Qatar Foundation 2021: THE YEAR IN REVIEW


Solutions for the World

As the world gathered in Glasgow for COP26 – the global summit seen as make-or-break for averting climate catastrophe – an international partnership involving Qatar Foundation (QF) that will create a global center for climate technology innovation was unveiled.

Through the partnership between QF and Rolls-Royce, two campuses dedicated to launching, investing in, and growing businesses that can accelerate the global energy transition will be established: one in the UK and one in Qatar. These centers will provide entrepreneurs with academic leadership, research and development funding, and early-stage venture investment.

The aim is to create and scale-up climate tech businesses worth multi-billions of pounds, while creating at least 10,000 jobs – including 1,300 in Qatar - by 2040. The ecosystem formed by the partnership will launch in 2022, with the campuses set to open the following year.

“We stand ready to work together with our partners Rolls-Royce in developing innovative solutions and clean energy technologies,” said Her Excellency Sheikha Hind bint Hamad Al Thani, Vice Chairperson and CEO of Qatar Foundation. “The expansion of Education City’s research ecosystem will inevitably further Qatar Foundation’s mission to pave the way to a better future.”

The global energy transition required to stave off the effects of climate change can only happen through innovation – the kind of innovation a partnership between QF and an international leader in engineering and technology aims to make possible.

The QF/Rolls-Royce partnership aims to

  • Grow up to 5 ‘unicorns’ by 2030, and up to 20 by 2040
  • Create up to 1,000 jobs in the research centers, and at least 10,000 within related companies and the broader ecosystem, by 2040

A Call to Listen

Young activists from Qatar lent their voice to the global climate change conversation at COP26, with members of THIMUN Qatar – the Model United Nations initiative under QF’s Pre-University Education – joining fellow students from Scotland in cross-cultural discussions on why youth must be at the vanguard of climate action.

“This is an issue that is directly impacting our futures,” said Sama Ayoub, Deputy President of the THIMUN Qatar General Assembly, and a QF medical student, “so listen to us and acknowledge us – don’t just say you’ve heard us.”

QF sustainability expert Omran Hamad Al-Kuwari, CEO of Qatar Foundation International, spoke at COP26 about why non-profit organizations’ ability to tackle complex challenges and think long-term makes them vital in the fight against climate change; while Sultana Afdhal, CEO of QF’s global heath initiative the World Innovation Summit for Health (WISH), called for “the messaging to be clearer” in explaining to people why climate change matters to their health and their lives.

And in its biggest event of the year, QF’s Doha Debates brought together experts including bestselling author Naomi Klein to debate potential solutions to the climate crisis.

Over 1.5 million people watched Doha Debates’ online debate on climate change


The Seed of an Ecosystem

When Qatar Academy Doha (QAD) was established in 1996, it was more than QF’s first school. It was the seed from which QF’s unique ecosystem of education, research and innovation, and community development would grow.

In November, the stories and memories of its quarter-century of nurturing future leaders flowed at a 25th anniversary celebration attended by Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, Chairperson of Qatar Foundation, and over 150 of the school’s alumni.

“Qatar Academy Doha’s mission was, and remains, to achieve a balance between two pathways – reflecting scientific progress, technological development, modernity, and globalization, while preserving our Qatari and Arabic traditions and the value of the Arabic language,” Abeer Al-Khalifa, President of QF’s Pre-University Education, told the anniversary event.

“On the occasion of Qatar Academy Doha’s 25th anniversary, we would like to extend our gratitude to teachers and families, who are partners in the field of education, and express our pride in the generation of Qatar Academy Doha alumni who have become leaders and change-makers while maintaining their roots and their pride in their identity, facing challenges with confidence and independence.”

  • Qatar Academy Doha was established in 1996 with 24 students. It now has 1,900
  • Over 1,200 students have graduated from Qatar Academy Doha

Illustrating a Commitment to Knowledge

November also witnessed a double milestone for one of QF’s international partner universities, as HEC Paris in Qatar marked its 10th anniversary with the inauguration of its new home in Msheireb Downtown Doha.

The new building was officially opened by Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, with HEC Paris adding to the mood of celebrating by holding the graduation ceremony for its 2020 and 2021 classes. Msheireb Downtown Doha is the world’s first sustainable downtown regeneration project, developed by QF joint venture Msheireb Properties.

“Our new home in Msheireb embodies the commitment of Qatar Foundation to HEC Paris, and to its mission of impact and excellence in Qatar and the Gulf region,” said Dr. Pablo Martin de Holan, Dean of HEC Paris in Qatar.

“HEC Paris and its partners are helping to build a knowledge-based, diversified, sustainable economy that is central to Qatar National Vision 2030, by training women and men to reach their potential as managers, leaders, and entrepreneurs, and by creating and growing ethical and responsible companies that create a better future for all.”

Our new home in Msheireb embodies the commitment of Qatar Foundation to HEC Paris, and to its mission of impact and excellence

Dr. Pablo Martin de Holan
Dean of HEC Paris in Qatar

Championing Culture

The art of Arabic debating was taken to the heartland of American academia in November as the University of Chicago hosted the second U.S. Universities Arabic Debating Championship, organized by QF’s QatarDebate.

Over three days, more than 150 debaters from 40 teams tackled a series of topics, many related to the context of the US. But even as they competed, they also learned about each other – reflecting QatarDebate’s goal of promoting dialogue as a platform for understanding and knowledge.

The championship also underpinned the QF center’s aim of spreading the value of the Arabic language beyond the Arab world, with its pre-tournament workshops helping both native and non-native Arabic speakers to prepare.

Among the judges was Benjamin Lotto, Arabic Language Reviewer for the New York Times, who said: “In addition to the obvious role that QatarDebate has in transmitting Arab culture, just the way their championships are designed makes it an incredible way for people to learn about other cultures.

“There isn’t a better entry point into a culture than language.”

34 American universities participated in the second U.S. Universities Arabic Debating Championship

There isn’t a better entry point into a culture than language

Benjamin Lotto
Arabic Language Reviewer, New York Times

Taking the Lead on Diabetes Awareness

A group of 20 young men and women who are living with type 1 diabetes will take the lead in raising awareness of the condition within their community – and representing the voice of youth – through a new initiative launched by QF’s Qatar Diabetes Association (QDA) in November, the month in which World Diabetes Day was marked.

The ‘Diabetes Ambassadors’ will participate in training sessions focused on education, nutrition, and mental health, and represent QDA locally and internationally, taking part in camps and events and playing their part in teaching others about diabetes.

Among them are Year 11 students Nouf Al-Muraikhi and Lulwa Fakhro, who organized a World Diabetes Day event at their school to help other students learn more about the condition, and created two webpages that give people an introduction to diabetes and answer their questions.

And Al-Muraikhi plans to follow university studies in a field that will allow her to help others with the condition, such as through becoming an endocrinologist or nutritionist.

The QDA initiative has recruited 20 Diabetes Ambassadors

QDA has almost 17,000 registered patients


Advancing Innovation in Healthcare

Healthcare startups were given tips on how to succeed in the Arab region by QF’s World Innovation Summit for Health (WISH), as it participated in one of the world’s largest technology events.

At the Web Summit 2021 in Lisbon, WISH set up a pavilion highlighting its initiatives and showcasing the health products developed by the winners of its innovation competitions, while also hosting a masterclass for health ventures looking to expand into the Gulf as part of its efforts to forge links with global healthcare tech innovation companies and startups.

And November also saw WISH launch the Nursing Innovation Grant, designed to encourage more nurses to conduct healthcare research in the fields of sustainability, disability, sport and health, and health in a post-COVID-19 world.

WISH CEO Sultana Afdhal said: “Nurses are vital for keeping communities healthy, and the COVID-19 pandemic has brought this fact into stark relief.

“It therefore goes without saying that nurses need to be actively involved in research and policymaking if we are to address and tackle the world’s most urgent healthcare challenges.”

Nurses need to be actively involved in research and policymaking if we are to address and tackle the world’s most urgent healthcare challenges

Sultana Afdhal

The global WISH 2022 Summit will be based around the themes of:

  • COVID-19 legacy
  • Health and sports
  • Wellbeing
  • Sustainability
  • Disability

Into the Spotlight

The roles and experiences of women in medicine – from clinical care and education to research and academic life - were the focus of a new webinar series created by QF partner university Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar (WCM-Q) in November.

“The aim is to throw light on some of the medical issues affecting women that are often overlooked or misunderstood,” said Dr. Thuraya Arayssi, the university’s professor of clinical medicine and vice dean for academic and curricular affairs, of the four-module ‘Women and Medicine’ series.

Healthcare and female empowerment were in focus at QF’s Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU). Its College of Health and Life Sciences signed a five-year agreement with the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland that will pave the way for joint degree programs in fields such as personalized medicine.

And the College of Public Policy spotlighted gender and diversity in public leadership during its second Policy Lab forum, with female leaders from Qatar’s government, public, and private sectors assessing how gender balance creates better policy on crucial social and economic issues.

The aim is to throw light on some of the medical issues affecting women that are often overlooked or misunderstood

Dr. Thuraya Arayssi
Professor of Clinical Medicine and Vice Dean for Academic and Curricular Affairs, WCM-Q

HBKU’s College of Health and Life Sciences offers 5 graduate programs


Autism Advancements

Within HBKU’s research hubs, a team of researchers at Qatar Biomedical Research Institute (QBRI) worked with the renowned Cleveland Clinic to demonstrate how an innovative eye-gaze tracking tool can diagnose autism in young children.

QBRI tested the Cleveland-created technology on 150 young people with autism in Qatar, with Dr. Fouad Alshaban, Senior Scientist at QBRI’s Neurological Disorders Research Center, saying: “We hope to continue this collaboration, which will enable us to introduce this technology for the first time in Qatar and the Arab region.”

QBRI also formed a partnership with top US medical research facility Scripps Research to accelerate biomarker and drug discovery for medical needs that are currently unmet, such as chronic intestinal and lung diseases as well as viruses.

Meanwhile, Qatar Computing Research Institute’s intelligent map-routing engine, QARTA, received its 100 millionth routing request. The localized, highly traffic-aware tool keeps users up to date with road changes in Doha’s fast-changing cityscape, and is used by Qatar-based transportation and food delivery companies.

QCRI’s research is focused on:

  • Arabic language technologies
  • Social computing
  • Software engineering
  • Cybersecurity
  • Data analytics

Ready to Welcome the World

One year away from the FIFA World Cup Qatar™, FIFA President Gianni Infantino told QF’s Education City Speaker Series how Qatar is more ready to host the tournament than any nation has ever been – and will deliver the “best World Cup ever”.

“In terms of infrastructure, everything is ready, which means that for the next year we can focus on making sure every fan coming to Qatar will have an incredible experience in a welcoming part of the world, in a great country, and in a great region,” Mr. Infantino told the discussion, which outlined the sporting, cultural, social, and economic legacy the tournament will create for the Arab world.

The event also announced a new inclusivity-focused partnership between QF and the FIFA Foundation that will use sport to engage young people of different abilities, including through a Football for Schools app.

And in November, sport-loving youngsters from QF’s Ability Friendly Program – which provides football, swimming, and cricket sessions for children with special needs – had a special visitor who joined them in football drills and a penalty shoot-out at Education City: football icon David Beckham.