Qatar Foundation 2021: THE YEAR IN REVIEW


A Show of Humanity

With conflict and instability sweeping Afghanistan, Qatar emerged as a pivotal player in the international effort to evacuate Afghan civilians, thousands of whom were flown to the country to ensure their safety.

During their temporary stay in Doha, individuals and entities from across Qatar Foundation’s (QF) community displayed their sense of citizenship, compassion, and humanity by volunteering to support the Afghan refugees – from providing mental health support and organizing activities to simply being there for them to talk to – as they waited to start the next phase of their lives.

The student led QF volunteering initiative supported the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at compounds in Doha where refugees were housed, while QF community members swamped donation boxes at Education City with clothes, toys, and other urgently needed items.

Among the heartwarming stories of solidarity were Qatar Academy Doha students providing backpacks, school materials, gifts, and personal letters to Afghan refugee children, and QF arranging for a refugee artist to hold the first-ever public display of her work at the compound where she was temporarily accommodated.

The QF community rallied to support Afghans left traumatized and torn apart from their homeland – as young members of that community made their views on climate action clear at a groundbreaking global summit.


Upholding a Duty

“The QF community has felt a civic duty to do whatever it can to help those experiencing trauma, upheaval, and uncertainty, and for whom Qatar has provided a place of safety,” said Mohammed Fakhroo, Executive Director of Outreach and Institutional Advancement at QF’s Community Development division, which coordinated the volunteering initiative.

“We are looking to play our part in showing them that they are not alone, and that humanity stands with them.”

And QF stood with an all-female Afghan robotics team evacuated to Qatar, who – through scholarships jointly funded by Qatar Fund For Development – continued their studies at Education City. The ‘Afghan Dreamers’ are being supported in their high school studies and preparations for higher education, and in enhancing their robotics skills through the facilities and expertise at QF.

“These talented, creative students have been living through a time of uncertainty and upheaval, and at Qatar Foundation we want to do whatever we can to ease their concerns in the present while also helping them to look to the future,” said Her Excellency Sheikha Hind bint Hamad Al Thani, Vice Chairperson and CEO of Qatar Foundation.

We are looking to play our part in showing them that they are not alone, and that humanity stands with them

Mohammed Fakhroo
Executive Director of Outreach and Institutional Advancement

Educating for Sustainability

With the COP26 global climate summit around the corner, experts from Qatar and throughout the world made a call for immediate action to protect the planet as QF hosted the first Qatar Climate Change Conference.

Held in partnership with the Abdullah Bin Hamad Al-Attiyah Foundation for Energy and Sustainable Development, the conference saw industry leaders and stakeholders from around the world – including World Economic Forum President Borge Brende – discuss how to dovetail economic development and reaching sustainable goals.

In a keynote speech at the ExxonMobil Qatar-sponsored event, His Excellency Dr. Abdullah bin Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Subaie, Minister of Municipality and Environment and Acting Minister of State for Cabinet Affairs, explained: “Education is absolutely key to understanding the specifics of climate change – Qatar will continue to invest in education, arming people with the knowledge and skills needed to develop a sustainable future.”

The conference centered around three key sustainability strands in Qatar: national climate action and policy; climate change adaptation and mitigation; and carbon market and pricing.

Education is absolutely key to understanding the specifics of climate change

His Excellency Dr. Abdullah bin Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Subaie
Minister of Municipality and Environment and Acting Minister of State for Cabinet Affairs

Youth at the Forefront

History was made in Milan in September, as 400 young people from around the world gathered for Youth4Climate: Driving Ambition – the first time global youth had the chance to put their proposals for tackling the climate crisis directly to governments, with the outcomes being taken to the COP26 table.

And young activists and change-drivers from the QF community were at the heart of the conversation, as QF’s Doha Debates, QatarDebate, Qatar Foundation International, and THIMUN Qatar hosted sessions on crucial climate-related topics.

“Nothing around us deserves to die due to carelessness,” said Qatari student Sara Almaadeed, who participated at Youth4Climate through her involvement with QatarDebate. “Opportunities like Youth4Climate illustrate how our thoughts have the potential to be transformed into real policies – into real change – if only we let them.”

And youth summit panelist Noora Al Muftah, a student at Qatar Academy Doha – part of QF’s Pre-University Education (PUE) – said: “It is vital that we participate in events that aim to solve a plethora of issues surrounding the climate, as we represent the future leaders who will invariably inherit the fight for our planet, and gain responsibility for it.”

Nothing around us deserves to die due to carelessness

Sara Almaadeed
QatarDebate member

400 young people from around the world participated in Youth4Climate


Perspectives on Climate Action

At Youth4Climate, Doha Debates hosted a special climate-focused edition of its #DearWorldLive discussion series, while honoring its #SolvingIt26 – a group of 26 young climate activists and innovators from 22 countries across six continents who, through their example, spark hope and change.

THIMUN Qatar, which comes under QF’s PUE, joined two panels where youth and educators outlined their roles in taking climate action, and students who are part of the THIMUN movement showcased their community projects that align with United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Four young QatarDebate members spotlighted their personal sustainability initiatives in a debate on transforming societal views toward the environment, while a QFI-led session looked at how connecting youth globally can empower them to take climate action at a local level.

Among the panelists was Education Above All youth advocate Oweis Al Salahi, who told the Youth4Climate audience: “Governments and policymakers should let youth have a voice and a seat at the table, because eventually the youth of today are the future of tomorrow. We will be living the consequences of the decisions being made today.”

The youth of today are the future of tomorrow. We will be living the consequences of the decisions being made today

Oweis Al Salahi
Education Above All youth advocate

26 young climate activists from 22 countries were honored by Doha Debates at Youth4Climate


Drivers of Policy

A change in policy that means more flexible hours for Qatari women was announced by the State of Qatar in September – and it stemmed from research carried out by a QF member.

Reflecting its role in supporting family cohesion in Qatar and the Arab world, Doha International Family Institute (DIFI) compiled a study titled ‘Work-Family Balance: Challenges, Experiences and Implications for Families in Qatar’, designed to help families and individuals meet both their work and caregiving requirements.

It led to DIFI recommending to the government that Qatar’s working hours policy be amended, with a decision subsequently being issued that guarantees more flexible options for Qatari working women that take their work-family balance needs into consideration.

“Increasing professional support opportunities for Qatari women helps them greatly in achieving a balance between their professional and family obligations,” said Dr. Sharifa Al-Emadi, Executive Director of DIFI.

“It also encourages more Qatari women to pursue a professional experience, and actively participate in building our country. The decision taken by Qatar’s government moves in this direction.”

Increasing professional support opportunities for Qatari women helps them greatly in achieving a balance between their professional and family obligations

Dr. Sharifa Al-Emadi
Executive Director, DIFI

Access to Opportunity

The scholarships and financial aid options that QF offers are designed to help ensure talented students do not miss out on receiving a learning experience that can shape their future because of financial barriers.

Creating its 25th Anniversary Scholarships Program, with Hamad Bin Khalifa University, reinforced how making education accessible is a central QF belief – and in September, the initiative awarded six students full scholarships to QF schools.

Tala Al Farra is one of them, having joined Qatar Academy Doha, and she said: “Motivation comes through being surrounded by well-rounded students supported by the best education systems. The QF schools have portrayed those two things; it’s evident through all their graduates.

“All these qualities drew me to be part of the QF community, and are what I anticipate experiencing myself.”

And fellow recipient Richelle Escoto, who was accepted to Qatar Academy Sidra, said: “Transferring to a different school and environment may seem quite challenging, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it is to choose the path that’s worth it, and I genuinely know that this is it.”

6 students were awarded scholarships to QF schools through the 25th Anniversary Scholarships Program


Changing the Game for Education

An Indian “happiness curriculum”, a UK edtech app, a Turkish initiative offering trauma-informed education, a Colombian literacy model, and digital learning platforms for students in Pakistan and Spain – six education projects, in different countries and with different goals.

But they have one thing in common: in September, they were announced as the winners of the 2021 WISE Awards for their innovative and impactful approaches to education challenges around the world. The recipients are chosen by QF’s global education think tank WISE.

“While the projects vary in terms of their area of focus, geography, and reach, each and every one of them demonstrates once again how innovative, sustainable, and scalable solutions can help global organizations and governments address pressing education challenges,” said Stavros N. Yiannouka, CEO of WISE.

And as well as giving awards, QF was receiving them: research on tailored protocols for horse rehabilitation led by Dr. Florent David, Head of the Surgery and Sports Medicine Service at the Equine Veterinary Medical Center – a QF member – took first place at the annual American College of Veterinary Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation Conference.

84 education projects have received WISE Awards since 2009


Accolades and Innovation

QF alumni were also collecting international accolades in September – including Samir Abdaljalil of QF partner university Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar’s Class of 2021, whose research into Natural Language Processing for financial technology applications was named Best Paper at an international workshop on the topic.

It was a similar story of success for another 2021 QF graduate, Ahmed El-Agnaf. Following his graduation from Texas A&M University at Qatar, his research project on ultrasonic waves won first place in the Society of Petroleum Engineers international student paper contest.

And current QF’s students continue to innovate – students like Kartikeya Uniyal, of QF partner university Georgetown University in Qatar, who launched Access Labs: an edtech platform using a blend of web and chatbot technology to open up digital learning opportunities.

“Most [online] knowledge is currently hidden, either behind paywalls or infrastructure designed to be suitable only for a select few,” said Uniyal. “We want Access Labs to close this gap through digital delivery methods that overcome barriers, helping to create a more decentralized and democratized learning ecosystem.”

Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar offers programs in:

  • Biological Sciences
  • Business Administration
  • Computer Science
  • Information Systems

    Students at Texas A&M University at Qatar can take courses in:
  • Chemical Engineering
  • Electrical and Computer Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Petroleum Engineering

10 Years of Meeting Challenges

In 2011, Qatar Environment and Energy Research Institute (QEERI) – part of QF’s Hamad Bin Khalifa University – was established as a national hub of research mandated to help Qatar meet its ‘grand challenges’ surrounding energy, water, and the environment.

Ten years on, September provided a platform to look back over QEERI’s decade of achievements – from developing solutions designed to conserve Qatar’s precious water resources and helping the nation harness its solar energy supply, to raising the level of air quality management in Qatar and partnering with NASA to enhance understanding about how climate change affects the driest corners of the world.

Looking to the next decade, QEERI Executive Director Dr. Marc Vermeersch said: “We want to firmly cement Qatar’s position on the global map as a key center for research, development, and innovation in energy, water, and environment.

“Delivering on our vital local and international partnerships, engaging the community, and empowering future leaders of science and research will continue to be the foundations of QEERI’s commitment to its national mandate: to support Qatar in achieving its sustainability targets for 2030.”

We want to firmly cement Qatar’s position on the global map as a key center for research, development, and innovation in energy, water, and environment

Dr. Marc Vermeersch
Executive Director, QEERI

Over 10 years, QEERI has:

  • Made more than 65 invention disclosures
  • Filed more than 35 patents
  • Established more than 30 specialized laboratories