OBG talks to Saad Ibrahim Al Muhannadi, President, Qatar Foundation (QF)

Saad Ibrahim Al Muhannadi, President, Qatar Foundation (QF)

Interview: Saad Ibrahim Al Muhannadi

How has the investment and growth strategy of QF changed under the state’s new leadership?

SAAD IBRAHIM AL MUHANNADI: From the very beginning, QF’s investment and growth strategy has been developed in accordance with the long-term vision and aspirations of the country’s leadership. We have the mutual goal and collective mission of transforming Qatar into a knowledge-based economy by 2030, as well as to facilitate sustainable development for many generations to come. With this in mind, our investment and growth strategy has proven to be highly effective as it fulfils the ambitions of the country’s people and youth, thus allowing it to produce very positive outcomes and stand the test of time under the state’s new leadership.

In what ways is QF aiming to further diversify the economy to create competitive and challenging industries outside of the hydrocarbons sector?

AL MUHANNADI: QF established a research division in 2007 with the aim of developing a flourishing scientific community in the country. Since then, Qatar has grown into a leading centre for excellence in research and design (R&D) with a number of valuable research programmes and conferences throughout the year.

QF’s R&D initiatives cover a comprehensive range of programmes for youth to help them develop a keen interest in the fields of science and technology, and to motivate them to pursue higher education in challenging areas of research. By developing a conducive environment for high-quality research, QF has provided a host of meaningful opportunities for young talent to excel while working alongside expert scientists.

How would you assess the importance of human capital in creating a knowledge-based economy?

AL MUHANNADI: Nurturing human capital is a critical component of our work. We have made significant progress over the past decade in equipping Qatar’s youth with a range of practical skills to ensure success in their chosen fields of study. We have also provided students with numerous academic and vocational opportunities to increase their participation in the local workforce and advance the country’s economy.

QF has succeeded in harnessing national and regional talent by promoting an interest in lifelong learning and platforms for knowledge exchange. We have initiated and forged collaborations with respected global partners who share our values. This approach has been valuable and has helped us to cultivate the potential of students, academics, researchers and experts from both the public and private sectors. It is imperative to expose young Qataris to worthwhile experiences and collaborations that will help them become the country’s future leaders. Our aim is to carry on supporting homegrown innovations and to implement useful solutions to some of the nation’s most pertinent challenges, including water and energy security, as well as the global challenge of ensuring sustainable development.

To what extent is social development a priority for QF, in light of the unprecedented economic growth Qatar has experienced over the past decade?

AL MUHANNADI: QF’s community development initiatives are aimed at fostering a progressive society that is successfully undergoing a transformation towards a knowledge-based economy. At the same time, we are taking care to enhance our cultural life and protect Qatari heritage. It also addresses the immediate social needs in the community. The projects we embark on have all been created while keeping in mind the need to complement the nation’s Arab and Islamic culture.

For example, the Social Development Centre, a member of QF, runs targeted community programmes to help Qatari families achieve self-reliance and effectively contribute to the development of a healthy society.

Similarly, the Doha International Family Institute is engaged in conducting high-quality research and outreach on issues facing Arab families, and encourages knowledge exchange across an international network of researchers, policymakers and service providers.

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The Report: Qatar 2014

Economy chapter from The Report: Qatar 2014

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