Qatar Foundation 2023: THE YEAR IN REVIEW


QF was the stage for a global conversation on the potential of Artificial Intelligence to disrupt and transform education, while breaking down barriers to learning and giving youth a voice on the world’s key issues.

Artificial Intelligence, Progressive Education

A Platform for Ideas

Artificial Intelligence could reshape our world – and in November, over 2,000 influential thought leaders, young innovators, and key decision-makers gathered at Qatar Foundation to explore how it might reshape the world of education.  

The 11th edition of the WISE Summit – organized by QF’s global education think tank WISE, and attended by Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, Chairperson of Qatar Foundation – placed topics such as how to future-proof classrooms in the age of AI, building an inclusive and ethical AI landscape, and AI and digital sovereignty in the international educational spotlight.  

Young educational advocates and innovators led discussions on areas including personalized learning for students with disabilities and the cultural perspectives of Arabic learners in classrooms, while workshops with WISE partners provided students and teachers with immersive experiences of using cutting-edge AI tools and systems.  

And Her Excellency Sheikha Hind bint Hamad Al Thani, Vice Chairperson and CEO of Qatar Foundation, awarded the prestigious WISE Prize for Education to Safeena Husain, Founder and Board Member of Educate Girls, which – through a precision targeting method that uses AI – has supported the learning of over 1.9 million girls in India. 

I want to ensure WISE is a platform for new ideas that keep pace with the changes taking place in the world, and the obstacles that education faces in certain countries for reasons of which we are all too aware.

Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser
Chairperson of Qatar Foundation, speaking at the opening of the 11th edition of the WISE Summit

Artificial Intelligence, Progressive Education

Ethics, Inclusivity, and Engagement

During the summit, young learners assessed ethical practices for students using AI in their education, in a session led by QF’s Akhlaquna initiative.  

Among the speakers was Qatar University student Fatima Naqadan, whose startup focused on AI program development. “We must acknowledge that while AI technology offers numerous benefits, it also poses several ethical challenges,” she said, “so achieving a delicate equilibrium between advancing technological frontiers and maintaining our social and ethical obligations is essential.”  

Experts also discussed how AI can be used to augment human intelligence; AI’s role in the lives of persons with disabilities, in a session which saw the participation of blind and visually impaired, hearing impaired, physically impaired and neurodivergent members of society; and the opportunities that AI-driven disruption presents for education. 

And, as Husa Alangari, Assistant Professor of Instructional Design and Technology at Saudi Arabia’s Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman University, said: “If we really want to be able to have students and our future leaders implement and use AI effectively, we need to get them ready, engage and involve them in the process, and make sure that we have a holistic view of how learning is occurring, how they are developing their skills.”

In educational AI applications, we must ensure fairness and equity for all students, maintain transparency in how AI operates, and protect student privacy and data.

Farah Emad Al Zubi
Al Sailiyah Secondary Independent School student and Akhlaquna Award winner, speaking at the WISE Summit

Progressive Education, Social Progress

Preparing to be Leaders

Through an agreement signed at the WISE Summit, students in Lebanon who have overcome challenges and barriers to excel in their studies will advance their learning journey within QF’s globally unique education ecosystem.  

The partnership between QF, Education Above All Foundation (EAA), and the American University of Beirut (AUB), will initially see six AUB students who receive scholarships through EAA’s Qatar Scholarship Programme – which has provided 9,000 scholarships to students in nine countries –spend the 2024 spring term at two of QF’s international partner universities. 

It will also pave the way for more cohorts of AUB students to study at Education City, with Francisco Marmolejo, President of Higher Education, QF, saying: “This partnership is not just about providing students with the opportunity to acquire knowledge from top universities at Qatar Foundation.  

“It’s about developing a global mindset with a sense of community engagement, encouraging inter-institutional collaboration, fostering long-lasting partnerships, and, more importantly, preparing our students to be leaders in an interconnected world.” 

Study abroad greatly enriches a student’s academic journey, allowing them to learn in new, dynamic environments, expand their personal and professional networks, and make lifelong memories.

Talal Al-Hathal
Al Fakhoora Programme Director, Education Above All
Up to 15 Qatar Scholarship recipients from AUB will study at QF over the next two years

Social Progress

Exhibiting a Narrative

As the war in Gaza continued to take its terrible toll on the Palestinian people, solidarity with their cause continued to be shown across QF’s community – together with opportunities for people to deepen their understanding of Palestine’s story.  

A student-led exhibition displaying more than 100 art pieces that highlighted Palestine’s rich cultural heritage – from its iconic flag to the Dome of the Rock – and captured the country’s narrative through creativity went on show in Education City.  

Contributors included Hamad Salem Hamad Al Marri, a student at QF’s Qatar Leadership Academy, who said: “Each painting, vibrant with resolve, mirrors the unshakeable essence of a people whose spirit refuses to be quenched.”  

Students from 10 QF schools joined in planting 50 olive trees in solidarity with Palestine in Education City’s ‘Gaza Garden’, while Hamad Bin Khalifa University Press opened a creative writing competition for school students to express their feelings about the resilience and faith of the Palestinian people; and QF’s Al Shaqab brought people from all walks of life together to raise funds for the Palestinian cause through the Al Shaqab Run in Solidarity with Palestine

When I was younger, my grandparents used to plant olive trees in Palestine and would tell me about them. So, having these trees here in Qatar makes me feel closer to my home.

Kenan Nizar Muhammad
Qatar Academy Al Khor student

Social Progress

A Cause that Unites

The test of humanity, dignity, and human conscience that the war in Gaza presents for the world was emphasized at QF’s Education City Speaker series by American Muslim scholar and civil rights leader Dr. Omar Suleiman.  

“There is one cause that can fill the streets in the Global North and the Global South, that can fill the streets in the Muslim world and the Western world, and it’s this cause of Palestine,” he told the audience. “We all have to challenge with what has been made available to us, and where our voice is going to be the most effective.”  

A QF panel on Palestinian social entrepreneurship reinforced the importance and the impact of embedding moral values into businesses; while QF’s Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU) and Georgetown University in Qatar (GU-Q) explored the Gaza war’s legal implications.  

And HBKU, with the Middle East Psychological Association, opened up a discussion on coping with the mental and emotional impact of witnessing the devastation in Palestine, with clinical psychologist Dr. Omar Mendoza Mahmood, who led the talk, saying: “There can be no denying that what’s happening in Gaza is taking its emotional toll on citizens around the world.” 

If we believe in our values and embed them in our businesses, we’re going to be more committed to what we do, and that is how we will create strong communities.

Dania Khaled
Palestinian-Canadian QF alumna and entrepreneur


Raising a Green Bar

A week-long effort to promote and raise awareness of sustainability – organized by QF’s Earthna Center for a Sustainable Future and the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change – broke records for community engagement as it reached its eighth edition.  

Qatar Sustainability Week empowered over 200,000 people across Qatar to play their part in building a movement for positive, sustainable change – from workshops on water security, electric vehicles, and lowering carbon emissions, to beach and desert clean-ups, tree and mangrove planting, and initiatives focused on recycling, upcycling, and reusing.  

One of the activities saw QF host a composting workshop for students at Education City, teaching them how to recycle organic waste and the value of adopting sustainable practices in their daily lives, which also provided them with composting binds for their schools and universities.  

And Awsaj Academy and Qatar Academy Al Khor were the latest QF schools to be awarded the Eco-Schools Green Flag – recognizing the dedication of their students to protecting and preserving the environment – while GU-Q was the setting for a conference exploring how the drive for water security can support regional cooperation and stability. 

We are working to nurture a more environmentally friendly campus by empowering eco-advocates, ensuring the sustainability of our future.

Aisha Ghani
Environment Specialist and Project Lead, QF Health, Safety, and Environment
Over 470 events were held during Qatar Sustainability Week

Artificial Intelligence

Insights, Accolades, and Action

Insights gained from cutting-edge research in Qatar, the Middle East and North Africa region, Europe, the US, and the UK were shared at a QF-hosted symposium exploring Artificial Intelligence advances in fields such as aviation, education, and sports.  

HBKU’s Qatar Computing Research Institute (QCRI) and Boeing jointly organized the eighth Machine Learning and Data Analytics Symposium at Education City, gathering researchers and industry experts to exchange knowledge on AI applications for, and the responsible use of the technology.  

Meanwhile, QCRI was honored with a King Salman Global Academy for the Arabic Language Award 2023 for its Arabic Language Team’s research into Natural Language Processing and the development and sharing of advanced technologies in this field.  

And quantum computing leader Xanadu entered a partnership with HBKU’s College of Science and Engineering to develop pathways that nurture a quantum-ready workforce for Qatar, through the Qatar Center for Quantum Computing, established within HBKU through a grant from the government of Qatar. 

Language is the soul of the people. As communications paradigms shift, it is critical to create effective Arabic language technologies for people in the Arab world and beyond.

Dr. Ahmed Elmagarmid
Executive Director, Qatar Computing Research Institute

Precision Health

A Path to Solutions

A roadmap for action by policymakers on decreasing childhood obesity in Qatar was produced in November, as QF’s global healthcare initiative the World Innovation Summit for Health presented a new report into this major health challenge. 

Developed with the Ministry of Public Health, the report recommended policies including restricting the marketing of high-fat, high-sugar, and high-salt food and drinks to children, taxing unhealthy food and drinks, and providing better access to affordable, healthy food.  

Elsewhere, studies by HBKU’s Qatar Biomedical Research Institute refuted suggestions of a link between marriage within families and autism, and compared cancer trends in Arab countries with the rest of the world to support precision treatments; while QF’s Sidra Medicine launched a new pediatric cancer research program and hosted Qatar’s first Young Scientists Symposium, as well as the latest edition of its Precision Medicine and Functional Genomics Conference.  

And from human to animal wellbeing, QF’s Equine Veterinary Medical Center launched a series of educational seminars designed to provide new insights into equine health for horse owners, breeders, and industry professionals. 

By understanding the region’s unique cancer landscape, targeted interventions can be developed, including early vaccination programs and detection initiatives.

Dr. Mariam Al Muftah
Scientist, Qatar Biomedical Research Institute
Almost 10,000 families are enrolled in Sidra Medicine’s clinical and genetic research programs

Social Progress

Challenging Art

The question of whether museums should continue to present Orientalist works in their collections – given the negative stereotyping artistic portrayals of Arab and Asian identities often creates in the eyes of those in the West – was tackled at Education City, through a townhall event led by QF’s Doha Debates.  

Held at QF partner university Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts in Qatar (VCUarts Qatar), it delved into how Orientalist art has shaped negative, and potentially harmful, perceptions over centuries. Participants voiced contrasting opinions on whether such artworks should be removed from display, or whether they should be considered a form of expression and a means for sparking conversations.  

And VCUarts Qatar’s Biennial Hamad Bin Khalifa Symposium on Islamic Art reached its 10th edition, as it further established itself as one of the world’s premiere events in its field.  

“As a crucial hub for the study of Islamic art, Qatar’s vibrant cultural scene and its commitment to centering Islamic heritage not only enriches its own cultural landscape, but also contributes significantly to the broader global discourse on the subject,” said Amir Berbić, Dean of VCUarts Qatar. 

Two very different and mutually exclusive views can each have compelling and sincere justification, and as long as we are open to discussing them as citizens and human beings, it is OK for us to come to different conclusions.

Inaya Folarin Iman
trustee of the National Portrait Gallery in London, speaking at the Doha Debates townhall event

Social Progress, Artificial Intelligence

Amplifying Young Voices

Views and ideas on how to build a better world – all from the perspective of youth – were aired and shared in front of leaders from Qatar and around the world at QF in November, as it hosted the Doha Forum: Youth Edition 2023.  

Organized by QF-founded QatarDebate and held at GU-Q, the forum tackled global issues and topics including the war in Gaza, cybersecurity and Artificial Intelligence and how to build a sustainable world for future generations, as well as the secrets and the importance of effective debating. Launched in 2018, it has become a focal point for young people to debate and pitch solutions on diverse challenges to decision-makers.  

“This Youth Edition has not only provided a platform for open dialogue and debate, but has also underscored the importance of fostering a culture of discussion among youth,” Mubarak Al Kuwari, Executive Director of the Permanent Committee for Organizing Conference, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told the forum.  

“We believe in the transformative power of ideas and the impact that young minds can have in shaping the world.” 

When we live in societies where we are not directly suffering from oppression, we have a moral responsibility to lift the voice of the voiceless.

Reem Ali
Sudanese-American advocate and Doha Forum: Youth Edition 2023 speaker
Over 100 delegates from more than 75 countries attended the Doha Forum: Youth Edition 2023