Updated at 7:30pm with statement from Qatar Foundation
A 14-year-old boy arrested in Texas for building a clock that was thought to be a hoax bomb will be heading to Doha next month after receiving an invitation from Qatar Foundation (QF).
Ahmed Mohamed’s father Mohamed Elhassan Mohamad announced the trip in a statement, the Dallas Morning News reported yesterday on its Irving blog.
According to the newspaper, the invitation to visit Qatar and tour Education City came from QF after Ahmed met the Prime Minister of Turkey Ahmet Davutoglu at the United Nations.
The teen had been touring the US after reports of him being handcuffed, arrested and questioned earlier this month went viral. He was briefly held by police on potential hoax bomb charges after taking a home-made clock into school to show his teacher.
Ahmed was suspended from McArthur High School for three days, but no formal charges were ultimately filed.
He got messages of support on Twitter from famous names including Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Hilary Clinton, NASA and US President Barack Obama, who tweeted:
Cool clock, Ahmed. Want to bring it to the White House? We should inspire more kids like you to like science. It's what makes America great.
— President Obama (@POTUS44) September 16, 2015
“The last few weeks have been truly life-changing for my son Ahmed and for our family,” Elhassan Mohamad is quoted by the paper as saying in a statement announcing the trip.
While the family has not publicly issued any further statement on the visit, Ahmed did appear to endorse the Dallas Morning News’s report, retweeting it from the verified account @IStandWithAhmed.
— Dallas Morning News (@dallasnews) September 28, 2015
Qatar Foundation confirmed in a statement that Ahmed had accepted its invitation to visit the Education City site in order to allow him to “explore the academic opportunities available in Doha,” and that the trip would take place “next month.”
QF said the invitation had been issued “in recognition of his scientific and engineering capabilities that have recently earned him invitations to the White House, MIT and Harvard.”
“The invitation was issued in the context of QF’s Young Innovators Program, which strives to attract bright young minds and talent, and encourages gifted youth to reach their full potential,” the statement added.
Ahmed is expected to visit Doha with his father and the itinerary will include a tour around Qatar Academy and the various universities in Education City as well as Qatar Science & Technology Park.
He will meet QF officials, faculty members and students.
This would not be the first time that QF has stepped in when it comes to issues concerning young Muslims in the US.
After three Muslim American students were shot dead in Chapel Hill this year, QF organized a march of solidarity in Education City.
More than 1,000 took part in the event, which was led by Sheikha Hind, the secretary-general of the International Union of Muslim Scholars, US Ambassador to Qatar Dana Shell Smith and other Qatari officials.
Education City, in western Doha, was launched in 1997 and inaugurated by QF in 2003 and hosts branch and satellite campuses of well-known international universities, Hamad Bin Khalifa University, as well as other science and research centers. It forms a key part of Qatar’s effort to diversify its economy, focusing on education.
New York visit
Yesterday, Ahmed’s Twitter feed featured images of him in New York, meeting world leaders such as Queen Rania of Jordan, media personalities and senior city officials including Council Speaker Melissa Mark Viverito who welcomed him to City Hall.
— Rania Al Abdullah (@QueenRania) September 27, 2015
— NYPDMOS (@NYPDMuslim) September 28, 2015
Last week, Ahmed’s family said their son and two other children were being withdrawn from the Irving Independent School District.
The family has also hired two local lawyers to investigate police treatment of the teen, the Dallas Morning News reported.
In the immediate aftermath of the incident, Ahmed was hailed as a hero of young scientists.
However, comment on the issue has since become divided, with some claiming Irving is Islamophobic, while others allege the arrest was part of a PR stunt.