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5 February 2020

‘There is nothing in the world like Qatar Foundation’

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HE Dr. Hamad Bin Abdulaziz Al Kuwari speaks about how education is the cornerstone of Qatar’s development – and QF’s role in equipping the nation’s youth for the challenges of the future.

His Excellency Dr. Hamad Bin Abdulaziz Al Kuwari is State Minister with the rank of Deputy Prime Minister, a former candidate for the post of UNESCO Director-General, and the first Ambassador in Residence at Georgetown University in Qatar, a Qatar Foundation partner university.

Speaking to Qatar Foundation, he explains why Qatar’s achievements in education demonstrate that the nation is on course to achieve its goals, his optimism for the country’s future generation, and why modernity and the preservation of national identity are intertwined rather than separate.

As Qatar has progressed along the various stages of its journey of development, what have been the constant factors in its progression that should be preserved for the future, especially those related to its youth?

This topic is worth contemplation and discussion. The constants in Qatar’s journey relate to values, whether they are religious, ethical, national, or language-related. These constants cannot be achieved without a good educational base, and this is why we must focus on education.

I believe that from the beginning of Qatar’s development – and through what I call the modernization era which began under His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani in 1995 – the nation has had a clear vision, and a belief that education is the fundamental foundation for societal development. Building a society requires educated young people, who understand their responsibilities towards that society. And when you look at Qatar’s achievements in the field of education, it demonstrates that we are on the right track.

His Excellency Dr. Hamad Bin Abdulaziz Al Kuwari.

Building a society requires educated young people, who understand their responsibilities towards that society.

HE Dr. Hamad Bin Abdulaziz Al Kuwari

As has been recently reported, Qatar ranked highest among Arab countries for the quality of its global taken, and was among the highest-ranked nations globally, according to the Competitiveness Center of the Institute for Administrative Development in Switzerland. This is a major achievement for Qatar, adding to those that have come before.

I have lived through the initial stages of this educational journey, from its beginnings in 1995, and I realized then that our country’s leadership had a clear and insightful vision to provide quality education. Education is the foundation of equipping young men and women with the skills, knowledge, and capabilities to play their part in the development of their community, the region, and the world as a whole.

What do you believe has been Qatar Foundation’s role in providing quality, multidisciplinary education that contributes to meeting the needs and realizing the ambitions of the nation?

We should be proud of the vision of our country’s leadership to establish an organization like Qatar Foundation. In my view, Qatar Foundation is unique – there is nothing else like it in the world. At first, there may have been challenges in translating this vision into a tangible reality, and some may have even assumed that it would be impossible. Now, what may have once been seen as a challenge has become a living reality.

Today, Qatar Foundation is home to some of the world’s most prominent and prestigious universities from the US, the UK, and France, alongside Hamad Bin Khalifa University, a national university that provides postgraduate education and a research ecosystem. These institutions within Education City offer programs in relevant and vital disciplines, which makes Qatar Foundation a place where the leaders of the future are nurtured.

Qatar Foundation is a leading example for the world – something that is evident from the impressions I see it leave on those I meet.

HE Dr. Hamad Bin Abdulaziz Al Kuwari

I have witnessed this since the beginning, by being a member of several board of directors and advisory boards for entities and centers at Qatar Foundation, and also in my capacity as the Ambassador in Residence at Georgetown University in Qatar, a role which came as both a surprise and an honor to me.

25 years ago, His Highness the Father Amir and Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser shared a common vision for Qatar's future development, which led to the creation of Qatar Foundation. Throughout the years, Qatar Foundation has delivered on that vision, and become what it is today. Her Highness Sheikha Moza Bint Nasser has led the transformation of a dream into reality, to the point where Qatar Foundation is a leading example for the world – something that is evident from the impressions I see it leave on those I meet, such as presidents and scientific and cultural leaders, who visit Qatar Foundation.

Based on your experience as a candidate for the post of UNESCO Director-General, how did Qatar’s journey and vision support you in this goal?

One of the main factors that supported my candidacy for UNESCO was the mission of Qatar Foundation, its achievements, and the impact it has made in Qatar, the region, and the world. It helped me to demonstrate to UNESCO the importance of education and empowering youth to Qatari culture, and how the nation continues to invest in this.

When we talk about Qatar Foundation, its achievements in the context of education are countless. And in through the efforts of Education Above All and the partnerships it has forged, a commitment has been made to enroll over 10 million out-of-school children in education, in over 50 countries. This marks a significant achievement on the global level, and reflects the sense of responsibility that Qatar feels not only towards its citizens and residents, but towards humanity as a whole.

Qatar’s national strategy highlights that preserving heritage and identity amid modernity is an ongoing challenge. What skills would you advise young people to acquire if they are to face this challenge?

Modernity, as well as the preservation and enhancement of national identity, are in parallel to each other. Our religious and ethical standards, as well as the need to preserve and promote the Arabic language, are evident in Qatar National Vision 2030, our educational curricula, and within Qatar Foundation. But we also live in a multicultural and multilingual world, and young people must be ready to face this reality.

In Qatar, we are aware that we live in a diverse community. We have not only learned to live with this diversity; we have turned it into a competitive advantage.

HE Dr. Hamad Bin Abdulaziz Al Kuwari

In Qatar, we are aware that we live in a diverse community. We have not only learned to live with this diversity; we have turned it into a competitive advantage.

This is reflected in the diverse environment of Qatar Foundation. At Georgetown University in Qatar, I meet dozens of students from different nationalities. Across Education City, there are students of more than 60 nationalities, and the interaction of Qatari youth with young people from different countries and cultures, who speak different languages, has a positive impact on them as it better equips them to tackle global challenges.

His Excellency Dr. Hamad Bin Abdulaziz Al Kuwari speaking at Georgetown University in Qatar, a QF partner university.

Today, in an age of social media, our world has become increasingly open, with people being able to can virtually and immediately gain knowledge and build friendships across different regions and languages around the world. This encourages the exchange of views and the sharing of ideas, and I am very positive about the future generation, and their ability to interact with modernity and engage with the development of society.

In a globalized world, you cannot stand alone, and that is why it is important and beneficial to share experiences with others from around the world, introducing them to our culture while also being open to the culture of others. And what I see at Qatar Foundation shows me that its educational programs, which cover different aspects of life and culture, provide young people with the integrated knowledge and advanced skills that will enable them to build a bright future for Qatar, and the world.

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