QBIU expands locally and internationally in 2018

By Dr. Fadi Makki, Qatar Behavioural Insights Unit

It's been a landmark year for the Qatar Behavioural Insights Unit (QBIU). We've increased our number of scientific experiments, promoted our work to local audiences and supported regional capacity building and the development of nudge units in other countries.   

Our mission remains to promote the use of behavioural sciences in Qatar to help address policy challenges in a variety of areas, including healthy lifestyles, sport, sustainability, workers' welfare and entrepreneurship. With 2022 FIFA World Cup™ projects remaining our core focus, we have been able to amplify our work locally, regionally and internationally. 

We've participated in a range of key local events, including the World Innovation Summit for Health (WISH) 2018 where we authored a report on the applications of behavioral insights to health and non communicable diseases (NCDs) that include diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular disease. We also participated in the Qatar Green Building Council's annual conference, along with events further afield, including the Behavioural Insights Conference in Cape Town, South Africa, and the Behavioural Sciences Summit at Warwick University in the UK, and the Nudge Lebanon Summit on behavioral economics and nudge in the Arab Region.   In Doha, we collaborated with Qatar Foundation to launch the Community of Practice in Behavioural Economics. 

As part of this initiative, we host regular 'Legacy Majlis' meetings at Al Bidda Tower which bring together representatives from academia, government, NGOs and the private sector. Professor Cass Sunstein hosted the first meeting, while other special guests have included Daniel Shephard and Professor Lori Foster. 

Most of our work, however, remains conducting experiments that support policy challenges in Qatar. We worked with Generation Amazing – a key Qatar 2022 legacy programme – to support the effective delivery of coaching sessions. We also worked with the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy's (SC) Health, Safety, Security & Environment team to encourage employees to share knowledge and lessons learned.

In addition to working with the SC, we have supported a range of entities in Qatar in relation to reducing food waste, encouraging recycling and increasing seatbelt compliance, among other topics.   While our core focus remains the SC and Qatari stakeholders, 2018 will also be remembered for QBIU going global. In collaboration with the World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE), we organised 'train the trainer' workshops in Athens, Greece. We also worked with the American University of Kuwait to design and co-deliver a behavioural economics course where students were part of sustainability related behavioural experiments.   

We are also proud of our collaboration with Nudge Lebanon. During the Beirut Marathon we supported them in screening of runners and their families for high blood pressure which provided continuous monitoring for some participants and early warning or detection for others. Of those recording high blood pressure, 76% were unaware of their condition. The success of this initiative is encouraging health bodies around the world to use sporting events and gatherings as an opportunity to screen people for health conditions. We are currently supporting Nudge Lebanon in designing and implementing a behaviourally informed follow up for those who recorded high blood pressure levels to 'nudge' them to seek medical advice and monitoring.    

In 2019 and beyond we will continue to promote behavioural sciences in Qatar and further afield. We also look forward to supporting the next FIFA World Cup™ hosts – the US, Canada and Mexico – to share our experiences and encourage the advancement of this growing field. 


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