Dr. Abdul Sattar Al-Taie, QNRF Executive Director
This November saw the second Qatar Annual Research Forum, drawing together researchers and leadership from across Qatar, and speakers from prominent institutions worldwide. Joining the speakers was QNRF Executive Director, Dr. Abdul Sattar Al-Taie, who shared insights on the dramatic changes that have occurred within QNRF and Qatar's research community in the five years of the funding agency's existence.
"To borrow the metaphor of a well-oiled engine, that is what QNRF is," Dr. Al-Taie explained. "Not only have we run the engine, but we've designed, constructed, test-run and driven the engine in the efficient way you have all seen, with a mission to advance knowledge and education by supporting original, selected fields of research, across sectors, on a competitive basis."
Dr. Al-Taie highlighted, in numbers, the achievements of QNRF through its Programs supporting a range of investigators, from students to professionals, in both the private and public sector. He discussed the full range of QNRF Programs, including:
- The agency's first funding initiative, the Undergraduate Research Experience Program (UREP) and its 10 successful cycles attracting around 1,100 proposals with a 45 percent success rate and awards to date amounting to US$16.4million;
- The flagship National Priorities Research Program (NPRP), now in its fifth cycle attracting, in its first four cycles, around 2,000 proposals with a success rate around 21 percent and cumulative awards amounting to US$345million;
- The new Young Scientist Research Experience Program, which has competed two cycles;
- The new National Priorities Research Program - Exceptional Proposal, supporting large-scale projects that require resources beyond that offered by the NPRP;
- Initiatives to support conferences and workshops to be held in Qatar (Conference and Workshop Sponsorship Program), and a repository of Qatar-based research carried out since the country's independence (Qatar National Research Survey).
The majority of funds, Dr. Al-Taie explained, have naturally gone into the engineering and technology field to support Qatar's natural gas industry. This sector, he said, has reached what could be called a plateau in terms of submitted and awarded proposals. However, all other fields continue to rise in activity, including the second most prominent, biomedicine, and others, including social sciences and humanities, which the agency is now focusing on.
In the end, all of the research is based on needs directly related to the people of Qatar, with results that will doubtless impact the wider world.
"These programs cover investigator-initiated proposals," Dr. Al-Taie said. "But in the future, if we need to focus on a certain area of research like food security or diabetes, involving a multidisciplinary, multi-project approach, this would be our biggest program yet and would be a 'theme research program,' which is still a work in progress."
The Qatar Foundation Annual Research Forum is the premier science and research forum of Qatar Foundation, comprehensively targeting the national research community. It is a chance for researchers to present their latest results, in a competitive forum and in the context of the wider scientific community. This year's forum took place from November 20th through to the 22nd.