The Business Year

Saad Al Muhannadi

QATAR - Health & Education

Solid Groundwork

President, Qatar Foundation


Saad Al Muhannadi was appointed President of the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development in September 2013. His previous role was as Vice-President for Capital Projects and Facilities Management. He holds a degree in Architecture from the University of Miami and began his career with the Ministry of Municipality and Agriculture as Head of Design Development. He is also a founding member of the Board of Directors at Msheireb Properties.

Qatar Foundation (QF) has been an essential part of Qatar’s rise to prominence. What changes will your leadership bring to the organization’s strategy? I have been closely involved with the […]

Qatar Foundation (QF) has been an essential part of Qatar’s rise to prominence. What changes will your leadership bring to the organization’s strategy?

I have been closely involved with the operations and building of the QF since 1995. I believe that my experience and intrinsic understanding of the unique needs of my nation, its youth, and the vision and mission of QF will be vital in carrying forward the legacy of success and prominence that has been established by Qatar’s wise leadership and my predecessors at QF. My role as the new President of the QF is part of the natural evolution that takes place within a maturing organization. Our ongoing aim is to promote a culture of excellence in Qatar and to advance it by developing sustainable human capacity, as well as social and economic prosperity that can benefit the local and international community. In my earlier role as Vice-President of Capital Projects and Facilities, I worked alongside an energetic team to ensure the effective planning, design, construction, and maintenance of all QF buildings and supporting infrastructure on its 15 million sqm campus. The site today has the biggest collection of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)-certified buildings in the Middle East, which is an unprecedented achievement.

Becoming an R&D hub is one of Qatar’s key goals. What additional steps is the QF planning to take to achieve this in the coming years?

Qatar Foundation Research and Development (QF R&D) is spearheading this national endeavor as a world-class hub for technological innovation and prominent research institute operating at the frontier of science. QF R&D recently launched its first PhD program, entitled the Qatar Foundation Interdisciplinary Doctoral Program in Energy Sciences. This competitive doctoral program is a collaboration between QF R&D and Hamad bin Khalifa University (HBKU), the first to join the program, and will provide its graduates with an excellent platform for a successful career in the field of energy sciences. Through the Qatar National Research Fund (QNRF)—a member of QF—we run a number of funding programs aimed at providing opportunities for young researchers. QNRF recently launched the Graduate Student Research Awards (GSRA), a new funding program that will help to develop human capital in research for Qatar, and stimulate PhD programs within the country. At this year’s Annual Research Conference (QF ARC’13) ,we will once again be engaged in problem solving by bringing together renowned researchers, academics, and scientists with the aim of finding solutions to challenges outlined in the Qatar National Research Strategy (QNRS). Crucial themes will be explored and addressed, among which are the protection of Qatar’s cyber infrastructure, the development and deployment of solar energy solutions, the ensuring of sustainable food supply, and the support for Arabic culture, arts, heritage, media, and language.

Qatar Foundation has made extensive use of joint ventures and partnerships in past years. How effective has this strategy been, and how will you develop this approach in the future?

This approach has served us well, and we intend to continue collaborating with like-minded partners to advance the objectives outlined in Qatar National Vision 2030. Thanks in large part to the steadfast commitment and support of Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, Chairperson of QF, we have been able to develop the creative potential of our young people by collaborating and working with renowned institutions across the world. We actively seek to build new alliances and partnerships throughout the year by organizing networking opportunities, conferences, and gatherings that bring together academics, researchers, and experts from the public and private sectors. A few of our successful partnerships include the launch of an exclusive training program in partnership with the University of Oxford’s prestigious Saïd Business School earlier in 2013, which has been designed to enhance the expertise of our top-tier managers. The program has been carefully tailored to suit QF’s strategic objectives, and will help our leaders apply their problem-solving skills to address complex challenges. Our partnership with the Economist Group has also been fruitful, having flourished through a series of engaging discussion-based forums and events. Qatar Foundation’s partnership with FC Barcelona has also encouraged people all over the world to follow their passions through the pursuit of excellence in sports and education.

The environment is a major concern for countries across the globe, and the QF has made environmental sustainability central to its activities. How is the Foundation working to achieve a higher level of sustainability in Qatar, and what role will technology play in promoting it?

In December of 2012, the QF launched a strategic partnership with the globally renowned Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), to set up the region’s pioneering Climate Change Research Institute and Global Climate Change Forum in Doha. Some of the important research topics to be explored by the new institute include water systems, ecosystems, food production, public health, and sustainable urban development. The institute will seek to fill critical gaps in research on mitigation, adaptation, and climate resiliency for key regions, such as the tropics, sub-tropics, and dry lands. Furthermore, through the efforts of the Qatar Green Building Council—a Qatar Foundation member—we are striving to effectively integrate green building practices in all of our developments, which is a true testament to Qatar’s growth and advancement in the field. The unique student complex at QF is a perfect example of sustainable living. It has been equipped with solar-paneled roofs and wind turbines that generate energy in 10-kilometer gusts or above. Its 12 buildings make up the highest concentration of independently registered platinum LEED buildings as acknowledged by the US Green Building Council, and the only student housing complex anywhere in the world to have achieved this benchmark.

The QF is well-known today for its achievements not only in education, but also research, health, culture, and even real estate and construction. How will you ensure that the Foundation’s contributions impact Qatar’s economy and culture?

The mission of our organization is to unlock human potential. Our main priorities have been designed to serve a national purpose and to have a widespread impact on Qatar’s economy and culture. At QF, creativity, intellect, and critical thinking are uppermost considerations, and ensuring the development of human capital will remain our key focus. The transformation to a knowledge economy is progressing well, and we have made significant headway over the past decade. I believe that by equipping Qatari youth with every opportunity possible and offering them a wide range of resources to tap into their potential, we can ensure their increased participation in the workforce and in the development of the national economy.



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