Qatar National Food Security Programme

Presenter: Wajih Idriss and Tahira Newaz

Wajih Idriss received his Bachelor of Science in chemical engineering from Texas A&M University at Qatar in 2010. He then joined the Qatar National Food Security Programme as a Researcher under the Water and Energy engineering department. Wajih has recently moved to the Economic Diversification department where he serves as a System and Technology Analyst.

In 2010, Wajih cofounded FIKRA a for-profit research and consultancy institute. Noticeable project awarded to FIKRA in its first year of institution is a grant from the Qatar National Research Fund for the “Qatarisation-the human resource challenge” project.

Wajih was enrolled, from September 2010 till May 2011, in the Technology Innovation and Entrepreneurship Program, executive course, offered by the Qatar Science and Technology Park. He worked throughout the course on a solar water purification technology developed by a Pittsburg based start up. Wajih graduated form the program with Honors and was a member of the team awarded the Best Pitch Award.

Wajih Idriss is also a member of a family business involved in different sectors across the Middle East.

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Tahira Newaz is the Water and Energy Systems Engineer at Qatar National Food Security Programme (QNFSP), a national initiative established by the Heir Apparent to develop the Food Security Master Plan of Qatar. She joined QNFSP in 2010 as a Researcher for the Water and Energy department and moved towards working on QNFSP’s masterplan projects related to technical infrastructures and governing policies. She also performs independent scientific research to validate findings reported by external entities charged with executing QNFSP’s infrastructure projects. Her research study on thermodynamic and economic assessment of integrated desalination and power generation will be presented at the Qatar Foundation Annual Research Forum, 2011.

Tahira completed her Bachelor of Science in chemical engineering from Texas A&M University at Qatar in 2010. During her time at TAMUQ, she had worked with QNFSP to map Qatar’s water utilities to create a database for utilizing the found resources for agriculture. While at TAMUQ she was the Vice-President of the Qatar chapter of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers and a member of the winning team of the International Chemical Engineering Design Experience competition.

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Qatar National Food Security Programme (QNFSP) representatives Wajih Idriss and Tahira Newaz presented the audience with a detailed explanation on the energy and water technology options currently reviewed for the domestic implementation of the programme.

Qatar is facing two types of food security-related pressures: globally, there is increasing uncertainty over the price and availability of food for export, and domestically, Qatar is extremely water scarce and hence depends on unconventional sources for any additional water, including agriculture. On the domestic side, the objectives of the QNFSP are to improve Qatar’s food self-sufficiency and further the country’s economic diversification. The level of self-sufficiency potentially achieved by the mid-2020s will vary from staple to staple, and could be anything between 10-80%.

The timeframe of the food security programme consists of a currently ongoing planning phase and an implementation phase, due to begin in 2014. The water and energy engineering department of the food security programme is currently studying the feasibility of several technology options in a number of areas, including desalination, solar and wind energy, aquifer storage of water, and smart grids. The programme is currently evaluating the possibility of building up a desalination capacity of 1 billion cubic metres per year, for the exclusive use of domestic agricultural production. The needed energy is envisaged to be produced from clean sources, most likely solar. So far, studies commissioned by the programme indicate that solar desalination would become economically feasible in high LNG export price scenarios. The QNFSP, however, has now opted for a technologically neutral planning strategy, which leaves more flexibility to incorporate new and enhanced technologies as they become available during the 10-year implementation period.