Monday, June 24, 2024 | Daily Newspaper published by GPPC Doha, Qatar.
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 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.
A message board on a Doha road, displaying rain warning from Ashghal, urging motorists to slow down. PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam.
Qatar experiences moderate to heavy rains, strong winds

Moderate to heavy rains were recorded in various parts of Qatar for several hours from late on Monday, accompanied by strong winds. While the northern region experienced heavy rains and hail, several other parts of the country, including Doha, received only scattered to moderate rain.Thundery rain was observed in northern areas such as Shamal and Ruwais along with strong winds. According to Qatar Meteorology Department, total amount of rain reached about 45ml in the early afternoon Tuesday. Social media is abuzz with videos of heavy rains in the northern parts of the country as well as the rough and turbulent waves in the sea.The Met department said that thundery rain accompanied with hail was observed at several parts of the northern region. By evening the department said that there could be thundery rains along with dusty winds mainly northeasterly to northwesterly with high speed.Meanwhile, other parts of the country received moderate to scattered rain. In addition, most parts of Qatar experienced very heavy winds and the seafront areas witnessed very rough and turbulent sea with very high waves lashing the shores. However, most parts of Doha had only scatted rains and the traffic was normal with no major incidents. The city had overcast conditions most of the time during the day.With the Eid holidays coming to an end, it was expected that all the students would start their academic session from Tuesday. However, the Ministry of Education and Higher Education had warned about the adverse weather conditions and instructed educational institutes to provide classes online for the day.Financial institutes such as the banks worked remotely with most branches closed for the day and only select branches, mostly in malls, functioned.Various parts of the region have been experiencing heavy rains for the last several days. Parts of Oman, the UAE and Saudi Arabia witnessed very heavy rains resulting in several causalities.

Dr Shona Pedersen
QU led research offers hope for early detection of blood cancer

A collaborative research team involving Qatar University (QU) professors and international researchers have made a breakthrough in decoding the potential blood markers that could lead to early detection of multiple myeloma (MM), an elusive and incurable blood cancer.This heralds a future where doctors can detect MM at its earliest stages, granting patients a powerful edge in confronting the disease.According to an article on the latest edition of *QU Research Magazine by the research team lead and associate professor of biochemistry at QU’s College of Medicine, Dr Shona Pedersen, the research team used advanced metabolomics and biostatistics to decode the blood markers that could be used for early detection of MM.The collaborative research team included Prof Soren Kristensen from Denmark’s Aalborg University Hospital, Prof Trygve Andreassen from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, and Prof Mohamed Elrayess, associate professor at QU’s Biomedical Research Centre.MM, the second most common blood cancer, remains a challenging medical enigma.It is a disease marked by diagnostic setbacks, recurrent relapses and no definitive cure.Interestingly, MM begins its course covertly as Monoclonal Gammopathy of Undetermined Significance (MGUS), but with time, manifests symptoms like bone pain, anaemia, kidney issues and infections.Detecting MM early can dramatically alter the disease trajectory, enhancing both prognosis and survival.However, the absence of a straightforward blood test for early detection is a significant gap.“At present, our grasp of the metabolic changes between MGUS and MM is in its nascent stages, with only a handful of publications shedding light on MM’s metabolic nuances,” said Dr Pedersen. “Our study endeavoured to sharpen the molecular lens through which we view this relentless disease, pinpointing potential metabolites before they manifest clinically, thereby paving the way for more proactive interventions.”The team employed Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) spectroscopy to contrast the serum metabolomes of healthy subjects with those diagnosed with MGUS and MM.Through the application of NMR spectroscopy, their findings showcased a marked deviation in amino acids as MGUS takes shape.Delving into the metabolic profiles of MGUS patients, it was observed that levels of alanine, lysine and leucine were diminished, while formic acid levels surged in comparison to controls.The research group delved deep into the intricate relationships intertwining the clinical characteristics of MM patients, specific metabolites and certain lipoprotein subfractions.They identified a strong correlation between levels of M-protein and serum proteins.The team highlighted these specific lipoprotein subfractions as pivotal markers closely associated with the transition from MGUS to full-blown MM.By shedding light on biological pathways previously undetected in plasma or bone marrow samples, they offer fresh perspectives on the journey from premalignant MGUS to malignant MM.Furthermore, profiling serum metabolites offers invaluable data, facilitating the discovery of novel biomarkers.These can significantly improve early detection and intervention for MGUS and MM.“This study offers more than knowledge – it provides a beacon of hope,” Dr Pedersen said. “By identifying these lipoprotein subfractions as potential early markers, we have opened the doors to possible early intervention strategies.”“The earlier we can detect and intervene in the development of MM, the brighter the prognosis for those affected by this malignancy,” she concluded.

Three research institutes under QF's Hamad Bin Khalifa University conduct research in areas of national priority for Qatar.
QF funds over 4,800 projects to transform Qatar into global innovation leader

Qatar Foundation (QF) has been at the forefront in Qatar’s efforts to transform the nation to a knowledge economy, triggering decisive change through research and innovation.According to its website, QF has been curating big ideas and creating platforms to spark the next great breakthroughs. “We are helping position the nation as a global research and innovation nerve centre with an ecosystem focused on developing ideas with impact. Across the fields of IT, energy, environment and healthcare, QF’s focus on Research, Development, and Innovation (RDI) is bringing new technologies into the global marketplace, and identifying new challenges and opportunities,” QF says.As for the efforts in this direction, QF has been able to achieve a lot since it started which is evident in the numbers, it has provided.Accordingly, QF has funded over 4,800 projects between 2007 and 2018 and has invested over$1.4bn through Qatar National Research Fund.A total of 331 inventions have been created by QF research and development ecosystem and 42 Startups have been developed by Qatar Science & Technology Park since 2016. So far eight patents have been granted to QF inventions.With every initiative, QF remains focused on generating economic value, transferring knowledge, and establishing national and international RDI partnerships that align with Qatar’s needs and priorities.“We are helping our homegrown researchers and innovators together with experts from around the world to address our biggest challenges. In our quest to make Qatar a leading hub for research and innovation, we have built several pioneering initiatives that are triggering transformative change across the nation, the region, and the world at large,” notes, QF.QF aims to make sure that its research projects span a wide range of industries and themes to create meaningful, multisectoral difference on the challenges the country face.One major aspect of its research programme is collaboration as it has tied up with organisations and institutions from around the world to facilitate the transfer of ideas, jointly address areas of interest, and multiply the reach and benefits of the research and innovation.With organisations as diverse as Tübitak in Turkey, to Boeing, Harvard University, and MIT in the United States, QF global partnerships span the spectrum of industry, academia, tech development and entrepreneurship, and public policy.QF initiatives also engages thought-leaders from around the world to gather ideas and spark conversations on some of the world’s most pressing challenges. From multidisciplinary research conferences to global summits and programmes on healthcare and education, QF is building diverse networks of citizens, activists, policymakers, and academics united by their goal of making change happen.QF has set up three specialised research institutes operating under the umbrella of Hamad Bin Khalifa University and all of them are focused on conducting pioneering research in areas of national priority for Qatar, supporting sustainable development and economic diversification goals, while having the potential to benefit the world. The three research institutes: Qatar Biomedical Research Institute, Qatar Computing Research Institute and Qatar Environment and Energy Research Institute are focusing on some of the most pressing challenges that the country faces. “Our ecosystem isn’t about infrastructure. It is about ideas and enabling them to develop naturally to the point where they become commercialised products. We don’t force innovation to happen. But we make sure it can,” added, Hayfa al-Abdulla, innovation director at Qatar Science & Technology Park.

The ‘Mobile Smart Shower Room’.
QU’s ‘Mobile Smart Shower Room’ a great support tool for the elderly

A ‘Mobile Smart Shower Room’ developed by a Qatar University professor can be a great support for the elderly and the people with special needs, according to the latest edition of QU research magazine. The inventor and designer is Dr Ahmed Elkhatat , section head, Research Planning and Co-ordination, Office of the Vice-President for Research and Graduate Studies, and a teaching assistant in Chemical Engineering, College of Engineering, QU.The ‘Mobile Smart Shower Room’, received a great response when it was presented at the 8th edition of the programme ‘Stars of Science,’ an edutainment television programme by Qatar Foundation.The dedicated team to the programme worked on converting this design into a practical product that was tested on ground.In the magazine article, Dr Elkhatat pointed out that simple and daily chores, considered a normal part of life for some people, such as showering, may be considered a source of anxiety and embarrassment for people who suffer from certain disabilities.The fibre glass structure, strengthened with epoxy and metal, ensures maximum safety for users who may have balance problems. The system provides an emergency key to stop the process of showering immediately if any problem occurs.The design is focused on user comfort by providing warm water and air from the beginning and controlling the temperature of water as desired. The height of the chair in the shower room can be controlled as required. The warm upper cover is made from a water-resistant substance to provide a feeling of safety and privacy in addition to avoiding suffocation.The room is equipped with a group of technically developed systems and machines. A central pump draws water from a tank equipped with sensors to measure the water temperature and level. Water is sprayed through 20 bath nozzles.There is also an air system responsible for the hot air flow that contributes to the process of drying after the shower. A central fan produces heated air. The interface is touch responsive. The mobile shower room is not only for providing the user with safety and comfort, but also for promoting self-confidence and a feeling of independence, the magazine added.

Ali Darwish
No major emergency cases at HMC during Eid holidays

No major cases have been reported so far during the Eid al-Fitr holidays at Hamad Medical Corporation's (HMC) Emergency Departments, sources said Friday.About 900 cases were recorded Friday, on the second day of Eid al-Fitr, including 620 seen at Hamad General Hospital.Most of the cases were moderate to minor. HMC Ambulance Service also reported no major cases.Officials said the recent campaign on the need to call ambulances only for emergencies, is paying rich dividends.About 53% of the cases were people under the age of 40. Most common complaints related to mild gastrointestinal cases.The median waiting time to meet a doctor at the emergency facility was about 16 minutes.The Ambulance Services at HMC received a total of 955 calls with 56 calls related to road transport accidents. In addition, the Life Flight Service was deployed to attend to six calls.“All the cases that were reported on the second day were moderate to low intensity and we were able to reach out to them well on time. There were no serious injuries with any of the road traffic accidents and those involved were well taken care of,” said Ali Darwish, assistant executive director, Emergency and Scheduled Ambulance Service, HMC.Darwish noted that the public is co-operating well with the guidelines provided by the Ambulance Service which has made the job of the ambulance staff better. He added that the recent campaign on the use of ambulance only for emergency cases has gone down well with the general public.“Most of the public are aware of the campaign and it is evident in the number of calls for ambulances. The campaign has had a good impact among the public and we are getting good co-operation from the public in this regard,” elaborated Darwish.The Paediatric Emergency Centres (PECs) under HMC attended to several cases with Al Sadd PEC leading with 921 cases.Al Rayyan PEC attended to 434 cases and Al Wakra had 310 cases. Airport PEC took care of 180 visitors and Al Daayen had 117 visitors.

The 'Mobile Smart Shower Room'.
QU professor develops 'Mobile Smart Shower Room' for the elderly

A Qatar University professor has developed a “Mobile Smart Shower Room” that can be a great support for the elderly and the people with special needs.The “Mobile Shower Room” invented and designed by Dr Ahmed Elkhatat , section head , Research Planning and Coordination, Office of the Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies, and a teaching assistant in Chemical Engineering, College of Engineering, QU, received great response when it was presented at the 8th edition of the programme ‘Stars of Science,’ an edutainment television programme by Qatar Foundation. The dedicated team to the programme worked on converting this design into a practical product that was tested on ground.Dr Elkhatat, in the latest edition of QU research magazine, notes that simple and daily issues that are considered a normal part of life for some people, such as showering, in some cases, for people who suffer from certain disabilities may be considered a source of anxiety and embarrassment.He highlights that the ‘Smart Shower Room’ was carefully designed to provide a safe, comfortable and integrated showering experience while maintaining the dignity of its users.The ‘Smart Shower Room’ is distinguished by a strong building that uses fiberglass supported with epoxy and solid services, which achieves the maximum safety for users who may have balance problems. The system provides an emergency key to stop the process of showering immediately if any problem occurs to ensure more safety.Furthermore, the design is focused on providing comfort to users by providing warm water and air from the beginning and controlling the temperature of water to the user’s wish is possible. The room is endowed with the design of its front door, which is designated for entry and exit. It is also possible to control the height of the chair, which is provided with marvellous arabesques. The warm upper cover is made from a water-resistant substance to provide a feeling of safety and privacy in addition to avoiding suffocation.The room is equipped with a group of technically developed systems and machines. As for the mechanical aspect, there is a developed hydraulic system to pump water. It consists of a central pump to draw water from a tank equipped with a sensor to measure the water temperature and a sensor for the water level. The pump power is controlled by a separate frequency transformer to pump water efficiently through twenty bath nozzles.There is also an air system responsible for the hot air flow that contributes to the process of drying after the shower. This system consists of a central fan that produces air with a certain flow heated through a strong heating element. Hot water is blown across special nozzles connected to a group of pipes. As for the electrical aspect, the room is equipped with electrical circuits and a control unit that enables the system to work efficiently. The room is equipped with a touch user interface, which enables the user to control several options to make this experience easier.The mobile shower room is not only for providing the user with safety and comfort, but also for promoting self-confidence and a feeling of independence, which restores the user’s sense of dignity as well as the ability to live normally and independently.

The study highlights chemistry-based research projects in developing high school students’ research competencies.
QU centre conducts study using chemistry-based research model

An innovative research conducted by scientists from Qatar University Young Scientists Centre (QUYSC) has unveiled the significant role of multidisciplinary chemistry informal research programmes in fostering research competencies and attitudes among aspiring scientists.The study highlights the effectiveness of an innovative research-based learning model that employs chemistry-based research projects in developing high school students’ research competency and attitudes.The chemistry-based research projects, according to an article on QU Research Magazine, were carried out as a part of an informal programme, in real-world laboratories on 330 high school students integrating different branches of chemistry, including physical, organic, inorganic, electrochemistry and biochemistry, in addition to other science and engineering areas.The programme was primarily successful in developing students’ research self-efficacy and fostering their research competencies in multidisciplinary science. Further research targets to analyse the long-term effect of the multidisciplinary research experiences on their attitudes toward higher education and research-oriented careers that can contribute to a knowledge-based economy.This study was conducted by QUYSC as part of the “I am a Researcher” programme, for national students to nurture their research-based knowledge through advanced research experiences under the mentorship of research experts and scientists. The findings published in journal of chemical education in the American Chemical Society shed light on the transformative impact of these programmes in shaping the future of scientific research.The chemistry subjects harmonise with many science and engineering disciplines, thus providing immense research scope in various multidisciplinary topics. The data were collected using a mixed method by performing an indirect assessment on the programme effectiveness, conducting surveys on students, research assistants and the research faculty mentors involved in the programme.The study, “The Role of Multidisciplinary Chemistry Informal Research Programmes in Building Research Competencies and Attitudes,” aimed to investigate the benefits and outcomes of informal research experiences in the field of chemistry. By examining the perspectives of participating students and analysing their research competencies and attitudes, the research team gained valuable insights into the effectiveness of multidisciplinary approaches in nurturing scientific talent.Through a carefully designed research programme, students were exposed to a wide range of interdisciplinary research projects that combined principles from various science and engineering branches, particularly on chemistry sub-disciplines. These projects encouraged participants to explore innovative approaches, collaborate across disciplines and think critically to solve complex scientific problems.The findings of this research study have implications for educational institutions, policymakers, and organisations invested in promoting scientific research. It underscores the importance of fostering multidisciplinary collaborations, providing informal research opportunities and promoting research competencies and attitudes among young scientists. This study serves as a call to action for the scientific community to further invest in multidisciplinary chemistry informal research programmes and create an ecosystem that nurtures the scientific potential of aspiring researchers.Prof Noora al-Thani, the study’s principal investigator, emphasised the significance of the research and added: “This programme provides invaluable opportunities for aspiring scientists to engage in hands-on research experiences and develop the necessary skills and mindset for a successful scientific career.”

Representative file picture
Demand goes high for admissions at Indian schools

As the new academic year commences for schools following Indian stream of studies, concerns over the lack of seats in schools have been raised by several parents. Despite all the Indian schools resuming the new academic year 2024-25 this week, there are a large number of parents knocking on the doors of schools, looking for admissions for their children.This is in spite of the increase in the number of Indian schools as well as the huge surge in the number of seats available. Availability and affordability are still major issues for many when it comes to school admission for their children. While the situation was more or less similar in the previous years, this year in particular has seen the demand for admission shooting up. This is primarily attributed to the increasing number of families coming to the country. In addition, affordability is another concern as most of the newcomers are looking for admission in schools which are more 'affordable'.A parent who recently brought his family to Qatar told Gulf Times that he has been approaching various schools for admission for his son and daughter for quite some time. “It has been a big issue for me for the last one month or so. Still I have not got admission for them though one school has informed me that they would consider my elder one. However, there is no word from any school for admission for my second child who is looking for admission in KG 2. So I have not applied yet for the TC from their school back in India.”Another parent whose child is already studying in a school, is unable to find admission for his second child in the same school. He explained: “I had applied for admission well on time but still I have not got any positive response. When checked with the school, I was told that they would inform if there are vacancies. This is what is happening and I don’t know what to do.”A family who recently came to Qatar is still on the lookout for the admission for their children. “Our problem is that we can’t afford high fees and we had approached many schools that charge 'reasonable' fees. Still, we have not been able to find any school and we are in a dilemma now. We may have to send the children back home if we are not able to get admission, “ said the father.Though Gulf Times had approached several schools asking for their comments on the current situation regarding admission, we have not received any response.However, one source from a leading school said that the demand for admission is so huge that they cannot cope with it. “The demand is such that we receive 10 times or even more applications against the prevailing number of seats. So this becomes a huge challenge for the school,” he added.

Family wellbeing has a lasting impact on students
Family wellbeing reflects on children's academic performance: QF educators

Family wellbeing is the cornerstone of a child's academic success, according to some Qatar Foundation (QF) academics."When parents neglect their own mental health, it creates a ripple effect that permeates every aspect of their child's life, including their education and ability to learn," said Dr Moustafa Ahmed, an educator and the wellbeing co-ordinator at Qatar Leadership Academy, a QF school.In an article on QF website, Dr Ahmed recognises the vital interplay between familial dynamics and academic success and has witnessed firsthand the repercussions of parental mental health struggles on students. He says that from increased stress and anxiety to difficulties in concentration and academic performance, the consequences are far-reaching and undeniable.“Parental stress or anxiety can manifest in a child's classroom behaviour. It can be linked to heightened emotional reactivity, difficulty in concentrating, social withdrawal, a tendency towards perfectionism and fear of failure, or even physical symptoms like headaches and stomach aches,” he explained.“Additionally, decreased motivation, behavioural issues, physical restlessness, and academic regression may be observed. Recognising these manifestations is crucial for educators to provide nurturing support, fostering a positive learning environment for the child's overall well-being and academic success.”Dr Ahmed remains steadfast in his belief in the power of advocacy and intervention. “Children learn resilience, problem-solving skills, and stress management by observing how their parents navigate challenges. Positive parental modelling fosters a growth mindset, builds self-efficacy, and significantly influences a child's overall attitude and engagement in the learning process,” he said.Dr Khalid J al-Naama, director of Family Research and Policy at Doha International Family Institute, explores why children mirror the status of their parents' wellbeing.“The home is the child’s first learning environment, and their parents or guardians are their first teachers. Young children often learn by imitating the adults in their life, and learned responses are elicited by stimuli,” he noted.Dr al-Naama underscores the importance of early intervention to foster a healthy family environment as the best way to mitigate the impact parental mental health issues have on their child’s ability to learn.“When children are over the age of 18, any processing of parental mental fitness is retrospective, and they are more likely to focus on changing the negative patterns they’ve adopted as a result,” he said.“But with younger children, the responsibility is on the parents as caregivers to understand and mitigate how their mental status is affecting their kids. They need to prioritise getting themselves the help they need to learn how to regulate and prevent future transference to their kids.”He explains how psychologists will focus on educating the parents as part of "psycho-education" sessions, where they will explain how the parent can deal with their mental health issues.“It is important to note that no one is immune to mental health issues. The more we talk about it, the more we can dispel the stigma around mental health issues in society and normalise getting help,” added Dr al-Naama.

Calves depend on their mothers for over two years, as shown in a photo with a researcher and an orphaned calf.
QU research focuses on dugong population dynamics using drone technology

A collaborative research between Qatar University (QU) and ExxonMobil is using drone technology to study the dugong population dynamics in the northwest coast of Qatar, home to the second largest population and the largest gathering of the marine mammal in one location.The research team comprised Dr Mohsen al-Ansi al-Yafei and Dr Yousria Soliman, associate professors in the Department of Environmental and Biological Sciences at QU, ExxonMobil's researcher Ismail al-Sheikh and a number of assistant researchers.The Gulf is home to a large population of dugongs also known as Sea Cows. Previous studies conducted in the Gulf have estimated the numbers of dugongs at approximately 6,000. The studies that extended for a period over 13 years and covered the coastal waters of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar and the UAE, spotted the largest single group of dugongs ever reported in the world, numbering about 674, between Bahrain and Qatar.Although the number of dugongs in the Arabian Gulf is the second largest in the world after Australia, there are no accurate estimates of the numbers of dugongs in the region.According to an article by Dr Soliman published on the latest edition of the QU research magazine, using an unmanned aerial vehicle, the current study aims to explain the conditions that support the single largest gathering of dugongs in northwestern Qatar. The study highlights that currently the dugong population in the location is estimated to exceed 1,000. The study extended for more than three years and included repeated aerial surveys using drones.Another intensive seasonal marine survey monitored changes in the quality and density of sea grasses, which represent the main feeding grounds for dugongs. The observed changes in the population density over the study period was related to births, deaths, changes in habitats, fishing and boat accidents. The population age structure was also evaluated by measuring the ratio of calves to adults, as it is considered one of the indicators that help predict the extent of the increase or decrease in numbers of dugongs in the future.An accurate count of dugongs is crucial to the goal of their management and to understanding the dynamics of the populations inhabiting the area. Obtaining an accurate count of the number of animals is difficult, especially in the marine environment. This is due to the difficulty of counting, as observers do not see the animals because they are covered, either by water or plants, or they respond to the presence of observers and leave the place before they are seen. Since dugongs are spread over wide areas, trying to count their numbers is very difficult. emote photography technology using drones provides a useful tool for measuring population density in an effective and more accurate way.Since the survival of sea cow populations depends on the quality and density of sea grass habitats, the researchers also conducted quantitative and qualitative measurements for changes in sea grass habitats over several different seasons to determine the extent of change in these habitats, which are considered as home to sea cows. Understanding the dynamics of dugong populations and how they respond to the changing marine meadow habitats is one of the keys to successfully managing and thus conserving marine life and dugong population.

Dr Amani Boumaiza
QF scientist aims to realise Qatar’s sustainability efforts through blockchain technology

Qatar’s drive for sustainability can be supported through blockchain technology by creating an efficient energy marketplace, a Qatar Foundation (QF) scientist noted.“Blockchain technology is a decentralised digital ledger that uploads and presents data in a transparent and secure manner, using a network of computers to approve transactions without the need for a central authority,” said Dr Amani Boumaiza, a scientist at Qatar Environment and Energy Research Institute (Qeeri), part of Hamad Bin Khalifa University.“However, it is now being used across a variety of fields – such as healthcare and real estate – and Qeeri is coupling it with Artificial Intelligence to create an efficient energy marketplace. It is aiming to achieve this by encouraging people to shift to renewable resources and reduce reliance on non-renewable energy through energy trading,” explained, Dr Boumaiza.According to the scientist, as a secure, transparent, and efficient way to share data, blockchain has the potential to transform everyday transactions across a variety of fields.She continued: “Blockchain is important as it is helping to drive sustainability. The technology will offer new, innovative ways to reduce carbon footprint – which is also one of the main goals of Qatar National Vision 2030,”Dr Boumaiza uses the community housing at Education City as an example, as this is the project’s test bed. There are 623 houses and most of these have Solar Photovoltaic installations, allowing sunlight to be converted into electricity.She highlighted: “In this situation, for example, I produce energy from my roof. Whenever I produce an excess of energy, I can share this energy or sell it to my neighbours, for which I would get tokens as a reward. I could use those tokens, for example, to reduce my energy consumption invoices.“Trading energy among peers means that if I have an excess of energy, I can sell it to my neighbours at a competitive price, compared to the price on the market. We are trying to not go through the main utility grid, and so we are creating a decentralised paradigm. This helps consumers to have greater control over their energy choices and they do not have to rely solely on large companies for energy supply.”Dr Boumaiza noted that the idea of the blockchain is to automate the trade and exchange of energy through AI, as it can gather and analyse data from sensors, identify patterns, make predictions, and optimise energy consumption.“So, as a household, I will not care about what’s going on within the system – everything will be automated. And this automation uses ‘smart contracts’, which is an AI technology, where everything is coded in a separate file. And this smart contract is automated; it will orchestrate the trade, determine the price of the energy, and match the best buyers with the best sellers,” pointed out the scientist.Dr Boumaiza added that the Qeeri team is currently trying to encourage people to increase their use of green energy. “One method we are implementing is a system where individuals can trade in their revenue or tokens for incentives, benefiting both themselves and the environment. These incentives may range from reduced utility bills to vouchers for environmentally friendly products, resulting in a mutually beneficial outcome.”

Ragy Thomas
'AI revolution is just beginning'

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is going to play a big role for the next two decades or so, as what has been witnessed so far is just the beginning of a great revolution that is to unravel, a speaker at the Web Summit Qatar 2024 told Gulf Times.“Every software is going to be affected by AI and we will witness many more transitions and changes in the coming years,” stated Ragy Thomas, founder and CEO of Sprinklr – an enterprise social technology serving more than 1,000 enterprise brands globally.An innovative startup that provides a customer experience management platform, New York-based software company Sprinklr has already made a mark in the technology sector with its innovative software.“Sprinklr provides a single platform for large businesses to do their entire customer services right from marketing and advertisement and to giving feedback on one single platform,” Thomas explained.Many of the large companies in the world use the software for digital outreach. “Many of the social media ads use our platform. As many as 83 of the top 100 global companies use our platform. When you see the social media ads of a leading company, it is possible that the other side of the message is supported by Sprinklr,” Thomas remarked.“We have 26 offices around the world and customers from all over the world as our companies operate in every part of the world,” he continued.According to Thomas, Sprinklr integrates popular communication providers natively so the support teams can absorb both inbound and outbound voice calls with dexterity.“Sprinklr platform helps to reduce the average handling time and cost with the Sprinklr’s AI-powered omnichannel ticket routing, automated workflows and AI-suggested responses. It can shift away from robotic, impersonal messages to conversational bots that can drive meaningful conversations and resolve issues with minimal agent intervention. It also helps deliver humanised support that can delight customers,” he highlighted.

HE Hassan al-Thawadi addressing the session Tuesday. PICTURE: Web Summit Qatar 2024
Self-belief helped Qatar deliver a great World Cup: al-Thawadi

The secretary general of the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy HE Hassan al-Thawadi, noted that Qatar’s stupendous delivery of FIFA World Cup 2002 was due to the self-belief in setting up goals and realising them.Al-Thawadi was interacting with Ayman Mohyeldin of MSNBC at the ongoing Web Summit Qatar 2024 Tuesday at the Doha Exhibition and Convention Centre.“What guided us all through the preparation to the World Cup was the unwavering belief in our ability as we set very ambitious goals which guided our team to achieve them. Our leadership believed and supported us thoroughly to realise our goals. We harnessed this opportunity to try to achieve every single aspect of that opportunity and finally delivered a great tournament,” al-Thawadi said.Al-Thawadi said that for 13 years, the entire organising team went through many difficult cycles and different challenges. “Every challenge we faced was an opportunity for us in achieving our goals. We had various difficulties but never ever did any doubt creep into our minds,” he noted.“It was the self-belief that took us forward despite criticism from various corners and cynicism that was raised against hosting the World Cup in Qatar. People raised several doubts about the compact World Cup, about the infrastructure as well several other aspects of the tournament. We entered into the process of hosting the World Cup knowing exactly what we wanted and what we can do,” explained, al-Thawadi.The official noted that building the bridges between the cultures was very important part of the whole effort. He said: “We were confident right from the beginning that we have a very talented population capable of accomplishing and achieving many things. It was the belief that the Arab World as well as the Middle East has the capability to set its own narrative and write its own story. In a sense, it was welcoming the entire world to be part of our story.”Al-Thawadi said that as a nation, Qatar always believes in the transformative power of sports and that is how the country approached the World Cup 2022.“We had hosted several major events but nothing of the magnitude of World Cup. We had worked with the previous World Cups, Champions League as well as Olympics to understand closely about major events and by 2022 we had a great team of workforce who had every idea of hosting the biggest sporting event in the world. Any major event that comes to Qatar will be elevated to the next level for the better,” he added.

Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser attended the opening ceremony of the forum. PICTURE: Aisha al-Musallam.
Qatar to launch 3rd National Health Strategy this year

Qatar will launch the third National Health Strategy later this year, announced HE Dr Hanan Mohamed al-Kuwari, Minister of Public Health, Saturday while highlighting the transformation in healthcare in the country over the last decade.“As we close our 2nd National Health Strategy (2018-2024) which delivered positive changes to our patients, we look forward to launching our 3rd National Health Strategy later this year which will elaborate on the health targets set by the Third Qatar National Development Strategy (2024-2030) towards realising the Qatar National Vision 2030,” stated Dr al-Kuwari.The health minister was delivering the opening remarks at the 10th Middle East Forum on Quality and Safety in Healthcare taking place at Qatar National Convention Centre.Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, Chairperson of Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development, witnessed the opening ceremony of the forum, which is the largest of its kind in the region.As the forum marks its 10th anniversary, Dr al-Kuwari said that during the past 10 years of the Middle East Forum, Qatar’s healthcare system has undergone a remarkable transformation journey.She said : “Today we celebrate a decade of an inspiring, innovative and transformative collaboration between Hamad Medical Corporation and the Institute for Health Care Improvement (Boston) that has transcended borders and systems and that has connected thousands of healthcare leaders and practitioners from across the world with the singular aim of improving quality and safety for our patients and our healthcare workers.”“When most countries are used to steady growth, we have witnessed a phenomenal expansion in the health sector to match our population’s need and our country’s ambitions and plans. Our public and private sector beds have nearly doubled, and we have seen the addition of Sidra Medicine in 2016 and the Military Medical City Hospital in 2024. Our Primary Health Care Corporation opened 13 new state-of-the-art health and wellness centres, significantly improving primary care provision in the community,” explained the minister.“Today we celebrate our commitment to excellence and our wonderful journey which has led Qatar being recognised as a global benchmark for excellence and innovation. But more importantly today we re-affirm our unwavering ambition to deliver the best care possible for every patient, every time,” continued, Dr al-Kuwari.The minister highlighted that in 2023, Qatar had five hospitals rank among the top 250 academic medical centres in the world with two achieving top 100 ranking highlighting the commitment to combining patient care, medical research, and health education to achieve the best outcomes and experiences for the patients.Dr al-Kuwari also pointed to the resilience of Qatar’s healthcare combating Covid-19. “During Covid-19 our whole of government approach, the strength and resilience of our health systems and our wonderful healthcare workers ensured that we had one of the lowest fatality rates in the world and had close to zero hospital acquired Covid infections to patients and staff. These efforts have been recognised globally ranking Qatar’s Covid response amongst the best in the world,” she noted.“During the World Cup 2022, our state-of-the-art health services, our public health initiatives in collaboration with the World Health Organisation and our Healthy Cities accreditation made the Qatar 2022 World Cup one of the most healthy World Cups in history despite being at the tail end of the Covid-19 pandemic,” emphasised the minister.“Our training and improvement programmes now cover the whole sector in Qatar, with more than nine private sector hospitals participating in the improvement training and practical programmes in 2023. We have localised the online courses and are providing these in Arabic to make it accessible to all Arabic countries and are currently establishing training opportunities and partnerships for health providers within the Mena region,” added the minister.

Her Highness Sheikha Moza attends the opening of the Middle East Forum on Quality and Safety in Healthcare. PICTURE: AR al-Baker.
Sheikha Moza attends Middle East Forum on Quality and Safety in Healthcare opening session

Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, Chairperson of Qatar Foundation, attended Saturday the opening of the Middle East Forum on Quality and Safety in Healthcare.The Middle East Forum on Quality and Safety in Healthcare, now in its 10th year, is a collaboration between Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) and the US-based Institute of Healthcare Improvement (IHI). It is the biggest event dedicated to healthcare quality improvement in the regionHE Dr Hanan Mohamed al-Kuwari, Minister of Public Health; Dr Hans Henri P Kluge, regional director for Europe, World Health Organisation (WHO); Dr Hanan Balkhy, WHO regional director for the Eastern Mediterranean; Kedar Mate, president and chief executive officer, IHI; and Dr Don Berwick, president Emeritus and Senior Fellow at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement were present on the occasion along with several health ministers from many countries.Held at Qatar National Convention Centre, more than 2,500 healthcare professionals from Qatar and the region are attending this year’s three day forum both in-person and online.Delivering the opening remarks, Dr al-Kuwari highlighted the positive and transformative effect the Middle East Forum on Quality and Safety in Healthcare has had on Qatar’s healthcare landscape over the decade.“Today we celebrate our commitment to excellence and our wonderful journey which has led Qatar to being recognised as a global benchmark for excellence and innovation. But more importantly today we re-affirm our unwavering ambition to deliver the best care possible for every patient, every time,” said Dr al-Kuwari.The minister went on to highlight that the partnership with IHI was born out of the aspirations of the Qatar National Vision 2030 and the first National Development Strategy (2011-2016) set by His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, and the guiding principles of Qatar’s first National Health Strategy developed and launched by Her Highness Sheikha Moza, in her capacity as chairperson of the Executive Committee of the Supreme Council of Health and Vice Chairperson of the Supreme Committee of Health at that time.The opening ceremony also featured addresses by Dr Abdullatif al-Khal, deputy chief medical officer, HMC and co-chair of the forum; Kedar Mate and Dr Don Berwick. They highlighted the importance of a sustained commitment to quality and safety in healthcare to deliver the best patient outcomes.The other speakers at the 2024 forum included Dr Amelia Latu Afuhaamango Tuipulotu, chief nursing officer of the World Health Organisation and Jason Caldwell, world record breaking ocean rower and endurance athlete.The 2024 edition of the forum is focused on five learning tracks for the attendees: Quality and Safety; Population Health; Leadership and Innovation in Healthcare; Applied Improvement and, Person-Centred Care.Over the last 10 years, the forum has driven quality improvement and transformation across the healthcare landscape and has seen 26,000 attendees over the decade of the event; 444,000 professional education learning hours for healthcare professionals and 800 expert speakers form Qatar, the region and internationally.There is also an accompanying poster presentation and an exhibition at the forum which will conclude Sunday.

Gulf Times
Researchers advocate 3 theories for data-driven decision-making in healthcare

A group of researchers have advocated three theories that focus for data-driven decision-making in healthcare.According to a study published on, ‘Data-driven Decision-making: A Review of Theories and Practices in Healthcare’, these theories can help form well-judged decisions in healthcare and make them applied in various contexts.The authors of the article, Chloe Ile, South African Medical Research Council; Charlene Ile, Explore AI, Cape Town, South Africa and Christine Ile, Livingstone Hospital, Port Elizabeth, South Africa, categorise Classical Decision Theory; Ottawa Decision Support Framework and Bayesian Decision Theory as three methods to make use of data effectively, highlighting the benefits of such practices for better healthcare decisions.“ Use of data for healthcare decision-making has numerous benefits, including increasing knowledge of user demographics and needs enabling adequate planning of healthcare resources and services, and providing a roadmap of decisions made to ensure stakeholder accountability,” state, the authors in the article. However, they note that despite these clear benefits, frameworks and theories guiding decision making in healthcare remain under-utilised and therefore they have presented these decision-making theories that focus on data.Classical Decision Theory- the study of choices to be considered when making a decision- and its modern iterations emphasise the decision-making process and the use of data in this process. It is divided into descriptive and normative decision theories. Normative Decision Theory points to the prerequisites that should be in place to reach rational decision-making. Descriptive Decision Theory seeks to explain and predict how people make decisions. In both, three key elements are described: the decision, the decision-maker, and the decision-making process.Ottawa Decision Support Framework was developed based on expectancy-value, decisional conflict, and social support theories. It was designed to address health decisions which needed to be made because of a new circumstance or diagnosis, requiring careful deliberation due to unknown benefits and risks and needing more effort during the deliberation and implementation phase. This theory is employed when the decision relates to new diagnoses or treatments or when extensive deliberation is needed in uncertain circumstances.Bayesian Decision Theory considers existing knowledge and cost functions in decision-making. Uncertainty is inherent in the human experience and can be observed in almost every role, task, and function resulting in the implementation of solutions without a full understanding of the problem or decision. Therefore, it is a statistical decision model and aims to support decisions made in the face of doubt by shedding light on the uncertainties involved in the process.The study concludes that the healthcare system is a data-rich environment capable of supporting data-driven decision-making at both the individual level for patients or clients and the system level for organisations or national entities. “Data acquisition, storage, and processing are becoming integral pillars within the health sector, especially as fields such as telemedicine, big data analytics, and artificial intelligence continue to grow in popularity. To handle these data volumes and support data interpretation, Big Data analytics must be used with decision theory to move from observation to an informed conclusion or treatment plan,” concludes the study.

A section of the audience at the event. PICTURES: Thajudheen
Doha Global South Health Policy initiative launched

In an effort to provide universal health coverage and ensure primary healthcare to the low and middle income countries in the Global South, the Middle East Council on Global Affairs and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, with the support of Qatar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, have launched the Doha Global South Health Policy Initiative.The event held at the Sheraton Grand Doha on Monday, was attended by HE the Minister of Public Health Dr Hanan Mohamed al-Kuwari, HE the Minister of State for International Co-operation at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Lolwah Rashid AlKhater, former minister HE Hessa al-Jaber, and Dr Chris Elias, president of the Global Development Division at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, among others.The two-day event is also attended by representatives from nine low-and-middle-income countries in Africa and Asia, alongside international experts and key stakeholders from Qatar, including the Ministry of Public Health, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Qatar Fund for Development, Qatar University, and Hamad Bin Khalifa University.The initiative aims to develop a collaborative platform for countries in the Global South to address their healthcare challenges, find actionable solutions to enhance their healthcare systems, support the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals, and address unmet healthcare needs.“Over the last decade, Qatar has developed enhanced primary healthcare services and infrastructures, focusing on prevention and early intervention to reduce the burden of disease and improve health outcomes,” HE Dr al-Kuwari noted in her remarks. “Through this initiative, in line with the internationally agreed global health strategies, we can collectively contribute to strengthening primary healthcare in the Global South, investing in its infrastructure, its workforce and its resources.”“Together we can build healthier, more resilient communities, and achieve the vision of health for all,” she added.“Focusing on public health issues in the Global South aligns very well with the development priorities of the country and the strategic vision of the Qatar Fund for Development,” HE al-Khater said.She affirmed Qatar’s commitment to supporting access to primary healthcare in the Global South, while ensuring that this support improves healthcare and development outcomes.A high-level panel discussion on *Enhancing Primary Healthcare Access in the Global South: Challenges and Solutions* was held on Monday.Assistant Minister of Public Health Dr Salih al-Marri, director of the World Health Organisation (WHO)’s Programme Management at the Eastern Mediterranean Regional Office Dr Rana Hajjeh, member of the WHO’s Africa Regional Immunisation Technical Advisory Committee Deo Nshimirimana, African Leaders Malaria Alliance executive secretary Joy Phumaphi, and Dr Elias of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation participated in the panel discussion.Middle East Council on Global Affairs director Dr Tarik Yousef moderated the discussion which explored how Qatar, drawing from its own experience and role at the WHO and other international organisations, can support countries facing challenges in healthcare accessibility.At the discussion, Dr Elias noted that “over the last 20 years, the world has cut child mortality in half”.“Unfortunately, in the last decade, we’ve seen that progress slow down,” he continued. “To get back on track with reaching the Sustainable Development Goals, we need a more comprehensive approach that addresses the needs of community health workers, and I’m optimistic that through new partnerships like the one launched today in Doha, offering leaders from the Global South a platform to voice their priorities and challenges, we can once again accelerate progress.”Concluding the panel, Dr Yousef outlined the plan of action for the following two days, and added: “Our role is to facilitate these discussions and see how we can collectively help through this platform, which emphasises knowledge sharing, to identify and establish an agenda for the Global South by the Global South in shaping future health outcomes.”

HE Dr Hanan Mohamed al-Kuwari speaking at the event on Monday.
Primary heallthcare the foundation of healthy society: al-Kuwari

Primary healthcare is the foundation for a healthy society and the cornerstone of the health system, HE the Minister of Public Health Dr Hanan Mohamed al-Kuwari noted on Monday. In her opening address at the launch of the Doha Global South Health Policy Initiative, HE Dr al-Kuwari stated that primary healthcare provides comprehensive and holistic care not only for the curative aspects bust also for the preventative measures. “The health system in Qatar has, over the past decade, developed and strengthened primary healthcare services and infrastructure, with a focus on prevention and early intervention, with the aim of improving health outcomes for patients and enhancing the quality of life in general,” she said. “Strengthening primary healthcare services in the Global South is thanks to the unlimited support of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani for the health sector in the country.” “Qatar’s globally recognised network of comprehensive primary healthcare services is a strong example of a well-organised medical care system in which the health sector stands ready, through state programmes to support low- and middle-income countries, for partnership and for the exchange of experiences and training,” HE Dr al-Kuwari added. The minister also referred to the challenges faced by several countries in the health sector due to various issues. “Despite the great improvements that have occurred over the past decades, obtaining primary healthcare, even basic health services, represents a challenge in a number of countries due to geographical distance, inadequate infrastructure, and a shortage of trained medical staff,” HE Dr al-Kuwari said. “The situation has deteriorated due to conflicts, environmental problems, lack of resources, and poor management and guidance that have made the situation worse.” As for the Doha Global South Health Policy Initiative, the minister hoped that “this initiative, which is fully in line with internationally agreed global health strategies, will be able to contribute collectively to strengthening primary healthcare in low- and middle-income countries, and invest in their infrastructure, workforce and resources to enable individuals and communities to take charge of their health and well-being.”