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 Qatar University campus

Qatar University

Qatar University campus

Faculty members and staff at Qatar University must now use Arabic during meetings and in work-related emails and letters, the institution’s president has announced.

In a short, bilingual statement on Wednesday to all staff members, Dr. Hassan Al Derham said that the decision would be effective immediately.

He explained:

 

“As the Arabic language is the official language of the State of Qatar, please note that all meetings, minutes of meetings and correspondence (paper and electronic) must be in Arabic.

Colleges/Departments that teach in English may be exempted from this directive, other than that, the official discourse language must be in Arabic at QU. Please note that the University will provide translation to those who do not understand Arabic.”

The move will likely mean a significant change for many staff who are used to communicating in at least some English.

Exemptions

However, it only applies to colleges or departments that currently teach their programs in Arabic.

Others whose main language of instruction is English, including the colleges of engineering, pharmacy and medicine, will not be affected, a QU spokesperson confirmed to Doha News.

Science programs at the university’s College of Arts and Sciences are also conducted in English.

In a tweet about the decision last week, Al Derham said:

Translation: To show pride in our identity and in adherence with the State’s instructions, we have emphasized today the necessity of making Arabic the official language in all meetings, lectures and correspondences at Qatar University.

The university did not say how it will enforce this rule, or what penalty would be imposed, if any, on someone who doesn’t follow it.

‘Commendable’

The decision was resoundingly supported by commenters on Twitter, who described it as “commendable” and “laudable.”

Translation: This is a commendable step. We look forward to having this decision include course registration and all other electronic services so that the Arabic language becomes the main option and not an alternative to English.

Translation: A laudable decision and we hope to see it implemented at all institutions and companies in Qatar.

Some said it was overdue, given that Qatar’s constitution designates Arabic as the language of the state.

Translation: We’ve been awaiting this decision for ages. Thankfully, it’s finally a reality. We pray to God to come to your aid (President of QU) in order to enforce our identity and religion and have them reflected in all aspects at university.

Meanwhile, others called for the university to go further by mandating its graduate programs be taught in Arabic, as opposed to English.

Translation: What’s even more important is for Arabic to be the main language in studying for masters and doctorates so that students are equipped to help their compatriots in a meaningful way through their mother-tongue. Hopefully, there will also be an increase in the number of Arabic studies and resource texts at the university’s library.

Translation: What about the scientific courses at the faculty of education? Why can’t they be taught in Arabic? We hope that you would look into this too.

Draft law

QU did not comment further on the decision or officially explain why it has been introduced.

Nor has it said what, if anything, will happen to its English-speaking staff and faculty in the affected colleges.

However, earlier this year, Qatar’s Cabinet approved a draft law that would require all ministries, official organizations and public schools and universities to use Arabic in all their communications.

Photo for illustrative purposes only

Katara.net

Photo for illustrative purposes only

At the time, QNA reported that the move would affect all ministries, official institutions, municipalities and public educational institutions at all levels of education.

This likely includes all government-run kindergartens, schools and universities.

The draft legislation would require these organizations to use Arabic for instruction, documents, contracts, transactions, correspondence, labels, programs, publications, advertisements and “all that comes out of their systems,” the news agency said at the time.

Changing university

QU used to teach many of its arts and humanities subjects in English.

However, in early 2012, the then-Supreme Education Council ordered that classes in law, international affairs, media and business administration be taught in Arabic instead.

This latest decision also comes amid an ongoing push for Arabic to be more widely used in daily discourse in Qatar.

Sheikha Moza

UN Geneva/Flickr

Sheikha Moza

There are concerns that many younger people in the country do not have a strong enough grasp of Modern Standard Arabic (fus’ha).

Qatar Foundation chairperson Sheikha Moza bint Nasser has repeatedly raised this issue, as she equated a loss of language to the erosion of cultural identity.

Thoughts?

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Sam Agnew/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

A spike in the number of dead fish found on Qatar’s beaches this summer is largely due to climate conditions including high sea temperatures and low levels of dissolved oxygen in the surrounding waters, marine experts have said.

Around 18 types of fish including the locally-found safi, sahri, jesh and rabib have all been affected by recent warm seas – both near the surface and at the sea-bed level, the Ministry of Environment and Qatar University (QU) said in a statement.

dead fish on Qatar beach

Ministry of Environment / Qatar University

Dead fish on Qatar beach

Specialists from the MoE‘s fisheries department and the management of environmental monitoring, as well as marine experts from Qatar University‘s Environmental Studies Center and the Ministry of Interior‘s Coasts and Borders Security Department, studied the reasons for reportedly high numbers of dead fish being found on the surface of the sea and also washing up on beaches.

Using QU’s marine research vessel Janan, the team surveyed the sea water, monitored and studied samples of dead fish and examined the physical and chemical characteristics of the sea waters at depths of seven meters, 14 meters and 29 meters, to investigate if there were any pollution issues.

Sea water samples were tested for temperature, dissolved oxygen, density, ionization and salinity, as well as its overall quality and safety.

Qatar University marine research ship Janan

Ministry of Environment / Qatar University

Qatar University marine research ship Janan

During the research, which was conducted off Qatar’s coast last week, surface sea temperatures were found to be “relatively high”, ranging from 35.65C to 36.2C.

Sea-bed temperatures were of a similar level, from 35.76C to 35.92C, while dissolved oxygen levels were low, ranging between 2.99 and 3.86 milligrams per liter.

Hot water

Ruling out pollution as a cause, the team said that that in this case, the fish deaths were primarily a result of “climatic factors, most importantly rising summer sea temperatures”, which happens in Qatar’s waters every couple of years around late August and early September, before starting to cool again.

Testing fish

Ministry of Environment / Qatar University

Testing fish

Related factors of marine plankton, wind, ocean currents and low levels of dissolved oxygen also contributed, the MoE said.

While not mentioned in this statement, previous research by Qatar specialists has found that fish, particularly those species living on the sea floor, can become ill and die when sea temperatures exceed 35C.

QU Marine Biology Professor Dr Ibrahim al Maslamani said the high summer temperatures particularly affected demersal fish, which live and feed on or near the sea floor. They are less mobile than other more agile, pelagic species (which live in open water columns) and are unable to swim away to find cooler waters when the sea temperatures rise.

In a statement, the Director of the MoE’s Fisheries Department, Mohammed Saeed Shukairy al Mohannadi, said that the results of the survey “confirm that the current phenomenon of fish mortality is a direct result of climatic conditions in terms of high sea temperature and the subsequent low dissolved oxygen levels.”

Previous research

It is not unusual for Qatar’s sea water to heat up at this time of year. QU’s Dr Ibrahim Mohamed Al-Ansari, who took part in this recent research, has been monitoring the sea temperatures around the state for decades.

Qatar University marine research ship Janan

Ministry of Environment / Qatar University

Qatar University marine research ship Janan

He said that spikes in sea temperatures can happen approximately every other year.

In 2002, Dr Al-Ansari published a paper on research he and other colleagues undertook, examining why 40 tons of dead fish were found off Qatar’s east coast in the summers of 1996 and 1998, when the sea temperatures rose to 37C and 38.6C respectively.

They ruled out pollution, algae poisoning, parasites or other disease.

The team found that when sea water warmed up beyond 35C, many species of fish, particularly those found around coral reefs, couldn’t cope. They have difficulty breathing, can’t feed, swim uncontrollably and eventually die, creating what scientists term a “fish kill phenomenon”.

In a controlled experiment, they tested 10 species of fish and found that none could survive for more than 24 hours in water hotter than 35C.

Qatar’s waters are home to around 150 fish species from around 50 families.

Thoughts?

All photos courtesy of Qatar University

More than 1,400 students from Qatar University celebrated their graduation in two separate ceremonies held over two days at the Qatar National Convention Center (QNCC).

Deputy Emir at QU Graduation 2015

Qatar University/Twitter

Deputy Emir at QU Graduation 2015

The Deputy Emir and Chairman of QU’s Board of Regents Sheikh Abdullah bin Hamad Al-Thani was the main guest of honor for the male students’ ceremony on May 20, while the women’s event on May 21 was honored by Sheikha Jawaher bint Hamad bin Suhaim Al -Thani, wife of the Emir.

Women comprise the majority of students at Qatar University, and a total of 1,041 received their degrees from QU President, Prof. Sheikha Abdulla Al-Misnad.

Meanwhile, 381 male graduates were awarded degrees in the presence of the Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Sheikh Abdullah Bin Nasser Bin Khalifa Al-Thani, as well as other government ministers.

This year’s ceremonies were among the university’s largest in recent years, with 153 more graduates than last year. In 2013, 1,071 QU students were conferred degrees.

The Class of 2015 included 169 top-achieving students (136 women and 33 men) with a GPA of 3.50 or above, which equates to an A- grade.

Qatar’s first PhD

This week, Qatar also the graduation of its first homegrown PhD students, from the College of Engineering, the college’s dean announced on Twitter:

Maan Mohammed Jalal Haj Rashid received his PhD from the college’s department of Computer Science and Engineering, while on Thursday Alaa Ghassan Aboutaqa was awarded her degree certificate from the department of Civil Engineering.

“This is a milestone for the college that has grown by leaps and bounds since its establishment and which is now one of the best in the region,” Dr. Alammari said in a statement.

A total of 1,243 Bachelors certificates (924 women and 300 men) were awarded across the two ceremonies, with the majority (414) from the university’s largest college, the College of Arts and Sciences, which also has the most number of female undergraduate students (368).

The College of Engineering had the largest number of male graduates with bachelor’s degrees (124).

At the graduate level, there were 199 students awarded – 185 with Master’s, 11 as Doctors of Pharmacy and one education diploma, in addition to the two PhDs.

Well wishes

Messages of congratulations to the graduating students buzzed through Twitter, under the hashtag #QUGrad15:

https://twitter.com/NAlYahari/status/601361274128048128

Valedictorian Ahmed Al-Faridooni

Qatar University

Valedictorian Ahmed Al-Faridooni

Valedictorian Ahmed Al-Faridooni from the College of Law spoke for his peers, saying: “We’ve waited for this moment since we were school students, and today we are starting a new phase in our lives.

“We overcame a lot of challenges to realize this successful chapter and we thank Qatar University who gave us high-quality education and the opportunities to excel and unlock our potential, our parents for their continuous support and sacrifice, and our professors for their guidance and contribution in developing our academic and professional abilities and capacities.”

Congratulating the latest batch of graduates, Prof Al-Misnad said:

“We are proud of you for achieving this milestone of a lifetime which highlights your hard work, commitment and dedication. You will embark on a new and exciting phase of your life as you prepare to join the labor market and pursue other endeavors…”

She also highlighted the important role of women in society, as “leaders in the world of business and other professional sectors,” and said the university would support them to overcome challenges, societal restrictions and cultural barriers to enable them to succeed.

Congrats, grads! Thoughts?