Apr. 19, 2016

Dr. Khalid Al-Subai


Dr. Khalid Al-Subai

Acting Executive Director , Qatar Environment and Energy Research Institute (QEERI)


Dr. Khalid Al-Subai joined QEERI in 2013 as the Scientific Director of Special Projects and became QEERI’s Acting Executive Director in October 2015. Dr. Al-Subai joined the Ministry of Industry in 1983 and in 1989 he joined Qatar Petroleum, where he worked for over 23 years. He served as the Director of Research Coordination and Compliance at Qatar Foundation’s Research Division from 2009-2012. He earned master’s degrees in petroleum engineering from the University of Alaska Fairbanks in 1989, and astronomy from the University of Sydney in 1999. He received his PhD in astrophysics from the University of St. Andrews in 2007.

How important is building QEERI's portfolio of international partnerships to furthering its objectives?

QEERI is a new institute under development and in the process of building its state-of-the-art labs and research facilities. Building a portfolio of highly regarded and world leading international institutes is very important for the success and growth of QEERI as we benefit in a number of areas, such as buying down technical risks and not wasting time and resources trying to learn what others have gone through, speeding up our development of projects and transfer of know-how, and interacting with the best in the world and helping build the right culture for innovation and research, gaining access to state of the art research labs and tools at partners' facilities while ours is being completed, and building a network of professionals that can help in recruitment and in positioning QEERI, Qatar Foundation, and Qatar in the international scientific and technical arena.

How would you assess the viability of externally marketing the technologies developed at QEERI?

QEERI is a new institute and still building its labs and research facilities. Commercializing a technology is a time-consuming process and it takes time for the research findings in the labs to transfer to the market as commercial products. Despite the fact that QEERI is a very young institute and that the labs and facilities are not yet ready, the scientists and researchers at QEERI have made significant technological advancement that will prove beneficial and impactful in the near future. The focus of QEERI agenda is on energy and water security challenges that are facing the region with global outreach. Therefore any new technological advances in these areas would be relevant and much needed.

How important is developing the international perception of Qatar as a leader in R&D?

There can be little doubt that R&D plays an important role in meeting the world's challenges going forward, and will be one element in what needs to be an integrated economic approach to energy and water resource management. It is vital that Qatar's international reputation be highlighted as a leader in R&D especially after the gained reputation of Qatar Foundation due to Her Highness' vision. This is clear through the establishment of three major research institutes focusing on national challenges for the state of Qatar. These institutes are already internationally recognized through the top outputs including publications in Nature and filing a number of invention disclosures. The reputation will also help attract top scientists as recruits or collaborators

What have been the important achievements of QEERI since its inception?

Among our most important achievements since January 2011, when QEERI was founded, is recruiting world-class scientists to address national energy and water grand challenges. We now have 130 full-time employees and 102 of them are scientists. We are also training Qatari technical specialists at a leading research institute in Japan on advanced tools and equipment, which is now helping QEERI set up the state-of-the-art labs and research facilities. Perhaps most importantly, we are beginning to build a portfolio of projects in order to realize the solutions to Qatar's grand challenges and priorities: energy security and water security. In doing so, we have won three accelerator awards by building prototypes of technology. Another key element for the institute's success is establishing a national steering committee (STEWARD) for energy and water securities chaired by HE the Minister of Energy and Industry to coordinate the R&D activities among key stakeholders in Qatar.