QATAR: Launch highlights research focus

The growing role of research in the Gulf States will be highlighted with the official launch of Qatar's multi-million dollar science and technology park next week. The region's nations are acutely aware of the need to ready themselves for life after their oil resources run out, and research and higher education are playing a key role in those preparations.

Qatar's science and technology park was opened five years ago and has benefited from more than US$800 million investment from the Qatar Foundation and the park's 21 corporate partners. The oil-rich nation clearly sees the park's official opening on 16 March as an opportunity to draw attention to its research and technology efforts.

It has promised a glitzy event with guests including the founder of Virgin, Sir Richard Branson, General Electric Chief Executive Jeff Immelt, Shell's Executive Director gas and power, Linda Cook, and Cambridge University's Pro-vice-chancellor for research, Professor Ian Leslie.

Publicity for the event bills the opening as "a milestone in the development of Qatar as a thriving knowledge and research hub".

"Through facilities, services and support programs, QSTP provides an optimal environment for local and global organisations to undertake research and commercialisation that will create a vibrant R&D community which will benefit Qatar's society and economy."
It says the technology park is an integral part of Qatar's National Vision 2030 which aims to transform Qatar into one of the world's most advanced countries within two decades.

President of the Qatar Foundation, Dr Fathy Saoud, said the park's inauguration was a landmark event in Qatar's journey towards a sustainable post-carbon economy. "It is heartening to see the benefits of a coordinated approach to developing this country's greatest resource - the potential of its people," Saoud said.

The park's business partners include EADS, ExxonMobil, GE, Microsoft and Shell. It is located alongside campuses housing the outposts of universities including Carnegie Mellon, Texas A&M, and Weill Cornell.