Qatar - Education City
Education City Convention Center

Qatar - Background Information
Before the Qatar Foundation had a hand in the educational system, children were taught without a formal system in the traditional “katateeb” schools that focused mainly on religion. Since then a blaze of industrial growth and economic resources led the Emir of Qatar to make education one of the top priorities for the younger generations to become proper global citizens. Along with free healthcare, the nation also provided free education for every child.

The first accomplished University was established in 1973, the University of Qatar. This institution would later yield results in terms of the literacy rate. In Qatar it rose from 74% in 1985 to 81% in 2001.By this time total number of members attending was 150 students and by 2005/2006 it grew to 7,660 male and female students, 1/6 of the qualified Qatari population. The University of Qatar was founded with four colleges in 1977: Education; Humanities & Social Sciences; Sharia, Law, & Islamic Studies; and Science. In 1980, the College of Engineering began along with the College of Business & Economics in 1985. Over the years the University has experienced a healthy increase of new resources, world-renowned faculty and administrators, and expanding academic programs.
-(Daniella Mora-Balbo)

History of Education City

Education city is an innovative educational community located on the outskirts of Qatar’s capital city Doha. Created by the nonprofit group Qatar Foundation in 2001, it is an eight and a half square mile enclave of instructors, students, and other professionals who strive to pursue learning and leadership skills.

It is home to six major U.S. universities, one Qatar university, two K-12 campuses, and several research/science centers. Several billion dollars have already been invested in the project, so that students have access to the highest caliber universities and state of the art facilities.

The founder of the Qatar Foundation, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, developed Education City as part of Qatar’s cooperation in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). The GCC is a network of Middle Eastern countries that include Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman and Bahrain. Their goal is ensuring that all their citizens have access to educational opportunities. In doing this, they will create what Skeikh Hamad calls a “skilled human capital base” that will serve as a boost to the economy of the Middle East (Qatar Foundation). Education City accepts students from all countries in the GCC. Sheikh Hamad's wife, Sheikha Mozah Bint Nasser Al Missned serves on the Chair of the Qatar Foundation, and played a key role in the development of Education City.

The main goal of the Qatar Foundation when they developed Education City was to create a society of advanced learners as a sort of 'currency' in the world marketplace. According to Sheikha Mozah Bint Nasser Al Missned, "in this sense, globalization is the architect, which constructs academic bridges across cultural and geographical landscapes" (Quatar Foundation). Not only does Education City prepare students for their future careers, but it strives to make them more tolerant of other cultures/people.
-(Sarah Davis)

Schools and Research Centers
The six U.S. universities that have branches in Education City are:
  1. Carnegie Mellon University - Since 2004 CMU-Q has offered degree programs in computer science and business administration. In the fall of 2008 they introduced information systems as their third degree program. They are admired for their ICT infrastructure, which enables students to learn how to develop effective infrastructure for their country and/or future company.
    Students at SFS - Qatar
  2. Georgetown University School of Foreign Service - Established in 2005, SFS - Qatar offers a major in international politics, ultimately leading to a Bachelor of Science in Foreign Service. This degree specifically emphasizes conflicts and resolutions for the Middle East/Gulf region. Georgetown University is America's oldest Catholic and Jesuit university, so its establishment in the mainly Islamic Qatar demonstrates how the Middle East is moving away from its traditional conservative views of the Westernized world.
  3. Northwestern University - NU- Q opened in 2008 and offers bachelor degrees in Journalism and Communication. Qatar is rapidly becoming a major media destination, and this university prepares students for creative careers in the entertainment/media industry.
  4. Texas A&M University - TAMUQ started accepting students in 2003 and offers undergraduate degrees in electrical, chemical, mechanical and petroleum engineering. Starting in 2007, they also offer master programs in engineering and science. Their state of the art classrooms and facilities provide and excellent environment for students to excell.
  5. Virginia Commonwealth University - Built in 1998, VCUQ was the first university established in Education City. They are the area's only art school, and offer degrees in fashion design, graphic design, interior design, and painting/printmaking. They also offer a Master of Fine Arts degree in Design Studies. VCUQ hosts many annual art conferences and festivals for the Middle Eastern area.
  6. Weill Cornell Medical College - WCMC-Q was built in 2001 and is the first medical school in all of Qatar. They offer Pre-medical and Medical Programs, and they also work with the Qatar Foundation and the National Health Authority to ensure the health of their community members.
There is also one native Qatar university:
  1. Qatar Faculty of Islamic Studies - QFIS was established in 2007 and offers a Masters degree in Islamic Studies.
The three institutions of primary learning in Education City are:
  1. Academic Bridge Program - This educational center was founded in 2001 to help secondary or "high school" students make the leap to the university level. They traditionally take only the brightest students and help them prepare for university life in any of Education City's universities or universities
    Students at The Learning Center
    throughout the world.
  2. The Learning Center - Established as a center in 1996 and k-12 school in 2002, this educational center aims to help students suffering with academic problems. They offer smaller class sizes, therapy/counseling services, and an Alternative Academic Plan for students who find the traditional class setting to be too confusing.
  3. Qatar Academy - As the first unit built in Education City in 1996, Qatar Academy serves as the traditional k-12 school. They encourage "learning through inquiry" and have an excellent community service outreach program to keep their students actively involved in the community. It is the academy's goal to have each student enter a university upon graduation.
There are also several research and industry centers:
  1. Rand-Qatar Policy Institute - The American born Rand Corporation, together with the Qatar Foundation, set up a center in Education City to help solve policy and public service problems for areas in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia. Accourding to the Qatar Foundation's website, "RQPI works closely with decision-makers in examining complex public policy issues and developing sound action plans."
  2. Sidra Medical and Research Center - Opening sometime later this year, this teaching and research hospital will help students at the Weill Cornell University attain their medical degrees while taking care of the health of their community.
    QSTP Site Layout
  3. Qatar Science and Technology Park - This 135,000 square foot science center offers students ample laboratory and research space to develop innovative technology. The center also encourages entrepenuers and buisness people from around the world to move their company's technology research to the area.
  4. Qatar National Research Fund - This center offers researchers not only the venue to study their programs, but the option of competative funding as well. It is open to students, faculty, and even private sector scientists and business people, so that they may compete with other research projects for financial help and funding.

If you'd like to learn more about the Qatar Foundation or any of the amenities in Education City, their website ( provides excellent information.
-(Sarah Davis)
Global Impact
Of the many words describing Education City in Qatar, revolutionary seems to be the most popular. This program established by the Emir and his wife, was built to cater to the educational needs of the younger generations of Qatar and neighboring countries. The gesture was seen as a shock because of the liberal stance Qatar has on the spread of western civilization. With the ever-improving economy, higher educational skills became more demanding, and the American institutions were seen as the elite. There has been much speculation of the embrace of American institutions in the Middle East given their relationship in the past, however this cross-cultural experiment seems to bridge the gap.

Women tend to mostly be met with conflict when dealing with an education given to both men and women. Local traditions say that woman cannot mix with men who are not relatives outside of the home. However Education City does not cater to those customs, and for the first time men and women can compete for a higher education. This is the catalyst to transform education all throughout the Middle East, and to provide top education to those who want to succeed as a global citizen.
-(Daniella Mora-Balbo)

Qatar is renowned for being a gas and oil rich country, with the third largest gas reserve in the entire world. Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, along with many non-profit groups in the area, are trying to change that image through emphasis on education. They want to invest in and create a knowledge-based economy, so that they diversify their economy with human capital in addition to financial capital. They want to ensure that they are not a nation heavily dependent on energy resources, especially in the future when gas and oil are replaced with newer innovations.

Education City presents beneficial economic opportunities not only to the Qatari people, but others as well. The six U.S. universities that opened branch schools there have successfully globalized and heightened the prestige the American University System. This is beneficial to the U.S. economy, as our higher education facilities are being sought halfway across the world for their excellence. Having a reputable university system is important in developing the knowledge base of the U.S. as well. Also, only about 50% of the students in Education City are from Qatar. The rest are students from all over the Middle East, breaking cultural and geographical boundaries in their search for higher education. When they return home, they will take some of the culture of Qatar with them, thus spreading the idea of power through learning. Globalization with education is like a ripple effect, spreading outward from the initial point, which in this case is Education City.

If education and learning can spread outward from Qatar into other Middle Eastern nations, it might even be the catalyst for real social reform. Many people believe the best way to ‘win’ the war in Iraq and Afghanistan is to educate the people. That way they can learn about Westernized culture in an academic setting, and come to find that they can take a lot of positive things from it.
-(Sarah Davis)
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Sarah Davis

Daniella Mora-Balbo