Home Articles “The GIS facilities in the State of Qatar are world class”

“The GIS facilities in the State of Qatar are world class”


Dr Mohammad Al Kuwari
Head of GIS Unit and Geography and Urban Planning Programme, Department of Humanities,
College of Arts and Science,
University of Qatar, Doha, State of qatar
[email protected]

Qatar is internationally recognized as a world leader in the integration and application of GIS across all levels of government. In September 1996 the GIS Programme was started at Faculty of Technology, University of Qatar mainly to provide skilled GIS technologists who can be productive staff for the many Government agencies as well as private sector firms. Dr. Mohammad Al Kuwari shares his views on the past, present and future of GIS education in the State of Qatar

Please highlight some of the recent initiatives towards developing GIS education by your department in the State of Qatar?
In the main campus of University of Qatar at the Department of Humanities in the stream of Geography Programme, GIS courses like Introduction to GIS and Advanced GIS are taught for the students of Urban Planning and Geography. Currently initiatives are being taken to introduce more GIS courses.

Recently (in September 1996) GIS Programme has been started at Faculty of Technology, University of Qatar mainly to provide skilled GIS technologists who can be productive staff for the many Government agencies as well as a growing number of private sector firms involved in GIS throughout Qatar. Dr. Balakrishnan, M. Sc (Cartography), PhD (GIS and Remote Sensing) is teaching at GIS Programme, Faculty of Technology.

In what ways is University of Qatar contributing to training in the field of GIS?
The GIS lab facilities in Geography Programme at the Department of Humanities, University of Qatar and also at the Faculty of Technology are world class. Students learn GIS using state-of-the art GIS software and hardware. And as the GIS labs are connected via fiber optic cable to all of Qatar’s publicly accessible GIS databases, the students find the same GIS software and data that they will find when they enter the workforce.

“As most GIS jobs are suitable for both men and women, the women graduates of GIS are also well placed at Departments of GIS at Qatar Water and Electricity, Ministry of Municipal and Agriculture Affairs and other Agencies.”

What are the challenges being faced in promoting GIS education among the students in the country?
Due to the availability of excellent facilities while studying GIS and the availability of ample job opportunities to be absorbed into work force at the State of Qatar, we are not facing any challenges in promoting GIS education among the students in the country.

“The GIS lab facilities are world class. Students learn GIS using state-of-the art GIS software and hardware. And as the GIS labs are connected via fiber optic cable to all of Qatar’s publicly accessible GIS databases, the students find the same GIS software and data that they will find when they enter the workforce.”

What is the present curriculum with regard to GIS stream in the University of Qatar?
Geography Programme at the Department of Humanities includes the following curriculum where GIS is extensively used-

  • Introduction to GIS
  • Introduction to Remote Sensing
  • Computer Applications
  • Cartography
  • Urban Transport Planning
  • Urban Engineering Graphics
  • Planning project

The Technology Programme consists of five semesters plus a four-week on site training period between semesters four and five. The GIS curriculum consists of three building blocks:

  • Foundation Block (Cultural courses, Language courses, Mathematics courses)
  • GIS Block (Introduction to GIS, GIS in Qatar, Georeferencing, GIS Analysis, GIS Programming, Spatial data Input and Output, Remote sensing and final project)
  • Computer Block (Introductory computer courses, Programming courses and Database courses)

What is your opinion about industry-institution-government interface in terms of careers of GIS experts created through education?
Qatar is internationally recognized as a world leader in the integration and application of GIS across all levels of government. GIS is used in virtually every governement agency including Agriculture, Real Estate, Environment etc, for e-Government and companies such as Q-Tel, Qatar Petroleum, Exxon Mobil etc. Most of the GIS opportunities in these areas are filled by expatriates.

Now many GIS students are graduating from the University of Qatar and GIS job vacancies are now being filled by Qatari nationals. As most GIS jobs are suitable for both men and women, the women graduates of GIS are also well placed at Departments of GIS at Qatar Water and Electricity, Ministry of Municipal and Agriculture Affairs and other Agencies.

Qatar has become a leading country in Asia in the field of GIS implementation. Where do you think lies the future of geospatial sciences in the State of Qatar?
Qatar has integrated GIS across all levels of Government and various Government Departments. GIS in Qatar is a very well developed and ongoing application in industry and public utility services as well.


Research projects in geospatial sciences are being planned in an extensive way at the University of Qatar currently. Qatar University is planning to introduce GIS programme at Bachelor Degree as an inter-disciplinary subject.