Top Arab scientists from across the globe will convene in Doha this October to present research designed to benefit Qatar and the region. These scientists, including field leaders such as Dr. Omar Yaghi and Dr. Magid Abou-Gharbia, are assembling for the third Annual Research Forum, co-hosted by Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development (QF) and the Arab Expatriate Scientists (AES) Network from 21 to 23 October 2012.
“This forum will showcase the invaluable contributions that Arab scientists around the world have made to Qatar’s research development –from laying the roadmap for establishing QF’s three research institutes to collaborating in ongoing research to solve some of the most pressing issues in our country and region.” said Mr. Faisal Al Suwaidi, President of Research and Development at QF.
“Our long-term goal, through initiatives like the AES Network and the Annual Research Forum, is to draw Arab scientific talent back to the region,” Al Suwaidi added.
The focus of this year’s forum is on unveiling the Qatar National Research Strategy, with prominent scientists of Arab origin presenting research in the fields that Qatar has identified as national priorities: health and biomedicine; energy and environment; computing and information technology; arts, behavioral and social sciences, humanities, and Islamic studies.
Dr. Magid Abou-Gharbia, Associate Dean for Research and Director of the Moulder Center for Drug Discovery Research at Temple University’s School of Pharmacy, has been instrumental in the establishment of the Qatar Biomedical Research Institute, and is now helping to formulate the Qatar National Research Strategy in the area of biomedicine.
“It has been a great honor to be able to use my knowledge and experience alongside my Qatari colleagues to contribute to the scientific advancements underway in Qatar” said Dr. Abou-Gharbia, who also serves as Chair of the Qatar Foundation-Arab Expatriate Scientists Joint Committee (QAJC) and lectures on biomedical topics at Qatar University and Hamad Medical Corporation. “In the past, our labs have hosted Qatar’s scientists for training in drug discovery. I look forward to attending the Forum in October, and continuing work with QF in several capacities related to science and biomedical research.”
Another member of QAJC, Dr. Amr Elnashai, is a highly-regarded scientist in the field of engineering. Fellow of the UK Royal Academy of Engineering and the William and Elaine Hall Endowed Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Illinois, Dr. Elnashai commented on his decision to join the AES Network and contribute to Qatar’s research development, saying: “The Arab Expatriate Scientists Network is the conduit for channeling the vast expertise of distinguished Arab expatriate researchers and educators to help propel the inspired vision of Qatar Foundation for the region and the world. I bring all that I learned and developed in 23 years in the UK, and 12 years in the US at the forefront of academic leadership, in service of Qatar and the region.”
One of the world’s most cited chemists and leading authorities on nanoscience, Dr. Omar Yaghi, is also lending his considerable expertise to Qatar while serving as Director of Molecular Foundry at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. He is currently working with the Qatar Environment and Energy Research Institute on a project related to nano and materials research for energy efficiency and storage.
QEERI is also working closely with Dr. Abdelmonem Beitelmal, Adjunct Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Santa Clara University. Commenting on his experience working with researchers in Qatar, Dr. Bietelmal said, “I believe that through key international collaborations, the skilled team at QEERI has the ability to advance the state of science and engineering locally and potentially compete with the best research institutions around the world.”
“I am personally looking forward to continuing and growing the extent of my involvement with QEERI,” added Dr. Beitelmal, who is already participating in QEERI’s research to develop new technology for storing solar energy to overcome power interruptions in the sun’s absence.
Dr. Dina Katabi is one of the key Arab expatriate scientists working with Qatar’s research community in the field of computing sciences. A professor in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), she recently helped broker a seven-year research collaboration between her university and the Qatar Computing Research Institute (QCRI).
“This collaboration is sure to propel QCRI into a higher level of excellence and prominence,” commented Dr. Ahmed Elmagarmid, Executive Director of QCRI, who went on to congratulate Dr. Katabi for her team’s latest achievement:the MIT Technology Review has named their pioneering work on the Sparse Fast Fourier Transform among the 10 most important emerging technologies worldwide.
These examples of collaboration between AES Network members and research institutions in Qatar is exactly why the Network was created in the first place, said AES Network Director Dr. Nabeel Al-Salem. “Not only do our members commit to helping advance Qatar’s research initiatives to address the region’s needs, they also spread the word among the wider Arab expatriate scientific community to encourage a reversal of the brain-drain.”
“For this reversal to occur, it is not necessary for Arab expatriate scientists to relocate. In fact, the transfer of their expertise through collaborations with regional entities, while continuing their work abroad, is a proven and effective strategy,” added Dr. Al-Salem.
Additional members of the AES Network and QAJC who are currently working with Qatar’s research institutions include Dr. Karem Sakallah, a University of Michigan professor of electrical engineering and computer science; Dr. Hanadi Sleiman, a professor of chemistry at McGill University; and Dr. Majid Mehtali, Managing Director and Chief Scientific Officer of French biotechnology company Vivalis.
The history of the AES Network goes back to 2005, when Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser brought together select Arab expatriate scientists to help develop her vision for building a strong scientific research network in the Middle East, with Qatar as its hub. The 2012 Annual Research Forum celebrates this history, and looks to build upon it for continued progress.
“Local and regional research with relevance to Qatar will also be featured at the forum, with the deadline for abstracts approaching on 2 September,” said Dr. Dirar Khoury, who serves as Chair of the Annual Research Forum Program Committee.
The Annual Research Forum is a QF initiative rooted in the State of Qatar’s national strategy to foster a community of research excellence and world-class education.