October 2, 2001

Emir of Qatar Tours C.U. Med. College

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President Hunter R. Rawlings III and Dr. Antonio M. Gotto, Jr., dean of the Cornell Weill Medical College, welcomed Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, the Emir of Qatar, for a tour of the Medical Center last night in New York City.

Nearly six months after the Emir formally agreed to found the Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar, he strengthened and reaffirmed the joint mission between his nation and Cornell.

The Medical College announced that the Emir met with Rawlings, Gotto, Sanford I. Weill ’55, chair of the Board of Overseers of the Medical College and Dr. Herbert Pardes, president and CEO of New York-Presbyterian Hospital — which houses the Weill Medical Center. In New York City for the first time since Sept. 11, the Emir commented first on the World Trade Center disaster.

“I find it very difficult to address you here without referring to the matter that is on everyone’s mind, surely the tragedy that befell New York and Washington, D.C.,” the Emir said in Arabic, translated into English by an interpreter.

“I would like to extend to all of you my personal condolences and those of the people of the State of Qatar on the tragic event and the immense losses as a result. As you know, we are against all forms of terrorism,” he said.

Bordering Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in the Persian Gulf, Qatar is located at the heart of a region that has been, at times, embroiled in intense conflict with the U.S. However, the Qatari government has stronger diplomatic ties with the U.S. than many of its neighboring nations.

As a part of his current visit to the U.S., for instance, the Emir will visit the White House Thursday for a working visit with President George W. Bush. During the meeting, Bush and the Emir will discuss efforts to deepen bilateral cooperation between the two countries to promote peace and stability in the Middle East, according to the White House press secretary’s office.

The Emir arrived at the Medical Center yesterday evening, and during his tour he observed the Center’s burn unit, the largest and most advanced burn center in the country. The Emir was also shown a hydrotherapy room, where patients are cleansed of burned skin, and he visited with a recovering patient.

“We thank him for his expression of concern,” Rawlings said while introducing the Emir.

Having witnessed the destruction that resulted from the events on Sept. 11, the Emir announced that he would donate $1 million to the burn unit. The Qatari leader’s support represented a commitment both to rebuilding what was lost when terrorism struck New York City and to laying a foundation for the budding partnership with Cornell.

“This is a first, not only for his country and ours, but also for universities worldwide,” Rawlings said of the unprecedented collaboration.

As the plans for the Weill Medical College in Qatar proceed, the Emir continues seeking additional partners in other fields of higher education to establish a world-class university.

Archived article by Matthew Hirsch