Qatar Foundation 2023: THE YEAR IN REVIEW

Social Progress

Over the past few decades, Qatar has been on a positive journey of rapid transformation – economically, socially, culturally.

Amid such a transformation, it is vital to stay connected to our roots, our values, and our culture; to preserve our heritage and natural environment; and to play our part in building a strong, inclusive, and compassionate society – a society of unity and progression.

For Qatar Foundation, true social progress means preserving and promoting our Arabic language, culture, and heritage; taking responsibility for the community around us; fostering strong ethics and moral behaviors; and appreciating the value of family. These are constant cornerstones of our nation’s sustainable development, regardless of the new challenges and trends that may emerge. Across our ecosystem, we aim to cultivate shared understanding and broader perspectives; empower youth; promote the value of discourse, debate, and dialogue; and amplify Qatari and Arab culture and heritage. We want to enable our community to adapt to an ever-changing world while retaining a strong sense of our own identity.


The Power of Debate

Across the region, a culture of debate and discourse is spreading – and, as January once again proved, QF is at the forefront of it.

Close connections between QatarDebate – founded by QF to nurture freedom of thought and open discourse among youth in, and beyond, Qatar – and the Oman Debate team led to the Oman Debate Centre being opened in 2020.

And January witnessed a milestone for the Muscat center, and the regional debating landscape, as it hosted the second Asian Arabic Debate Championship. Organized by QatarDebate together with its Omani counterpart and Oman’s Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Youth, it saw the best debating teams from across Asia compete, with students from QF partner university Texas A&M University at Qatar emerging as the winners.

“The dedicated training and development opportunities offered by QatarDebate have been instrumental in their success as university students and top-tier debaters,” said Abdulrahman Al Subaei, Outreach Programs Manager, QatarDebate.

We hope the championship will contribute to reinforcing the culture of dialogue and debate among youth in Oman, and that it will also strengthen our relationship with QatarDebate to work on joint projects in the future.

Salem Al Shamakhi
Founder and Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors, Oman Debate Centre
42 teams from 18 countries, comprising 165 debaters, participated in the championship

Sport…and Solidarity

Each year, Qatar Foundation’s (QF) Education City is a community focal point for the nation’s annual celebration of sports. In 2023, this celebration was blended with a show of solidarity. 

In the wake of the devastating earthquake in Türkiye and Syria, Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, Chairperson of Qatar Foundation, began QF’s National Sport Day activities by leading a walkathon in aid of the victims of the disaster. 

‘Walk for a Cause’ was held in collaboration with Qatar Charity to raise funds for those affected by the earthquake, and led to donations totaling QAR2.1 million being received. 

Following the walkathon, people of all ages and abilities from across Qatar’s community got into the National Sport Day spirit across Education City – with Qatar Olympic Committee as QF’s main partner – including by participating in a triathlon, a fitness challenge, ability friendly basketball and football games, and sports activities organized by QF schools. 

It was the perfect way to start this year’s National Sport Day by using it as an opportunity to show our wholehearted support for the people in Türkiye and Syria.

Fatima Al-Mohannadi
National Sport Day participant

Driven by Conscience

QF’s support for the people of Türkiye and Syria in their time of need saw a donation drive being launched at Education City – with members of Qatar’s community answering the call. 

Large amounts of warm clothes, blankets, and food were donated – with donations in the first 24 hours of the drive alone amounting to 2.5 tons of aid – as volunteers from across the QF community and beyond supported the collection process during the drive, organized in cooperation with Qatar Charity. 

Among them was Nora Al-Jaouni, a student at QF partner university Weill Cornell-Medicine Qatar, who said: “It has been wonderful to see members of the QF community and others come together to prepare the donations and send them to victims of the earthquake. 

“And if we do not have much to give, we can give our time to volunteer, which makes this time more valuable. The large quantity of donations indicates the level of awareness among people in Qatar of the importance of donating.”

Just thinking that these materials will reach people who desperately need them, and that they will warm them and alleviate their suffering, gives us a feeling of gladness.

Adam Khoder
Student and volunteer

A Hub of Sporting Inclusivity

One of the highlights of National Sport Day at QF was the Education City Stadium’s hosting of sports activities for women and girls only – and this reflected its post-FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022legacy role. 

In February, QF unveiled how the stadium that witnessed some of the World Cup’s most dramatic moments will be transformed into a hub for women’s and girls’ sports, with a focus on health, education, and wellbeing, in line with QF’s commitment to making sports open and accessible to all. 

This will harness sports to open up opportunities for women and girls and create a space specifically designed for their needs, from programming and facilities to apparel. It will also aim to attract talented female athletes from across the region, with plans for the stadium to house a sports academy and high-performance training center catering for women. 

QF is working with local and international entities and experts, and consultants who are former athletes, to drive forward the legacy plans for the stadium, which will also house two QF schools.

Women have different needs and requirements when it comes to playing sports and exercising. We want to respect their needs, understand them, and make it possible for them to exercise easily and comfortably

Alexandra Chalat
Executive Director, Partnerships and Strategic Alignment, QF

Overcoming Barriers to Learning

And QF’s belief in offering access to, and empowering people through, sports was also illustrated through its sponsorship of 10 members of the Palestinian girls football team that participated in the Street Child World Cup 2022 in Qatar. 

QF partnered with Street Child United to host the tournament ahead of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, and 100 days after the event, it announced it will support nine young Palestinian female footballers to continue their education in their home country, with one – Abu Habayeb – receiving education and coaching in Qatar. 

“We have listened carefully to the challenges that female students in Palestine still face, and expressed our readiness to make additional efforts to overcome them,” said Abeer Al-Khalifa, President of Pre-University Education, QF. 

“This initiative helps to create a stimulating environment where their full potential and abilities can be unleashed. We believe these girls can achieve excellence and prove their ability to succeed when they have an educational environment that is focused on meeting their needs.” 

I am very proud that I have received this support along with my fellow team members, and that I will be able to represent Palestine here in Qatar.

Abu Habayeb
Palestinian girls football team player
The Palestine girls’ team was one of 28 teams from 25 countries that participated in the Street Child World Cup 2022 in Qatar

Ambassadors for Change

They are among the world’s up-and-coming drivers of change – and through QF’s Doha Debates, 33 emerging leaders were given the chance to hone their abilities to make a difference by being selected for its 2023 Ambassador Program

Reflecting Doha Debates’ goal of empowering young people to bridge differences and build consensus through discussion and debate, the group – including several members from Qatar – embarked on a 12-week program to develop their facilitation and negotiation skills, by tackling issues such as climate change, gender, equality, and disability justice and seeking common ground with others who have diverse viewpoints. 

During February, high school students from around the world gathered at QF partner university Georgetown University in Qatar for an international Model United Nations conference, where they simulated the roles of UN diplomats to debate and negotiate solutions to global security challenges. 

And elsewhere among QF’s partner universities, Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar hosted 500 students from 82 Qatar high schools as they tested their powers of logic and reason in its Pi Day Mathematics Competition

We’re looking forward to helping Ambassadors develop the solutions-oriented dialogue and debate skills that are so urgently necessary in this era of unprecedented polarization.

Amjad Atallah
Managing Director, Doha Debates
The Doha Debates 2023 Ambassador Program cohort represent 17 countries across 4 continents.
450 students representing 51 schools across 13 countries participated in Georgetown University in Qatar’s Model United Nations conference

A Sporting Showcase

In a month that saw sport being celebrated across Qatar, records fell, stories unfolded, and crowds were entertained by equestrian excellence at QF’s Al Shaqab

The equine and equestrian center that preserves and promotes the treasured Arabian horse breed hosted three days of world-class action at the Commercial Bank CHI AL SHAQAB Presented by Longines event, with top riders from around the region and the world on show. 

The showjumping, dressage, and para dressage competition is one of only five CHI-accredited competitions worldwide – and the only one in the in the Middle East and Asia – with those appearing in 2023 including Palestinian dressage rider Diana Al Shaer. 

“I saw many talented riders in Palestine who have great desire and motivation, but no opportunities,” she said. “I want to do everything in my power to help, by raising the profile of Palestinian sport.” 

CHI AL SHAQAB is one of my favorite competitions, being at home in Doha. So to win here means a lot to me.

Bassem Mohammed
Qatari showjumper
91 riders from 28 countries participated in the 2023 edition of CHI AL SHAQAB

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

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.


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

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

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

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

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

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. 

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

Global Perspectives

International experts in education headed to the Colombian city of Medellin in May for one of Latin America’s biggest educational events – with QF’s global education initiative WISE being instrumental in connecting them to help chart new paths for the future of learning.  

Together with the Global Education Forum (GEF), WISE organized the GEF & WISE@Medellin international summit under the theme “Beyond Education: Involving a Whole New Society in Learning’, with sessions focusing on topics including what future education models could look like, and the evolution of what it takes to be a true educational leader. 

Driving Dialogue

QF’s Doha Debates was also building connections through the podcast route – bringing its signature approach to debate to its new ‘Doha Debates Podcast’, where guests representing different and often opposing viewpoints on key global issues try to find common ground.  

And QF-founded QatarDebate organized the first International Conference on Debate and Dialogue, where over 800 experts and youth from around the world exchanged ideas about debating and learned from debate-focused research and insights.  

This summit is a great example of WISE’s mission as an organization that promotes and supports innovation in education in all its aspects.

Stavros Yiannouka
Over 800 participants – including scholars, educators, and thought leaders – attended the GEF & WISE@Medellin Summit, which featured nearly 100 speakers

Arabic Exploration

Key questions and themes that shape the teaching and learning of Arabic in Europe and the UK were placed in the spotlight by Qatar Foundation International (QFI) in April, at a Brussels symposium that enabled educators, policymakers, and academics to share their perspectives.  

QFI has, for 14 years, encouraged the teaching of Arabic as a global language offered in classrooms beyond the Arab world, by supporting the professionalization of Arabic teaching, and research-driven methodologies and practices. In this vein, the symposium explored topics such as changing perceptions about the language and building sustainable Arabic programs for schools.

Reinforcing the Family

And QF’s Doha International Family Institute marked the International Day of Families with an Education City event emphasizing the socio-cultural value of the family in Qatari society.  

The talk also saw Her Excellency Dr. Hind Bint Abdul Rahman Al Muftah, Permanent Representative of the State of Qatar to the United Nations Office in Geneva, highlight the impact of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ on the world’s view of Qatari culture, saying: “We have been able to showcase ourselves as a role model for the social and cultural integration of many nationalities from different countries of the world.” 

We need to aim high – Arabic teachers should receive no less support than teachers of any other foreign language.

Paula Rötscher
QFI symposium panelist
Representatives from 14 countries attended the QFI symposium in Brussels

The Heart of Art

With Qatar’s creative landscape flourishing, a QF documentary turned the spotlight on the country’s emerging art scene, its local artistic talents – and the role that QF plays in fostering a love of the arts. 

‘Through the Archways of Art’, produced in collaboration with Al Jazeera Media Network, showcased QF’s public art collection and saw experts from within and beyond the organization speak about art’s role in shaping societies, the relationship between art and culture, the impact of art on personal development, and one of Education City’s most remarkable artworks – Seeroo fi al ardh, the final artwork of famed Indian artist Maqbool Fida Husain.  

“Not only does art encourage creative self-expression, but it helps students analyze and think critically about the world around them,” said Palestinian artist Majdulin Nasrallah, a professor at QF partner university Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts in Qatar, who was among those featured in the documentary.  

“It is especially crucial to students’ individual growth, as it stimulates discussion and deepens their understanding of societal, cultural, and historical topics.” 

Qatar has always been an incubator of creativity and art from all over the world.

Yousef Ahmed
Qatari artist, who featured in the documentary

Home to the Community

And in June, the Education City Stadium’s growing role as a focal point for community life expanded further – as it became the summer home of an inclusive QF sports initiative. 

For the first time, QF’s Ladies Nights – which provide women and girls from across Qatar’s community with an opportunity to enjoy sports in a safe, comfortable setting – were staged at the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ venue, which is now becoming a hub dedicated to women’s and girls’ sport.  

“As a sports lover, Ladies Night has provided me with an opportunity to break my daily routine and explore new experiences,” said Haya Mansour Al-Naimi, a regular participant in Ladies Night, editions of which were also held during the year at Education City’s Oxygen Park. “This event aligns with Qatar’s emphasis on sports, especially after hosting the World Cup, which has enhanced awareness and changed how individuals think about sports.”  

And following the huge attendance at Education City Stadium when it hosted the Eid al-Fitr prayer in April, the Eid al-Adha prayer was also held at the arena, with thousands of worshippers again attending.

Ladies Night is a powerful platform that influences our attitudes as women and encourages us to go beyond what some may see as traditional roles.

Nour Elhouda Tabet
Ladies Night participant

Reading’s Young Leaders

When a group of young socially conscious storytellers from QF schools met His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, the Amir of Qatar, at Doha International Book Fair, their conversation with the nation’s leader turned them into social media stars.  

The students from Tariq Bin Ziad School and Qatar Academy Al Khor were filmed telling His Highness the Amir about how they use their own passion for books to inspire others, which captured the attention of an audience in Qatar. 

Among them was eight-year-old Maryam Hamad Al-Qahtani, whose ‘Donate and Read’ initiative creates opportunities for book exchanges that she hopes can enrich people’s lives. “I want to share information and books with other people, and help children in particular to have a love of reading,” she said.  

“I want reading to be fun and to help the planet too. I think everyone in the community should read and exchange books that they have read and no longer need.” 

It’s amazing to think His Highness the Amir liked what I wrote, and now I am inspired to continue writing and sharing stories with others.

Hamad Al-Muraikhi
student at Tariq Bin Ziad School, who has written his first book, ‘Equestrian Race’

Inspiring Through Art

The transformative power of art on people’s lives was demonstrated at Education City over the summer as graduates of one of QF’s partner universities held workshops that encouraged people with disabilities to express themselves freely.  

The alumni of Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts in Qatar held the sessions with participants of QF’s Ability Friendly Program, which provides inclusive sporting opportunities, and inspired them to inlock their creativity through drawing. 

 “Volunteering to support children with disabilities has been a truly inspiring and fulfilling experience,” said Fatima Al-Mannai, one of the graduates who led the workshops. “It’s essential to encourage people to express their passion through various artistic mediums, such as art.  

“The impact of this volunteering experience on the lives of children is evident in various ways. One of the significant outcomes was that we can break down barriers and dispel misconceptions. This has led to helping these children feel included and valued in society.” 

The benefits of engaging children with disabilities in art are undeniable. It allows them to express their emotions more effectively and share their unique stories.

Shaikha Darwish
Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts in Qatar graduate, and workshop leader

Sporting Connections

The court skills that students developed in QF’s community basketball programs were put to the test on the international stage during the summer – as they headed to Abu Dhabi to compete in the first Jr. NBA Europe & Middle East finals.  

Two groups of children from Qatar – 12 boys and 12 girls – faced Under-15 rivals from England, Lebanon, Spain, Germany, and the UAE in the four-day round-robin tournament. And not only did it give them a chance to put on display what they have learned through QF’s programs, it also honed their communication, teamwork, and leadership skills and allowed them to connect with children from other countries.  

“The tournament was a great experience – I was playing with teams in Europe and the Middle East who had something in common with me,” said QF program member Damilola Mihle Eweje from South Africa, voted one of the tournament’s top five female players. “And what I enjoyed the most was making friends from different countries.  

“In preparation for this tournament, we worked hard as a team, and the training helped us become closer teammates. We are family.” 

We made friends from across the teams, with people from different countries and cultures – it was really nice to see that sports can bring opposing teams together.

Salsabeel Amir Abdelmonen Ahmed Hassan Elrefaei
QF basketball program member

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

Standing With Palestine

As the people of Gaza suffered devastation and tragedy in the face of Israeli attacks, students from Qatar Foundation’s (QF) schools joined their hands and hearts in solidarity with them.  

A unifying Qunoot prayer organized by students at Minaretein (Education City Mosque), and attended by people from across the QF community, aimed to provide support and empathy with Palestine in their time of hardship and terror.  

Events organized at QF schools included a non-uniform day at Qatar Academy Msheireb where students dressed in traditional Palestinian clothing; while at Qatar Academy Doha, students planted an olive tree as a symbol of the Palestinian cause, using the planting to collect donations for the people of Gaza. And across QF’s schools, prayers and sessions to educate students about the history of Palestine and the current war in Gaza were held. 

“When we pray together, we demonstrate our togetherness,” said Ali Al Thani, a 10-year-old student at QF’s Awsaj Academy. “Even though we are miles away, our hearts are with our Palestinian brothers and sisters, and that is what matters.” 

We are all inspired by how strong and brave the people of Palestine are. I want them to know that we’re here for them, and we’re standing together with love through these hard times.

Maryam Abdullah Al Khalifa
Qatar Academy Msheireb student

Partnership for Opportunity

With their collective goal being to promote and provide sporting opportunities for everyone, QF and Volkswagen Middle East entered a partnership to support capacity-building sports programs – particularly for women and girls.  

Launched during a football clinic organized by QF’s Pre-University Education, the partnership will see Volkswagen Middle East sponsor programs and events such as QF’s Women and Girls Football Initiative, a tournament that supports grassroots and amateur female athletes. The firm will also continue its cooperation with QF’s sport-for-development programs, having previously co-sponsored QF’s Future Leaders in Football Summit together with the German Football Association.  

“Our partnership with QF represents a continuation of our commitment to support women in sports, particularly in football, and to provide them with tangible opportunities,” said Matthias Ziegler, Managing Director of Volkswagen Middle East. 

 “Through this partnership, we are not just sponsoring events – we are nurturing dreams and creating a more inclusive future for the sport of football.” 

Hosting the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 was a testament to the value that sport brings, not only to Qatar but to our wider society, and we want to build on that legacy by affording more girls the opportunity to refine their skills and excel.

Machaille Hassan Al-Naimi
Executive Officer of the Vice Chairperson and CEO Office, QF

A Global Outlook

Focused on addressing the global challenges of governance, advancement, and peace, a new, independent, and multidisciplinary thinktank was inaugurated by QF’s Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU) in October.  

The Global Institute for Strategic Research (GISR) – the inauguration of which was attended by Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, Chairperson of Qatar Foundation – will pursue a greater understanding of the cultural, historic, political, and other drivers of global challenges, and examine issues of global governance, advancement, peace, and security in a holistic way.  

“Within the boundaries of HBKU and the QF ecosystem, we have a unique concentration of scholarship, talent, and innovation that will allow GISR to act as a catalyst to channel ideas and bridge the gap between research and policymaking,” said Dr. Sultan Barakat, Professor in Public Policy at HBKU’s College of Public Policy, and GISR’s Acting Director.  

The institute’s inauguration – which welcomed experts from global thinktanks and research centers – saw the launch of a joint report by GISR, Doha Forum, and the Stimson Center, outlining how carefully designed and responsible cyber-governance initiatives, including Artificial Intelligence regulation, and reinvigorated peacebuilding can benefit people and nations and contribute to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. 

GISR reflects Qatar’s prominent place at a major geopolitical crossroads and its commitment to positively impacting and shaping debates on a multitude of global challenges facing humanity today.

Dr. Ahmad M. Hasnah
President of HBKU

Discussions at the launch of GISR focused on:

  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Energy transition
  • Sustaining peace in fragile states

Tackling Trends

2024 marks the 30th anniversary of a milestone in placing families at the heart of global society – and a year out from this landmark date, a major international conference – hosted by Qatar and organized by QF’s Doha International Family Institute – was announced to commemorate it.  

The conference – announced at the United Nations (UN) – will see policymakers, NGOs, family experts and practitioners, and academics gather in Doha from 29-31 October 2024 to share their experience of the central role the family holds within nations and communities, three decades after the UN proclaimed 1994 to be the International Year of the family.  

It will address how to tackle four megatrends that are having a significant impact on families; advocate for global support and empowerment of the family system by promoting policies and programs that strengthen families; and showcase best practices and evidence-based research.  

During the briefing at the 78th UN Session on Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Issues was described, Her Excellency Ambassador Alya Ahmed Saif Al-Thani, Permanent Representative of the State of Qatar to the United Nations, described the conference as “a testament to our unwavering dedication to prioritizing family-centric wellbeing and policy development.” 

I am confident that the outcomes of the conference will contribute to advancing the wellbeing of families throughout the world.

Maria-Francesca Spatolisano
Assistant Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and Inter-Agency Affairs, UN DESA

The conference will focus on 4 megatrends affecting families:

  • New technologies
  • Climate change
  • Urbanization and international migration
  • Demographic change

Artistic Intersections

Celebrating how art, health, and wellness intersect, QF launched ‘Artful Minds’ – an exhibition allowing people from across Qatar’s community to experience how art acts as a powerful tool for self-expression and healing.  

Held in partnership with International Artists Doha, the exhibition emphasized the importance of mental wellbeing, and encouraged visitors to break down the stigma surrounding mental health issues, with artists from diverse backgrounds displaying their work.  

As part of ‘Artful Minds’, two accessible art workshops were held, with one hosting over 20 participants from QF’s Ability Friendly Program, most of them partially verbal, to explore puppet-making. The second workshop, focusing on sculpturing, was attended by members of the Qatar Social and Cultural Center for the Blind, who used clay to make different objects through which they expressed their thoughts.  

“The more we talk about mental health, the more we raise awareness of it,” said Ameera Al-Aji, Community Art Lead, QF. “Art has an exceptional ability to heal and empower us as it provides a unique tool for self-expression. The Artful Minds exhibition embodies this concept.” 

This workshop was testament to the fact that, with a little bit of adaptation and assistance, everything can be made accessible, and, more importantly, how well a community that people don’t think much of when it comes to arts can do if their needs are catered for.

Ikrami Ahmed Fouad
braille instructor, Al Noor Center for the Blind
31 artists participated in the ‘Artful Minds’ exhibition