The Amir of Qatar speaks on education and Arab solidarity

On Thursday morning, Feb. 27th, His Highness Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani, the Amir of Qatar, spoke to an audience at Georgetown.

The ruler of the richest country in the world, the Amir left the tiny, peninsula powerhouse last week to meet politicians in D.C. for the first time. He arrived at Gaston Hall after a week of appointments with President Obama, John Boehner, and other public figures.

“People talk a lot about military security but there is something very important that we should also promote more and that’s the educational relationship we have with America,” the Amir began, commenting on his pleasant meeting with the President. “Georgetown and five other great American universities have institutions in Doha.”

Education underlined much of the strategy he discussed for Qatar’s development on the world stage and presence in a war-torn region. When asked his short and long-term goals for leadership, he discussed Qatar’s economy and youth empowerment.

“A problem we need to address is depending on oil for our income. We are a rich country, but we have to see what we did to get this way. In the mid-90s, when my father first took over, the oil price was at $8, and we were in trouble finding money to pay salaries…Now we have to have other resources than oil,” the Amir said. “One of the main things that we’re doing is to mainly invest in education to make sure that these things go alright.”

He discussed the responsibility of Arab countries to support the revolutionary desire of youths. He commented that the oppressive atmosphere of countries like Syria led crushed dissenters to turn to terrorism.

“You have to get them hopeful of the future. I don’t like [that Muslim youths turned to terrorism] because I’m Muslim, but we should never tie terrorism to religion. Every religion has terrorists,” he said.

The Amir also stated that he felt Arab nations need solidarity to address the problems of the region.

“We shouldn’t only be depending on America. Us Arab countries should do our own work and then ask the Americans if we need help…We have the capability to be solid together, to be facing the terrorists movements, and helping populations gain their freedom,” he stated.

He noted the World Cup as a possible source of such solidary. Qatar has been criticized for corruption by the media over the past years; its role as the host of 2022 FIFA games sparked particular controversy. The Amir stated his visit to America serves to broadcast his fair intentions.

“This World Cup is for the Arabs and not just for Qatar, and that’s why we’ve been successful,” he said. “If it had just been for Qatar we would not have been successful…You’re all sports and I think you can remember that you can lose sometimes.”

The crowd laughed and applauded his jab.

“This is for the Arab countries,” the Amir said closing on a positive note. “You see children from Libya, Egypt, all around the Arab world crying because we won the world cup and it’s the same thing we would have done if another Arab country won.”

Photo: Georgetown University

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