequalities and longer and less secure school-to-work transitions.
Going further, women between the ages of 15 and 24 are more likely to be underemployed and underpaid and to work part-time or on temporary contracts.
Silatech, a non-profit company in Qatar, has a mission to include and connect young people around the world, especially in the workplace. Silatech provides innovative solutions in the field of youth employment. The company works with national, regional and international partners to provide financial, technical and operational contributions to young people who wish to develop their skills and employment opportunities.
In an interview between Forbes and Ms. Sabah Al-Haidoos – CEO of Silatech, on 29 January 2019, Ms. Al-Haidoos elaborated on the scope of Silatech’s work, the importance of the role of young people in the world and their values: “Without economic and social empowerment of young people after graduating high school, education won’t be as useful. Investing in innovative educational solutions and tools at the grassroots level is a worthwhile venture because it is the conduit to economic opportunities when all enabling factors align. (…) We also work with partner organizations that believe in our mission to empower and inspire youth to transform their lives for the better and lead the change in their communities. ”
The current challenge regarding youth employment is the central point of the organization’s values. Silatech believes that it is necessary to educate society on this global problem, to achieve the development of a political strategy for governments. In addition, Silatech proposes to launch media campaigns to encourage and support innovative and innovative employment methods for young people, but also for companies.
3,000 Qatari Patients Benefit From the Hamad Medical Corporation’s Secondary Stroke Prevention Clinic
Since the Secondary Stroke Prevention Clinic (SSPC) opening at Hamad General Hospital (HGH) in April 2018, 3,000 visits have been made. The purpose of the clinic is to offer services in prevention and education to reduce the risk of recurrence in patients who have recently had a stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA).
”The patients that we see in this clinic have a high risk of suffering a stroke or TIA, often for the second or even third time,” stated Dr. Naveed Akhtar, Head of Stroke Services at Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC).
The clinic offers a wide range of services, such education, prevention, and monitoring. Preventives services can include diagnostic results, education of healthy lifestyle habits and explanation of main risk factors for stroke. These services are delivered by specially-trained stroke consultants, clinical nurse specialists, educators, and pharmacists. Moreover, the SSPC focuses on health promotion and education in order to keep the Qatari population as healthy as possible.
“Studies show that the risk of recurrent stroke is between 5-10% within the first 30 days and rises to up to 40% within five years of the initial stroke. For this reason, it is essential that we provide suitable education and support for stroke patients to try to prevent any further incidents,” says Dr. Akhtar
With the opening of the SSPC, more than 3,000 patients are benefiting of the stroke team’s expertise, and more will be taken in in the near future.
(Image Source: Hamad Medical Corporation)
The State of Qatar announced that the final $13.7 million of the $30 million Qatar Harvey Fund will be directed towards a variety of Houston area community development projects. $3.3 million will be donated to build eight soccer fields that will also serve as flood mitigation basins. In addition, $1.72 million will aid Multicultural Education and Counseling through the Arts (MECA), a cultural and community center in Houston.
“Helping to provide continued access to educational resources and opportunities in the wake of Hurricane Harvey is a primary goal of the Qatar Harvey Fund,” stated His Excellency Sheikh Meshal bin Hamad Al-Thani, Qatar’s Ambassador to the U.S. and Chair of the Qatar Harvey Fund.
The Qatar Harvey Fund was established in 2017 by the State of Qatar to support recovery in Southeast Texas after the devastation of Hurricane Harvey. The $30 million fund provided aid to veterans impacted by the hurricane, created scholarships to support students to continue their education, helped rebuild homes, and assisted in the reopening of a hospital.
Qatar has also given aid to Haiti and Japan after devastating earthquakes, and has funded development projects in Mali and Tunisia.
(Image Source: Twitter – @Amb_AlThani)