Date of this Version
Published in Journal of the National Collegiate Honors Council, Fall/Winter 2012, Volume 13, Number 2
The first Western honors program to be established in the Arab Gulf is offered in Doha, Qatar, on a small satellite campus of an American university. Doha is the capital city of Qatar, a sovereign Arab state physically located on a small peninsula bordering Saudi Arabia in the south and jutting into the Persian Gulf. With a population of only 1.7 million, roughly 11 % of whom are Qatar nationals (according to the 2010 Qatar Census), Qatar “ranks as the world’s richest country per capita,” due primarily to wise investment and control of “the third largest reserves of natural gas in the world” (Greenfield). Qatar’s ruling monarchy, the Al-Thani family, has strongly supported education and research in the nation by inviting top-ranked institutions from around the world to set up campuses in Qatar. One testament to the success of this initiative is that 70% of Qatar’s population had attained a secondary degree by 2010 (Statistics Authority and the Diplomatic Institute). Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) School of the Arts was the first external institution invited to Qatar due to its ranking as the #1 American public school of art and design. Virginia Commonwealth University Qatar (VCUQatar) became the first Western university to offer an undergraduate honors program in this part of the world.