IN PURSUIT of what it described as its mission to become the Middle East’s hub of education and research, Qatar Foundation has decided to tie up with two top-tier universities in the United Kingdom.
Under one of the agreements, a centre for robotic surgery will be set up at the recently opened Qatar Science & Technological Park (QSTP) in association with Imperial College London. Commercially-oriented research and development is being conducted at the QSTP alongside branches of six leading US universities.
The Foundation has also endowed a chair of Islamic Studies at the University of Oxford. The appointee will work closely with Qatar Foundation’s Faculty of Islamic Studies and with the Qatar Museums Authority.
The announcements coincided with a visit to the Foundation’s Education City campus by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
The Qatar Foundation hosts a community of elite international partners dedicated to education, research and community development at its sprawling campus.
In a statement, it said future plans include the Sidra Academic Medical Centre, funded by a $7.9bn endowment, with a mission of clinical care, medical education and bio-medical research.
The Qatar Robotic Surgery Centre will demonstrate medical robotic technology, train students and surgeons from Qatar and the region, and participate in further development of the technology which the QF statement said enabled operations to be conducted to a degree of precision far beyond the capabilities of the human hand.
The endowment of the HH the Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani Chair in Contemporary Islamic Studies at Oxford University will include conferences, lecture series, seminars and joint publications. The post-holder will be a member of the Faculty of Oriental Studies and a fellow of St Antony’s College, where the Middle East Centre is based.
Brown welcomed the “increasingly close educational and research links between top British universities and Qatar Foundation.”
“These two announcements form exciting new strands to our shared pursuit of technological and academic excellence. I congratulate Qatar Foundation, Imperial College London and Oxford University,” he said.
Qatar Foundation president Mohamed Fathy Saoud said the institution was “creating one of the world’s most exciting educational and research centres because it knows the Middle East region’s future lies in the development of human capital and the application of knowledge.”
“We are partnering with elite universities that are leaders in select areas of education and research. Oxford University and Imperial College will make the UK’s first substantial contribution to the creation of a knowledge-based society in the heart of the Middle East,” Saoud said.
Rector of Imperial College London Sir Roy Anderson said: “Imperial College looks to translate research advances into innovations that improve quality of life, and we are thrilled that Qatar Foundation’s appetite for innovation matches our own.
“The use of robotic devices in medicine is a field that holds a great deal of promise, and this is a wonderful opportunity for Imperial College to help make tangible contributions to Qatar’s scientific and medical development.”
Vice Chancellor of the University of Oxford John Hood said: “The establishment of the new chair in contemporary Islamic studies opens an exciting new era of exchange and co-operation between Oxford and the Middle East, through the Qatar Faculty of Islamic Studies.
“Given the importance of Islam today, both in European society and in world affairs generally, there could be no subject of greater importance for Oxford’s Middle East studies community to address.
“We look forward to working with our colleagues in this excellent new centre, to promote a new generation of thinkers in Europe and the Muslim world committed to innovative scholarship and mutual understanding.”
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