As in many parts of the world, the tertiary education sector in Qatar is growing rapidly, viewed as key to national development on the path to the “knowledge society”. The states of the Islamic world, with a significant but long-obscured past of scientific achievement, are witnessing a contemporary renaissance. The establishment of international offshore, satellite or branch campuses in the Arabian Gulf region emphasizes the dynamism of higher education development there: more than a third of the estimated hundred such university campuses worldwide exist there. Within the context of extraordinary expansion of higher education and science in this region, Qatar presents a valuable case of university development to test the diffusion of an emerging global model not only in quantitative, but also in qualitative terms. With an abbreviated history of several decades, Qatar's higher education and science policies join two contrasting strategies. These contrasting strategies are prevalent in capacity building attempts worldwide: (1) to match the strongest global exemplars through massive infrastructure investment and direct importation of existing organizational ability, faculty, and prestige, and (2) to cultivate native human capital through development of local competence. Thus, university-related and science policy making on the peninsula has been designed to directly connect with global developments while building local capacity in higher education and scientific productivity. Ultimately, the goal is to establish an “indigenous knowledge economy”. To what extent has Qatar's two-pronged strategy succeeded in building such bridges? Does the combination of IBCs and a national institution represent a successful and sustainable path for the future of higher education and science in Qatar — and for its neighbors?


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