Monday, December 10, 2007


Najem, Tom Pierre and Hetherington, Martin. (2003) Good Governance in the             Middle East Oil Monarchies. London: Routledge Curzon

Official brochures from the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates, Embassy of the State of Qatar and Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia

UAE’s Ministry of Education website

Commission for Academic Accreditation website (

Supreme Education Council of Qatar website

Ministry of Education Saudi Arabia website


The three Middle Eastern monarchies have many similarities in their public higher education systems. First, education is a priority in all three countries. Second, public tertiary education is free in these states and institutions of higher education are sufficient and offer diverse programs. Third, the states and academe have made extensive linkages with industry.

These states only differ in their focus in higher education. In UAE, the focus is on research and development. In Qatar, the state has allowed more institutions that can compete and complement public higher education. In Saudi Arabia, the state has built and expanded universities and colleges.

The unique features in UAE are the high application participation rates in public tertiary education. In Qatar, the government has shown great initiative in reforming education, as seen in the “Education for a New Era” program. In Saudi Arabia, Islamic values and principles contribute in higher education.

In conclusion based from the study, the public tertiary education in these three countries are high-quality and can compete with other educational systems around the world. This signifies that the standard of living in these states are high and it is an indicator of good governance.

Part 3 - Findings: Data Analysis


Who or what government agencies are in charge of public tertiary education in your country? What is the scope of authority of the persons or agencies in charge of education?

Qatar created the Higher Education Institute (HEI) to ensure that their citizens get the best tertiary education. The HEI has three main functions and sections. First, the Advising and Career Center gives information and guidance on educational, career and professional opportunities to secondary and tertiary students and employees. Second, the Scholarship Office offers many educational grants to enable citizens to study in the best institutions at home and abroad. Third, the Institutional Standards Office evaluates and accredits institutions and develops benchmarks for higher education. The HEI oversees the premier higher education institution in the country, Qatar University.

In Saudi Arabia, the Ministry of Higher Education is in charge of all universities, colleges and other tertiary institutions. The ministry has a long-term plan to train citizens with knowledge and skills to enable them to manage the Saudi Arabian economy. One aim of the ministry is to create new public tertiary education institutes and to expand and improve present universities and colleges. Moreover, the Supreme Higher Education Council forms unified policies and regulations on public tertiary education. There are several universities and colleges in Saudi Arabia. The six largest public institutions are the following: King Saud University, Islamic University, King Abdulaziz University, King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals, King Faisal University and King Khalid University.

The Ministry of Higher Education is responsible for public tertiary education in UAE. The Commission for Academic Accreditation (CAA) of the Ministry of Higher Education oversees the licensure of higher education institutions and the accreditation of the offered programs. The CAA guarantees that the UAE’s universities and colleges offer the best and highest quality of tertiary education that can compete with its international standards. The Ministry of Higher Education is also in charge of the undergraduate admissions in the five largest higher education institutions in the UAE, namely: UAE University, Zayed University, Higher Colleges of Technology, University of Sharjah and Gulf Medical College.

Is education the number one priority in government services?

Though Qatar has many oil and natural gas reserves, the state regards its people as its greatest resource and believes that the “intellectual wealth” of the Qatari people would maintain the country’s long-term development. The state of Qatar launched the “Education for a New Era” and the Supreme Education Council to reform, improve and direct the country’s schooling to ensure that its citizens are globally competitive. The government gave more scholarships for Qataris to enter top universities and improved the public higher education system to international standards. The Qatar Foundation created Education City, a 2,500-acre campus composed of branches of some of the world’s leading universities, libraries, research institutes, science and technology parks, teaching hospitals and other facilities.

Saudi Arabia has focused more attention and investment in higher education as the country experienced rapid growth since the 1970s. The state allocated the highest amount of its budget to education in 2006, which gave $US 283.28 billion to schools, universities, technical and vocational training. Besides building new universities and improving existing institutions, Saudi Arabia has improved higher education in three ways: 1) offering more degrees in new fields; 2) promoting more cooperation among the universities, colleges and institutes; and 3) giving more independence and involvement to faculty and teachers in the operations of their universities or institutions. King Abdullah has recently approved 17 new colleges in the country, including several programs for women. Several institutes offer vocational and specialized courses, give adult education and teach the physically and mentally handicapped.

UAE considers its population the “wealth of the nation” and so with the increase in population, investments in education as well as in other social services like health care have been constantly improved. UAE aims to maintain its high standards of living, thus investments in education have been reaping its benefits for the people. Currently, UAE is known for its grand-scale infrastructure projects and an evidence that education is one of the priorities of the government is the incorporation of education infrastructure projects. Dubai is setting-up a 2.33-million-square-metre, multi-university complex, Dubai Knowledge Universities (DKU), in the heart of its ‘Academic City.’

What laws have your country passed to improve public tertiary education?

Qatar has passed laws and launched programs to improve higher education. First is the Emiri decree #37, which created the Supreme Education Council and the Higher Education Institute. Second is the “Education for a New Era,” a reform plan to improve the standards of education from preschool to university. Qatar had many improvements as a result of these laws and reforms. Public tertiary institutions have international accreditation and benchmarks. Scholarship programs are offered to 1,500 Qataris to study in leading universities at home and abroad; this number is likely to rise. Applications to state institutions and government scholarships are now in electronic format. Students now use more educational software, such as Blackboard and Microsoft Learning Gateway, and some schools provide tablet computers to their students.

In Saudi Arabia, the government is focused on developing higher education. The government has created several new universities and colleges and improved current institutions. With so many universities and institutes, Saudi students can earn degrees in almost any field. They can later seek specialization abroad with government scholarships. For instance, King Abdullah has approved 17 new colleges in the country, as well as several programs for women. The King also laid the foundation stone for a university for science and technology worth $US 2.6 billion in Taif. The previous ruler, the late King Fahd, introduced changes in the Higher Education Council and the University System to improve the efficiency and quality of Saudi universities and colleges.

Although UAE has reached very high academic standards, the government recognizes that there should be constant updating of policies and continuous infrastructure developments. There is a current educational strategy employed by the Ministry of Education, composed of five-year plans that will last up to 2020. The main objective is to include IT education at all levels, including at the college level. For example, one of the goals is to provide a computer for every ten children in kindergarten, every five pupils in primary schools, every two students in preparatory schools and one computer per student in universities. Another important educational policy is the collaboration between the public and private sectors. The Abu Dhabi Education Council, an independent corporate body, was formed to develop education and educational institutions in the emirate. The “Public-Private Partnership for Public School Managements” is one of its initiatives to improve the quality of public education. ADEC issued a decree in 2006 abolishing fees at model schools in Abu Dhabi. ADEC has also entered into an agreement in which Zayed University will assist in developing the English language skills of elementary level students at four model schools. Furthermore, the UAE University partnered with Mubadala Development Company for a 30-year concession agreement in 2004 that will enable the development of the new facilities on a BOOT basis (Build Own Operate and Transfer).

Data Analysis:

Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have similarities in their legal framework regarding public tertiary education. The three countries all place priority in education. Both Qatar and UAE believe that human resources are part of the wealth of their nations, thus the need for human development through education. Saudi Arabia’s government believes in the inculcation of Islamic faith in higher education that will complement its development goals.

All three countries have policies that aim to improve public tertiary education; the difference lies in the focus of each country. Qatar is focusing on acquiring international standards by creating connections with Western universities such as Georgetown University. UAE is focusing on research and science and technology, particularly information technology. Saudi Arabia is improving public tertiary education by building more colleges and universities.


How many people are enrolled in colleges and universities in your country?

Qatar has a small and young population with high educational attainment. Even though majority of people of Qatar are young, the number of citizens with university education in 2004 was 92,292 or 14.7% of the population. People with a diploma beyond high school numbered 24,319 or 3.9% of Qataris. Those with higher diplomas, masteral degrees and doctoral degrees comprised 1.2% of the population or 7,772 people.

In Saudi Arabia, around 200,000 students were enrolled at Saudi universities and colleges for the 2003-2004 academic year. More than half of the students are female in the universities for both male and female. There are also several universities only for women. Many male students study abroad or at foreign universities at home.

UAE has one of the world’s highest application participation rates in tertiary education in the world. Ninety-five percent (95%) of all females and eighty percent (80%) of all males who enrolled in the final year of secondary school apply for admission to a higher education institution or to study abroad.

Are the costs for public tertiary education affordable?

Qatar provides free education from preschool to university to all citizens. Support, advice and guidance are provided by the state to help students and families choose the best schools and career options. Scholarships are given to citizens who are qualified to study at home and overseas. Many private institutions with state support exist in Qatar.

Education is free in Saudi Arabia at all levels, from preschool to university. Those who wish to study overseas can apply for scholarships. Some private institutions exist in Saudi Arabia, though not as many as in other Gulf states. The educational system gives free tuition, books and health services. Some students can also qualify for allowances.

Education at all levels, from kindergarten to university, is free for all citizens of the UAE. There is also an extensive private education sector in the country should nationals wish to study in private institutions. Additionally, students may opt to pursue higher education abroad at the Government’s expense.

How many state colleges, universities and other tertiary institutions exist in your country?

The premier state university is Qatar University, which has six colleges and two programs: foundation and pharmacy. The colleges deal with the following disciplines: education, arts & sciences, Sharia & Islamic studies, law, engineering, and business & economics. Qatar University focuses on general education, research and linkages with industry and has 27,000 graduates. Qatar also has other colleges and vocational institutes.

Saudi Arabia has twenty public universities and many colleges and other higher education institutions. The six leading public universities are the following: King Saud University, Islamic University, King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals, King Abdulaziz University, King Faisal University and King Khalid University. King Saud University is the oldest public tertiary institution in the country. This university has some 25,000 students and offers undergraduate until doctorate degrees in various disciplines. Islamic University is the center for Islamic studies and culture with many branches in other countries. King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals is a leading institute in science and engineering, especially in petroleum technology and environmental concerns. Both King Abdulaziz University and King Khalid University offer a variety of programs and degrees. King Faisal University is noted for its agricultural and veterinary science programs and experimental farms. Women are able to study in public universities and in colleges exclusively for females. Higher education in Saudi Arabia impart Islamic values and principles and help students reach the development goals of the country.

There are several government institutions for higher learning in the UAE, including vocational schools. The three leading government institutions are the UAE University (UAEU), Zayed University (ZU), and Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT). UAEU is the country’s flagship national university. It offers over 70 undergraduate programs and a number of graduate programs in various disciplines. UAEU is focusing more on research and graduate studies and is moving from an open enrolment to a more restricted policy. ZU was established with the purpose of educating the women of UAE. It is organized academically into five colleges: Arts and Sciences, Business Sciences, Communication and Media Sciences, Education, and Information Systems. The students are expected to be bilingual, proficient in both English and Arabic, as well as proficient in IT and quantitative and research skills. HCT is a system of UAE colleges designed to offer a more technically oriented education. At present, 12 men’s and women’s colleges in the various emirates provide a diversity of programs to over 15,000 students in modern, technologically equipped campuses.

Data Analysis:

All three states are the same in that they provide free education for all their citizens from pre-school to university. They even send students abroad on government scholarships. All three countries have reputable state-run universities. It can be concluded that public tertiary education in all three countries is highly accessible to their citizens. One unique feature of the UAE is the participation application rate in tertiary education, which is one of the highest in the world. 95% of females and 80% of males in the final year of secondary education apply for college.

Variable 3: LINKAGES     

Do your college and university graduates have high employment rates?

In Qatar, economically active citizens amount to 77.1% of the population or 444,133 people. Those who are not yet part of the labor force include the following: housewives, 11.9% of the population; students, 8.6%; and the unemployed, 2.1%. For the employment statistics according to economic sectors, construction has the most number of employees, with 26.8% of the labor force. Trade, public administration and domestic service hold around 12% each of the working population. Manufacturing captures 9.2% of the workforce while education has 4.5%. According to an estimate in 1999, around 70% of the population are expatriate workers, many from South Asia. Though foreign workers tend to dominate the private sector, unemployment among Qataris tend to be low since many are absorbed in the public sector or state-owned industries.

Saudi Arabia has a very young population. People aging from 15 to 39 years comprise 38% of the population in 1999. In 2001, the total labor force in Saudi Arabia amounted to 6,089,767 people. However, a little more than 3 million of the labor force are foreign workers while the rest are Saudi nationals. The population not part of the labor force amounted to more than 6 million in 2002. Most of the work force fall under the following sectors: service with almost 1.8 million people, professional/technical with more than 1 million, and production with almost 1.5 million. Since the population of Saudi Arabia is very young, this factor has become a challenge for the government. Job creation is an vital national goal and the process of Saudisation has been started to enable nationals to take over much of private sector employment.

The UAE is one of the very few countries in the world where foreigners dominate the private sector, both as employers and employees. At present the majority of the national workforce (88%) is working in a public sector that has reached saturation point and is, therefore, incapable of absorbing the 16,187 nationals entering the job market in 2006. This figure will rise to 19,610 in 2010 and 40,000 by 2020. At present, UAE nationals account for a very small percentage of the total workforce in the private sector, while private sector employment accounts for 52.1% of the jobs in the UAE. Therefore, the creation of job opportunities for national graduates in the private sector is a situation that the Federal Government is anxious to address. One strategy put in place was the establishment in 2001 of the National Human Resource Development and Employment Authority (Tanmia), an independent body whose main objectives are to create job opportunities for UAE nationals, especially in the private sector, reduce the unemployment ratio, enhance the skills and productivity of the national workforce through relevant training, undertake policy-oriented research on a multiplicity of labour-market issues and make recommendations to the Government.  

What is the percentage of graduates who are employed domestically and internationally? What do public tertiary educational institutions do to enable their students to become employed or be competitive?

The economically active Qatari citizens comprise of 77.1% of the population with a low rate of unemployment at 2.1%. Those with post-secondary and university degrees comprise of 15% of the population while people with higher degrees amount to 1.2% of citizens. Much of the education system in Qatar have international accreditation, from elementary until the university level. Qatari citizens can study and work in many schools and universities, knowing that their degrees are comparable or have equivalent standards to other institutions. The state organizes job fairs, advising centers and professional training to students and employees to improve their skills and career opportunities.

Saudi Arabia has a labor force of 6 million divided almost equally between Saudi nationals and foreign workers. A great number of citizens work in the public sector while many foreigners are employed in companies and the private sector. The major public universities in Saudi Arabia have international accreditation but not to the same extent as Qatar and UAE.

Most of the universities in the UAE have international accreditations so graduates are qualified to work internationally. In the UAEU, international accreditation has been awarded to the professional academic programmes and the non-professional programmes undergo periodic external evaluation by international experts to ensure that they meet international standards. 

What are the companies and organizations that recruit in public colleges and universities?

            Qatar University has established long-term linkages and alliances with industry and the government. Moreover, the state has established the Qatar Foundation, which promotes scientific, educational, and community opportunities and collaboration. Many leading universities have branches in Education City, a campus in Qatar outside Doha. Education City has a science and technology park, many libraries and research institutes, and extensive linkages with the government and industry.

            King Saud University has a Riyadh Knowledge Corridor, Riyadh Technology Park and a Nobel Laureates Program. King Abdulaziz University is part of the International Standards Organization and the Saudi Scientific Community. King Fahd University has linkages with Intel, Ingenia and Arabian Fuel and is near the Dhahran Technological Valley.

In the UAEU, students are opened up to new opportunities because of collaboration with international institutions. ZU is successfully innovative in its collaboration with private companies. Smart Square, located in Dubai Internet City (DIC), is a cooperative venture between ZU and IBM. This established a new business partner in the UAE for private and public institutions to create and enhance their e-business and communication activities. Tanmia sponsors a section of the graduate on-the-job training for projects undertaken by Smart Square as part of its policy of equipping nationals with the necessary skills for today’s demanding work environment. ZU also organized the “Women as Global Leaders” conference that prepares the students for active participation in society. The HCT has a commercial arm, The Centre of Excellence for Applied Research and Training (CERT). CERT has strategic alliances with multinational business organizations and prestigious international training institutions to respond quickly and effectively to current needs in the regional and international work place, and to provide professional development and lifelong opportunities for the UAE, the Gulf region as well as other parts of the world through its online training courses. CERT is collaborating in applied research with industry leaders such as Intel, Microsoft and IBM. In 2006 it became the first organization in the region to offer supercomputing power through its acquisition of the IBM Blue Gene, the fastest computing platform in the world. CERT’s clients are large public and private sector organizations in the region, including the UAE Military and the Presidential Court.

What are the challenges and issues in higher education that your country is currently facing? How is the government addressing these challenges and issues?

Though Qatar has a high income per capita, the state cannot simply rely on its oil and natural gas reserves. The citizens must become highly educated and be updated on global changes. Another challenge is the influx of foreign workers to Qatar. However, the state is addressing these challenges by being pro-active and creating programs and vital technology to deal with change. For example, the “Education for a New Era” has changed schooling from preschool to the university level. Scholarships are competitive but career advice and educational guidance are given to everyone for free. Qatar has reduced its quota on foreign workers and has focused on making its citizens more competitive.

Saudi Arabia has some challenges in higher education. Though public schooling is free, there is great discrepancy between the quality of education in different schools at home and abroad. To address this problem, the government has increased the number of scholarships to deserving Saudi students. Another issue is the dominance of foreign workers in the private sector. The state and the university system is addressing this issue by increasing skills and knowledge training for students and employees. Though Islamic values and principles are still important in higher education, the academe has focused on developing the national economy.

The main challenge that the higher education sector in UAE is constantly addressing is focusing on research and training especially in science and technology, to complement the country’s excellence in modernization. Hence, the public universities like UAEU and HCT are focusing on research and IT, respectively. Another remarkable evidence is the strong linkages of the higher education institutions with IT leaders like IBM and Microsoft, proving that IT is the focus of the government in education. Since educational infrastructure is already in place in the UAE and the infrastructure also constantly improves, the focus of the government is to ensure that the youth are prepared to enter the work place with a 21st century setting. Also, to ensure that there enough jobs for the emerging graduates, emiratisation of the workforce is being encouraged by the government, especially in the private sector, where UAE nationals account for a very small percentage of the total workforce. Some progress has already been made in banking, insurance and human resources.

Data Analysis:

Most universities in UAE and Qatar have internationally accredited programs, thus making education competitive with international standards and making their graduates internationally qualified professionals.

There is also a similarity in the three countries with the dominance of foreign workers in the private sector, which their respective governments are trying to address by encouraging the private sector to employ Qatar, UAE and Saudi nationals.

            Both Qatar and Saudi Arabia’s public tertiary education systems have extensive linkages with companies and organizations that provide opportunities for their graduates. Qatar Foundation facilitates the linkages of the universities with different organizations. UAE has strong linkages with IT industry leaders such as IBM, Microsoft and Intel. Saudi Arabia has created more science and technology parks.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Poll # 2

Where would you like to study?


United Arab Emirates

Saudi Arabia

Poll # 1

Would you like to study in the Middle East?

Yes, sounds interesting!

No, thank you.

Submission of Parts I and II

Start:     Oct 29, '07 10:00a

UAE Education

Ministry of Education (Saudi Arabia)


Below is the questionnaire that we are planning to present to our key respondents:

- Who or what government agencies are in charge of public tertiary education in your country?

- What is the scope of authority of the persons or agencies in charge of education?

- Is education the number one priority in government services?

- What laws have your country passed to improve public tertiary education?

- How many people are enrolled in colleges and universities in your country?

- How does this number compare vis-a-vis the general population?

- Are the costs for public tertiary education affordable?

- How many state colleges, universities and other tertiary institutions exist in your country?

- How does this number compare vis-a-vis the total population?

- Do your college and university graduates have high employment rates?

- What is the percentage of graduates who are employed domestically and internationally?

- What are the companies and organizations that recruit in public colleges and universities?

- What are the challenges and issues in higher education that your country is currently facing?

- How is the government addressing these challenges and issues?

Primary Data Sources

Our team is planning to conduct an interview with the officials of the embassies of Qatar, UAE and KSA. For information on Qatar, we will request an interview with Ambassador Abdullah Ahmed Yousef Almutawa of the Embassy of the State of Qatar, located in Dasmarinas Village, Makati City. For information on UAE, we will request an interview with Ambassador Mohammed Ebrahim Aljowaid of the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates, located in Legaspi Village, Makati City. Lastly, for information on KSA, we hope to interview Ambassador Mohammed Ameen Mohammed Wali of the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia also located in Makati City. Since the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia has a bigger delegation in the Philippines, we are hoping to interview their attaché for education to provide us with significant information for our study.


In order to conduct an efficient research on the government support on the public tertiary education system in Qatar, UAE and KSA, our team will need to read important books, articles or periodicals to provide us with the background and necessary facts. We will also utilize reliable online resources in order to obtain the necessary information in answering our problem. To obtain firsthand information about our problem, we are planning to conduct an interview with key officials of the embassies of the aforementioned countries in the Philippines. After gathering the sufficient information, we will analyze our data and proceed in identifying the similarities, differences and unique features of our study.  From there we will make a conclusion of our research and provide recommendations for other future researchers.

Scope and Limitations

The theme of our study is the government support on the public tertiary education systems in Qatar, UAE and KSA, and it covers the legal framework provided by the government, the accessibility of public tertiary education to the people, and the linkages between the government, industry and the academe. The time frame for our study will be the 2nd term of the school year 2007-2008. An excluded variable would be the measurement of the competitiveness of the public tertiary education system since it is difficult to set a standard on competitiveness. Private tertiary education will also be excluded from this study, as well as the historical backgrounds or past government actions – we will limit our study only to information from the year 2000 to the present.


We are planning to interview key officials of the respective embassies of the three countries in connection to our study. However, we can not obtain firsthand information or personal interviews from the Ministries of Education which are considered the most reliable sources for this particular research, hence this will be the limitation of our study. Due to this anticipated weakness, we can only rely on their websites and online resources to supplement our facts. We also cannot interview students, college graduates, professors and other significant actors who have firsthand experience on the matter. The limited time frame will also restrict our study into the more important and specific aspects.

Operational Definition of Variables for Comparison

The comparative analysis will study three variables: 1) legal framework of the government on public higher education, 2) accessibility of state colleges and universities and 3) linkages between the government, industry and the academe.

The legal framework refers to the government agencies, the laws passed and the official policies on public tertiary education. Policies can take the form of budgets, funding, priorities, plans, investment, publicity and other factors. This variable focuses on the government.

Accessibility means the number of people enrolled in public tertiary institutions and its relation to the number of high school graduates, the costs of higher education, the number of schools vis-a-vis the population, the time and requirements for enrolling in colleges and universities. This variable studies more the effect of higher education on people and society.

Linkages refer to the employment opportunities, percentage of graduates employed nationally and internationally and connections of public colleges and uniersities to companies, organizations, government and other employers. This variable focuses on the business and private sectors.

Significance of the Study

Through our comparative analysis of the government support in public tertiary education on Qatar, UAE and KSA, we gain more knowledge and new perspectives from the more developed states of the Middle East. The information that we can obtain from our comparative analysis can be used to improve the quality of the Philippine government’s support in our own public tertiary education, as well as improve the overall competitiveness of our country’s educational system. The Philippine government, particularly the Commission on Higher Education, can pattern the support and programs of these three Middle Eastern countries to their public tertiary education system, where they can be considered applicable to the Philippine scenario.

Our study can also contribute to the academe – as they examine the government support in the three countries, there will also be an examination of our own government’s support to the public tertiary education system. The academe, being the most significant sector that is affected by our study, can provide the channel for the Philippine public tertiary education system and can lobby for an improvement in the government support in terms of legal framework, accessibility and linkages with industry.

The society can gain more insights and new perspectives, this time from a Middle Eastern and Asian perspective and not the usual Western perspective. From this comparative study, the society will be able to know the similarities and differences and compare them with our own system. The society, particularly the youth sector, will be the main beneficiary in the improvement of the Philippine government support in the public tertiary education system.

Review of Related Literature


Qatar is a monarchy ruled by the Al-Thani family since the mid-18th century. The country used to be a British protectorate but gained its independence in 1971.

The current emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, assumed his position since 1995 and acts as the head of state. Prime Minister Hamad bin Jasim bin Jabir al-Thani is the head of government since April 2007.

Qatar is a unitary government divided into 10 administrative divisions or municipalities. In 1999 and 2003, Qatar held nationwide elections to the Central Municipal Council.

The monarch holds executive and legislative powers and appoints judicial positions. The Council of Ministers is the state cabinet and members are appointed by the emir. The municipal council can advise the emir on local issues but it has no authority to pass civic laws and can be dissolved by the minister of municipal affairs.

The unicameral Advisory Council can scrutinize policies and make recommendations but has no legislative power. Elections for some positions in the Advisory Council will take place in late 2007 but the remaining members are appointed by the emir. Qatar's Constitution entered into force in 2005.

The judiciary system in Qatar has two main divisions: the Sharia courts and the civil system. Sharia or Islamic law focuses on personal and family issues and certain criminal cases. The civil system tries cases against the state and all other cases not heard in Sharia courts.

The Ministry of Education and the Supreme Education Council are the government agencies in charge of all levels of learning in Qatar. The Higher Education Institute assists Qatari students in the tertiary level. The Education for a New Era is a recent reform initiative to increase autonomy, accountability, variety and choice in Qatari education. The premier public tertiary educational institution is Qatar University.

United Arab Emirates

The United Arab Emirates is a federation of seven Gulf states: Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Ras al-Khaimah, Sharjah, and Ummal-Qaiwain. During the 19th century, Britain entered into agreements with the Arab sheikhs for mutual protection and transit in the Persian Gulf. The leaders formed a loose federation when Britain withdrew in 1971.

UAE's government is a federal presidential elected monarchy. The ruler of Abu Dhabi becomes the President of UAE and acts as the head of state. The current President of UAE is Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al Nahayan, who succeeded his father, Sheikh Zayed, the founder of UAE, when the latter died in 2004. The ruler of Dubai becomes the Vice-President and Prime Minister of UAE and acts as the head of government. The current Prime Minister is Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who assumed office in 2006.

The monarchs of each state are members of the Supreme Council of Rulers, the highest body that formulates policy, elects the federal president, ratifies federal laws and appoints judges to the Federal Supreme Court. Each emir retains autonomy over his sheikhdom and determines his own state's policy, especially over mineral rights and revenues.

The Federal National Council is the legislature of the UAE. Half of the members are elected; the other half are appointed by the rulers. The FNC can recommend and review legislation but cannot change or veto laws. UAE had a provisional constitution since independence until 1996, when the constitution became permanent and Abu Dhabi was made the capital.

The legal system is based on a dual system of Sharia and civil courts. The Federal Supreme Court is the highest court in the UAE judicial system and its judges are appointed by the President. The FSC decides legal cases between individual emirates and over the federal government.

The Ministry of Higher Education oversees public tertiary education and admits students to state undergraduate institutions. UAE's public tertiary educational institutions include United Arab Emirates University, Zayed University, Gulf Medical College, University of Sharjah and Higher Colleges of Technology.

Saudi Arabia

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is ruled by the family of Abdul Aziz ibn Saud, the founder of the country. The current ruler is King Abdullah, half-brother of the late King Fahd and son of the first leader of KSA. The king acts as head of state and head of government.

The Saudi monarchy is the central government institution in the country. The Council of Ministers, which is appointed by the king, forms policies and directs the activities of the bureaucracy. KSA has 13 administrative divisions, whose governors are appointed by the king. In 2005, the first municipal elections were held in Saudi Arabia.

Sharia or Islamic law is the basis for the country's legal system. The Quran is the constitution of Saudi Arabia. The Basic Law of 1992 supplements Sharia and describes the government's rights and responsibilities.

Similarities and Differences

Qatar, KSA and UAE share many key similarities in their governments. These states are monarchies where the ruling families have retained power for many yearx. The monarchs often hold executive and legislative authority. Legislative and municipal councils can consult and advise the rulers but have no power to change or make laws. Although the states are not democracies, the citizens can consult with their rulers on certain issues. While Islamic law is a basis for governance, there are many secular and civil codes on economic issues. There is little or no taxation for citizens.

The educational systems in the three states share many qualities. Citizens in these countries enjoy free education from nursery to university. Governments provide many services to students and institutions of higher learning. The states give subsidies and support to students in their degrees at home and overseas.

However, the countries also share some issues on population, education and employment. The states have high population growth rates and majority of the citizens are young people. Many foreigners work in these states and compete with citizens for work. Governments have responded to these issues by focusing on job creation and skills training to boost local employment.

Although Qatar, KSA and UAE share many characteristics, several key differences and striking features exist in their governments and education systems. For example, UAE is a federation while Qatar and KSA are unitary states. In KSA, the King acts as both of head of state and head of government. On the other hand, Qatar and UAE have different rulers assuming the roles of head of state and head of government.

The governments also differed in their focus on tertiary education. Qatar is importing more Western expertise and creating more linkages with other universities. UAE is focusing on research and building more science and technology centers. All three countries are sending more of its citizens to study and train overseas.


Qatar, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates are located in the Arabian Peninsula along the Persian Gulf. The citizens of these states are mostly Muslims and ethnic Arabs. Though the ruling elites often inherit their titles and authority, Islamic law is the basis of governance. These countries also share a vital natural resource—oil.


Although these countries have enjoyed a long and rich history, their economies greatly changed with the discovery of oil. Beginning in the mid 20h century, these Gulf coast states witnessed a rise in foreign investment and income per capita. Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Qatar became welfare states and provided free social services, such as health care and education. However, oil is a non-renewable resource and cannot last forever. These states have realized this situation and have begun to diversify their economies and to address domestic needs and global changes.


A state can diversify and improve its economy by investing in profitable sectors and training its people to become highly skilled and globally competitive. In a world economy that relies more on knowledge and information, it is becoming essential for a country to provide its citizens with good higher educational institutions. Moreover, a government should also anticipate future needs and initiate linkages between the academe, the public and private sectors.


According to the World Bank, an indicator of good governance is the effectiveness of the government’s public services, which include education for its citizens. We chose to examine the government support in the public tertiary education in the belief that it reflects one aspect of the quality of life of the people. Strong government support in the educational system greatly contributes to the welfare of society as well as in the development of the state.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Education for a New Era (Qatar)

Research Problem

The theme of our comparative analysis is the quality of government support in public tertiary education in three Middle Eastern monarchies—Qatar, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates. We would like to study the legal framework of the government on public tertiary education, the accessibility of public colleges and universities to the people and the linkages between the government, industry and the academe.