Qatar sets out vision for knowledge economy

Oil-based economy to be left behind as nation focuses on higher education

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By  Eliot Beer Published  March 31, 2008

The Qatar Foundation outlined its plans to transform the country’s oil-based economy to one focused on knowledge, at a knowledge parks conference, held this week in Doha.

“We expect to be an exporter of knowledge as well as gas,” stated Dr Ahmed Hasnah, associate VP for higher education at Qatar Foundation in the opening address to the International Conference and Exhibition on Knowledge Parks.

“It is naturally our greatest hope that the new economy will be well entrenched before our gas revenues fall away,” he added.

Hasnah explained that institutions such as the Qatar Science and Technology Park (QTSP), a US$300 million development, will help commercialise knowledge production and dissemination, in partnership with the private sector as well as government institutions.

QTSP will work with companies such as Exxon, Shell, Tata and Microsoft, and will attempt to use IT to trigger and accelerate the development of Qatar as a hub for research, according to the organisation. The park will focus on energy, healthcare and the environment.

The conference, which was held in conjunction with Unesco and ictQatar, saw presentations from a range of education, technology and academic experts from around the world, discussing how developing economies in the Middle East and elsewhere could use knowledge and technology to spur growth.

The conference also announced the winners of a competition organised by Qatar Foundation to design an ideal knowledge park; the team of four female students from the College of the North Atlantic at Qatar triumphed with its plans for an “Edgy Technology Park”.

Qatar’s latest initiatives to develop a diversified knowledge-based economy join developments such as Energy City Qatar, as well as similar projects throughout the region, including the forthcoming Knowledge Economic City in Madinah, and Dubai’s Internet and Media Cities and Knowledge Village.

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