- An organization bankrolled by Qatar funds over two dozen U.S. public schools and 10 U.S. public colleges.
- Qatar has been accused of serious human rights allegations.
- The organization’s CEO is the daughter of the former emir of Qatar.
Nearly two dozen K-12 schools and 10 colleges across the U.S. receive money from a group bankrolled by Qatar, a Middle Eastern nation with a highly criticized human rights record that allegedly aligns itself with terrorists.
Qatar Foundation International LLC (QFI LLC), which was founded in 2012 in Delaware and is the U.S.-based subsidiary of the Doha-based nonprofit Qatar Foundation, gives money to public schools to strengthen Arabic programs for children.
QFI LLC gives grants to public K-12 schools, academic programs and colleges in California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Texas, Virginia, Washington State and Washington, D.C.
“QFI grants for schools, students and teachers support education in Arabic language and about the Arab world. They are designed to enable students to become engaged with 21st century skills and global competency, and support programs that reach more than 3,200 students in the US and Europe,” a QFI LLC spokesperson told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
Qatar Foundation is a registered foreign principal, meaning it is a group “organized under the laws of or having its principal place of business in” a foreign country, founded by the former Qatari Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani and his second wife, Sheikha Moza Bint Nasser, according to a FARA form.
A 2015 QFI memo states that the U.S.-based group was formed “for the purpose advancing the vision of Her Highness Sheikha Moza Bint Nasser and the vision of Qatar Foundation.”
The FARA form also notes that QFI LLC’s CEO and nominal founder is Sheikha Hind bin Hamad Al-Thani, the daughter of the former emir. QFI LLC’s chairman of the board is Sheikh Abdul Aziz Bin Jassim Al Thani, another member of the Al Thani royal family.
Qatar is a Sharia-law monarchy and the richest country in the world on a per capita basis. The nation has been accused of aligning itself with terrorists and other extremists.
Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Yemen and Libya have severed ties with the Gulf state. Saudi Arabia blamed Qatar for “financing, adopting and sheltering extremists” in June 2017.
A former senior analyst for the Dutch Military Intelligence and alleged victim of Qatari hacking, Ronald Sandee, previously told the Daily Caller, “Qatar has no real power, so they need soft power. How do you get soft power? You invest, you bribe, you work with people.”
Arabic is the second-most popular language at U.S. public schools after Spanish, The Wall Street Journal reported in August 2017.
- Bell High School, Los Angeles
- Elizabeth Learning Center, Los Angeles
- Granada Hills Charter High School, Los Angeles
- Hamilton High School, Los Angeles
- Wilbur Cross High School, New Haven
- Christopher Columbus Family Academy-8 School, New Haven
- Boston Arts Academy, Boston
- Boston Latin Academy, Boston
- Primary Source, Boston
- Washburn High School, Minneapolis
- Justice Page Middle School, Minneapolis
- Lyndale Elementary School, Minneapolis
- Concordia Language Villages, Bernidji, Minnesota
- Public School (P.S.) 261, New York City
- P.S. / I.S. 30, New York City
- Global Language Project, New York City
- Anne Chesnutt Middle School, Fayetteville, North Carolina
- Lincoln High, Portland, Oregon
- West Sylvan Middle School, Portland, Oregon
- Austin High School, Austin, Texas
- Burnett Middle School, Austin, Texas
- O’Henry Middle School, Austin, Texas
- Arabic Immersion Magnet School, Houston
- Harrisonburg High School, Harrisonburg, Virginia
- MacFarland Middle School, Washington
- Washington Latin Public Charter School, Washington
- OneWorldNow!, Seattle
- Kalimah Arabic Program, Bethesda
- Middlebury Interactive Languages, Middlebury, Vermont
- Global Exploration for Educators Organizations, Norristown, Pennsylvania
- Global Educational Excellence Schools, Dearborn, Michigan
- The Montana World Affairs Council, Missoula, Montana
QFI LLC has also given grants to 10 public colleges and collegiate programs:
- University of California, Berkley
- Five Colleges Inc., Amherst, Massachusetts
- University of Minnesota’s Center for Advanced Language, Minneapolis
- Duke University, Durham, North Carolina
- Portland State University
- University of Texas at Austin
- University of Arizona, Tuscon
- University of North Georgia, Dahlonega, Georgia
- University of Chicago
- University of Illinois at Ubrana-Champaign, Urbana, Illinois
- Verbally and Mathematically Precocious Youth Program, Bowling Green, Kentucky
Criteria for grant eligibility is unclear because the application process requires schools and programs to email QFI LLC prior to answering a questionnaire, and none of the schools detail how they were accepted for grants on their websites.
QFI LLC also reaches out to schools to offer grant applications and proposals, according to WSJ.
“The application process is outlined on our website and includes submitting a written narrative, budget, timeline for implementation, etc. Applications are submitted via our grants management portal and reviewed by education experts and veteran teachers,” a QFI LLC spokesperson told the DCNF.
“Grants that help schools are aimed to establish or expand Arabic language and culture programs that are able to be sustainable within five years. The grants are reviewed annually,” the spokesperson continued.
Houston activist Sam Herrera, who planned a protest in the city against the opening of a state-funded Arabic immersion school that received money QFI LLC, told WSJ he was concerned that schools were taking money from the company without knowledge of its background and ties to Qatar.
“They hide under school districts wantonly taking the money. They’re not going to overtly come out and tell you what they’re doing,” he said.
The executive director of the Qatar Foundation’s CEO office, Omran Hamad Al-Kuwari, told WSJ, “There’s a lot of PR wars going on. Everybody that comes to Qatar knows what we are about.”
QFI LLC’s website states its educational programs are not only designed to teach Arabic, but also seek to “foster a deeper understanding of the Arab world through the teaching of Arab and about the region’s societies and cultures.”
The company’s flagship curriculum project, an Arabic-language site called Al-Masdar, describes itself as an “open-education resource library” that “features a wealth of materials and resources for educators including lesson plans, units, authentic materials and more,” was developed by and gets funding from QFI LLC.
QFI LLC, says Al-Masdar “provides Arabic language and Arab culture teaching materials, opportunities, news, and events relevant to both teachers and students. Al-Masdar is a single source for teachers to create, publish, and collaborate with colleagues on materials developed for their classrooms.”
Al-Masdar supplies educational materials for Arabic-learning programs to U.S. high schools and colleges. Some lessons present information created by Americans who hold radical, anti-American positions and/or pro-Qatari positions, the National Review reported in 2018.
“[Qatar Foundation] schools and mosques often host the most virulently radical Islamist preachers, including one who referred to the 9/11 attacks as a ‘comedy film,’ another who said that Jews bake Passover matzah with human blood (‘believing that this brings them close to their false god’), and a third who accused the Shia of ‘poisoning’ and ‘sorcery,'” according to the National Review.
The official government policy was ‘Israel doesn’t exist,” and maps of Israeli territory were labeled “Palestine,” the report notes.
One lesson on the site called “Express Your Loyalty to Qatar” shows a YouTube video in which Qatari bankers express their loyalty to the country, the government, Emir of Qatar Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani and Qatar’s people. The lesson comes without guidelines for teachers.
The lesson does not mention the fact that 95% of Qatar’s workforce is made up of 2.1 million Indian and Nepali laborers working in “modern-day slavery,” as the DCNF previously reported.
“These laborers make maybe $100-per-month, and people pull up in these sports cars and their mouths drop. That’s where you see this shocking contrast,” New York lawyer Sonya Shaykhoun told the DCNF. Qatar’s minimum wage was $195 per month for migrant workers in November 2017. According to Amnesty International, however, some aren’t paid at all.
Employers regularly take workers’ passports when they arrive in Qatar, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW). Additionally, people who owe money in Qatar are banned from leaving the country, including many white-collar American workers.
Another lesson titled “Muslim Women in the U.S.” aims to discuss the “U.S. government’s perspective on Muslim women during the early portion of the 21st century through the lens of Dr. Lila Abu-Lughod,” author of the book, “Do Muslim Women Really Need Saving?”
In a 2013 interview with Harvard University Press, Abu-Lughod appeared to blame the brutal violence, imprisonment and frequent inability to access education and health care, in part on the United States.
“Let’s look at what [the Unites States is] doing that’s making women’s lives in Afghanistan so difficult. You’ve got this incredible poverty, you’ve got this militarism, you’ve got people with guns everywhere. … Women are deeply affected by that, and part of that is our responsibility, so that’s the part we could work on,” she said.
She also suggested that people should stop asking whether Islam takes Muslim women’s rights away from them: “Maybe we should stop and not say, ‘Do Muslim women have rights or don’t have rights or does Islam give women rights or take rights away from them? Are there better alternatives?’ … Well, let’s look at who uses this concept of Muslim women’s rights.'”
“I think it’s a constraining framework for understanding people’s lives,” she concluded.
Marriage contracts in Qatar become valid when a woman’s male guardian concludes the contract and two male witnesses are present under a 2006 Qatari law. The same law does not criminalize domestic violence, a wife must obey her husband and household duties are a wife’s responsibility, according to HRW.
Qatar’s nationality law also does not allow Qatari women married to non-Qatari spouses to pass their nationality on to their children. Qatari men with non-Qatari spouses, however, can pass their nationality on to their children under Qatari law.
Another lesson plan titled “Whose ‘Terrorism’?” questions the meaning of terrorism and creates scenarios for students to discuss, such as: “Israeli soldiers taunting and shooting children in Palestinian refugee camps, with the assistance of U.S. military aid.” The lesson asks students to decide whether the example should be considered an act of terrorism.
“While the situations are not limited to the Middle East, this activity does challenge the stereotypes connecting terrorism and the Middle East,” the lesson plan reads.
Lastly, a Palestinian-American teacher in Southern California named Samia Shoman who has lesson plans on QFI LLC’s website that teaches Palestinian history is a pro-Palestinian activist on Twitter.
Shoman is also a committee member of the California Department of Education’s Draft Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum, which has faced backlash in recent days for being “blatantly anti-Semitic and anti-Israel,” The Washington Free Beacon reported on Aug. 12.
Qatar, which has been accused of trying to influence the governments of other countries, has given $1 billion in grants to elite U.S. universities including Georgetown University, Texas A&M University, Carnegie Mellon University, Cornell University and many others — some of which have buildings on Qatar Foundation’s campus — since 2011, the DCNF reported.
Georgetown University has received more funding from Qatar than any other U.S. university, totaling $333 million, the DCNF reported citing the Foreign Gift and Contract Report from the Federal Student Aid office of the Department of Education.
The Middle East Forum describes Ahmad Dallal, the dean of Georgetown’s Qatar campus, as “a long-time and enthusiastic supporter of the State Department-designated terrorist group Hezbollah. Dallal, who chaired Georgetown’s Department of Arabic and Islamic Studies from 2003 to 2009, is also pro-Hamas [and] pro-Boycott/
All public schools (or school districts) and colleges listed above as QFI LLC grant recipients have been contacted but did not return requests for comment or did not give the DCNF any additional information regarding the grant application process in time for publication.
QFI LLC was a charity organization known simply as Qatar Foundation International (QFI) for about three years — during which time it was exclusively funded by QF — before it became an LLC. QFI received $10,276,831 from Qatar Foundation between 2010, 2011 and 2012, its Form 990s from those years show.
A deleted FAQ from QFI’s website, archived in 2014, reads, “QFI’s major donor is the Qatar Foundation in Doha, itself an independent, private, non-profit organization.”
As QFI LLC, CEO Maggie Mitchell Salem wrote in the Gulf Times in 2018:
Through the leadership of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, and under the guidance of His Highness the Father Amir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, along with the unwavering support of Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser and HE Sheikha Hind bint Hamad al-Thani, more children around the globe now have access to quality global education, and the opportunity to equip themselves with the tools that can transform their lives: collaboration, creativity, cross-cultural communication, and critical thinking.
QFI LLC is not legally required to disclose funding information as an LLC. Additionally, members of LLCs are not personally responsible for lawsuits or debt the LLC may be hit with, and LLCs are not required to disclose any funding information, as they are private companies.
Owners of LLCs in the state of Delaware are not required to give very little information to form their companies, and they are also not required to disclose any information about themselves to form or maintain an LLC, according to a Delaware corporation website.
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