Wednesday, November 30, 2022 | Daily Newspaper published by GPPC Doha, Qatar.
 Joseph Varghese
Joseph Varghese
A journalist with a penchant for reporting events, Joseph Varghese digs deep to unearth facts. With several years of experience, including at Gulf Times, Joseph handles health, science and technology, IT and education in addition to everyday developments.
David Villa
Amazing tournament with fantastic logistics arrangements: Spanish footballers

Spanish footballers David Villa and Fernando Hierro have described the Qatar World Cup facilities as ‘amazing and incredible.’ They had a special word of praise for the logistics and transportation facilities of the tournament.“The facilities are very good and we are all enjoying the organisation of the whole tournament. It has been a fantastic week so far and we are looking forward to a fantastic tournament ahead. The tournament facilities such as the transportation to the stadiums especially the metro are superb,” Villa, a prominent striker and part of the World Cup winning Spanish squad in 2010, told Gulf Times.According to Hierro, it has been an amazing tournament with world class facilities and outstanding management of the tournament. “I am amazed at the facilities and the tournament organisers have been meticulous about all the details of the tournament. This could be one of the best tournaments ever,” noted Hierro, a member of the Spanish national team as well as the manager of the team for a long time. As a team coach, he won five La Liga and three Champions League trophies with Real Madrid in 14 years in addition to several other feats.Villa said that this year’s edition of the World Cup saw many new teams emerge as potential challengers for the celebrated teams which is good for football. “Asian and African teams have become major challengers and this is proving to be exciting making the tournament all the more unpredictable. This is the beauty of football and I believe that this will continue to be so in the coming years as more and more teams emerge from the shadows of the big names,” said, Villa.Hierro pointed out that the next World Cup will open up the football to a larger audience as 48 teams will be eligible to take part in the tournament. He added: “This is going to be a super electrifying tournament with more participants from every continent and this can change the whole complexion of the tournament. It will lead to more participation and the emergence of new stars and countries on the international arena.”Spain 'a favourite to win tournament'Spain definitely stands a chance to win this year’s World Cup according to the Spanish striker, David Villa.“Spain is definitely one of the front runners to win this year’s World Cup. I would also include Brazil, France and Portugal among the four probable teams to win this year’s World Cup,” Villa told Gulf Times Tuesday.The Spanish footballer noted that the game is wide open after the completion of the first week of the tournament.He said: “Spain had a fantastic opening match against Costa Rica. All the team members are playing very well and the team is all set. Germany is a very good team and therefore the match against them was really tough which ended in a draw. I feel that Spain would raise their games in the coming matches and would go all the way to lift the cup.”

Gulf Times
Dutch football legend lauds preparations, compact nature of World Cup

The FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar is an opportunity to build bridges between cultures and do away with the misconceptions and misunderstandings about the region, Qatar 2022 legacy ambassador and Dutch football legend Ronald de Boer has said.He also lauded the arrangements and infrastructure prepared for the tournament to ensure the smooth and seamless conduct of matches, while providing easy access to stadiums, as the tournament entered its second week.He emphasised that the compact nature of this year’s World Cup has been a major advantage of the tournament.“As His Highness the Amir said, we are not perfect. Qatar has its own challenges,” de Boer said during a press interaction at the Host Country Media Centre Saturday. “But a lot has been done to make the conditions far better and still many more things are being done but it takes time.”He was responding to a query on the criticism levelled at Qatar with regard to hosting the World Cup.The 2022 legacy ambassador noted that Qatar is progressing on all fronts with a clear vision.“The country is going forward with a lot of progressive ideas of inclusion and positivity,” he said. “Qatar doesn’t stop here but goes beyond the 2022 World Cup.”“The government is working very hard to make lives better with Qatar National Vision 2030. This clear vision is truly remarkable and the focus on education with more schools and universities is another important factor,” de Boer explained.He felt that the World Cup has acted as a catalyst for a legacy for which Qatar has worked very hard.“Now everybody can see the abilities of the country and the region. People also feel the warmth, friendliness and hospitality of Qatar, which is remarkable,” he added. “Hopefully, it will bring about a lot of good things for the rest of the world.”De Boer also stressed that the compactness of the Qatar World Cup and accessibility to stadiums has been some of the greatest advantages of the tournament.“I think it's been amazing. I have been to several games, seeing the organisation from a close distance. The way to the stadiums, the entrance, how things work – and I only see happy faces,” he remarked. “I see people who are not frustrated with waiting in big lines. There are no traffic problems and everyone can enter the stadiums without any hassles.”“And the beauty of the tournament is its compactness. People can watch more than one match in a day, which is not possible in other World Cups as the matches are played in different cities, which are far away,” de Boer pointed out. “I met a boy who went to three games in a single day. It is a great compliment and one of the biggest advantages of the tournament.”Brazil favourites to win World Cup 2022: Qatar 2022 legacy ambassadorFormer Dutch national footballer and Qatar 2022 legacy ambassador Ronald de Boer feels that Brazil are the team to beat in the tournament as the group stage of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 enters a crucial phase.“For me, Brazil are the number one favourites, especially after their match against a team like Serbia,” he said. “Serbia are a great team and they played very well to contain Brazil in the first half. But Brazil did well, especially in the second half.”“They played very good football and I think they have a very talented side and will continue the winning streak,” de Boer said at the Host Country Media Centre yesterday.De Boer added that Spain, France and England are also very good teams and stand a chance to win the tournament.“Many of the teams have shown great promise in their first matches,” he stated. “Several of these teams are tough and we can expect very tight matches in the coming days.”“There could be many surprises and that is the beauty of the game of football,” de Boer added. “But still, I believe the favourites are Brazil.”He said that the road is wide open for any team to advance and felt that Argentina would make a comeback.Similarly he felt that teams like the Netherlands and Portugal can also come up with a huge surprise, making the situation fluid and difficult to predict.

John Desa at one of the stadiums.
Stadium-hopping: Doha resident watches four matches in a day

Donning a t-shirt with the words ‘Stadium Hopping Day - Watching 4 Matches’ printed in bold, a longtime resident of Qatar watched four football matches of FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 in a single day, highlighting the advantages of a compact tournament. The feat was achieved by John Desa last Wednesday, November 23.Asked about the unique accomplishment and whether it qualifies for a Guinness World Record, Desa told Gulf Times: “I don’t know whether it is a Guinness World Record or not, but I always wanted to attend World Cup matches but that did not materialise until Qatar hosted the World Cup. I just wanted to make it special and the compact nature of the Qatar 2022 World Cup helped me realise it.”Desa has been in Qatar for the last 37 years. He works for QatarEnergy and is the secretary for football, hockey and carrom at the Indian Sports Centre, which is under the aegis of the Indian embassy. He is also known as an active sportsman and a social activist. According to Desa, he had made some preparations to go about his mission. “Being a longtime resident of the country helped me as I am familiar with the locations and roads. I visited the stadiums well in advance to understand the available parking slots and the easiest way to enter and exit the stadiums. My only worry was the possibility of a traffic jam in between, especially while coming back from Al Bayt Stadium. But I was fortunate to reach the stadium well on time for the 4pm match,” he explained.“It took me over 15 hours to complete the whole hopping mission. I avoided the designated parking facilities and parked my car a bit far away and walked to the stadiums. This way, I could avoid any delay at the parking facilities but had to walk more. It helped me realise my dream and reach all the four stadiums and watch all the matches in a single day,” he explained.Desa did not opt for any shorter route but took the longest one, starting from Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor. He started with the 1pm match at Al Bayt Stadium where Croatia and Morocco played out a goalless draw, before heading to Khalifa International Stadium for the 4pm match to watch Japan stun Germany 2-1. After that, he drove to Al Thumama Stadium to watch Spain put seven goals past Costa Rica and then headed to Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium for the match between Belgium and Canada, which the former won 1-0.Desa said he would move to the exit of the stadium a few minutes before every match ended and would rush out before all others, forgoing the added-on time in most cases. “Then I would dart towards my car, parked far away from the stadium, and 'jumpstart' to my next destination. My drive from Al Bayt to Khalifa International Stadium was the longest and I barely managed to reach the stadium before the match. However, I could reach the other two stadiums well on time,” he recalled.Desa also pointed out that he deliberately took the longest route to highlight the compactness of the tournament. “At any other World Cup, the matches are played in different cities and to attend all the matches of a day is unthinkable. The compact nature of the Qatar World Cup is a great boon for football enthusiasts to attend more matches on the same day," he added.

Football fans from various countries at a Doha Metro station.
Doha Metro, a melting pot of cultures

The world has descended on Doha, as thousands of fans reach the country everyday bringing along various cultures and languages and the Doha Metro has taken the central stage of cultural exchange.With the Doha Metro being the major transportation option for the football fans and visitors to reach the stadiums as well as other major locations in the country, it has turned out to be a melting pot of cultures.At every Metro station, thousands of fans from various countries can be seen moving around, mingling together and going to various places as they start their daily routine from morning. Many of them come in groups and move along while many others could be singles or couples. Several of them exchange their phone numbers and make sure to meet every day at a given time and the metro stations are the main rendezvous point for them.Croatian fan Tomislav who reached alone a few days back said that he has made friends with many Qataris and other residents as well as several other nationalities. “This is my first time in Qatar. I met many Qataris who were very nice to me. They told me about the country and its heritage. I also met several tourists who have come here to support their teams. I met an American who has invited me for the next World Cup offering all the assistance for the visit. I am sure I will be visiting all the three countries hosting the Next World Cup in 2026,” he said.Hailing from the Croatian capital, Tomislav also noted that he was impressed by the culture of the host country which is very unique. “Being my first visit to Qatar, I am learning a lot about various customs in the country through frequent visits to the shops, museums and other culturally important locations which are very different from my country. This has been an eye opener and realisation for me,” he added.Cultural exchange is a major element of the metro travel itself. People from different countries travel in groups and they start greeting others in their own fashion. They also start singing and dancing in the metro and invite others also to join in their festivities. This continues as different nationals join the party and enjoying the interactions and festivities.Qatar residents also are happy to join the party and make sure that they make more international friends. This is also a learning experience for many fans who have attended previous editions of the World Cup. “As we are all moving together we learn more about other people, their countries and their traditions and culture. I find this experience very unique as I had travelled to Russia for the Word Cup in 2018. Since more people are moving together here, there are more interactions and therefore more cultural exchange,” added an Argentine fan.

Gulf Times
Fans turn Doha into a carnival spot

Doha literally has turned into an international carnival spot as the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 fans and visitors from around the world are exploring every nook and corner of the city, savouring the great Arabian hospitality and friendship.Thousands can be seen roaming around the city, admiring the skyscrapers and scenic views while many others throng the cultural destinations as well as the exotic museums in and around the city.Fans in large numbers can be spotted swarming around the major traditional locations such as Souq Waqif, the Corniche, Katara - The Cultural Village among others.Individual fans as well as small groups could be seen celebrating the World Cup, singing and dancing all across the streets and other hot spots. Monday, a large group of Senegal team supporters who had just arrived from their country, gathered at Souq Waqif, greeting everyone with their traditional music and dancing ahead of their match against the Netherlands. Accompanied with drums and other percussion instruments, it was a treat to watch them performing in their traditional attire.What was more interesting was that among the onlookers of the performance, were a group of Dutch fans who had flown in a few days back to watch their team compete against Senegal. Enthused by the dancing, some of the Dutch fans too joined the party, making it a true symbol of football uniting the entire world.Elsewhere, the carnival atmosphere continued as fans in groups moving around and shouting support for their teams. Doha Metro is another favourite hangout for the fans as they move together from one place to another. As they get into the metro, they start singing in support of their teams in their own language, delighting everyone else in the cabin. The whole atmosphere is thrilling and cheerful and the merrymaking continues all through the day and beyond.With more fans expected to arrive in the coming days from around the globe, the city is expected to experience more entertainment and jovial scenes which could be all the more thrilling, lively and at times boisterous. The energetic and enthusiastic fans are sure to make life more colourful and lively with all the fun and frolic and making Doha- a truly world destination.

The First Minister of Wales Mark Drakeford at the red hat installation. PICTURES: Thajudheen.
Wales minister launches his country's World Cup campaign with red hat installation

The First Minister of Wales, Mark Drakeford, Sunday officially launched the World Cup campaign of his country in Qatar by showcasing a giant bucket hat installation near the Museum of Islamic Art.This is an important and momentous occasion for Wales as the country is qualifying for the World Cup final round after 64 years since its last appearance in1958.British ambassador Jonathan Wilks, Wales’ ‘Lleisiau Cymru’ ambassador, Colin Jackson, alongside Football Association of Wales (FAW) president Steve Williams, vice president Will Lloyd Williams, CEO Noel Mooney and ambassadors Ian Rush and Jess Fishlock were also in attendance at the launch.**media[842]**The larger-than-life bucket hat, an iconic symbol for Welsh football representing the team’s incredible progress in the game and its fans’ passion and spirit, was developed and designed in collaboration with the Football Association of Wales, to celebrate the momentous occasion for the nation.Drakeford said: “Back in 2016, our manager Chris Coleman challenged the squad and us as a nation to ‘Dare to Dream’ about what could happen at the European Championship. No one thought we’d get to the semi-final, but we did. That’s what’s great about football – anything can happen at the World Cup.”The launch of the installation kickstarts the Gŵyl Cymru Festival at the tournament, a programme of more than 200 events across Cymru and the world as part of a 10-day celebration of creativity to support Wales during the team’s campaign in Qatar.The programme will project Wales’ values and secure a positive legacy from the country’s first World Cup campaign in 64 years, highlighting the nation’s art, culture and music.Wales’ ‘Lleisiau Cymru’ ambassador Jackson said: “It was really good to be at the launch of the bucket hat today – it’s a little slice of Wales that will encourage people to investigate our nation. The support of our First Minister today was also fantastic as we aim to demonstrate the inclusive values of Wales.”Fishlock noted that it was a very proud moment to be at the launch of the Bucket hat. “Now is the time that the world gets to see our great nation, and we get to show who we are to the world,” he added.A Wales Cultural Programme in Doha, which coincides with the Gwyl Cymru festival of culture taking place in Wales and around the world, features cultural events at the UK Ambassador’s residence; Katara Cultural Village, and the UK Garden on The Corniche.The programme includes: Large-scale murals by Graffiti artist Peaceful Progress; DJ sets by Radio 1’s Katie Owen; Performances of Wales’ official anthem ‘Yma o Hyd’ (‘Still Here’) by Dafydd Iwan; Renditions from the Urdd Choir, from the largest national youth organisation; Performances by the Barry Horns, an award-winning stadium brass band for the FAW and Sage Todz, a Welsh rap, hip-hop and R&B artist will also perform at locations in Qatar.

Gianni Infantino
Generation Amazing officially announced a foundation

The Generation Amazing (GA) will be a foundation and continue to unlock human potential, announced HE Hassan al-Thawadi, Secretary-General of Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy (SC), at the opening ceremony of the Fourth Annual Youth Festival 2022 of GA yesterday.“Generation Amazing is now officially a foundation that will continue to empower and unlock human potential and will cement its role as a centre for youth excellence and leadership around the world for many years to come,” he explained.The inaugural ceremony of Festival 2022 was attended by HE Sheikha Hind bint Hamad al-Thani, Vice-Chairperson and CEO of Qatar Foundation; HE Sheikh Mohamed bin Hamad al-Thani; Gianni Infantino, president, FIFA, and a number of other dignitaries. “We have reached 1mn young people across the world since the inception of Generation Amazing, a promise and key goal we made during our bid. And as we look to the future as a foundation, we pledge to expand this reach and number even further. This time last year, Generation Amazing was proud to support the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to host the first match for the Afghan women’s team since their evacuation from Kabul delivering a coach, a coaching certification programme and providing a safe space for them to thrive. That is the essence of Generation Amazing,” al-Thawai explained.“Now, in 31 days, when we host the final match at Lusail Stadium and when the last ball is kicked and the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 champion is crowned, that will be the final day of World Cup 2022. It will serve as a launch pad for Generation Amazing legacy. Your inspiring stories will continue to be written over the coming years and decades,” continued, the SC official.The youth festival is the first-ever sport for development and cultural exchange programme of its kind to take place ahead of a FIFA World Cup. More than 300 students selected from local and international schools to represent 32 countries, have travelled to Qatar to take part in a week-long festival comprising of football for development, workshops and activities.Speaking on the occasion, Infantino said that GA is not just programme but an amazing one. “Generation Amazing is exactly the kind of projects we want to see all over the world to be taken from Qatar. You are all an amazing generation, everyone of you from all over the world, from the 32 participating countries, as well as from other countries. You have already been part of the Generation Amazing programme from Brazil to Haiti to Lebanon to India to Philippines among others. There are many more countries, of course to come and to follow, to combine football, education, passion, future and hope,” he noted. Syrian American pianist and composer Malek Jandali delivered the keynote address at the event and famous British footballer David Beckham gave a video message. Several of the youth ambassadors of the GA programme presented their experiences that enabled them to be better individuals and help the communities in their respective countries. The programme also saw several performances by participating students.

Gulf Times
FIFA Fan Festival test event at Al Bidda attracts huge crowd

All roads led to Al Bidda Park Wednesday evening as a large number of people headed there to attend the FIFA Fan Festival test event, which was conducted successfully with a lot of flourish and fanfare. Thousands had gathered at the venue well ahead of the start of the programme, which was open to Hayya Card holders only. Large queues were seen from late afternoon and the gates opened by 5pm, the place was swarming with fans. Entry was allowed on a first-come, first-served basis and the capacity was capped at 20,000.The event served as the final rehearsal before the grand opening of the venue on November 19, one day before the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 kicks off.The entire show, organised with meticulous professionalism, shows the preparedness and readiness of Qatar for the World Cup as the host country and how each and every aspect of the mega sporting event has been well planned and taken care of.With a large crowd consisting of fans from the participating countries and elsewhere, the event kicked off with live music and Qatari comedian and presenter Hamad al-Amari anchoring the show. A popular local DJ presented some catchy music throughout the event and entertained the crowd as they danced to their hearts’ contentment. The event also included a special Michael Jackson tribute show.The event ran until 10pm and the crowd had a night to remember that was full of entertainment and music along with food and beverages. By 7.30pm, the organisers had closed the entry to the fan festival area as the venue reached the capacity crowd by that time. The festival area contains two huge screens as well as a FIFA Store. There is also a mini football field where people can take part in a shorter version of football with reduced number of players. In addition, the venue serves food and beverages. There are also stalls of major sponsors of the tournament.The Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy has also launched the Fan Engagement Centre at the FIFA Fan Festival.

The procession holding a huge banner in support of Team Qatar. PICTURES: Shaji Kayamkulam
Crowds cheer for Team Qatar at Lusail Boulevard

* Thousands gather at Lusail Boulevard to cheer for Team Qatar   The Lusail Boulevard turned out to be a sea of maroon as thousands of Al Annabi team supporters gathered at the venue cheering for the national team. Nationals and expatriates including women and children gathered in groups right from early evening- literally swarming the entire area. Most fans were draped in maroon jerseys and shawls and started moving in a procession along the boulevard showing support for the host country's team. The youngsters were seen shouting slogans and dancing to the tunes of peppy tunes in support of the team, waving the national flag high. People in large numbers holding flags and balloons A Qatari national celebrating with the expatriate community. It took a long time- maybe hours- for the procession to return to the starting point as the participants moved in small units singing and chanting, exhibiting all their support for the national team. There were also several art forms and some traditional musical presentations by expatriate participants as they went through the place. People holding saxophones, drums and other percussion instruments had a cheerful time, entertaining onlookers with their amazing and dazzling performances. Children moving on skates in front of the procession. One of the organisers of the fan gathering event said that they had planned it suddenly as they felt the need for such a public display to encourage Team Qatar. He said: “We just communicated to each other and soon people started responding in a big way. As we reached here, we could see people pouring in. Many of them came with their traditional forms of entertainment and it was so heartening to see such a large turnout. We are surprised by such a huge response and are hopeful that Team Qatar would perform fantastically well in the tournament .” A participant in the gathering noted that it was the most happening time in Qatar and he wanted to join the party. “ I have come here as I learned about it through some friends. Most people have reached the venue spontaneously and wanted to express their love for Qatar. It is a great occasion and we are all in support of our host nation,” he added.

Dr Khalid A Fakhro
Qatar genome programme’s data highly useful to medical genetics in Arab world

Qatari genome programme’s data is helping to develop innovative plans and a path for Arab countries to follow suit, a leading researcher told Gulf Times. “The Qatari population is an excellent proxy for the wider Arab world given our population structure and representation of several key Arab ancestries within the Qatari society. This makes the Qatari genome programme’s data highly useful to medical genetics across the Arab world,” said, Dr Khalid A Fakhro, chief research officer and director of precision medicine at Sidra Medicine. “This is yet another way where Qatari leadership -this time in science- is trailblazing a path for Arab countries to follow suit, and lowering the barrier of entry into genomic medicine for almost every other country across the Mena region. The databases, extensive infrastructure and knowledge economy being built around this field in Qatar is at par with the highest global standards, and it is something we should celebrate and use wisely to lead us into a brighter future for healthcare across the Arab world,” he highlighted. Dr Fakhro noted that a national genome programme is the cornerstone of precision medicine for a given population. “The human genome contains millions of mutations, the vast majority of which are relatively harmless. This becomes important when we study a patient with genetic disease, because reading their genome will inevitably give us thousands of possible variants, and in most cases, only one of these is the bad one,” he continued. “The question is, how one goes from such a large number of variants down to the one or few responsible for disease. The best way to do this would be to look at controls - that is individuals who don’t have disease, and see what variants overlap with them which are likely harmless and which are unique to the patient, possibly the causative ones,” explained, Dr Fakhro. According to the researcher, the genome is not only useful as a biomedical reference, but it also is an incredibly attractive tool to study human history. He pointed out: “Our genomes contain a track record of where we have been, who we share ancestries with, and whether or not there were sweeping events that caused our forefathers’ generations to suddenly expand or contract. This fascination with the past, and our ability to glean deep into this past with the use of genome sequencing won the Nobel Prize for Physiology and Medicine this year.” Dr Fakro stressed that with millions of mutations harboured in the genome, this comparison undoubtedly requires very large databases of controls to do a proper subtraction of what is shared or benign to identify what is possibly pathogenic or bad. “Critically, when a sick person is brought to the ICU and you need an answer immediately, you do not have the luxury of time to sequence thousands of controls; instead, genomic medicine relies on pre-existing databases of variation to help with this subtraction. The problem is that until recently, these databases were predominantly made up of Caucasians, with some representation from Asian and African populations,” he told. “Arabs are traditionally poorly represented in these databases, which poses a problem not only for patients in the Arab world, but also for Arab patients who are seen at hospitals around the world, since their genomes are quite dissimilar from those in the databases. Thus, it is of paramount importance to create these reference datasets and make the data widely available for the scientific and biomedical communities and this is where Qatari genome programme’s data is highly useful to medical genetics across the Arab world,” added Dr Fakhro.

HE Hassan al- Thawadi, Gianni Infantino and other dignitaries along with students from Shafallah Center at the event. PICTURE: Thajudheen
Qatar World Cup will be the the best, the most accessible ever : Infantino

FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 will be the most accessible World Cup ever, stressed the FIFA president Sunday. “I like to highlight two things at the outset. The first one is that FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 will be the best World Cup ever. Furthermore it will be the most accessible World Cup in the history of the tournament,” Gianni Infantino said. Infantino was speaking at the 5th edition of the Accessibility Forum (A Tournament for All) organised by The Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC) and its stakeholders at Multqa at the Education City of Qatar Foundation (QF). Members of the disabled community and senior leadership from SC including HE Hassan al- Thawadi, Secretary General, SC and FIFA took part in the forum. “From the very beginning of our journey to host this historic tournament, our commitment to accessibility has been unwavering. Not only did we work diligently to see that stadiums and tournament sites met the highest accessibility standards, we also actively involved the disabled community to make sure the World Cup creates a lasting legacy for the disabled community beyond Qatar 2022,” said al-Thawadi. “As a result of our work, we now see a marked improvement in the environment for disabled people to access transportation, cultural sites and public spaces across the country. I am very proud of this legacy and look forward to the community building on these gains in the future. For fans attending the tournament, they will experience a number of accessibility features to ensure everyone feels a part of the first FIFA World Cup in the Middle East and Arab world,” highlighted al-Thawadi. Qatar 2022 will feature a number of firsts for disabled fans, including the availability of audio descriptive commentary in Arabic at all matches. Three stadiums will host sensory rooms for fans with sensory access requirements, while every match venue was built to exacting accessibility standards, including accessible parking, seating, bathrooms and concession stands. Infantino said that FIFA’s goal is to provide inclusive and accessible infrastructure for all fans. “Last two years, we have been working with the SC to ensure that all the training sites as well as the stadiums are accessible to disabled people. Accessibility requirements were an integral part of all the planning process. We are trying to provide all the accessibility requirements in the stadiums, in transportation, in accommodations as well as in fan zones,” explained Infantino. The SC has worked in partnership with FIFA and the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 to prioritise accessibility throughout tournament preparations in line with the FIFA Sustainability Strategy. The SC launched the Accessibility Forum in 2016, with members playing an active role in providing feedback on the SC’s infrastructure projects, working towards meeting FIFA Accessibility and inclusive design standards while helping to drive the accessibility agenda in Qatar. As well as being available to fans in the stands, audio descriptive commentary will also be accessible to fans across the globe in Arabic and English via a dedicated mobile application. Sensory rooms will be operational at Al Bayt, Lusail and Education City during the tournament allowing fans to watch matches in a quieter space, equipped with assistive technology and managed by expert staff. This will be the largest deployment of sensory rooms at a mega sporting event in history. Faisal al-Kohaji, Accessibility Forum member and chairperson of the Qatar Social Cultural Club for the Blind, said the tournament’s accessible legacy had been felt long before the opening match at Al Bayt Stadium. “What we have seen in the area of accessibility since Qatar won the rights to host the World Cup has been life-changing for the disabled community. We now have a modern transportation network that is equipped for all different needs, as well as greater accessibility in museums, shopping destinations and public spaces,” said al-Kohaji. “QF has made accessibility and inclusion a priority within our schools and programmes since its inception, and our contribution to the commitment the country has made for Qatar 2022 to be the most accessible World Cup ever reflects this,” added Alexandra Chalat, director of World Cup Legacy, QF.

A scene from Mohanlal's tribute to FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.
Celebrities, expatriate organisations add musical flavour to World Cup festivities

Celebrities, including actors and singers, expatriate organisations and individuals have come out with music videos to celebrate FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 in a big way. Ace Indian actor Mohanlal recently launched a music video which he has referred to as ‘A tribute to Qatar World Cup 2022’. Mohanlal is not just featured in the video but he himself has sung the song in Malayalam with subtitles in English and Arabic. The song connects the World Cup Qatar 2022 with the passion of the people of Malappuram in Kerala for the beautiful game. The district’s unique tradition of seven-a-side football known as ‘Sevens’ is also a major theme in the song. Hayya Ma’ana-Let the Game Win. Mohanlal flew in to Doha last week to release the song at a special function. Directed by renowned director, T K Rajiv Kumar and produced by Ashirvad Cinemas, the single has been an instant hit trending on YouTube with more than 1.1mn views in two days. With its catchy, toe-tapping music and seducing visuals, the song has already captured the attention of the football fans around the world. A popular Malayalam playback singer, Jassi Gift has rendered his distinct voice for a peppy number for the music video, ‘Nenchem Konde’ which the producers say, is Malayali’s World Cup tribute for FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022. The album, made possible by a group of Qatar-based youngsters, is directed by Rameez Aziz and produced by Hadia M K. The song released recently through the YouTube channel, Soraparachail has already captured the imagination of football lovers in the country and beyond. A scene from 'Nenchem Konde' Rendered by playback singer Anwar Sadath, a Malayalam song ‘Hakk Hakk Hayya’, on YouTube a few months back was the pioneer of the music videos with its melodious rhythm and merry tempo. The music video, available at, features Qatar’s preparations for the mega event and the iconic locations across Qatar with accompanying visuals of fans’ jubilation, memorable moments of previous World Cups as well as several other anecdotes of football. The album is produced by members of the Friends of Angamaly Qatar in co-operation with Argentina and Brazil fans and other expatriate collectives. The song is a fusion of Malayalam and Arabic music with the melody part in Malayalam style while the chorus part is in Arabic style. 'Hakk Hakk Hayya' song. Quite recently, a group of music lovers in Qatar, out of passion for football and music has come out with a musical fusion in English and Arabic as a tribute to the World Cup. ‘Hayya Ma’ana-Let the Game Win’ is a fan song composed and sung by some of the Doha-based musicians and singers. The Arabic part of the song is penned by Qatar’s renowned poet, Khalifa Jamaan al-Suwaidi who has over 250 songs to his credit while the English version is written by Prashanth Mathew, who has written several songs in his native tongue, Malayalam. The Arabic part is sung by local singer, Nadir Abdul Salam and the lead singer of the album is Allen George Varghese, a Qatar-based musician and an audio engineer. The song is already a hit on social media channels and the catchy melodious number with its mellifluous rendering is set to enthrall music and football lovers.

Lina Abu Akleh
People must be media literate to combat misinformation: Palestine justice advocate

It is very important to be media literate to combat any misinformation in the modern age, social justice advocate Lina Abu Akleh told the latest edition of Qatar Foundation’s (QF) Education City Speaker Series titled ‘Protecting Truth, Seeking Justice.’ Lina is a niece of Shireen Abu Akleh, the Palestinian-American correspondent for Al Jazeera, who was reporting on an Israeli military raid on Palestine, when she was killed by Israeli Defence Forces in May this year. “One thing I learned when doing my undergraduate degree in media and communications was the importance of being media literate in an age and a time where we are faced with so many different narratives, misinformation, and disinformation,” said Lina. While describing her aunt’s death as an ‘insurmountable loss’, Lina said that Shireen was killed not once but twice as the Israel army tried to stop her funeral. “They did not let her go in peace. It demonstrates how journalists everywhere need to be protected. We don’t want to see other families experience what we have,” she noted. Lina told the audience at the talk, held in collaboration with Al Jazeera, how the fight for justice for Shireen that she and her family have embarked on, has been spurred on by support from across the world, and her aunt’s legacy will be how her independence, bravery, and compassion have inspired young women in the Arab world and beyond. “Shireen was a journalist, so it is important for journalists everywhere to talk about her and advocate for her. A threat to a journalist somewhere is a threat to journalists everywhere,” stressed Lina. The social justice advocate urged that "Shireen shouldn’t be just another journalist killed and it is important that journalists and journalistic associations continue to support, mobilise, and find mechanisms that ensure the protection of journalists in the field.” Lina said her role in seeking justice for Shireen was powered by her aunt’s dedication to raising awareness of the occupation of Palestine, saying: “I realised this was the moment I needed to call for justice and accountability, and what has driven me to continue the journey was not because I have to, but because I want to – Shireen would have done the same if it was any one of us. “My main message to journalists and journalism students is to continue to write and talk about Shireen, because to talk about her is to talk about her legacy and about Palestine. She has showed millions of young women that you can be anything you want, and that it is important to be empathetic and compassionate so you can understand the people you are writing about. “My aunt is a perfect example of why speaking out against oppression is important. Constantly looking for the truth and including Palestinian voices is what she advocated for. She was there for the people – and she chose to be a journalist to be close to the people.” “Exploring and looking at things critically, and trying to differentiate between different news outlets and how messages spread and the way they are shaped, is really important for a person trying to absorb all this information. Always be critical of what you read, look at different outlets rather than sticking to one, and seek the truth,” Lina added.

Sheikh Dr Khalid bin Jabor al-Thani with some of the dignitaries attending the programme. PICTURES: Shaji Kayamkulam.
Qatar Cancer Society marks 25th anniversary with special ceremony

Qatar Cancer Society (QCS) celebrated the 25th anniversary of its establishment at a special ceremony at St Regis Doha coinciding with the conclusion of the ‘Blossom Campaign’ for breast cancer awareness that continued throughout October. QCS chairman Sheikh Dr Khalid bin Jabor al-Thani welcomed the gathering and highlighted the milestones of the society in its journey since its establishment in 1997. The event was attended by a number of Qatari dignitaries as well as ambassadors of a large number of countries and partners among others. Sheikh Dr Khalid bin Jabor al-Thani speaking at the event. Sheikh Dr Khalid said: “ It has been an amazing journey, providing comfort and succor to hundreds of people all through these years. We have had several important events and always emphasised on the importance of achieving partnerships to build communities. With your continued support, it will continue its path toward giving out to the community under the guidance of our wise leadership.” “There are three major milestones in the journey of the centre. We opened it in 1997 and at that time people were not even ready to speak about cancer. It was not acceptable to talk about the disease. We could overcome this through our constant efforts,” he explained. “The second milestone was that we could provide cancer care and necessary assistance to all the cancer patients of the country irrespective of citizens or residents and even some of the visitors. The third aspect is the establishment of the education and training centre which helped us reach out to thousands of people through awareness programmes. It is an accredited training centre by the Ministry of Public Health and several other entities,” he continued. Sheikh Dr Khalid pointed out that in 2017, the Cancer Awareness Centre was opened marking a new qualitative leap in the march of QCS and the first of its kind in the Middle East. Under the Regulatory Authority for Charitable Activities umbrella, QCS has become an active member of many international organisations, most notably the Union for International Cancer Control. He added that QCS is a founding member of the International Cancer Prevention Consortium, a member of the National Cancer Framework in Qatar, and a member of the Gulf Federation for Cancer Control. In 2021, the number of beneficiaries of community awareness programmes reached 450,000, and there were 26,000 beneficiaries of psychological and social support programmes for people living with cancer. Nearly 7,000 health sector workers' benefited from capacity-building programmes. Also, in 2021 the number of beneficiaries of the financial support programmes reached nearly 1,400 with a total cost of QR13mn for adult patients at the National Centre for Cancer Care and Research and paediatric cancer patients at Sidra Medicine. In the first half of 2022, nearly 980 patients were treated - at a total cost of QR6mn. At the event, Dr Irtefaa al-Shammari, breast surgery specialist and an honorary ambassador of QCS, presented information about conducting early detection of cancer, especially breast cancer. Cancer survivor, Aisha al-Tamimi presented her experience of recovering from cancer and her husband, Ahmed Abdulmalik shared his experience.

Officials announcing details of Goal 22 Sunday. PICTURE: Thajudheen.
Generation Amazing Foundation launches Goal 22

The Generation Amazing (GA) Foundation, a FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 legacy initiative which has reached 1mn beneficiaries so far, Sunday announced ‘Goal 22: Football, Social Impact and Sustainability’, a new sport and cultural exchange programme. Since being launched during Qatar’s bid to host the FIFA World Cup, GA has implemented football for development projects in 35 countries. Since 2019, it has united youth from across the globe during the annual GA Festival, officials told a press conference Sunday. Youth from all 32 competing nations at Qatar 2022 will take part in Goal 22, which is being delivered in strategic partnership with the Ministry of Sports and Youth, Ministry of Education and Higher Education, Qatar Football Association, Qatar Foundation, Qatar Museums, FIFA Foundation and Unesco. Sponsors include Qatar Airways, Visit Qatar, Qatar Fund for Development, Qetaifan Projects, QLM Insurance, SDIsports and Hublot. In a statement, HE Sheikha Hind bint Hamad al-Thani, Vice Chairperson and CEO of QF, said: “Qatar Foundation is incredibly proud to be a strategic partner of the Generation Amazing Foundation and to have hosted the Generation Amazing Youth Festival since 2019. “Now, just ahead of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, we are delighted for this year’s event and its subsequent programme, Goal 22, to celebrate students from all over the world. Young people – in Qatar and beyond – will be given the opportunity to learn from each other in one of the most dynamic and unique student programmes to ever be held during a World Cup. “Goal 22 represents a new chapter for the Generation Amazing Foundation. We look forward to continued success in the future, and the impact this legacy programme will have – both in Qatar and beyond.” HE Hassan al-Thawadi, Secretary General, Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC), and Chairman, Generation Amazing Foundation, said: “Throughout the years, the Generation Amazing Festival has always been an example of utilising major sporting events to bring young people together to celebrate the power of football. This year’s launch of Goal 22 builds on this element to unite not only people from the region, but representatives from all 32 nations participating in the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022. It’s testament to our goals of making a regional and global impact through the Generation Amazing Foundation.” FIFA president, Gianni Infantino, said: “Since the beginning of our partnership with Generation Amazing, we have successfully collaborated in using football to empower young people in Qatar. Today, we are delighted to widen the impact of this partnership to all participating nations through the Goal 22 programme, leaving a lasting legacy well beyond the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.” Mauricio Macri, executive chairman, FIFA Foundation, said: “The FIFA Foundation is committed to tackling social issues affecting young people and supporting education through football. With Goal 22, we are empowering students from around the world with new skills that will help them to become social and sustainable development champions within their communities.” Goal 22 will be delivered in three phases. The first was delivered virtually and involved students learning about sport for development principles, along with key subjects including quality, diversity and inclusion. The second phase will be held during the upcoming GA Youth Festival at Education City in Qatar, with the final instalment held both virtually and in-person as students map out social development opportunities in their own communities. GA operates in alignment with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, promoting inclusion and gender equality in its football for development programme. The programme's unique methodology teaches life skills, including communication, leadership, teamwork and organisation. The press conference was addressed by Nasser al-Khori, executive director, GA Foundation; Alexandra Chalat, executive director, GA, Qatar Foundation; Maryam al-Maslamani from PR and Communications at Visit Qatar, Qatar Tourism; and Gordon Roedger, vice president of SDI Marketing.

QF to offer live audio description of World Cup opening, closing ceremonies for visually challenged.
Live audio description of World Cup opening, closing ceremonies for visually challenged

Qatar Foundation plans a unique experience for the visually challenged by fully engaging them through the live audio description in English and Arabic of the opening and closing ceremonies of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022. A team from the Audiovisual Translation MA programme of QF's Hamad Bin Khalifa University’s (HBKU) College of Humanities and Social Science is working out the project. Last year, the team participated by providing live audio description in Arabic for the FIFA Arab Cup Qatar 2021 opening ceremony. For the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, the team will utilise its expertise in Arabic and English in the opening and closing ceremonies of the upcoming tournament. Nahwan al-Aswadi, a graduate of the Audiovisual Translation programme explained: “Taking great care to describe every detail, including images, colours and movement, so that we draw an integrated verbal picture that enables the vision impaired fans to imagine the whole scene. This is quite unlike the descriptive audio commentary on football matches that focuses on where the ball is on the pitch, or the players’ movement, fouls and goals.” “It's like reading a graphic novel or listening to an audio book. It is an experience in which the description we offer is consonant with all the sounds in the stadium, – a speech, music or sound effects –, so that the audience can immerse themselves in the experience, and enjoy the event down to the smallest detail,” she continued. Providing a description with such accuracy requires high skill and technique, such as voice concentration, its speed and consonance with other sounds in the stadium, as well as knowing when to stop so that the recipient may integrate the scene. Al-Aswadi said that she was able to develop these skills during her master studies in the Audiovisual Translation programme at HBKU. She noted that this field teaches to translate all aspects of daily life to make them accessible to people of all abilities. She added: “When we talk about accessibility, we are not talking about equality, instead we are talking about equity. We strive to create a space where everyone can be part of the event even if they don’t see it with their eyes. And, instead of relying on others to describe the event to them, we promote independence, allowing people to immerse in the event, to enjoy the experience by adapting it for their specific needs.” Susan Abbas, also a graduate of the Audiovisual Translation programme, narrated her experience of being part of delivering audio description: "It opened my eyes to a different world. It makes me feel that I’m responsible to help people who really need help, and to share what I learned with them. “People often think that humanitarian work is only in relation to wars or famines and poverty, but in fact it goes beyond that – it is broader and more comprehensive and includes all the segments of society”. Dr Josélia Neves, professor and associate dean for Social Engagement and Access at HBKU, said that this service will not be limited to FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, but will constitute a lasting legacy for the future. “By building the expertise of audiovisual translation students, we will have a significant base of experts in this field, who can contribute to providing accessibility to all live events, as are theatrical events, shows, or even conferences, among others,” Dr Neves noted. This service is accompanied by an audio-descriptive commentary training programme hosted by HBKU’s Translation and Interpreting Institute, in partnership with the Centre for Access to Football in Europe. The programme aims to enable the blind and partially sighted to join their fellow fans in the stadiums as they watch each football game.

Hassan Rabea al-Kuwari and Berthold Trenkel announcing details of of the Darb Lusail Festival Wednesday
'Bollywood Music Festival on Nov 4 to be a packed event'

The Bollywood Music Festival on November 4 at Lusail Stadium as part of the Darb Lusail Festival hosted by Qatar Tourism is expected to be a packed event, an official said Wednesday. "The big music festival, also part of the journey to FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, featuring artists from the South Asian communities, is also an occasion for the people to get familiar with the stadium while it gives us an opportunity to test some operational aspects," explained Hassan Rabea al-Kuwari, marketing relations director, FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022. At a media roundtable to announce the details of the programme, al-Kuwari was joined by Berthold Trenkel, chief operating officer, Qatar Tourism, who highlighted various aspects of the festival. The Darb Lusail Festival, hosted by Qatar Tourism, will run from November 3 to 5 to mark the opening of the Lusail Boulevard, the country’s latest landmark and pedestrian-friendly avenue. The family-friendly festival will be a celebration of Lusail city. Noted Indian playback singer Sunidhi Chauhan, Qawwali and Hindustani classical exponent Rahat Fateh Ali Khan and the composer duo of Salim and Sulaiman Merchant, popularly referred to as ‘Salim-Sulaiman’ will be performing at Bollywood Music Festival. “We have made all the arrangements for the event and safety and security are priorities for us. The programme will start at 7pm with a pre-concert entertainment by Perfect Amalgamation from 5.30pm. All the entry tickets will be digital and only ticket holders with Hayya Card will be allowed entry. All the Hayya cards will be activated from November 1,” explained al-Kuwari. “There are four categories of tickets and they can be bought online. On November 4, Doha Metro will be starting from 1pm instead of its regular timing of 2pm on Fridays. It is about five minutes’ walk from the Metro Station to the stadium. The gates will open from 4pm and we urge everyone to start early from home,” he continued. Al-Kuwari also said that this is a unique way of celebrating the South Asian expat communities in the country. “People from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka have played a massive role in the accelerated socio-economic development of Qatar over the last two decades across varied roles and in diverse industries. With the 2022 FIFA World Cup just weeks away, Bollywood Music Festival is the host country’s unique way of celebrating the momentous occasion with the communities who have been an integral part of Qatar’s global success story,” he remarked. Al-Kuwari also noted that Indian expatriate communities in Qatar, UAE and other GCC countries have contributed in a big way by purchasing a huge number of the FIFA World Cup tickets. Bollywood Music Festival, therefore, warrants a celebration of their role in making the tournament a success. Trenkel added: “On the first day of the Darb Lusail Festival, we will have two prominent artists, one from Kuwait and the other from Lebanon. It will be followed by the Bollywood night on Friday, and on Saturday we will have an artist from Egypt. We are also showcasing a drone show and we are partnering with a ccompany called ‘Fivecurrents’ for the event.” Doha Metro will increase the frequency of the trains and have additional coaches to carry more people to various destinations around the country during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022. "The frequency of Doha Metro will be 165 seconds during the World Cup," stated Hassan Rabea al-Kuwari, marketing relations director, FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.

HE the Chief of Staff of Qatar Armed Forces Staff Lieutenant General (Pilot) Salem bin Hamad bin Aqeel al-Nabit with General Michael u201cEriku201d Kurilla.
US, Qatar share vision for security of the region: US official

The US and Qatar share a vision for the security of the region, that continues and is more important than ever in today's complex world, noted a visiting US official. “This is a military partnership the US values tremendously. Qatar is a major non-Nato ally. But alongside of that, Qatar is a military partner working through many of the urgent challenges that we face in the region,” said, General Michael “Erik” Kurilla, commander of US Central Command, who oversees US military operations in 20 countries including Qatar. In an e-mail interview with Gulf Times, General Kurilla said that the US-Qatar relations are very strong. “This is a critically important strategic partnership for the US, for Qatar and for the region. This is a relationship that dates back more than 50 years to the onset of Qatari independence. Our militaries were working together even before the formation of Centcom,” he explained. “Our strategic approach is summarised by three words: People, Partners, and Innovation. We must rely on our strong military partners in the region such as the Qatar Armed Forces for security and stability in the region. No nation can go it alone and no one can solve the region’s complex problems alone. We are committed to strengthening our partnership with our Qatari partners,” continued the official. General Kurilla noted there are many opportunities ahead for both countries to build on the collective defence. “We have many training exercises throughout the year with the Qatar Armed Forces. These exercises allow both nations to focus on border security, air defence and air-to-ground integration,” he said. The official noted that Qatar has played an outsized role in the US efforts to evacuate tens of thousands of people from Afghanistan. “The United States is grateful for Qatar’s remarkable support for the safe transit of hundreds of US citizens and tens of thousands of Afghans and other evacuees from Afghanistan. We appreciate all Qatar continues to do in providing safe transit, housing, and out processing through Camp As Sayliyah,” he said. As for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, General Kurilla said that the US has great confidence in the ability of the Qatar Armed Forces to safely host the World Cup. He pointed out that consistent with the US strategic approach of people, partners, and innovation, the focus remains on military partnerships throughout the region. “The US military and the Qatar Armed Forces want the same things: resolution of conflict, regional stability, defeat of violent extremist organisations, and the de-escalation of tensions throughout the region,” he highlighted. "Given that President Biden personally designated Qatar a major non-Nato Ally, it is clear that this administration values relations with Qatar. We in Centcom see the great value in our military partnership with the Qatar Armed Forces. We must rely on this ironclad relationship for regional security,” added General Kurilla.