QF Annual Research Conference 2016

Doha, 22 March 2016


As-salamalaykum (Peace be upon you)
Ladies and gentlemen,

This conference raises many pertinent questions: Why scientific research? Why does Qatar choose to invest in scientific research and indeed count on its investments? What is the correlation between scientific research and development? As we address these questions, we realize the increase or the decline of productivity rates and manpower numbers based on the investment in research and innovation.

Scientific research is a renewable and sustainable wealth. It is an integral part of natural wealth, and equals it in importance. Renewable wealth is capable of self-evolution and renewal as necessary. It is also sustainable when its impact on its domain and surroundings lead to spontaneous dynamics of sustainability; meaning that scientific progress, considered as wealth, generates continuous ideas, values and products. Therefore natural wealth, which is destined to deplete, should lay the basis for knowledge wealth that is inexhaustible.

The renaissance experiences of many modern countries prove that the remarkable development seen in advanced countries, is built on the foundation of quality education and systematic funding of scientific research. This argument falls into "scientific research economics".  As we live in a time of exchanging expertise and replicating best practices, we must learn from the experiences of countries that have successfully excelled in building projects through the development of the scientific research sector. 

Norway and Singapore are two examples similar to our country. Norway has used its oil wealth to meet the requirements of comprehensive development through a twin track approach: economic development particularly through the oil sector, and research development. This is the approach we are seeking to pursue in Qatar, as we have natural resources similar to those of Norway. 

Singapore has no natural resources. It started its renaissance with education and attracted private sector investments in its scientific research, leading to a flourishing business environment with enhanced infrastructure. As a result the country has become a destination for world investments and one of the most successful development experients. This is also what the State of Qatar has done.

The strategies, plans and mechanisms we have developed demonstrate a systematic awareness of the conditions required for progress, namely unlimited support and prioritization for scientific research, as well as a sustainable advancement of scientific, knowledge and economic structures. This has been in line with human development sustainability - passing through various stages: from oil and gas, to infrastructure development, and finally to the stage sustainable diversification.

As such, Qatar Foundation has fulfilled its present mission, whilst being mindful of its future goals. This forward-looking vision requires increases in the levels of scientific research in order to create progress, both at country level, as well as in terms of society, economy, rank or role.
All scientific research funding is directed towards its intended destination, in line with the pillars of Qatar National Vision 2030. The knowledge-based economy is no longer an option but a destiny. Changes will occur in the structure of our labor force once the necessary infrastructure is in place. In this sense, we foresee a reduced need for manpower and a corresponding need for increased competencies and skills.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Based on realistic data, I firmly believe that Qatar is one of the developing countries best qualified to invest in scientific research in line with the requirements of progress and in addressing various development challenges. All the components of comprehensive development based on scientific research are available in Qatar, particularly: the political will, quality education, financial resources; research and development think tanks; as well as international scientific and academic partnerships. Over the past decade, Qatar Foundation has established the basis of our system for research in the country.

Yet the process of progress, as shown by our predecessors, requires patience. It is a long-term process that requires a combination of the necessary conditions and endurance. We need to recognize that we might fail occasionally, but in the end success will ensue. This is the norm in the quest for success.

Economic development directly impacts all other development. Hence we must direct adequate and wide-ranging research investment towards economic development via applied research. This can be attained through a broad alliance with concerned agencies in the public and private sectors so as to align the research sector with the requirements of qualitative development in other sectors, and to respond to the terms of renaissance at all levels.

However, comparison with Western and East Asian countries demonstrates insufficient expenditure on scientific research in Arab countries, especially by the private sector. This problem needs to be seriously addressed without delay.

We must bring together all efforts in the country that support the scientific research sector. It is the only gateway capable of constructing a diverse and sustainable knowledge-based economy, and enabling us to move safely towards the future without fearing for the depletion of our natural resources. 
Once we have other wealth in hand, we will be proud of it and we will be able to realize the essence, meaning and relevance of scientific research.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Over the last two decades, we have lived in the present while looking ahead to the future, recognizing the scale of its challenges, which we face by laying the basic pillars for the construction of a knowledge-based society on a solid ground of a knowledge-based economy. 
To pursue this journey, which will bring with it other challenges, we must always ensure that we have answers to questions of the future.

I wish your conference success.

As-salamalaykum (Peace be upon you)