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All photos courtesy of HBKU

Graduation week began in Education City yesterday with commencement events for students from Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU) and Northwestern University in Qatar (NU-Q).

HBKU’s Class of 2017 included 148 grads, up 33 percent from last year’s cohort of 111 students.

The grads hail from 37 different countries, though many of them are from Qatar as well.

This year marked the first graduates to obtain master’s degrees from HBKU’s College of Science and Engineering. They were in Biological and Biomedical Sciences (BBS), Sustainable Energy and Sustainable Environment.

In addition to those 17 students, there were also:

  • 87 graduates from the College of Islamic Studies;
  • 18 from the College of Humanities and Social Sciences; and
  • 26 with an Executive Master in Energy and Resources.

Dream big

During the commencement, keynote speaker Chaker Khazaal, a Palestinian-Canadian author and editor-in-chief of StepFeed and YallaFeed, talked about dreaming big.

He said:

“An achievement is an idea once dreamt that turned into reality with hard work, persistence and redefining possibilities.

Today, you are ambassadors for the power of dreaming by becoming graduates and ambassadors for your university, for your country and for our region.”

Next year, HBKU will graduate its first batch of law students and the first students to receive doctoral degrees from the College of Science and Engineering.


Meanwhile, NU-Q celebrated its first graduation in its own building this year.

The journalism and communications school also produced its largest-ever class, of 47 graduates.

Reem Saad / Doha News

Northwestern University in Qatar

Students and staff moved into the new building, which took almost six years to complete, at the start of the winter semester.

It boasts three video production studios, a multimedia newsroom, a two-story research library, a black box theater, multiple editing rooms and even an in-house museum.

The 515,000 square foot, four-story facility was designed by famous American architect Antoine Predock and takes inspiration from Qatar’s “desert landscape.”

A total of 765 students will graduate from Qatar Foundation schools this week, including from Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar (45), Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar (57), Georgetown School of Foreign Service in Qatar (62), Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar (109), HEC Paris in Qatar (137) and University College London Qatar (34).



QF Headquarters

Qatar Foundation is expected to lay off some 800 employees imminently, employees there have told Doha News.

The layoffs, which are apparently due to budgetary constraints, will apply “across the board” to QF staff based in Qatar.

This includes employees working in human resources, capital projects and other departments, people with knowledge of the layoffs said.

arwcheek / Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

While Hamad Bin Khalifa University staff would be included in this round of cuts, branch campuses of US universities and other schools in Education City will not be affected.

That’s because they operate independently and under pre-negotiated budgets with QF.

‘Increasing synergies’

When asked for comment about the layoffs, QF said in a statement to Doha News that it is working to improve efficiency and cut costs:

“Qatar Foundations’ focus of becoming a more efficient organization requires a culture of continuous improvement and, at this time, we are identifying ways to enhance our business operations in order to safeguard the future of our organization.

Therefore, as part of our enduring commitment to the sustainability of Qatar Foundation, we are working to drive our business forward, increasing synergies by enhancing collaboration across projects, as well as examining our existing operational costs.”

Speaking to Doha News, a former QF staffer said the layoffs should not come as a surprise to anyone, as the organization has been shedding staff and programs for some time.

QF Radio/Facebook

QF Radio

For example, last year QF Radio was taken off the air after a seven-year run.

The QF-backed Sidra Medical and Research Center also saw big layoffs at the end of 2015, though it is now planning a new hiring spree.

Other projects that have gotten the ax in recent years include the Doha Debates, a decade-long partnership with Rand Corp. and a tie-up with Bloomsbury Publishing.

Gazanfarulla Khan


The Qatar Luxury Group under QF, which launched homegrown fashion brand Qela in 2013, has also lost momentum.

“Whoever is still there should not be surprised by snow in January,” said the ex-staffer, in a turn of phrase not quite applicable to a desert country. “They were expecting it.”


The layoffs come amid a larger effort by the government and private companies in Qatar to operate on tighter budgets .

This has resulted in consolidation and job losses in many sectors, including oil and gas, health and transport.


Photo for illustrative purposes only.

For its part, QF is expected to offer advance notice to employees who are laid off, as well as no objection certificates.

However, officials declined to provide any specific details about the upcoming terminations, saying:

“As a prominent Qatari organization, we understand the public interest for more information regarding the aforementioned changes.

However, our priority at this point is to communicate clearly with our employees, before addressing any external requests for information.”

QF is a massive non-profit that was founded by the Father Emir and his wife, chairperson Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, 22 years ago.

It is involved in countless educational and scientific endeavors.

This includes the upcoming Msheireb Downtown Doha project, the Arab Museum of Modern Art (Mathaf) and the Qatar National Research Fund.

Are you a staffer concerned about losing your job? Thoughts?

All photos by Reem Saad

Students and faculty at Northwestern University in Qatar (NU-Q) began their winter semester this month at a brand-new building.

The 515,000 square foot, four-story facility was designed by famous American architect Antoine Predock and takes inspiration from Qatar’s “desert landscape.”

It boasts three video production studios, a multimedia newsroom, a two-story research library, a black box theater, multiple editing rooms and even an in-house museum.

Reem Saad / Doha News

Northwestern University in Qatar library

However, most of these features are not yet ready for use.

And a grand opening to mark the new building is expected sometime in the coming year.

Looking ahead

NU-Q is a journalism and communication school, and one of six American universities operating in Education City.

Last year, the school renewed its lease with Qatar Foundation for another decade, meaning it will continue to remain in Qatar until at least 2028.


NUQ’s former home at CMU-Q

The new building broke ground in 2011 and was originally supposed to open in 2013.

In a statement last month, NU-Q’s dean and CEO Everette Dennis said:

“It has been five years since we broke ground for the new building and it has taken significant team work to get this building completed. When finished, it will be the premier journalism and communication school in the region.”

Prior to moving in, the eight-year-old school was located at the top floor of Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar, and had a temporary studio building.

It also briefly operated inside of Texas A&M University at Qatar.