Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, Chairperson of Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development, inaugurated the Joint Qatar Foundation Annual Research Forum and Arab Expatriate Scientists Network Symposium at Qatar National Convention Centre today.
The three-day forum brings together over 2,000 regional and international researchers, scientists and high-profile delegates. During this morning’s session, the Qatar National Research Strategy (QNRS) was unveiled.
In her opening speech, Her Highness Sheikha Moza highlighted the importance of utilising Qatar’s natural wealth by building upon the country’s human resources and scientific knowledge. She suggested that unsuccessful experiences in the past had cast a negative shadow on education and scientific research in the Arab world. For this reason, the real challenge today is not limited to financial or human resources, but in confirming the nation’s commitment and credibility.
Regardless of the difficulties, Her Highness shared her optimism with the audience and stressed that Arab nations must work together to restore confidence and to stand equal with their international counterparts in the field of research and innovation. She stressed that Qatar has already achieved some notable successes in this area, and called for closer partnerships to foster an environment conducive to scientific research and intellectual creativity.
Mr Faisal Alsuwaidi, President of Research and Development at Qatar Foundation, expressed his pride in launching the Qatar National Research Strategy and explained that it marks a crucial milestone in achieving Qatar’s National Vision 2030. He told the audience that the publication of the QNRS signifies the successful culmination of a highly participatory process that sought input from all national stakeholders and partners, including government, academia, and research institutes.
“We are pleased that Her Highness Sheikha Moza has endorsed this strategy and I am proud to join her and all of you to help launch it today,” said Mr Alsuwaidi. “The QNRS provides opportunities for researchers to network with one another and to find new research collaborators. It inspires collaboration for future research, within Qatar and with international collaborators, including the Arab Expatriate Scientists (AES) Network.”
The QNRS was developed to guide research and development (R&D) investments in Qatar and provides a national framework to align objectives with national priorities, while taking into consideration stakeholder capabilities and interests. It represents the first R&D sector-wide strategy in Qatar and defines five pillars or themes to achieve the country’s aspirations: Energy and Environment; Information and Computing Technology; Health and related Life Science and Technologies; Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities; as well as enterprise-wide interdisciplinary research and development.
Mr Alsuwaidi explained that strategic planning begins with a vision of where Qatar wants to be, and a realistic assessment of its strengths and weaknesses, in order to accurately identify research priorities during the short, medium, and long-terms.
He said, “Her Highness has served as an inspiration of our nation’s vision and our national research strategy. Our National Vision for 2030 seeks to advance human, social, economic and environmental development and sets priority for research and innovation in these areas.
“Our vision is for Qatar to be an international centre for research and development, excellence and innovation. Our mission within the national research strategy is to develop the capabilities of our people and institutions, and to build and maintain a competitive and diversified economy which will benefit not only Qatar but also the region and the larger world, since science has no borders.”
While focused on a specific set of strategic objectives, the QNRS has also been designed with rigorous systems in place for execution, monitoring and evaluation. “We have developed a new research strategy and strategic implementation plan for all of Qatar. The QNRS is a living document. We will review it annually with stakeholders and work together with them to refresh it as needed. We will align our investment with our strategy,” added Mr Alsuwaidi.
The strategy will be implemented by Qatar’s universities, research institutes, service providers, government, industry and funders. It is expected to nurture and enhance the cycle of innovation from university research through to commercialisation. Another of the strategy’s long-term goals is to increase the ratio of researchers in Qatar’s workforce by developing capabilities and building a competitive and diversified economy.
During the opening session, Professor Lord Ara Darzi, Chair of the Qatar National Cancer Research Committee, launched the National Cancer Research Strategy (NCRS) and presented the audience with the fundamental areas for its development. The key aim of the NCRS is to improve patient survival rates and quality of life.
Lord Darzi emphasised the importance of partners working together to ensure that Qatar becomes a world-leader in cancer research. The objective of the NCRS is to translate high quality research into clinical studies that will improve both prevention and personalised cancer medicines, and to strengthen Qatar’s role as a leading cancer research centre regionally and internationally.
This year more than 180 national, regional and international institutes have submitted 658 abstracts for expert review at the Annual Research Forum. This figure has doubled since last year, and includes a 40 percent increase in student submissions.