DOHA--Qatar Foundation, a non-profit organisation backed by the oil-rich Gulf nation’s government, is reviewing its global PR account - estimated at as much as £3 million.

The Holmes Report understands that a number of global PR networks have entered the fray for the business, which is largely handled by Bell Pottinger’s Middle East operation. The tender is a statutory repitch, and has been flagged by several firms as one of this year’s most attractive new business opportunities in the region.

The organisation focuses on education, scientific research and community development, through such vehicles as Education City, Al Jazeera Children’s Channel and the Reach out to Asia charity initiative. In December 2010, Qatar Foundation became FC Barcelona’s first paid shirt sponsor.

While Bell Pottinger has handled Qatar Foundation’s overarching communications support for the past four years, other agencies - including Ketchum RAAD - have handled project work in recent times. “They have a bold agenda to transfer Qatar from an energy-based economy to a knowledge based one," said one source involved in the review.

The new review divides the master contract into three tenders, which will be pitched separately. One focuses on strategic communication, one on international communication, and the other on serving the foundation's many institutions.

Specific capabilities in focus include global PR engagement, internal comms, issues management, social media and stakeholder relations.

“There were at least seven to eight agencies in the room," added the source of an initial meeting last week in Doha. These are thought to include Bell Pottinger, Grayling, Cohn & Wolfe, Fleishman-Hillard, Ketchum RAAD and Bell Pottinger.

Qatar Foundation was founded in 1995 by the country’s Emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani.