Monday, September 21, 2020
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Qatar, US collaborate on research, cultural and educational exchanges

Qatar, US collaborate on research, 
cultural and educational exchanges

Ailyn Agonia
Qatar and the US have announced landmark collaborations among their top institutions, including a joint research mission on water detection between the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and Qatar Foundation (QF) as well as cultural and educational exchanges between the two countries.
The announcements were made during a virtual Culture and Education Cooperation Session at the Third Annual US-Qatar Strategic Dialogue held on Tuesday and following the signing of the US-Qatar Statement of Intent establishing the Qatar-USA 2021 Year of Culture during the Opening Session of the Qatar-US Strategic Dialogue in Washington on Monday.
The Culture and Education Cooperation Session was attended by US delegation headed by US Assistant Secretary of State for Education and Cultural Affairs (ECA) Marie Royce and Qatar delegation headed by Qatar Ministry of Education and Higher Education Undersecretary Dr Ibrahim Saleh Al Nuaimi together with President of QF’s Hamad bin Khalifa University Dr Ahmad Al Hasnah and Head of Years of Culture at QM Aisha Al Attiya.
The exciting new Qatar-US collaboration also includes an MoU signed between the world’s largest museum and research complex Smithsonian Institution and Qatar Museums (QM) and QF.
The partnership will pave the way for organising exhibitions and projects as well as an exchange of expertise between the institutions.
Also announced was the expansion of the Fulbright programme of the US to QF, which will host two US Fulbright scholars at the Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU) in January.
Speaking on the occasion, Royce said the session will strengthen the bilateral cooperation between the two countries and reflect the interest of the two nations in fostering mutual understanding.
“The newly signed statement of intent strengthens the existing statement of intent to explore potential cooperation, promote cultural understanding and the MoU on cooperation in education, which were both signed in 2019. I look forward to programme that will take place in Qatar and the US in support of both statements of intent,” said Royce.
She said the 2021 Year of Culture aims to showcase ‘the best of US and Qatar cultures’ adding that American music, sports, films as well as a college fair and US Speaker Programme will be fearured.
Dr Ibrahim Saleh al Nuaimi underscored the key outcomes of the Second Annual Qatar-US Strategic Dialogue which includes adding 110 new US universities in the accreditation list of Qatar, bringing the total number from 575 to 685 US universities.
He said, “It is aa pleasure to take part in this dialogue that reflects the depth of the bilateral relations between our countries. We are very proud of the cooperation between the US and Qatar in education, higher education and scientific research, a field that is flourishing year after year.”
Commenting on the joint research mission between QF and NASA, HBKU President Dr Ahmad al Hasnah said the project, known as the Orbiting Arid Subsurface and Ice Sheet Sounder (OASIS), tackles global concern on water security and climate change, which he stressed impacts not only human beings but also economy, politics and security.
“As I said, water is vital for a lot of nations. And I think this is not only in a way of research, but it’s more than that. It is an engagement between our scientists. It’s an engagement between our students. It’s an engagement between the institutions for an issue that I think it’s of a global interest beyond only our own institution,” Dr Hasnah said.
Dr Marc Vermeersch, executive director of HBKU’s Qatar Environment, Energy and Research Institute (QEERI), said the project is part of the space act agreement between NASA and QF and will design a mission that will probe beneath the sand dunes and ice sheets of some of the earth’s driest places.
“Water security is becoming a issue for an increasing number of countries around the globe and beyond the so-called arid regions. This project is pioneer research in this field by providing Qatar and the whole scientific community an innovative tool that will bring key responses in the field,” said Dr Vermeersch.
Artur Chmielewski, US Rosetta Project manager at NASA, said the mission will contribute new data to improve to the understanding of changing climate.
On the cultural and educational exchanges between Qatar and the Smithsonian Institution during Qatar-USA 2021 Year of Culture and beyond, Chase Robinson, director of the American Museum of Asian Art, Smithsonian Institution, said the MoU with QF and QM will provide a powerful framework for collaboration between the institutions such as in organising exhibitions on the outstanding textile collections of the Museum of Islamic Art, among others.
According to Robinson, the Smithsonian’s Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention And Innovation at the National Museum of American History has already collaborated with QF to create a video about stadium innovations for the Smithsonian’s upcoming exhibition focusing on invention and innovation in sports.
“We continue to explore more possibilities for collaboration around sports, accessibility and inclusion. We are also exploring ways that the Qatar National Museum and the Smithsonian’s Museum Conservation Institute can collaborate on scientific analysis, protection and preservation of the library’s collection of rare books, maps and manuscripts. The 2021 Qatar US Year of Culture is an exciting opportunity to launch joint projects and identify what new paths we can follow together,” the expert said.
QM’s Aisha Al Attiyah said, “We aspire to strengthen the existing relations that we have and further open the door to new areas of collaborations and exhibition exchanges, educational initiatives, professional development and knowledge exchanges between our friends and the Smithsonian experts and Qatari professionals. We are very pleased to formalise this partnership and I would like to extend our gratitude to all our wonderful people who have made this brilliant collaboration a