Qatar Foundation 2023: THE YEAR IN REVIEW


From elevating the profile of the Arabic language to advancing solutions for sustainability, QF illustrated its capacity to inspire and showcase ideas.

Social Progress

Shared Across The World

Dedicated to amplifying ideas in the Arabic language on a global scale, TEDinArabic is the result of a groundbreaking partnership between Qatar Foundation (QF) and TED – and in March, its flagship Summit showcased to the world how Arabic is a language of innovation, original thought, and new knowledge. 

Attended by Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, Chairperson of Qatar Foundation, and held under the theme ‘The Butterfly Effect’, the TEDinArabic summit – the first of its kind in the Middle East – drew an audience of thousands to exchange ideas and stories in the Arabic language, listen to talks in Arabic by TED speakers from the Arab world, and explore interactive Discovery Sessions and artistic performances. 

It represented a milestone in the three-year partnership between QF and TED, which has provided a platform for new, inspiring ideas in Arabic to be shared with the world, and aims to nurture a new culture of idea generation across the Middle East and North Africa. 

“This Summit is a true landmark for the Middle East, and we hope that everyone who experiences its talks, its sessions, its activities, and its opportunities for accessing and exchanging ideas will find themselves being energized and inspired,” said Machaille Hassan Al-Naimi, Executive Officer of the Vice Chairperson and CEO Office, QF. 

Today, we all choose to be united by the Arabic language. We choose to listen to each other, and to search for inspiring horizons that bring us together.

Moza AlHajri
QF student and TEDinArabic keynote speaker
More than 3,000 people attended the two-day TEDinArabic Summit

Social Progress

Discourse and Discovery

TED speakers who shared their stories at the Summit included Lebanese physicist and poet Mahdi Mansour; Rafia Al-Talei, a journalist and women’s advocate from Oman; Ahmad Habib, a writer and accessibility specialist for Iraq; Egyptian climate justice advocate Amr Ramadan; and Palestinian artist and activist Belal Khaled.  

Audiences were treated to songs specially written for the event by Saudi Arabian artist Alaa Al-Wardi and Qatari singer Aisha Al-Zayani, and by Mohamad Bahri, a QF-based Arabic Language Program Coordinator; as well as a performance inspired by Qatari heritage from QF school students. 

Among the Summit’s Discovery Sessions was a talk where three US students who learned Arabic through secondary school programs supported by Qatar Foundation International spoke of how it has changed their lives, with one, Paula Caffaro, saying: “I am a better person because I learned Arabic.” 

And QF’s Doha Debates released its first Arabic language podcast – Lana, exploring issues which affect young Arabs – during the Summit, the final day of which welcomed speakers including Olympic swimmer and UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Yusra Mardini and featured music from Lebanese band Ikleel Aljabal and a nostalgia-themed performance of cartoon songs by Tarek Tourgane and his family. 

Our stories and experiences may differ in their features, but they are similar in their impact, no matter how small that impact may seem to our eyes.

Amal Arrab
Algerian journalist and TEDinArabic speaker

QF partnered with Qatar Museums’ Years of Culture initiative; Tasweer, Alif Stores; Doha Film Institute; Geekdom; Doha Debates; the Generation Amazing Foundation; Enbat; QINWAN; and Al Jazeera Media Network’s AJ+ platform for the TEDinArabic Summit.


The Past Informing the Future

Aimed at bringing a renewed focus on how ancestral solutions to climate challenges can help shape a more sustainable world, QF’s inaugural Earthna Summit brought together sustainability experts and policymakers – including indigenous peoples – to learn from, and exchange knowledge and ideas with, each other. 

With its theme of ‘Building New Sustainability Pathways for Hot and Arid Environments’, the Summit in Msheireb Downtown Doha, hosted by QF’s Earthna Center for a Sustainable Future, reflected the need for such environments – including Qatar’s – to be more prominent in global sustainability conversations, which typically revolve around tropical and temperate climates. 

The opening of the Summit – attended by Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, Chairperson of Qatar Foundation – saw Her Excellency Sheikha Hind bint Hamad Al Thani, Vice Chairperson and CEO of Qatar Foundation, tell its audience: “The purpose of seeking out indigenous wisdom is for us to discern and choose wisely that which resonates in our local environment, so that we may adopt simple whole solutions instead of complicating things. 

“And so that, when we adopt new policies, we can attack the root causes of our modern issues, instead of getting lost in the branches.”

We have gained a greater understanding of traditional practices, and the impact that these can have on ecosystem management and climate adaptation today.

Dr. Gonzalo Castro de la Mata
Executive Director of Earthna


Indigenous Inspiration

During the Earthna Summit, discussions tackled the importance of weaving traditional agricultural methods into modern practices, and the need for global action to address developing countries’ lack of access to sustainable energy.  

Experts explored how international policies are affecting attempts to move toward energy transition, while religious leaders, climate change specialists, and policymakers proposed ways in which sustainability can be more closely connected with faith and ethics. 

And throughout the Summit, Qatar’s community were invited to experience the Earthna Village, a public area displaying indigenous practices for cultural, environmental, and social sustainability – from traditional weaving and shipbuilding techniques to the preservation of medicinal plants and ancient treasures.  

Ahead of the Earthna Summit, QF welcomed Csaba Kőrösi, President of the 77th United Nations General Assembly, to its Education City Speaker Series dialogue platform, where he emphasized the need for nations to unite in tackling sustainability challenges; while scientist, humanitarian, and environmental activist Dr. Jane Goodall urged young people to be leaders in sustainability in her keynote speech at QF school Qatar Academy Al Wakra’s Global Innovation in Sustainability Summit.

In our modern arrogance, we had perhaps disregarded what indigenous people knew for many years. This is a real moment for us to show respect for our old knowledge as well as respect for the new.

Baroness Patricia Scotland
Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, speaking at the Earthna Summit

Progressive Education

Arts, Excellence, and Inquiry

In March, the performing arts talent that exists within QF’s schools was on show – through SHOWTIME! 

The 2023 edition of the musical showcase – created by students, teachers, and staff from schools under QF’s Pre-University Education – featured hits from shows such as Aladdin, Grease, The Sound of Music, and Anastasia, as well as the debut of a new song in Arabic and English by Qatari composer Dana Al Fardan, called ‘Now or Never’. 

Meanwhile, 14 QF students were honored at the 16th edition of Qatar’s Education Excellence Awards, among them Faisal Al Dosari, a grade 6 student at QF’s Qatar Academy Doha, whose message to her fellow students was: “If you have a dream, keep working hard and never give up – you can achieve anything if you believe in yourself and work hard for it.” 

And QF Pre-University Education’s student enrichment program launched an inquiry-based afterschool mathematics program to help high school students think creatively to solve complex programs. Harnessing QF’s integrated ecosystem of knowledge, sessions were led by mathematics professors from three of its international partner universities and from its Hamad Bin Khalifa University. 

Musical theater can help stretch children beyond their abilities, or beyond what they think their limits are. They begin learning so much about themselves, and this increases their confidence and helps them overcome challenges.

Chris Piper
Director of SHOWTIME!

Social Progress

Strengthening the Family

Reflecting its goal of strengthening the Arab family unit and its role in society, QF’s Doha International Family Institute (DIFI) launched a scientific journal designed to enhance and advance knowledge on Arab families, and provide evidence on which policies and programs that support them can be built. 

In March, DIFI also led dialogue-focused side events at the 61st Session of the United Nations’ Commission for Social Development, focusing on changes to family life and wellbeing due to COVID-19, and how NGOs can address employment challenges facing families.  

And, together with QF’s education WISE and its global health initiative the World Innovation summit for Health, a DIFI-organized panel on the sidelines of the 5th United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries discussed the impact of technological change on family relationships.  

Meanwhile, QF’s Education City was the setting for mothers and fathers to exchange experiences about parenthood, access services and products for new mothers, and learn about the value of reading to children, as Qatar National Library’s Qatar Reads initiative held the second edition of its Mommy to Be Festival

We want to empower families in order to continue to thrive, which is why it is important to continuously participate on international platforms.

Her Excellency Ambassador Alya Ahmed Saif Al-Thani
Permanent Representative of the State of Qatar to the UN, speaking at the DIFI session on the family impact of COVID-19
DIFI’s OSRA Research Grant has supported 48 research projects related to Arab families

Progressive Education

Pathways to Knowledge

One of the characteristics of QF’s unique, integrated ecosystem is the opportunity it provides for collaboration – and this was again demonstrated in March as scholars from four Education City universities at Education City pooled their expertise in the name of knowledge.  

Funded by a QF grant, professors from Georgetown University in Qatar, Hamad Bin Khalifa University, Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts in Qatar, and Northwestern University in Qatar began developing a curriculum that can be adapted worldwide to teach students about religious diversity, tolerance, and co-existence in the Arab and Islamic world.  

And Qatar Foundation International (QFI) also opened new doors to knowledge, supporting a group of UK students to take an immersive Arabic language and culture trip to Qatar through its Connecting Classrooms program. Designed to promote the Arabic language and connect people from different backgrounds and cultures, it included enabling the students to join classes at QF schools.  

“We are committed to making the Arabic language a viable choice in language classrooms,” said Latrecia Wilson, Executive Director of QFI. “This means providing teachers, researchers, administrators and the whole Arabic language ecosystem with access to the networks and support they need, and helping students access the lifechanging opportunities that learning Arabic affords.” 

The importance of the Arabic language is increasing daily in the world, and it is also an important language for many of our students who will be able, through learning it, to communicate more effectively with the people of Arab countries.

Duncan Jacques
CEO of Exceed Academies Trust, speaking about the UK students’ QFI-supported visit to Qatar

Progressive Education

Skilled in Science

High school students from Qatar steeled their nerves to showcase their research and presentation skills to a national audience in March, as QF’s Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU) and the Ministry of Education and Higher Education hosted the Qatar Youth Science Forum 2023.  

Technologies presented by the science-minded students included biodegradable crayons to reduce waste to specialized communication and entertainment systems for quadriplegic patients. Five winning teams were chosen to represent Qatar at the prestigious London International Science Forum.  

Together with Qatar University, HBKU also co-hosted the fourth World Association for Sport Management Conference – the first to be held in the Middle East and North Africa region – as, in the wake of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, it explored the latest trends in the sports industry. 

Precision Health

A Hub of Healthcare

And leading figures in proteomics – which can support disease diagnosis and personalized medicine – gathered at Education City for a conference organized by QF partner university Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar, discussing new developments in this field and reflecting Qatar’s growing status as a precision health hub. 

We hope that our research projects will inspire other young people in Qatar to pursue their passion for science and technology.

Talal Eisa Al Ghanem
Qatar Youth Science Forum 2023 winner
55 teams from high schools in Qatar participated in the Qatar Youth Science Forum 2023

Artificial Intelligence

A Stage for Innovation

Innovations designed to help high school students identify and follow their career path, increase oil production efficiency, and connect architects and designers with the materials they need took the spotlight at QF’s Qatar Science & Technology Park (QSTP) in March – as the winners of its latest Demo Day.  

The event saw the teams behind eight aspiring tech startups demonstrate the commercial viability of their solutions, and how they meet a market need, to a live audience of investors, students, industry experts, and fellow entrepreneurs. All the startups have been supported by QSTP’s XLR8 program.  

To mark International Women’s Day, QSTP also held a seminar aimed at guiding, empowering, and inspiring Qatari women to become entrepreneurs; as well as unveiling a new mentorship program for startups incubated at the park.  

And QSTP-supported dialectal speech technology company Kanari AI announced the launch of Fenek AI – the first platform to offer automatic transcription for all Arabic dialects and the English language when they are spoken in the same sentence.

40 teams participated in QSTP’s XLR8 program each year

QSTP is proud to actively play a role in fueling the passion of women to chase their entrepreneurial dreams, discover their capabilities, and achieve their ambitions.

Hayfa Al-Abdulla
Innovation Director, QSTP

Social Progress

Raising Their Voices

With discussions about worker welfare often centering on men, female workers can feel their voices are going unheard. Together with the International Labour Organization and the Ministry of Labor, QF is aiming to change this. 

In March, the three parties came together to form the first sub-committee for Qatar’s female contracted workers. Meeting at least monthly, such committees provide a platform for dialogue between employees and management, allowing concerns to be raised and quickly addressed. 

And QF’s commitment to inclusivity and accessibility was also demonstrated in March by the launch of the fifth edition of its Qader Award, which provides free access to sports programs to people with disabilities – people like Abdulrahman, Yousef, and Zacharia Abuzannad.  

Speaking about how her sons have benefited from this access to sporting opportunity through QF’s Ability Friendly Program, Hayat Abuzannad paid tribute to its trainers and coaches, saying: “Their dedication to each member’s wellbeing and development is truly remarkable, and it has played a significant role in fostering their growth, both personally and athletically.” 

This initiative gives female workers a safe and secure platform to make their voices heard and solve important workplace and accommodation issues.

Noura H. Al Ibrahim
Workers Welfare Project Manager, QF
126 people with disabilities have benefited from QF’s Qader Award