Saturday, December 09, 2023 | 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.
HE Dr Mohammed bin Saleh al-Sada delivering the keynote address at the event Monday. PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam.
Al Kharsaah project to reduce Co2 emission by 26,000mn tonnes

The 800mw Al Kharsaah Solar Power Project, inaugurated last year, will enable Qatar reduce its Co2 emission significantly, the 3rd International Conference on Sustainable Energy-Water-Environment Nexus in Desert Climates (ICSEWEN'23) was told Monday. “The country’s first large scale solar plant will, over its lifespan, enable Qatar reduce its Co2 emission by 26,000mn metric tonnes,” explained HE Dr Mohammed bin Saleh al-Sada, former Minister of State for Energy and Industry. He was delivering the keynote address at the opening ceremony of ICSEWEN'23, organised by Hamad Bin Khalifa University's Qatar Environment and Energy Research Institute (Qeeri). HE the Minister of Environment and Climate Change Sheikh Dr Faleh bin Nasser bin Ahmed bin Ali al-Thani, Qatar General Electricity and Water Corporation President Eng Essa bin Hilal al-Kuwari and HBKU president Dr Ahmed M Hasna were present on the occasion. One of the key pillars of Qatar’s strategy is to diversify the energy mix and increase the share of renewable energy resources, HE Dr al-Sada pointed out. “During the first year of operation, Al Kharsaah project was planned to generate almost 2mn megawatt hours-equivalent to the energy consumption of 55,000 households in Qatar. This project demonstrates Qatar’s commitment to sustainable energy development and contributes to the global sustainable energy aspect,” he explained. “Another pillar of the strategy is to manage water resources efficiently. The iconic Water Security Mega Reservoirs project - one of the largest in the world-significantly extends Qatar’s water reserves,” he continued. The former minister noted that the water, energy environment nexus in recent years has emerged as a holistic research management approach to analyse synergies. “Water is essential for producing energy and food and energy are necessary for distributing water. Food production depends on an environment with clean water and sustainable energy resources. The nexus is closely associated with UN Sustainable goals such as zero hunger, clean water, sanitation, affordable clean energy and climate action,” he highlighted. The official pointed out that the challenges in this nexus may vary from one region to the other. "These challenges are compounded in dessert climate such as Qatar and other GCC countries which depend on expensive and energy intensive desalination processes," he commented. He expressed confidence that ICSEWEN'23 will help come up with recommendations and suggestions to meet the water, energy and environment challenges specifically in the region and globally at large. “Water scarcity has always been a critical issue for Qatar like other states in the region. We have inadequate rainfall and depleting level of ground water and high cost of water desalination to meet most needs of the country. The abstraction of ground water in Qatar is another challenge,” added, the former minister.

Abdulla al-Mansoori
QCDC activities benefit thousands of students in 2022 alone

Several activities by Qatar Career Development Centre (QCDC), founded by Qatar Foundation, have yielded overwhelming positive outcomes in the recent years with about 10,000 children benefitting from the programmes in 2022 alone, noted a top official.“Over 9,600 children benefited from QCDC's career development centre at Kidzania in 2022 alone while 334 students were impacted to exhibit measurable transformation by more than 20 programmes and initiatives the centre had organised,” disclosed Abdulla al-Mansoori, director of QCDC."Our Career Guide magazine reaches more than 80,000 readers across the country," al-Mansoori explained to Gulf Times in an interview recently.“We have seen increased student engagement, with our services, along with ever growing opportunities to collaborate with education and labour market institutions and entities. In 2022 alone, QCDC has benefitted thousands of students and young people across Qatar, helping them make more informed decisions about their education and career paths,” continued the official.However, al-Mansoori said that the success of the organisation lies in the individual level transformations that occur as a result of the centre’s efforts which involve personal growth, skill development, increased confidence, and a sense of empowerment among the individuals.He explained: “At the core of our mission is the belief that our work has the power to change lives on a profound level. It is about helping individuals discover their potential, overcome obstacles, and pursue their dreams and aspirations. These individual stories of transformation are often the most compelling evidence of the value we bring to our communities.”The director said that QCDC is planning several career development programmes for the next two years. “We are expanding and building upon our career guidance and development services and taking them to new heights, to provide students with a holistic package of advising and guidance offerings that cover various bases needed to adapt to today's dynamic professional environment and labour market.”He pointed out that QCDC has extended the 'Little Employee' initiative to run year-long. Helping children from the ages of 7-15 to experience real-life work environments by accompanying a parent or a relative to their workplace.“Furthermore, we have published a guide with all the majors available at the university and higher education levels in the country. This Majors Guide gives tips to the students about all the sectors of higher studies with all the requirements and skills needed for each course. The guide makes students come out with informed decisions, and plan their career path, as they become are more aware about their potential and skills and the available majors that suit them,” he highlighted.The official revealed: “We are in the process of launching a revamped career programme that we named Al-Dileela. This is for students, graduates, and people who apply to get a new job or change their current one. We are going to take them through the full process to be prepared for the journey. This will happen with the collaboration of a great group of experience career advisers. We also have several comprehensive and complimenting initiatives to support people with special needs on the same path.”“As we move forward, we are committed to staying at the forefront of career development by constantly evolving our programmes and initiatives to meet the ever-changing demands of the modern job market. We will continue to collaborate with educational and labour market stakeholders, both locally and internationally, to create a thriving career development ecosystem in Qatar,” concluded, the QCDC director.

Dignitaries and other guests at the opening session of the symposium Monday. PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam
Symposium discusses major topics of science, engineering, medicine

Exploring avenues and opportunities of knowledge sharing and collaboration in various fields of science and technology, the 9th edition of Arab American Frontiers of Science, Engineering and Medicine symposium started Monday at the JW Marriott Marquis City Centre.The three-day event is under the patronage and in the presence of HE the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State for Defence Affairs Dr Khalid bin Mohamed al-Attiyah.The opening ceremony was attended by HE the Minister of Environment and Climate Change Dr Faleh bin Nasser bin Ahmed bin Ali al-Thani, HE the Minister of Education and Higher Education Buthaina bint Ali al-Jabr al-Nuaimi, US ambassador Timmy Davis, and other dignitaries.Organised by Hamad Bin Khalifa University( HBKU), the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine and Texas A&M University at Qatar, the conference focuses on important areas of science and technology and has brought together American and Arab scientists, engineers, and medical professionals to discuss major scientific advances on various topics relevant to the Mena (Middle East and North Africa) region and the world.The symposium facilitates cutting-edge knowledge exchange across a broad range of multi-disciplinary topics under the guidance of co-chairs from the universities in the US and the Arab world.Addressing the gathering, US envoy Davis said it is a very important age of science."We know more about our universe, more about health management and more about ourselves than we have known ever before,” he said. “The test we face is how we can shape this information into ways of maximising it.”He observed that although the US is a world leader in science, technology and research, it does not have all the answers.“As we look to the future, we must remember our past. In the earlier times, incredible scientific advances were made by scientists from Baghdad, Cairo among other places in the Arab World,” Davis pointed out. “Many of the developments in the modern science have roots here in the region.”The envoy added that the topics of the conference address many of the challenges that the world face today.Dr Dena al-Thani, associate professor at the HBKU’s College of Science and Engineering, told Gulf Times that the the conference focuses on five major areas.“These are ‘Quantum Computing’, ‘Decarbonisation’, ‘Precision Medicine’, ‘Technology for Equity and Inclusion’, and ‘Tech Transfer’,” she said.Two main sessions are led by HBKU: “Quantum Computing” by College of Engineering assistant professor Dr Saif al-Kuwari, and “Technology for Inclusion and Equity” by Dr Dena al-Thani.

Al-Mansoori: We have evolved to become the country’s beacon of career guidance, planning and development.
Qatar Career Development Centre to be more autonomous as QF legacy centre

The Qatar Career Development Centre (QCDC), founded by Qatar Foundation (QF), will be a far more autonomous body hereafter to continue its journey of providing career guidance and life-long learning activities for the community, a top official told Gulf Times.“While the QCDC was initially established under Qatar Foundation, it marks a significant milestone in its growth as it transitions into a QF Legacy Centre: a more independent role within the broader Qatari society, empowered by the QF’s long and lasting support and our shared vision,” QCDC director Abdulla al-Mansoori said.He was speaking on the centre’s future course and current programmes to empower the youth.“This new chapter grants the QCDC the opportunity to further expand our diverse partnerships, adapting to evolving circumstances,” the official said. “With increased autonomy, we are now in a position to strategically engage with a broader spectrum of partners, both private and public entities, within the country and beyond its borders.”“We are entering into a new phase, accompanied by various esteemed partners, as we evolve into a specialised career guidance and development entity in Qatar, and spread awareness about the broader concept of career development,” al-Mansoori continued. “Our primary focus is on shaping the future of the younger generations, aligning ourselves with the evolving societal needs and developments.”“The QF recognises the imperative to expand our reach and engage with an even broader spectrum of target audiences and stakeholders,” he said. “This encourages and motivates us to take bold steps forward as we have so far done.”“We are bridging the gap between the educational outcomes and the dynamic demands of the modern labour market,” the official added.Al-Mansoori said that the QCDC is currently the premier centre for career guidance and development in Qatar.”It is invigorating to see how we have evolved beyond organising the Qatar Career Fair and related activities, to become the country’s beacon of career guidance, planning and development, shouldering the responsibility of empowering the youth, supporting capacity building, and preparing highly accomplished human capital in the country,” he said. “We are dedicated to providing career guidance to help students make the proper decisions to plan their future, and ultimately, maintaining the state's sustainable development through human capital development.”The official said that the QCDC is developing its long-standing partnerships with career development and educational institutions locally and internationally, with the results to become apparent soon with the introduction of internationally accredited programmes.“We have forged, and are expanding, partnerships with the Ministry of Education and Higher Education (MoEHE), the Ministry of Labour, the Ministry of Social Development and Family, the Civil Service and Government Development Bureau, among many other influential stakeholders,” al-Mansoori said.“We will soon announce a major collaboration between the QCDC, the MoEHE and an international partner,” he revealed. “This collaboration will build towards elevating the career guidance and development landscape in Qatar, with a focus on establishing a much needed, centralised, and robust career development ecosystem.”

PHCC officials at the press conference. PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam
PHCC conference to focus on innovative health management systems in primary care

With emphasis on innovative health management systems and quality improvement initiatives for improved health outcomes and patient safety in primary care, the Primary Health Care Corporation (PHCC) will host the 5th International Primary Health Care Conference (IPHCC) under the patronage of HE the Minister of Public Health Dr Hanan Mohamed al-Kuwari, from November 9-12.PHCC managing director Dr Mariam Abdulmalik, who is also chair of the IPHCC Organising Committee, said at a press conference Sunday that the four-day conference will take place at Ritz Carlton Doha with the theme 'Primary Care Today: Lessons Learnt, Future Actions for Sustainability'.PHCC officials Dr Zelaikha al-Wahedi (chair of the Scientific Committee), Huda al-Wahedi (chair of Logistics Committee) and Musallam al-Nabet (deputy chair of the Organising Committee and assistant managing director for Administration and Corporate Services) were also at the press conference.“The key objectives of the 5th edition of IPHCC conference are to reflect on innovative health management systems and quality improvement initiatives for improved health outcomes and patient safety in primary care as well as to identify up-to-date and evidence-based diagnostic and therapeutic management options for common illnesses in primary health care settings,” Dr Abdulmalik said.“The conference aims to recognise family and community-centred international best practices in health promotion and disease prevention, and compare approaches to health professions education, workforce training and capacity building in the primary care practice,” she continued. “Another major focus is to recognise the importance of and opportunities for research in primary care for improved population health outcomes.”Dr Abdulmalik said that the conference will provide a platform to share knowledge and best practices through panel sessions and workshops.“The conference aims to showcase research applicable to improvements in primary healthcare by providing the opportunity for researchers to share their abstracts,” she said. “Along with the conference, there will be an exhibition to allow organisations working in healthcare sector to showcase their latest innovations and contributions to healthcare.”There are three major committees for the smooth conduct of the conference: the Organising Committee; the Scientific Committee, and the Logistics Committee.According to Scientific Committee chair Dr al-Wahedi, “this conference is among the most prestigious medical gatherings in the Middle East”.“There is an extensive roster of attendees from various countries who will present and discuss several important topics that will be addressed by experts and specialists from the GCC, the UK, the US, Switzerland, Portugal and others,” she added.She said that the conference will showcase 100 research papers with voting for the best research project.Dr al-Wahedi stated that an app will be launched during the conference to facilitate access to latest updates, share views and observations, as well as to vote on the researches showcased, while Organising Committee deputy chair al-Nabet shared the details of other aspects of the conference.

Vishnu Gopal (left) receiving the award in London.
Qatar-based Indian photographer wins NHM Photographer 2023

Qatar-based Indian photographer, Vishnu Gopal has been named the NHM (Natural History Museum, London) Photographer of the Year 2023 in the category of Animal Portraits. The award was announced on Wednesday at a special event in London and presented to Gopal by Chris Packham, a naturalist and nature photographer.Speaking to Gulf Times from London, Gopal said: "I am truly humbled and honoured to receive this recognition from the Natural History Museum. This award means a lot to me, as it reinforces the significance of wildlife photography in promoting conservation and awareness. I hope my work can continue to inspire love for our natural world and commitment to its protection."Gopal's winning photograph features an awe-inspiring portrait of Tapir, South America's largest native land mammal. The powerful image captures the intensity in the animal’s eyes, showcasing its primal beauty and vulnerability, all in a single frame.The perfect blend of artistry and respect for the animal's dignity made it an outstanding choice for the top prize. The winning image will be prominently displayed at NHM. He will also have the opportunity to present his work to a global audience through the museum's exhibitions.The NHM Photographer of the Year competition is a global platform that recognises and honours photographers who excel in capturing the natural world's marvels. According to reports, this year, there were about 50,000 entries from 95 countries competing for the award. NHM is renowned for celebrating exceptional wildlife photography, and Gopal's achievement is a testament to his passion and skill.Gopal has been working in Qatar for the last 14 years and his ability to capture the intricate and mesmerising moments of the animal kingdom quickly drew the attention of photography enthusiasts and experts alike. He has long been dedicated to raising awareness about the importance of preserving and protecting the planet's diverse species. His work, often featured in exhibitions and photography magazines, underscores the urgent need for wildlife conservation.He is the current president of ICC Photography club Qatar, and the founder member of Photography Malayalam Qatar, one of the largest photography groups in Qatar.

Frank Stephenson speaking in Doha Monday. Seen in the background is an image of a model of an electric aircraft. PICTURE: Thajudheen.
Qatar can create new air transport system, says auto designer

Qatar and other countries in the region can take the lead in creating a new air transport system connecting various destinations within a city, a renowned automobile designer told Gulf Times Monday.“Qatar and other countries in the region should not repeat the mistake that the Western countries have made with the automotive. We have not made the best decisions and we have not made a future with the technology for a credible transport system. Countries such as Qatar- with possible investment- can create a new transport system,” said, Frank Stephenson, design director, Frank Stephenson Design.Speaking on the sidelines of the 'Future Design Forum' organised by Geneva International Motor Show 2023 Qatar, Stephenson said that the next big step in mobility is not going to be much on the ground but on the air.“That is one of the main areas which has a lot of space for innovation and new technology. It is a much efficient way of moving people in groups from one destination to another,” he noted.According to the designer, such mobility is best suited for city traffic and will not fly outside the city. “They are electric flights within the cities and can reach distances in 30 to 45 minutes- maybe from airport to the city or from one part of the city to another. It will be the new way of travelling and will be super safe. It will be environmentally friendly and very economical as well as very fast. With high speed aircraft in low altitude and low noise, they can travel about 300km per hour,” he highlighted.Stephenson said that these flights are already available and are being tested. “Now they need to be certified by the official agencies. Most companies are expected to get it done by 2024 and bring them into commercial service in 2025, “ he continued.“In the beginning, it will be implemented in selected major cities and later expand to other cities. It is a brand new technology and people might be hesitant to use them in the beginning as they aren’t used to these types of travel in the sky. There are about 5 to 10 big companies working on this with their technology and expertise and their own interpretation of how it should work. They move straight – straight up and go and land down straight,” explained the design expert.Stephenson also noted that future designing should synchronise with the nature and take environment into consideration. “Otherwise we are not designing for the future but fighting against future and fighting against nature. Artificial Intelligence is a major tool in designing and quite useful but it is not the main tool. The main idea has to come through human touch. Human creativity and curiosity cannot be replaced with such other tools,” he added.

People taking part in one of the activities at GIMS Qatar 2023 Sunday. PICTURES: Thajudheen
GIMS Qatar attracts huge number of motor enthusiasts

Motor enthusiasts from Qatar and around the world are thronging the Doha Exhibition and Conference Centre (DECC) to have a peek of the latest versions of the leading brands of cars from all across the globe at the Geneva International Motor Show (GIMS) Qatar 2023.Billed as one of the greatest motor shows on earth, this is the first time the GIMS is held in Qatar and outside the Swiss city of Geneva.Also known as the Salon International de l'Auto, the GIMS is one of the most prestigious and highly-anticipated events in the automotive world.It has been showcasing the latest and greatest in car design and technology for over 90 years.Ever since GIMS Qatar 2023 opened to the public on Saturday, there has been a continuous flow of visitors from all walks of life are eager to have a glimpse of the auto beauties lined up at various stalls of the leading brands.The show is offering car enthusiasts an unforgettable and outstanding automotive experience.It has been designed to become a cutting-edge motor show, bringing together the biggest players of the global automotive industry into a truly immersive space.About 30 of the world’s renowned automotive brands are showcasing a ground-breaking array of new cars, making it the pinnacle of motor shows in the Middle East and beyond.They include some of the most elegant and expensive cars as well as a display of some of the vintage beauties from across the globe.Held under Classic Cars category, the vintage cars section is a special attraction for the visitors as they are taken to the cars of the early years of motor vehicle production and their specialties.Though these cars are cordoned off, visitors can have a closer look at these beauties as a specified number of people are allowed to enter the area at one time.Entry to GIMS Qatar 2023 is free.

Dr Hesperia Iliadou Suppiej is curating the exhibition to mark the 25th anniversary of VCUarts Qatar. PICTURE: Thajudheen
Renowned museologist praises Qatar's art scenario

Qatar’s art scenario as well as the architecture of the museums is truly world class and of the highest international standards, noted, an renowned museologist.“The museums in Qatar are very impressive. It is very interesting that the museums are based on the culture and heritage of Qatar. The fact that all these wonderful and impressive architecture of the museums are based on the local heritage is truly wonderful, ” said Dr Hesperia Iliadou Suppiej, art and architectural historian.Dr Suppiej was speaking to Gulf Times as she is in Qatar curating the exhibition to mark the 25th anniversary of VCUarts Qatar.On her maiden project in Qatar, Dr Suppiej said that Qatar’s art scene is truly world class. She explained: “I am working in Europe and doing prestigious projects internationally. I am very impressed by the quality of the art scene here in Qatar and that was one of the reasons I proposed the university to take up this exhibition and show it to the world. It is not only the quality of the themes that they are doing but also the excellence of their creative techniques which actually is matching if not going above the quality of art works, seen internationally.”Dr Suppiej commented that VCUarts Qatar is a fantastic and unique university with a lot of diverse and creative programmes. “At the works of the students and the alumni, I have seen an amazing depth of academic quality, combined with contemporary technologies, innovation and excellence. I also see an interesting diversity in the programmes in the school. The work that is happening in the university and in the country is actually forming the new generation of creative force for the country,” she highlighted.Dr Suppiej is highly excited about her first project in Qatar. “It is my first project in Qatar and second visit to the country. Last year in Venice during a professional advancement programme, some members of VCUarts Qatar participated in one of my lectures and later approached me for the project. This project is part of the 25th anniversary celebration of VCUarts Qatar. It highlights the works of the alumni from different departments of the university over the years,” she continued.Dr Suppiej noted that the vison that Qatar has for museums and art is very impressive. She highlighted: “As a museologist, I am very much attracted to it as I see a new innovative vision. VCU alumni is the workforce of new museum professionals in the country. In Europe we find more academic aspects in museums whereas in Qatar we find a lot of creativity happening in museums and I think the world must know more about it.”Dr Suppiej academic and teaches at the European institute of Design in Florence at postgraduate levels. She also teaches at a research centre called Nord.

Ambassador, Ebrahim Rasool speaking at the conference. PICTURES: Shaji Kayamkulam
'Joint fight needed to end Islamophobia'

There should be solidarity in the global fight against Islamophobia and other forms of discrimination, bigotry, and racism, noted a renowned speaker Saturday.“We create isms and phobias for every difference. We dress it up as an anxiety of the unknown, activating the surveillance state, sophisticating punishments at every event, and perfecting the policies of immigration, as if they are normal laws that we need to implement. All of those things have morphed into what today can only be described as mainstream extremism,” said ambassador, Ebrahim Rasool, founder of the World for All Foundation.Ambassador Rasool was delivering the keynote address at Georgetown University in Qatar (GU-Q)’s “Global Histories and Practices of Islamophobia” conference- part of the Hiwaraat Conference Series- that got underway at Four Seasons Hotel Doha.In response to the growing global apprehension surrounding the surge in anti-Muslim bias and hate-related incidents, the conference is examining Islamophobia and its rampant discourse in political, social, educational, and other contexts.“When you call it a fear, a phobia, you place the burden on the victim. It is a double burden, to survive discrimination and to prove that they are not so fearful,” continued, ambassador Rasool.He explained: “The “Muslim other” in today’s world has special treatment. Because almost 10% of every Western country is composed of the “other.” There is no longer any mono-cultural phenomenon in the West; 25% of the Muslim community globally find themselves in conditions of being a minority.”“Islamophobia is no longer a Western phenomenon. It has taken root where there are Muslim minorities in India, China, Myanmar, and other places. Whether in the West or the East, they are confronted with all manners of populisms and mainstream extremisms,” noted the scholar.Drawing lessons from South Africa’s anti-apartheid struggle, he spoke on the need for solidarity in the fight against all forms of bigotry, a solidarity that transcends religion, race, and ethnicity, and to find common cause.“The heroes we need today are those who can find the anti-human in the anti-Muslim. Those who can avoid the temptation to Muslim exceptionalism so that we can build bridges to other victims as well, while resisting the Islamophobia against them. Those who can recognise common pain, common empathy, and common cause with other victims and not denigrate, by duplication, their suffering as Blacks, Latinos, or as other victims of bigotry and domination. And who can build, out of sheer pain, a mighty solidarity.”Responding to questions about the role of diplomacy and sport in confronting Islamophobia, ambassador Rasool said that public diplomacy, of the kind that Qatar showcased through hosting the FIFA World Cup 2022 was very effective in combating anti-Islamic sentiment.Dr Abdullah al-Arian, associate professor of history at GU-Q and a conference co-organiser, said: “Islamophobia continues to exhibit disturbing and destructive features that are both globalised, in the sense they are becoming increasingly universalised, and at the same time deeply rooted in local beliefs and practices emerging out of particular historical and lived experiences.”

ICAN is a simple-to-use tool to measure children’s foundational numeracy.
WISE Awards 2023 winner showcases unique tool to develop numerical skills

One of the WISE Awards 2023 winners, the People's Action for Learning (PAL) Network, is enabling over 250,000 students in various countries with a unique tool named ICAN for developing their numerical skills.The World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE), a global think tank of Qatar Foundation recently announced the six WISE Awards 2023 and the PAL Network’s tool is a striking example of enabling the students with numerical skills especially in the Global South.The officials of PAL Network claim that the motive behind the development of the tool was to support the common global goals for education as reflected in the UN Sustainable Development Goal 4 and the need for comparable data to monitor education quality targets. This has meant that many low and middle-income countries face increasing pressure to participate in existing international and regional assessment programmes.The PAL Network responded to the need for a comparable, low-cost assessment that meets the Global South realities by developing a new assessment tool, ICAN (International Common Assessment of Numeracy) and making it available in the public domain. ICAN a simple-to-use and scalable tool that measures children’s foundational numeracy, is designed to monitor progress of SDG 4.1.1 (a) and is aligned to the Global Proficiency Framework.ICAN was developed through a collaborative effort among PAL Network member organisations in 13 countries across Africa, America and Asia. Headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya, the programme is meant for children aged 5-16. The countries that benefit from the programme are: Bangladesh, India, Mali, Mexico, Mozambique, Nigeria, Nepal, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Kenya, Uganda, Senegal and Tanzania.In its first round of large-scale household-based implementation, ICAN covered one rural district each in the 13 countries. This exercise aimed to demonstrate proof of concept in two ways: The feasibility of using a common assessment framework and set of tools across very different country contexts and highlight the ways in which ICAN may be used to generate estimates that respond to important questions on foundational learning confronting countries in the Global South.Officials of PAL Network felt that the type of learning assessments are based on models and methods that emerged in the context of Global North countries, which have characteristics that are often very different from those of countries in the Global South, including several decades of universal enrollment; comprehensive records of all schools in the country; and significant proportions of parents who are themselves literate and thus better able to support their children’s learning.They also observed that these assessment models are designed to inform policy makers and education planners, rather than teachers, parents, and other actors on the ground; and thus do not generate actionable information at lower levels of performance where a large proportion of children in the Global South are usually located. All these led them to think of innovative method to empower the children in the global South which led to the development of ICAN.Building on ICAN’s success, PAL Network is currently developing Elana (Early Language & Literacy and Numeracy Assessment), a new common assessment initiative. Elana comprises of two components: a numeracy assessment that builds on ICAN, expanding the number of items that form the item bank; and a literacy component that evaluates skills in the subdomains of oral language, decoding and reading comprehension.The assessment targets children between four and 10 years old to understand the continuum of learning between preschool and the first years of primary school and will provide estimations of achievement of SDG 4.1.1.(a) and the academic learning component of SDG4.2. In its final form, Elana will be implemented using a digital application and will be adaptive.

QF Vice Chairperson and CEO HE Sheikha Hind bint Hamad al-Thani and other dignitaries at the event Tuesday.
VCUarts Qatar marks 25th anniversary

Highlighting that Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts in Qatar (VCUarts Qatar) is a ‘global model of education, innovation and research’, VCU president Dr Michael Rao set the tone for celebrations of the 25th anniversary of the branch campus in the presence of Qatar Foundation (QF) Vice Chairperson and CEO HE Sheikha Hind bint Hamad al-Thani, at a special event Tuesday.“The partnership between Qatar Foundation and VCU is one of the most important we had in international collaborations . In so many ways I think that VCUarts Qatar in the Education City is a global model of education, innovation and research,” said Rao while addressing the gathering at Qatar National Convention Centre.In a message shared prior to the event, HE Sheikha Hind said: “This event marks the culmination of a 25 year story - a journey that has unfolded with grace, nurturing talent and creativity. As we celebrate this milestone, I am proud to witness the countless stories of the alumni and emerging talents that have been born from this journey.“Through its dedication, the VCUarts Qatar community has consistently carved an enduring legacy onto the world's artistic landscape. Today, we come together not only to celebrate our achievements, but also to look ahead with anticipation and excitement as we continue to inspire and ignite the creative spirits of generations to come.”The ceremony was attended by dignitaries from various ministries, senior leadership from QF, Qatar Museums, government and private organisations, ambassadors and diplomats from various embassies and missions and renowned artists and designers from Qatar and abroad.Other than Dr Rao, VCU School of the Arts dean Dr Carmenita Higginbotham, and provost and senior vice president for Academic Affairs Dr Fotis Sotiropoulos, were among those who travelled from the home campus in Richmond, US, for the celebration.Dr Rao said: “We are so fortunate and grateful for the extraordinary vision and drive of Her Highness Sheikh Moza bint Nasser, chairperson, QF, to create a knowledge-based society right here in Qatar and her untiring efforts made that vision a reality-one that has arguably impacted the education landscape worldwide. It is now a model for deep engagement and high impact on so many communities. It has been such an honour to work with Her Highness Sheikh Moza who combines an incredibly large vision with immense determination, passionate commitment to see it all the way through, implementing the most innovative models of education right here in Qatar for the world.”Dr Rao also had great words of appreciation for Sheikha Hind's work and leadership. “Sheikha Hind has been an exceptional leader and brings so much support. She has really shaped learning in so many ways in Qatar and arguably through the Middle East and beyond . She is very innovative, focused, calm and steady,” noted, Dr Rao.“VCU is honoured that it was the first university to join Education City as a partner with Qatar Foundation. We’re proud that we could help create a partnership model that has lasted a quarter of a century, continuously building on our tremendously positive and strong partnership and friendship,” continued, Dr Rao.VCUarts Qatar dean Amir Berbić, said, “VCUarts Qatar is a remarkable community that has been inspiring artists, designers and scholars in Qatar and beyond since 1998. We have, over these years, been committed to staying at the forefront of art and design education by engaging in new conversations and initiating new collaborations, in Qatar and across the globe.”“This is especially relevant, given that the country has a lot to demonstrate—from incredible cultural institutions, such as the stunning Museum of Islamic Art, the National Museum, and many more driven by Qatar Museums and the Qatar Foundation. Today, I’m proud to say that our dynamic school of the arts—whose 25-year impact we are celebrating this evening— is part of this impressive lineup, helping develop and advance the country’s reputation as a regional leader in the creative industries," he added.QF's Higher Education president Francisco Marmolejo delivered a congratulatory message on behalf of QF leadership. Sheikha Reem al-Thani, acting deputy CEO of Exhibitions and Marketing, director of Central Exhibitions, Qatar Museums, and VCUarts Qatar Alumna, Class of 2010, spoke on behalf of all those who graduated from the university.“I first set foot into VCUarts Qatar when I was only 16 years old and I could not have imagined being where I am today. Throughout my journey, I encountered challenges that played a vital role in shaping my destiny, ultimately leading to the person you see before you. During my time at VCUarts Qatar, I discovered my passion for design and pursued a double major in Interior and Fashion Design,” remarked, Sheikha Reem.The event also featured a discussion titled “In Conversation with the Deans” between dean Berbić and Dean Higginbotham. Dimitri Yuri, a director at The Film House, and a Class of 2018 alumnus moderated the conversation.

Mariam Aljassim addressing the press conference Tuesday.
Msheireb Properties to host Global Wellness Summit; launches ‘Wellness Month’ campaign

Msheireb Properties has announced the launch of ‘Wellness Month’ campaign taking place from mid-October to mid-November, along with the Global Wellness Summit to be held from November 6 to 9.Taking place in the GCC for the first time, the summit convenes hospitality, health, and wellness experts to discuss the importance of investing in wellness.Giving the details of the summit during a press conference held at Zulal Wellness Resort, Maryam Aljassim, PR and Communications Manager at Msheireb Properties said that the biggest names in the international wellness industry are participating in the three-day summit.“ We have a robust agenda that speaks topics, including the importance of mental health and how to address those needs. We will also take this opportunity to spotlight Arab culture and traditions of wellness to the world. New Global Wellness Economy Monitor research will also be released at the Summit, which evaluates data on the wellness sector post-pandemic and forecasts performance for the coming five years. This report is in line with Msheireb Properties' focus on supporting research that improves the quality of individuals’ lives,” explained, Aljassim.Msheireb Properties has secured a lineup of influential sponsors for this year’s edition of the Global Wellness Summit in Qatar, the definitive gathering of industry professionals sharing insights, data, and trends influencing the market, including Qatar Tourism, Qatar Airways, and Seashore Group.Ali al-Kuwari, CEO of Msheireb Properties, noted in a press statement : "Our commitment to promoting wellness, innovation, and sustainability aligns perfectly with our vision for a better and healthier world. Together with some of the biggest companies and institutions in Qatar, we are forging a path toward a brighter and healthier future for all. Thank you for being the catalysts of positive change."Building on this year's Global Wellness Summit theme, "A Time of Transformation," Msheireb Properties also announced plans for the first-ever digital Wellness Month campaign running from mid-October to mid-November. The campaign will showcase all upcoming Wellness Month events, raise awareness about the latest treatments and health and wellness advice, and highlight wellness services available at Msheireb Downtown Doha's luxury hotels and Zulal Wellness Resort.Saad bin Ali al-Kharji, deputy chairman at Qatar Tourism said: “We are proud to partner with Msheireb Properties to further position Qatar as a global hub for premier events and to invite scores of professionals and wellness-seekers to experience the world-class facilities that Qatar extends as part of its expanded hospitality infrastructure. In addition, Qatar offers year-round opportunities for sun, sea, and sand excursions, making it the ideal destination for wellness through nature escapes and retreats at its many diverse landscapes.”“We recognise the importance of holistic well-being and are proud to support this prestigious event that brings together global leaders in wellness. Our commitment to innovation and sustainability aligns seamlessly with the values of the summit, making this partnership a natural fit,” added, Saqr al-Mohannadi, vice chairman of the Board of Directors at Seashore Group.Msheireb Downtown Doha itself is the epitome of human-centric urban design with its pedestrian-friendly roads and reduced traffic, encouraging cycling and physical activity, reducing pollution, and enhancing community interactions. The city features numerous green spaces, cozy nooks for relaxation, and comfortable walking conditions throughout the year.

“To mark the occasion, we are offering a privilege card for QR 100, which provides unlimited doctor consultation in any department for a year and it will also provide 30% discount on all other services except pharmacy, ” said Dr Sameer Moopan, chairman and managing director, Wellkins.
Wellkins offers QR100 inaugural promo

Wellkins Medical Centre has launched an inaugural promotion offer of unlimited doctor consultations for a year for just QR100, as its first facility formally opens Wednesday, a top official said.Wellkins will expand to other locations in the country with two branches to be set up in the near future, the official added.“To mark the occasion, we are offering a privilege card for QR 100, which provides unlimited doctor consultation in any department for a year and it will also provide 30% discount on all other services except pharmacy. Residents can apply for this privilege card till October 31, 2023 by visiting our facility,” said Dr Sameer Moopan, chairman and managing director, Wellkins.Dr Moopan noted that the current facility offers services in Internal Medicine, General Medicine, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Paediatrics, Orthopaedics, ENT, Dermatology, Dental.“We have also plans to add more departments in the very near future which include Cardiology, Urology, Gastroenterology among others. We have a well set team of physicians, nurses and other paramedical staff who have a great wealth of knowledge and experience,” he explained.Dr Moopan said two locations have already been identified for expansion of the brand Wellkins. “We have made the feasibility studies and two locations have been identified for the expansion of the services. One is Ras Laffan in Al Khor where there is a significant population and the other location is Industrial Area. We are working on the projects and hopefully in 2024 they would be operational," added the official.

Officials of Wellkins at the press conference Monday. PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam
Wellkins to open its first healthcare facility Wednesday

The Wellkins Medical Centre will be formally inaugurated Wednesday after a soft launch was held some time earlier. Dr Sameer Moopan, with decades of healthcare legacy and 23 years of experience in Qatar, has launched his new healthcare brand “Wellkins.” The first Wellkins medical centre, adjacent to Radisson Blu and Salwa Road, will be dedicated to the citizens, residents and visitors of Qatar, officials announced Monday. The announcement was made at a press conference chaired by Dr Sameer Moopan, chairman and managing director along with Senil Jaffer, co-founder, Nikhil Joseph, chief operating officer and Dr Jacob Neil medical director. The first unit of Wellkins Medical Centre will initially provide outpatient facilities in different medical specialties including Internal Medicine, General Medicine, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Paediatrics, Orthopaedics, ENT, Dermatology, Dental along with Radiology, Laboratory and Pharmacy. Dr Moopan said: “We have poured our hearts and souls into creating a healthcare destination that prioritises patient care, innovation, and holistic wellness. The core of our endeavour will always be to provide quality healthcare for everyone at an affordable cost. It's a momentous occasion for each one of us. I am excited to welcome everyone to the dedication ceremony of our first centre on 27th morning.” Talking about the facility, Joseph said, “We have added new innovations like AI to make our service easier for everyone. Our integrated digital health locker allows our patients to get their test results, prescriptions, and appointments through WhatsApp and our website from anywhere in the world. We’ll be working as a naturally friendly office where we use paperless documentation and only use 100% recycled paper in Qatar for letterheads, visiting cards among others.” According to Dr Neil the centre will mainly focus on providing primary care services for all ages. “We also offer an array of specialised facilities, including health checkups, corporate medical solutions, vaccinations, dental care, and cosmetology procedures. We’ll have continuous development of the quality of services provided to meet the needs of patients and ensure their access to quality healthcare in a safe, professional environment and according to the best standards.”

Edward Lawless
QF-PUE launches initiatives for student wellbeing

The Pre-University Education ( PUE) at Qatar Foundation (QF) has launched several initiatives which include school counsellers, psychologists and Darb Clinic to support the students for their mental wellbeing, especially in the post Covid-19 scenario.According to QF website, there are 13 schools under the PUE network with over 7,000 students and over 1,300 staff and faculty. They represent 49 nationalities and there are more than 6000 alumni.“PUE has a team of counsellors in place at every school to ensure ongoing responsive approaches to wellbeing and mental health needs. There is also a psychologist in most schools, and available as needed across our schools, for issues that require a more individualised and long-term intervention,” said Edward Lawless - executive director, Academic Development, PUE.“In addition to school-based staffing and interventions, the Darb clinic offers parents the opportunity to bring their children to a clinic outside the school day which adheres to the guidelines and quality associated with the professionals in our schools,” explained the official.Darb initiative- Assessment and Psycho-Educational Evaluations- offers educational evaluations and therapy services for children and adolescents aged 3 to 18 years. The services are available in areas such as: Cognitive and psycho-educational evaluations; speech and language; occupational therapy; gifted and talented evaluations; psycho-education to parents and age-appropriate children/adolescents; counselling for social or emotional or behavioural concerns among others.The official noted that PUE has started to collect comprehensive data on school climate, which includes many indicators relevant to student wellbeing.“Each school receives training that invites a context-specific response to the needs indicated by the data. Responses are embracing intervention like increasing their counsellor to student ratio, reactivating positive behavioural strategies, implementing social-emotional learning curriculum, and actively engaging culturally responsive practices in their school. These efforts are supported by a new curriculum framework that promotes and holistic and student-centered approach to classroom instruction,” continued, Lawless.Since the pandemic, PUE has seen an increase in safeguarding concerns, teacher burnout, teacher frustration in response to student behaviour, and behaviour from children that is not aligned with previous developmental norms.The official pointed out that PUE teachers receive several training courses in mental health to help them identify and support students who may be facing mental health difficulties. In addition, there are on-going consultation and coaching available in PUE schools as specific needs arise.He noted there are specific systems within PUE to assist students who are struggling with their mental health. “Our multi-tiered systems of support are specifically designed to differentiate between normal mental health challenges, needs requiring classroom-driven short-term solutions, and clinical needs. This system is driven by data, consistent collaboration, and highly trained staff who are ready to respond to clinically significant needs. In the rare case of a crisis that impacts the whole school, a crisis response team stands ready to intervene and support,” he added.

The dignitaries and other attendees at the opening session of the conference and exhibition. PICTURES: Shaji Kayamkulam.
Qatar reaches 70% e-vehicles for public transport by third quarter of 2023

The use of e-buses for public transport in Qatar is on par with the advanced countries in the world and has reached 70% by the third quarter of 2023, noted the Minister of Transport ( MoT) HE Jassim Saif Ahmed al-Sulaiti.“We are reaching the numbers of advanced countries in the world in the use of e-buses. We are 70% now in the use of e-buses in public transportation ecosystem. We are very advanced in this area and by 2030 or even earlier, we will reach 100%,” Minister, al-Sulaiti told Gulf Times on Sunday.Al-Sulaiti was speaking on the sidelines of the “Sustainable Transportation and Legacy for Generations” Conference and Exhibition, organised by the Ministry of Transport.“We will implement it in the schools buses and other transport fields in Qatar. We are implementing the rules and regulations even for fuel. Now the fuel in Qatar is for Euro5 engine which is very clean energy and all new vehicles must follow this specification,” continued the minister.Al-Sulaiti noted that MoT is focusing on the infrastructure too. “We make specifications and are testing the roads and then give the approval to Ashghal. We also have plans to extend the Metro Rail services to every area of the country leading to greater connectivity and a lot of infrastructure development,” he explained.As for the EVs, the minister said that currently the electrical vehicle charging is free of cost. “Now when you fill your car with petrol you might be giving an estimate amount of QR150 or more for fuel. But when you charge an EV vehicle fully, it amounts to QR 12 and currently government of Qatar is paying it. So you can see the difference in the amount of money for fuel between an EV and other vehicle,” added the minister.Al-Sulaiti inaugurated the MOT’s “Sustainable Transportation and Legacy for Generations” Conference and Exhibition, at the Doha Exhibition and Convention Centre, held under the patronage of HE Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim al-Thani, Prime Minister, and Minister of Foreign Affairs.Minister of Interior and Commander of Internal Security Force (Lekhwiya) HE Sheikh Khalifa bin Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, Governor of Qatar Central Bank HE Sheikh Bandar bin Mohammed bin Saoud al-Thani, Minister of Municipality Dr Abdulla bin Abdulaziz bin Turki al-Subaie, Minister of Commerce and Industry HE Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad bin Qassim al-Thani, Minister of Communications and Information Technology HE Mohammed bin Ali al-Mannai, and several other dignitaries were present on the occasion.Minister al-Sulaiti said Qatar’s investments in developing the infrastructure projects and the transportation sector’s support services came in implementation of the directives of His Highness the Amir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, and resulted in Qatar having an integrated, connected, and sustainable transit system, positioning the country high on world map of transportation industry, and enabling it to host major events efficiently.At the event the minister also announced the launch of the Autonomous Vehicles Strategy, a plan over the coming five years to regulate the terms and conditions of using autonomous vehicles in Qatar to provide smart, and environmentally conscious transit systems.The minister said MoT is currently working on studying the standards and specifications of EVs to approve the minimum technical specifications and safety standards , in addition to establishing a centre for inspecting EVs’ specifications conformity and issuing approval certificates.On maritime transportation, Minister al-Sulaiti said the advanced infrastructure and technologies at Hamad Port contributed to transforming the port to a regional hub port expanding transportation network with over 100 ports worldwide. The minister also highlighted the development works at Al-Ruwais Port and Doha Port.Al-Sulaiti highlighted the outcomes of the major efforts to develop the air transportation sector through establishing a modern system supported with modern services. He noted that during FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, over 26,500 aircraft movements were recorded at both Hamad International Airport and Doha International Airport. He noted that the two S-band radar system and long-rang L-band radar have started operations. The minister added that the meteorology field also saw great progress with weather information stations currently reaching 48.Following the opening session the dignitaries visited the stalls of the accompanying exhibition. There were three panel discussions on the first day of the conference. The conference and exhibition concludes today.

Ala Talabani
Iraqi politician calls for more women's empowerment, political participation

There have been several achievements in Iraq after the fall of Saddam Hussein regime in terms of women’s participation in social life and empowerment as well as people’s participation in political process, but a lot more needs to be done, noted a former Iraqi parliamentarian.Speaking to Gulf Times on the concluding day of Georgetown University’s conference ‘The Invasion of Iraq: Regional Reflections,’ Ala Talabani, co-founder , High Council for Iraqi Women noted that Iraqi women had to go through several hardships over the course of time.“We had to go through the dictatorship of one party which took more time to get the women participate in the political arena. Slowly we started including certain percentage for the Iraqi women in the parliament and presently it is 25% in the constitution. Now you can see about 85 women in the parliament which makes them join the political life and be part of the decision making areas,” explained Talabani.However, she noted that there are several challenges in passing certain legislations which touches women’s lives or the society in several areas.As for the conference, the politician said that these types of meetings and conferences are important for Iraqis especially for those who live inside their country. “We hold such meetings among ourselves but it is good to hear others and their perspectives to understand how they differ from or are similar to our views. With all these views we feel that we have achieved something good, facing challenges, threats and many more. The conference has provided a better view and a wider view on Iraq,” she highlighted.Talabani said Iraq is facing two major issues currently. “We need to review the constitution and change many articles in the constitution for providing the basic rights of the Iraqi people and equal rights. Then we have to be the decision makers of the country and its foreign policy, not outsiders. There are lots of will among people for a change in the constitution but the political parties and the government have to take the call,” she added.