Inside Qatar's Education City

Ledetta Asfa-Wossen took an exclusive look behind Qatar’s flagship development to see what it offers globally mobile families and students.


This article is taken from the Winter 2023/2024 issue of

Think Global People magazine

Click on the cover to access the digital edition.
View your copy of the Winter 2023 issue of Think Global People magazine.
Spanning over 12 square kilometres, Qatar’s Education City provides learning to children from the age of six months to postgraduate and is fast becoming a hub for international talent.Since its inception in 1995, Education City has been expanding year on year. The ‘city’ located in the Al Rayyan area of Doha was built by the Qatar Foundation to grow education and skills in five key areas – Artificial Intelligence, Progressive Education, Precision Health, Sustainability and Social Progress.“Education City offers an integrated ecosystem of top academic institutions, world class research centres and facilities, as well as an advanced hub of innovation. Students can learn in some of the world’s top schools and universities while being equipped with various skills and real world experiences including internships and mentorship programmes,” explained Hayfa Al Abdulla, Innovation Director, Qatar Foundation Higher Education. “The cross-collaboration ecosystem between universities and entities in Education City also gives students a unique opportunity to study courses from different universities to fulfil all their future aspirations.”The site is home to 25 education institutions, including international schools and several universities as well as a number of heritage sites and venues. Currently, nearly 75% of Education City’s students are estimated to be foreign nationals. 

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Schools in Education City have been built with lifelong learning in mind and have quite a distinct focus on character building and social skills. The devised curricula in Qatar supports the country’s diverse and international community and schools are open to both local and international students. These include schools offering specialised, STEM, and progressive education. The development features five Qatar Academy schools that include international education programmes. Qatar Academy Al Khor for kindergarten and elementary  levels. Qatar Academy Al Wakra which offers pre-school, elementary, and middle school education. Qatar Academy Doha which is an IB school accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, and the Council of International Schools. Qatar Academy Msheireb and Qatar Academy Sidra which offer primary and secondary school education, from early childhood through to grade 12.


In recent years, there has been a demand for specialised schools that offer unconventional curriculums and support learn through play such as Academyati. Education City also features schools for pupils with mild to moderate learning challenges. Awsaj Academy is dedicated to working with students who have demonstrated aptitude in certain areas while facing academic challenges in others. While the Renad Academy caters to students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and offers training and specialised services both to students and parents.


For accomplished students who would like to focus their learning around a specific subject or career pathway, Qatar has a range of institutions. Namely Qatar Academy for Science and Technology for STEM-related subjects, the Qatar Leadership Academy which allows students to develop leadership and character skills, and the Qatar Music Academy that incorporates both Arab and Western classical music curriculums for music students.


There are a range of homegrown universities housed at the site, Khalifa University in particular is known for its researchfocused education. Specialist undergraduate, postgraduate and professional development courses are also offered at Qatar’s international partner universities. These include Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar, Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar, Virginia Commonwealth University  School of the Arts in Qatar, Texas A&M University at Qatar, Northwestern University in Qatar, Georgetown University in Qatar, and more recently HEC Paris.


Through its research entities, programmes and partnerships with start-ups and industry, Qatar is trying to build a culture of research and innovation to tackle real world challenges. The Qatar Biomedical Research Institute conducts multidisciplinary research for genomic medicine, biomedical engineering, and stem cell and gene-based therapies, with a primary focus on diabetes, cancer, and neurological diseases. It is also leading the country’s research on prevention and treatment of diseases such as cancer and diabetes. While Qatar Computing Research Institute offers researchers and students a chance to tackle large-scale computing challenges in areas of cybersecurity, data analytics, computational engineering and social computing. For undergraduates, postgraduates and professionals interested in sustainability and energy, the Qatar Environment and Energy Research Institute is a worldclass multidisciplinary facility that specialises in energy and water security.Sidra Medicine is part of the dynamic research and education environment at Education City and through partnerships with leading institutions in Qatar and around the world it looks at advanced scientific discovery and provides medical pupils with one of the most technologically advanced facilities in the world. While the Qatar Science and Technology Park is an advanced hub for students  interested in scientific and technological innovation, entrepreneurship and commercialising scientific research.


The national AI strategy was developed within Education City at Qatar’s Computing Research Institute (QCRI) and is home to a few applied research and innovation hubs focusing on AI for digital healthcare, food security and workforce resilience, including the Qatar Science & Technology Park. Other AI specialist areas include language technologies, AI policy, education and cybersecurity. “We think Qatar can lead by example and show the rest of the world how to seamlessly embrace an AI+X Future, where almost every activity of importance will be touched by AI,” added Dr Ahmed Elmagarmid, Executive Director at QCRI.


Female empowerment is said to be a priority over the next few years with both the founder and CEO of the Qatar Foundation being women as well as many of the senior management. The old FIFA stadium, otherwise known as ‘the diamond in the desert’ is to be transformed into a women’s only sports centre and there are several professional women’s football initiatives in the country. According to the World Bank, Qatar has the highest literacy rate for girls and female adults in the Middle East and North Africa but there is still work to be done on gender equality.


Taking the meaning of city quite literally, the development has purposely been designed for community and permanence. As well as education institutions, it hosts national heritage sites such as the Qatar National Library, Mathaf Arab Museum of Modern Art and Minaretein (Education City Mosque). As well as a number of sport and recreation facilities, including the Al Shaqab Equestrian Centre, Equine Veterinary Medical Centre, Education City Stadium, The Education City Golf Club, Oxygen Park and Qatar National Convention Centre.

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