Knowledge is Power
When it comes to government-backed initiatives in the Arab world, the Qatar Foundation is a unique one. It’s a non-profit that’s leading the way not only in education, but also in scientific advancement, cutting edge research and technological capabilities.
There’s a quote from a Jane Austen novel: those in the possession of a fortune must be looking for a way to spend it. Qatar is a prime example of that. With about 15 per cent of the world’s natural gas reserves, this small nation-state is currently the world’s biggest exporter of LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas). When you combine such an abundance of natural resources with a population of just 278,000 nationals, you come to the conclusion that, in per capita terms, it is the richest country in the world. Which goes to show just how it’s able to punch above its geographic weight – in politics, influence, alliances and soft power. Much of the world began to realise this when they won the rights to host the FIFA World Cup in 2022. But behind the excitement and the ensuing debates over whether a summer or winter competition is preferable, other slower, inexorable changes are continuing to push the country down the path of modernisation and toward their ultimate ideal of “development with integrity”. Firstly, they’ve been cultivating a rich schedule of research events, talks, scholarships and scientific collaborations through quasi-private institutions, most notably the Qatar Foundation. What exactly is this foundation? It’s a non-profit dreamed up in 1995 by His Highness Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani, father to the current Emir. On the tin, the Foundation states that it is a private, non-profit organisation that supports programmes in three core mission areas: