Thursday, February 02, 2023 | Daily Newspaper published by GPPC Doha, Qatar.
 Joseph Varghese
Joseph Varghese
A journalist with a penchant for reporting events, Joseph Varghese digs deep to unearth facts. With several years of experience, including at Gulf Times, Joseph handles health, science and technology, IT and education in addition to everyday developments.
The 3-2-1 Qatar Olympic and Sports Museum curator Andrew Pearce, explaining about Diego Maradona's famous jersey (right) from 1986 World Cup quarter final match. PICTURE: Thajudheen.
3-2-1 Museum expected to reach 500,000 visitors by year end

The 3-2-1 Qatar Olympic and Sports Museum has already reached the milestone of 100,000 visitors by Sunday and expects to have 500,000 visitors by the end of this year. “As of today we have reached 100,000 visitors since His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamd al-Thani opened it on March 30, 2022 ,” museum director Abdulla al-Mulla told a press conference held to announce the details of ‘World of Football’ exhibition. “Any Sports museum is an extra special spot and considering all the fans that are coming from around the world to attend the World Cup 2022, we expect the number of visitors to reach 500,000 by the year end,” noted, Aalia Khalid al-Khater, acting head of exhibitions at the museum. Al-Khater continued: “This is our first exhibition in the museum and it is quite satisfying that we hold an exhibition within such a short span of time since our opening. It is a fitting time to host such an exhibition as we are hosting the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 from next month. We have had the amazing opportunity to partner and work with many international museums and make this exhibition happen. The last part of the exhibition highlights this year’s World Cup and therefore we have many more materials to be added to the exhibition from this year’s World Cup." “Over 200 items are displayed at the exhibition. Some of the permanent collections of the museum is on display. The balls from each match from the quarter finals of 2022 will also be added to the exhibition,” she added. According to Andrew Pearce, the curator of the exhibition, it tells a story that even started before the first World Cup in 1930. “It tells about 1860s when the first laws of football were written. We are very privileged to have one of the those manuscripts. Our story starts there and it travels through all the World Cups until 2018 and then we followed the road to Doha. We speak about Qatar’s football history, all the World Cup stadiums in the country and we take the journey to the future and how Qatar is using football for social change,” said Pearce. Taking inspiration from the structure of a typical football match, the exhibition is presented in two halves. The first – Football for All, All for Football – examines the universal and global appeal of football. The second – The Road to Doha – takes the visitor from the first FIFA Men’s World Cup matches in Uruguay in 1930 to the final in this year’s tournament at the Lusail Stadium on December 18, 2022. The “extra time” section, History in the Making, will expand throughout the duration of the World Cup, as items from the tournament such as footballs, shoes, scarves, tickets, posters, official merchandise, and other objects, are added to commemorate events that make history in Qatar.

Officials announcing details of the 9th edition of the GCC Sports Tournament for Universities and Higher Education Institutes. PICTURE: Thajudheen.
HBKU to host 9th sports tournament for GCC universities in February

Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU) will host the 9th edition of the GCC Sports Tournament for Universities and Higher Education Institutes from February 4-10, 2023. “We expect about 1,000 students from over 20 national institutes in the GCC to take part in the tournament,” Noor al-Jassim, development director and tournament committee vice president, told a press conference yesterday. Qatar is organising the event for the second time as Qatar University hosted it several years ago, she pointed out. Dr Maryam bint Hamad al-Mannai, vice president of Student Affairs at HBKU; Mohammed bin Hamad Altuwaijry, head of higher education at the Secretariat General of the GCC and Faisal al-Mohannadi, senior student engagement supervisor and manager of the tournament, were also present. Al-Jassim explained: “The tournament will bring together students to compete in six sports events: football on grass courts, volleyball, table tennis, padel, athletics, and swimming. Most of the games will be conducted at the facilities at Aspire Zone and Education City. Students will also have practice games at Education City.” HBKU was selected to host the tournament by the Committee of Deans of Student Affairs for Universities in the Arab Gulf during its 32nd meeting, held in Oman in February 2022, under the umbrella of the Secretariat General of the Gulf Co-operation Council, and with 37 GCC universities and educational institutes attending. Dr al-Mannai said: “The 9th Sports Tournament for GCC Universities and Higher Education Institutes constitutes the second most prominent sporting event for GCC countries. The facilities will be fully devoted to organising this tournament at the highest level that befits the distinguished international sporting reputation enjoyed by Qatar.” The tournament’s supervisory committee conducted a preparatory meeting at HBKU Wednesday and discussed plans and latest preparations. The official logo of the tournament was launched on the occasion. Dr al-Mannai explained that the logo was chosen following a contest open to students from across Education City. The logo aligns with that of the Secretariat General of the GCC Countries and refers to the strong co-operation ties between the countries. The logo includes the map of the GCC region, the number of the coming edition, and a running track. Al-Mohannadi, noted: “ This sports tournament has always been of paramount importance because of its positive and tangible impact that directly reflects the depth of the relationship between the people of the GCC. From this standpoint, HBKU will ensure that the next edition will constitute a milestone in the history of student sports in GCC countries.” “We conducted multiple meetings during which we discussed the plan of the tournament, approved its logo, the time of holding it, and the proposed games. The committee has also agreed to raise the age ceiling for participants as HBKU is a university that offers higher studies programmes,” added, Altuwaijry.

Heba Ali al-Tamimi, Ali Rashid al-Mohannadi and Khabane u2018Khabyu2019 Lame at the official signing ceremony yesterday. PICTURE: Thajudheen
QNB picks ‘Khaby’ Lame as FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 brand ambassador

QNB announced at a special ceremony yesterday that Internet sensation, Khabane ‘Khaby’ Lame, the world’s most followed person on TikTok with over 150mn followers, will be the bank’s Official FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Brand Ambassador. As part of the partnership, QNB also screened Lame’s first-ever television commercial (TVC) with QNB Group at the official signing ceremony. The TVC explores the theme of ‘dreaming big’ – underpinning the ethos of QNB Group’s role in this year’s FIFA World Cup tournament. Ali Rashid al-Mohannadi, QNB group executive general manager and group chief operating officer and Heba Ali al-Tamimi, QNB Group general manager, Group Communications were present on the occasion.   The event at the Novo Cinema of The Mall of Qatar was attended by a number of special invitees. The partnership will build on QNB Group’s role as the Official Middle East and Africa Supporter and Official Qatari Bank of the tournament. Al-Tamimi said: “Choosing Khaby Lame as QNB’s ambassador during the tournament, reflects the boundless ambition of Qatar by hosting the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022. By following his dreams, Lame, much like Qatar, has achieved his goals. We are celebrating together a world where everything is possible. As Qatar prepares to welcome millions of football fans this winter, we can certainly be proud of what we have achieved, both as a bank and as a country.” “I am happy to be QNB’s ambassador during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022. I believe that I am very similar to QNB, I set my dreams and achieve the impossible. I look forward to explore the tournament through QNB’s lens and to make unforgettable memories,” Lame noted. QNB Group is the Official Middle East and Africa Supporter of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022. As part of its role, QNB will be granted various assets and rights across the region, as well as branding exposure in the Host Cities. The group has an extensive network of ATMs and locations, and will be the sole provider of on-site ATMs at all eight FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 stadiums.

US ambassador, Timmy T Davis, speaking to the media in Doha Monday. PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam.
About 100,000 American fans expected for Qatar World Cup

About 100,000 American football fans are expected to visit Qatar during the FIFA World Cup 2022, revealed the new US ambassador Timmy T Davis Monday and highlighted that Qatar–US relationship is growing from strength to strength. “Our estimates are approaching about some 100,000 American fans or either side of the figure who are expected to visit Qatar during the World Cup. Before they come, we will provide them all the necessary information and all the assistance needed while they are here,” he said in reply to a question from 'Gulf Times' at a media round table at his residence. “We are excited about Qatar hosting the World Cup. The US is part of the next edition of the World Cup and our hope is to learn from Qatar the entire lessons of a successful World Cup. I am convinced that Qatar will host a World Cup that will be a model for major international sports events. I am reassuring all Americans that coming to Qatar will be a once-in-a-life time experience,” said the ambassador. The US envoy said that the relationship with Qatar has been growing well in the recent years. "Fifty years of diplomatic ties with Qatar is very significant. Fifty years is 20% of our existence as a nation. As we celebrate 50 years of diplomatic relations, it means for a good part of our existence, Qatar has been a good friend of the US.” “The country's role as a leader in the region is emphasised through our designation of Qatar as a Major Non-Nato Alley. We see this relationship as one that has room for growth. Qatar has been a partner with us in many of the major issues we face in the region and most importantly in the recent relocation of people in need in Afghanistan. Qatar was the leader in the initiative to ensure that those who were relocated had a place to go and those people in need-children, women among others- were given shelter here in Qatar,” the envoy explained. Ambassador Davis observed that the US relation with Qatar is based on a number of pillars. “One is education as is reflected in the number of US universities in the Education City and our desire to have more number of Qatari students come to the US. In commerce, the number of American companies doing business in Qatar and with Qatari companies is vast and growing and it is not just in energy sector. We are working to help realise Qatar’s goal of becoming a knowledge based economy. One thing that we hope is that the US-Qatar relationship is a model for the rest of the region and the world,” he highlighted. The envoy also noted that the US holds strategic dialogue with Qatar and it ranges from security to humanitarian assistance to labour and human rights among others. “We do it every year with the government of Qatar to make sure that we are speaking to each other clearly and plainly and finding places where we can cooperate for the betterment of our relationship and the betterment of the globe,” he said. Ambassador Davis also noted that it is important for the US that Qataris, particularly Qatari students travel to the US. “We understand that due to the pandemic and difficulties in consular works in the last couple of years, some of the wait time to get visa to the US is extended. We are aware of it and are working on it very hard,” the envoy told the media. The US envoy pointed that Qatar is also one of the best security partners of the US in the world. “Our airbase is here and it has hosted thousands of US personnel. It acts as a clear signal of our friendship and shared goals of stability regionally and globally,” he added.

HE Hassan al-Thawadi taking part in the summit.
Legacy, a key element of FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022

  * SC signs MoU with Concordia to raise awareness of Qatar 2022 legacy projects Legacy has been a key element that Qatar has been focusing on, right from the beginning of the preparations of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, noted a top official of Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC) at an international event in New York. “From day one, legacy was at the forefront of our plans. Right from the bidding stage, every single project, every single penny spent in terms of infrastructure and other things was designed with legacy in mind,” said HE Hassan al-Thawadi, Secretary-General, SC. Al-Thawadi was interacting with Reshmin Chowdhury, a sports journalist, at the Concordia Annual Summit in New York on Monday on the topic ‘FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022: Legacy Initiatives Beyond the Tournament’. As for a question about labour conditions and reforms in the country, al-Thawadi said that hosting the tournament has a transformational power. “It has a lot of impact in accelerating the infrastructure in the country as well as social reforms. The commitment towards labour reforms is embodied in Qatar National Vision 2030. We recognised that the World Cup would provide the momentum or become a vehicle to provide the reforms. We welcomed all the criticism and worked on them. The work that has been done is a benchmark in the region and it showcases that there is a commitment beyond the tournament. These reforms are done in a way that they are sustainable and last beyond 2022.” The official noted that Qatar has already delivered a legacy in labour reforms by setting a global benchmark. “An action that has become a global benchmark is about recruitment fees. We have made all the recruitment firms to reimburse the fees charged from the workers as recruitment fee. The companies volunteered to pay the recruitment fees which is around $28mn and out which $23mn has already been paid,” he highlighted. Al-Thawadi pointed out that legacy on labour reforms has already been delivered and this is something that has been delivered before the tournament and will last beyond the tournament. He said that the World Cup brings people together and celebrates humanity. “Great sporting events in history showcased the best in humanity. These are common opportunities and common celebrations. This is the biggest event in the post-Covid world that people will be able to celebrate together and that is reflected in record number of tickets that have been issued already. We are a hospitable and welcoming region. People might be from different backgrounds but once you reach our region you feel at home, no matter where you are from,” he highlighted. “Everybody is welcome to Qatar. All communities are welcome and we respect all of them and we also request all to respect our culture and values. It is an experience to explore difference and more importantly to celebrate the coming together of humanity. We are ready to welcome the world and we are excited to experience the first World Cup in the Arab World, which will truly be a global event. We are about to make history,” al-Thawadi added. Al-Thawadi highlighted the work of Generation Amazing, which is on track to reach 1mn beneficiaries. “Since its launch, our human and social legacy programme, Generation Amazing, has been successful in using football as a tool to teach youth and other targeted communities important life skills, like teamwork, leadership and inclusion,” he said. The SC’s commitment to drive workers’ welfare reforms and implement behavioural science projects to improve the impact of its programmes was also discussed by al-Thawadi. The SC also participated in other panel sessions during the event. Mahmoud Qutub, executive director of Workers’ Welfare & Labour Rights, took part in ‘The Social and Human Legacy of the World Cup’, while Dr Fadi Makki, director, B4 Development, took part in the ‘Using Behavioural Insights at the World Cup’ session. Generation Amazing discussed the role of women in shaping its programme and took part in the ‘Sports for Development Future’ panel. Generation Amazing also participated in a roundtable discussion co-organised by Laureus Sports for Good titled ‘Sports for Development and Leveraging Sports Mega Events’. Meanwhile, the SC and Concordia signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to share expertise and raise awareness of FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 legacy projects. Among the legacy programmes that will benefit from the collaboration are Generation Amazing, the B4 Development Foundation and Workers’ Welfare, according to a press statement by the SC. Al-Thawadi said, “We are very pleased to formalise our strong working relationship with Concordia. Over the years, the summit has been an invaluable platform to share the story of Qatar’s FIFA World Cup, which will be a game-changer for our country and region. Over the past decade, our legacy programmes have been busy making a positive impact in Qatar and across the globe. We look forward to working with Concordia as we strive to achieve our legacy goals.” Matthew Swift, co-founder and CEO, Concordia, added: “We are delighted to formalise our partnership with the SC and support Qatar in its efforts to deliver meaningful impact through its various legacy programmes. With only weeks to go until the big kick-off, we are confident this edition of the FIFA World Cup will have a hugely positive impact on Qatar, the Middle East region and globally.”  

HE Hassan al-Thawadi
Qatar to host major sporting events after FIFA World Cup

After the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, the country will be hosting several major events and plans to bid again for the Olympics, the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC) Secretary-General HE Hassan al-Thawadi (pictured) said yesterday. He was speaking at Concordia Annual Summit in New York on the topic ‘FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022: Legacy Initiatives Beyond the Tournament,’ in an interaction with sports journalist Reshmin Chowdhury. “After 2022, we will be hosting several major sporting events. We will be hosting the 2030 Asian Games and we have expressed interest in hosting the Asian Football Cup 2023. And potentially we are going to be bidding again for the Olympics. Qatar is about to make history by hosting and making the upcoming World Cup a truly global event,” said al-Thawadi. The SC official said that Qatar has already delivered a legacy in labour reforms by setting a global benchmark. “An action that has become a global benchmark is the recruitment fees. We have made all the recruitment firms to reimburse the fees charged from the workers for recruitment. The companies volunteered to pay the recruitment fees  back, which is around $28mn, and out which $23mn has already been paid,” he highlighted. Al-Thawadi also said that after the World Cup, most stadiums will be resized from 40,000 to 20,000 seats. “The biggest one, the Lusail Stadium, will not just remain as a stadium. The inside will be overhauled for another purpose to be announced later. Another stadium, made of containers, will be completed disassembled and will be a great contribution to sustainability and legacy of the tournament as well,” he added.

Eligible groups can self-refer for breast, bowel cancer screening

Qatar residents eligible for breast and bowel cancer screening can self-refer for the same by contacting the dedicated call centre (8001112) of the screening programme, noted an official of the Primary Health Care Corporation (PHCC). “Women aged between 45 to 69 can opt for breast cancer screening while men and women aged between 50 and 74 years are eligible for bowel cancer screening. The procedure, done by the Screen for Life programme of the PHCC, is free of cost," said Hayat Yassine, a subject matter expert at PHCC. Yassine was speaking at a workshop, organised recently by the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) to raise awareness about cancer and how to protect people from the disease. “There are three methods to go for the screening. Those belonging to the eligible groups, can contact the call centre number, 8001112, and request for an appointment. Similarly, call centre agents would contact the target audience offering screening for the disease. The third option is by reference from a physician. If any doctor is suspicious of any symptoms, he or she can refer the patient for screening,” explained Yassine. The official said that an early detection of the disease can lead to proper and effective treatment and cure the cases completely. According to her, breast and bowel cancers are two of the most common types of the disease but Qatar has put adequate infrastructure in place to help fight the disease. “If detected early, breast cancer can be cured 100% while bowel cancer survival rate is around 90%. Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer among women in Qatar while bowel cancer is the leading one among male. Breast cancer screening is to be done once in every three years and screening for bowel cancer is to be taken in every two years,” she said. Yassine highlighted that Qatar uses the latest and most advanced methods for the screening and treatment of cancer. She noted that at least two radiologists are mandated to read and interpret the results of each test to ensure its accuracy. The MoPH event, meant for journalists in the country was part of a series of workshops to educate the public about cancer and how to protect oneself from the disease. The ministry has conducted similar workshops for various groups and plans to organise more of them in the near future. “The workshop is an effort to provide the details about the clinical services available to the patients with the latest and most advanced technologies. It also wants to raise awareness about the disease, the importance of getting screened and get protected against the disease,” added Yassine.    

Dr Kholoud al-Muttawaa, left, and Amid Abu Hmaidan
Qatar Cancer Plan launch in January 2023

Qatar Cancer Plan (2023-2030), a new initiative that will hopefully enhance the cancer services in the country in a big way, will be launched in January 2023, a top official of the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) revealed on Monday. “Qatar Cancer Plan will go up to 2030 in two phases. The first is from 2023 to 2026 and then until 2030,” explained, Amid Abu Hmaidan, acting director of the National Cancer Programme at MoPH. He was speaking to the media on the sidelines of a workshop organised by MoPH and Qatar Cancer Society to raise awareness about cancer and various myths and misconceptions associated with the disease. “The plan has six chapters that cover all the pathway for patients. We believe that the new initiative will hopefully enhance the cancer services in the country in a big way. It is already approved by the Minister of Public Health and there will be extensive campaigns when we launch it,” he said. Dr Kholoud al-Muttawaa, head of Non-Communicable Disease Department at MoPH and senior consultant, Community Medicine, said that there will be a series of workshops to educate and raise awareness about cancer among various segments of the community. “This workshop is part of a series for raising awareness about cancer as well as the misconceptions about it. This will also throw light on some of the stigmas prevalent in the communities about cancer,” she said. “We have already conducted some workshops for social workers, healthcare professionals and others. This will continue and we will meet up with other groups and educate them about the disease. This type of workshops will help people get the right channel in seeking medical assistance. We had three workshops already and we aim to have many more,” continued, Dr al-Muttawaa. According to Hmaidan, the increase in the number of cancer cases is not a reflection of the disease in the country. “There are two facts for it. The population is increasing and naturally the number might go up. Again another major factor is the improvements in detecting cancer cases. There were some cancer cases that could not be detected earlier. But now, we are able to detect every cancer case and therefore we have more numbers,” he noted. The official also pointed out that the workshops focus on four aspects about the disease. “We primarily want to set right some of the misconceptions about the disease. We also want to raise awareness about early symptoms of the disease so that patients can seek immediate medical support which will lead to early detection of the disease,” he pointed out. “Other aspect is that we want to establish trust between the patients and healthcare facilities so that they will have no apprehension in approaching the medical centres and seeking assistance and medical care. Lastly, we want to ensure quality of life for the recovered patients. This will help them face any challenges with all the confidence and optimism,” added Hmaidan.    

A view of Wellkins Medical Centre.
Wellkins Medical Centre goes paperless, provides global access to patient records

With a focus on wellness, paperless processing of all records and patients’ access to medical records from anywhere in the world are two key features of the newly opened medical centre, Wellkins Medical Centre, said the chairman of the facility. “We have made sure that all the records, right from registration to doctor prescriptions and other details, are kept in a paperless manner. We have made it a point that the process is fully digitised and our guests can even complete the process of registration from the comfort of their homes,” said Dr Sameer Moopan, chairman and managing director, Wellkins Medical Centre.   Dr Sameer Moopan The facility, which became operational recently, is located on Salwa Road opposite Westin Doha Hotel & Spa. Dr Moopan, with over 20 years of expertise in Qatar alone, has been instrumental in conceiving and developing a chain of clinics, pharmacies and a hospital across the country. Speaking to Gulf Times, Dr Moopan explained: “We are committed to our environmental responsibility and therefore have decided against the use of paper and the facility will be completely paperless in all the processes. We have also made available the option for our patients to access their medical records from anywhere in the world. This is made possible through a software developed in-house.” Wellkins Medical Centre, part of DSM Healthcare and Management Services, currently offers eight departments with two more departments to be added soon in Phase 2 and several more specialties in Phase 3. “We have developed the second floor of the facility with about 600sq m. Currently, there are eight departments – internal medicine, paediatrics, obstetrics and gynaecology, ENT, laboratory, radiology, dental and a general practitioner. We also have a pharmacy available at the facility. We have nine doctors and other paramedical staff,” said Dr Moopan. “Phase 2 is almost ready for inspection by the Ministry of Public Health and we expect it to happen soon. We will add orthopaedics and physiotherapy in Phase 2 in addition to a cosmetology and dermatology department. Phase 3 will be the expansion of ground and mezzanine floors of the building. We will also add cardiology, urology and neurology departments,” he continued. Dr Moopan pointed out that the facility, once fully functional, will have a larger reception area on the ground floor with a customised elevator going to all the floors of the facility in addition to four other elevators. “Once Phase 3 is completed, there will be a larger pharmacy that will be available 24/7. We also hope to make the clinic 24/7, pending approval from the ministry,” he said. According to the chairman of the group, the name of the clinic was finalised after several months of discussion. “With several rounds of long discussions, we came up with this name. We are focusing on wellness and kin refers to people who are always with you. So we coined the name from these two terms. Then, we have the tagline ‘Empowering Wellness’ to emphasise the whole idea. Wellness is at the core of what we believe in and promotes through our programmes and services,” he added.

Dr Walid Albanna
Stars of Science winner motivates contestants on return as judge

Since winning the top prize on Stars of Science (SoS) in 2018 with his life-saving portable device that provides early warning of the possibility of a stroke, Dr Walid Albanna, the young neurosurgeon and renowned researcher from Palestine, has made it his mission to encourage aspiring scientists to follow their curiosity. He has continued to be closely involved with SoS, an edutainment TV show by Qatar Foundation, returning as co-host in 2019 before joining the highly regarded jury in Season 13 last year, drawing on his first-hand experience of winning the show to guide and motivate competitors. He has garnered a devoted international following by posting videos on his YouTube channel covering several topics such as study tips, treating patients for loss of smell and taste after Covid-19 infection among others. As Season 14 of the competition introduces a fresh wave of aspiring science and technology entrepreneurs vying to gain recognition for their inventions, Dr Albanna reflects on his own journey from a contestant to judge and the dawn of a new era of innovation in the Arab world. “It has been a really good experience to go through various roles with SoS. I would probably have seen the role of a juror as extremely difficult if I hadn't been an SoS candidate beforehand. At the start of Season 13, I found the concept of having two juries quite a challenge. It was also incredible how many ideas we evaluated, and the diversity of the topics we dealt with. Overall, I loved being a judge. I still need experience, but that will undoubtedly come with time,” he said. Dr Albanna says that the good thing about SoS is that it reinvents itself every year. “I was very impressed by the number of female participants in Season 13 – and I hope that number doubles. May be SoS 14 will have a female winner,” he noted. He explained: “SoS not only turns ideas into reality; it also reinforces your personality. It’s not just about winning a prize, but about the unique experience of undergoing an intensive learning curve in a very short period of time. You have to be patient and you have to learn how to work in a team. Success never comes from just one person.” According to Dr Albanna, one of the main issues has been a lack of essential structure or organisation to nurture young talent. “Qatar Foundation recognised this problem early on and has been working for many years to help remedy it. I think younger generations are now more focused on scientific careers, and I expect to see many more young innovators emerge from this part of the world,” he remarked. “I used to be locked in a niche, only focused on neurosurgery and science. As a result of my ongoing involvement with SoS, I have expanded my contacts with people from areas outside of medicine. SoS has developed me further. The world of innovation is simply brilliant,” he added.

Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser addresses the gathering in Paris Friday. Picture from QNA Twitter.
Sheikha Moza urges more action to protect education

Urging the international community to do more for protecting education, Education Above All (EAA) Foundation chairperson Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser Friday stated that “The time to act is now.” She was addressing an audience consisting of international education leaders in Paris, marking the ‘International Day to Protect Education from Attack’ observed on September 9. Sheikha Moza, also a Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) advocate, announced a data portal named TRACE, (Track Attacks on Education), a new tool which applies humanitarian technology to generate reliable, timely data on attacks on education to be freely shared. “Alongside Unesco and Kobo we are developing TRACE, a portal that analyses and demonstrates data in a unique and accessible way. TRACE can be used by students, academics, journalists, policymakers and all who are interested in understanding and countering attacks on education. It will be a single-entry-point to statistics, information and resources,” announced Sheikha Moza. The high profile event was attended by Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of Unesco, Nana-Akufo-Addo, President of Ghana; Maria Teresa, Grand Duchess of Luxembourg and Unesco Goodwill Ambassador; Steffania Giannini, Unesco ADG for Education; Yalda Hakim, Australian broadcast journalist; Rosario Diaz Garavito, CEO of The Millennials Movement and Virginia Gamba, UNSG’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict. Antonio Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations delivered a message at the event while Catherine M Russell, Unicef Executive Director gave a video message. Sheikha Moza noted that attacks against education is going up year after year. She said: “Last October, the Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 2601. And yet, since then, thousands of attacks have taken place. In 2020 the number of attacks on education increased by one-third compared to 2019 and remained just as high in 2021. All indications suggest that in 2022 they will continue to rise.” Noting that during the Covid-19 pandemic urgent measures were taken to provide education to students, the EAA chairperson said “millions of children continued to be educated throughout the pandemic, in ways that had never been widely used before. Out of the crisis, leaders, teachers, and ordinary members of the community created new ways to ensure children continued to learn.” As most children returned to schools this academic year, she drew the attention to those who could not. The EAA founder highlighted: “But around the world millions of children did not. Millions whose journey to school was too dangerous to make. Millions whose school buildings were destroyed or damaged, or occupied by soldiers. Millions who simply do not have access to education because of conflict. “Out of one crisis, we mobilised, instantly, to develop new ways to teach and learn. Teachers shared screens rather than write on a blackboard. Children practised teamwork via breakout rooms. We didn’t wait then; so why are we not responding now, with solutions to another great crisis: the crisis of attacks on education? “But when schools are bombed, and teachers are killed, – we allow affected children, those who have survived, to continue their lives without education. They are pushed off the very path that will lead them to a better future.” The SDG advocate stressed that for nearly a quarter of a century, she and her team have tried to convince the international community, that educating children matters and it includes all children. “All children matter. Poor children, isolated children – and children who live in, or flee, war zones,” she stressed. Sheikha Moza noted that those who prevent children and destroy education are real people. “They are organisations, they are militias, they are states. They are criminals. As such, they can be brought to account for their actions. If we ignore these criminals, they do not go away. They persist in deliberately targeting students, teachers and schools in deliberately targeting education,” she remarked. “Strike a school, strike education and you strike the very heart of a community and its culture. And in tearing the fabric of a society, you shatter the future for each and every child. Their hopes and dreams lost, the cycle of poverty and violence continues. In my speech two years ago, I spoke of my frustration, at watching the schools we have built being destroyed, and of my frustration at the lack of action from the international community. My frustration has not diminished,” she lamented. “No child is more worthy than any other. Every child deserves the opportunity to develop their intellect and to fulfill their potential. Every child deserves a future,” affirmed Sheikha Moza. “We cannot ignore this any longer. Today’s theme is “time to act,” but it has been time to act for a very long time. It is long past the time to act. We cannot continue to meet once a year, to pat ourselves on the back and be glad that we care. Renewing our commitment is all well and good but that commitment is not something to act on in the future. The time to act is now,” she pointed out. “We cannot remain numb, to the destruction around us, nor immune to the despair of so many. Please, let’s demonstrate the principles we profess to hold,” Sheikha Moza added.

Devnath Sasidharan receiving a cheque for INR100,000 at the ITDA Dehradun event.
Qatar resident making waves in drone racing world

An accidental introduction for Indian expatriate Devnath Sasidharan into the world of First Person View (FPV) drone racing later became a passion leading him to represent his country at several international competitions. The Qatar resident otherwise knew little about the emerging sport of drone racing during 2017-18 when he was participating in an event at Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay. Devnath Sasidharan and teammates victorious at Asia Drone League. “As a student of National Institute of Technology, Jaipur, I was participating in a multicopter challenge organised by IIT Bombay. I fabricated a design and a 3D printed multicopter platform to attend the competition but could not win. My friend and teammate Nimesh controlled the software,” recalled Sasidharan. “At the same time, there was a drone racing competition going on at another part of Mumbai. Out of curiosity I went there and was fascinated to find drones flying at a very high speed. This was something new for me. This was in 2017 when the hobby was just emerging and I decided to try my hand at it,” he continued. Thereafter, there was no looking back for the young lad as he took part in about 30 FPV drone racing competitions and won most of them. Recently he started working as a robotic software engineer in the research and development department of a leading organisation and has been travelling extensively to various countries but still finds time for his passion of drone racing. FPV drone racing is a sport where participants control drones equipped with cameras while wearing head-mounted displays showing the live stream camera feed from the drones. Similar to full size air racing, the goal is to complete a set course as quickly as possible. In fact, Sasidharan was among the 10 or 12 students selected out of 400 applicants in his college for the robotic club when he started his engineering programme. “I had an interest in aeromodelling and started building plane models -fixed ones and remote controlled models of air links. I built a couple of air models and wanted to get into the next stage and this took me into the world of drones and drone racing and then the Mumbai experience happened,” explained, Sasidharan. With generous cash awards, Sasidharan said he could manage to self-support in each competition. “Winning a national competition - Indian Drone Festival 2.0 held at ITDA Dehradun by Dehradun Drones Institute was a huge moment as this helped me represent India in an Asian competition in Malaysia. Another major competition was for the Asia, Australia Pacific region where I came third. I have won over 20 competitions altogether. I could self-fund for all the competitions because of the prize money I won in all the competitions,” he added.

HE Buthaina bint Ali al-Jabr al-Nuaimi speaking at the Education City Speaker Series Bel Arabi.
Minister lays out roadmap for education in Qatar

* Minister announces 'My Skills, My Future’ initiative, aimed at supporting students to develop their future skills * Importance of protecting national identity of Qatar’s young people highlighted   HE the Minister of Education and Higher Education Buthaina bint Ali al-Jabr al-Nuaimi yesterday announced the ‘My Skills, My Future’ initiative and emphasised that protecting the national identity, digital transformation, support for educators and reinforcement of higher education to meet the needs of the job market are some of the key components of Qatar’s education. HE al-Nuaimi made these observations while speaking at Qatar Foundation’s Education City Speaker Series Bel Arabi at Qatar National Library, held in collaboration with the Ministry of Education and Higher Education. 'My Skills, My Future’ is currently in its planning stage, and is aimed at supporting students to develop their future skills – such as technological and communication skills – through curricula and education camps, enabling them to meet the challenges of the labour market. It is one of 13 initiatives as part of the ministry’s strategic plan for education, four of which were unveiled this week. HE the Minister highlighted the importance of protecting the national identity of Qatar’s young people from “cultural dissolution” in the information age, and equipping its students with 21st-century skills. She also noted the importance of adapting to the changing education scenario after the Covid-19 pandemic. “Education prior to Covid-19 is different from what it is after the pandemic. There is a belief that we have to re-conceptualise the system of education. Education has to change in the aftermath of the pandemic which is reality. We have to set the different strategies to overcome the negative impacts of the pandemic,” she noted. HE al-Nuaimi also spoke about how Qatar’s e-learning strategy aims to elevate students’ digital skills and “stimulate their curiosity in modern methods of learning”, and the process of shaping the nation’s education roadmap for the next eight years. “Education is a humanitarian and social process. Its primary goal is to nurture active and good human beings who believe in their role in building their society and their nation, and in contributing to spreading goodness, justice and beauty in this world,” she said. She explained that Qatar’s strategic direction for education places students at its core “so they can seek lifelong learning provided by education, flexibility, curiosity, passion and creativity”, with a focus on teachers as “role models” who “inspire and empower themselves to achieve excellence”. She remarked how the views of both students and teachers had been sought in shaping Qatar’s e-learning strategy, and described schools as being “a student’s second home, and they need to feel they belong there in order to grow”. “Education is a great responsibility that rests on everyone’s shoulders – let’s work together to keep the torch of learning glowing and make Qatar a beacon of science, knowledge, and peace in the world,” she exhorted the gathering. The discussion – which took place in the Arabic language – saw HE the Minister say: “It is imperative for us to have policies and frameworks in place to protect our young people and their national identity from cultural dissolution amid the unprecedented flow of information that comes to them across all communication channels. “Our national and local identity and our culture – inspired by our religion, our customs and traditions, and our Arabic language – is the foundation of this. It is at the core of building the Qatari personality, which is rooted in our values while at the same time being open to the world.” HE al-Nuaimi pointed out that educating children and young people “is no longer confined to sciences, or gaining knowledge”, saying: “Human skills are very important in dealing with the challenges of life." “That is why we have focused on developing our students’ 21st-century skills, encouraging them to think in a critical way which will help them transition smoothly to higher education, and then to be competitive in the regional and international labor market while being aware of the needs of this market,” she added. Reflecting Qatar Foundation’s commitment to accessibility and inclusivity, the Education City Speaker Series Bel Arabi event with HE al-Nuaimi was held with Arabic sign language being available.    

The unveiling of the volunteer uniform was among the highlights of the event on Friday. PICTURES: Shaji Kayamkulam
2022 World Cup volunteers’ uniform unveiled as training journey kicks off in style

The unveiling of the uniform of FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 volunteers was among the highlights of a dazzling orientation event held at Lusail Stadium on Friday. An incredibly motivated group of more than 16,000 volunteers, joined by thousands who followed online from around the world, gathered at the stadium for the official orientation event – a festive ceremony featuring football legends and 2022 FIFA World Cup top brass. The event-filled evening was aimed at building a greater sense of community and helping everyone become more familiar with their respective activities across 45 different functional roles by giving them a glimpse of the challenges and rewards in store. The largest of the host venues for the upcoming FIFA World Cup served as a fitting backdrop for this important milestone gathering, which marked the first time that all selected volunteers were assembled together for the formal start of their training journey and a momentous opportunity to reflect on the road ahead. Over the course of the evening, the full scope of the volunteer journey was delivered through entertaining video presentations which included an introduction to the e-learning platform where volunteers receive general subject training in topics such as sustainability, cultural awareness and customer services in order to better perform their basic service role. Through the new platform, volunteers will have access to a key informational resource and e-learning modules that allow them to prepare themselves for their roles at their own convenience and regardless of locale, for the many volunteers arriving from abroad. For the next stages of their journey, volunteers will start their general and role-specific training online and venue training at the actual sites where they will be based and perform their roles. The in-person venue-specific training is one of the final stages, which gives volunteers a hands-on taste of the tasks they will be performing in the actual venues where they will be assigned. The regularly updated portal will continue to serve as a knowledge and operational resource with refreshers and tips on maintaining health and well-being. Yasir al-Jamal, director-general of the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC), opened the event, welcoming the assembled volunteers and thanking them for their significant contribution to the incredible fan experience ahead, and overall success of the World Cup. FIFA’s chief operating officer – World Cup and managing director for Q22, Colin Smith, struck a note of gratitude and inclusivity, saying: “Volunteers are our true heartbeat because their passion and selfless devotion sustain everything we do.” “That’s the common thread that unites 20,000 volunteers, irrespective of nationality, culture, age, gender and experience,” he said. “It’s through their efforts that the FIFA World Cup in Qatar can be considered the most inclusive ever and will connect people from all cultures and backgrounds through the game of football.” A much-anticipated highlight of the evening was the official volunteer uniform reveal, which garnered cheers from the appreciative crowd. Styled in the signature volunteer colours of black, white, mint and purple, the adidas-designed outfits bear the brand’s triple-stripe detail and a distinctive heart logo design to represent the volunteer spirit. Volunteers are fitted from top to bottom with a full wardrobe of caps, long and short sleeve tops, jackets, pants, socks and shoes, plus optional head scarves for female volunteers. The event’s upbeat atmosphere was led by celebrity hosts Abood Afro and Anshou Jain, mixing dance performances and video highlight reels with messages of encouragement from English football superstar David Beckham and Australia’s top FIFA World Cup scorer, former Aussie national Tim Cahill. FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 LLC chief executive Nasser al-Khater appeared on stage with Smith to answer questions about the significance and wider impact of such a massive volunteer campaign. “We hope first that each volunteer will have gained valuable skills, experiences and friendships that will enrich their lives and just make them better, happier, more confident people, regardless of their continued path,” al-Khater said. “This is a fine legacy for any nation,” he said. “From the macro-view, I’m confident that societies will start to embrace a wider culture of volunteerism as an expression of both national pride and self-betterment, as it’s something which also aligns with our traditional values of honour and generosity.” Volunteer Strategy manager Nasser al-Mogaiseeb shared praise for the critical stakeholders involved in supporting the volunteer programme. “The outstanding quality and sheer volume of our volunteer programme would have been unthinkable without the abiding support of all our critical volunteer stakeholders, who represent the true pillars of community volunteerism in Qatar,” he said. “Over the past year, our joint Volunteer Legacy Group has provided essential help in spreading awareness, training and recruitment of volunteers through the combined resource networks of Qatar Foundation, Qatar Voluntary Centre, Qatar Museums, Qatar Charity, Qatar Olympic Committee, Qatar Red Crescent Society, Education Above All Foundation, Tomoh, Nama, Qatar University and Qatar Football Association,” al-Mogaiseeb said. “They have contributed to the generous team behind our team of valued volunteers.” One of the volunteers, Rishon Tom Mathew from India, told Gulf Times that he is excited and raring to take part in the volunteering activities. “I just completed school, and am planning to go for higher studies in January next year,” he said, adding: “I just landed on Friday after cutting short my vacation to take part in the programme.” “I have a few months to spare, and this is a wonderful opportunity for me to take part in some very creative and exciting events,” Mathew said. “This will be a great milestone in my life and I am raring to go and get involved in the activities. This is a dream come true for me.” Areeba Faisal from Pakistan, a 19-year old volunteer and “Ruwaad Pioneer”, said: “When I saw the uniform and the colour combination, I took a minute to look at everything because the design was so cool! The fact that they thought of making a ‘hijab’ is amazing, simply because it’s convenient to have all of it matching and I really appreciate it.” Eric Apedo, 29, from Ghana felt the evening’s programme made him prouder and more prepared for his upcoming role as an accreditation volunteer. “I’m (feeling) emotional, thinking about where I’ve come from, the friends I’ve made, and my responsibility working the final match of the FIFA World Cup right here in Lusail Stadium,” he said. “But one of the messages from today is to be yourself, because we all have something unique to offer.” “So, I feel confident. And the fact that I’m here with all these people who love football and who love volunteering, I feel we are a big community with one heart,” Apedo added. The event included dance and music presentations.

Dr Salem Al-Naemi along with other officials opens the career fair by cutting a ribbon.
UDST student population rises threefold in last two years

* UDST organises career fair with participation of over 50 companies   The number of students at University of Doha for Science and Technology (UDST) has tripled in the last couple of years, a top university official said on Wednesday. “There has been a great increase in the number of students in the last two years with several new programmes introduced in all colleges of the university. In 2020, the student population was over 2,000 and currently we have more than 6,100 students at the campus,” Dr Salem Al-Naemi, president of UDST, said in reply to a question from Gulf Times. Dr Al-Naemi was speaking to the media on the sidelines of a career fair organised by UDST with the participation of over 50 companies in the country. “The career fair is an occasion and an opportunity for the students to look for careers after completing their programmes or for internships. This provides opportunities for the student community to have an idea of the job market and get prepared accordingly. The students will also have the opportunity to explore and higher studies opportunities at other universities who are present at the fair,” explained Dr Al-Naemi. The two-day fair, aimed at providing employment and sponsorship opportunities, gave visitors a chance to delve into the professional world, enquire about the key skills employers look for, and discover the vacancies available in the marketplace. Leading up to the event, the career services team at UDST hosted preparatory sessions for students and alumni to practise their job pitch skills, receive interview tips and help sharpen their resumes. The first day of the fair was dedicated to career awareness through exhibitor-led sessions. Topics such as teamwork, soft skills and professionalism, workplace communication, durable skills for the future workplace, competencies, interview techniques, industry insights, cyber security and career expansion were discussed respectively by professionals from Milaha, North Oil Company, Qatalum, Qatar Chemical Company, Qatar Petrochemical Company, talabat, Ooredoo, National Cyber Security Agency and Vodafone. On the second day of the fair, companies were provided with personalised booths to exhibit their services and gain access to potential candidates who align with their interests. “UDST’s academic model is a successful example of how a higher education institution can develop work-ready graduates. We adopt an applied approach to education and collaborate with industry partners and experts to develop programmes that help respond to the economy’s needs for innovators, entrepreneurs, and a highly skilled workforce. UDST’s career fair is an opportunity for prospective employers to attract the most talented candidates and a chance for our students and alumni to show what they’re capable of and also attend seminars and lectures that further develop their knowledge and skills. UDST also boasts a career services section, to assist students with career plans and job search techniques and help them sharpen their employability skills,” added Dr Al-Naemi. UDST will hold the career fair on a yearly basis to provide a space for students, alumni, and employers to interact, network, share information, and explore numerous career opportunities. The event will offer insights as well, into the organisations’ culture and the way candidates envision their career paths. All sectors of the economy were represented at the career fair including banking and finance, technology, telecommunications, engineering, healthcare, the oil and gas industry, and more.    

Dr Sau2019d Abdel-Halim Shannak
Tertiary-level treated wastewater can help Qatar's sustainable agriculture goals, says QF scientist

A Qatar-based scientist has advocated the use of wastewater treated to the tertiary level for agricultural irrigation to help realise some of the goals of the country in sustainability. “If treated to the tertiary level – which is the final stage of the multi-stage wastewater cleaning process which removes organic and inorganic compounds, bacteria, viruses, and parasites – treated wastewater can safely be used for agricultural irrigation,” said Dr Sa’d Abdel-Halim Shannak, a scientist at Qatar Environment and Energy Research Institute, part of Qatar Foundation’s Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU). “Treated wastewater is currently being used in Qatar but is limited to non-agricultural use such as irrigation of green belts, artificial recharge of groundwater aquifers and growing animal fodder. However, there remains a large quantity of treated wastewater - up to 40% - which at certain times of the year is either discharged to lagoons or injected to the deep aquifers,” explained Dr Shannak in an article published by Qatar Foundation recently. According to the scientist, Qatar plans to achieve 70% self-sufficiency in the production of certain vegetables by 2023 but the water resource remains a major concern to sustainably continue its journey. “Maximising use of treated wastewater and pricing reform,” are two key action points advocated by Dr Shannak. Qatar’s lone source of natural water – groundwater - is overused and its extraction rate is four times its replenishment rate, and its biggest consumer is the agricultural sector at 91% . According to the scientist, the only source of water the country has in surplus is recycled water or treated wastewater, which "is a source that will continue to be available for as long as there is human life,” he said. Dr Shannak, however, does not support the use of desalinated seawater for agricultural purposes. He remarked: “Seawater is highly saline, and the cost of desalinating it, both in terms of energy and financial, is very high. Because of the low salinity of wastewater treatment, it’s considerably less energy-intensive to treat, and therefore costs less too.” The approximate energy required to produce one cubic metre of water through desalination is reported to be 1.5-7 kWh/m3, whereas for wastewater treatment it is only 0.62-0.87 kWh/m3. In terms of financial costs, the cost of desalination reported ranges between $0.52-1.30/m3, whereas the estimated cost of wastewater treatment is reported to be $0.29/m3. “It just makes sense, both financially as well as energy-wise, and is a very viable way to extend the life of our rather limited existing groundwater supply stock,” highlighted, Dr Shannak. Several countries are already using treated wastewater for agriculture. However, there are some barriers to adopting this seemingly logical and much-needed solution. Dr Shannak explained: “The problem with recycled water is purely psychological. Truth is, several of the fruits that we buy here today are grown in Europe where treated waste water is already being used for agriculture, so we are already consuming it, albeit unknowingly.” Commenting on the religious aspect of it, Dr Abdulazeem Abozaid, professor, College of Islamic Studies at HBKU, said: “If it passes the relevant quality checks and is deemed fit for consumption then there is absolutely no issue in using it. In Islam, the source of water is irrelevant. In fact, according to Sharia, if the water is tasteless, colourless, and odourless then it can even be used for ablution.” “Innovation is what we need through and through, not just by using new technologies, but also by accepting unconventional but viable sources of water and adopting responsible behaviour when it comes to water consumption,” added Dr Shannak.    

Indian ambassador Dr Deepak Mittal unfurling the Indian national flag. PICTURES: Shaji Kayamkulam
Indian community celebrates 75th anniversary of Independence

The Indian community in Qatar celebrated the 75th anniversary of Independence on Monday with patriotic fervour. Indian ambassador Dr Deepak Mittal paid floral tributes to the Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi, and unfurled the Indian flag amid the rendering of the national anthem in the presence of a large gathering on the Indian Cultural Centre (ICC) premises. Prominent community members, office-bearers of the apex bodies under the embassy as well as several invitees were present on the occasion. Following the national anthem, Dr Mittal read excerpts from the message of Indian President Draupadi Murmu, who in her maiden speech as the president of India conveyed the greetings of the day to all Indians around the globe. “It is a cause of celebration not only for all of us but also for every advocate of democracy around the world. When India won independence, there were many international leaders and experts who were skeptical about the success of democratic form of government in India. They had their reasons to be doubtful. In those days, democracy was limited to economically advanced nations. India, after so many years of exploitation at the hands of foreign rulers, was marked by poverty and illiteracy. But we Indians proved the skeptics wrong. Democracy not only grew roots in this soil, it was enriched too,” Murmu said in her address. The Indian president noted that for a nation, particularly an ancient one such as India, the passage of 75 years is merely a blink of an eye. “But for us as individuals, it is a lifetime. Senior citizens among us have witnessed a dramatic change in their lifetime. They have seen how, after Independence, all the generations have toiled hard; how we met great challenges and how we have taken charge of our destiny. The lessons learnt in the process will prove useful as we move towards the next milestone in the journey of the nation – the Amrit Kaal, the 25 years to the celebration of the centenary of our independence,” she said. “By the year 2047, we will have fully realised the dreams of our freedom fighters. We will have given a concrete shape to the vision of those who, led by Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar, drafted the constitution. We are already on course to build an Atmanirbhar Bharat, an India that would have realised its true potential,” the president added. Ambassador Dr Mittal highlighted the importance of celebrating 75the anniversary of Indian Independence and how the Indian community has positively reciprocated to the occasion. He also congratulated the Indian community for their hard work and involvement in the activities of the 75the anniversary of its Independence. “We have conducted more than 90 events under the Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav initiative. The community leaders and various apex bodies actively involved in the programmes and in organising so many events and getting the participation of a large number of community members,” the envoy said. During the event, winners of the Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav Quiz held in January were felicitated by the ambassador and medals in each of non-resident Indian and foreigner category were handed over. A cake was cut to celebrate the occasion. The ceremony concluded with a number of cultural performances, including patriotic songs and dances presented by Indian organisations. ICC president P N Baburajan proposed the vote of thanks. Meanwhile, Independence Day celebrations were also organised at Indian schools around Qatar.    

Homescreen of India in Qatar mobile app.
Indian community urged to use new mobile app to reach out to embassy

Indian ambassador Dr Deepak Mittal has urged the community members to make use of the recently launched mobile application ‘India in Qatar’ as well as the Pravasi Bharatiya Sahayata Kendra (PBSK) helpline to keep in touch with the embassy at any time. “Your embassy is your home, away from your home. We are there round-the-clock to support you. Our effort remains that the embassy will connect with every Indian, all the 750,000 plus community members who have made Qatar their second home. We will strive hard to ensure your welfare and wellbeing and work shoulder to shoulder to address all your needs,” the envoy told the gathering at yesterday's flag hoisting ceremony to mark the 75 anniversary of Indian independence. “I appeal you to make use of the two facilities that have been set up by the embassy. One is ‘India in Qatar’, a mobile application. I urge each one of you to download the application and register. You can get in touch with the embassy at any point of time through your phone. Our effort would be to come back to you within 24 hours to discuss and help you with any issues that you have,” the envoy explained. “The second initiative is the call centre, PBSK. We are going to come out with a unique toll free number soon for this call centre. You can call in and raise any queries in multiple Indian languages. Community members can ask for assistance on any subject and if the call centre is not able to answer the queries instantly, we will come back with the assistance within 24 hours,” continued, Dr Mittal. As for the bilateral relations between Qatar and India, the ambassador said that India’s 75 year journey also comprises of 50 years of India-Qatar relations. He highlighted strong bilateral trade and energy ties, interdependence of both the countries with respect to energy and food security, defence and security co-operation, education and cultural co-operation. He also pointed out that India is among the top countries in trade volume with Qatar. Dr Mittal praised the work and activities of all four apex bodies working under the aegis of the embassy and encouraged them to do more. He also highlighted the growing presence of Indian schools in Qatar almost 20 of them in total catering to more than 50,000 Indian students as well as one Indian university.