Qatar forges ahead with science vision

Brian Owens visited Qatar to see how the tiny Gulf state is working to become a world leader in health and life sciences research as part of its broader national vision for 2030.

Qatar might be small, but it has big ambitions in several realms, including science. The Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development is the organisation charged with delivering the country’s research plans along with the rest of its National Vision for 2030, which aims to modernise the state and develop a strong knowledge economy to keep the country going when natural gas reserves eventually run out. The Foundation is a semi-private non-profit organisation, set up in 1995 to help transform Qatar from a petro-state into a leader in education, research, and the arts. It is headed by Sheika Moza bint Nasser Al Missned, one of the wives of the former emir, who takes a strong personal interest in the Foundation’s work, according to those who work there. “She has a strong commitment to health care globally and locally”, says Egbert Schillings, chief executive of the World Innovation Summit for Health, which is held in Qatar’s capital Doha each February.

Health and life sciences is one of the four scientific priorities the Foundation is focused on to realise the national vision—alongside energy and water, cyber security, and environmental research—and some see it as the most important. “The life sciences are definitely where the accent is”, says Schillings. Read more in The Lancet.

Qatar is a research bonanza for foreigners

Qatar’s heavy investment in medical research is attracting Canadians.

For Kim Critchley, dean of the University of Calgary’s Qatar campus, the biggest advantage to doing research in the tiny Arabian Gulf country is clear: the availability of research funding.

“You have this large funding pool, and less competition to access funds,” she says. “Your chance of being funded is much higher than it is in Canada.” Read more in CMAJ.