Rabi Mohtar, Executive Director of Qatar Energy and Environment Research Institute, Qatar Foundation
More than 600 science journalists, reporters, researchers and academics will engage in discussions on a range of critical topics in science writing facing Qatar and the larger Arab world at the World Conference of Science Journalists 2011 (WCSJ2011) next week. Conference delegates will attend plenary sessions, workshops and networking events where they will discuss reporting on food security, health epidemics, the 2011 Arab revolutions and climate change, among other controversial scientific issues, in what will be the conference’s first edition in the Middle East. The conference will run from June 27th to June 30th at the Qatar Foundation Student Center.
Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development invited the conference to Doha, making this one of the largest events Qatar Foundation has hosted on its campus. Hundreds of delegates, from more than 75 countries will come to Qatar to discuss the most pressing issues facing reporting in the Middle East and the world at large in the areas of science, technology, health and environment. Participants will have the opportunity to witness first-hand the advances that Qatar is making in the country’s core platforms of medicine, biotechnology, information and communication technologies, environmental sciences, molecular sciences and nanotechnology.
A number of organizations in Qatar will be sponsoring and participating in this year’s conference. Qatar Science & Technology Park, a member of Qatar Foundation, will sponsor a panel discussion on utilizing the latest technology for economic and human development in the fields of healthcare, sport and safety. Students from Northwestern University’s journalism program in Qatar will relay conference news and sound bites of the discussions during the sessions in a daily online newsletter.
A panel titled “Energy, Water and Food Nexus: The Science of Optimization and Sustainability” will explore how research, innovation and technological breakthroughs will affect global energy, water and food production and consumption. The Qatar National Food Security Programme, sponsoring the panel, will address regional challenges in food and resource security.
Dr. Rabi Mohtar, Executive Director of Qatar Foundation’s Qatar Energy and Environment Research Institute and a speaker on the panel, commented, “Accurate and effective journalism is just as important as scientific research in addressing the pressing environmental challenges that face our region. Often, lack of public awareness of proper conservation of water, energy, and food resources can compound already difficult issues such as natural resource scarcity and management. We hope that by holding this conference in Qatar, science journalists in the region will be better equipped to fill this informational gap and help in disseminating scientifically-based conservation practices.”
Nadia El-Awady, President of the World Federation of Science Journalists, commented: “For the first time, the World Conference of Science Journalists is coming to the Arab region in a culmination of years of work by the Arab Science Journalists Association to promote professionalism in reporting on science among Arab journalists. A significant delegation of Arab journalists will be participating in the conference this year and we hope it will be a great opportunity for them to exchange knowledge and skills with colleagues from all around the world.”“We are very grateful that Qatar has offered to hold the conference—this demonstrates Qatar's ongoing support for innovation, science and journalism,” she added.
The 2011 conference was originally scheduled to take place in Cairo, but WCSJ2011 organizers made the decision to relocate the conference following the historic changes that began taking place in Egypt earlier this year. WCSJ2011 organizers received many offers of support upon making this decision, and ultimately accepted Qatar Foundation’s invitation to hold the conference in Doha.
“This conference is a great opportunity for writers and science journalists from all over the world, and in particular from the Arab world, to develop the skills necessary to address the various significant scientific issues that face us in the modern age,” added Nehal Lasheen, President of the Arab Science Journalists Association.
The Arab Science Journalists Association is co-hosting this year’s World Conference of Science Journalist in cooperation with the National Association of Science Writers of the United States. Both organizations are part of the World Federation of Science Journalists, which launched the world’s first online course in science journalism in Doha in February 2008 as part of its Science Journalism Cooperation project (SjCOOP) aimed at training science journalists in Africa and the Arab world.
The decision to bring the WCSJ2011 to Doha reflects Qatar’s national vision for fostering science and research innovation in the Arab world. Qatar Foundation’s diversified efforts to develop and unlock human potential in the fields of science and research include the Qatar Foundation Annual Research Forum, the Qatar Science and Leadership Program and the Stars of Science pan-Arab reality-TV program. In line with Qatar’s National Vision 2030 for a sustainable future, Qatar Foundation is particularly focused on providing support and encouragement for research in the core platforms of medicine, biotechnology, information and communication technologies, environmental sciences, molecular sciences and nanotechnology.