60 Second: Dr Munir Tag

QFT89_P10_60sec.jpgThe Acting Director, Technical and Program Manager for Information and Communication Technologies at Qatar National Research Fund tells us about reaching out to the community, and how funding research addresses Qatar’s national needs

What is unique about your work at QNRF?
QNRF builds Qatar’s research capacity and is the main research funding agency in the country. We have research funding programs designed for secondary schools, undergraduate students, junior and senior scientists.

Our programs aim to build human capacity, nurturing a culture of research and addressing Qatar’s national needs in view of building a knowledge-based economy. Globally, Qatar is in a unique situation; we have the political will and the resources to drive these ambitions forward.
What I find unique is that I am part of a motivated and multicultural team of senior engineers, doctors and social scientists that is involved in overseeing research projects funded by QNRF and being able to debate various subjects from different angles - it is quite an enriching experience.

What is your greatest achievement?
Overall, QNRF has funded over 700 projects under the National Research Priorities Program (NPRP) amounting to more than $600m in grants over the past six years with ICT representing 18.5% of the funded projects in areas considered as critical to Qatar’s development such as remote monitoring of gas pipelines and air and sea pollution, remote monitoring of patients, e-learning and mobile learning (m-learning), ICT for people with special needs and ICT in transportation to monitor traffic and avoid traffic jams, in addition to projects on Arabic language processing and Arabic digital content, machine translation, cyber-security and cloud computing.

What challenges do you face in promoting a research culture?
I think the big challenge had been building awareness. After six years of continuous effort, backed by the tremendous support and generosity of His Highness Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani, the Father Emir of Qatar and Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, Chairperson of QF, we have been successful in changing this perception. Today, we have 72 institutions in Qatar involved in research, and our funded projects produced more than 1,000 publications in renowned journals.
The next step will be to capitalize on these results and take them to the next level, from the “R” to the “D”, from research to development and, consequently, to commercialization of the output. This will be our focus in the next phase of development, which we referred to as ‘Researchforward’ in our recent Annual Forum.

What do you like about living in Qatar?
Qatar is a peaceful and secure country. What I enjoy is the peace of mind, safe environment, kindness of people, the cultural and social activities offered to the public and the multicultural atmosphere where you can meet people from more than 100 countries!

How do you relax after a long day?
I found that meditating and repeating the invocation لا اله الا الله (La ilaha illa Allah, i.e. ‘There is no other divinity except God’) is of great help and support, it helps me relax, and elevates me from the daily stresses to a higher level of inner peace, freedom and joy.