Qatar has limited water resources and there is a need to have sustainable, adequate quantities of freshwater as the demand is growing every year. Aligned with Qatar’s 2030 National Vision to develop a sustainable and diversified knowledge-based economy, Qatar is focused on addressing the grand challenges associated with water.

Qatar has very scarce water resources. Its limited groundwater resources have been overexploited and as the reserves deplete quality deteriorates. The State of Qatar depends on desalinated seawater to satisfy 99% of its municipal water demand. As Qatar becomes more dependent on desalinated seawater to satisfy its high demand for potable water, Qatar is looking for solutions to secure its water supply. To achieve this, research and development projects in water security focus on developing, refining and adopting:

  • Enhanced Water Desalination and Treatment Technologies
  • Waste Water Quality and Reuse Capabilities
  • Replenishment of Groundwater (GW) by potable quality water injection and use it as strategic storage.

Qatar’s rapid population and economic growth has led to ever-increasing demands for electricity. Strategic steps are needed to secure additional sustainable energy sources, such as solar energy, and to reduce consumption, the economy and the environment. The use of solar energy will provide Qatar with better business opportunities to use its strategic natural resources, gas and oil, to stimulate further economic growth.

The objective of the Energy Security Grand Challenge is to support the State of Qatar on the deployment of large scale photovoltaic power into the electrical grid in Qatar by 2020. Research and development are required to reduce the technical risks associated with adding an inherently intermittent source of power into the electrical grid, concentrating on:

  • Solar Photovoltaic Materials and Challenges in Arid Regions
  • Energy Storage
  • Grid Integration
  • Energy Efficiency

Qatar is one of the most connected countries in the world. Culturally, economically, politically, socially, scientifically and financially the nation has risen to global prominence because of an infrastructure and communications network that is highly automated. But with this rapid reliance on computing and networking technologies to multiply the nation’s capabilities, comes security concerns on an unprecedented scale, which threaten Qatar’s national infrastructure. While cyber security is a global concern, Qatar’s systems and vulnerabilities are unique given our economy and our operations set up, and thus require solutions that are developed locally with local knowledge.

Cyber security is an ongoing challenge - the science is ever-evolving and the attacks evolve along with the science. Important to the success of preparing and protecting Qatar against cyber vulnerabilities is basic and applied research that will create the new defensive technologies, and accelerate their introduction to practical use.

Research efforts are underway with the objective to protect Qatar, its assets and its citizens against cyber threats by advancing knowledge, readiness, and practice in cyber security. Areas of research focus include but are not limited to:

  • Threats Analysis and Mitigation
  • Cyber Intelligence
  • Industrial Control Systems (ICS) and Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA)
  • Privacy

R&D could contribute to a well-integrated and modern healthcare system by concentrating on the integration of primary-quaternary care with academic teaching and research programs, in order to foster translational medicine.

The community identified several efforts to support this goal:

  • Design national, evidence-based, epidemiological studies to assess and monitor diseases of high prevalence among the population (e.g., traumatic brain injury, cardiovascular disease and hypertension, diabetes, obesity and other chronic conditions, respiratory disease and asthma, maternal/fetal health, birth defects, genetic diseases, cancer, suicide, drug abuse, psychological disorders, and health risks associated with heat, air, water, and food quality)
  • Devise, implement, and assess models of enhanced access to primary patient care (e.g., Primary Health Centers, Private Practitioners, Community Pharmacy Networks)
  • Implement and assess models of enhanced access to secondary, tertiary, and quaternary patient care (e.g., Hospital-based and specialty care, Clinical Trials framework)
  • Improve standards of physician training and evidence-based patient care
  • Enhance technological infrastructure within the healthcare sector (e.g., eHealth, Bioinformatics, Telemedicine, Personalized medicine)
  • Cultivate healthy behaviors through public health, safety, and disease prevention campaigns (e.g., improved diet and exercise practices)
    Initiate a community-based assessment in order to improve health outcomes

In addition to the above four Research Grand Challenges, the QNRS has also identified the following eight areas of research interest:

Sustainable Food Supply

Food imports account for > 90% of national food consumption with limited in-country reserves. As well, agricultural growth is limited by arable land, water, and energy capabilities that are being rapidly consumed by the growing population (e.g., food-water-energy-people nexus). This priority is also very closely linked to both Energy and Water (Water-Energy-Food sustainability). R&D will help inform and improve food security through the following activities:

  • Develop water and efficient agricultural management practices
  • Conduct research on soil and ground reclamation
  • Explore the feasibility of hydroponic, aeroponic and new greenhouse technologies
  • Develop a model to track the resource and policy relationships between water, energy, and food in Qatar
  • Develop a dynamic multi scale soil-plant-atmosphere water model of the desert environment in Qatar
  • Explore the feasibility of sustainable vertical farming using advanced techniques for water reclamation and space-efficient cultivation
  • Develop a coordinated multiyear plan for construction of a multiscale hydro geological model of Qatar

Environment & Society

Qatar should use and manage its resources responsibly and thus more research is needed in the development and implementation of “green” industry, “responsible” transportation systems, and about the impact on the urban landscape.

  • Identify and implement carbon capture and storage technologies that balance long-term carbon emission goals (e.g., air quality) with natural gas industry needs
  • Catalog and preserve biodiversity in marine, terrestrial, and urban habitats
  • Assess and mitigate environmental pollutants that pose risks for human health
  • Review and devise optimal ‘benchmark’ regulations and monitoring tools for the environmental impact of the energy industry, transportation systems (food, water, people), and urban environments; KPIs that are informed by international standards yet appropriate for the region

Sustainable Urbanization – Doha as a Smart City

Qatar is already a highly urbanized country and, with current infrastructure projects underway such as World Cup 2022 and the continuing rapid growth of the country, there are many opportunities for related and impactful R&D, including the following areas:

  • Implement a matrixed management structure (e.g., planning, communication, collaboration, implementation, quality assessment, accountability, and interconnectivity) of major inter-agency urban infrastructure developments
  • Review and development of optimal ‘benchmark’ regulations and monitoring tools to assess the performance and impact on the environment, resource use(e.g., water, energy), sustainability, safety, and culture of the region’s urban infrastructure
  • Assess and monitor population growth and patterns to ensure demand does not exceed available infrastructure (e.g., roads, healthcare services) and natural resources
  • Develop state-of-the-art technologies in infrastructure systems and materials unique to Qatar but adaptable to global industry
  • Create timely and transparent inter-agency communication and coordination to foster resource consolidation, meaningful data use, and minimize environmental impact
  • Evaluate and address policy and operational barriers to efficient local and international supply chain development, intelligence, consolidation, continuity, and sustainability (e.g., equipment, core materials, other commodities)
  • Adapt, reuse, and recycle abundant local resources (e.g., sand, clay) as market commodities
  • Develop and deploy an IT infrastructure that supports the rapid pace of planning and implementation
  • Design and build environments that foster healthy behaviors
  • Ensure that large urban projects deliver long-term benefits to the nation and its population
  • Establish cultural norms for development that meet the expectations of traditional Qataris as well as new inhabitants

Mobility & Road Safety

Design of a comprehensive and integrated transportation strategy and network (e.g., pedestrian, cyclist, road, bus, rail/Metro, sea, air). Actions taken could include:

  • Characterize and mitigate Qatar-specific trends and factors contributing to transportation-related delays, accidents, injuries, and fatalities
  • Enhance transportation safety awareness, adherence, and enforcement across public services and private industries
  • Characterize and mitigate barriers to mass transit use [e.g., environmental (climate or built), behavioral, cultural, gender-based]
  • Implement consumer-friendly ICT infrastructure (e.g., Smart transportation and logistics) to reduce congestion and enhance efficiency, safety, and economic opportunity
  • Engage and empower government, education, media, and medical sectors - along with the general public - in coordinated health and safety intervention efforts
  • Review and devise optimal ‘benchmark’ regulations and monitoring tools to assess the environmental impact, efficiency, and safety of the region’s transportation network; KPIs that are informed by international standards yet appropriate for the region

Human Capacity Development

This priority will aim to develop sustainable talent for Qatar’s knowledge economy in order to meet the needs for a high-quality workforce. During the stakeholder interviews and workshops, specific R&D issues or targeted areas for research were identified that could contribute to help and overcome this challenge:

  • Better understand the scope and scale of the existing and projected workforce needs across all sectors in order to quantify the scope and scale of technical, vocational, and management training needs
  • Assess, project, and manage population demography shifts
  • Build diverse capacity of Qataris across workforce sectors (e.g., public, private) and disciplines (e.g., STEM, education, health services, social science, energy, environment)
  • Build intellectual capacity through recruitment and retention of early- and mid-career workers/investigators/faculty
  • Implement flexible labor policies that support knowledge transfer as workers move among sectors, industries, and organizations
  • Strategically draw on the complementary capacities and capabilities of the Arab region, and beyond
  • Foster an appreciation for the societal value of job skill development
  • Enhance the network of quality K-12 education providers
  • Create highly-valued and multidisciplinary tertiary and post-graduate education programs (e.g., BSc, Masters, PhD)
  • Develop technical training programs and perhaps a school to develop skills needed for national priority projects

Holistic and Systematic Assessment of the Rapidly Changing Environment

  • Assess the impact of rapid globalization, economic growth, and wealth on Qatar’s national identity, history, customs, religion, education, employment, and adaptive capabilities
  • Understand the role of behavior and culture at multiple societal levels (e.g., individual, family, institutional, national) in change management in the Qatari context
  • Foster motivation, scholarship, and prosperity among Qatari nationals and expatriates along with cultural accommodations that are in-sync with modern practice
  • Explore the roles of communication (e.g., education, journalism, traditional and social media channels) in fostering awareness of social issues and triggering behavioral change
  • Ensure that Qatar’s rapid development brings cultural value to all of its citizens

Managing the Transition to a Diversified, Knowledge-Based Society

  • Build a knowledge-based society by emphasizing a robust research culture
  • Support innovation and entrepreneurship in both traditional and new industries, strategically aligned with Qatar’s strengths and capacities
  • Promote discovery, knowledge creation, innovation, and economic diversification through macroeconomic analysis of:
    • Inflation management
    • Foreign direct investment and outgoing investment
    • Labor market mobility and flexibility
  • Diversify the workforce across public and private sectors
  • Develop Qatar- or Arab region–specific models, benchmarks, and best practices informed by international standards yet appropriate for the region
  • Create a framework of ethical principles unique to the Qatari context that inform behavioral and policy change
  • Foster awareness and understanding of local, regional, and national issues so that strategic plans are well suited to the unique challenges and resources of the region

Support of Culture, Arts, Heritage, Media and Language within the Arabic Context

  • Foster Arabic language education for the national and expatriate population through curriculum reform, professional development, and public programs
  • Support the documentation and digitization of Arabic language print and electronic media and vice-versa
  • Invest in the nation’s legacy in terms of:
    • Arabic language resources
    • Arabic arts, design, and architecture
    • Arabic heritage and cultural programs
    • Ethnography
  • Understand and assess sports as a tool for cross-cultural integration and global cooperation