Grand Opening Ceremony of Sidra Medicine

Doha, Qatar, 12 November 2018

Good evening.

Welcome to the Grand Opening Ceremony of Sidra Medicine tonight, on the eve of the World Innovation Summit for Health (WISH). Both the summit and this opening falls on Doha Healthcare Week. Together, all these events indicate the country’s commitment to the health sector.

Ladies and gentlemen,

In the context of development, we have in Qatar visions of the future for all the different fields and sectors. Our vision in health dates back to the day when we first thought of hosting international prestigious universities, including Weil Cornell Medicine – Qatar in 2001, as a well-established producer of academic and medical knowledge.

In 2011, we launched the National Health Strategy, aimed at “developing a comprehensive, world-class health care system that is accessible to everyone.” Then, we worked to cultivate an academic and research culture encompassing all healthcare centers in Qatar, and to build a collaborative relationship between these centers and Weil Cornell Medicine – Qatar in order to benefit from the college’s knowledge and expertise, and, ultimately, support the National Health Strategy. Since 2004, this relationship resulted in increased levels of collaboration in research, academia and training, as consolidated by the agreement between Hamad Medical Corporation and Weil Cornell Medicine – Qatar.

I would be remiss not to mention the various college programs that support the medical profession, like the College of Health Sciences and the College of Pharmacy at Qatar University, the School of Health Science at the College of the North Atlantic – Qatar, the Biological Sciences program at Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar, and the College of Health and Life Sciences at Hamad Bin Khalifa University. The work of these colleges and programs helps create and complete an ecosystem in line with the evolving nature of the medical field.

To develop quality services in the nursing sector, we brought the University of Calgary to Qatar, known for graduating highly qualified cadres into the nursing field. These efforts are at the core of what I call “professional security,” which is an important requirement for the country’s national security. In other words, the absence of qualified workers in any field or sector could majorly halt the country’s vital operations and duties at times of crises.

Next, at the height of these efforts, we established Sidra Medicine as a medical, academic and research institution, specifically dealing with genetic research in an effort to integrate with different areas of the healthcare system in Qatar, particularly with Hamad Medical Corporation and other healthcare institutions, to achieve a world-class standard in the country.

As a leading center for innovation and excellence in the field, Sidra Medicine's research capabilities helped transition the healthcare system in Qatar, ushering in a new era of healthcare. Indeed, Sidra Medicine is unique in its pioneering role in using robots for pediatric surgery, particularly in the Heart Center, as well as its contributions to scientific discoveries in diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and other serious illnesses.

Additionally, Sidra created a national genome database, in collaboration with the Qatar Genome Project, which will form the building blocks for “precision medicine,” and facilitate an exchange of knowledge that will allow us to understand diseases on a deeper level. 

I am pleased to announce the successful completion of the first phase of the Qatar Genome Project. We have completed whole genome sequencing of 10,000 Qataris. We have also developed the Qatari gene chip (Q chip), which carries the genetic information of each patient, in collaboration between Qatar Genome Project, Qatar Biobank, WCM-Q, as well as Hamad Medical Corporation and Sidra Medicine. Sidra also established an ecosystem for genomic research that put us on equal footing with global genome programs. Going forward, the Genome Project will be prioritized as a national health strategy named “Qatar Precision Medicine,” or “QPM,” which will be in partnership between Qatar Foundation and the Ministry of Public Health.

With that, we can say that Sidra Medicine is perhaps one of the most ambitious and far-reaching projects in Qatar over the past two decades. It has rapidly achieved positive impacts beyond national borders. It has become a regional destination of medical tourism for patients from the region and beyond.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Those familiar with Qatar, its leadership and its people know that we fully grasp the comprehensive meaning of development. We have and continue to work in concerted efforts to achieve progress in all areas, positioning Qatar at the vanguard of a future only visionaries can reach.

None of this would have been possible without the clear vision of our country’s leadership and their unwavering support for development projects that drive the pillars of the Qatar National Vision 2030.

Ladies and gentlemen,

We believe that sustainable development, and especially human development, guarantees the country’s security, stability and prosperity, especially in a time where violations infringe on the security, stability and prosperity of others through double moral standards and opportunistic maneuvering. As for us, we have always been careful not to be either of the two: We do not encroach on others nor adopt a double moral standard.

In the past, and onward into the future, we remain only concerned with scientific, research and human empowerment to achieve progress and development, which will make the country an impenetrable fortress – as enlightened minds are aware. 

Time has only served to validate our principles and approach. We remain unchanged.