Date established: 1995

Main business sector: Education

Chairwoman: Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser al-Misned

Tel: (+974) 4 454 0000


Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development is an independent non-profit organisation that was set up in 1995 by Qatar’s then-emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani to lead the state’s transformation into a modern, knowledge-based economy by 2030.

It is supported by an endowment funded by the country’s enormous hydrocarbons revenues, and is governed by a six-member board of trustees and a board of directors. Sheikh Hamad’s consort and mother of the current ruler, Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser al-Missned, chairs the organisation and is the driving force behind its many initiatives. Qatar Foundation is headquartered at Education City, its flagship development in western Doha.

Qatar Foundation’s activities are organised into three main areas: education; science and research; and community development. Each division is led by its own president. The foundation’s education arm has focused on introducing a Western model of education into Qatar as an alternative to the state-run system. Its education initiatives are focused on a single site at Education City. In 1996, it established the private, co-educational Qatar Academy, which offers teaching from pre-school age to university entrance level.

Qatar Foundation has also partnered with Western universities to fund the opening of branch campuses in Doha, specifically targeting those that provide the skills needed in a knowledge-based economy. Six US universities, France’s HEC and the UK’s UCL opened between 1998 and 2011.

Education City also houses the centrepiece of Qatar Foundation’s research activities: Qatar Science & Technology Park (QSTP). It is a $600m innovation centre for the development and commercialisation of technology. QSTP provides world-class research facilities for international firms and also offers support to start-up technology companies.

Qatar Foundation’s $2.3bn, 400-bed Sidra Medical & Research Centre has been set up with a $7.9bn endowment to focus on children and women’s health. It is hiring about 2,000 nurses, 600 physicians and 800 allied health professionals ahead of its planned 2015 opening.

Qatar’s government has pledged to allocate 2.8 per cent of the country’s annual GDP to support research. Based on a total GDP of $199.9bn in 2010, this amounts to about $5.6bn a year. Qatar Foundation is responsible for disbursing this money and its research division allocates funds to projects both locally and internationally, provided at least half of the research is conducted in Qatar.

Qatar Foundation’s community activities are wide-ranging and have included the establishment of a diabetes centre, the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra and the Al-Jazeera Children’s Channel television station. It also regularly stages lectures, debates and career fairs.

In addition to these activities, the foundation is involved in a major regeneration programme in central Doha. The Msheireb project entails the revival of a 31-hectare area, including construction of more than 100 buildings. The scheme is being developed by Msheireb Properties, a subsidiary of Qatar Foundation.

The foundation also has stakes in several other government-backed companies, such as gas shipping firm Nakilat.

Education City

Estimated value $7.5bn

Located on the western edge of Doha, Education City covers a 1,500-hectare plot and houses most of the initiatives Qatar Foundation has backed. These include eight branch campuses of international universities, Qatar Science & Technology Park, the $2.3bn Sidra Medical & Research Centre, a convention centre, an equestrian centre, a diabetes centre, the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra and the Al-Jazeera Children’s Channel television station.

Since 2006, Qatar Foundation has launched more than $6.7bn-worth of construction projects at Education City. The schemes are managed by Astad, a joint-venture project management company formed by the foundation and state energy firm Qatar Petroleum.

Qatar Foundation has enlisted world-renowned architects to design the buildings at the site in order to create practical but aesthetically striking, modern facilities that reflect both the surrounding environment and Qatar’s Islamic heritage.

The masterplan for the campus was drawn up by Japanese architect Arata Isozaki, who also designed several buildings on the campus. Sustainability has been a central element of the projects and Qatar Foundation has set itself the target of earning LEED green-building ratings for all its future developments.

The site is also intended to have a main railway station, which will connect a light rail system for travel within the campus to the Doha metro planned by the government. The station will also allow access to the GCC railway when it is built.

The full scheme is due for completion in 2020.