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Qatar University organizes a research event titled "Sustainability of Urban Life in Qatar and the Gulf Region | Qatar University

Qatar University organizes a research event titled "Sustainability of Urban Life in Qatar and the Gulf Region

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Organized by the Social and Economic Survey Research Institute

The Social and Economic Survey Research Institute at Qatar University is organizing a research event titled "Sustainability of Urban Life in Qatar and the Gulf Region: Workshop on Measures and Methodologies," sponsored and funded by the Qatar National Research Fund (QNRF). The event was attended by His Excellency Dr. Abdullah bin Abdulaziz bin Turki Al Subaie, Minister of Municipality; His Excellency Dr. Hassan bin Rashid Al-Derham, President of Qatar University; Dr. Kaltham bin Ali Al-Ghanim, Director of the Institute; Dr. Mehmet Duman, Secretary-General of the United Cities and Local Governments Middle East and West Asia (UCLG-MEWA); an accompanying delegation; and several university staff members.

Dr. Abdullah bin Abdulaziz bin Turki Al Subaie, the Minister of Municipality, praised the importance of this workshop and the university’s research efforts. He stated, “We strive hard to improve the quality of life, sustainability, and level of 'urban humanization' in the state of Qatar through the implementation of the comprehensive urban plan of the country, which aims to create an ideal model for sustainable urban life in the twenty-first century and achieve the highest level of quality of living and welfare for citizens and residents on the land of Qatar." He also mentioned a number of projects implemented by the ministry that contribute to enhancing the quality of life and sustainability.

For his part, Dr. Hassan Al-Derham, the president of the university, mentioned that this is the first workshop of its kind aimed at discussing and developing innovations in measurement methodologies and modernity for assessing the quality of urban life in Qatar and the Gulf region. Its importance stems from the fact that Qatar and the Gulf countries are currently heavily investing in the development of their cities and urban centers to improve the quality of life and well-being of their people. This workshop represents a tremendous opportunity to exchange ideas on entirely new methods and measures regarding the fundamental dimensions of sustainability and the ability to enhance the quality of life and human well-being in the context of urban development policy in Qatar and the Gulf countries. It also serves as a significant platform for presenting innovative contributions through a place-based approach that focuses on the population.

He added, “I have full confidence that this diverse group of specialized experts, researchers, academics, government officials, and private sector representatives will actively participate today and tomorrow in brainstorming and managing discussions on the challenges of urban development policies and the path to sustainable cities.”

In turn, Dr. Kaltham Al-Ghanim, the institute director, said, “This workshop aims to open the field for free scientific discussions on studying and assessing the levels of urban quality of life in Qatar and the Gulf. The Gulf region is considered one of the most urbanized areas in the world. Urbanization speed is not the only issue; but the more significant matter is the transition towards sustainable or smart cities that target human well-being and urban quality of life. Urban policy stakeholders in the Gulf region need accurate data and indicators that illustrate these dimensions as the essence of the transformative policy goals towards sustainable cities and the qualitative urban development agenda.”

She added, “The current urban development potentials in the Gulf region, in order to become sustainable and of high quality, require new methods and measures, including evidence-based research procedures. Early implementation of well-designed quality of life assessment processes will reveal unsustainable actions and provide guidance on how to avoid undesirable development paths. Despite significant work in these areas in advanced countries, there have been limited efforts to identify indicators and measures specific to urban quality of life in Gulf countries. From our perspective, there are four interconnected dimensions for driving urban development: sustainability, urban behavior, well-being, and urban quality of life, which urban policy stakeholders must consider. Currently, life satisfaction, happiness, ethical self-respect, security and trust, life expectations, beliefs, and aspirations are essential components of quality of life and well-being, beyond just the social and economic aspects of human well-being. In this context, the potential challenges of our modern urban lifestyle are multifaceted and have unequal impacts at the local, regional, and global levels, requiring further research and study.”

Dr. Al-Ghanim emphasized that the aim of today's workshop is to identify the dimensions of a multidimensional scale that contributes to monitoring, measuring, and evaluating the quality of urban life and the foundations of sustainability within it. “We look forward to developing a comprehensive methodological framework for evaluating different-dimensional structures and conducting a longitudinal national study for the State of Qatar using a multidimensional scale to measure the quality of urban life”.

She also indicated that evidence-based research to support public policies in social and economic development planning in Qatar, in accordance with Qatar National Vision 2030, will move forward by refocusing on building strong research evidence for informed decision-making across government stakeholders. This will be achieved through the initiation of a new research agenda in Qatar and the Gulf region, focusing on building indicators related to civilization, sustainable cities, consumption values, behavior, quality of life, and well-being, as well as indicators of social change, migration, the future outlook of the labor market, and much more.

During the workshop, several discussion panels and research dialogues took place. The first session focused on the concepts, indicators, and multidimensional framework of sustainability. The second session revolved around the multidimensional concepts of quality of life and human well-being. The third session covered the framework and methods for building a multidimensional urban quality of life structure. The fourth session addressed areas of consensus and areas that require further work in assessing quality of life and human well-being in the Gulf region. The fifth session involved discussions among stakeholders in the policy field.

Dr. Hessa Al Thani, the Dean of the College of Education at Qatar University, also participated in the workshop. She presented the initiative of education and good living in the first session of the workshop, emphasizing its importance and introducing its components: spiritual, emotional, intellectual, physical, and social pillars.

It is worth mentioning that there were sub-working sessions, with the first group focusing on sustainability, th second group discussing the built environment and urban behavior, and the third working group focusing on urban quality of life and human welfare. The workshop aims to coordinate with relevant entities in urban planning and development policies to establish a multidimensional framework for well-being and quality of life that can be adopted in Qatar and the Gulf region. It seeks to build a cooperative alliance of experts from Qatar, the Gulf countries, and international institutions to further engage in an agenda for improving methods and metrics for continuous assessment of urban quality of life, as well as enhancing and strengthening the research capabilities of young researchers in Qatar, integrating them into a range of qualitative studies.