Long before Sheikh Khalifa bin Hamad bin Abdullah bin Jassim bin Mohammed Al Thani came into power as Emir of Qatar, he held a deep understanding and appreciation for the affairs of his country. Having assumed governmental duties at an early age, his initial roles found him overseeing security activities, and as the first Minister of Education in 1957. Upon becoming the Emir of Qatar in 1972, after seizing power from his cousin, his first actions were focused on a reorganisation of the government and investment into the modernisation of the nation. Among Sheikh Khalifa bin Hamad Al Thani’s many achievements as a forward-thinking leader, the reform of Qatar’s education system in the early 1970s marks itself as having had a long-lasting influence on Qatari people today.
Traditionally, the educational structure of Qatar was embedded in the historical and cultural legacy of its Muslim heritage. Prior to the 20th century, formal education settings were not emphasised in the country, with learning taking place typically outside of a classroom environment. While significant transformations to the education system of Qatar had occurred during the early part of the 20th century, it was not until Sheikh Khalifa bin Hamad bin Abdullah bin Jassim bin Mohammed Al Thani came into power that this arrangement became recognised as forming a crucial part of Qatari prosperity.
Sheikh Khalifa bin Hamad Al Thani’s vision for his country was fixed around pioneering innovative and modern structures of institution and authority to strengthen Qatar’s presence globally. This was stimulated by a boom in the country’s economy, due to the exploitation of natural gas reserves. The economic development of the country meant that the Emir’s vision could take form with meaningful investments into the educational infrastructure of the country, and momentously by establishing the first university institution in the nation’s history, in 1973. Sheikh Khalifa bin Hamad bin Abdullah bin Jassim bin Mohammed Al Thani’s future driven ambitions for Qatar have ensured that his people experience a better world to this day.
The role of an education reform in shaping Qatar’s national identity, has been historically noteworthy for several key reasons. Fundamentally, the reform has meant that Qataris are more empowered with the knowledge and opportunities to thrive in a modern world. Moreover, it recognises the long-term objectives of a country that wants to have a wider influence and presence on the international landscape. The return on investment into education has ensured the economic growth, employability, and social welfare of the nation’s people. Through Sheikh Khalifa bin Hamad bin Abdullah bin Jassim bin Mohammed Al Thani’s actions, generations of Qatari families can now benefit from a world-class education system and higher education opportunities, not bound by geography or historical conventions.