As Education City (EC) continues, as it has for the past several years, to grow and cover more ground, it has been noted that a central mosque for the complex does not exist.
Instead one finds prayer rooms inside the individual campus buildings. While some, such as in the Student Center, are quite large, others, such as in the Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar (CMU-Q) building, can hardly hold more than 30 people. Zaid Haque, a student who studied at CMU’s main campus said, “I feel very strange that there is less of an Islamic environment here in EC than there was in Pittsburgh.”
An improvised poll done earlier this month on the My Education City Facebook page attested to the fact that the absence of a mosque is an important issue for EC students. The short comment, “There isn't a proper Masjid in here [Education City] yet,” made by a Texas A&M University at Qatar (TAMUQ) student received the most likes on the page. It also proves that most students don’t know that a central mosque is in the works.
Capital Projects, a division of Qatar Foundation and holder of the master construction plan for EC, said that there has always been a space allotted towards the construction of a central mosque.
Ameena Ahmadi, Head of Architects at Capital Projects, said, “The master plan has always included a large mosque that will service all of the Education City community. The design process has taken a bit longer than what was planned…as we wanted to make sure it [had] a state of the art [design].”
She also said construction was to begin on the mosque in the “next few months” and will be completed along with Northwestern University in Qatar and the Central Library buildings in 2013. The mosque will be housed in the permanent home of the Faculty of Islamic Studies, currently housed in The Liberal Arts and Sciences (LAS) building.
While it may be a central location when the buildings around it are completed, it is not a central location for most students in EC. Students, regularly complaining about how isolated Georgetown University in Qatar‘s new building is, do not feel the new building, located nearer to Tilted Roundabout, will not be centrally located.
“I think having the mosque near Georgetown is a bad idea,” said Ahmed Hassaan, a student at TAMUQ. “As the majority of the students in EC are in A&M and Carnegie, and nearly every student visits the student centre,” therefore “a transportation system should be provided for all students so it can be easier for students to reach the mosque easier.”
But still missing from the master plan is a central mosque. The general demand of students is to have a standalone mosque, not a mosque within a larger building, as been the case with most buildings in EC. And there does not appear to be a change in that precedent with the new mosque that is being built, as it will be located in another building too.
One modern university campus that has successfully incorporated mosques into its layout and could serve as model for EC is King Adbullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST). The campus there has three large, standalone mosques situated that less than 10 minutes walk from any part of the campus. The mosques also make the call to prayer five times a day and one has an imam to head the Friday sermon.
While EC will have its central mosque, its placement within the Faculty of Islamic Studies has not completely fulfilled the demands of students here.