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 Joseph Varghese
Joseph Varghese
A journalist with a penchant for reporting events, Joseph Varghese digs deep to unearth facts. With several years of experience, including at Gulf Times, Joseph handles health, science and technology, IT and education in addition to everyday developments.
HE Sheikha Hind bint Hamad al-Thani along with other panellists.
Sheikha Hind highlights challenges in education at global panel discussion

Disruption is ‘a way of life ‘and technology alone cannot be the tool to face the challenges in education, HE Sheikha Hind bint Hamad al-Thani, vice chairperson and CEO of Qatar Foundation, has highlighted. She was addressing an online panel discussion organised by Qatar Foundation Wednesday as part of its contribution to the 2020 Global Goals Week. The panel brought together several high profile education leaders from around the world. ‘Adapting to online education overnight due to Covid-19 was a huge challenge. However, it has also brought in real opportunity for true disruption in education. Disrupting education means thinking about its true purpose and not solely focusing on technology,” said Sheikha Hind at the opening of the panel discussion on the future of learning. “We talk about access to technology, but it is just a tool – it doesn’t really look at whether our children are learning or not, or how it will help them prosper in the world. - We have to go back to what we are teaching our children, and for what purpose,” noted, Sheikha Hind. “Technology is not a fix for everything. Now, we are in a pandemic and we have to make do with what we have, so our reaction is to try to continue education by doing it online. We can’t create technology that substitutes for a learning environment that encompasses so many different elements, and is not just about the content and the knowledge that a child acquires.” While saying that the world is “not even close to disrupting education to how it should look”, Sheikha Hind explained: “What has happened today, with Covid-19, has allowed us to reflect on how some tools that we thought were so important have actually proved to be irrelevant. “The fact students didn’t have to sit exams and still graduated from high school and managed to go to university tells us a lot. There are ways around things that we thought were core principles of how education should look. “Once we figure out what the true purpose of education is, a lot of the issues we face will be resolved. If our ultimate purpose is to nurture self-motivated learners, whether they are children or adults, these issues would be miniscule.” Speaking about her own vision for the future of education, the QF vice president said, “Moving forward, we must recognise that whatever we have been doing for centuries is obviously not working, and the pandemic has proven to us that even the quick fixes we have had are also not working. “The question now is how we work in parallel – providing the short-term solutions we do need for children, parents, and teachers who are suffering, but at the same time having a long-term vision to understand what our ultimate goal is. Is it to graduate a number of students every year, or is there really a purpose behind what we do? “Much more reflection is happening in education today, because we have a feeling that our education systems are not resilient enough. The more we experiment and take risks, the better prepared we will be the future. And we should not be worried about taking risks; we are in a pandemic and people are willing to try new things, because we have seen first-hand that what we have is not working for everyone.” Danilo Türk, former President of Slovenia, warned that Covid-19 had deepened “fault lines between those who can afford distance learning and those who cannot”, and suggested that countries such as Qatar that have had “a long-term vision for education” can show leadership in this field to the world. Other speakers on the panel were Achim Steiner, administrator of the United Nations Development Programme; Gabriela Cuevas Barron, president of the Inter-Parliamentary Union; Prof Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Centre for Sustainable Development at Columbia University and Sarah Cliffe, director of the Centre on International Cooperation at New York University.

The vehicle, Core
Qatari start-up develops region’s first self-driving utility vehicle

Heralding a new era of technology in Qatar, a startup based at Qatar Science and technology Park (QSTP) has developed a self-driving utility platform. Named Core and claimed to be the first in Qatar and the region, it is one of the winners of the Innovation Coupon, a grant, launched recently by Qatar Foundation Research Development and Innovation. “Core is a self-driving utility vehicle, compact in size and ideal for operations on sidewalks and bike-lanes. Our vehicle will be used in the first self-driving contactless delivery pilot in public areas in the Netherlands next week. The vehicle has been shipped from Qatar for the pilot,” Munera Fahad Aldosari, co-founder, Airlift QSTP-LLC disclosed in an exclusive interview with Gulf Times. Munera Fahad Aldosari, co-founder, Airlift QSTP-LLC, Ahmed Mohamedali, general manager, Airlift Airlift is a technology startup offering a mobile utility platform to unlock the value of autonomous systems for all. “From our headquarters in Qatar and tech hub in the Netherlands, we work with smart cities to identify new strategies to increase quality of life of their citizens while maintaining economic competitiveness using our modular self-driving vehicle,” explained, Aldosari. “Innovation Coupon aims to help local entrepreneurs and startups scale their innovative ideas. We’re grateful for the support received from QF to our talented team and such initiatives will contribute substantially to the innovation movement in Qatar and help scale it globally,” continued, Aldosari. According to Ahmed Mohamedali, general manager, Airlift is developing a mobile robotic platform for low speed multi-use functionality. “Powered by its self-driving capability, the Core platform consists of electric vehicle, self-driving navigation, computer vision, cloud computing, command and control and data analytics systems. It is ideal for contactless last-mile delivery and mobility, inspection, surveillance and data collection applications,” he said. Mohamedali revealed that there are two variations of Core. “We are announcing our focus on moving people and things with two variations of Core. Core for delivery and Core - in the pipeline - for mobility. However, we’re also offering our platform for enterprises that would be willing to experiment with our self-driving technology which is cost effective and agile to capture its value and augment their staff productivity,” he continued. First in Qatar and the region, there are a few similar concepts in the global market, however, Airlift plans to be the first in the mobility domain driven by the notion of democratising autonomy and technology with the motto ‘Robotics, Delivered’ to unlock the value of autonomous systems for industries. The development of Core platform started two years back. “We always believed that the future lies in employing robotics and AI for augmentation of mankind. With the enthusiasm witnessed from the local authorities towards adopting cutting edge technology, we believe that it’ll take less than two years to seeing Core and other self-driving companies operating in Qatar,” maintained, Mohamedali. Core is designed to comply with EU Regulation No. 168/2013 and international standards for vehicle safety and integrity such as ISO 26262. “Demand is growing for self-driving delivery vehicles. We aim to introduce 100 vehicles to the market by 2022 both in Qatar and around Europe. With our partners, we’re studying many modes of delivery, each is suitable for a specific category. Currently, we’re considering e-commerce parcels such as fashion, electronics and home products,” he pointed out. The current model of vehicle has a range of 70 km per each charge. “We are working to increase this range with the new model coming soon. During testing, we noticed people getting curious around the vehicle which represents a minor challenge during operation. However we're confident in the engineering and have added safety layers that'll prevent any issues,” highlighted, Airlift general manager. “Our customers are service operators, last mile delivery service providers and shared mobility operators. End user is the consumer using on-demand delivery and shared mobility platforms. As a company, our vision is to pioneer the light weight autonomy market with efficient and sustainable innovations,” added the official.

Dr Hassan al-Derhamrnrn
Universities should be ready to face challenges posed by Covid-19: QU president

Universities of the future should be ‘resilient and agile’ to face the challenges posed by Covid-19, as the pandemic brings a number of challenges as well as opportunities, a top Qatari academic told an online panel discussion on Wednesday. "The future of higher education will depend if the present crisis is a single one or a series of waves. There are several academic challenges. Our campuses could be online campuses or blended leaning campuses,” said Dr Hassan Rashid al-Derham, president of Qatar University. He was speaking at the latest edition of Qatar Foundation’s Education City Speaker Series. Organised in partnership with Education Above All and Qatar Foundation’s World Innovation Summit for Education, the event also featured several education experts from around the world. Dr al-Derham highlighted that Covid-19 has caused several drastic changes and the role of Information technology will be very dominant in the coming times. “Data gathering and analysis will be more important and at the same time more problematic. Data gathering will be through devices such as mobiles and it will involve questions about privacy and data security,” he continued. QU president also said that student experience will be another major challenge in the higher education scenario. “Financial security for higher studies will be a major issue due to the prevailing situation of Covid-19. Many families are facing financial difficulties due to loss of jobs as well as unemployment. With the governments focusing more fighting the pandemic, there is growing financial pressure on governments. With lesser income, students will find it difficult to enter universities for higher studies This could lead to the closure several campuses. There are reports that in the US alone, about 100 campuses are going to be closed,” noted Dr al-Derham. The academic also maintained that there will be a shift in the programmes that the students will follow in the coming years. “We will see great shift in the majors followed at universities. Students will shift to subjects related to Covid-19 and its aftermath. Technology also will change with video conferencing as well as tele-medicine among others. Telepresence, campus automation virtual world among others will be the new norms. Waves of changes are taking place in a much shorter period. All these bring the challenges whether our campuses are accessible to these or there are limitations for our campuses and universities must be ready to adapt to the changing realities and meet the challenges quickly,” added the official.

Al-Ahli Hospital officials display the working of the elevators.  PICTURES: Shemeer Rasheedrn
Al-Ahli Hospital develops 'Qatar’s first' smart elevator service

Al-Ahli Hospital has developed a technology to limit the infection transmission and stop the spread of Covid-19 by converting all the hospital elevators to infrared elevators, thereby avoiding the need to touch any buttons to provide commands. “This is the first such system in Qatar as of now,” said Ammar Annatashi, chief operations officer, Al-Ahli Hospital, during a media interaction on Tuesday. “The whole system, right from concept design and fabrication, was developed by our expert technology team. Our engineering division has been at the forefront of developing the whole plan. We are planning to introduce the same service at our Wakra facility too very soon,” continued Annatashi. Jehad Rihan, chief facility maintenance engineer of the hospital, was also present during the media briefing. The elevators work without touching as they receive the signals remotely. A small control panel receives the command and its light turns from blue to green when a guest points his fingers to it while giving the command to call the elevator and move from one floor to another. Jamal Hammad, deputy CEO and director of projects at Al-Ahli Hospital, said they are keen to ensure a "very high level of quality and achieve global standards for the safety and security of internal guests and visitors". “That is why we have been keen, since the beginning of the establishment and urban planning of the Al-Ahli Hospital building, to be designed in a way that ensures the prevention of acquired infection in hospitals by introducing the ventilation system, positive air pressure in operating rooms and negative air pressure in isolation rooms to prevent infection transmission to the patient as much as possible,” he explained. He thanked the whole family of Al-Ahli Hospital for implementing the project, especially the departments of Medical Engineering and Electrical Engineering, which were able, despite the scarcity of resources, to present this initiative in co-ordination with the management and implement it quickly. He also pointed out that the infection rate at Al-Ahli Hospital has dropped to 1%, and this is much lower than the international level, which is 5% in the best international hospitals. He added that Al-Ahli Hospital uses ultraviolet filters and other tests that detect the presence of bacteria and viruses, helping t eliminate them and maintain a clean and safe environment.

Dr Buthaina al-Owainatirnrn
QF expert advises expectant mothers with diabetes against Covid-19

People with chronic health conditions are highly prone to developing severe complications with Covid-19 and diabetic pregnant women who have contracted the virus are in this high risk category, according to an expert on diabetes. “Pregnant women in general require special care as their bodies are working at highest capacity to provide the necessary nutrition for the growth and development of a healthy baby,” said, Dr Buthaina al-Owainati, a member of Qatar Foundation’s Qatar Diabetes Association, and a senior consultant of endocrinology at Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) Throughout the pregnancy, the immune system of an expectant mother is compromised to preserve the baby’s health. And for pregnant women with diabetes mellitus – whether diagnosed with type 1 or type 2 before pregnancy or discovered during pregnancy – the situation could be far more alarming, she said. Dr al-Owainati highlighted that all diabetic pregnant women need to follow a certain protocols such as frequent testing for their blood sugar with frequent visit for their Antenatal Care with a multidisciplinary team care; following a healthy and balanced diet that ensures the baby gets all the necessary nutrition and the mother as well in order to compensate for the baby’s additional needs; and keeping blood sugar under control with the help of doctors while exercising moderately depending on the pregnancy status. And as the world is battling against Covid-19, the situation becomes even more perilous. “In cases where diabetic pregnant women have contracted Covid-19, and their symptoms are mild to moderate, their treatment is usually conducted by conservative management. But for those who show moderate to severe symptoms, such as pneumonia, treatment is usually modified according to a special protocol developed by the infectious diseases team at HMC,” Dr al-Owainati explained. The course of pregnancy often does not get affected by Covid-19 unless the pregnant patient has severe symptoms like cough or fever resulting in premature rupture of membrane or bleeding. “So, to give a clearer image, a Covid-19 infection is not an indication for termination of pregnancy,” Dr al-Owainati clarified. And even if not infected by Covid-19, Dr al-Owainati says that in order to have a healthy pregnancy for a diabetic woman, taking care of her mental health and wellbeing is critical. “The risk factor can cause more stress and anxiety to the mother-to-be, which should be dealt with in order to preserve the immune system and help it perform at best during this critical period. Family support plays an essential role in helping to reduce stress levels. In clinical visits, we usually advise the partner to take over the responsibilities of the house,” she added.

Students' temperature being checked at Ideal Indian School on Tuesday.
Nearly half of permitted students attend Indian schools on day one of new academic year

About 50% of the permitted students attended physical classes at various Indian schools on Tuesday on the first day of the new academic year - the first time since schools were closed due to the outbreak of Covid-19. Government had permitted to resume the academic year with 30% of the students attending the classes at the school campus and the rest continuing online classes. With blended education in practice, most Indian schools had prepared a schedule allowing 30% of the students to attend the classes on the campus for one or two days a week. While some schools appealed the parents to drop and pick their children, several schools had provided school transport adhering to strict Covid-19 protocols. Schools also had applied all the necessary precautions to make sure that every student follows the Covid-19 preventive and precautionary measures. Students enter Birla Public School following social distancing on Tuesday DPS MIS principal, Asna Nafees said that almost 50% of the allowed students attended the school. “We received 50% out of the one third of the students scheduled to attend the class. This is very encouraging as parents and students are eager to make sure that physical classes take place at the earliest. School appreciates the trust shown by the parents towards the arrangements made for reopening.” Nafees also noted that it was heartening to welcome the students after such a long time. “The day went off very well and all of us complied well with the guidelines issued by the government. We have also provided transport facility for the students with all the safety precautions. We hope the situation improves in the coming days,” she added. Ideal Indian School principal, Syed Shoukat Ali also noted that about 50% of the allotted students had attended the school on the first day. “Out of the prescribed 30%, we had over 50% of the students attending classes on Tuesday. However, in lower classes, the strength was considerably lesser but higher classes recorded good number of students. Our school timing is until 12.30 pm.” Ali pointed out that very few students availed the school transportation. “Though we had made arrangements for school transport, very few students opted it. This could be due to the certain concerns of the parents and students. Many of the buses had only a handful of students while some of them returned empty,” he explained. Students' temperature being checked at Ideal Indian School on Tuesday Birla Public School's construction manager Jackson T Solomon echoed the same sentiments and said that all the campuses of the school were functional from day one. “We had good attendance at all the three campuses. Officials from the Ministry of Education and Higher Education had visited the school and they were very happy with the arrangements made. We hope the number of students go up in the coming days. We have also refrained from arranging school transport and have appealed the parents to drop and pick the kids,” he said. MES Indian School reopened after summer break on Tuesday following the guidelines and recommendations issued by the Ministry of Education and Higher Education and the Ministry of Public Health on Covid-19 prevention and control in schools, principal Hameeda Kadar said in a statement. "The first three days of the commencement of the academic session is primarily dedicated to raising students’ awareness on Covid-19 protocols. During the school hours, students were advised to practice mindfulness about keeping safe distance from others, proper ways of eating and sanitising," she explained. The school has adopted a blended learning system with only a third of students attending the physical class on a day, with the rest attending online classes from home. The schedule for school days and remote learning were shared with the students and parents. "Further guidelines will be shared from time-to-time in WhatsApp groups and parent-portal as per the directives of the Ministry of Education and Higher Education," the principal added.

Indian schools resume classes from today with precautions

As the new academic year begins and several Covid-19-related restrictions are eased, Indian schools have made all necessary arrangements to resume physical classes starting from today.  With the government permitting 30% of the students to attend schools in the initial stage, Indian schools that cater to the largest expatriate student population in the country are all set to welcome pupils with several protocols in place.  However, even with 30% of the student population, more than 1,000 students each are expected to attend classes in several of these schools, it is learnt. “We have invested a lot of money to make sure that things are smooth for the students from day one. We have divided the students into various groups and scheduled them to attend the physical classes or online classes. Accordingly, the students will be able to attend the physical classes one to two days a week,” said Syed Shoukat Ali, principal of Ideal Indian School. “We have made arrangements for sanitisers and other necessary requirement for students and teachers. We have also made sure that all our teachers and other staff are tested for Covid-19 before they come to the school. We are also providing school transport with all the Covid-19-related precautions. We have bought thermometers as well as other accessories to make sure that each child is monitored before boarding the buses. We expect more than 1,000 students on the first day of the school as well as the teachers and other staff. It has been a great effort to make sure that the classes take place seamlessly and effortlessly,” the official continued. Birla Public School principal A P Sharma noted that all the details have been given to students and every care has been taken to make sure that physical learning takes place without any obstacle.  “All students have been given proper information about their class schedule and we expect that the students follow the schedule diligently.  “As 30% of the students are allowed on the school premises, we expect a good number of students in addition to the teachers and other staff to attend school from day one.  All students right from KG to Class 12 are allowed to attend physical classes one or two days a week,” said Sharma. Birla Public School, however, has asked parents to drop their children to school as there will not be any school transportation for this term. Other Indian schools also have given detailed information and directions to students and parents about the school activities and other precautions to be taken as physical classes resume after a gap of three to four months.

Dame Kelly Holmes, Robbie Fowler, Wasim Akram, Prof Claudia Reardon, and Dan Walker during the Mental Health and Sport Webinar
International sports stars share mental health issues at WISH webinar

Mental struggles have been major hurdles at several high level competitions, affecting their performances, noted some leading sports stars at a webinar organised by the World Innovation Summit for Health (WISH) on Wednesday. WISH, a global health initiative of Qatar Foundation will hold its biennial summit virtually this year from November 15 to 19. Olympic gold medal-winning athlete Dame Kelly Holmes, former Liverpool and England footballer Robbie Fowler, and Wasim Akram, former captain of Pakistan cricket team, shared their experiences at the webinar ‘Mental Health & Sport: The Challenge of Balancing Risk With Reward.’ The event also featured Prof Claudia Reardon, who specialises in sports psychiatry and co-chairs the International Olympic Committee’s working group on mental health. the session was moderated by BBC News presenter Dan Walker. The sports stars revealed several occasions where they had to undergo severe mental pressure of being at the top of their sport and the personal turmoil they endured. The situations included injuries and illness as well as dealing with abuse and allegations. The WISH event highlighted how mental health issues can affect anyone, and the importance of seeking help when they arise. Holmes recalled how she suffered a serious mental breakdown during her athletics career due to several injuries. “I looked in the mirror and hated everything about myself, including my body for letting me down,” she said. “That day, I became a self-harmer. “I self-harmed once for every day I had been injured, and I hid it because I had never known of anyone in my network dealing with the problem I had. Half of me was dying, and half of me was living for my dream, because I had a World Championship to go to, and that kept me going. I won a silver medal, but nobody knew what was happening with me. I just had to stay focused on my dream and hope that would keep me going.” Akram during his interaction revealed how he was accused of deliberately losing a World Cup final while captaining the team and had to face a rebellion from his teammates. He also highlighted how he was upset when he was diagnosed with diabetes at the age of 29. “Now, there is a lot more awareness of mental health, but when I was in my mid-20s and became captain of a cricket-mad country, I was lost,” he noted. “When my team said they would not play under me, that was a dark time. Imagine playing in a team and not speaking to anyone in it for a month and a half. The culture in Pakistan was that we are mentally very tough and we didn’t talk about mental health. It took me two years to come back from it,” he continued. Fowler said, “To be a top sportsperson, you have to have tunnel vision about what you do and put everything else aside, and as I got older I maybe struggled with that – if I didn’t like what I was doing, I could never come out and say it, because I felt that lots of people would give anything to be where I was.” Fowler also spoke about his own experience of how the spectre of serious injury haunts sportspeople and can affect their psychological health. According to Prof Reardon, athletes speaking about their own mental health issues can “demystify and destigmatise” the subject. “There has been less stigma in recent years, but sport is still one of the final frontiers when it comes to mental health. It’s very hard to have a game-face on the field, then step off it and say something is wrong and reach out for help,” she added.

Hanadi al-Darwish
For a cause: Qatari art initiative to support low-income families

A Qatari artist in collaboration with Qatar Charity has initiated a community campaign to support the low-income families, especially those affected by Covid-19. Founder of Hessa Art House, Hanadi al-Darwish initiated the idea of the project ‘We Are All for It.’  Accordingly, paintings of several leading artists in the country have been displayed on Qatar Charity website which will be sold and the money donated to the very low-income families. “We want to help them especially during the pandemic of Covid-19 as several people are hit hard due to the prevailing situation. A number of leading artists have joined the initiative so far,” al-Darwish told Gulf Times. “The aim of the project is to provide awareness about human and social dimensions of life. Participating artists are raising awareness and advocacy to support low-income families to achieve social solidarity between the society and needy groups,” continued al-Darwish. “This is the first campaign Hessa Art House has launched and we plan to add more of such programmes in the near future. So far 42 paintings from different artists have been displayed on the website. Individuals and companies can view them online and buy them by paying electronically,” she explained. Al-Darwish noted that some of the most prominent artists in the country – both Qataris and residents – have joined the initiative. “The artists who have joined me in the initiative include some of the leading names such as Hassan al-Mulla, one of the pioneers of art in Qatar, Abdullah al-Fakhro, Jamila Shuraim, Jawaher al-Mannai among others. I hope we will be able to raise a good amount of money through this project and  help a good number of people,” she added. Those interested, can choose any painting and make the payment which will be used to support the low-income families. Payment for the paintings is made through an electronic link to be entered into the family aid account. Once a painting is sold, it will be delivered to the buyer by a representative of Qatar Charity from Sunday to Thursday from 9am-2pm.

JEE centre impasse to be solved ‘soon’

The confusion prevailing about the centre for the JEE (Joint Entrance Examination) in Qatar would be solved ‘very soon’, an Indian embassy official told Gulf Times. Several students set to appear for the JEE examination from Qatar this year has been issued the hall ticket for the examination with Family Computers Centre in Al Rayyan as the centre for the examination. However, according to the father of a candidate, “when contacted, the institute has informed that they will not be able to conduct the examination due to technical reasons.”  When contacted, Hemant Kumar Dwivedi, the first secretary at the Indian embassy, said that the mission was well aware of the issue and is in touch with various authorities. “We are aware of the situation and has been in touch with the National Testing Agency in India. We are working to solve the issue and hopeful of a positive outcome very soon,” Dwivedi told Gulf Times. However, he did not elaborate on whether the examination will be held at the same venue or another centre will be allotted. Last time the examination was held at the Birla Public School. JEE is meant for admission to the prestigious engineering colleges including IIT (Indian Institute of Technology) and NITs (National Institute of Technology) and is held twice a year. This year the examination was held in January and the second one is expected to be held in the first week of September. It is learnt that a large number of students from Qatar are set to appear for the examination. Generally, the examination is held in April to May but this year due to the Covid-19 it was postponed to September. “I had prepared for the examination for a very long time. In fact, it is the effort of many years and if I can’t appear for the examination, I will be losing this academic year as it is the last opportunity to get admission. Moreover, I could not attend many other examinations such as the entrance examination to Kerala engineering colleges as I was held up in Qatar due to Covid-19,” said a student.

Dr Wolfgang Amannrnrn
Book by HEC Paris professors explores business challenges, opportunities in Qatar

Two HEC Paris in Qatar professors have complied several high profile cases studies from Qatar in a new book titled ‘Doing business in Qatar - case studies for executive education’. The work by Dr Wolfgang Amann Dr Laoucine Kerbache, explores business opportunities and challenges in Qatar. “Case studies have been used in management education for over 100 years and it is a trend that continues in various forms even today. In fact, they have also had a long tradition at HEC Paris in Qatar and are an essential pillar in its high-impact learning framework,” Dr Amann told Gulf Times. Such case studies allow for unique learning experiences covering four essential levels. He explained, “It takes the learner through four key stages: clarifying why a topic matters; illustrating how it works; practising holistic problem solving; and discussing what gained insights mean for individuals, their teams, and organisations.” “The ‘knowing’ level discusses facts, figures and conceptual frameworks, and it is the easiest to tackle. The ‘doing level’ ensures that the learners hone their practical skills towards achieving results as merely knowing a model would never suffice. The ‘being level’ is about the kind of leader and manager that one aspires to be. And lastly, the ‘becoming level’ is about learners benefitting from new insights as they ought to have an opportunity to clarify what stages come next in their development,” he continued. The book comprises high-profile cases that include big names like Al Shaqab, a world class player in the equine industry; Qatari Diar Vinci Construction (QDVC), which is in charge of carrying out highly complex construction projects in the country; and Msheireb, that faced leadership challenges in building and operating the ‘new heart of Doha’. The transitional journey of Qtel to Ooredoo has also been reviewed, in a case involving the telecom sector. In addition to that, cases about the training of Qatari investors and getting entry into the Qatari market have also been talked about in the book. While the former addresses the dilemmas that arise when portfolio companies are merged, the latter is based on an analysis of local players and customers in a specific industry. The book balances international best and next practices case studies with local ones in the short, custom, certificate and degree programmes of HEC Paris in Qatar. The book covers different industries, organisations, ownership structures and degrees of diversification and consists of cases used in the programmes of the institution.

The Indian ambassador addressing the gathering on Saturday.rnrn
New Indian envoy lauds community efforts during Covid-19

New Indian ambassador Dr Deepak Mittal has lauded the efforts of the community to support fellow Indians in distress during the Covid-19 pandemic. The envoy who took charge as a few days ago also highlighted the long-standing and cordial relations between Qatar and India and assured the continued support of the embassy to endeavours aimed at the welfare of the community members. Mittal was speaking to the Indian community in his maiden address in Qatar during the Indian Independence Day celebrations at the embassy on Saturday. “Qatar and India have a very good and cordial bilateral relationship. We have seen it grow from strength to strength over the past years. The Indian community has been the backbone of this great relationship and provided the strong foundation for such a relationship to grow and prosper. During my meeting to present the credentials, His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani had a lot of positive things to say about the Indian community and vividly recounted the contributions of the community for the development of the country,” Mittal said. The envoy said the Indian community has worked together as one body to face the challenges posed by Covid-19. “The community came together and worked selflessly to reach out to everyone who were in distress. We worked together and showed to the world that in Qatar we represent the cosmos of the Indian society as we come together, work together and help each and every one. We helped not only fellow Indians but also other people in Qatar, which is the uniqueness of Indian culture of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam',” he said. He also thanked the government of Qatar for facilitating the return of a large number of Indians stranded in Qatar during this pandemic and said that an agreement has been reached between the tto set up an air bubble travel arrangement for the return of Indians to Qatar. “We have an understanding and agreement to setting up an air bubble travel arrangement between the two countries so that people from India and Qatar can travel and families can be reunited, students can join their educational institutions and people can return and resume their jobs. Both the Qatari and Indian authorities have worked out this arrangement,” he added.

Indian ambassador Dr Deepak Mittal hoisting the national flag on the embassy premises; Guests at the event
Indian community celebrates 74th Independence Day with zeal

As India marked its 74th Independence Day on Saturday, the Indian embassy in Doha held a special flag-hoisting ceremony marked by patriotic fervour in the presence of a limited number of community leaders and embassy officials. Attendance was limited to selected guests due to the regulations put in place to fight the spread of Covid-19 and the programme conducted by strictly observing the relevant protocols and guidelines. However, the event was live-streamed on the embassy's social media platforms so as to reach out to the wider community, which is estimated to have more than 700,000 members. Indian ambassador Dr Deepak Mittal unfurled the Indian flag on the embassy premises, followed by the national anthem. He also read out the Independence Day message from Indian President Ram Nath Kovind on the occasion. Later the envoy, paid floral tributes to the Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi, and planted a sapling on the premises along with the heads of the apex bodies of community organisations working under the aegis of the embassy as well as other attendees at the event. In his message, the Indian president underscored the sacrifices of freedom fighters and recalled the efforts of the country to become a thriving and progressive, modern nation. “The ethos of our freedom struggle forms the foundation of modern India. Our visionary leaders brought together a diversity of world views to forge a common national spirit. They were committed to the cause of liberating Bharat Mata from oppressive foreign rule and securing the future of her children. Their thoughts and actions shaped the identity of India as a modern nation,” the president said in the message. He also highlighted the efforts of the healthcare workers who have been fighting the Covid-19 pandemic and praised their selfless service. “The nation is indebted to doctors, nurses and other health workers who have been continuously at the forefront of our fight against this virus. Unfortunately, many of them have lost their lives battling the pandemic. They are our national heroes. All 'corona warriors' deserve high praise. They go much beyond their call of duty to save lives and ensure essential services. These doctors, health workers, members of disaster management teams, police personnel, sanitation workers, delivery staff, transportation, railway and aviation personnel, providers of various services, government employees, social service organisations and generous citizens have been scripting inspiring stories of courage and selfless service,” he pointed out. The Indian envoy, while addressing the gathering, spoke at length about the deep-rooted relations between Qatar and India and the support of the Government of Qatar towards the Indian community, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic and with regard to the Vande Bharat Mission. “The Government of Qatar has always been supportive of the community all through these years and especially during this pandemic. With this great support, we have been able to facilitate the return of a large number of Indians, who were stranded in Qatar, to their native places. It was not a small task but a very difficult one, but was carried out successfully,” he highlighted. The event ended with the presentation of patriotic songs and a cultural programme by the students of Indian schools.

Dr Asmaa al-Fadala
Education leaders must adapt to changing system

Education leaders need to adapt to the rapid transformations happening in the systems and schools, a World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE) official has exhorted. “There is a general consensus now, particularly in the wake of Covid-19, about what 21st century learning looks like, but we also must apply that same criteria to our educators and school leaders,” said Dr Asmaa al-Fadala, director of Research and Content Development at WISE, a Qatar Foundation initiative, while speaking about the 2020 report by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) and sponsored by QF on the future of higher education. The EIU report, titled ‘New schools of thought: Innovative models for delivering higher education’, highlights perspectives on future of learning as well as the needs of students and societies in a post-Covid-19 world. With the Covid-19 pandemic forcing universities to embrace online learning and disrupting traditional ways of delivering education, the report analyses how certain innovative higher education models are addressing social, political and economic challenges, highlighting how institutions must rethink the education and adapt to the demands of a rapidly changing world. Dr al-Fadala said if 21st century learning embodies an approach to education that embraces academic skill with behavioural competencies - such as collaboration, problem-solving, creativity and life-long learning – so that the learners can survive and thrive in this uncertain world, the same skills and competencies are required for the educators and school leaders to support, propel and influence this learning. “Shouldn’t we be shifting our approach to school leader development from one that centres on management to one that prioritises many of the same skills and competencies that we have recognised as necessary in our future-ready learners?” she asked, highlighting that it will necessitate a paradigm shift from ‘school leader as manager’ to school leader as agile, collaborative, technologically savvy, problem solver who supports and nurtures future-prepared systems of learning. According to the official, the Covid-19 crisis has demonstrated that a university education is now more essential than ever. “On an economic level, resilience of individuals has been highly dependent on having the knowledge and skillsets that come with advanced degrees, especially in the fields of education, technology, industry and medicine. Meanwhile, workers in other, more traditional industries have been more negatively affected, especially those whose jobs don’t afford the flexibility to work remotely. So, this crisis demonstrates the need to build expertise in those highly skilled sectors that we are finding in demand, especially given the likelihood that global issues like Covid-19 may become more common,” she explained. “What this crisis has really laid bare is that our children will enter an unprecedented world of uncertainty. Schools of the past will not prepare them for the future they will inherit and right now it is hard to even predict what that future may look like, including what career opportunities there will be. Over and over again, I keep hearing that the jobs of tomorrow may not even exist today,” added al-Fadala.

 Dr Muna al-Maslamani
Qatar issues guidelines for home quarantine

The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) has issued a set of guidelines for home quarantine for those returning to Qatar. Besides people from Covid-19 low-risk countries, those arriving from places not on the list of low-risk countries can also undergo home quarantine provided they have obtained a Covid-free certificate from an accredited testing centre no more than 48 hours before travelling. Others will have to quarantine at government-approved hotels for a period of one week, after which the end of the quarantine period will depend on the result of a Covid-19 test. Qatar residents are allowed to return to the country from August, according to a recent statement issued by the Government Communications Office. “For home quarantine, people have to stay at home in a room with an attached bathroom separated from other family members. They should avoid any contact with other family members and don’t allow visitors. They must use a phone to contact others and must not leave home and, in the event of a medical emergency, call 999,” said Dr Muna al-Maslamani, medical director of the Communicable Disease Center and assistant head of the Infectious Diseases Division – Medicine Department at Hamad Medical Corporation. “Only one member of the family should be allowed to provide care to the quarantined person. The caregiver should wear a face mask and gloves while entering the room and should dispose of the mask and gloves and wash their hands immediately after leaving the room. A distance of at least 1.5m shall be maintained at all times,” she added. According to the guidelines, people on home quarantine must use a sanitiser or wash their hands with water and soap frequently. Everyone in the house should wash their hands regularly and avoid touching their face, mouth or nose. They must cover their mouth with a tissue while coughing or sneezing and dispose of the tissue in a trash bin and wash hands immediately. They should also avoid sharing personal household items with other people in the house and wash these items thoroughly with soap and warm water after use. People must make sure to clean and disinfect surfaces and used items at least once a day, including door handles, toilets, tables, TV remote controls and mobile phones, among others. "Single-use gloves should be used when cleaning and these need to be disposed of properly, and make sure to wash your clothes separately from other people’s clothes," she said. "Don’t share towels with other people and use your own towels." Those undergoing home quarantine must avoid preparing food for others and avoid entering the kitchen. They should eat food in their room and avoid eating or drinking with other people. "Be careful to wash the dishes separately, make sure to eat healthy food that strengthens the immune system and drink enough water (8-12 glasses a day)," she advised. Those who have chronic health condition should ensure to have adequate supply of medicines. They may use simple ways to explain the situation to children and avoid any direct contact with them. They should also get enough sleep and avoid contact with any pet in the house. Quarantined people also are advised to keep with them enough face masks, gloves, a thermometer, fever-reducing medicine such as Paracetamol, hand soap, hand sanitiser, home cleaning items, including toilet and kitchen detergents, tissue paper, alcohol wipes and closed trash bins. Those going on home quarantine must have suitable housing conditions with the availability of their own room and linked bathroom. They must sign an undertaking (including all the family members and household helpers) to abide by the rules of home-based quarantine. They must watch a video clip and review the pamphlet on home quarantine, and must apply preventive measures at home to protect others, Dr al-Maslamani stressed. Those in hotel quarantine should take a swab on Day 5 or 6 of their arrival at the designated Covid-19 quarantine centre and must answer phone calls from the public health team after being discharged for home quarantine. They must agree to receive a visit from the public health team every 2-3 days, inform the public health team if any symptoms have developed and download the Ehteraz app.

Indian expatriates pay tributes to Capt Virdi

Prominent Indian community members have recalled the services of a former long-time Qatar resident, Capt H S Virdi, who passed away in India on Friday. Capt Virdi (91), recipient of the ‘M Kanjani-ICBF Award’ for 2003, passed away peacefully in his sleep at his residence in Mumbai and is survived by his wife, two sons and two daughters.  He had worked in Qatar from 1977-2008 with Mannai Group. Before joining Mannai Group, he had served in the Indian Air Force and Bhabha Atomic Research Centre in India. Capt Virdi was known as the ‘Bhangra Man’ of Doha, referring to the traditional Punjabi dance that he popularised in Qatar along with his colleagues.  He was the camp commander for Mannai family’s accommodation and camp, where more than 1,000 workers and staff members resided, another long-time Indian resident in Doha recalled, adding that the Mannai camp had its own supermarket, mess hall, play areas and gym. He used to take a lot of initiatives in organising events such as sports days, including family games, tug-of-war and folk dance and cultural events, among others. He also established a Bhangra dance troupe, which was always the highlight of cultural events.  The Indian embassy, Indian Cultural Centre (ICC) and many community associations used to invite the troupe to perform at their programmes. Recalling his services to the community, P N Baburaj, president of Indian Community Benevolent Forum (ICBF), said the Indian community always looked up to Capt Virdi’s services during his time in Qatar.  “ICBF honoured Capt Virdi with the ‘M Kanjani - ICBF Award’ for the year 2003 for his meritorious services to the community. He was a true philanthropist and was loved by all the members of community. His Bhangra dance team always entertained the public at all major events of the community,” Baburaj added. “Capt Virdi was a much-loved and respected Indian among the community members for his multifaceted roles and several services he selflessly rendered for the community. He and his Bhangra team members regularly presented several programmes at ICC cultural events,” recalled A P Manikantan, ICC president. M I Farid, a long-time resident and a close associate of Capt Virdi during his days in Doha, said he has lost a very good friend and a good human being.  “Capt Virdi was a selfless human being who worked tirelessly for the community with all the resources available with him. While his Bhangra team was the talk of the town, he had a dedicated team of staff who were ready to help the community activities at any time around the country,” he added.

Capt H S Virdi
Community members commemorate former Qatar resident who died in India

* Capt H S Virdi was honoured with 'M Kanjani - ICBF Award' - 2003 for his meritorious services to community Prominent Indian community members have recalled the services of a former long-time Qatar resident, Capt H S Virdi, who passed away in India on Friday. Capt Virdi (91), recipient of the ‘M Kanjani - ICBF Award’ for 2003, passed away peacefully in his sleep at his residence in Mumbai and is survived by his wife, two sons and two daughters. He had worked in Qatar from 1977 to 2008 with Mannai Group. Before joining Mannai Group, he had served in the Indian Air Force and Bhabha Atomic Research Centre in India. Capt Virdi was known as the ‘Bhangra Man' of Doha, referring to the traditional Punjabi dance that he popularised in Qatar along with his colleagues. He was the camp commander for Mannai family’s accommodation and camp, where more than 1,000 workers and staff members resided, another long-time Indian resident in Doha recalled, adding that the Mannai camp had its own supermarket, mess hall, play areas and gym. Capt Virdi and his team performing during the 2003 Indian Independence Day celebrations. Photo supplied by Ashraf, ICC He used to take a lot of initiatives in organising events such as sports days, including family games, tug-of-war and folk dance and cultural events, among others. He also established a Bhangra dance troupe, which was always the highlight of cultural events. The Indian embassy, Indian Cultural Centre (ICC) and many community associations used to invite the troupe to perform at their programmes. Recalling his services to the community, P N Baburaj, president of Indian Community Benevolent Forum (ICBF), said the Indian community always looked up to Capt Virdi’s services during his time in Qatar. “ICBF honoured Capt Virdi with the 'M Kanjani - ICBF Award' for the year 2003 for his meritorious services to the community. He was a true philanthropist and was loved by all the members of community. His Bhangra dance team always entertained the public at all major events of the community,” Baburaj added. “Capt Virdi was a much-loved and respected Indian among the community members for his multifaceted roles and several services he selflessly rendered for the community. He and his Bhangra team members regularly presented several programmes at ICC cultural events,” recalled A P Manikantan, ICC president. M I Farid, a longtime resident and a close associate of Capt Virdi during his days in Doha, said he has lost a very good friend and a good human being. “Capt Virdi was a selfless human being who worked tirelessly for the community with all the resources available with him. While his Bhangra team was the talk of the town, he had a dedicated team of staff who were ready to help the community activities at any time around the country,” he added.

Dr Yousef Alhorr
Qatar 2022 stadiums use optimum dust-control strategies

As a part of its sustainability strategy, the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC) has committed to implement an exclusive green certification – titled GSAS Construction Management (GSAS-CM) – specifically to improve projects’ environmental performance during construction. A fundamental part of GSAS-CM certification is dust control, which has been exercised by all eight venues and permanent offices of the SC. In fact, most of these venues have managed to be awarded with the highest recognition for dust control under GSAS-CM. Bodour al-Meer Dust control is one of the main activities audited by the sustainability experts at the Gulf Organisation for Research & Development (Gord). Based on a project’s performance in 25 criteria within eight categories that cover aspects from environmental conservation and pollution mitigation to workers’ welfare and safety on site, GSAS-CM auditors witness on-site construction practices to decide the sustainability fulfillment at the stadiums. “As Qatar continues its urban built development, we are seeing a range of environmental issues arising from the construction phase that need to be tackled. To address these problems, Gord has developed GSAS Construction Management (GSAS-CM) certification, which looks into the onsite construction process and practices carried out by contractors and builders. These have been implemented in the construction of stadiums and at many other construction sites all over Qatar,” said Dr Yousef Alhorr, founding chairman, Gord. With dust management being an integral part of the stadiums' environmental performance, all eight venues for Qatar 2022 are targeting the highest sustainability certifications under the GSAS framework. Bodour al-Meer, Sustainability & Environment senior manager at the SC, said: “Stadiums are the heart of any football tournament. These are the places where cherished memories for players, spectators and organisers are created. We have built our stadiums for the FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar with long-term sustainability and environmental management as core concepts. To ensure tangible and credible sustainability outcomes, we have implemented the GSAS certification system. “Everyone involved in stadium construction understands the value of sustainability and protecting the environment. By working together, we have created a genuine learning legacy of environmental protection and sustainable development in the design and construction sector.” All the projects have taken care to mitigate dust from stockpiles through the use of green plastic nets to cover stockpiles of soil and excavated materials. Similarly, trucks and other vehicles carrying construction materials are covered with nets to prevent the dispersion of dust and particulate matter during transportation. For long-term stockpiles, some stadium sites have utilised more durable and thicker layers of tarpaulin, which is both low maintenance and more effective at protecting the materials from extremely hot summers. Similarly, road sweepers are commonly used on paved hauling roads on site and adjacent public roads to take care of the dust from vehicles on site. These machines help remove soil and mud from the road surfaces, thereby preventing dispersion of dust from the movement of heavy vehicles. Qatar 2022 stadiums have gone one step further by installing vehicle washouts at the construction sites’ gates. Similarly, decreasing the commute of vehicles carrying soil and other materials is another dust control technique adopted by decreasing the distance between stockpiles and backfilling areas. Some construction activities generate more dust than others, and barriers are used around those areas. Installing barriers around cutters and crushers can significantly reduce the amount of dust in the air. As the crushers are utilised at some stadium sites in Qatar, the material to be crushed is watered in order to reduce dust dispersion. Similarly, these crushers are covered with nets, while water sprays are used to suppress the dust. Dust blown away during loading and unloading of soil and aggregates can be mitigated by spraying water over these building materials. At some stadiums, cannons are used to spray water. As opposed to commonly used hoses, these cannons create enough pressure so that not only are the materials made wet but any dissipated dust in the air is also drawn down. Due to the closed nature of indoor spaces, dust can also have adverse effects on human health. Therefore, de-dusting systems have been introduced to filter pollutants from indoor air along with ample ventilation to mitigate any toll on the health and safety of workers inside a facility. Monitoring project sites for concentrations of particulate matters of different sizes is another method that assists the formulation of effective strategies to control dust. In addition to standard monitoring practices performed through different periods of the construction, some stadium sites in Qatar went the extra mile with the use of state-of-the-art equipment that helps constant monitoring, thereby creating detailed '24/7/365' data for improved strategies.