Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar (Arabic: جامعة كارنيجي ميلون في قطر), is one of the branch campuses of Carnegie Mellon University, located in Doha, Qatar. It is Carnegie Mellon's first undergraduate branch campus, is a member of the Qatar Foundation, and began graduating students in May 2008.
Carnegie Mellon Qatar currently has approximately 400 students, 60 faculty and postdoctoral researchers, and 90 staff.
Carnegie Mellon University's campus in Qatar was established in 2004. It was the fourth U.S. higher education institution to establish a campus in Qatar. The establishment of the campuses was spearheaded by Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, the mother of Qatar’s current Emir Tamim bin Hamad al Thani.
Carnegie Mellon Qatar is part of Education City, a campus on the outskirts of Doha that currently houses eight other university campuses from the United States and Europe. Education City’s other institutions include Georgetown University School of Foreign Service, Weill Cornell Medical College, Virginia Commonwealth University, Texas A&M, Northwestern University, HEC Paris, and University College London.
The degrees issued by Carnegie Mellon are the same degrees and curriculum that students receive at the Pittsburgh campus. Undergraduate degrees are offered in Computer Science, Business Administration, Information Systems, Computational Biology, and Biological Sciences (a degree offered in conjunction with Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar).
The campus facilities and upkeep to them is entirely covered by the Qatar Foundation. Carnegie Mellon also received money each year to run the campus and pay faculty. It is estimated that Carnegie Mellon has received between $50 and $60 million per year from Qatar to run the campus. Tuition for the school was $49,610 in 2015.
As of December 2015, the campus had 62 faculty members. In a Washington Post article, the dean of the University’s Qatar campus, Ilker Baybars, called faculty recruiting “the most difficult part of [his] job”, noting that it is difficult to persuade tenured professors to leave America for Doha. In order to persuade professors to teach at the Doha campus, the university has provided incentives such as salary premiums, generous housing arrangements, and research funding .
Carnegie Mellon Qatar is housed in a building designed by architects Legorreta + Legorreta. The university began occupancy in August 2008. All academics, student affairs, operations, and events are held in the building.
Some have criticized the Qatari government for placing too much emphasis on and giving too much funding to international institutions of higher education which serve only the countries elite, without also demonstrating, and stimulating, the quality of national institutions.
Education City has been the subject of criticism for its hosting of extremist preachers at its mosque. This is in violation of the very prominent Jeddah Communique signed by the GCC member states and the US to commit to combat the threat of terrorism. Announcements of these types of speakers are regularly promoted by Education City’s Housing and Residence Life to Education City students. While American institutions of higher education place strong emphasis on freedom of speech and religion, these types of hate preachers openly speak out against these principles and create an intolerant atmosphere for students of Education City. For this reason, Carnegie Mellon, along with other Education City institutions, has been the subject of criticism over whether the large amount of funding they receive provides an incentive for them to remain silent about hate preachers at Education City and other issues such as Qatar’s sponsorship of terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda and ISIS and its abysmal human rights record.
Carnegie Mellon, along with the other institutions of Education City, has also been the subject of questions over how a U.S. institution that values freedom of speech can function in a country where Islamic Sharia Law is strictly enforced and the monarchy has absolute power. Critics have repeatedly called into question the role that Sharia Law plays on university campuses in Qatar and how this affects the students at Carnegie Mellon and others. Qatar also adheres to Wahhabism, one of the most fundamental sects of Islam. With these limitations in place due to Qatari societal norms, the question is raised of whether or not Carnegie Mellon and the rest of Education City can truly provide the same caliber of academic experiences as their main U.S. campuses.
Criticism has not only fallen on the universities, but also on Qatar as critics question whether their motive for hosting the universities is really to improve higher education opportunities in Qatar, or rather that it is more about exporting their beliefs.