Category: News

Texas A&M University-Qatar Shows Off STEM Concepts at Science and Engineering Road Show

 

Benjamin Cieslinski and Dr. Mohamed Gharib of Texas A&M University at Qatar launched this year’s Science and Engineering Road Show. The road show introduces younger students to STEM concepts, including subjects like temperature, pressure, polymers, and more. Last year, the six-month show reached 6,100 students from 23 schools.

The aim of the road show is to increase the level of student interest in STEM fields. This years mission hopes to expand on last years numbers by increasing the student count by 2000+ students, including adding 100+ teachers, and reaching out to over 60 schools in Qatar.

 

 

About Texas A&M in Qatar

The satellite campus for Texas A&M opened in the fall of 2003. The campus in Qatar specializes in Bachelor of Science degrees in chemical engineering, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, and petroleum engineering. The campus also offers two graduate degrees in chemical engineering: a Master of Science (M.S.) and a Master of Engineering (M.Eng.).

The inaugural class of Texas A&M at Qatar began with 29 students, 24 of whom were Qatari and 15 female. To this day, the campus has produced almost 850 engineers, hosts more than 20 student organizations and clubs, and produces research relevant to the Qatari state worth around $236.4 million.

 

 

(Image Source: Texas A&M – Qatar )

 

 

 

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Qatar Harvey Fund to Help Reopen Hospital’s Third Ward

 

$2.5 million of the $30 million Qatar Harvey Fund will help reopen Harris County’s Third Ward Riverside Hospital. The hospital is planned to reopen in 2021. The Qatar Harvey Fund was committed in September, 2017 following the devastation of Hurricane Harvey to the Houston, Texas area. The announcement was made at a news conference at the site of the former Riverside Hospital with a focus on having the site be redeveloped into a primary care facility with a focus on mental health.

 

The announcement was jointly made by H.E. Sheikh Meshal bin Hamad Al-Thani, the Qatari ambassador to the United States; U.S. Rep Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Houston; and Harris County Precinct 1 Commissioner Rodney Ellis.

 

“The Qatar Harvey Fund is proud to partner with Harris County on the Riverside Hospital Project. From its very beginning, the fund’s goal has been to support long-term rebuilding efforts for families and communities most affected by Hurricane Harvey. This redevelopment and expansion will both restore a historic neighborhood institution and provide the Third Ward with much needed health services — a critical need for enduring recovery.” – H.E. Sheikh Meshal Bin Hamad Al Thani, Qatari Ambassador to the United States

 

The hospital was originally opened in 1918, then renamed Riverside Hospital in 1961. The hospital closed in 2015 due to financial instability. Harris County purchased the site in 2018, but it has remained vacant and in need of serious repair.

 

“There’s nothing like having a hospital like this in our neighborhood… It provides jobs and opportunities.” – J.A. Ward Junior, former Houston ISD teacher

 

Qatar’s efforts following Hurricane Harvey fall under a greater pattern of assistance that the nation has offered globally. In 2005, Qatar made a $100 million relief contribution to the Gulf Coast states of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama after Hurricane Katrina. The Qatar Katrina Fund donated the $100 million in aid relief to three main aspects of reconstruction:  $38.2 million to education, $34.4 million to housing, and $27.4 million to healthcare.

 

 

(Image Source: Houston Chronicle)

 

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Art & Culture Through the Words of Qatar’s Sheikha Al-Mayassa

On October 10, Harper’s Bazar published an interview with H.E. Qatar’s Sheikha Al-Mayassa bint Hamad Al-Thani. Here are the top 5 quotes & quick facts to take away from this article:

 

1- We have always to be sensitive to our culture, because the idea is not to provoke, in terms of go against our beliefs – but to provoke a thought. To make people think of what is happening around the world.”

 

Within a few years since she founded and chaired Qatar Museums (QM), Sheikha Al-Mayassa has uniquely acquired her position as a global leader in arts, culture, and philanthropy. She has has developed Qatar’s vision for arts and culture blending the global with the local arts. For instance, Qatari artists, like Hana Al-Saadi, sharpen their talent and gain world-fame through art educational programs and exhibitions sponsored by Qatar Museums. On the other hand, international artists and art pieces from all around the world find a new home in Qatar, such as American artist Richard Serra’s East-West/West-East found to complement the Qatari desert.

 

 

2- “I do believe, yes, that culture gives you an opportunity – or an excuse even – to talk about things that you may find difficult.”

 

Since the establishment of the Museum of Islamic Art (MIA), which was designed by the renown Chinese-American architect I.M. Pei and is celebrating this November its 10th opening anniversary, Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, or the new National Museum of Qatar, Qatar has provided the world with an opportunity for enlightenment  and dialogue; to engage and understand the multifaceted Islamic traditions, Arab heritage, and Qatari identity. In addition to establishing institutions for the visual arts, Sheikha Al-Mayassa has founded the Doha Film Institute (DFI), Reach out to Asia (ROTA), and the newly Fashion Trust Arabia which are other creative cultural outlets built to empower, bridge cross-cultural divisions, and connect with local and regional stories through film, education, and fashion respectively.          

 

 

 

 

 

 

3- “You’re right, we have done a lot of exhibitions with female artists. But to be honest, when we look at the exhibitions, we think about the content and the story. Less about the gender – supporting male artists is just as important to us as supporting female artists.”

 

Historically, the art scene in Qatar has been dominated by male artists. Providing more opportunities for female artists have increased women participation in arts and shifted this male-dominance. However, both women and men in Qatar can find equal opportunities to express their artistic aspirations and inspirations. Whether at schools teaching fine arts such as Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar (VCU-Q), or through professional art-residency programs at home and overseas, the growing Qatari talent capital is one of the country’s rich assets and legacy.

 

 

 

4- “Women have made tremendous leaps into different sectors, and hold many important roles in Qatari society.”

 

Indeed, women in Qatar are granted equal constitutional rights alongside their male counterparts. For decades, women in Qatar have had the right to equal education and employment, competed for leadership and executive positions, and enjoyed the freedom to drive. H.H. Sheikha Moza bint Nasser Al-Misnad, the mother of H.E. Sheikha Al-Mayassa, is one of the first leaders to adopt and implement women rights and social reforms in Qatar through education projects, such as Qatar Foundation. From women politicians and ICT reformers like Dr. Hessa Al-Jaber, to female Olympian athletes like Nada Arkaji, Qatari women subtly defy the stereotypical image about them and other women in their region.

 

 

 

 

5- “When centers of economies and powers change, then the artistic directions also change. So – I don’t know what the situation is going to be in 100 years from now, but I think things are continuously evolving.”

 

When Qatar announced its National Vision (QNV2030) 10 years ago, the country’s mission to diversify its economy and build a knowledge-based nation has been clear. Whether preparing to deliver a mega-sports event like the 2022 FIFA World Cup, or fighting against unforeseen regional rifts, Qatar aims for sustainable change. Sheikha Al-Mayassa’s strive is contributing immensely to this growth placing Qatar as a pioneering hub in the art and culture world.

 

 

 

 

 

To learn more about the 100 years of arts in Qatar, visit our page

 

 

(Image Source: Harpers Bazaar)

 

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USS Essex Arrives at Doha Port

The Qatar News Agency, through the Ministry of Defense, announced the arrival of the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier Essex (LHD-2) at Doha Port, within the joint military cooperation between the State of Qatar and the United States to combat terrorism and extremism. The visit reaffirmed the bilateral commitment between Qatar & the United States to maintain regional security, ensure continuous operations of the business’ in the region, and to protect the surrounding navigation routes. It is important to note that this is the largest US vessel to have ever entered Qatari waters.

 

 

 

Additionally, a few days prior to the arrival of the Essex, Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani met with U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad.  The two officials agreed to support progress toward a negotiated settlement to end the war in Afghanistan in cooperation with both the people and government of Afghanistan. The Special Representative, Khalilzad, stressed how appreciative the United States was for the Qatari government’s partnership within the ongoing Afghan peace process.

 

 

Late last month, The 2017 annual terrorism report on Qatar was released marking a significant achievement in US – Qatar security relations, highlighting Qatar’s historic progress in combatting terrorism & terrorism finance, unprecedented cooperation with U.S. counterterrorism agencies, and regional and international efforts to counter violent extremism, in line with the U.S. military’s strategic counterterrorism objectives and strategies.

 

 

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Hamad Bin Khalifa University Forms Partnership with Harvard Stem Cell Institute

 

The Qatar Biomedical Research Institute, an institute within Hamad Bin Khalifa University, has signed a research agreement with the Harvard Stem Cell Institute to research stem cell biology, a key field in treatment of diabetes. Recent advances in stem cell biology at Harvard have helped identify treatments for both type 1 and 2 diabetes.

 

“This partnership with HSCI is another step towards our primary goal of conducting research that has tangible, meaningful impact on the wider community. Innovation and entrepreneurial vision are at the core of QBRI’s activities. This partnership with leading stem cell researchers at Harvard is a crucial step in spurring progress towards our strategic vision, to solve some of the critical challenges facing Qatar and the region. Thanks to this agreement, newly recruited investigators at QBRI will be engaging in ground-breaking research within the largest collaborative network of stem-cell researchers in the world.” -Dr. Omar El Agnaf, acting executive director at QBRI

 

The collaboration will focus on exchanging knowledge and best practices to discover clinical applications in stem cell biology, and will include stakeholders like the Hamad Medical Corporation and Sidra Medicine.

 

Qatar has been proactive in building scientific capacity in the Middle East, and its current focus on stem cell biology shows its commitment to supporting progress in personalized medicine. Partnering with QBRI allows us to share knowledge and expertise efficiently through advanced training, and to conduct meaningful research with a focus on translation. We are really looking forward to working together, and to seeing what new opportunities for discovery arise as a result.” –Brock Reeve, executive director of HSCI

 

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Illegal Blockade “Has Been a Catalyst for Change”

 

Yousuf Al Jaida, CEO of the Qatar Financial Centre, spoke to CNBC’s Nancy Hungerford on Thursday about the impact the illegal blockade has had on Qatar. He characterized the blockade as an opportunity for Qatar to accelerate its reforms and diversify its trade.

“We are seeing a shift in Qatar economics and the entire region. As you know, Qatar is currently going through a blockade from neighboring countries but that hasn’t been all that bad… It’s been a catalyst for change for the entire nation.” -Yousuf Al Jaida, CEO of the Qatar Financial Centre

 

Al Jaida said that the blockade prompted Qatar to pursue more foreign direct investment. The Qatar Financial Centre focuses on promoting Qatar as an ideal environment for businesses to establish operations, based on its English common law legal environment, the right to trade in any currency, the 10% corporate tax on local profits, and more.

“We’ve allowed 100 percent foreign ownership across all sectors, we’ve allowed visas from 80 different nations and (allowed citizens) to get visas on arrival, which hasn’t happened in the past ever before, and we’re at looking at also doing things differently.” -Yousuf Al Jaida

 

Due to the airspace restrictions from the blockade countries, it is now difficult for multinational companies with business in Qatar to travel to Qatar. Qatar has responded by establishing a hub for multinationals to open offices. The number of firms licensed to operate in Qatar rose 66% in 2017, and the number of firms using QFC’s platformed increased 32.5% in 2017.

“Companies that used to service Qatar from outside the country can no longer do that so they’ve been relocating to Qatar to service their clients, which means more FDI, more companies on the ground and more jobs being created because of the blockade. So it’s a very interesting dynamic that’s happening during the blockade and we expect this to continue all the way to 2022.”

 

 

 

 

(Image Source: Francisco Anzola)

 

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BU and Qatar University Partner to Develop Counter-Terrorist Finance Training Program

Boston University School of Law and Qatar University College of Law entered an agreement on Monday to develop an intensive course to train Qatari government officials to combat terrorist financing. Qatar already has an aggressive legal framework in place to counter-illicit financing and has cooperated extensively with international partners to strengthen its laws in counter-terrorism financing and anti-money laundering.

 

“We regard this training as an opportunity for a true partnership… Our law school and university have broad expertise in the strategies and technologies that terrorists now use to obtain and move funds throughout the global financial system, but the true value of the training will be its practical relevance to Qatar.” – Angela Onwuachi-Willig, Dean of Boston University School of Law

 

The training program will leverage the expertise of Boston University faculty from a variety of backgrounds, including national security, financial technology and regulation, cyber security, and anti-money laundering. BU Law and Qatar University also plan on involving experts from the U.S. government, including the Treasury Department, State Department, and FBI, in the program’s development. The course will involve simulations and real-world-based case studies.

 

“Qatar is a leader in regional and global efforts to counter terror financing and defeat extremism. We look forward to enhancing the capabilities of our professionals through this unique training program… Qatar has partnerships with leading American universities and we are pleased to now include Boston University School of Law among these partners.” – HE Sheikh Meshal Bin Hamad Al Thani, Qatar’s Ambassador to the U.S.

 

Qatar works closely with the United States in sharing information and developing resources to combat terrorist financing. Qatari experts and leaders on counter-illicit finance and anti-money laundering are dedicated to collaborating with allies and international institutions to combat illicit finance as it leverages newer methods and resources, including financial technology, cryptocurrencies, and cyber theft.

 

 

(Images courtesy of Michael Greenwald)

 

 

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State Department Report Highlights Qatar’s Counterterrorism Efforts

 

The U.S. State Department publishes an annual, Congressionally-mandated terrorism report detailing a full and complete analysis of terrorism and counterterrorism efforts relating to countries around the world.

The 2017 annual terrorism report on Qatar marks a significant achievement is U.S.-Qatar security relations, highlighting Qatar’s historic progress in combatting terrorism and terrorism finance, unprecedented cooperation with U.S. counterterrorism agencies, and regional and international efforts to counter violent extremism, in line with the U.S. military’s strategic counterterrorism objectives and strategies.

Below is an overview of key findings from the report:

 

The Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, of which Qatar is a founding member, has been successful in degrading the terrorist group’s foothold in the region:

“While significant terrorist activities and safe havens continued to persist in the Middle East and North Africa throughout 2017, the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS and its partners experienced success against ISIS in Iraq and Syria. By the year’s end, the Coalition and its partners had successfully liberated nearly all of the territory ISIS once controlled in Iraq and Syria, including the group’s so-called capital Raqqa. With the loss of territory in Iraq and Syria, however, ISIS began to convert to more insurgent tactics toward the end of 2017.”

 

The United States and Qatar enhanced bilateral counterterrorism cooperation through a historic July 2017 Memorandum of Understanding and a November 2017 U.S.-Qatar Counterterrorism Dialogue:

“The United States and Qatar significantly increased counterterrorism cooperation in 2017, under the Counterterrorism Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed by the Secretary of State and Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani in July. In the MoU, Qatar and the United States set forth mutually accepted means of increasing information sharing, disrupting terrorism financing flows, and intensifying counterterrorism activities.

At the November 8, 2017, U.S.-Qatar Counterterrorism Dialogue, the two governments affirmed the progress made on implementing the MoU and committed to expand bilateral counterterrorism cooperation. Qatar is an active participant in the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, is active in all Defeat-ISIS Coalition working groups, and has provided significant support in facilitating U.S. military operations in the region. Qatar hosts approximately 10,000 U.S. servicemen and women on two military installations critical to coalition efforts. Security services capable of monitoring and disrupting terrorist activities have maintained the status quo.”

 

The government of Qatar has enacted sweeping legislation to define, investigate, designate, and prosecute illegal activities related to aiding terrorist organizations, with advisory assistance from U.S. security officials:

“In July, the Qatari government promulgated Decree 11 of 2017, which amended the 2004 Law on Combating Terrorism. The amendment set out definitions of terrorism-related activities, penalties for terrorism-related offenses, and the establishment of a national designations list. In October, the U.S. government led a workshop for relevant Qatari authorities on the planned establishment of a domestic designations regime.”

 

Qatar’s security agencies have pursued aggressive policies to monitor and degrade terrorism capabilities within the country:

“The State Security Bureau maintains an aggressive posture toward monitoring internal extremist and terrorism-related activities. The Ministry of Interior (MOI) and Internal Security Force are well-positioned to respond to incidents with rapid reaction forces that routinely engage in structured counterterrorism training and exercises.”

 

Qatar’s judicial offices are playing a leading role in prosecuting suspects of terrorism-related crimes, and coordinates counterterrorism efforts with a national committee responsible for interagency cooperation on Qatar’s national counterterrorism strategy:

“The Office of Public Prosecution is tasked with prosecuting all crimes, including any related to terrorism, and plays a significant role in terrorism investigations. Qatar maintains an interagency National Anti-Terrorism Committee (NATC) composed of representatives from more than 10 government agencies. The NATC is tasked with formulating Qatar’s counterterrorism policy, ensuring interagency coordination, fulfilling Qatar’s obligations to counter terrorism under international conventions, and participating in multilateral conferences on terrorism. U.S. officials met regularly with the chairman of the NATC to discuss implementation of the counterterrorism MoU and overall counterterrorism cooperation.”

 

The July 2017 U.S.-Qatar Memorandum of Understanding has been a critical instrument for bilateral counterterrorism cooperation between the two allied countries:

“As a result of the counterterrorism MoU, the United States and Qatar significantly increased information sharing, including on identities of known and suspected terrorists. Aviation security information sharing also increased, as new protocols were agreed to and established. During 2017, MOI authorities cooperated with DHS officials to enhance screening capabilities of the approximately 50 million travelers that pass through Hamad International Airport each year.”

 

U.S. officials have been welcomed to Qatar to assist government agencies with training, advising, technical assistance, and capacity building to further enhance Qatar’s counterterrorism effectiveness:

“U.S. technical assistance to Qatari law enforcement and judicial agencies increased, a result of the counterterrorism MoU. The Departments of Justice, State, and the Treasury led a workshop on domestic designations, while the FBI provided training on watchlists and terrorism financing investigations and the Department of Justice provided two advisors for capacity building within the Office of Public Prosecution. In February 2017, the Department of State and relevant Qatar agencies established a framework for ATA program security-related training in 2017-2019.”

 

Qatar continues its leadership role in regional and international multilateral counterterrorism organizations, that have proved vital to curbing terrorism financing:

“Qatar is a member of the Middle East North Africa Financial Action Task Force (MENAFATF), a Financial Action Task Force-style regional body. In 2017, Qatar commenced preparations for the 2019 MENAFATF Mutual Evaluation, including establishing an interagency task force, formalizing cooperation with the International Monetary Fund, and intensifying coordination with U.S. counterparts. Qatar’s financial intelligence unit, the Qatar Financial Information Unit, is a member of the Egmont Group. Qatar is a member of the Defeat-ISIS Coalition’s Counter-ISIS Finance Group and the Terrorist Financing Targeting Center (TFTC), a U.S.-Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) initiative announced during President Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia in May 2017.”

 

In 2017, Qatar passed updated terrorism financing legislation that mandates swift and meaningful punitive action against suspected terrorism financiers:

“Decree 11 of 2017 defined terrorism financing-related activities, laid out penalties, and established a domestic designations list. Qatari legislation requires the Office of Public Prosecution to freeze the funds of individuals and organizations included on the UN Security Council ISIL (Da’esh) and al-Qa’ida sanctions list. The Qatar Central Bank works with financial institutions to confirm asset-freezing compliance with respect to these UN obligations.”

 

Qatar deepened cooperation with the United States on combatting terrorism financing during 2017:

“In October 2017, Qatar joined the United States and other TFTC countries in coordinated domestic designations of individuals and entities associated with AQAP and ISIS-Yemen.”

 

Qatar has pursued legal action against internationally-designated terrorism financiers:

“Two UN-designated financiers who were acquitted in a 2015-2016 trial were placed under arrest and imprisoned in July 2017. The Qatari Attorney General initiated proceedings to appeal the prior acquittals. Additionally, Qatari authorities also placed under arrest two other terrorism financiers previously convicted in the 2015-2016 trial.”

 

Qatar has reformed its regulatory regime for charitable organizations, to ensure compliance with anti-terrorism finance laws:

“In July, Qatari authorities took sweeping measures to monitor and restrict the overseas activities of Qatari charities, requiring all such activity to be conducted via one of the two approved charities. Authorities also significantly increased procedures to monitor private donations. The sector is overseen by the Regulatory Authority for Charitable Activities, in coordination with the Central Bank and law enforcement agencies.”

 

Qatar has invested heavily in education to prevent extremist ideology from manifesting in its own borders and through international educational initiatives:

“The core of Qatar’s CVE strategy remained intensive investment in education through the 45 entities comprising the Qatar Foundation. This includes Qatar campuses of six U.S. universities, as well as through its national university and the public K-12 school system. The government is undertaking a review of its K-12 education system and sought the input of U.S. academic institutions. The growing Qatar Foundation school system follows an International Baccalaureate curriculum, which is grounded in liberal education principles.

Qatar Foundation International (QFI), headquartered in Washington, DC, remained a primary vehicle for Qatar’s international CVE activities. QFI’s Education Above All initiative provided educational opportunities to communities stricken by poverty or crisis, primarily in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East – impacting an estimated 10 million children worldwide since 2013. Reach Out to Asia provided access to education for youth in that region. QFI’s Al Fakhoora initiative provided scholarships to Palestinian and Syrian youth. These and other QFI initiatives are designed to facilitate understanding and education, and deter isolationist, xenophobic, and extremist thought and ideology.

Qatar continued its robust financial support for the Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund, and in December hosted its seventh annual Board Meeting. Qatar continued to fund the Education for Justice Initiative, a CVE program focused on crime prevention and criminal justice implemented by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime.”

 

(Image Source: State Department)

 

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The Blockade Of Qatar Is Failing

Qatar Seeks Dialogue On Illegal Blockade Human Rights Violations

 

Qatar asked the countries participating in the illegal blockade to hold talks to discuss and resolve human rights violations associated with the blockade on Tuesday. The request underscores the fact that the blockade against Qatar arose not from a breakdown in diplomacy, but from a vacuum of diplomacy altogether.

 

The blockade against Qatar began on June 5, 2017 when four countries abruptly severed diplomatic relations with Qatar. The blockade was preceded on May 24 by a cyber attack against the Qatar News Agency, in which fabricated quotes by Qatari Amir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani were published by Qatar’s state-run news agency. Although the Qatari government quickly disclosed that the Qatar News Agency had been breached, state-owned news agencies in the blockade countries insisted the quotes were factual despite video evidence to the contrary and confirmation of the cyber attack by American officials.

 

In December 2017, the UN Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights published a report titled “On the impact of the Gulf Crisis on human rights.” The report cites a variety of human rights violations, including:

 

The instrumentalization of state media against Qatar and suppression of opposition to the blockade.

The restriction of free movement for Qataris living in the blockade countries and vice versa

Separation of families between Qatar and the blockade countries

Impacts on economic and property rights for Qataris with business in the blockade countries and vice versa

Impact on healthcare rights for Qataris seeking treatment in the blockade countries and vice versa

Effect on the right to education for Qataris studying in the blockade countries and vice versa

 

The Qatari National Human Rights Council has also released several reports overviewing human rights violations associated with the blockade, including the OHCHR’s complaints as well as violations of rights to work, litigation, and performance of religious rituals.

 

 

 

 

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