Sheikha Hind: Quality education and ethics at heart of QF mission


(Photo/ QF via Courtney Martin)

The Qatar Foundation seeks to give students the best education possible while working on ethical business principles, Her Excellency Sheikha Hind bint Hamad Al Thani said in a speech at Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar on Sept. 13. 

“Our mission at Qatar Foundation (QF) has always been to be an entity for common good, to work alongside our students and to step outside of the narrow confines of self-interest,” said Her Excellency, who is vice-chairperson and CEO of the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science, and Community Development. 

Her Excellency is the first guest in this year’s “Dean’s Lecture Series,” a CMU-Q forum hosted by Dean Michael Trick, in which prominent industry leaders and state officials share their expertise with students and the wider Education City community.

Trick stated that Her Excellency, who also serves on the boards of Hamad Bin Khalifa University, the Qatar National Library, and Teach for Qatar, has been a “passionate advocate for the power of education to build a better world” and was the perfect guest to open the series, which is resuming after 2019. Approximately 350 people attended the event, according to Catalina Rojas, communication project manager at CMU-Q. 

During her speech, Her Excellency highlighted the work QF has been doing for the past 25 years to turn Qatar into a knowledge economy. She also emphasized the need to work with love and dignity while also addressing ethical business practices and corporate social responsibility. 

“Unfortunately, these days our languages have become materialistic slogans,” she said. “We have lost the way of speaking about work beyond commodity.” She used the example of the saying “time is money,” turning it into a commodity, when time is actually a “gift of life itself,” she said, and cannot be bought with money. 

Her Excellency also said corporations today regard their social responsibility within the confines of economic gains and regulations, which has made business practices “deceptive.”

“We must be pressured not by regulation but by the conscience in our hearts,” she said.  

(Photo/ CMU-Q)

Her Excellency’s speech was met with a huge round of applause, and the floor was then opened to questions. 

“What challenges did the QF management team face when it first started?” asked Yahya Elkhatib, a CMU-Q junior majoring in biology. Her Excellency recounted the challenge of attracting foreign universities and ensuring that the same standard of education applies in Education City, while also dealing with financial issues.  

Malak Alseaf, a CMU-Q senior majoring in information systems and a member of the CMU-Q Committee for Diversity and Equity, asked how students should deal with cultural challenges that arise within the unique context of Education City, to which the Qatar Foundation has brought Western-style education into a Muslim Arab culture. 

“A world-class education should not compromise your cultural identity,” Her Excellency said. A graduate of Qatar Academy and HEC Paris University, she shared her own experience dealing with mixed cultures and urged students to raise their voices if they ever felt their cultural identities were not being catered to.

Responding to other questions, Her Excellency also said that QF is trying to establish an alumni network to connect current students to, and that students will soon have research opportunities to “personalize” their educational journeys. Her Excellency added that QF is working to create more opportunities for cross-registration and more collaborative projects between EC universities so students can take better advantage of the multi-university environment.

When asked how technology can be used to make resources more accessible to students with disabilities, Her Excellency responded that Qatar is using the upcoming FIFA World Cup to highlight its commitment to accessibility with the creation of “sensory rooms” in the football stadiums, but also said more needs to be done.

For many students and staff attending the event, it was their first experience seeing Her Excellency Sheikha Hind. “I really enjoyed the fact that we got to meet one of the leaders of the place where we study,” said Ibrahim Abu, a business administration junior at CMU-Q. “It’s a nice chance because we never really get to see these people, to actually see who’s behind all these decisions.”  

 CMU-Q junior Muhammad Ammar Raza, an information systems major, noted, “Getting insights into Her Excellency’s vision for QF was refreshing to hear, and to see her as a woman leading an organization in a collectivist culture was great to see.” 

Elkhatib also found the Sheikha’s insights valuable “because it reminded us that QF is also an institution, not just a place that offers education but rather something that has a bigger impact on the community.

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