On October 6, 1971, a chartered plane from Norway landed in Doha, Qatar, with 21 adults and 26 children. The Qatar Norwegian School, established by Hydro, opened its doors six days later. The school is now celebrating 40 years of educating Norwegian kids living in Qatar.
The school was established as Qatar Petroleum and Hydro formed the joint venture Qafco, a fertilizer company. Through the years, the number of pupils at the school has gone up and down according to the industrial activities in Qatar, expansions and new projects.
The school follows a Norwegian curriculum, preparing the pupils to return to Norwegian schooling system. However, a day in the Qatar Norwegian School will always have local flavor.
"The tutoring in Qatar includes different elements than in Norway. We try to give each individual a unique experience. As an example, we use the presence in Qatar to explore local nature. Staying overnight in the desert dunes gives the pupils an unmatched experience," explains headmaster Tor Øisang.
In the late 1970s, the Qatar Norwegian School had more than 100 pupils. This number decreased again as Qafco expansion projects were completed. Later, Qatar Petroleum and Hydro also joined forces in QVC, a petrochemical company.
A new era for the school came in 2007, after Qatar Petroleum and Hydro decided to construct Qatalum – an aluminium smelter with the capacity to produce 585,000 metric tons aluminium per year.
At peak, around 650 Norwegians lived in Qatar, in addition to 30 Hydro employees and families from Germany, Slovakia and Australia. Of them, 150 were pupils at the school. In addition, several attended universities in Qatar. Currently, the school has 28 pupils.
"Now that Qatalum is in full operation, we expect a lower number of pupils in the school. However, the bonds between Hydro and Qatar Petroleum, and Qatar and Norway, are strong and I expect the school will represent a gateway for young pupils while living in Qatar for many years to come," says Øisang.