Thursday, February 02, 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.
Gulf Times
FIFA Fan Festival test event at Al Bidda attracts huge crowd

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dr Sheikh Khalid bin Jabor al-Thani.
QCS provides cancer assistance worth QR100mn in past 6-7 years

Qatar Cancer Society (QCS) has provided assistance worth about QR100mn to support cancer patients in the past 6-7 years, the centre's chairman has said. “Every year, we support a large number of cancer patients, especially those who are in need of financial support, medical assistance and other assistance. In the past six to seven years, QCS has supported a large number of such people and provided about QR 100mn,” said Dr Sheikh Khalid bin Jabor al-Thani, founder and chairman, QCS, in an interview with Gulf Times. “In 2021 alone, we provided assistance worth QR21mn.We supported about 1,400 people for various needs,” he said. The chairman noted that the centre has introduced several services in recent years and people can directly contact QCS officials for any assistance. “We launched our app, which is a great help for patients and their families. It is available on Android devices and iPhones, and people can contact us privately. Of late, it has become popular and will mark a major shift in the coming months,” he explained. According to Dr Sheikh Khalid, setting up the training centre was a major shift in the approach to reach out to the people. “More than 404,300 people attended QCS online education programmes during Covid-19 through its online workshops, courses, lectures, webinars, seminars, training sessions as well as one-to-one sessions for people who requested,” he noted. The official said individuals and companies are always ready to support the cause of patients. “For our educational purposes also we approach business houses and get enough support. We have certain constraints for the administration part as we have got about 100 people working with us on a full-time scale. I am blessed with a team that puts in hard work without any reservations and they have all been a part of my team for several years. We work as a family as we work for cancer patients,” the chairman said. “Our board of directors are doing a very good job of supporting the employees. We are working on a sustainable project so that we can run the centre sustainably over the years,” he added. Sheikh Dr Khalid said he had the experience of what some family members had to go through while suffering from diseases, including cancer, which prompted him to take up the cause of fighting cancer. QCS was set up in 1996 with permission and guidance from His Highness the Father Amir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani. It was officially launched in October 1997, coinciding with the Breast Cancer Awareness Month. “Today, we are a very prominent institution not only in Qatar but also internationally. We have very good collaborations locally and internationally. We get high accolades and acknowledgement and our first campaign brought a lot of traction with people,” he said. “Thereafter, QCS was adopted into the implementation and adaptation of the national health strategy and mainly in the Qatar cancer strategy. Though we are a non-governmental organisation, we are part of the system. We complement the services of the Ministry of Public Health, Hamad Medical Corporation as well as other stakeholders, especially with the growth in the country's population."

HE Dr Saleh M al-Nabit speaking at the event.
Qatar in process of planning third National Development Strategy

Qatar is in the process of developing its third National Development Strategy, disclosed Planning and Statistics Authority president and former minister, HE Dr Saleh M al-Nabit. “To complement the efforts of Qatar in developing the planning process and drawing comprehensive development trajectories, the Planning and Statics Authority, in co--operation with competent authorities in the country, is in the process of preparing the Third National Development Strategy,” he said. Dr al-Nabit was recently addressing the Qatar launch of the Human Development Report 2021-2022 of the UNDP titled, ‘Uncertain Times, Unsettled Lives: Shaping our Future in a Transforming World’ organised by the Centre for International and Regional Studies (CIRS) at Georgetown University in Qatar (GU-Q). “This will define national priorities and aspirations in accordance with the results of the Human Development Report and the lessons learnt from previous national strategies as well as the current regional and international developments,” he explained. Dr al-Nabit noted that Qatar just like other countries was exposed to the repercussions of the Covid-19 pandemic with its direct impact on the economy and the quality of life. “We have learned from this experience that hardships can create miracles if the vision is clear and the political will is available. Therefore, the challenges have turned into opportunities as all our legislative and executive bodies are keen that these crises do not affect the wellbeing of the people,” he continued. He also noted that Qatar affirmed its commitment to double the efforts to support the development planning process in the country to improve human development sub-indicators in the areas of health, education, protection systems, living standards and others. "This will make us prepared to face any potential uncertainties in the future with more flexibility and resilience towards promoting a decent life for Qatari people and ensuring a more sustainable future for generations to come,” he added. The opening remarks of Dr al-Nabit was followed by a panel discussion as Dr Pedro Conceicao, the report author and the director, Human Development Report Office , UNDP presented the report. The panelists included Dr Safwan Masri, dean of GU-Q and Sheikha Hanouf Abdurahman al-Thani, Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Dr Masri highlighted the role of education in overcoming the challenges. “The report reveals the painful situation of the state of affairs in the present world. It also points to the lack of cohesion and harmony. More than 1bn people live in conflict zones and there is no magic wand or easy solution to solve the issues. However it offers some hope that we can be better if we are together and the role of education has an important role to solve the issues,” he highlighted. Sheikha Hanouf stressed the importance of innovation to resolve the issues that the world faces. “Investment, insurance and innovation are three areas that the world needs to focus on. Uncertainties have compounded in our times and we need to foster human development. Therefore it is important to develop partnerships and work together for the betterment of humanity,” she said. Dr Biplove Chaudhary, technical representative and head of office, UNDP and Dr Zahra Baber, associate director of research at CIRS moderated the event

Students learn on u2018Muallemiu2019 platform.
QF alumnus, student create private tutoring digital platform

Abdulrahman al-Thani, a graduate of Qatar Foundation (QF) and Abdullah Nazeer, an undergraduate at QF, have created a digital platform offering interactive one-on-one private tutoring in Math, Science and English ensuring quality learning and affordability. The platform ‘Muallemi’ was launched by an educational startup incubated, supported, and guided by QF’s Qatar Science & Technology Park (QSTP). “We came up with the idea for the startup in 2021 to meet the needs of students and parents for private tutoring in a way that ensures quality education, and one that is affordable,” explained Abdulrahman al-Thani, co-founder at Muallemi, and a graduate of Georgetown University in Qatar, a QF partner. “Through Muallemi, we aim to provide out-of-classroom e-learning services under the supervision of parents, where each student has a private tutor in personalised online sessions. We target students in grades 2 to 12, as well as university students but on a case-by-case basis for this group. We found that students who took at least one lesson on Muallemi per week had improved their grades by an average of 14%.” He said that the service begins with assessing the student’s level, exploring what sparks his or her curiosity, identifying ways of learning that may draw the student’s attention, and then developing a personalised approach. “Currently, Muallemi offers lessons in Math, Science, and English, and we aim to provide other subjects, including Arabic, in the future. We also look forward to expanding our partnerships inside and outside Qatar through our collaboration with Education Above All Foundation and a number of partners,” he said. According to the new ed-tech startup founders, Muallemi tutors are selected according to certain criteria, including that the tutor must have experience delivering over a thousand one-to-one sessions in a specific subject. The cost of a one-hour session ranges from QR33 to QR60. “At Muallemi, we encourage students to make mistakes. We encourage students to try, and we reward them for their effort. Having a positive mindset is key. Students need to know that being good at math isn’t just an innate ability, instead it is the result of continuous effort which gradually will translate to progress,” Nazeer said. Muallemi currently has a multinational team of tutors, and according to Nazeer they are looking at expanding to other countries and having a global team of tutors with the ability to teach multiple different subjects in different languages. “We decided to have our math tutors based in countries such as South Asia as they have a very math intensive education system. All our tutors have a background in math. And in terms of quality, for every riyal paid, Muallemi gives back incredible value,” he highlighted. “For starters, we have a few job openings at Muallemi that we exclusively advertise to EC students. Interning with us gives students great exposure to the world of business, and gives them hands on experience of what it means to run a startup. We also provide a stipend to incentivise them financially as majority of the students who tend to apply are international,” continued, Nazeer. “From the very commencement, Muallemi e-Learning Services reached out to us for support,” said Hayfa al-Abdulla, QSTP innovation director. “Being incubated by the programme, the Muallemi platform benefits from a wide range of support services that allow it to reimagine the tech industry in Qatar. Local technology-based startups, like Muallemi, are offered a rapid and affordable incorporation in the QSTP Free Zone, collaborative co-working space, mentorship, training, workshops, and networking events, as well as access to funding programs and prototyping facilities,” added al-Abdulla.

The Givenchy Beauty boutique at Place Vendome. PICTURES: Shaji Kayamkulam.
Givenchy Beauty opens first Qatar boutique at Place Vendôme

Givenchy, the French luxury fashion and perfume house, in partnership with Fifty One East, Qatar’s favourite department store, celebrated the grand opening of the first Givenchy Beauty boutique in Qatar and second in the region at Place Vendôme, Lusail. The event was attended by French ambassador Jean-Baptiste Faivre, Fifty One East chairman and managing director Bader al-Darwish, Givenchy Beauty regional general manager Angela Zirkeli, and Darwish Holding vice chairman Saoud al-Darwish alongside representatives of the two entities. Ribbon cutting to open the boutique The opening of the Givenchy Beauty boutique in Qatar builds on the longstanding partnership between Fifty One East and Givenchy that dates back to the 1980s. It also reinforces Qatar as a key market for the expansion of international brands and Fifty One East as a trusted partner for hosting the top beauty brands from around the world. Bader al-Darwish, said: “We are immensely pleased to celebrate the grand opening of Givenchy Beauty’s very first boutique in Qatar. Fifty One East and Givenchy share common values underpinned by uniqueness, distinction, and sophistication. The opening reflects the leading position of Qatar in the region as a major destination for luxury shopping, fashion and beauty. We are confident this new experience will exceed the expectations of our valued clientele.” Classic luxury perfumes of Givenchy “We are very pleased by the opening of our first boutique in Qatar at Place Vendôme. It’s a huge milestone for Givenchy Beauty in the country and the region. This boutique will allow us to express our DNA as a classic yet fearless beauty Maison. It will also allow us to offer our guests the true Givenchy experience and delight them with exclusive products, services and experiences,” Zirkeli, noted. French ambassador Faivre highlighted Givenchy’ unique luxury products and how they have been another name for exquisity. “ Givency gives a strong French touch in all its products and truly embodies the French passion for the best. It is an epitome for elegance and beauty,” he highlighted. Another set of beauty products With its open concept inspired by classic French-style architecture, Place Vendôme is the perfect location for Givenchy’s first boutique in Qatar. The premium boutique is perfectly laid out for customers to enjoy several sensorial experiences, relishing in Givenchy’s iconic fragrances, makeup, and skincare collections. More than just Givenchy’s iconic clothing, Hubert de Givenchy intertwined his ideas of new identities through couture and strong-willed personalities in exciting and inspiring styles, which have been given an olfactory interpretation in the Maison's fragrances. Now customers can discover the olfactory signature scents that best suit their identity at the boutique. A set of luxury products Tapping into the fearless and daring angle of the brand, customers can pamper themselves with a quick makeup session that highlights a chic lip colour or a striking cut-edge eyeliner with Givenchy Beauty makeup experts at the boutique. From mini facials to hand massages, guests can also embark on a tailored journey to choose the products that best fit their skin type with the brand’s skincare experts. Some of the premium perfumes at the boutique And for those looking to create unforgettable gifts for their loved ones, the ‘Art of Gifting’ wall serves as the perfect gifting station that allows customers to declare their love in the most sublime way using iconic Givenchy gift boxes and messages.

The month-long exhibition, 'Behind the Camera' by Qatari photographer Azzam Abdulaziz al-Mannai, features images of whale sharks, camels, oryx, mangroves, migratory birds and others.. PICTURES: Shaji Kayamkulam
Collection of top shots at exhibition of Qatari photographer's works

An ongoing wildlife photography exhibition at Eiwan Al Gassar is drawing attention as it displays unknown and unexplored facets of Qatar, as well as highlights well-known ones. The month-long exhibition, 'Behind the Camera' by Qatari photographer Azzam Abdulaziz al-Mannai, features images of whale sharks, camels, oryx, mangroves, migratory birds and others.   Azzam Abdulaziz al-Mannai “The largest gathering of whale sharks in the world happens here at the north of Qatar at the international waters,” al-Mannai told Gulf Times. “On record, we have registered around 360 whale sharks at the same spot at a time,” he added. “The season starts from May to end of August, with the best time between mid-July to mid-August.” Al-Mannai is the chief executive of the Sports Accelerator at Aspire Zone. He is into photography and drone photography, and is widely acclaimed as one of the best drone operators in the region. Al-Mannai’s works have been featured at a number of exhibitions and media entities, such as CNN, Discovery Channel, National Geographic and the New York Times. He goes on-site 4-5 days a week during the season to photograph whale sharks. “It is about 150km from Doha, where the depth of the sea is about 60m,” al-Mannai said. “I spend around 12 hours a day for the whole expedition during the season.” Whale sharks in the north of Qatar “As a photographer, I need to study and understand the behaviour of the whales for (taking pictures of) them,” he added. “I wait till I get a clear signal that I can enter into their territory.” “Then, through eye contact, I get the acceptance from them. I focus on the ambient light (before capturing their image) underwater,” al-Mannai said. He noted that generally the whale sharks have their feeding time from 8am-11am. “Once they have their tummy full, I enter the water and start engaging with them,” he said. “I stay in water for 3-4 hours, and underwater for 1-2 minutes at a time.” A photo taken in Iceland. Al-Mannai explained his motivation: "I want to showcase the beauty of Qatar, especially some fields which are still almost unexplored.” “I started in 2019 with aerial photography and moved to classic photography on ground level, before going into underwater photography," he said. The *Behind the Camera exhibition includes some of his photographs taken abroad. Al-Mannai said that he has so far visited countries in four continents. Mangroves in Qatar “Every time you go out, you use it as a chance for learning,” he said. “If I can come out with 10-15 clean good photos in a year that can be displayed, I am happy.” He said he is planning more trips abroad. “There are many projects in the pipeline … immediately after the World Cup in Qatar, I will be travelling to Dominica to photograph the sperm whale, to Norway for the killer whale, and to Tonga for humpback whale,” al-Mannai said. “After that, I will get ready for the next season of whale sharks in Qatar.”

Panelists at the roundtable. PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam
Major tournaments in future will need cooling technology: expert

Most stadiums around the world will have to use the cooling technology in future irrespective of tournaments being held in the winter or summer, according to the brain behind the cooling technology at FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 stadiums. Dr Saud Abdul-Aziz Abdul-Ghani, mechanical engineer and professor at College of Engineering, Qatar University, said: “ With global warming and climate change, such technologies will have to be part of the design of any major stadiums,” said Dr Abdul-Ghani. He was taking part in a panel discussion organised by Ibtechar on 'Delivering Innovation Through 2022', which shed light on the technological innovations that will be used during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022. Dr Abdul-Ghani was joined in the discussion by Mohamed Nabeel al-Atwaan, FM director - Stadium 974, Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy and projects director, Old Doha Port, and Abdelrazek Aly, co-founder and CEO at Bonocle, Inc. The session as moderated by Nayef al-Ibrahim, CEO and co-founder of Ibtechar. Dr Abdul-Ghani said: “We use clean energy to run our stadiums. They all come from PV panels. We use them sustainably as we want to make sure that whatever we do is sustainable and the energy is coming from clean source.” “But in many places the upper brink of the stadium go very heated even in winter times. It is called the brink of fire. This is because people breathe and they emit a lot of heat. So no matter whether the tournament is in winter or summer, you need cooling system to offset the heat breathed out by people,” he explained. He stressed that countries building new smart stadiums will need some cooling or air tempering for spectators and players. He also discussed the major challenges in the cooling technology for the stadiums in Qatar. “The main challenge in providing the cooling technology for an open stadium is to make sure that the cold air does not escape especially with the wind. So, the prime focus was how the shape of the stadium should help you to make sure that the cooling generated stays inside,” he noted. Aly highlighted how the Qatar 2022 World Cup will be the most accessible one and the innovative ideas used to make it accessible for everyone. Al-Atween noted the innovations used in the design and construction of the stadiums and how the legacy part is taken care of. He highlighted the most sustainable stadium, Stadium 974.

The winning Egyptian boys' team. PICTURES: Shaji Kayamkulam
Egypt, Brazil win Street Child World Cup Doha

Egypt and Brazil have emerged winners in the boys and girls categories, respectively, of the Street Child World Cup Doha 2022. Held at Qatar Foundation’s (QF) Oxygen Park in Education City, the tournament came to a conclusion Saturday and large crowds comprising supporters of the teams were at the venue to encourage and cheer their teams all through the matches. The victorious Brazilian girls' team The teams played to a crowd of more than 3,000 people, who celebrated raucously as the final whistle was blown. The atmosphere was electric, highlighting how much the tournament meant to the 28 teams of young people representing 25 countries. Cultural barriers had been broken down and lasting cross border friendships made. In the boys’ category, Egypt defeated Pakistan 4-3 in a thrilling match that went to the penalty shootout, while in the girls' final Brazil defeated Colombia 4-0. The Brazil team about to score in the match against Colombia. In an exciting boys' final, Egypt faced Pakistan and the game ended in a goalless draw in regulation time. Both the teams had several opportunities throughout the game but they could not convert them into goals. In the penalty shootout, both the teams scored three goals each and the game went into sudden death. The Egyptian goalkeeper saved the kick from a Pakistani midfielder while an Egyptian striker netted the winning goal and helped his team win the championship. In the girls' final, Brazil dominated all through the game and their strikers frequently raided the Colombian goal. They managed to score twice in the first half and added two more goals in the second half. Pakistani and Egyptian players in the final. PICTURES: Shaji Kayamkulam Machaille al-Naimi, president of Community Development at QF, congratulated the winners, gave away the trophies to the winning teams and honoured the best performers of the tournament. Earlier, in the boys' semifinals, Pakistan defeated Brazil while Egypt got the better of Burundi. In the girls' category, Brazil won against the Philippines and Colombia defeated Bolivia. The Street Child World Cup brings together street-connected children from all over the world, giving them a voice and platform to effect change in their countries. The young people are calling for fundamental human rights, including Identity, Protection from Violence, Access to Education and Gender Equality. They have worked together to create a 'Qatar Commitment', calling the governments in their respective countries to action. Their key demands for children in street situations include possession of a legal identity, access to quality education, and provision of affordable health facilities. In attendance at the General Assembly in which the children presented the 'Qatar Commitment' was HE Sheikha Hind bint Hamad al-Thani, Vice-Chairperson and CEO of QF, who was the first signatory, in the presence of the Street Child United family and assembled guests. In addition to the 'Qatar Commitment', Street Child United, with the support of its many friends, Beast Philanthropy, 5th Element and Jaja films, will be launching a campaign that runs until July 2026 -- the launch of the next FIFA World Cup, to deliver through its partner projects, 1 million and 1 birth certificates and ID documents for Street Connected Children worldwide. John Wroe, founder and CEO of Street Child United, said: “Wow - what an evening. My most enormous congratulations go to Team Brazil Girls and Team Egypt Boys for their victories in tonight’s finals. It was a tournament of passionate determination, but at the same time, played with so much love and respect." Rayane Granthom, captain of team Brazil girls, said: “We are thrilled to have won the tournament today and we can’t wait to celebrate as a team. I am proud to be from Brazil and I am looking forward to using my voice to inspire other young people from my country.” Ziad Fathy, captain of team Egypt boys, added: “We are so happy to be the winners of the Street Child World Cup – it is great that all of our hard work has paid off. Our experience in Qatar has been unforgettable and we will be sad to say goodbye to all of our new friends from around the world.”