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Story | Education
14 June 2020

QF’s Qatar Academy Doha empowers eco-leaders


Image source: Smolaw, via Shutterstock

QAD graduate’s research aims to reduce water waste in Qatar

Today’s youth are tomorrow’s leaders, and 18-year-old Leena Fatima Syed is just one example of a Qatar Foundation student who is dedicated to creating sustainable solutions to challenges specific to Qatar.

QBG was a particularly important experience because of how many doors were opened by leading my own research

Leena Fatima Syed, QAD graduate

Leena, who has just graduated from Qatar Academy Doha (QAD) – part of Qatar Foundation’s Pre-University Education – entered an Environmental Research Contest organized by the Qur'anic Botanic Garden (QBG) last year with a project that aimed to help reduce water waste in Qatar.

The project looked at creating artificial water tables using the waste of different construction materials, such as crushed concreate, limestone, and road waste. “The overconsumption of water poses an economic and environmental sustainability challenge for countries in the Middle East, due to its dry desert climate,” Leena explains.

Leena Fatima Syed, an 18-year-old Qatar Academy Doha graduate.

“I tested the different types of construction waste, and, through the testing, saw that gravel between different layers of soil can act as a barrier from allowing water to flow any further. And that using these materials could then help reduce water waste that might be caused from overwatering different turfs or parks – areas often overwatered because the soil is so loose.”

This project also helped me recognize other issues that are going on in the world

Leena Fatima Syed, QAD graduate

Following the research, which, through QBG was facilitated by Aspire Sports Turf – part of Aspire Zone Foundation – Leena went on to present her findings through two poster presentation sessions for the 2019 QBG competition, winning second place in her category.

And while the competition marked the end of the project, Leena continued to work on her research. “Though the contest was over, my research was aimed at helping Qatar in its beautification and environmental awareness goals, and so I wanted to see these aims through. My mentors reached out to Ashghal, and – after several very productive meetings – a six-month plan was established for advanced material and practical turf analyses.”

QAD graduate’s research aims to reduce water waste in Qatar. Image source: Little Perfect Stock, via Shutterstock

Speaking about the QBG competition, Leena says: “QBG was a particularly important experience because of how many doors were opened by leading my own research. Through the competition, I was directed to and began working closely with Aspire Sports Turf, who provided the background knowledge and expertise necessary for me to complete my research successfully. It also led me to Ashghal.”

Caring for the environment is something my mom passed on to me

Leena Fatima Syed, QAD graduate 

Leena’s inspiration for the project came from a sustainability class at Qatar Academy Doha (QAD). And from her family. “Caring for the environment is something my mom passed on to me. My mom would encourage me to always choose the eco-friendly option,” she says.

“But this project also helped me recognize other issues that are going on in the world. Ultimately, it was a catalyst for me to realize that there is more to be done, and to recognize in my own life the things I am not doing, or the things I could be doing more of, to help with sustainability and protecting the Earth.”

Speaking about her QAD experience, which has now come to end, Leena says: “I tried to take advantage of all the opportunities the school offered, and have, over the years, participated in THIMUN, joined band, took part in academic contests, played sports – games, volleyball, badminton – and, of course, the QBG competition.

“I also traveled to Emory University in the United States, and Imperial College London for STEM conferences, which played big roles in deciding where I chose to go to college, and what I wanted to major in.”

Next year, Leena is planning to study at Weill Cornell Medicine – Qatar, enrolling in the six-year medical program. “I’m excited about college and the independence that it’ll bring,” she says. “It's a big step that I’ve been looking forward to for years, and though I’m a little anxious about the workload, I’m eager to start a new chapter, meet new people, and study a subject that I love.”

Unfortunately, due to the current situation, Leena hasn’t been able to move forward with the project, but is still hoping to publish a paper in the future.

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