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 Joseph Varghese
Joseph Varghese
A journalist with a penchant for reporting events, Joseph Varghese digs deep to unearth facts. With several years of experience, including at Gulf Times, Joseph handles health, science and technology, IT and education in addition to everyday developments.
Mariam Aljassim addressing the press conference Tuesday.
Msheireb Properties to host Global Wellness Summit; launches ‘Wellness Month’ campaign

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

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

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

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

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

Edward Lawless
QF-PUE launches initiatives for student wellbeing

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

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

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

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

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

A panel discussion at the conference.
Doha a major regional player, conference told

The centres of gravity in the region has changed dramatically over the decades with the older ones yielding place to new players, noted, the dean of Georgetown University in Qatar (GU-Q) at the closing ceremony of the inaugural Hiwaraat Conference, “The Invasion of Iraq: Regional Reflections”.“What has happened in the last several decades in the region is that the centres of gravity in the region has been evolving and changing. In the 1950s, 60s and 70s they used to be Baghdad, Cairo, Damascus among others but now they are Doha, Abu Dhabi and Riyadh,” said, Dr Safwan Masri, dean of GU-Q at the closing ceremony of the conference yesterday.Dean Dr Masri Dr Sawfan Masri,noted that several transnational issues were taken up in the conference and intensely discussed.“The dialogue doesn’t end here but begin now and starts all over. The objective of the conference is to provide a platform for these kind of conversations which otherwise may not take place. So the conference has made conversations such as these happen effectively and successfully,” he explained.He noted that the conference has been successful because it could connect with one another and connect the ideas very well. According to the dean what happened in Iraq is important not only for Iraq but for the region and the world at large.Bridging global and regional perspectives, the GU-Q conference marked the 2003 invasion of Iraq with reflections on the prospects of shaping a better future for the country, its society, and its youth.The conference was convened by Dr Masri in collaboration with the Centre for International and Regional Studies (CIRS) at GU-Q. Conceived as a platform for diverse voices and community engagement on shared global challenges, the conference encouraged collective and individual perspectives on lessons learned over the past two decades.Current and former Iraqi ministers, officials, and government advisors, senior diplomats, journalists, authors, and academics from the region, joined international experts in sharing first-hand experience and knowledge, spanning historical retrospectives and analyses of Iraq’s progress and the complex challenges ahead.Discussions over the three days created a sense of shared responsibility to usher in positive changes that will offer the Iraqi people, especially the new generation, a better future.Dean Masri said: “As we approach the university’s 20th anniversary, Georgetown University in Qatar is reflecting on where we’ve been, where we are, and where we want to go. Our eyes are focused on the next 20 years. We are embarking on an ambitious strategy to become the preeminent global campus in the region. We are investing in and expanding our academic offerings, and strengthening and growing our faculty. We are creating and innovating, and engaging with our communities locally, regionally, and globally. This weekend’s event offers a preview of what is to come.”“In keeping with the intent of the Hiwaraat, the conference has brought together a variety of perspectives, and not always complementary views on difficult and challenging topics. We have heard from scholars and practitioners and had lots of forthright engagement from the audience. These conversations are not always easy, but they are necessary. Under Hiwaraat we hope to continue providing the space for these sorts of discussions on important regional and global affairs,” added, Zahra Babar, associate director for Research at CIRS.

A section of the audience at the workshop. PICTURES: Thajudheen.
QNL programme aims to protect cultural properties, documents

Qatar National Library’s (QNL) programme, Himaya, is effectively countering trafficking of cultural properties and documents, a top official said on Tuesday.“The whole world is facing the problem of trafficking of cultural properties which is a threat to the history and identity of the nations. The world needs collective efforts to prevent such actions. That is why we have launched the Himaya programme,” HE the Minister of State and QNL president Dr Hamad bin Abdulaziz al-Kawari explained.He was speaking to Gulf Times on the sidelines of the two day workshop ‘Second Doha Workshop on Countering the Trafficking of Cultural Property with a focus on Documentary Heritage,’ organised by QNL.“The protection of cultural properties is a very important matter. Fortunately, Qatar National Library has a leading programme called Himaya to protect the cultural properties. Himaya, the Arabic word stands for protection and this initiative is currently well-known and has been accepted by the international community. All the representative and experts in the field are meeting and discussing the issues to get the best outcomes,” explained, Dr al-Kawari.In partnership with the General Authority of Customs and in collaboration with the US, Italian, and French embassies in Qatar, QNL aims to deepen the understanding and implementation of best practices in preventing the illicit trade of cultural property and documentary heritage.Dr al-Kawari noted: “The increasing global threat is evident, despite international conventions like those from Unesco in 1970 and Unidroit in 1995. As smugglers harness modern social media and with geopolitical unrest further propelling these illicit activities, our history, culture, and heritage face unprecedented risks."Ahmed bin Abdullah al-Jamal, chairman of the General Authority of Customs; Jean-Baptiste Faivre, ambassador of France; Paolo Toschi, ambassador of Italy; Timmy Davis, US ambassador; and Tan Huism, executive director of QNL were among the other dignitaries in attendance at the event.Al-Jamal, said: "Our participation today underscores our crucial role in advancing global efforts to combat the illegal trade in cultural assets. The authority has enacted regulations regarding prohibitions, import and export restrictions, and the unauthorised transfer of cultural properties. This reiterates Qatar's commitment to fulfilling its obligations under international treaties, particularly the Unesco 1970 Convention aimed at curbing the trafficking of illicit cultural property."Italian ambassador Toschi pointed : “We are proud to stand alongside QNL in their "Himaya Project” for the protection of cultural heritage and the fight against illicit trafficking. When it comes to such topics, Italy is one of the most active countries, both at a national and international level thanks to our experts and bodies such as the Carabinieri force, for the protection of cultural heritage.”According to French envoy, Faivre: “France is highly committed to the fight against illicit trafficking of cultural property at the global level. This engagement should go beyond borders; increasing the international cooperation is key. We are delighted today to welcome three high-level French experts to contribute to the workshop.”“Understanding our past is crucial to understanding our present, and to building a future that honours our values and traditions. Cultural heritage artefacts are our gateway to that historical understanding. That is why the United States and Qatar worked during our strategic dialogue to increase our ongoing cooperation in heritage protection, and why several US agencies and the Smithsonian Institute have convened at Qatar National Library to be part of this important workshop,” added, US ambassador, Davis.

HE Bader al-Dafa
88 countries, organisations confirm participation in Expo 2023 Doha

As many as 88 countries as well as international and regional organisations have already confirmed their participation in the Expo 2023 Doha, being held from October 2, 2023 to March 28, 2024, a top official disclosed on Sunday.Speaking to Gulf Times on the sidelines of the meeting of commissioner generals from the participating countries, HE Bader al-Dafa, commissioner general, Expo 2023 Doha, said that Qatar is all set to host one of the biggest global events.“So far we have received confirmation of participation in the expo from 88 countries and international and regional organisations. This is by far a good number for a country that is hosting the expo in a desert climate such as Qatar as well as the neigbouring countries. We expect around 3mn visitors during the six months,” said, al-Dafa.As for the expo and the related activities al-Dafa said that expo focuses on four main aspects. “ We look at exchange of ideas in four basic areas: innovation, technology, education and climate change. Climate change is a reality and affecting several countries. We face shortage of water and food. Investment in agriculture is lagging behind the demand for food. We see famine and people are hungry in some parts of the world,” he explained.The official noted that industrialist countries have made a commitment of $100bn to support less developed countries but not even 20% of this money has been realised so far.“I attended a summit of African countries a few days ago where several African countries have been taking about it. This has to be a win-win situation. You demand certain conditions from less developed countries but you are not supporting them with proper means and tools. We all need to care about our planet,” he continued.The official also said that a breakthrough is happening in agriculture through the use of innovative technologies, citing the example of Qatar.“I think we are already seeing a breakthrough using technology, when it comes agriculture. Qatar is nearly self-sufficient in some varieties of vegetables. This is the first time we see several fruits grown in Qatar. Most of these fruits are grown below the temperature of 24 degree Celsius but with several innovations, we are producing them in Qatar and with great quality. The dairy products made in Qatar are as good as anything imported,” he highlighted.Al-Dafa said that there is also an aspect of social and cultural exchange in the upcoming expo. he noted: "We have dances, music and several entertainment programmes from different parts of the world. There will also be food from various countries available at the expo. It will be a social and cultural exchange with a mini world at the expo.”The official pointed out that Expo 2023 Doha will lead by example, integrating sustainability into its operations and infrastructure. “Expo’s pavilions will showcase the latest technologies in horticulture, agriculture and sustainability. We will also invite the visitors to learn more about them through interactive showcases and exhibitions. We will be using sustainable materials, saving energy and resources,” added, al-Dafa.

Gulf Times
South Asian male smokers in Qatar face big risk of stroke

Smoking is a key risk factor for ischaemic stroke in young South Asian male workers in Qatar and a stroke occurs two years earlier in them compared to non-smokers, a recent study has concluded.The study identified 778 male workers of South Asian descent with ischaemic stroke in Qatar of which 41.3% were current smokers. Compared to non-smokers, current smokers suffered a stroke 2.03 years earlier.The study ‘Cigarette smoking as a risk factor for ischaemic stroke in young South Asian male migrants to Qatar: The BRAINS study’ published on Qatar Medical Journal and featured on notes that incidence of stroke in the Middle East is high, given its relatively young population and smoking is a well-recognised risk factor for ischaemic stroke.The research was done to determine whether young male South Asian workers in Qatar were adversely affected by stroke depending on their smoking or non-smoking status. For this, data from the ongoing international prospective, BRAINS study was analysed.Male South Asian migrants to Qatar with a history of ischaemic stroke were recruited. Multivariate regression analysis was used to estimate the effects of comorbidities, such as BMI, hypertension, diabetes, hypercholesterolemia, alcohol consumption, and ischaemic heart disease, on the association of age of stroke onset and smoking status.The authors of the study are: Fahmi Yousef Khan, Hassan al-Hai, Musab Ali, Hassan al-Hussein, Hassan Osman Abuzaid, Khalid Sharif and Dirk Deleu all from Hamad Medical Corporation; Gie Ken-Dror and Paul Ly from Institute of Cardiovascular Research, Royal Holloway University of London, UK and Pankaj Sharma from Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, London UK.In an observational study in Qatar, smoking was one of the main risk factors found in young adults admitted with ischaemic stroke. However, the migrant population has not been well studied and hence it was sought to determine in this study whether smoking hurt stroke onset in South Asian males working in Qatar.A trained clinical nurse self-reported the smoking status on a detailed questionnaire. Patients were categorised into non-smokers or current smokers. Non-smokers were defined as those who had never smoked any tobacco product. Current smokers were defined as those who smoked any tobacco product during recruitment. Ex-smokers were not included in the study.The analysis demonstrated that only current smoking status was associated with an earlier age of stroke onset. Smoking is associated with at least a two-year earlier onset of ischaemic stroke in male South Asian migrants to the Middle East. Our study has important implications for the public health management of migrants in host countries.Using an ongoing large international stroke study, the research shows that ischaemic stroke occurs two years earlier in young South Asian male migrant smokers compared to non-smokers. In addition, there were significant clinical characteristic differences such as BMI, alcohol consumption, hypertension, high cholesterol, and diabetes among South Asian stroke migrants separated by smoking status.The study, according to the researchers, has implications for public health management in host countries of migrant workers. Such countries should target their anti-smoking campaigns to migrant workers in their languages to have maximum effect.

Renowned Indian actress Aditi Rao Hydari in conversation with Gulf Times. PICTURES: Shaji Kayamkulam
Epitome of immense talent, versatility

Dazzling, effervescent and scintillating pan-Indian actress, Aditi Rao Hydari was in town recently and in conversation with Gulf Times, she opened up about her film career spanning over 12 years.An artiste of immense talent and versatility, Hydari is well known for her portrayal of several roles in various Indian languages such as Hindi, Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam among others. Hydari has also won the SIIMA Award for Best Debut Actress - Tamil for the movie, ‘Kaatru Veliyidai’ directed by ace director, Mani Ratnam. She also received a nomination for the Filmfare Award for Best Actress – Telugu for her role in ‘Sammohanam’.“Working with renowned director, Mani Ratnam sir changed my experience and perspective about acting and movies. Kaatru Veliyidai really changed my life and my whole concept of acting changed thereafter. I became an actor because I could be a Mani Ratnam heroine. It was a dream come true and was a special experience for me,” Hydari said.According to the actress, film-making is about feelings and making people experience those feelings and conveying the emotions of the characters to them. She explained: ”It is taking people into the world of the characters and giving a place in their hearts. I don’t think that language is a barrier for that and that is why I was able to essay several roles in different languages and connect them to the audience. I always wanted to work with certain directors and language was never a barrier in the way of my acting.”Hydari who debuted into acting with the Malayalam movie, ‘Prajapthi’ notes that she works very hard to learn her dialogues in any language. She said: “I make sure that I can be directed and I always love to work under renowned and respected directors. What is important is to be part of the vision of the directors and language does not become a barrier or a boundary for me. India is a very diverse country with different cultures and languages. I feel lucky to be part of different kinds of culture and cinema.”The actress pointed out that Maniratnam, Sanjay Leela Bansali and Rituparna Ghosh have influenced her the most in her career. “These three have influenced me immensely and I don’t consider them as directors of different languages but as dream directors who have told amazing stories,” she emphasised.As for her visit to Qatar, Hydari said that she was in Doha to celebrate the five years of partnership between Zee5 Global and LuLu Hypermarket.She also had a word about a web series ‘Taj’ which has been a great success and her portrayal of the role of Anarkali which has become hugely popular.Hydari elaborated: “Yesteryears iconic actress, Madubala had done the role of Anarkali in Mughal-e-Azam and I happened to essay that role in this series. I had a busy schedule but the producers were keen on having me for that particular role. It was a great fortune for me and I believe that I am blessed to land such a role. As I started portraying the role, I felt that this must have something with my destiny and the rest is history.”The actress also voiced her opinion about OTT platforms and theatres saying that both have their own place in the modern era. “Theatre is a magical world of its own and it is here to stay. But I think OTT platforms have a kind of intimacy and ease to watch movies at the will of the people and they can visit and revisit any scene. Both have their own magic and charm. I think it is lovely and great that they co-exist. Because of both platforms, we have so much content and content of high quality. Both have their own place and both are thriving.”As for her upcoming projects, Hydari said that she has just finished a silent film called ‘Gandhi Talks’ with Tamil actors, Vijay Sethupathi and Arvind Swami, with the music by A R Rahman. “Currently I am shooting for Heera Mandi with Sanjay Leela Bansali and another Tamil-Telugu bilingual movie and the announcement will be made soon. I will also soon start shooting for an Indio-British production called, ‘Lioness,’” concluded Hydari.

WISE Awards finalist, 'Nature-based School Networks’ focuses on consolidating a learning community with citizenship skills.
12 projects vie for WISE Awards 2023

As many as 12 projects from 10 countries are in contention for the WISE (World Innovation Summit for Education) Awards 2023 and the six winners are expected to be announced this month.WISE, a global education initiative of Qatar Foundation yearly awards six innovative projects from around the globe. The winners will be celebrated at the WISE 2023 in Doha from November 28-29. In addition to publicity and networking opportunities, each winning project will receive $20,000.The 2023 WISE Awards finalists are Fontán Relational Education (FRE) by Colegio Fontán Capital (Colombia); Shamba Letu by So They Can (Tanzania); Tekwill in Every School by ATIC (Moldova); International Common Assessment for Numeracy (ICAN) by PAL Network (Kenya); Transform Schools by People for Action (India); Thaki Digital Literacy Rights by Thaki (Lebanon); NaTakallam: Connecting Refugees & Language Learners Worldwide by NaTakallam (US); Transforming Education Systems by EIDU (Germany); Ahlan Simsim by IRC in partnership with Sesame Workshop (US); Biodivercities Nature-Based Education Network by OpEPA (Colombia); Catalysing ECE at Scale by Rocket Learning (India); and ELIFE by Fondation Tunisie pour le Développement (Tunisia).These projects have been selected for their innovative and impactful approaches to global educational challenges. This year’s finalists represent a diverse range of sectors and locations, showcasing a growing resource of expertise and sound educational practice. The projects emphasise the need for education to be inclusive and equitable, with many finalists working to ensure that marginalised communities have access to quality learning opportunities.Among the 12 finalists, the Fontan Relational Education project seeks to provide a respectful educational environment for all, providing methodologies and practices that highlight students’ individuality, empower their abilities and offer them life choices while Shamba Letu project establishes and cultivates school farms to improve food security in vulnerable communities in Babati, Tanzania.The Tekwill in Every School project is one of the largest educational programmes in Moldova, offering students equal educational opportunities driven by IT sector market needs and the next finalist ‘ICAN’ is a simple-to-use and scalable tool that measures children’s foundational numeracy.'Transform Schools’ programme enables students in Grades 6-10 in government middle and secondary schools to reach the right learning level in their states’ regional language, English, Math and Science and the next project ‘Thaki Digital Literacy Rights’ supports refugee and vulnerable learners who have limited or no access to digital education.‘NaTakallam’ project leverages technology to solve the challenge of millions of highly educated displaced persons and their host communities with no access to income while EIDU has developed an open platform which brings together the best educational interventions, helps governments to deploy them quickly and efficiently. The Ahlan Simsim initiative from the Middle East brings early childhood development and playful learning to children affected by conflict and crisis in the Middle East.The project, ‘Nature-based School Networks’ focuses on consolidating a learning community with citizenship skills that promote harmonising the people and nature relationship, allowing them to become planetary stewards and ensuring social wellbeing while ‘Rocket Learning’ builds early childhood and foundational learning at scale by connecting the government system, teachers and parents, and driving community change by systemically leveraging technology, media, and social incentives. Finally the ELIFE programme aims to build 10 technology centres dedicated to Tunisian youth in the ten most marginalised and disadvantaged regions of the interior of Tunisia.Since its inception in 2009, the WISE Awards have recognised and promoted 90 innovative projects, from over 150 countries.

HE the Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sheikh Mohamed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim al-Thani  interacts with the audience at the lecture.
Qatar's success in engagements focus on three main areas: PM

Qatar has successfully focused in its engagement efforts on three main areas, namely : Alliance building and multilateralism; Peace facilitation and Investment in economic growth for future generations, noted HE the Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim al-Thani Friday .Speaking on ‘Small states: strategies for success in a competitive world’ at the inaugural edition of the lecture series of the International Institute for Strategic Studies in Singapore, HE Sheikh Mohamed said that alliance building and multilateralism is key for Qatar in a turbulent world.He explained: “It is in the centre of our foreign policy to preserve and empower multilateral framework and to fully advocate and embrace a rule based world order. Qatar has maintained effective cooperation with international and regional bodies and has been a member of various international bodies.”HE the Prime Minister also noted that Qatar has become a regional hub for multilateralism by opening numerous international offices in Doha. “We launched last March The UN House, which includes 12 UN offices. To maximise our impact at multilateral level, small states have to take an active international role with a clear voice and defend the international order and the rule of law which is important in fostering stability. Working together has never been more important,” he highlighted.As for the peace building initiatives of Qatar, HE Sheikh Mohamed pointed out that the country has been in the forefront of fostering peace.He continued: “We are at fostering peace building efforts to strengthen international peace which has been one of the pillars of our foreign policy for more than 25 years. Being a small country provides advantages in agility, mobility and building networks. Small countries can offer reliable channels of communication between countries which can serve as an opportunity to strengthen partnerships with major powers in the international community.”Citing several examples of Qatar’s involvement in several peace brokering initiatives, he said: “Our region has a lot of potential and we hope that other small and medium countries can benefit from our collective experience.”HE Sheikh Mohamed then went on to emphasise on the third aspect of Qatar’s efforts in equipping the future generations with sufficient capabilities. “Our future lies in the hands of our generations to come and the last decades have taught us crucial lessons. These have inspired us to set out concrete plans which balance risks and rewards and take into account present demands and future needs of the generations to come.”He pointed out that it was vital for Qatar to ensure that a lasting legacy is built for the future. “ It is important for us carry on our wealth to our future generations. Using our wealth, we have invested in in our country and in our people. We have invested in education and infrastructure establishing state of the art airline, airport and sea port while becoming experts in logistics, technology and professional service. We have established Qatar Investment Authority to invest in Qatar’s future in diverse projects across the globe,” he added.

HE the Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohamed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim al-Thani Friday at the inaugural edition of the lecture series of the International Institute for Strategic Studies in Singapore.
Interdependence of world community vital: PM

Qatar believes in the interdependence of the world community, noted HE the Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohamed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim al-Thani Friday at the inaugural edition of the lecture series of the International Institute for Strategic Studies in Singapore.Speaking at the event on the topic ‘Small states: strategies for success in a competitive world’ HE Sheikh Mohamed said that small states such as Qatar and Singapore have an important role to play in a world that has undergone great transformations in the last few years.“The world is witnessing the emergence of multiple centres of influence with political, economic and technological capabilities. Qatar believes in the interdependence of the world and the conviction makes it possible for the country to have a strong commercial partnership with China while maintaining a strategic alliance with the USA,” said HE the Prime Minister.He continued: “We were designated as the non-Nato ally of the US. Our ability to navigate in our relationship with the US and China is granted in our adoptability and diplomatic engagement. This not only serves Qatar’s national interests but also contributes to regional and global stability as well.”“The many conflicts that we have witnessed in several places make the small states think that they have no role to play in these but in essence it is quite the opposite. Small states at times are in a better position to resolve critical conflicts,” he explained.According to HE Sheikh Mohamed, small states are often more affected by geopolitical competitions and heightened tensions and economic insecurity. “Therefore we must be resilient and positively engage whenever and wherever possible. Leaders of small states must be prepared to face these challenges not as passive onlookers but as active participants in building peace and stability as facilitators of dialogue and mediators in global conflicts,” he stressed.He also noted that Qatar takes climate change and food security with utmost seriousness and every efforts are being made by using latest technological advancements to mitigate the impacts of climate change. As for food security he highlighted that Qatar has taken several efforts at agriculture production. “Before 2017, we were dependent on others for diary products but by 2018 we started large scale diary production and by 2019 we were exporting those products,” he added.

An interior view of a section of QNL.
QNL promotes environmental awareness, sustainability

Qatar National Library (QNL) has taken several initiatives in promoting environmental culture and sustainability through programmes and library resources, according to an official.The QNL building itself is a manifestation of several environmental sustainability aspects, such as energy efficiency, water conservation, waste reduction and natural light, said, Hadia Hajo, editor and publications specialist at QNL in an article.In addition, QNL provides a large number of printed and electronic materials and holds regular awareness events, symposiums, panel discussions and documentaries among others.According to Hajo, QNL has a building management system that monitors and controls energy usage. The lighting system for example is preprogrammed to automatically dim the lights after the workhours and to dim even more during the QNL closing time at night.As for water conservation, QNL building uses water taps with sensors, to reduce the waste of water. The building has a waste management programme that includes recycling bins for different types of materials like paper, glass, cans, and food waste. The library utilise an e-waste system where electronic waste is recycled in collaboration with Qatar Foundation’s General Services department. The Library Conservation and Preservation Lab generates chemical waste which is treated by QNL in collaboration with Qatar Foundation.Natural light is another important aspect of environmental sustainability in the QNL building. The building's design maximises the use of natural light to reduce the need for artificial lighting and minimise energy consumption. The glass façade allows natural light to reach the interior spaces, and the library's reading areas in the main plaza are designed to take advantage of daylighting. In addition to the environmental benefits of natural light, it also has positive effects on the health and well-being of building occupants.QNL’s another effort at promoting sustainability is through its vast resources in multiple languages, covering topics on environment and sustainability. These include climate change, renewable energy sources, sustainable agriculture and food systems, biodiversity conservation, waste management and recycling, sustainable transportation, sustainable building practices, conservation and management of water resources, environmental policy and governance, environmental justice and equity among others.QNL also holds monthly events on different educational topics, including environmental and sustainability issues. The library has organised various activities on the topics of environment and sustainability, such as group discussions, symposiums, panel discussions, workshops, awareness lectures, and documentary screenings.Some of such initiatives included a group discussion on the role of public libraries in achieving sustainable development goals on environment in Qatar; a symposium and a panel discussion entitled "Qatari Youth Interaction with Environmental Issues". QNL has organised workshops and lectures, such as "Environmental Sustainability in Islam", "The Importance of Studying Harsh Environments on Planet Earth", and "How to Make Sustainability Part of Our Daily Lives?" It screened a documentary film entitled "Living the Change: Inspiring Stories for a Sustainable Future", which showcased inspiring ways and methods for sustainable living.QNL also organised a discussion presented by the Doha Project for Environmental Initiatives titled "Guidelines for Starting the Sustainability Journey in Qatar" to learn about marine life and the impact of plastic pollution in Qatar, and to provide simple solutions to contribute to solving the problem. Additionally, QNL held another discussion session presented by the executive team of The Hague International Model of the United Nations in Qatar.

Ambassador Vipul hoisting the Indian tricolour. PICTURE: Thajudheen
Patriotism marks India's 77th Independence Day celebrations

India's 77th Independence Day was celebrated by members of the community with patriotic fervour on a grand scale Tuesday at the Indian Cultural Centre (ICC) premises in Doha.A large number of community members were at the venue in the early morning to witness new ambassador Vipul hoist the Indian national flag, amidst the rendering of the national anthem.The envoy paid tribute to the father of the nation, Mahatma Gandhi.Office bearers of Indian apex bodies, prominent community leaders and other dignitaries were present.In his maiden public interaction with the Indian community in Qatar, the envoy read out the address of the president of India and emphasised on india’s diplomatic relations with Qatar, spanning over 50 years.Indian President Droupadi Marmu, in her address to the nation, highlighted that the celebration of the Indian Independence Day is the fact of being part of a great democracy.“Each of us has many identities – apart from caste, creed, language and region, we are also identified with our families and professions – but there is one identity that is above all,” she said. “That is our identity as citizens of India. Each one of us is an equal citizen; each one of us has an equal opportunity, equal rights and equal duties, in this land.”“Independence Day is an occasion to reconnect with our history. It is also an occasion to assess our present and reflect about our way forward,” the president added. “Looking at the present, we see that India has not only regained its rightful place on the world stage, but it has also enhanced its standing in the international order.”“During my visits and interactions with the members of the Indian diaspora, I have observed a new confidence in the India story,” she continued. “India is playing a crucial role in promoting developmental and humanitarian goals around the world.”Ambassador Vipul expressed his happiness in joining the community to celebrate the special occasion.He also noted that this year marks a milestone for bilateral relations, as it is the 50th year of establishment of diplomatic relations between India and Qatar.He said that bilateral ties between India and Qatar have come a long way in the past five decades, taking the shape of multifaceted relations spanning political, energy, economic, cultural, educational and people-to-people contacts.He took the opportunity to thank His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, His Highness the Father Amir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, and the government of Qatar for the constant support to Indians living in Qatar.The envoy also expressed his commitment to ensure the welfare and wellbeing of Indians in Qatar, and assuring that embassy’s doors will always be open for them all, more so for fellow Indian workers in need.Following the envoy’s speech, community members presented cultural programmes such as patriotic songs and dances.

Noor Sadiah
HBKU students share their aspirations, expectation

Several students from Hamad Bin Kahlifa University ( HBKU)have shared their aspirations and expectations as the university has launched its orientation programme and is abut to start the new academic year.Noor Sadiah, a newly admitted student at the College of Science and Engineering noted that she had taken a course during her bachelor's studies at Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar on enterprise resource planning systems which really heightened her interest in supply chain management.“ In this respect, I’m particularly attracted to the research component of HBKU’s Master of Science in Logistics and Supply Chain Management. The programme encourages students to engage in research projects inside and outside the classroom with the full support of the CSE’s highly experienced faculty. I can’t wait to build on knowledge acquired during my bachelor’s degree and expand my skill set at HBKU. “said, Sadiah.Sadiah pointed that she hopes to participate in as many research activities as possible and work closely with faculty and classmates in the process. She explained: “I also want to be involved in HBKU student life by participating in campus events and sports activities. Last year, I played in a women’s football team and through our collective dedication and commitment we achieved first place in two consecutive Qatar Foundation competitions. I very much hope that I can repeat such successes with new team members during my time at HBKU.”Sadiah is confident that HBKU will help her attain her career goals. “With its particular focus on research, I’m convinced that the Master of Science in Logistics and Supply Chain Management programme will help me to prepare for life as a PhD student. I’m looking forward to engaging with as many PhD candidates as possible at HBKU, picking up advice on research projects, student life and related activities in the process,” she added.For Jamila Mehdiyeva, her programme of Master of Arts in Women, Society and Development at the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, is a manifestation of her my deep involvement in educational and empowerment projects for women.“Despite having a long and successful career leading media operations for major sports events, I have encountered many challenges for no other reason than being a woman. Each challenge has nevertheless inspired my deep involvement in educational and empowerment projects for women and fuelled my determination to create positive change in my home country, Azerbaijan, ” says, Mehdiyeva.She explained: “I vividly recall my undergraduate years, where I often found myself as the lone female student in class. This experience, although daunting at first, ignited a fire within me to prove that gender should never be a barrier to pursuing one's dreams. It was through this journey that I discovered my passion for empowering women and championing their rights.”Mehdiyeva noted that her primary primary aspiration is to continue promoting women's empowerment and driving societal change, all while embracing the beauty of dreams coming true. “I am also determined to pursue my passion for women's development and encourage others to move forward towards their dreams, transforming them into tangible goals - it’s never too late! HBKU offers a unique opportunity to nurture my aspirations and turn them into reality, creating a profound impact on the lives of women. This journey symbolises a change in my career pathway, guided by new knowledge and fueled by a relentless determination to create a better future,” she concluded.

VCUarts Qatar graduates help to conduct the sessions.
QF graduates empower people with special needs through art

Graduates of the Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts in Qatar (VCUarts Qatar) are helping to demonstrate the transformative power of art through workshops with young people in Qatar Foundation (QF)’s Ability Friendly Programme.Three VCUarts Qatar graduates helped lead the sessions encouraging the children with special needs to express themselves freely, through drawing with crayons, pencils, and markers.“Volunteering to support children with special needs, in the Ability Friendly Programme, has been a truly inspiring and fulfilling experience,” said Fatima al-Mannai, one of the VCUarts Qatar graduates. “It's essential to encourage these individuals to express their passion through various artistic mediums, such as art.”She has previously been involved in university workshops and student-led clubs that have worked to encourage children to embrace their talents and unleash their creativity.These experiences reinforced her belief in the transformative power of art.“The impact of this volunteering experience on the lives of the children is evident in various ways,” al-Mannai said. “One of the significant outcomes was that we can break down barriers and dispel misconceptions. This has led to helping these children feel included and valued in society.”She added that volunteering in this programme brought forth both challenges and rewarding experiences.One of the challenges included finding effective ways to communicate with each child due to the variations in their needs and abilities.“I have learned valuable skills in adapting my artistic expertise to cater to the specific needs of each child,” al-Mannai said. “This experience has not only enriched my personal growth but also enhanced my ability to teach art, ensuring that every child feels valued and understood.”“Creating an inclusive and supportive environment is vital for the success of this programme,” she added. “Treating all children fairly, giving them equal attention, and providing motivation helps them feel included and appreciated.”Fellow volunteer Shaikha Darwish said: "The inspiration behind my involvement in this programme comes from my younger sister, who has Down syndrome. Her strength and ability to challenge stereotypes about children with special needs inspires me every day.”“The benefits of engaging children with special needs in art are undeniable. It allows them to express their emotions more effectively and share their unique stories,” the VCUarts Qatar graduate said. “As they explore their interests and passions, we help them embrace their individuality and build their self-esteem.”Darwish shared that the volunteering experience had significantly enriched her personal and professional growth, helping her to discover beauty and inspiration in unexpected places, which, in turn, fostered creativity in her own work.“I find great joy in volunteering and helping those who have special needs, as it allows me to contribute to a more inclusive and compassionate society,” said fellow graduate volunteer Arhama Amjad. “By sharing the existence and impact of this programme, we hope to promote the creation of more initiatives, and more volunteers that cater to the needs of individuals with special needs.”Nigel D’Souza, events and programme co-ordinator at the Ability Friendly Programme, said: “We wanted to tap into the various resources available within Qatar Foundation, instead of using different suppliers to do this.”“Maybe one day we could turn this into long-term activity or programme that could take place throughout year,” he said.“The Ability Friendly Programme currently is mostly focused on sporting activities,” he said. “So, art is taking us down a different avenue. Ultimately, we would like to not only include sports but offer a wide range of activities for people with special needs.”“People with special needs express themselves in a variety of different ways,” D’Souza added. “We have some participants that may not be very expressive verbally but excel at sports or in something else.”“So this is another tool for people to express themselves,” he concluded.