Doha, the most populated city in the Qatar, grew out of, and now contains the Al Bidda neighborhood in the east. Mentions of Al Bidda date back to the 17th century, but it rose to prominence in the 19th century. Doha was officially established in 1820. It became the capital city in 1971 when Qatar became independent.
It quickly became one of the main financial centers of the region. In 1996 the Al Jazeera satellite networks were established in Doha. A year later Education City was established by the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science, and Community Development. With an area of 14 square kilometers, the area houses educational facilities the serve students from school age through graduate school. Virginia Commonwelth University was the first of 8-10 foreign universities to establish branch campuses in Education City. It also houses a number of Qatari schools and research institutions.
In 1973, with UNESCO's participation, a preliminary study was launched, aimed at creating higher education facilities for the State of Qatar. As a result, the first phase of the project comprising the academic buildings was inaugurated in February 1985 and now, the University has a student population of over 5000. The Egyptian architect Kamal el Kafrawi is responsible for the overall design and planning whilst Ove Arup Partners were appointed as prime consultants to undertake structural and engineering services design and site supervision.
Buildings completed so far comprise: Central Library, administration, and computer centre; Men's and women's colleges; Student activities and sport facilities; Engineering faculty; Science faculty; Educational technology building; and Central services units.
All the academic buildings are planned within a ring road with sports and ancillary facilities to the outside. The concept for high quality concrete buildings in a modular low-rise has allowed the use of repetitive pre-cast elements for both clad and structural walls. The layout of academic buildings is based on grid forms, an octagon 8 4 m in width and a square with sides of 3 5 m. The octagons are adjacent and connected with squares to form the modular pattern. Each octagonal classroom module is linked to at least two "lobbies". One lobby can be used either as an entrance and a transition area between classrooms or an additional but secluded classroom space, the second lobby as a source of natural light and a meeting place. The octagonal units are surmounted by wind-tower structures to provide cool air and reduce humidity. Towers of light are also introduced to control the harsh sunlight, and abundant use of mashrabiyyas and some stained glass also serve to temper the environment. Open and partially covered courtyards, planted and often with fountains, are plentiful throughout the site.