The Business Year

Abdul Sattar Al-Taie

QATAR - Health & Education

The Search for Tech

Executive Director, Qatar National Research Fund (QNRF)


Abdul Sattar Al-Taie has an educational background in Chemical Engineering and is the Executive Director of the Qatar National Research Fund (QNRF). He has over 30 years of diversified experience in all engineering disciplines, including project management, design, feasibility studies, research, technology transfer and assessment, science and technology incubators, environmental protection, water treatment technologies, and technology policies. He has had more than 40 publications accepted by research journals and technical papers, and published over 50 technical reports.

What is the history of the Qatar National Research Fund (QNRF), and what was the strategy behind its establishment? QNRF was established back in 2006 as the enabling arm for […]

What is the history of the Qatar National Research Fund (QNRF), and what was the strategy behind its establishment?

QNRF was established back in 2006 as the enabling arm for research within the Qatar Foundation. Since then, there has been a paradigm shift in educational institutions in the country. Qatar University, which used to pride itself on being an educational institution, now considers itself both a research and educational entity. Research is also taking hold in the health sector; the logo of Hamad Medical Center reads, “health, education, and research.” This is thrilling for us because people are now recognizing the role of research in the development of the country. This also reflects the vision of HH Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, the Chairperson of Qatar Foundation for Education, Science, and Community Development. All of this is based on the realization of transforming Qatar’s economy from a resource-based to a knowledge-based one, with research a crucial pillar of the Qatar National Vision 2030. Without the research component, you cannot transform the country and diversify the economy. Another important aspect is that QNRF has taken the research culture down to its roots, whereby we have introduced research programs to high school students and undergraduates to instill interest.

What are some of the successful projects that QNRF is funding, and what wider implications do they have?

From my perspective, all grant recipients are success stories. So far, QNRF has committed over $500 million in grants, at all levels. Every researcher or key investigator to have received a grant from us has worked very hard, having earned their grants on a competitive basis—only one out of five applicants receives one—so, from a global perspective, they are all success stories for us. What makes QNRF unique in the region, and arguably the world, is that we are open to international collaboration, meaning that we do not limit our grants to Qatar; we open the door to applicants from beyond the country, creating an excellent collaborative atmosphere and research environment. Initially, more than 50% of applicants came from beyond Qatar, with researchers keen to take the opportunity of the funding opportunities we offered. This said, we also placed conditions on external applications. We also made sure that a minimum of 50% of the funded research, measured in man-hours, should be made available within Qatar.

What evaluations do you carry out to ensure that all sectors in Qatar are explored in terms of R&D?

A huge effort undertaken in 2012 culminated in the release of an important document: the Qatar National Research Strategy (QNRS). Simply put, this strategy states that Qatar should concentrate on four pillars: energy and the environment, healthcare, computer sciences and ICT, and social sciences, humanities, and the arts. For these pillars, we now have national institutes: the Qatar Environment & Energy Research Institute (QEERI), the Qatar Biomedical Research Institute (QBRI), and the Qatar Computing Research Institute (QCRI). For each pillar, we identified the most compelling challenges faced by the country. Through QEERI, we looked at how to enhance oil recovery, which is crucial as national revenues remain predominantly generated by the petrochemicals sector. We also face environmental challenges, because of Qatar’s high carbon dioxide footprint. This is because it is a small country with a large petrochemical industry.



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