Monday, December 11, 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.
Oommen Chandy.
Indian community pays tributes to Oommen Chandy

Indian community in Qatar fondly recollected Oommen Chandy, the former chief minister of the state of Kerala who passed away Tuesday and paid rich tributes to the mass leader.Chandy passed away early morning Tuesday at a private hospital in Bengaluru, India. Battling cancer, he was undergoing treatment for several months in India and abroad. The 79 old Chandy served as the 10th Chief Minister of Kerala from 2004 to 2006 and again from 2011 to 2016. He was also the Leader of the Opposition in the Kerala Legislative Assembly from 2006 to 2011.Several community members in Qatar had very close association with him and many of them had very personal interactions with him for a very long time. A man of the masses and cutting across the political affiliations, Chandy commanded great respect and deep affection from the community at large. People used to crowd his house and office for their personal and community needs.During his second stint as CM, Chandy had launched a mass contact programme to meet people and hear their grievances and ensure relief to them. The programme received the United Nations Global Award for Public Service in 2013.Chandy also holds the record for the longest-serving MLA in the Kerala assembly having represented his home constituency Puthuppally continuously for 53 years.Former Indian ambassador, Sanjiv Arrora recalled his association with Chandy and said that it was a great loss for the community and the country. “ Oommen Chandy was was a stalwart and popular leader. I recall meeting him several times and was touched by his simplicity and warmth.”Dr Mohan Thomas noted that he had about 55 years of acquaintance with Chandy and a very close brotherly relationship. “He was a leader committed for the betterment of the common man. He used to keenly listen to each and every person and made sure that all their grievances or needs are taken care of. His commitment as well as dedication for the welfare of the people, makes him quite unique,” said, Dr Thomas.Former president of Indian Cultural Centre, P N Baburajan pointed out that Chandy was well respected across all sections of the community for his sincerity and dedication. “With his efficiency in administration, he was able to face the challenges with great conviction and courage. He was also very keen about the welfare of the Indians working in various countries and attended to their needs without any discrimination,” added, Baburajan.

The mobile library at QU campus aims to promote sustainable energy and education.
Solar-powered mobile library set up on QU campus

In a significant effort to promote sustainable energy, Qatar University (QU) has launched a solar-powered mobile library on its campus.In designing the mobile library, the QU researchers recycled a club car by installing bookshelves and solar panels to power it with renewable energy. This mobile library, according to an article in the latest edition of the QU research magazine, has the capacity to carry 200 books and be fully charged by sunlight within six hours.Developed by the Centre for Advanced Materials (CAM) at QU, this innovative initiative aims to promote eco-friendliness, while encouraging a reading culture, and providing students and faculty with easy access to academic resources from QU Press.The project demonstrates the University’s commitment to stimulate environmental sustainability that aligns with the aims of Qatar National Vision 2030. This is yet another significant step toward promoting sustainable energy and education in the region.As well as simultaneously charging and running under the sunlight for consecutive hours, the mobile library can be charged using direct grid electricity without sunlight. The primary purpose, however, is to use sunlight as a renewable source of energy to promote efficiency in harnessing green energy for real-world applications. It will also serve to efficiently distribute academic books from QU Press, a fellow partner on environmental sustainability.Prof Mohammad Irshidat, director of CAM, said: “The significance of our solar-powered mobile library lies in its use of a renewable energy source to ensure environmental sustainability. This initiative advances two of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, securing affordable and clean energy under Goal 7, and building sustainable cities and communities under Goal 11. We believe the solar-powered mobile library will create greater awareness around the QU campus of the importance of harnessing clean energy and promoting sustainability.”“The launch of the solar-powered mobile library represents a significant step toward promoting sustainability, education, and community engagement. Qatar University is proud to be at the forefront of this initiative, and remains committed to promoting sustainable practices and initiatives that benefit society and the environment. The library is also a testament to the university’s efforts to promote environmental awareness,” noted Prof Mariam al-Maadeed, vice president for research & graduate studies at QU.“This is a creative application of technology that will inspire students and researchers in Qatar. This solar-powered mobile library will be dedicated to promoting and selling QU Press books across campus and the country,” added, Prof Fatma al-Sowaidi, director of Qatar University Press.

HMC Ambulance service. Picture for illustrative purpose only.
HMC Ambulance Service enhances access to effective care for patients

The LEAN pre-pack system implemented by the Hamad Medical Corporation Ambulance Service (HMCAS) has improved responses to emergency calls and enhanced access to effective care for patients, a recent study has found out.LEAN is a set of management practices to improve efficiency and effectiveness by eliminating waste. The core principle of lean is to reduce and eliminate non-value adding activities and waste.The study published on Journal of Emergency Medicine is titled ‘Impact of LEAN implementation in restocking ambulances in an emergency department and on ambulance rotation within the Hamad Medical Corporation Ambulance Service’ and is featured on QScience .com. It highlights that HMCAS has refined its patient supply chain (SC) processes to improve ambulance turnaround times (ATAT) at the emergency departments (ED).The authors of the study are: Sunjay Ragbheer, Padarath Gangaram, Guillaume Alinier and Hassan Farhat. They belong to various organisations and institutes such as HMC; The University of Hertfordshire, Hatfield, UK; Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar; Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK; University of Sousse, 4000, Sousse, Tunisia and the University of Sfax, 3000, Sfax, Tunisia.According to the study, the pre-pack concept promoted easy and quick processing of clinical applications, restocking procedures, and ambulance checks, and this positively impacted the ATAT at the ED. Further, it improved responses to emergency calls and enhanced access to effective care for patients. This approach also simplified the tasks above when many locum staff is employed on a short-term basis to cover mega-events such as the FIFA World Cup. With FIFA World Cup 2022 taking place in Qatar, all healthcare systems were geared up for an influx of patients.The study evaluated the staff’s perceived impact of modular pre-pack kits on ambulance restocking processes and ED ATAT.Through this cross-sectional study, a fit-for-purpose survey was designed and distributed to all operational staff at HMCAS. The survey aimed to assess HMCAS staff’s opinions about the implemented LEAN pre-pack system. Cronbach’s alpha was calculated to assess the reliability of the survey. The Mann-Whitney U-test was conducted to compare if there was a difference between the group’s opinions. The Shewhart control chart was created to monitor the impact of the implemented intervention on the ATAT at the ED. IBM-SPSS (Statistical Package for Social Sciences) Version 26 was utilised for data analysis.A group of 287 employees with different backgrounds participated and completed the survey. The Cronbach’s alpha was equal to 0.739, indicating a satisfactory level of reliability of the Mann-Whitney U-test. The descriptive analysis and the Shewhart chart revealed that most staff found that the pre-pack concept helped improve LEAN restocking processes, access to clinical applications, and ambulance checks. Overall, this concept matched the international benchmarks for turnaround time.International ambulance services are complex, and these ambulances are equipped with about 500 individual items, which include various types of medical consumables and equipment used during emergencies. By organising individual medical items into stock units called “pre-packs”, according to the needs of the patients and type of clinical interventions, the inventory or stock-taking time of items stored in ambulances can be significantly reduced. Implementing reduced inventory lists of items and standardised pre-pack storage across the ambulance fleet has significantly improved the efficiency and accuracy of ambulance checking, restocking, and recovery time, improving overall ATAT at the ED.

The restaurant has been a go-to place for expatriates for decades. PICTURES: Shaji Kayamkulam
'Taxi restaurant' an icon of affordable food, history

Size doesn't really matter when it comes to popularity and reputation. To see a glorious example of this, one has to head to Al Muntazah in Doha and look for what is known as the 'Taxi restaurant'.Located opposite Rawdat Al Khail Park, this small outlet - officially named Al Salhiya Tea Stall and Restaurant - with a limited number of seats for diners, happens to be one of the most popular and beloved eateries in the city.Known as a place that offers various food items at affordable rates round-the-clock, 'Taxi' remains the go-to eatery for a large number of people from different nationalities every day. The eatery wears a busy look, be it day or night, and is particularly popular among people looking for a meal late at night after a hard day's work.Since space is limited inside, customers can often be seen waiting in long queues of cars parked on the adjacent road, while some choose to collect their food or drink and head to the park.The restaurant has been offering tasty food at affordable prices for nearly six decades. While low-income expatriates are known to be the biggest patrons of this eatery, the clientele includes more well-heeled individuals, too.With beginnings in a small car garage of a villa by Abdullah Mohamed, who was from a small hamlet called Parakkadavu in northern Kerala, the restaurant has a long story to tell that coincides with the progress of Qatar.After the death of Abdullah Mohamed, Abdulla Soopy Haji started managing the restaurant. Abdulla Soopy passed away in 2020, and his son Harris Valluvacherry is currently managing the restaurant along with some relatives.“This is one of the earliest restaurants in Qatar. It was the meeting point for all expatriates during those days. Whenever there are new arrivals to Qatar, they are brought to our restaurant directly from the airport for meals. So, it is a place that tells good old stories, has a lot of nostalgic memories for everyone from those days and has a distinct place in Qatar’s history,” Harris, a third-generation member of the family business, told Gulf Times.The restaurant gradually emerged as the meeting place for many residents, particularly those looking for food at odd hours. Abdulla Soopy was a kind-hearted man, and nobody was denied food at any time, sometimes even if they did not have money.“My father was helpful to others. He always told us to help the needy and the deserving. It was very important for him that we serve food at minimum prices and ensure everyone is treated well. The restaurant continues to be busy even now and a large number of patrons come every day to have their meals at very affordable prices. This is what my father taught us and we are committed to continuing his legacy at any cost,” Harris noted.The eatery came to be known as 'Taxi restaurant' as taxi drivers used to visit the place in big numbers to have food. “The restaurant became a hub for taxi drivers as they could get food at affordable prices. Soopy Haji wanted to help the underprivileged with quality food round-the-clock. He never compromised when it came to the quality of food,” said restaurant manager Muneer Puthiyapurayil.“It is a really distinct spot in Qatar and was a meeting point for all newcomers to Qatar in the early years. It was the meeting point for many, and people used to come in groups with their friends and relatives. It was also a place for people to meet and greet and renew their friendship for several decades until modern communication facilities became available,” Muneer recalled.He said the restaurant continues to be busy and said customers include people from different walks of life. He added, “We serve quality food 24/7 and are ready to serve everybody at any time. A minimum of 1,000 people visit the restaurant daily and we also get a lot of parcel orders. We would like to preserve the place as a special spot, so that old memories can be recollected and shared.”

Indian embassy charge d'affaires Angeline Premalatha along with diplomats from the mission at the Indian booth at the DIBF. PICTURE: Thajudheen.
Indian booth at book fair offer insights into culture, tourism

The Indian booth at the ongoing 32nd Doha International Book Fair provides glimpses of the country’s history and culture. There are a number of books at the booth that highlight various facets of India and its heritage. The book fair, opened on Monday by HE the Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohamed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim al-Thani at the Doha Exhibition and Convention Centre, runs until June 21 under the slogan 'With Reading We Rise.'Showcased at the grand event are Qatari, Arab and foreign publishing houses, as well as the latest publications, books and manuscripts of government agencies, Arab and international cultural institutions and the embassies accredited to the country. Large number of visitors can be seen moving around the stalls and buying books and getting details about the books especially the latest ones.The Indian booth was opened by Indian embassy charge d'affaires Angeline Premalatha in the presence of a number of community members. The pavilion offers a peek into books from all the states of the country. A spokesperson at the booth said there is great demand from the visitors for books about various aspects of India. “We have a good collection of books from all the states of India that describe the unique culture of the country. We have also books about the culture and social life of people from different parts of the country.“Most queries that we get, are about tourism opportunities in India. We have some books that offer information about most attractive destinations in the country. We also have highly informative books on the culture of India and the uniqueness of each region as well as social life of people in different places. Some of the books also give ideas about various festivals of the country.”According to the spokesperson, people can contact the pavilion for more information about India and if they need to buy any of the books, they can leave their contact information at the booth. They will be contacted at a later date about their requests.

Al Jawhara Althani
QF official highlights importance of safe space within schools

It is highly important for children to have a safe space within schools to foster their innate skills and face the challenges they come across and excel, noted a Qatar Foundation (QF) official.“A safe space in schools is building strong relationship between students, their peers and the adults, which is critical to developing a sense of safety," Al Jawhara Althani, head of Wellbeing and Safeguarding at QF told Gulf Times in an exclusive interview."Knowing that there are people who will celebrate their success and support them no matter what challenges they may face, helps students feel seen and heard. This leads to higher levels of engagement and better social, emotional and academic outcomes,” she explained.Al Jawhara highlighted the importance of equipping young people with the knowledge, confidence, and skills beyond the classroom, and providing them with a safe space within schools to excel academically, and personally. Feeling safe at school also means being able to show up as their authentic self and have their culture, language, interests and ambitions honoured by those around them.“Safe spaces are critical for learning because learning is about stepping outside of our comfort zone and taking risks. Learning can only happen when we are unafraid to fail publicly. This is just as true for adults as it is for children. We often learn more from our failures than our success and in order to develop the confidence and resilience we want our students enter the world with. We have to foster a safe and supportive community within our schools,” explained, the official.Al Jawhara underscored that learning goes beyond the classroom and parents, siblings and the wider community have a lot in making children feel comfortable to learn.“Listen to the kids in your life – to their fears, hopes, dreams and to the stories they are eager to share. Ask them how their day went, who their friends are, and what they are learning. Do not relegate them to “children-only” spaces and conversations. We all carry some responsibility for the children in our lives. We are their village,” she suggested.Al Jawhara stated that since 2018, QF schools have been working hard to develop safeguarding and child protection policies and procedures to ensure that students always feel safe and supported and know who to reach out to if they need support. She also pointed out that QF students regularly interact with an array of entities and centres to enhance their learning experience and to obtain a sense of the real world.“All decisions that are made must be made with the best interest of the child in mind. All staff have been trained to understand their role in keeping children safe. QF Schools have also been promoting safeguarding and advocating for a more systematic approach by collaborating with ministries, mental health services and other stakeholder across the country, concluded, Al Jawhara.

Speakers during a session at the Qatar Real Estate Forum 2023 Monday. PICTURE: Thajudheen
Leading developers discuss real estate sector challenges

Leaders in real estate in Qatar and the region discussed the challenges facing the local and international investors and sought ways to address them at a panel discussion on the second and final day of the Qatar Real Estate Forum 2023 Monday.“Real estate business is not an easy job. It needs planning, strategy and tools to overcome several challenges,” said Marwan Abu Shanab, moderator of the panel discussion while opening up the discussion titled, “The Real Estate Investor’s Journey — Reality vs. Hope.”The discussion focused on the foreign investor's expectations of the real estate system in Qatar as well as the best international practices and experiences to promote real estate investment. There were also proposals and solutions to improve the real estate investor's journey.Tariq al-Tamimi, secretary of the committee on real estate sector development strategy at the Ministry of Municipality, said there will be a clear strategy in the sector. “There are plans to develop several steps in governance of the real estate as data enhancement is a top priority. We will also look into the challenges in the sector and suggest several steps to solve them. There will be clear procedures . The journey will be a double edged sword and if it is done well, it will lead to great success .”Sheikh Nasser bin Abdulrahman al-Thani, chairman and managing director of Qetaifan Projects, narrated the challenges the project faced at the development stage. He said: “We decided to have a project by developing an island for tourism. However, as we started, the Covid-19 pandemic hit us and we had to undergo a long period to overcome the challenges associated with it.”“Another challenge was that we are not a manufacturing country of many of the construction materials and therefore we had to import many of them. And due to the pandemic, we ended up paying very high prices for the materials. Then, we also had to face the pressure to complete the project ahead of the World Cup,” he added.According to Ibrahim Jassim al-Othman, United Development Company (UDC) president, CEO and member of the board, UDC has a system of attracting investors in the project. “We have different ways of helping the investors such as payment method in instalment, differed payment and others . We also allow long period for the payment. We support the investors from our side in many different ways.”Abdulla al-Mehshadi, CEO of Al Waab City, noted that external investors must have clear vision about Qatar. He said: “All entities working in the sector should come together and collaborate with each other to overcome the challenges and barriers. There can be changes in the planning of the construction and if these changes are implemented in the design stage itself , it will be great for the investors so that it does not affect the progress of the construction once started.”“Investment in real estate face challenges in all countries. As we understood these challenges, we designed national strategy in Saudi Arabia. Real estate is one of the most secure investment areas, provided that we approach the sector with all the preparation and clear policies,” highlighted Fahad Mansour AlHashem, real estate managing director, Saudi Arabia.The projects must be implemented with renewable energy sources so that they become environment friendly, he added.

Participants at the discussion on ‘Governance of the Real Estate Sector’. PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam
Experts stress impact of regulations, legislations on development of real estate sector

Experts from the Gulf region highlighted the need for regulations and legislation in the real estate sector for supporting the national economies Sunday at a panel discussion during the ongoing Qatar Real Estate Forum.At a session titled ‘Governance of the Real Estate Sector’, speakers shared their experiences in their respective countries and how the system works with the support of appropriate strategies and policies.Real estate market regulation and supervision mechanisms such as real estate brokerage, real estate contributions, sorting mechanisms, real estate registration, disputes and real estate arbitration mechanism were the major points of discussion.Saeed Abdulla Saeed al-Suwaidi, assistant undersecretary for Real Estate Registration and Authentication Affairs and chairman of the Committee for Non-Qatari Ownership and Use of Real Estate, Qatar, said that Qatar's new real estate law aims to make the real estate sector in the country successful.“According to some recent reports, Qatar real estate sector is one of the best in the world and in the construction sector too Qatar is ranked very highly. Through the new law, we aim to take the sector to greater heights. We will be able to get more information about all aspects of the sector and gain accurate statistics about the sector in the country,” said al-Suwaidi.Speaking about the impact of regulations and legislation on the development of the real estate sector, Abdullah Saud al-Hammad, CEO of the Real Estate General Authority, Saudi Arabia, explained the reasons and rationale for forming a real estate policy in his country.“In real estate sector, there are three stakeholders. The first one is those who want to buy the properties, the second one is the developers and the third are those who are engaged in the real estate activities. All the three of them are very important components of the whole system,” said al-Hammad.Essam Abdullah Khalaf, chairman of the Board of Directors of the Real Estate Regulatory Authority, Bahrain, pointed out that the real estate law is one of the main pillars in supporting the national economy."In Bahrain there are a lot of developments which are a great source of support for the government. There should be opportunities for the investors and this will provide more stability and security for them to develop modern infrastructure. Those who come to a country should also get facilities and services such a s educational and healthcare services. as such steps will help the investors with to gain more confidence,” he explained.According to Marwan Ahmed bin Ghalita, CEO of the Real Estate Regulatory Agency, Dubai Land Department, UAE, maintaining the rights and providing the facilities will help the investors in the real estate sector.“It promotes confidence among the investors. There should be flexibility in the approach. In Dubai we understand that what is good for the private sector is good for the country as we promote private-public partnership,” highlighted Ghalita.Dani Kabbani, managing partner, Eversheds Sutherland, also provided his insights and legal aspects in the sector at the panel discussion moderated by Khalid al-Yahya. The speakers also stressed the need for confidence building measures as well as the need for speedy solutions for the disputes that might emerge.

Gulf Times
Antibiotics most common documented medication allergens: Qatar study

Antibiotics were the most common documented medication allergens among the patients in a tertiary hospital in Qatar , according to a study conducted on 2,431 patients last year.“Antibiotics represented 42.1% of all reported allergies, followed by non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (20.7%) and paracetamol (5.3%),” noted the study published by Qatar Medical Journal and featured on to the study titled, ‘Retrospective review of medication allergy labelling among patients admitted to a tertiary hospital in Qatar’ a retrospective cross-sectional audit. This included all medication allergy labelling documentation for patients admitted to Hamad General Hospital from January-December 2022 when the study was conducted.To realise the study, a list of patients with medication allergies was generated from the pharmacy system, which included patients’ demographics, medication names, documented allergy severity, and any other comments. The list was reviewed, and medications were categorised into different classes.A total of 2,856 allergy documentation for 2,431 unique patients were identified and included in the analyses. The study was conducted to review medication allergy labelling documentation, identify the most reported medication class, and describe allergic reactions based on the reported severity.The mean age of included patients was 43 years old, with 73.2% (1,780) being females. Among the reported allergic reactions, 11.8% (336) were documented as severe allergic reactions, 51.1% (1,457) were moderate, and 37.1% (1,060) were mild. Of all the reported allergies, only six (0.21%) cases had documented confirmatory allergy tests done. Further analysis of the reported allergies revealed that 1.2% (34) of the allergies had documentation to counteract the allergy labelling through either revised patient history or re-challenging. Despite this, allergy labelling was kept in the medical profile without proper de-labelling.The researchers of the study highlight that timely access to accurate, up-to-date drug allergy information is critical to avoid potentially life-threatening adverse drug reactions. They note that the completeness and accuracy of allergy documentation remain a challenge. They also point out that inappropriate allergy documentation usually necessitates alternative treatments, increases costs, and may negatively impact patients’ outcomes.The study suggests that allergy labelling documentation is a key to safe medication prescribing. “However, standardised allergy documentation should be implemented to include a brief description and onset of the symptoms. Additionally, a safe de-labelling pathway should be adopted. Most of the allergy documentation was based on patients’ or family/parents’ reports, while actual allergies observed by a healthcare provider were limited,” the research team has concluded.The study was conducted by Rana M al-Adawi, Reem Elajez, Dana Bakdach, Dina Elgaily, Ahmed Karawia, Asmaa Mohamed from Pharmacy Department, Hamad General Hospital, and Pharmacy Department, Rumailah Hospital, Hamad Medical Corporation.

“A recent Bloomberg report states, finally tech has positively disrupted education in a big way. For the first time, we see how tech is enabling education. Global edtech market is growing 16.5% while Indian edtech sector is growing at 40%,” said Divya Gokulnath.
Technology disrupting education positively in a big way: entrepreneur

For the first time, technology is enabling education in a big way disrupting learning positively, especially during and after the Covid-19 pandemic, noted a leading edtech entrepreneur at the Qatar Economic Forum 2023, powered by Bloomberg.“ A recent Bloomberg report states, finally tech has positively disrupted education in a big way. For the first time, we see how tech is enabling education. Global edtech market is growing 16.5% while Indian edtech sector is growing at 40%,” said Divya Gokulnath, co-founder and teacher at BYJU's, an India-based edtech company.Gokulnath was interacting at a session during the forum along with Byju Raveendran, CEO and founder, BYJU's, in conversation with Mallika Kapur, deputy global editor, Bloomberg Live Experiences who moderated the session on Wednesday, the second day of the forum that concluded on Thursday.The session highlighted that school leaders and educators have been in a state of constant adjustment over the past three years. In reaction to the Covid-19 pandemic, they developed new protocols and incorporated digital tools for remote learning.Raveendran highlighted that every form of communication has changed drastically over the years except the classrooms. “Everything has changed in the last two decades about how we consume content, how we consume entertainment. But our classrooms have not changed very much for over 100 years. We have not made it easy for students. So for the first time, we have an opportunity for making it easy for students,” he explained.“These are very early days in terms of what technology can do to enable learning both inside and outside classrooms. BYJU’s could be the largest education platform currently but there is a long way to go about what technology can do in the education sector. This is largely an underinvested sector and every country needs a platform like BYJU’s,” stressed Raveendran.According to Gokulnath, there are over 150mn students across the world who learn from BYJU’s platforms and services all the way from online to offline learning.“ Online learning is part of mainstream learning but it is not the only component. There are some components of learning which are best delivered online while several others offline. There is a steady growth in edtech platforms especially after the pandemic. It is what started happening during the pandemic and it is still growing. So edtech and online learning are transformative and they are to stay here for sometime,” said Gokulnath.According to Raveendran, technology allows to personalise learning the way the students want. He noted that movie like scenarios can get positive outcomes, and make learning engaging and effective to get the attention of the students.“Now students can decide the pace of learning, size of learning and style of learning and there is lot of scope for improvement. We started completely offline and then we pivoted to online and today we have our programmes in hybrid learning format. We have come to know that it is the students who needs to have a choice about how to learn and where to learn from and how much they want to learn,” added Raveendran.

Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili in conversation. PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam
Georgia PM says Russia sanctions would 'devastate' economy

Imposing sanctions on Russia over the Ukraine war will not only harm Georgia but also "devastate" its economy, Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili has said. He made the observation while addressing the Qatar Economic Forum, Powered by Bloomberg Wednesday, Garbashvili's government has refused to impose economic sanctions and direct flights from Russia to Georgia resumed last week. "Not only would we harm Georgia, but we would also devastate our economy and jeopardise the interests of our country and our people if we were to impose any form of economic sanctions on Russia," Garbashvili said. Interacting with Manus Cranny, Bloomberg Television anchor, the Georgian PM said Europe has not faced a challenge such as the Russia-Ukraine war since the Second World War. "Therefore, this war affects all of us. Let me remind you that Georgia experienced a war in 2008, and we know precisely what it entails. We are aware that approximately 20% of Ukrainian territory is currently occupied by Russia; this is the current status quo. What will happen tomorrow, I don't know, and I can't say. I believe nobody knows." He noted that there are no signs that the war would end soon and that is the problem. “We also do not witness enough efforts from the international community to take proper measures, encourage consultations and promote peace talks,” he noted. Garbashvili criticised the international community for not taking action, including sanctions, during the 2008 conflict between his country and Russia. “Let me go back to the war in 2008. Do you remember if anyone imposed sanctions on Russia because of our war? Where is the logic of ‘Our war is not a war’ but in Ukraine it is'? No one in the world had proper reactions, and I would say adequate reactions, to that war. Well, I have to say that we were quite disappointed that business as usual continued with Russia after the 2008 war," he said. ""The result of that war, a devastating war, is that 20% of our territory was taken over by Russia. Russia built two military bases on our historic lands." Garibashvili also highlighted the relationship between Georgia and the US, stressing that the latter is an important strategic partner. “We are very thankful for everything America has done for us, as well as Europe. Georgia has its sovereign rights to have its own national interests. And as I explained, we have economic trade relations with Russia, we have 1mn ethnic Georgians, our citizens, who live in Russia. To have flights with Russia is very normal. "It doesn’t mean that we are engaged in some kind of political consultation. As I said, this is part of economic trade relations... like the European Union does, like America does." Regarding China, he said: “With China, we have a very good relationship. We have a free trade agreement with China, and we do increase trade, economic ties with China. What China has been trying to do during this crisis is a really wise move because China has been trying to mediate between Ukraine and Russia. "I would welcome efforts from any country, from any leader, who would encourage peace talks, mediate, negotiate, and who would try to make some efforts to resolve the issue,” the Georgian prime minister added.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban at Qatar Economic Forum 2023 Tuesday. PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam.
Qatar, Hungary keen to expand areas of partnership: PM Orban

Qatar is a potential partner for Hungary and a country of key importance to Europe, the Hungarian Prime Minister, Viktor Orban, told the Qatar Economic Forum 2023, Powered by Bloomberg, Tuesday.Speaking to John Micklethwait, editor-in-chief, Bloomberg News, Orban said: “ Talks are going on between Qatar and Hungary for an agreement for LNG supply. We hope it will lead to more co-operation between both the countries. European economy has made up for a great part of its energy needs with LNG coming from Qatar as the Russian gas was missing due to the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine. In the last one year we have learned that Qatar is a country of great importance for Europe.”Orban explained that the agreement in natural gas will enhance the energy security of his country and lead to enhanced economic growth and co-operation between both countries. He commended the bilateral relations between Doha and Budapest over the past years, pointing out that Qatar helped Europe with the issue of exports and imports of gas and oil, as well as other arrangements related to information systems and security issues.He said that Qatar is interested in investing in the Hungarian market, expressing Hungary's respect for Qatar, as well as its openness to sign agreements between the two countries. ”Some of these agreements will enter into force in 2026 and discussions are ongoing between the two countries. We hope to become become a partner with Qatar based on a strategic view,” explained Orban.The Hungarian PM also stressed that a ceasefire between Russia and Ukraine followed by peace talks is the only way out to end the war between both the countries. “Our hearts are with the people of Ukraine and the only solution to save lives is a ceasefire followed by peace talks. Instead of escalation, we should argue in favour of peace and negotiations. My view is that looking at the reality, looking at the figures, looking at the surroundings and looking at the fact that Nato is not ready to send troops, it is obvious that there is no victory for poor Ukrainians on the battlefield,” said Orban.He also addressed the relations between his country and the European Union countries, as well as other countries, in the economic aspect, noting that Hungary is strong and can rely economically on its domestic resources. In this regard, he pointed out that 85% of Hungary's exports go to the European Union, and therefore Hungary must always consider its interests without compromising regional interests at the same time.

Paul Kagame at Qatar Economic Forum 2023 Tuesday. PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam.
Qatar one of the most important partners of Rwanda: Kagame

Qatar is one of the most important and strong strategic partners of Rwanda, President Paul Kagame stated at Qatar Economic Forum 2023 Tuesday.Kagame was interacting with Jennifer Zabasajja, correspondent, Bloomberg, on the opening day of the three-day event. powered by Bloomberg.“We have to invest and grow. No country can manage that alone and there is the need to have partnerships for countries like Rwanda. We need to build partnerships with market leaders. Qatar is one of the strongest strategic partners for Rwanda as well as for many other African countries,” said Kagame.The Rwandan President stressed the importance of the strategic partnership between his country and Qatar, especially since the GCC is achieving growth and is full of important opportunities, highlighting the need to invest to sustain economic growth.Kagame pointed to the partnership between his country and Qatar Airways in the aviation sector and said that negotiations have been completed in this regard. “We have moved to the stage of achieving what was agreed upon with Qatar. Rwanda continues to build partnerships with Qatar Airways, with work underway to build Kigali Airport, which will be 70% complete by the end of 2023,” he highlighted.“We have a vision of what we want to do and Qatar is a partner of choice in aviation. We seek partnership with marker leaders in infrastructure, manufacturing, innovation and startups," continued, the Rwandan president.“We don’t go out to the market or borrow for the sake of it. We want to invest in sectors that will have good returns and justify our investment and also contribute to the wellbeing and development of our people,” explained the president.Kagame observed that economic progress can help address human rights issues, adding that Rwanda is looking for strategic partnerships with market leaders, as it invests in biotechnology, and started manufacturing vaccines with BioNTech, as well as building partnerships based on innovation and supporting emerging companies in this field.He also referred to Rwanda's pursuit of growth, highlighting the country's investments in infrastructure and industrialisation. Kagame added that the country needs resources that will not be available until it returns to the market, which is driving the country's will to ensure its position as a reliable country that is able to pay its debts.“We need to be rethinking but also need to finding ways to doing better than we have done in the past. By making progress on the economic front, the basic thing is the needs of people and that is what we are looking at,” he added.

Haytham A Ali addressing the event. PICTURE: Thajudheen
QRDI Portal provides competitive advantage for Qatar

The Qatar Research, Development and Innovation (QRDI) Portal is the first of its kind in the region, and provides the country a competitive edge, an official said.“QRDI Portal is a very unique one and the first of its kind in the region that aims to support RDI actors in Qatar to connect and collaborate," said Haytham A Ali, senior information system manager, QRDI Council.Addressing the Qatar Spain Innovation Programme launch event recently, Ali explained that the QRDI Portal provides Qatar a competitive advantage as many countries in the region do not have a similar platform."It is a national platform that provides a quick and easy means to navigate the resources, capabilities and infrastructure present in Qatar’s innovation and research ecosystem.“We have over 2,840 projects in the portal. There are many entities in Qatar who are working on these projects. These entities have over 250 research facilities and these institutions provide over 266 services. They have produced over 11,800 outputs in the form of publications, patents, books among others,” explained, Ali.According to the official, the QRDI Portal offers a unique opportunity for researchers and innovators to browse thousands of assets and leverage shared resources. Leading institutions in Qatar can reach a wider audience, by showcasing their world-class infrastructure and collaborating with emerging talent, government, private businesses and more.Ali said that the geographic size of the country also is a great enabler of the research and innovation in the country. “Since the country is very small, people can reach the institutions at any location quite fast. Moreover, with the state of the art transportation services and infrastructure, it is easy to navigate through any part of the country very fast. All these help the research ecosystem in the country,” he pointed out.QRDI Portal marks an important step in the creation of an open platform that pools resources and sparks synergies. It directly fulfills the vision outlined by the Qatar Second National Development Strategy to create a “shared research database and develop coordination mechanisms to optimise synergies and the use of resources across Qatar’s research entities.” In alignment with this vision, QRDI Council placed ‘RDI Information Systems’ as one of seven RDI transformation elements in its national RDI strategy, QRDI 2030, and embarked on a mission to launch QRDI Portal.The official also noted that QRDI Portal acts as an online network through which anyone can find partners, resources and tools to innovate. Scientists can pioneer groundbreaking studies, engineers can pilot and test technologies, and designers can cut, carve and model their latest fabrications. The extensive and growing catalogue of equipment, facilities and services available on QRDI Portal lends itself to countless applications.The QRDI Council was established in 2018 to drive RDI efforts on a national level in line with the Qatar National Vision 2030 and the Second National Development Strategy (2018-2022). The QRDI Council has developed a ten-year strategy, QRDI 2030, which seeks to create a locally empowered, globally connected RDI ecosystem, mobilising leadership across government, academia and industry, to transform the social and economic future of Qatar.

Spanish Ambassador Javier Carbajosa Sanchez. PICTURE: Thajudheen
Qatar-Spain strategic dialogue to take place this year: ambassador

Spain and Qatar will hold a strategic dialogue sometime towards the end of this year, the Spanish ambassador has said. “Spain and Qatar will hold a strategic dialogue, which is an outcome of the strategic partnership between the two countries. We are working to fix a date for the strategic dialogue and hopefully it will take place sometime before the end of this year. That will be a comprehensive dialogue on various topics, such as politics, economics and social matters,” Spanish envoy Javier Carbajosa Sanchez told Gulf Times.Ambassador Sanchez was speaking to Gulf Times on the sidelines of the launch of the Qatar Spain Innovation Programme between Qatar Research, Development and Innovation (QRDI) Council and the Spanish Centre for the Development of Technology and Innovation, a joint venture between Qatar and Spain for research, development and innovation."We have excellent relations between Qatar and Spain over the past 50 years. We have decided to elevate the rank of our relations to strategic partnership with the visit of the His Highness the Amir last year. The strategic relationship means that we are going to deepen and broaden our collaboration in all fields, especially in the field of innovation and technology,” explained the Spanish envoy.He continued, “The launch of the Qatar-Spain Innovation Programme aims to fund a number of projects both from Qatar and Spain to address a certain number of common issues, such as health, agriculture, public services, energy, etc. It is a joint endeavour and this is the first time that QRDI is doing something with a foreign partner and we feel extremely responsible about it.”The envoy said the Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Qatar is very active. “We have 67 Spanish firms working here in Qatar, covering almost every economic sector. We had been very active during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, being involved in the construction of the stadiums, the Doha Metro, among others,” he pointed out.The envoy stressed that Spain is reliable partner of Qatar. “Spain has great expertise in some areas. That can be useful for Qatar in several fields such as agriculture, tourism and environment. We can complement Qatar with several skills, which Qatar already has. We believe that we can be natural partners in some areas of mutual interest,” the ambassador added.

Gulf Times
Study raises various concerns about ChatGPT and need for more regulations

A recent study published on suggests that ChatGPT gets hallucinated and suffers from the artificial intelligence dissociative identity is the innovative and collaborative, peer-reviewed, online publishing platform from Hamad bin Khalifa University Press.The study argues that AI-based systems such as ChatGPT develop multiple identities or personas due to their exposure to different types of data and training. It explores the potential implications and challenges of such a disorder, including ethical concerns, and the need for new regulations and policies in the field of AI.The researcher, Chokri Kooli from the University of Ottawa, Canada, conducted an online exam and was curious to explore whether his students made recourse to ChatGPT to answer the exam questions.As the exam was offered in French, he asked ChatGPT to translate the exam question first to English before answering it. ChatGPT successfully translated and answered the question. Then he inquired if someone else asked chatbot the same question on the day of the exam. The answer of ChatGPT was negative. Then he asked it the same question but including the French version of the exam. By surprise, the provided answer was positive.He further inquired about the number of users that asked the same question on the day of the exam. The system negatively answered the request under the pretext of the impossibility of access to users’ data. So, he changed the format of the question by inquiring if the number of users that asked the same question was greater than 10. By surprise the answer of ChatGPT was positive. Then he understood that the chatbot has access to the answers of users and can generate valuable data about its use.According to the researcher, the phenomenon of contradictious answers and behaviour observed in ChatGPT is similar to dissociative identity disorder in humans, characterised by the presence of multiple distinct states of consciousness or identities. He suggests that if not treated by AI developers, the use of chatbots in critical areas could generate the loss of control on machines and the leaking of critical information.“To keep control over chatbots that use deep learning algorithms, it is important to regularly monitor the chatbot's output and make sure that it aligns with the desired outcomes. Moreover, we need to be certain that chatbots are not exhibiting unexpected or harmful behaviour. This will allow us to identify and correct any errors or biases before they become a problem, visible or uncontrollable,” Kooli suggested.He also noted that developers need to set clear boundaries and constraints on the chatbot's behaviour and decision-making. This will ensure that the chatbot operates within a predefined scope and avoids making decisions that are beyond its capabilities.It is also noted that the mixing of deep learning and machine learning in a chatbot can lead to several ethical challenges. “One of the key ethical challenges is related to privacy. Chatbots that use deep learning and machine learning often rely on collecting large amounts of data from users to improve performance. However, collecting and storing this data can raise privacy concerns, especially if the data is sensitive in nature,” he pointed out.There is a serious ethical challenge related to accountability too. If a chatbot that uses deep learning and machine learning makes a mistake and reveals sensitive data or behaves in an unethical way, it can be difficult to assign responsibility. It is important to ensure that there are mechanisms in place to hold the developers and operators accountable for the chatbot behaviour.The study's limitations however included using only one chatbot – ChatGPT, so the findings are not generalisable to all AI-based chatbots.

Gulf Times
Sheikha Moza attends QF convocation 2023

A total of 874 Education City graduates –from Qatar Foundation’s (QF) Hamad Bin Khalifa University as well as QF partner universities- celebrated the culmination of years of dedication to knowledge, discovery, and learning in the presence of QF Chairperson Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser at the 2023 convocation ceremony Wednesday.The event at the Qatar National Convention Centre was also attended by QF Vice Chairperson and CEO HE Sheikha Hind bint Hamad al-Thani, several ministers, diplomats, universities presidents, deans, faculty and the families of graduates.The convocation ceremony celebrated students of 77 nationalities – including 313 Qataris – who graduated this year as they walked through the Door to the Future, a traditional convocation moment symbolising the start of the next stage in their journey.HH Sheikha Moza honoured 16 graduates from across Education City who won Al Ihsan awards, recognising their efforts in achieving academic excellence and demonstrating the leadership, innovation, and creativity that allows them to contribute to the world and empower others. HE Sheikha Hind presented each graduate of the Class of 2023 with a special Education City-inspired, Qatar-designed piece of jewellry as a convocation gift.HE the Minister of Education and Higher Education Buthaina bint Ali al-Jabr al-Nuaimi, who attended the convocation ceremony, said: “I congratulate the latest graduates of Qatar Foundation’s ecosystem of education at this very special time in their lives, as they prepare to enter the next stage of their journey.“For so many of these graduates, the next step on their path will see them make valuable contributions to the development of Qatar as they bring their talent into our nation’s workforce. Wherever their life will now take them, I wish every single one of them every success for the future.”The keynote speech at the ceremony was given by Prof Taha Abdurrahman, a visiting professor at several Moroccan universities and president of the Wisdom Forum for Thinkers and Researchers, who described to the Class of 2023 some of the ethics they should demonstrate in making the transition from education to their careers.“The biggest challenge that faces these graduates does not lie exclusively in the transition from studying and training to work, but in the ascension to creativity at work – which happens thanks to what I call ‘entrustment ethics’,” he said.“These ethics are distinguished by two types of moral values. The first type is horizontal values that are limited by the material prospects of the outside world; and the second type is vertical values that go beyond these material prospects.“And since it is inevitable that a graduate who is seeking work will go through the hiring process, there will be, according to entrustment ethics, three horizontal values of this process – choice, responsibility, and utility – and three vertical values, which are goodness, trustworthiness, and wisdom.“This means it is imperative for the graduate to strive to connect these horizontal and vertical values, to be able to ascend to creativity in their work.”The ceremony also featured a performance by the spoken-word poet, Amjad AlNoor, who advocates for preserving the Arabic language through fun, rap-style poetry. The performance involved dialogue between two versions of Amjad and himself, on screen and on stage, where he interpreted QF students’ journey, values, and passion for giving back to their community.Abrar Zuhair al-Taweel, a graduate from the Audiovisual Translation Programme in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences , HBKU spoke about her happiness to be graduating and her dream to pursue a PhD in accessibility.“Since the moment I stepped into Education City, I realised how different the education is. The teaching methods were research and experience-oriented, rather than just being an academic programme where you take notes from lectures. It was very hands on, project-based experience that prepared us to actually join the field, through taking part in accessibility audits, movies translation and subtitling, which all prepared us better for the actual work environment,” she said.“Also, my studies at HBKU and participating in the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022’s opening and closing ceremonies as a commentator for the visually impaired audience made me more aware of our social responsibility towards everyone around us. Now I’m planning to pursue a PhD to continue to build on my study in serving the community.”The Class of 2023 joins a network of more than 8,000 QF alumni who have learned and grown within QF’s unique ecosystem, which has provided them with world-class education in fields ranging from medicine, engineering, art and design, communication, and international affairs, to Islamic studies, law and public policy, computing, humanities and social sciences, and business.

Khalifa Bshesh
WCM-Q graduates highlight their learning journey

Three Weill Cornell Medicine in Qatar (WCM-Q) graduates from the Class of 2023 have highlighted their journey with the university as most fruitful, taking them to certain unique achievements and pinnacles of learning.Muna Almasri said that WCM-Q has provided her the privilege of engaging in clinical and volunteer experiences throughout the world. “My experiences have been vast but as a pre-medical student volunteering in Tanzania, a clerkship in Qatar, and a sub-intern in New York, I have learned an incredible amount about medicine and humanity in the many different pockets of the world.”________________________Read alsoWCM-Q celebrates graduation of Class of 2023________________________She feels that the Match Day was the most important milestone of her medical journey being able to pursue residency training in a dream, as she is excited to be moving to Ann Arbor to join the Adult Neurology residency programme at the University of Michigan.“Though medicine is known to be intensive and demanding, the beauty of WCM-Q is its ability to cultivate a community of diverse, supportive, and like-minded people who push each other toward success.”Almasri has been awarded academic distinction, honours in research; excellence in the Health, Illness and Disease II Course among many other feats. Zainab al-Ansari who has got academic distinction and excellence in psychiatry is looking forward to completing her residency training in psychiatry in New York and come back to Qatar, to help advance the landscape of mental health services in the country.“The last six years have shown me the value of hard work and consistency - the key was not to be an expert in every subject or skill immediately, but to keep trying. I hope to carry this mindset as I move forward in my career. WCM-Q continuously reminds us that we never stop being students, and should always be eager to learn and grow,” said al-Ansari.Khalifa Bshesh, who has academic distinction and honours in research, was of the view that WCM-Q provided him with an outstanding education that prepared him well for a career in medicine. “The rigourous coursework, hands-on clinical experience, and supportive faculty and staff have all contributed to my growth and development as a medical professional. The mentorship I got from Alumni and faculty inspired me to pursue this path that I'm choosing. Most importantly, the supportive environment and culture that the WCM-Q community has cultivated played a great role in enabling my success,” the graduate explained.Bshesh will be starting his residency training in Internal Medicine at Johns Hopkins starting this June for the next three years. “I hope to pursue a fellowship in Cardiology after the completion of my residency training and continue to grow my expertise. I aspire to continue learning and growing my medical knowdlege everday of my career. I would like to become a cardiologist who balances his time between clinical duties, medical education, and research that advances the field,” he added.