Dr. Fethi B Jomaa Ahmed, CILE Research Coordinator, has participated in the International Conference on “Challenges of the Knowledge Society” which was held in Nicolae Titulescu University, Bucharest, Romania 11-12 May 2018. Dr Ahmed presented a research paper entitled
Challenges of the Knowledge Society: Exploring the Case of Qatar
In his presentation, Dr Ahmed pointed out that Qatar’s Permanent Constitution and National Vision 2030 constituted the turning point in Qatar’s transition toward knowledge society. Articles 22-49 of Qatar’s Permanent Constitution together with the 4 pillars of Qatar’s National Vision 2030 explicitly refer to the importance of knowledge acquisition, production and dissemination, and promotion of human socio-economic development. He explained that Qatar has remarkably invested in education, human capital, R&D, and ICT. Institutions such as Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development (QF) and its entities like Qatar National Research Fund (QNRF), Qatar Science and Technology Park (QSTP), in addition to Qatar University and ictQatar are in the heart of Qatar’s knowledge society construction.
Moreover, Qatar has capitalized in importing existing organizational capacity, faculty and staff, and accumulated reputation of a number of eminent global higher education institutions such as Georgetown University, Texas A&M University, and Weill Cornell Medical College. Dr Ahmed stated that despite many years of substantial investments in human capital, ICT and the relevant infrastructures, Qatar’s transition toward knowledge society is facing serious challenges. These challenges relate to reform and development of education and training to make knowledge as a principal driver of growth, diversification of the economy to ensure endurance of adequate revenues to fund projects, resolve the expatriate and workforce issues to ensure equilibrium and efficiency, efficient management of growth and uncontrolled expansion to avoid duplication of works and waste of recourses, good governance across government and private sectors projects to cope with modernization, professionalism and transparency, balancing between modernization and preservation of traditions to respond to globalization without losing the identity, balancing the rights of the present and future generations to uphold justice, and sustain the environment to make it healthy for living.
Dr Ahmed concluded that despite its small geographical size, Qatar is enjoying a good position in world’s politics, media, economy and is steadily becoming a hub for quality education and international conferences. The ratification of the Permanent Constitution in 2004 and the launch of National Vision 2030 in 2008 have laid the foundation for Qatar’s transition toward knowledge society. They have also mandated the government agencies, education and research institutions to be the engine that creates and drives the change. Qatar Foundation is the largest organization in Qatar with a higher objective of ‘Unlocking Human Potential’. The large-scale investment in knowledge production and dissemination positioned QF to be a globally leading organization for excellence and innovation in research and development that brings durable benefits to people locally and internationally.
QF has proven its potential as the key driver of research, development and innovation through its large number of entities namely HBKU which offers diverse modern interdisciplinary programs. The IBCs of worldly renowned universities, which are producing highly, qualified graduates. The QSTP and QNRF that stand at the heart of knowledge production. In addition ARC, WISE and WISH which are very important platforms for knowledge dissemination locally and globally. Besides, ictQatar made enormous efforts toward Qatar’s transition toward knowledge society particularly through digital inclusion, digital content ICT human capital, modernization of the legal and regulatory framework and telecommunications infrastructure. The construction of knowledge society obviously takes time but what could expedite the transition is the ability to identify at least the main challenges and take the appropriate action to overcome them.
This research has identified eight major challenges; which are reform and development of education and training, diversification of the economy, resolve the expatriate and workforce issues, and efficient management of growth and uncontrolled expansion. Another set of challenges lays in good governance, balancing between modernization and preservation of traditions, balancing the needs of current generation and the needs of future generations, and sustain the environment. The possible impacts of this research are the value that it could bring in exploring Qatar’s development from traditional to modern knowledge society, the most up-to-date data and information about Qatar’s knowledge society institutions and stakeholders and their role and contributions. The analysis of the specific key challenges could also be of great value to political leaders and policy makers in Qatar. Besides, the research could potentially contribute to the study of knowledge society’s cases and challenges especially in the GCC and the Middle East region.