Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development (QF) and Qatar Museums (QM) have sealed a trio of agreements with American institutions - including the country's space agency - that span educational connections, water and climate change research, sport, and heritage preservation.
A statement issued by QF said that they include a partnership between QF, QM, and the Smithsonian Institute, the world's largest museum and research complex; as well as the announcement of a Mission Concept Formulation Study between QF member Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU) and NASA to analyse the impact of rising sea levels and their effect on Qatar, and how changing climates affect the world's arid regions. Meanwhile, a further agreement will see two members of the Fulbright Scholars Program in the US spend a semester in Qatar to conduct research at HBKU's research institutes.
By partnering with the Smithsonian Institution, QF and the US organization will combine to building knowledge and skills, and share experiences, in innovation and STEM education at K-12 level; promote connections between sport and science through public engagement activities ahead of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022; and work together to preserve heritage documents, explore opportunities to co-develop and deliver digital education, and look at forming sustainability-focused research collaborations.
The MoU will also see QM and the Smithsonian Institute explore collaborations to mark the Qatar-US Year of Culture 2021, and share knowledge in areas including cultural innovation, digital literacy, digitizing museum collections, and e-learning; as well as organizing conferences and joint training programs, and organizing the Woven Treasures Exhibition at the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery in Washington DC in 2021, which will showcase textiles from Qatar's Museum of Islamic Art.
Through the collaboration between QF and NASA, researchers from the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory's Earth Science Program and Qatar Environment and Energy Research Institute at HBKU will work together on a project to design a mission to probe beneath the sand dunes and ice sheets of some of the planet's driest places.
The project reflects the need for greater understanding of aquifer systems to support Qatar's water security goals, and will also provide new knowledge about the effects of rising water levels due to melting polar ice caps. The latter is of critical importance for Qatar, where most urban areas are only a meter above sea level.
During their semester at QF in 2021, the two Fulbright scholars will work on research projects and teach at HBKU, with their areas of expertise being Alzheimer's disease treatments and hydrology, and the application of Artificial Intelligence in civil and environmental engineering.
In this context, President of Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU) Dr. Ahmad M. Hasnah, who represented QF and signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Smithsonian Institution, said "For Qatar Foundation (QF), partnerships and connections with the US are long-established, and immeasurably valued," adding "from the leading US universities who partner with QF and have branch campuses within our Education City development in Doha, to the myriad research collaborations between our scientists and their US counterparts, these partnerships truly demonstrate how knowledge transcends borders."
"To continuously develop the education we offer, maximize the impact of the research and innovation we deliver, and foster the cross-cultural understanding that makes such an essential contribution to a more harmonious world, QF and HBKU believe it is vital that we build bridges of collaboration, partnership, and knowledge exchange - benefiting each other by sharing with one another," he said, adding that "this belief is reflected both in our existing collaborations with partners in the US, and in those we have now announced at the Qatar-US Strategic Dialogue."
On the partnership between HBKU and NASA, Dr. Hasnah said that "this agreement coincides perfectly with our commitment to exploring and establishing joint degree programs with US institutions, not to mention enhancing student exchange and mobility," adding "we would like to host more US students at QF, and enable more Qatari students and scholars from QF to study in the US."
For his part, Chief Executive Officer at Qatar Museums (QM) Ahmad Musa Al-Namla said "Qatar Museums' partnership with the Smithsonian - a global and esteemed cultural institution - paves the way for Qatar and the US to further strengthen their ties and collaborate in the fields of arts and culture," adding that "this collaboration will create exceptional opportunities for knowledge transfer and exchange between both nations as QM works to promote Qatar's national heritage beyond its borders and nurture a thriving cultural landscape for an engaged society."
The signing of the agreements took palace on the sidelines of the meetings of the third Qatar-US Strategic Dialogue that was held over two days in Washington DC this week, building on the established bilateral relationship between the two countries and opening up opportunities for the two countries to embark on new collaborations.
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