Qatar Foundation 2023: THE YEAR IN REVIEW


QF marked milestones in advancing Arab innovation, and in higher education – and reinforced its commitment to nurturing teachers as a new school year got under way.

Artificial Intelligence

Shining Bright

Since its launch in 2009, Stars of Science – QF’s innovation TV show – has inspired and enabled a generation of young Arabs with great ideas to contribute to the development of their communities, and the region.  

In September, the show – hosted at QF’s Qatar Science & Technology Park – entered its 15th season, with seven contestants bidding to claim the Best Arab Innovator crown. And as it reached this milestone, Stars of Science alumni from the past decade-and-a-half reflected on how it set them on the path to making their mark in fields ranging from Artificial Intelligence to healthcare.  

Jordanian inventor Noraldin Al-Deri is among them. After taking second place in Stars of Science season 14, she opened Jordan’s first AI-powered early intervention center for autism. “Guided by passion, I empowered hearts and minds to embrace diversity, increasing awareness of autism and developmental disorders,” she said.  

“Through science, empathy, and innovation, we’re shaping a more inclusive world.” 

The Stars of Science alumni community spans 161 innovators from 18 countries

Of the innovations showcased on Stars of Science:

  • 60 have been in the consumer products category – with 15 finalists
  • 45 have been in robotics and AI – with 16 finalists
  • 37 have been biomedical technologies – with 14 finalists
  • 19 have been in sustainability – with 5 finalists

Progressive Education

Empowering Teachers

As QF’s schools welcomed back their students and teachers following the summer break, the organization’s President of Pre-University Education looked ahead to the academic year by highlighting how QF supports the development of Qatari teachers, and helps them overcome challenges.  

“Qatari teachers possess a unique perspective on the education system and its goals, enabling them to effectively implement national educational curricula and policies in line with Qatar’s vision for education,” said Abeer Al-Khalifa. 

“The presence of Qatari educators is crucial to providing a culturally enriching and contextually relevant educational experience. Therefore, QF continuously endeavors to strengthen their role and status, recognizing their significant contribution to shaping the future of education in Qatar.  

“This commitment is reflected in designing impactful professional development programs to enhance their qualifications and create an appealing teaching profession with a supportive work environment.” 

Al-Khalifa also explained how QF identifies and analyzes each teacher’s needs to provide them with a personalized development plan and customized training; and helps both them and their students to familiarize themselves with technological advances such as AI. 

QF is strongly committed to empowering and supporting Qatari teachers to excel in their profession. In line with this commitment, we offer numerous opportunities exclusively tailored for Qatari teachers.

Abeer Al-Khalifa
President of Pre-University Education, QF
QF’s 13 schools have more than 8,000 students and over 850 teachers

Progressive Education

An Enduring Bond

US-based alumni of QF’s education ecosystem had the opportunity in September to share their stories, ideas, and challenges – with Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, Chairperson of Qatar Foundation. 

In a New York meeting, the graduates from universities at Education City aired their views on how QF can amplify the support it provides to its current and former students, and emerging trends and opportunities in the fields they now work and study in that can potentially benefit both QF and Qatar. 

“Working in fields from research and science to international diplomacy, these young people, now based in the US, are excellent ambassadors for Education City,” said Her Highness Sheikha Moza. 

“It was inspiring to hear them speak of their achievements – dreams turned into reality through education and perseverance.”  

The alumni included Georgetown University in Qatar alumnus Nayef Saeed Mohammed Al-Nabet, now working at the United Nations in New York, who said: “This gathering boosted our morale and reminded us of the importance of persevering as we pursue our goals, in large part thanks to the encouragement and support of Her Highness.” 

There was a lot of dialogue surrounding cross-cultural collaboration and how we can give back to our community in Qatar, which has given us so much over the years.

Dr. Abdallah Tom
Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar alumnus and Psychiatry Resident at New York-Presbyterian Hospital

Progressive Education

25 Years of Impact

A quarter-century of nurturing excellence in art and design was celebrated by a QF’s first international partner university in September – as Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts in Qatar (VCUarts Qatar) marked its 25th anniversary. 

The milestone was commemorated with a special exhibition at Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, based at Education City, where works created by 39 artists and designers who studied at VCUarts Qatar were showcased; and with a gala event at Qatar National Convention Centre. 

Describing VCUarts Qatar’s journey as having “unfolded with grace, nurturing talent and creativity”, Her Excellency Sheikha Hind bint Hamad Al Thani, Vice Chairperson and CEO of Qatar Foundation, said: “Through its dedication, the VCUarts Qatar community has consistently carved an enduring legacy into the world’s artistic landscape.” 

And Francisco Marmolejo, President of Higher Education, QF, highlighted how VCUarts Qatar was a “pioneer” for QF’s partnership model with international universities, saying: “From its very first day, VCUarts Qatar proved this model would succeed. Every one of our international partner universities has proved the same since their establishment, with each making an indelible and invaluable impact to the nation and the region.” 

VCU is honored that it was the first university to join Education City as a partner with Qatar Foundation. We’re proud that we could help create a partnership model that has lasted a quarter of a century.

Dr. Michael Rao
President, Virginia Commonwealth University
VCUarts Qatar has graduated more than 1,100 art and design students since its 1998 establishment

Progressive Education

Supported All The Way

And in September, QF demonstrated to new and returning students how the ecosystem of education that VCUarts Qatar and QF’s six other international partner universities are part of supports them every step of the way along their learning journey.  

The Tawasol 2023 fair, organized by QF’s Student Life team, illustrated the vast array of resources available to students at Education City, including healthcare, sports and recreation, housing services, student employment opportunities, and other aspects of life within the QF community – as well as providing another opportunity for students to make new connections and friendships.  

Meanwhile, one member of QF’s student community was shining on the international sporting stage in September – at the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, China.  

Abdulla Babikr, a chemical engineering student at QF partner university Texas A&M University at Qatar, represented Qatar in the karate competitions, and said: “As a student-athlete, I want to follow my dreams in the sporting arena as well as by becoming a successful chemical engineer, and Texas A&M University at Qatar affords me opportunities to do both.” 

  • More than 4,000 students – half of whom are Qatari – are enrolled in universities at QF in the 2023-24 academic year, including 1,100 first-year students
  • Since 2019-20, enrolment in universities at QF has increased by over 20 percent

Progressive Education

Global Perspectives

Scholars, experts, and policymakers were brought together in Doha by QF partner university Georgetown University in Qatar (GU-Q) in September, as its new Hiwaraat Conference Series began by exploring the past, present, and future of Iraq 20 years after the war that changed the face of the country.  

‘The Invasion of Iraq: Regional Reflections’ conference was headlined by former Iraqi president His Excellency Barham Salih, with politicians from the country and thought leaders on US-Iraq relations sharing their insights. Hiwaraat has been launched by GU-Q to discuss solutions to global challenges and geopolitical events.  

The series also tackled the many dimensions of prejudice against Muslims and Islam at its second international conference, titled ‘Global Histories and Practices of Islamophobia’, with panelists suggesting ways of countering anti-Islamic sentiment around the world.  

And during the month, GU-Q Dean Dr. Safwan Masri inaugurated the university’s Innovation Lab, a dedicated space for students to unlock their creativity, enhance their digital and media skills, and produce content for academic coursework or personal development.  

Our goal is to transcend the boundaries of scholarly discourse, and to ensure that the lived experiences and personal narratives of Iraqis are an integral part of the conversation.

Zahra Babar
Associate Director for Research at GU-Q’s Center for International and Regional Studies


Celebrating Green Education

The dedication to sustainability and environmental stewardship of students, teachers, and staff at a QF school led to it receiving a green accolade in September.  

Qatar Leadership Academy (QLA) – part of QF’s Pre-University Education – secured the 2023 Green School Award, having been selected for its holistic approach to sustainable practices, efforts to instill eco-conscious values in its students, and commitment to nurturing a sustainable environment within the school.  

The award was presented to QLA during the 7th NYC Green School Conference 2023, held alongside the 78th United Nations General Assembly in New York, attended by over 2,000 schools for 42 countries who celebrated each other’s progress in green education and shared best practices for demonstrating and promoting sustainability.   

QLA’s accolade reflected its wide-ranging green initiatives within the school, including conserving energy and water to reducing waste and championing recycling among the school’s community. 

Teaching sustainability is not just a curriculum; it’s a way of life and a commitment to the future.

Jameel Al-Shammari
Director General of Qatar Leadership Academy

Artificial Intelligence

Technology That Wins

With an 80 percent success rate, the region’s first deep-learning based Artificial Intelligence model for predicting the results of football matches was unveiled by QF’s Hamad Bin Khalifa University. 

‘SoccerNet’ is the brainchild of the university’s College of Science and Engineering, and used analysis of player data from Qatar Stars League (QSL) matches to forecast the outcome of games. The team behind the model now hope to use it to support the development of QSL players and coaches.  

Meanwhile, QF partner university Northwestern University in Qatar student Abenezer Bekele developed an AI-based job aggregator to help QF students with loan repayment options; while QF’s Qatar Science & Technology Park announced the launch of ViaVii Plus – a web-based booking management system developed by a startup incubated at the park, and designed to help the region’s travel and tourism companies create the best experience for visitors.  

And QF partner universities forged new partnerships, as HEC Paris in Qatar teamed up with delivery platform Snoonu – founded by a university alumnus – to collaborate on research programs, programs, and educational opportunities; while Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar entered an agreement with Qatar Red Crescent to support humanitarian and educational initiatives and programs. 

The proposed machine learning model will support players, coaching staff, and team management in Qatar to focus on specific performance metrics that may help them win football matches.

Dr. Tanvir Alam
Assistant Professor, College of Science and Engineering, HBKU

ViaVii – the QSTP-incubated startup behind ViaVii Plus – has provided authentic visitor experiences in the region to over 10,000 travelers

Social Progress, Progressive Education

Skills, Support, and Success

A research project aimed at helping people in Qatar and across the region improve their digital citizenship skills – from literacy, safety and security, and digital wellbeing to gender equality and social inclusion - was kickstarted in September.  

It is led by a team from QF partner university Northwestern Qatar, whose Media Majlis premiered a virtual reality film experience on Palestine at the 80th Venice Film Festival – while the National Museum of Qatar hosted the premiere of a film by a faculty member at fellow QF partner university Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts in Qatar, spotlighting the role of bamboo in sustainable architecture.  

Elsewhere across Education City, two Texas A&M University at Qatar graduate students were the first recipients of a new fellowship launched by the university and ExxonMobil Qatar, where they will research climate solutions in the LNG industry; and Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar’s Institute for Population Health gave health professionals insight into using lifestyle medicine in care delivery.  

And QF’s Doha International Family Institute was at the heart of conversations about challenges facing families at the Budapest Demographic Summit in Hungary – highlighting the importance of policies that support work-family balance, and parenting education. 

The wave towards individualism must be countered by re-giving priority to the family.

Dr. Sharifa Noaman Al-Emadi
Executive Director. DIFI, speaking at the Budapest summit

Progressive Education

Transforming Learning

They range from digitizing curricula and supporting numeracy and language learning, to transforming early childhood development and education, to creating ‘living classrooms’ in urban communities – but they all have one thing in common.  

They are the six innovative projects addressing worldwide educational challenges that, in September, were recognized by QF’s global education thinktank WISE for the positive contribution they make to learning, and to stronger societies. 

The 2023 WISE Awards winners came from countries as diverse as Jordan, Moldova, Kenya, the US, Colombia, and India, with each receiving a $20,000 prize as well as the increased international visibility and networking opportunities that come with the recognition from an initiative known around the world for its impact in rethinking education.  

"In a world where education is the cornerstone of progress, the WISE Awards not only celebrate innovation but also the spirit of unity, resilience, and determination,” said Stavros N. Yiannouka, CEO of WISE. 

“As we navigate the complexities of our global landscape, these initiatives light the way, proving that with innovation and dedication, we can shape a brighter, more equitable future for all.”

Since their inception in 2009, the WISE Awards have recognized and promoted 90 innovative projects from over 150 countries