Qatar has made use of its assets in a well-thought out strategy and the country is currently a leader in education, healthcare and several other areas in the region and beyond, remarked a leading Qatari entrepreneur in an exclusive interview with Gulf Times.

“Qatar is a leader in several areas because of the consistency of the successive generations of leadership in forming policies especially in education, health, sports, economic diversification and investment in people in ways that very few countries have done. To use these tools as soft power at the world stage, Qatar has played its cards extremely well,” said, Dr Khalid M al-Ali, a leading Qatari entrepreneur and an expert in education and technology.

Dr al-Ali, the only Qatari to have served with NASA, is of the view that economic diversification especially in the small business sector will empower the youth by providing several opportunities and employment openings.

He explained: “Small countries do not get so many cards to make use of. Whatever we have dealt with, we are able to play them well. I expect this momentum to continue and I have seen the leadership facing the tough times with amazing skills and strong vision. We can’t sit on the gas wealth forever as energy transitions are taking place. And we are going forward and charting a path in the diversification of the economy which is the key.”

As for Qatari youth and the Arab youngsters in general, Dr al-Ali noted that given an opportunity, they excel extremely well. He said that he was a judge for the popular Arabic edutainment programme, Stars of Science where the Arab youth had come out with excellent ideas and some of which have already been turned into realities.

“In Stars of Science, we have seen participants coming from very remote parts of Arab countries and perform well. It was heartening to see great minds with great ideas performing on a big stage and raise their actions to greater heights. This is what an opportunity can help fire the imagination of the youth. We need to find a common strategy and focus on the youth as a good chunk of the Arab population is young,” highlighted, Dr al-Ali.

The expert stated that the main challenge for the Arab youth is the economic and geopolitical issues as many countries pass through turbulent times. “A lot of turbulence is taking all around the region. There is also the lack of education facilities to empower the youth. From my experience at working in NASA for over 10 years and other organisations, when the Arab youth are given the opportunities they rise up. The issue is the absence of a platform for them to perform,” he continued.

Dr al-Ali pointed out that the current generation is well advanced making use of the latest tools to network. “With these capabilities they are also facing major challenges this time. More than 20% of the youth between 15 and 24 are unemployed. School and colleges are struggling to cop up with the changes as technology is moving fast and the graduates come and find that they don’t have the skillset to participate in the job market. It is a big challenge and one of the main concerns of the youth,” he added.
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