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Scientific diplomacy


The scientific and academic cooperation between Italy and Qatar looks back on a long history, which has been further consolidated by two Memorandum of Understanding in 2006 and 2012, between the Italian Ministry of Education, University and Research, and Qatar Foundation. These agreements aim to strengthen the relations between the universities and other research centers of the two countries. In this framework, several collaborative projects have been launched between the Qatar Foundation and the Qatar Science and Technology Park (QSTP) on the one hand, and several Italian university institutions, research centers, and science and technology parks on the other, focusing mainly on the medical and biomedical sectors. Italy and Qatar share common interests, especially in the sectors of energy and environment, aviation, health and biotechnologies, telecommunications, media, and digital media.

The bilateral agreement signed in Rome in 2012 regarding education, university, and research has been ratified by the Italian parliament in 2020 and has initiated many exchanges and visits by experts, student delegations, and school and sports groups. Moreover, the agreement foresees the promotion of the language of the other Party, efforts to foster academic cooperation and faculty agreements, and the organization of periodic meetings of representatives of the two countries to realize common goals and stimulate joint research in science and technology.

The centers of medical and scientific research in the biomedical sector in Qatar are Sidra Medicine and Hamad Medical Corporation, whereas Hamad bin Khalifa University, which is part of Qatar Foundation, covers many sectors, from precision medicine to computer science. These facilities host several Italian researchers whose expertise is particularly appreciated.

Most of the joint scientific research between Italy and Qatar takes place in the context of Sidra Medicine in Doha, which is a pediatric center of excellence and home to various Italian researchers. Moreover, joint scientific research has also concerned studies on Covid-19. In this regard, the Universities of Rome Tor Vergata and Trieste have cooperated with the Qatar Genome Programme (part of Qatar Foundation) in April 2020 to study genetic factors that might alter the impact of Covid-19 on infected persons. Hamad Medical Corporation and the Mater Olbia Hospital in Sardinia have conducted a similar bilateral research project in this field during the same period.

Concerning environmental cooperation Italy will join the 2023 Expo in Doha, which is the first Horticulture Expo in the Middle East and North Africa, to be held in Doha from October 2, 2023, to March 28, 2024. The participation of Italy in the Expo is particularly important since it highlights the strong collaboration between the two countries in terms of sustainability, food security, and the fight against desertification.

In academia, Qatar has some public facilities, the main one being Qatar University, and campuses established in Doha by foreign universities. Qatar University has agreements with 7 Italian universities (University for Foreigners of Siena, Polytechnic University of Turin, Polytechnic University of Milan, the University of Rome “Tor Vergata,” the University of Rome “La Sapienza,” the University of Naples “L’Orientale,” University of Cagliari).

SDA Bocconi is also present in Qatar, where it has been offering postgraduate executive courses in the field of major sports event management since 2019 on behalf of the FIFA World Cup 2022 organizing committee.