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Friday, January 21, 2022

Qatar Foundation scholarships ensures ‘uninterrupted education’ for Afghan robotics team


The girls were safely evacuated from Afghanistan days after the Taliban took over the capital city of Kabul on 15 August.

Qatar Foundation [QF] and Qatar Fund For Development [QFFD] granted scholarships to the Afghan Dreamers, a group of girls that form a robotics team.

The girls will now continue their education at world-class QF universities in Doha, where they have spent the last few weeks following a mass evacuation of people from Kabul.

“From uncertainty to opportunity, an all-female Afghan robotics team, ‘Afghan Dreamers’, hops on a new path toward academic success. The team members received scholarships to pursue their high school studies and higher education in Qatar Foundation,” read a statement by QF on Tuesday.

The organisation said the grant follows Qatar’s commitment to ensure people “from the Gulf state and beyond can realise their potential”.

Doha safely evacuated the girls from Afghanistan days after the Taliban took over Kabul and provided them with accommodation at Education City.

The team consists of at least 20 members, of which up to nine are in Qatar and others in Mexico.

Afghan Dreamers’ story first went viral in 2017 after they were denied US visas to participate in a robotics competition in Washington until former US President Donald Trump intervened to allow them entry.

The girls have made several accomplishments with their inventions, including a low-cost medical ventilator that was primarily made out of car parts in efforts to help hospitals easily receive medical equipment during the coronavirus pandemic.

Read also: Qatar invests in empowering Afghan women to join workforce

“These talented, creative students have been living through a time of uncertainty and upheaval, and at Qatar Foundation we want to do whatever we can,” said Sheikha Hind bint Hamad Al-Thani, vice-chairwoman and chief executive of QF.

“By providing them with scholarships to study at Education City, their education can now continue uninterrupted,” she added.

Roya Mahboob, the founder of the team’s parent organisation the Digital Citizen Fund, said the girls were “excited and grateful for this opportunity to study abroad”.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with members of the team during his visit to Doha on Tuesday.

Notably, Mahboob took the opportunity to ask the US official on Washington’s next step for “the millions of the kids and children and women in Afghanistan?”

Responding to the question, Blinken expressed his commitment to helping the team as well as Afghans and others who remain in the country.

“I know this has been an incredibly traumatic experience and moment for all of you and I know that leaving behind everything you know, maybe in some cases families, friends, your community is incredibly, incredibly hard.”

“You’re famous around the world and a source of inspiration,” Blinken told the girls at one of the compounds temporarily housing Afghan evacuees in the Gulf state.

“The story you’ve already told about the importance about women engaging in science… sends an important message around the world, well beyond Afghanistan,” he added.

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