The Government of Qatar has long recognized that educational reforms are vital to develop a diversified, innovation-driven, knowledge-based economy. Education is one of the fastest growing sectors in Qatar and the standard of education is high with many options for students. In 2021, Qatar allocated an estimated $4.89 billion to education and continues to invest in the ever-expanding education sector, currently estimated at $2.5 billion and projected to grow to $2.8 billion in the next two years. As outlined in the National Vision 2030, Qatar is overhauling its primary and secondary schools, and is establishing more public schools through public and private-sector participation. The Supreme Education Council (SEC) and Ministry of Education & Higher Education (MOEHE) are the two government agencies supporting and regulating education in Qatar. The SEC is responsible for overseeing independent schools, and MOEHE supports and oversees the education system in Qatar. There are 207 public and 322 private schools serving approximately 400,000 students, including 166 secondary schools (private & public) serving 52,161 students, offering various curriculum, and serving a variety of nationalities.
While the Government of Qatar requires that all independent schools comply with national curriculum standards in all core subjects, its educational curriculum is comparable to international standards. The government is looking to expand the number of primary and secondary private schools to cater to the growing population of foreign professionals working in Qatar and to provide more options to Qatari citizens. The shortage of private international schools is an issue that results in waitlists around Doha, but the education sector is striving to keep up with increasing market demands. The SEC is making great efforts to establish top international institutions in Qatar for primary and secondary education.
Qatar has a well-established system of higher education that continues to grow and expand. The colleges and universities in Qatar serve not only its own citizens and residents but are a regional hub that attracts students from all over the world, particularly from the Gulf region. Qatar University is the flagship public research university in the country. Alongside Qatar University, there are 31 private and public colleges and universities, including branches of world-renowned U.S. higher education institutions such as Carnegie Mellon University, Georgetown University School of Foreign Service, Northwestern University, Texas A&M University, Virginia Commonwealth University, and Weill-Cornell Medical College, supported by the Qatar Foundation.
The Government of Qatar provides every citizen free education at the primary and secondary level and awards full scholarships to Qatari nationals to pursue their desired field of study at approved universities in Qatar and abroad. There are three financing options for higher education: a Qatari scholarship, an Emiri scholarship, and studying at your own expense. To be eligible for a scholarship, students must gain acceptance to one of the approved universities found on either the Emiri Scholarship or the Approved Universities list. The Emiri Scholarship is the most prestigious scholarship awarded by the government to students who gain acceptance to 30 of the world’s most elite universities. Students wishing to study at their own expense must still obtain pre-approval through MOEHE.
The MOEHE list of approved universities is selected based on various world university rankings, program offerings, mode of study, type of study, and degree program offerings. As of 2022, the list of approved schools & universities consists of 1,753 post-secondary U.S. institutions, and includes thousands of institutions from 85 countries. The approved list is updated every two years.
As part of its Vision 2030, Qatar’s senior leadership established a strategy to educate highly productive, skilled Qatari nationals to meet the demands for labor in top industry sectors and public service. This strategy is known as “Qatarization,” and is designed to increase the number of Qatari nationals in top positions currently occupied by expatriates in business, key industries/sectors, and government departments. The target is 50 percent of the workforce; however, Qatarization, planning, and implementation is most advanced in the oil & gas sector.
The key business drivers for the education sector are demand for quality education, influx of expatriates, and entry of private players into the sector.
Sub-Sector Best Prospects
- Skill Development & Training: Energy, Hospitality, and ICT sectors
- Executive Education: Customized programs for working professionals
- Undergraduate: Architecture, Business Administration/Management, Business Law & Services, Cyber Security and STEM programs
- Graduate: Business Administration/Management, Cyber Security, Dentistry and Pharmacy
The education sector is open for new opportunities and innovative ideas if they fit into the educational and economic goals of the State of Qatar. The country is investing significant resources to train Qatari youth to become entrepreneurs and qualified professionals for the economy in both the private and public sectors.
There are opportunities in skill development and training in energy, hospitality, and information & communication. In addition, school operators/administrators are in high demand as the government plans to establish several new schools to manage the growing demand for quality education in the region.
According to the IIE Open Doors Data, 562 students from Qatar were studying in the United States for the 2020/2021 academic year. The pandemic significantly impacted students’ mobility; however, moving forward, the projections measure an increase in students pursuing higher education programs in the United States.
There is a growing market for international private schools at all educational levels. While private schools are licensed and regulated, school operators can set their own curricula and do their own hiring. Non-Qatari investors can get help in securing land for schools and are exempt from duties on school/education equipment imported into the country.
University Expo Qatar: A comprehensive two-day exhibition attended by students age 16+ who are considering their higher education options, as well as their parents and teachers.
Dates: September 19-20, 2022
Venue: Westin Hotel, Doha, Qatar
- Qatar Foundation
- Ministry of Education and Higher Education (MOEHE)
- Qatar National Commission for Education, Culture and Science
Contact the Commercial Section of the U.S. Embassy