Foreign Schools in the Gulf Need More of a Local Push

In Qatar’s Education City, Audis and Range Rovers fill the student parking lots leaving any reminders of the vast desert far behind. Unlike the schools of India and China, the common areas of Education City look as though they have been plucked from U.S. campuses with a large complex that spans over 5 square miles and houses 8 Western Universities, one of them for Georgetown. Education City was founded in 2001 by the government of Qatar. Some analysts say that the universities which are serving student bodies that are dominated by foreigners, seem like bubbles cut off from Gulf culture and society.” Many professors are worried that such a type of education “will create generations of Emiratis or Qataris who are very well educated but are disconnected from their country’s history, culture and language.”

The high cost of education usually associated with such name brand schools as the ones found in Education City are not an issue for local citizens. The government of Qatar grants the majority of its citizens full scholarships regardless of financial need while foreign students pay costs similar to the corresponding U.S. schools. “We do realize that the whole operation in Education City is funded by Qatar, so we want to maintain our standards without dropping to a low percentage of Qataris or having no link to society,” said Gerd Nonneman, dean of Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service in Qatar. The objective is clear: More Qataris in Qatari Schools ! Hopefully, though, there will also be a continued influx of international students so that any discussion and debate on campus will be global rather than local.