On May 9–11, the American Chemical Society and the Qatar International Chemical Sciences Chapter hosted the inaugural ACS Research Conference: Chemistry and Chemical Engineering for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region in Doha, Qatar. The conference was originally scheduled to take place in March 2020, but was canceled just days before the event in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The conference was the culmination of a multiyear effort by ACS and its international chapters to bring high-quality events and conferences to ACS members in the places they live and work. Conference Chair and member of the ACS Committee on International Activities Hassan Bazzi, worked with organizers from Texas A&M University at Qatar—Bazzi’s institution—to bring researchers from across the globe to Doha. “We strongly believe that this conference will advance the MENA region’s culture of research and development, engineering advances, and educational outreach,” Bazzi said. “Such progress will run parallel to the industrial, economic, and educational development in Qatar. This outstanding conference is a platform to discuss the latest MENA research in the fields of chemistry and chemical engineering, to promote the role of MENA countries in industry leadership, and to highlight advances in science and engineering education across the MENA communities.”
More than 400 attendees participated in the conference. The program consisted of eight sessions devoted to a range of issues, including advanced functional materials and nanomaterials; computational and theoretical results; preparing students for a science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) careers; process safety engineering; advanced chemical process and product design for a better world; chemical engineering sciences and fundamentals; catalysis and polymers; and a final poster session on general chemistry and chemical engineering topics. Nobel laureates Fraser Stoddart and Ben Feringa were featured headliners alongside invited speakers from more than 13 countries.
The 2022 ACS International Chapters Leadership Summit for international- and student-chapter leaders from across Europe, Africa, and the Middle East was also held alongside the 3-day event. The gathering, modeled after the ACS Leadership Institute which takes place annually in the United States, brought opportunities for leaders to learn from each other and take back new skills to their chapters and networks. Regional leaders anticipate organizing future ACS meetings outside the United States, like the 2017 ACS Asia-Pacific International Chapters Conference held in Jeju, South Korea.
ACS President Angela Wilson traveled to Doha to welcome conference attendees and speak with ACS members about their interests in moving the society forward. “I am delighted that the ACS and the chemical science and engineering communities in the Middle East and Africa were able to come together again to share science and collaborate. It is wonderful that we can bring ACS meetings to where our non-US-based members conduct their research,” Wilson noted.