At the edge of Doha, Qatar’s capital city, lies a sprawling campus known as Education City. There you will find branch campuses of six American universities, one British university and one French university, as well as other Qatari and international educational institutions.
The government of Qatar has invested billions of dollars in Education City. The goal is to educate the country’s young people in fields beyond the petroleum industry in order to diversify its economy.
The six American branch campuses of Education City is where Neha Vora, assistant professor of anthropology and sociology, will be focusing her attention during the 2014-15 academic year.
Vora has received a research grant from the Wenner Gren Foundation to support her research in Doha, which she hopes to publish in her second book. She is also the author of Impossible Citizens: Dubai’s Indian Diaspora, published by Duke University Press.
“The state’s hope is that an indigenous knowledge economy will in turn produce more skilled Qatari citizens for the workforce, thereby also reducing the country’s heavy reliance on foreign workers,” says Vora, noting that citizens make up just 15 percent of Qatar’s population.
While Qatar seeks to provide its citizens with a Western-style education, which brings with it liberal Western attitudes and perspectives, it also wants to preserve traditional values and reinforce a commitment to building the country’s future. This sets up a paradox that Vora will explore in her book.
During her time in Doha, she plans to learn more about the lives of those who study and teach in Education City, and how an American-style education fits with the country’s desire to promote an exclusionary vision of national belonging.