The Qatar National Day (QND) 2021 slogan, “Ancestral Meadows: A Matter of Trust”, reflects the Qatari people’s attachment to their environment, heritage and legacy. Qataris used to reflect the simplicity of the environment. The gentleness of Qataris’ morals and humility are rooted within the gentleness of the land.
Hamad Bin Khalifa University, a Qatari research and graduate education university, has a global impact.
Through its colleges, research institutes, and other institutions, the university places a lot of emphasis on conserving Qatar’s environment and culture. The Qatar Environment and Energy Research Institute, (Qeeri), has a multitude of projects and initiatives to conserve the environment. The College of Islamic Studies, (CIS), develops unique programs for conserving Qatar’s culture, heritage, and environment. The College of Health and Life Sciences, (CHLS), works to improve equestrianism and veterinary equine medicine.
Energy, environment and water challenges
Qeeri, established in Qatar 10 years ago, has supported Qatar in solving its problems related to energy, water, and environment. The institute works closely with national and international partners to provide tangible solutions to Qatar’s fight against climate change and in advancing sustainability in the country and beyond. This support includes cutting-edge research in innovation and energy in areas such as water and air quality, in accordance with the Qatar National Vision 2030.
Integrating clean energy sources
Qeeri also plays an important part in helping Qatar to integrate clean energy sources in its national power grid and developing a sustainable energy marketplace in Qatar. Qeeri, also known as Al Kharsaah, contributed to the Siraj-1 solar photovoltaic (PV), power plant. He provided data on solar radiation and monitored construction with drones. This solar plant is a groundbreaker in Qatar and serves as the first step towards the country’s long-term objective to produce 20% of its electricity through solar energy by 2030. Earlier this year, Qeeri released the first Qatar Solar Atlas, a tool that quantifies the country’s solar resource and its geographical distribution.
Additionally, an innovative method was developed to clean PV panels of dust using robots in desert environments. It is managed under the institute’s Solar Consortium and is the first of its kind and cements Qeeri’s reputation as a global leader in PV research.
Water problems being addressed
Qeeri has taken a leadership role in addressing Qatar’s environmental and water problems. The institute has developed new types of filtration technology that address environmental issues such as the removal of small oil droplets (thus protecting desalination stations), to home filters units that prevent bacteria and other contamination in household water supply. Qeeri has also developed a seawater desalination pilot plant that is showing higher efficiency and better environmental friendliness than conventional technology – both in energy recovery to reduce thermal energy consumption, and cost effectiveness. To maximize the circular water economy and encourage increased reuse of high-quality treated water, Qeeri has also established a pilot for polishing treated sewage effluent. A collaboration with Nasa’s OASIS project will see the application of satellite data for groundwater mapping in the coming years, with a focus on water security in the region.
Qatar’s environmental sustainability is being improved
Qeeri leads national efforts to improve environmental sustainability in Qatar. The institute developed multidisciplinary research programs on sustainability, climate change and microbiology. It also focused on air quality and environmental chemistry. It aimed to understand the complex interaction between the atmosphere and land systems. Qeeri played a key role in the development of Qatar’s Environmental Strategy (QES), which was spearheaded by the new Ministry of Environment and Climate Change.
Qeeri brings its scientific expertise to Qatar to help national stakeholders achieve their goals. Qeeri collaborates with the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH), to monitor the level of SarsCoV-2 in municipal water supplies. This helps in the development of appropriate intervention strategies. Qeeri also executes a project for the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy and FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 LLC. Q22 to deliver hyperlocal measurements of air quality at all stadiums during FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and FIFA Arab Cup Qatar 2021. This data allows tournament organizers to make informed decisions about improving air quality at the stadiums through better management of emissions sources.
An Islamic-inspired garden in Qatar
Conservation of local culture and heritage forms a core mandate for the College of Islamic Studies (CIS) in general, and its master’s programme in Islamic Art, Architecture, and Urbanism (IAAU) in particular. This is illustrated by a recent project that its current cohort of student did. They designed a set of garden plans for Qatar, which were inspired by Islamic heritage and local culture.
Commenting on this project, Dr Akel Kahera, Professor of Islamic Architecture and Urbanism at CIS, said: “The idea of the garden was inspired by the history of the “Islamic Garden,” most notably the Alhambra palace gardens and Safavid gardens. Students consider these themes as a design strategy in order to effectively respond to behavioural and cultural values as well as human aspirations for Qatar’s specific urban context.”
The garden’s architectural and decorative elements were all based on a variety of symmetries, which can be classified as belonging both to Qatar and to a distinct Muslim aesthetic tradition. The beauty and subtlety of the garden designs the students created responds to Qatar’s culture.
The plan promotes education and leisure, as well as a unique way to think about landscape design. The plan explores water, local plants, vegetation and edible fruits. It also includes shrubs and trees. This plan aims to enhance the human experience as well as to emphasize the importance of landscape design as a response to local climatic conditions.
Qatari art & architecture: Preserving Qatari art
CIS’ Master of Science (MSc) in Islamic Art, Architecture and Urbanism program equips the next generation of curators, architects, historians, and designers to have a critical and informed appreciation of outstanding Qatari and Islamic art and architectural design. The program prepares experts who can integrate heritage with current trends and techniques to create innovative urban and architectural design solutions that promote self-identity within the region. This program encourages research to safeguard the Qatari and Islamic cultural patrimony by studying the context history of Islamic art, architecture and urbanism.
Reliving the tradition equestrian excellence
Qatari Arabian horses are a cultural icon that is deeply rooted into their heritage and traditions. In accordance with the Qatari nation’s attention to equestrianism, CHLS signed a memorandum o’understanding (MoU), with Equine Veterinary Medical Center EVMC (EVMC) to collaborate in areas related to research to improve veterinary competences.
EVMC is a state of the art equine veterinary center with the most up-to-date technologies in imaging, surgery and rehabilitation. Its mission is to provide exceptional diagnostic and therapeutic veterinarian services, as well as to create outstanding research and educational initiatives to serve and engage the community.
Commenting on the collaboration between CHLS and EVMC, Dr Edward Stuenkel, Founding Dean of CHLS, said: “Our co-operation with EVMC, which has been in place since the inception of the centre, provides us with an opportunity to expand the research performed at the systems and stem cell levels of the life sciences performed on equines. Our shared objectives will allow the application of state-of-the-art medical treatments and genomic science advances in veterinary equine care.”
Promotion of equine welfare
EVMC is a veterinary hospital. However, it also has a strong research-education component. Therefore, it was a natural progression to seek adjunct academic appointments at CHLS to strengthen the academic foundations at EVMC and to bring solid fundamental research to improve the welfare of the equine populations at a national as well as international level. Dr. Stuenkel played a major role in the development and support of the EVMC’s animal ethics committee. Since its inception, he has been the chairman of the committee. He brings knowledge and expertise to improve equine veterinarian research and establish high international standards. Dr Tatiana Vinardell was also a key player in bringing the CHLS together with the EVMC to foster the best research for Arabian horses and their care.
HBKU is proud of Qatar’s support for these initiatives. Students, faculty, staff, partners and leadership share a common belief and commitment to higher education and research as a way to contribute to the nation’s development.
The university is committed to building national research capabilities that drive collaboration with the world’s best institutions, cultivating leaders for the future, propelling Qatar’s knowledge-based economy and shaping novel solutions for a global impact.
About Hamad Bin Khalifa University Innovating Today, Shaping Tomorrow
HBKU, a member Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development, (QF), was established in 2010 as a research-intensive university. It acts as a catalyst for transformation in Qatar and the region, while also having global impact. HBKU, located in Education City, is committed to building human capacity through a rich academic experience, an innovative ecosystem, and unique partnership. HBKU offers multidisciplinary undergraduate and graduate programs through its colleges. It also offers opportunities for scholarship and research through its institutes, centres, and other centres. Visit www.hbku.edu.qa for more information.