Joint Qatar Foundation Annual Research Forum and Arab Expatriates Scientist Network Symposium

Doha, 21 October 2012

Ladies and gentlemen,

We still remember the first Arab Expatriate Scientists Network Symposium and how we were torn between hope and concern.

There was hope that we could invest some of our natural resources to create scientific wealth, a knowledge-based economy and a research base.

Also, there was the concern that this project could fade away and go back to being just a dream, considering the setbacks our nation has had in the past, which still cast a disappointing shadow over the course of education and scientific research in our Arab World.

When we hosted the inaugural symposium in 2006, we had a discussion about the potential challenges that scientific research projects could face in our Arab world. But we concluded that the real challenge is not limited to financial or human resources, but how serious and credible our endeavors are. Most importantly, how we could restore confidence in ourselves, so we can stand as equal to others in the realm of research and innovation.

I believe we all have won the first round of that challenge. We are very proud of your relentless efforts that helped shape the vision and objectives of the inaugural symposium and turn them into research institutions such as Qatar Biomedical Research Institute, Qatar Environment and Energy Research Institute, Qatar Computing Research Institute and Sidra Medical and Research Center.

We definitely won that first round, and passed the test to prove our serious and credible endeavors. This experience breathed life into the Arab world and it was an inspiring journey that made us more determined.

After the nation restored its faith in the potentials and capabilities of its youth, we are now facing the bigger challenge of how to turn that dream into reality.

How could all these efforts come together to create a scientific environment that stimulates research and creativity, and how could scientific research and intellectual innovation become an integral part of our nation’s culture and civilization?

To achieve all these goals, we require united efforts and wider support by everyone. As you are well aware, Qatar is committed to allocating 2.8% of its GDP to the fields of research, technology and innovation, with Qatar Foundation being tasked with managing these resources.

Generous finance of this scale needs investment mechanisms capable of using it in the best possible way. Therefore, Qatar National Research Strategy plays an important role in accommodating this need, and has become a reference mechanism to categorize the forms of research spending.

The local dimension of the strategy is focused on dealing with the various questions and issues concerning the society and the State of Qatar with regards to health, education, environment, energy, humanities, arts, etc.

On the other hand, the regional and global dimension depends on the strategy projects to prepare Qatar to become an incubator for innovative ideas and exporter of innovative products.

It’s important to reiterate that the strategy of scientific research in Qatar, despite prioritizing the local economical needs and the Qatar National Vision 2030, is also concerned with the scientific renaissance in the Arab world.

It seeks to create and foster a culture of scientific research, and help make it a positive and competitive culture by discovering promising Arab youth and adopting their scientific talents, as well as providing them with the technical and material support to further develop their inventions.

The strategy is also supporting the investments made to fund Arab research projects, with 78 research projects funded so far for 53 institutes in 12 Arab countries, totalling more than $68 million.

We care about that direction, and we realize the importance of the Arab integration in the field of scientific research in order to face the challenges that almost seem to be identical and intertwined in our Arabic region, to eventually find ways for economic and social recovery in the Arab world.