Qatar Foundation 2023: THE YEAR IN REVIEW


Reflection, learning, interaction, and embracing cultural heritage were at the heart of life at Education City throughout the Ramadan – where one of the traditions of the Holy Month came with a sustainable focus.

Social Progress

A Gathering for Worship

The Holy Month of Ramadan represents a time of reflecting on ourselves, and on our values and traditions. And throughout the month, activities at Qatar Foundation’s (QF) Education City provided opportunities for such reflection – as well as for active learning, and active living.  

An array of family-friendly events, educational programs, fitness activities, and Islamic readings and lectures were open to the community of Qatar during Ramadan, illustrating QF’s core values of empowering learning, promoting and preserving cultural heritage, and fostering social interaction.  

And at the conclusion of the Holy Month, the Education City Stadium – one of the venues for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022– became a place of worship, as, for the first time, the Eid Prayer at QF was held in the venue. Tens of thousands of community members gathered at the stadium to mark the end of Ramadan, with the prayer being led by Minaretein (Education City Mosque) and followed by an Eid Festival.

35,000 worshippers attended the Eid Prayer at the Education City Stadium

Social Progress, Sustainability

Nights of Knowledge

Among the opportunities for members of the community to embrace the spirit of the Holy Month at Education City was QF’s Ramadan Nights initiative – showcasing Qatari culture and customs and enabling people to explore Ramadan rituals in different countries.  

Held at Education City’s Oxygen Park, the initiative also encouraged visitors of all ages and cultures to adopt healthy, sustainable lifestyles – and give back to their communities through volunteering.  

The events featured speakers on a range of topics, including Dr. Abdulwassa Lakl from the Sheikh Abdulla Bin Zaid Mahmoud Islamic Cultural Center, one of the partners QF collaborated with for Ramadan Nights, together with Qatar Charity; Oqlah Jassim, a Syrian teacher at the cultural center; QF alumnus and Samla endurance race winner Abdulaziz Al Tamami; Abdullah Shaheen Al-Kaabi, founder of the Athlete 13 Academy for young people; and Abdur-raheem McCarthy, an American of Irish descent who converted to Islam in 1994. 

And a special edition of Ramadan Nights celebrated Garangao night, with children collecting bags of nuts and sweets in one of the customs and traditions of the Holy Month. 

Volunteering is a noble humanitarian act that makes you feel the importance of solidarity and doing good, and recognize how simple actions can change other people’s lives for the better.

Saud Al-Maadeed
Director of the Media Department, Qatar Charity, and Alkass Sports Channels presenter, speaking at QF’s Ramadan Nights

Progressive Education

Learning Through Stories

Meanwhile, QF’s edutainment TV series, Siraj, launched a special Ramadan edition for children in Qatar and across the Arab world. 

The episodes, showcasing the stories of the Prophets, invited children to join beloved Siraj characters Rashid and Noura on a journey of education and values such as tolerance, honesty, patience, responsibility, humility, and justice – and enjoy a fun learning experience that reflected the essence of Ramadan.  

“In this digital age, with technology and the internet being a big part of our lives, it is essential to have a program like Siraj for our children,” said Sulaiman Timbo Bah, Community Engagement and Outreach Coordinator at Minaretein (Education City Mosque). “It is a much-needed initiative that provides them with an opportunity to learn moral and ethical values. 

“It is a great way to teach children about the attributes of the Prophets and how to emulate them in their lives. We must take responsibility for telling our own stories in a way that resonates with our children.” 

Ultimately, we hope that this series will contribute to creating a better and more compassionate society.

Sara Al Hajri
Associate Director of Culture. Heritage and Identity, Education Development Institute, QF
8 special episodes of Siraj were screened during Ramadan


Stewards of the Environment

And during Ramadan, Education City was the setting for a community iftar with a difference – a sustainable difference. 

To promote the Islamic values of moderation and ecological stewardship, Minaretein (Education City Mosque) chose to host a zero-waste iftar. Portion sizes were reduced to cut waste, with each person receiving one multi-compartment container made of eco-friendly packaging rather than multiple boxes, with water dispensers instead of plastic bottles and reusable table covers being used. Any waste was composted or recycled, with the compost generated being used within Education City. 

“These might sound like small changes when looked at individually, but given we have anywhere between 1,200 and 1,500 people breaking their fast each day, over the course of 30 days these changes have a considerable impact,” said Simon Jones, Engagement and Activation Expert, QF.  

“Imagine if this zero-waste iftar could be replicated across all iftar tents across the country – the waste savings would be enormous.”  

The Minaretein iftar also delivered bite-size, pre-iftar sustainability sessions in six different languages that raised awareness of how to reduce waste and increase responsible consumption. 

I’ve always viewed religion and environment as two separate things, but it’s initiatives like this zero-waste iftar that have helped me make that important connection.

Aisha Ahmed
community member and Minaretein iftar visitor

Social Progress

Promoting Inclusivity

With April also seeing World Autism Awareness Day being marked across the world, QF played its part by bringing the community together to promote acceptance and inclusivity for those who have the disorder. 

Hosted by QF’s Pre-University Education – whose schools include Renad Academy, which supports children with autism – the World Autism Awareness Day event at Education City’s Oxygen Park provided a range of activities and workshops designed to create a welcoming environment for those with autism and their families and friends, while increasing understanding of the condition among the wider public.  

“People with autistic spectrum conditions and disorders represent a very significant and important part of our community, and it is essential that people have a greater understanding of their unique perspective,” said Mark Hughes, Director of QF’s Awsaj Academy.  

“They epitomize diversity, and we should recognize that they have as important a part to play in our society as anybody else. We have seen a greater level of understanding, interest, care, and respect for the diverse profile of people in our community – this is a positive sign.”

These events play a crucial role in raising awareness about autism and breaking down stigmas associated with it.

Youssef Al-Muslimani
World Autism Awareness Day event attendee
23 entities and programs catering for people with disabilities participated in QF’s World Autism Awareness Day event


A Green Campus

With the aim of advancing sustainability within the QF community, a QF partner university launched its EcoCampus initiative in April.  

Designed to implement the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals at the Education City campus, Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar’s (CMU-Q) EcoCampus initiative involves students, staff, and faculty members, focuses on food equity, climate change, and waste management, and will – in line with the integrated nature of QF’s ecosystem – create a roadmap for other universities at Education City to benefit from.

Artificial Intelligence

Learning from Experts

Meanwhile, a group of CMU-Q student researchers began exploring the use of Artificial Intelligence algorithms to program aerial robots to clean and inspect solar panels, so they can operate more efficiently in Qatar’s climate.  

The students have received scientific support from QF member Hamad Bin Khalifa University’s Qatar Environment and Energy Research Institute, whose Executive Director, Mark Vermeersch, said: “Our scientists and researchers take great pride in mentoring the next generation of innovators, researchers, and scientists, and we are delighted to provide CMU-Q students with the opportunity to learn from our experts and explore their own ideas.” 

Genuine change can stem from a single individual, and I believe students need to remember the impact they can make when working together as a community.

Faisal Al-Thani
CMU-Q student and EcoCampus initiative student leader

Progressive Education

The Reward for Excellence

Elsewhere across QF’s ecosystem, students from QF partner university Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts in Qatar were honored for their creative skills as they received Arab Engineering Bureau Awards for Design Excellence.  

There were also celebrations for final-year students at QF partner university Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar (WCM-Q), who secured residencies to continue their training at elite institutions in Qatar and the US; while those who may one day follow in their footsteps were welcomed to WCM-Q, as its week-long Qatar Medical Explorer Program saw 29 high school students experience campus life as a medical student. 

Social Progress

On the Global Stage

Beyond Qatar, QF’s Hamad Bin Khalifa University Press showcased a new range of its original and translated titles, and placed its authors and translators on the international stage, by attending the London Book Fair – one of the biggest literary gatherings in Europe – for the fourth time. 

The publishing house’s presence in the British capital was based around the theme of international community-building through literature, by giving a platform to unique Qatari and Arab stories and voices.

I enjoyed the program because it helped me develop my skills and gave me insight into the knowledge and aspects I need to be aware of to hopefully join WCM-Q.

Fahad Faisal Al-Dosari
Qatar Academy Al Wakra student and Qatar Medical Explorer Program participant

WCM-Q students who secured residencies at top medical institutions are specializing in:

  • Neurology
  • Family medicine
  • Internal medicine
  • General surgery
  • Pediatrics
Hamad Bin Khalifa University Press’ catalog includes over 600 titles, with 58 percent of its publications translated from international languages

Progressive Education

An Educational Ambassador

For Hend Zainal, education is “my work and my passion” – and this passion led to her becoming the first person in Qatar, and only the second in the Gulf region, to be selected for a prestigious international fellowship that she aims to use to support higher education in Qatar. 

The Executive Director of Strategy, Management and Partnerships at QF’s Higher Education division, was accepted into the American Council on Education (ACE) Fellows Program, a year-long program that develops educators’ skills and equips them for leadership roles in the field. 

Zainal, an alumna of two of QF’s partner universities, was the only member of the program’s 2023-24 cohort from outside the US, and said: “I plan to maximize the opportunities for gathering and exchanging knowledge it will offer so that I can bring these back to Qatar and support the advancement of QF’s higher education strategy, as well as higher education in Qatar as a whole.  

“With Qatar becoming globally regarded as an educational hub, I also hope to use my selection as an ACE Fellow to represent the nation and help to promote its significant investment and efforts in education to my international peers.” 

36 ACE Fellows were selected for the 2023-24 academic year, which has nurtured more than 2,500 emerging higher education leaders