Qatar continues to be committed to advancing science and technology research. Several decades ago, Qatar’s economy was heavily reliant on fishing and pearl diving. This has dramatically changed due to the discovery of one of the world’s largest natural gas reserves. Yet, the leaders of Qatar have recognized the dangers of relying on a single commodity. As a result, the nation is working to build a knowledge-based economy.
One such example of the nation’s push to both diversify and strengthen its economy can be seen through the Qatar Foundation’s Science & Technology Park. The mission of the national agency is to “execut[e] applied research and deliver commercialized technologies in four areas: Energy, Environment, Health Sciences, and Information and Communication Technologies.” The agency can be thought of as a national incubator for the upcoming generation in the above-listed fields.
The Park most recently opened the Digital Core Laboratory at the Maersk Oil Research and Technology Centre. The Maersk Oil Digital Laboratory is the first of its kind in the Middle East and will support research efforts in oil recovery, employing computed tomography (CT) to measure structures of rock sample.
Qatar’s commitment to science and education can also be seen within the nation’s entertainment sector. Instead of prizing entertainment over educational content, the nation leverages the allure of talent competitions and pairs it with science. The show “Stars of Science” is a combination of a reality TV show, talent contest, and educational broadcast.
One of the judges of “Stars of Science,” Dr. Khalid Al-Ali, has stated:
“Now I am a proud father and a proud husband myself. I treasure my children, and I want to bring them up in such a way that they appreciate the power of innovation… I am equally passionate about inspiring young people around the region to be interested in the problem-solving potential of science and technology.”
Dr. Ali, a Silicon Valley executive and former NASA researcher, shares this perspective with many of the leading figures in Qatari society. Another judge on “Stars of Science”, Professor Fouad Mrad, has stated, “Without a culture of productive innovation, our communities will stumble in reaching the knowledge-based economies, even with the best policies, infrastructure, and support.”
Qatar continues to invest in education and has illustrated its commitment to the pursuit of knowledge. The nation has managed to attract six of the leading U.S. universities (Georgetown, Northwestern, Texas A&M, VCU, Carnegie Mellon, and Cornell) to Doha.
(Image Source: Qatar Foundation)