Saturday, February 24, 2024 | 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.
Some of the dignitaries at the event. PICTURE: Thajudheen
Al Faisal Without Borders Foundation honours Destination Imagination winners

Al Faisal Without Borders Foundation honoured the winners of the 'Destination Imagination' programme for the academic year 2021/2022, on Sunday at a special event.The ceremony was attended by HE Sheikh Faisal bin Qassim al-Thani, founder and chairman of the board, Al Faisal Without Borders Foundation and Ministry of Education and Higher Education's Undersecretary HE Dr Ibrahim bin Saleh al-Nuaimi, and assistant undersecretary for education affairs Maha Zayed al-Ruwaili.Other dignitaries at the event were Abdul Latif al-Yafei, general manager of Al Faisal Without Borders Foundation, and Mona El Helbawi, general manager of the Education, Culture and Sports Sector at Al Faisal Holding, ARIES Cluster; Fatima al-Obaidli, head of Activities and Programmes Department at the Ministry of Education and Higher Education, university representatives, school principals, among others.Destination Imagination Award, a collaboration with the Ministry of Education and Higher Education, is open to public and private schools across Qatar. The initiative is one-of-its-kind platform for highlighting Qatari culture and showcasing the creative abilities of Qatari students worldwide.Over the course of eight years, more than 15,000 students have participated in the programme's different challenges. The goal is to provide students of all backgrounds with fundamental scientific, engineering, technical, and leadership skills that will benefit them in their academic and future life.Addressing the gathering, Sheikh Faisal said: “We believe that learning should motivate future generations to achieve their goals and education is the foundation of inclusive sustainable development and economic progress giving the ability to boost productivity at work to establish integrated societies.”He also noted that Al Faisal Without Borders Foundation’s programmes and activities aim to achieve and implement Qatar National Vision 2030.Dr al-Nuaimi noted that over the past nine years, the Foundation has been conducting the initiative in collaboration and partnership with the Ministry of Education and Higher Education.“Destination Imagination programme includes many different challenges, such as scientific, engineering, and technical challenges, which positively affect students and give them experience in dealing with challenges outside of the approved curricula, qualifying them to compete with students from other countries around the world in the global championship,” he explained.'Face Your Destination' programme is a global initiative being implemented in over 30 nations around the world, as well as more than 50 states in the US. It is being carried out for the ninth year in a row by the Al Faisal Without Borders Foundation. More than 50 public schools engaged in the initiative last year.“The foundation is eager to support students and education by implementing programmes and activities that aim to develop students and provide them with the necessary skills to face a variety of challenges. The foundation implemented the programme this year with the participation of more than 165 teams from 60 public and private schools and approximately 1,200 male and female students competing in the programme's various challenges to qualify for the world championship in Kansas, US,” al-Yafei added.

HE Dr Ibrahim bin Saleh al-Naimi
New strategy to transform education in Qatar: official

The Ministry of Education and Higher Education will launch a new strategy very soon, focusing on initiatives and plans until 2030, Gulf Times has learnt.“We are working on the new education strategy, which is to be announced very soon, mostly this year," disclosed, HE Dr Ibrahim bin Saleh al-Naimi, Undersecretary at the Ministry of Education and Higher Education.The ministry is working on various aspects of the new strategy and several latest educational topics are being actively discussed to be added in the programme, he explained to Gulf Times on the sidelines of a Destination Imagination event Sunday."Various aspects are under serious consideration to be included in the new strategy. We have identified four particular areas to focus on. This will help us guide the education scenario to all the way to 2030 and beyond with very innovative ideas and plans,” explained, the official.“The four areas of focus are students, teachers, environment in the schools and the services provided by the ministry in the schools. All details are being worked out accordingly. The new strategy will lead to transforming education in the country for better and achieving our targets,” continued, Dr al-Naimi.As for the new academic calendar issued recently by the ministry, Dr al-Naimi pointed out there are no major changes except for some minor adjustments in some semesters.“Normally we announce the calendar for three to four years and it is not anything new. If there is any need for changes, we can always look into it and make necessary adaptations according to the emerging needs on a year to year basis,” he said.“Announcing the calendar for several years helps people to get prepared and plan their schedule well in advance. Both the private and public schools can make their plans accordingly and frame their schedule. This will also help to have more co-ordination between the private and public schools,” Dr al-Naimi added.

An activity from DLD Friday
Doha Learning Days Festival to be an annual standalone event: WISE CEO

Doha Learning Days (DLD) Festival, an initiative of Qatar Foundation's World Innovation Summit for Innovation (WISE), will be a standalone annual event hereafter, disclosed a top official.“Earlier we used to have it as a precursor to the WISE summit. From this year, it will be a standalone annual event with more and more partners from across Qatar,” said, Stavros N Yiannouka, CEO, WISE.DLD is focusing more on innovation and out of the box thinking for all the participants and the event is open to the public in the evenings, he explained.“At Doha Learning Days Festival, we are very much focused on innovative and experiential learning that can take place not just in the class rooms alone but outside the class rooms as well. So there are activations involving sports, activations involving technology, virtual reality or the metaverses as they are called. It also includes arts, creativity, and storytelling among others. Our partners include the Qatar Museums, the Qatar National Library and others. Several hundreds of students are participating in the programmes and it is open to the public in the evenings,” he explained.The WISE CEO also noted that 2022 WISE Awards winners were honoured at the DLD launch event and plans and actions are afoot for the 2023 WISE summit.The DLD continued with several activities Friday and with a special focus on youth empowerment and DLD is creating a lively, stimulating space for meaningful experiential education.The festival, which concludes Saturday is encouraging everyone in the community to embrace lifelong learning with over 50 activities that cater to all ages and interests. The programme is open to all from 5pm-9pm with free admission.Helping to create a vibrant atmosphere for youth empowerment, Qatar Sports for All Federation is hosting fitness sessions, an obstacle course, target shootout, badminton and tennis, and self-defence for a fun and wholesome family experience. Further emphasising personal well-being, “Well, well, well, what do you know?”, presented by The Learning Centre’s DARB initiative, can give participants the tools to prioritise their mental health.There are many activities to look forward Saturday at DLD, including immersive activities across science and technology, environment and sustainability, arts and culture, sport and wellbeing, and social awareness.Each of the festival’s activities engages participants fully in the learning experience, and one example is “Empowering Insaniyatna”. The session will involve youth in a collaborative activity and create a positive environment to discuss Insaniyatna (our humanity). It forms part of Insaniyatna’s aim to educate youth on the importance of equal access for people with disabilities and encourage innovative ideas relating to people with intellectual challenges and physical disabilities.Interactive awareness exercises by the Best Buddies Friendship volunteer programme will put participants’ knowledge of social inclusion issues to the test. Accompanied by their peers without disabilities, the session will emphasise their organisational mission and vision of fostering friendship and inclusion, and building awareness of inclusivity and diversity.Shahd Dauleh, learning ecosystems associate at WISE, said: “Doha Learning Days strives to make experiential learning accessible and beneficial to people of all ages and backgrounds in the wider community. With the festival, WISE aims to cultivate a positive experience in which learning can have wider applicability in our everyday lives and within a community atmosphere.”Amplifying the festival’s aim to equip youth with beneficial skills, Microsoft will challenge participants to replicate stadiums in Qatar and compete as a team using the game-based platform, Minecraft Education. Participants can unleash their creativity in a fun guided event by Trinity Talent Qatar, by following an artist step by step in creating their own work of art on a variety of media.An exclusive masterclass with the six 2022 WISE Awards winners taking place Saturday will explore holistic solutions in K-12 education and community action through education, an opportunity for teachers and practitioners to acquire practical tools and methods from a remarkable group of innovators.

WISE Awards winners with HE the Minister of Education and Higher Education Buthaina bint Ali al-Jabr al-Nuaimi and WISE CEO Stavros N Yiannouka. PICTURE: Thajudheen
WISE launches Doha Learning Days Festival

The World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE) launched Doha Learning Days (DLD) Festival Wednesday and honoured the winners of 2022 WISE Awards at a special ceremony in the presence of HE the Minister of Education and Higher Education Buthaina bint Ali al-Jabr al-Nuaimi at Msheireb Museums.While innovation in education marked the opening of the festival, it was also an occasion to highlight the winning projects of the WISE awardees. WISE, Qatar Foundation’s (QF) global education initiative, selected the winners from among projects worldwide for their innovative approaches to pressing education issues and positive impact on their communities.Minister al-Nuaimi, addressing the gathering at the opening ceremony, congratulated the award winners for their innovative and inspiring projects in addressing a number of global education challenges socially, environmentally, and economically.“Such activities and projects urge educators to awaken motivation and reflect on education as a value and impact to believe in the capabilities of young people, and the role of education in refining and investing these capabilities,” she said.“It always leads us to pose exciting challenges and inspiring competitions in which we target young people, not only to win awards and incentives, but for higher goals represented in employing science and knowledge to improve the quality of our lives, and the lives of others around us.”The minister also disclosed that Ministry of Education and Higher Education, in co-operation with the Doha International Family Institute at QF and a group of partners in the community, has launched a programme called ‘Tansheaa’ targeting young people by preparing and strengthening the aspects that direct their energies which will benefit them and their communities.Stavros N Yiannouka, WISE CEO who gave away the awards, highlighted the partnership with the Ministry of Education and Higher Education and with local partners in making the WISE events highly impactful and innovative. He also announced that the 11th edition of the global biennial WISE summit – one of the largest and most influential education gatherings – will take place from November 28-29, bringing an international network of educators and innovators to Doha to collaboratively share ideas and creative solutions to pressing challenges.The ceremony, hosted by Ahmed al-Mansoor, an educator at Qatar Academy for Science and Technology, one of QF’s Pre-University Education schools, turned the spotlight on global education challenges and the role of WISE in recognising and encouraging innovation to find new ideas and solutions.In an outdoor setting at Msheireb Museums, fostering a vibrant learning ecosystem is a goal of WISE-DLD Festival. The event will showcase local initiatives and encourage the community to take part in over 50 hands-on experiential learning activities with a strong youth empowerment focus. The festival welcomes the public until February 4.The six WISE Awards winners are from Mexico, Qatar, Kenya, India and the US, and the ceremony celebrated the projects as models of excellence that inspire innovative, creative action to support equity, access and quality education. Qatar-based teachers and practitioners can gain more insights from the six winners by registering for the exclusive WISE Awards Masterclass Series on Saturday.Zubair Junjunia, CEO and founder of ZNotes delivered a keynote address at the opening ceremony highlighting the importance of providing fair and equal access to education. He touched on his experience in setting up the online community-led learning platform, ZNotes, when he was 16 years old with its mission to enable high-quality education for all through student-built content and peer learning.Junjunia is among the 20+ content partners collaborating with WISE DLD to curate an exciting programme of workshops, master classes, and informal activities focusing on career development, financial literacy, tech skills, well-being, and the arts.

A 'Pathaan' poster. Image courtesy of Yash Raj Films Twitter
Indian blockbuster 'Pathaan' a big draw in Qatar too

Bollywood thriller ‘Pathaan’ has witnessed a huge response in India and places around the world, including in Qatar, it is learnt.The much-anticipated Shah Rukh Khan starrer was released at a large number of screens in theatres around Qatar on January 25, and saw particularly big crowds during the opening weekend. Many shows were reportedly sold out.The spy thriller directed by Siddharth Anand also stars Deepika Padukone and John Abraham in key roles, with Salman Khan making a much-lauded cameo appearance.According to reports, 'Pathaan' has shattered many box office records for a Hindi movie, with large crowds witnessed at cinemas in India and elsewhere. The film's producers, Yash Raj Films, said it had earned $72.09mn worldwide (gross) until Monday.In Qatar, too, the film has attracted big crowds. It is Shah Rukh's first release in four years, and fans eagerly anticipated the movie.“We are showing this movie at three locations: The Mall, Katara Cinema and Royal Plaza. We had a 'full house' for all the shows on the opening days. People have welcomed the movie with both arms,” Mohsin Waqar, operations manager of Qatar Cinema, told Gulf Times.“The audience is made up of not just Indians or people from the Indian subcontinent, but several Qatari nationals are also among the people watching the movie in theatres and enjoying it. It has been well accepted by the audience here in Qatar and the movie is drawing a good response from every corner,” he added.Meanwhile, those who have watched the film echoed similar sentiments with most of them feeling contented with the movie. “I went with my friends to watch the movie on the first day and we were very satisfied with the performance of the actors as well as the storyline. It was really heartening to watch a Shah Rukh starrer on the big screen after several years and he did not disappoint us. It was worth watching the movie in a theatre and we would love to see it once again," said Greg Reji , a Shah Rukh fan.“It is a typical Bollywood masala movie that entertains fans to the maximum. In addition, the story has several twists and turns and grips the audience in a big way. All in all, it was worth the money and we enjoyed it till the last minute,” added another film enthusiast.'Pathaan' screenings at cinemas in Villaggio, City Center and Asian Town, among other places, have also reportedly witnessed high footfall.An Indian expatriate said he had to buy tickets to a midnight show for his family last weekend because the previous shows were mostly sold out and only some seats at the front were available. "Even the midnight show was almost full, and the audience included many families," he added.

Maryam Hassan al-Hajri
'Qatar Spotlight' initiative to make education more ‘innovative, impactful’

Aiming to make education more innovative and impactful in the country, Qatar Foundation (QF) plans to promote novel and unique ideas through its initiative, Qatar Spotlight, a senior official told Gulf Times Tuesday.“We have partnered with HundrEd, a non-profit organisation to deliver an event and experience to all the educators in Qatar," explained Maryam Hassan al-Hajri, director of Partnerships and Strategic Initiatives Department under Pre University Education, QF."We ask our educators to come up with innovations and also participate with their creative ideas so that we can share them with other educators in the country to make education more innovative and impactful,” she said.Speaking on the sidelines of the Qatar Spotlight event to celebrate the winners of the first round of the programme, al-Hajri said: “It is a unique way to get all the educators around the world to share their innovations. But we wanted to do a special spotlight in Qatar for Qatari schools. Here we are celebrating 10 winning innovations. We make a video of the innovation and then we upload it online so that all the educators can get access to it and can implement it in their schools and classrooms and learn from each other.”Al-Hajri noted that the projects have participation from schools, educational institutions and organisations that promote and influence education like Qatar National Library, Qatar Museums among others.She explained: “The projects have to be noble ideas and at the same time impactful for the students. We are doing a second round of Qatar Spotlight in the next two years, to provide opportunities for people to come up with new ideas, and document and share them. They can make a video and submit them for Qatar Spotlight recognition. We invite all educators in Qatar both private and public schools as well as other institutions that promote education to participate in the initiative and share their innovations.“The innovations have to be impactful and creative as the world is changing rapidly. There is the need to innovate in the classrooms to engage the students and inspire them so that they become lifelong learners and learning becomes an enjoyable process.“QF supports and provides assistance for the projects and upload high quality videos. It will feature the innovator and will be online for a very long time so that people can see and learn from it. We want the innovative educators to be celebrated so that it will encourage all others to think differently and come out with great ideas,” she highlighted.“We want to generate more data through these projects so that we can inform researchers and based on their findings we can develop more initiatives maximising the impact of the innovations. This is what we are focusing on. We want to do anything that is impactful, educational for students and the new generations. Those who can contribute in this endeavour can collaborate with us,” added, al-Hajri.

HE Minister of Education and Higher Education Buthaina bint al-Jabr al-Nuaimi and QF officials at the booth of a winning project. PICTURES: Shaji Kayamkulam
Qatar Spotlight showcases projects of Qatar's educational innovators

The Qatar Foundation (QF) initiative, Qatar Spotlight, announced and honoured Tuesday 10 winning projects for their innovative ideas in the presence of HE the Minister of Education and Higher Education Buthaina bint al-Jabr al-Nuaimi and QF officials.Qatar Spotlight, a joint initiative between the QF and non-profit organisation HundrED, features the brightest innovations in the field of pre-university education, created by educators in Qatar.These innovations, which are capable of being scaled around the world and making an impact on education at pre-university level, include various topics including biomedical, farming, and virtual learning.“I feel pride and happiness in the innovations of students and teachers that contribute to making education an enjoyable and attractive experience, and instill the value of research and exploration among our students,” said HE al-Nuaimi.Sheikha Noof Ahmed al-Thani, the executive director for Strategic Initiatives and Partnerships at the QF’s Pre-University Education, addressed the gathering."We are pleased with the large number of innovations submitted to this initiative, an indication of the success of its first edition in Qatar,” she said. “It reflects the ability of educators in schools throughout Qatar to innovate.”“We are proud of the innovations presented today and their success in reaching the final stage, so that they can be recognised by people around the world,” Sheikha Noof added. “Every unique practice that can help children progress and thrive, however simple, is an innovation.”“We will continue to support educators and their innovations through our ongoing partnership with HundrED, and we invite everyone to apply and participate in the next editions of this initiative,” she said.Qatar Spotlight was launched during the 2019 LEAPS Summit through a partnership between the QF's Pre-University Education and HundrED, an organisation that identifies and shares innovations in K-12 education.The initiative aims to promote innovation in pre-university education, and to provide an opportunity to members of Qatar’s educational sector to submit their ideas, with Qatar Spotlight sharing the 10 most impactful and scalable submissions with a wider global network of educators.“When the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic hit the world in early 2020, it was clear that the education sector was going through tremendous changes and challenges,” HundrED executive director Lasse Leponiemi explained. “Schools closed, we moved to distance and hybrid learning, and all over the world teachers were doing their best to support students.”“Today, I want to congratulate all educators, teachers and other stakeholders,” he continued. “Through collaboration, dedication, and love of learning, you have managed to support young people through these challenging years.”The 10 winning projects from across Qatar are:The Biotechnology and Biomedical Engineering Programme by Qatar Science & Technology Secondary School for BoysThe Ethics Curriculum from the QF's Qatar Academy Al WakraThe Farm Your Country programme by Al Faisal Without Boarders FoundationThe Glocalisation Initiative by the QF's Tariq Bin Ziad SchoolThe Museum in Residence Project by the Qatar Children's Museum at Sherborne Qatar Preparatory SchoolThe My Friend Robot project by the Zainab Preparatory School for GirlsQuests by the QF’s AcademyatiThe Science and Sustainability Club project by the QF’s Qatar Academy SidraThe Science Book Forum Project by the Qatar National LibraryThe Virtual Learning Resources project by the Juwayriyah bint Al-Harith Primary School for Girls.

Dr Logan Cochrane
New book discusses sustainability aspects and challenges in Qatar

A new open-access book on sustainability documents by academics and researchers in Qatar discusses the sustainability challenges, efforts and accomplishments in the country.Titled 'Sustainable Qatar', the book was researched and edited by Dr Logan Cochrane, associate professor at the College of Public Policy (CPP) at Qatar Foundation’s Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU), and Reem al-Hababi, PhD student in the Gulf Studies Programme at Qatar University, and an alumna of the Master of Public Policy programme at CPP.As each country is faced with its unique set of challenges in its journey towards sustainability, Qatar is no different when it comes to its efforts and aspirations towards achieving its environmental, social and economic sustainability.Thirty-nine authors from across Qatar have contributed to the book, consisting of 19 chapters that tackle sustainability issues from a variety of lenses, and expert perspectives ranging from education, carbon neutrality, water security, innovation and the broader climate change crisis.The book came about as a result of a shared interest in sustainability and a collaborative research opportunity between al-Hababi and Dr Cochrane, which they ultimately proposed to Springer Science+Business Media, a German multinational book publishing company, in 2021.“While there is a lot of research on sustainability available, we wanted to put all these rich viewpoints from diverse disciplines together in one place. That’s how we decided to move forward with the book,” Dr Cochrane said.The authors of the book include academics and researchers from QF member Earthna and QF partner Texas A&M University at Qatar, in addition to HBKU as well as the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy, Qatar University, and the Doha Institute for Graduate Studies.While editing and publishing a book with such a large number of authors is always challenging, Dr Cochrane believes each of the contributions to the book was instrumental in the understanding of Qatar’s sustainability landscape.“Through this book, our aim is to not only highlight the importance of sustainability for Qatar and the region, but to additionally document the efforts made by both governmental and non-governmental actors and academics in this field, and to help us learn from the challenges they have experienced and overcome so far,” al-Hababi said.“Some of the key takeaways from the book include the importance of analysing the context when complex topics such as environment and climate-related issues are looked at; the uniqueness of Qatar’s case in terms of geography, ecology, demography and economy; the challenges that result from the realities of these aspects; and the importance of an integrated, holistic approach to addressing sustainability while ensuring participation from all parts of society,” she added.Moving forward, the authors hope this book will act as a guide for future discussions and policies contributing to sustainability efforts in the region. An open-access Arabic version of the book is also under way and will be published by HBKU in the near future.

Cuban hospital
Study finds need for more infection control strategies

A Qatar-based study has highlighted the need for more strategies in infection control to avoid healthcare-associated infections (HAI), especially the device-associated ones.According to an article published on, the study was conducted at Cuban Hospital of Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) on 155 patients with HAIs reported from 130 (85.5%) during the Covid-19 pandemic.An increase in the incidence of HAIs, particularly device-associated infections (DAIs), was reported worldwide during the pandemic. The study was aimed to estimate the incidence of HAIs in an intensive care unit during a 10-year period and compare HAI incidence during the pre-Covid-19 and Covid-19 periods.The study highlights that HAIs in critical patients affect the quality and safety of patient care and increase patient morbidity and mortality. Moreover, HAI decreases efficiency in the healthcare system due to prolonged hospital stays, antimicrobial use and other cost-related issues.Highlighting the findings of various reports, the study notes that before the pandemic, DAI prevention and control showed progress in reducing the incidence of DAIs and other adverse outcomes. The Covid-19 pandemic has significantly disrupted global healthcare systems. Infection prevention and control programmes have been seriously affected with increased HAI incidence and compromised staff safety and healthcare efficiency.Originally a 75-bed public hospital, the Cuban Hospital expanded to 385 beds, after becoming part of HMC. The facility’s infection control programme is guided by the corporate infection control programme. Data from infection surveillance suggest an increase in the incidence of HAIs in the pandemic compared to the pre-pandemic period, mostly in critically ill patients.A retrospective, observational study of HAIs in the medical–surgical ICU at the Cuban Hospital was conducted. DAIs included central line-associated bloodstream infections, catheter-associated urinary tract infections and ventilator-associated pneumonia. Data included the annual incidence of HAIs, etiology, and antimicrobial resistance, using definitions provided by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, except for other respiratory tract infections.The frequencies of DAIs and non-DAIs were higher during the Covid-19 period, except for Clostridium difficile infections. Species under Enterobacter, Klebsiella, and Pseudomonas dominated in both periods, and higher frequencies of Acinetobacter, Enterococcus, Candida, Escherichia coli, Serratia marcescens, and Stenotrophoma maltophila were noted during Covid-19 period. Device utilisation ratio increased to 10.7% for central lines and 12.9% for ventilators, while a reduction of 15% in urinary catheter utilisation ratio was observed.The most frequently reported infection was other respiratory tract infections which were not classified as ventilator-associated pneumonia. In patients with coronavirus infection, there were two confirmed cases of bloodstream infection related to peripheral venous lines, four cases with decubitus ulcer infection, five cases of skin infection associated with tracheostomy, and one case of symptomatic urinary tract infection.The study also found out that DAI incidence was higher during the pandemic, with risks for central line-associated bloodstream infections, catheter-associated urinary tract infections and ventilator-associated pneumonia increased by 2.79%, 15.31% and 3.25% respectively.The study concluded that incidence of DAIs increased during the pandemic period, with limited evidence of antimicrobial resistance. It suggests that the infection control programme should evaluate strategies to minimise the impact of the pandemic on HAIs.

Gulf Times
AFG College to launch new programmes from next academic year

AFG College with the University of Aberdeen will offer two more new programmes from the next academic year after completing all the necessary approvals, according to the chairperson.“We are planning to introduce computer science and artificial intelligence pending approval from the Ministry of Education and Higher Education. It could be started either from September or January intake,” Dr Sheikha Aisha bint Faleh al-Thani, chairperson of Al Faleh Educational Holding as well as the founder and chairperson of AFG College with the University of Aberdeen told Gulf Times.Speaking on the sidelines of the graduation ceremony of the Class of 2022 of the university, Dr Sheikha Aisha said AFG College with the University of Aberdeen plans to introduce several new programmes in the coming years. “We have plans to introduce medical studies in the coming years and we plan to launch PhD programmes in some specific areas. We will expand the programmes depending on the needs of the country as well as the demands of the labour market in the country and across the globe,” she explained.The chairperson said that the student strength is growing steadily year after year as the university has added several new programmes. She noted: “Our numbers are growing strong every year and we have a large number of students. This shows the confidence of the community in the excellence of our programmes and we get very strong feedback from the graduates and our alumni as well as the employers of our graduates.”“We have also started the construction of our new campus which is expected to be completed in 18 months and we are planning to complete the construction in different stages. We are aiming to complete two buildings in the first stage. Then we will develop more buildings as we aim to expand our programmes and start courses in several new areas. We hope to become a full-fledged one with all the facilities in the very near future,” added Dr Sheikha Aisha.

Dr Sheikha Aisha bint Faleh al-Thani and Sheikh Nawaf bin Nasser al-Thani at the graduation ceremony. (Supplied picture)
AFG College with University of Aberdeen celebrates graduation of Class of 2022

The graduation of the Class of 2022 of AFG College with the University of Aberdeen was held on Tuesday.The grand ceremony started with the the age old tradition of the Scottish bagpiper ushering in the graduates and faculty in a procession. The graduates included 162 Qataris and 15 other nationalities who successfully completed their programmes of study in Qatar. The ceremony at Sheraton Grand Doha was attended by Dr Sheikha Aisha bint Faleh al-Thani, chairperson of Al Faleh Educational Holding and founder and chairperson of AFG College; Sheikh Nawaf bin Nasser al-Thani, chairperson of Nasser Bin Khaled Holding; Prof Alan Speight, vice-principal of the University of Aberdeen; Jon Wilks, British ambassador; Dr Khalid al-Ali, acting assistant undersecretary for Higher Education Affairs at the Ministry of Education and Higher Education, Qatar, and other dignitaries.Students and guests were joined by representatives from the University of Aberdeen, AFG faculty, staff, parents, family and friends of the graduates. The graduates were conferred their degrees by Prof Alan Speight.Speaking at the event, Dr Sheikha Aisha said: “I am always happy to witness the graduation ceremony of our graduates, who have all worked so hard in completing their studies. Today marks the culmination of their determination and is a day for celebration not just for the graduates, but for their families and guests who have played a part in their journey. I am confident that those who have graduated will go forward to be a force for good in their chosen careers and within the wider community.”Prof Speight highlighted the importance of the partnership between the University of Aberdeen and AFG College and noted that Aberdeen University is committed to continue the international reach and the diversity of the student body along with the AFG College.British ambassador Wilks noted: “I am delighted to see so many students graduate with a British degree from a campus in Doha. They are an important and valued part of the human bridge between the UK and Qatar. I am confident that they will go on to future success, and I wish them all the best in their future endeavours.”Brian Buckley, AFG College principal said: " It is such a pleasure to see so many familiar faces graduate at what is a wonderful celebration of the hard work of all our students. I am particularly pleased to see our first LLM International Commercial Law cohort graduate, having worked so hard during the Covid-19 period."The ceremony included student speeches, with the cohort representatives reflecting on their study journey, experiences of the programmes and concluding with wishing the class of 2022 all success for their future, and encouraging them to be a positive force for change.

Prof John Man Kon Wong
Qatar to set up regional whale shark research, training centre

Qatar is in the process of setting up a regional whale shark research, training and education centre for the entire Gulf and beyond, Gulf Times has learnt.“Qatar has the ideal situation for studying and carrying out research on whale sharks in the region. So we are already in the process of setting up a regional whale shark research, training and education centre for the whole region,” disclosed Prof John Man Kon Wong, adviser to the Assistant Undersecretary for Protection and Nature Reserves Affairs at the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change.The official was speaking to Gulf Times on the sidelines of a meeting by the Qatar Natural History Group on the topic ‘Qatar Marine Environment, Past Present and Future.’Two offices and one lab have already been set up for the purpose, Prof Wong said. He explained: “The ministry is very supportive about it. The Unesco is also interested in partnering with us. We have to go through the procedures with the UN and the Unesco and hope to complete the whole process within two years.”The marine expert noted that Qatar has a very rich marine diversity because of its location. “It is the only peninsula in the Gulf region and we have both the deep and shallow waters of marine life and the currents bring a lot of migratory spices to our shores. That is why we have dugongs, whale sharks among others and especially the whale sharks and dugongs feed in our water,” he said.Prof Wong revealed that Qatar is setting up a marine protected area to protect 30% of the waters of the country. He also pointed out that Qatar has a very unique and the best of the marine environment suitable for many of the species.“Qatar has the shallow coastal waters and the deepest off shore waters unlike many other countries in the region. Moreover we are in the middle of the region and the migratory birds that move through the region have to go through Qatar. It is the mid-point for them. Our features are very suitable for sea turtles. That is why we have the north and the east beaches with sea turtles nesting in large numbers and we have the queen turtles coming here for feeding on our sea grass beds,” he said.According to the expert, the greatest aggregation of dugongs in the world is in the Gulf between Qatar, Bahrain and the UAE. He also said that the largest congregation of whale sharks in the Gulf region takes place in the northern waters of Qatar in the summer.“We see the largest congregation of whale sharks in the region, north of Qatar in the summer months. Last August we went to study it and we found about 50 of them at a very small spot. They come here to feed on tuna fish eggs and it is actually happening in the north-east water of Qatar because of the geographic situation and the currents. The area is the centre in the Gulf for whale sharks congregation and therefore an ideal location to study more about them. After the feeding season, they move out to Saudi Arabia and out of the Gulf region,” added Prof Wong.

A jubilant Sufiya Sufi with her team members and supporters after the run.
Ultra-runner covers Qatar in Guinness World Records bid

Ultra-runner Sufiya Sufi, a holder of three Guinness World Records, Friday completed another feat of ‘fastest run across Qatar’ - south to north of the country - in 30 hours and 34 minutes, the organisers told Gulf Times.In a Guinness World record attempt, the Indian pro-athlete, Sufi started her run from Abu Samra on Thursday at 6.16am and touched the finish line in Al Ruwais Friday at 12.50pm. The entire recording of the expedition and other evidences will be submitted to the Guinness World Records for formal recognition of the feat.Sufi had targeted to finish the run within 35 hours but she made it well ahead of the estimated time. Speaking to Gulf Times a day before the expedition, she had said that she would do it at one go without breaks.“This is just about 200km and a great opportunity for me to traverse the country from south to north. My target is to complete the whole run in about 35 hours or less than that. This will be the first leg of my international expedition which I am planning to take up at various other countries,” Sufi said.Indian Sports Centre (ISC), affiliated to the Indian embassy in Qatar, had arranged the logistic support for the expedition. ISC vice president, Sheji Valikayath said it was a great achievement for Sufi.“We congratulate Sufiya Sufi for the fantastic feat. We hope that she will continue her international expeditions in several other countries successfully. We are very glad that ISC could provide assistance and logistical support in this attempt. Many ISC members also had joined her towards the last leg of her run.”With the ‘Run Across Qatar’ challenge, Sufi has attempted the Official Guinness World Record to clock the fastest known time to run across Qatar and raise awareness towards leading a healthy lifestyle.During Friday's run, Sufi was joined by many local runners and logistically supported by many others. Sufi had to battle strong and chilly headwinds. Three of her team members accompanied Sufi during the run.

Sufiya Sufi with ISC vice-president Sheji Valiyakath and other officials. PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam
Pro-athlete aims for world record by running across Qatar under 35 hours

A pro-athlete and ultra-runner is embarking on a mission to set a new Guinness World Record by running from the south to north of Qatar in less than 35 hours. Indian runner Sufiya Sufi (37) will launch her record attempt from the Abu Samra border in the south of Qatar at 6am Thursday and reach Al Ruwais in the north on Friday afternoon, completing the run of over 200km in less than 35 hours to set a new record.Speaking at a press conference organised by Indian Sports Centre (ISC) at the Integrated Indian Community Centre Tuesday, Sufi said: “This is my first time outside India and my first international expedition. I hold the world record for the fastest runner to finish the Golden Quadrilateral Road Run of 6,000km, Manali-Leh Himalayan Ultra Run Challenge and Siachen-Kargil Ultra Run. So, this gives me another opportunity to set a new world record if I am successful in the venture.”Indian runner Sufiya Sufi will launch her record attempt from the Abu Samra border in the south of Qatar at 6am on Thursday and reach Al Ruwais in the north on Friday afternoon, completing the run of over 200km in less than 35 hours to set a new record.Vice-president of ISC Sheji Valiyakath said, “This is a sort of sports diplomacy and ISC is supporting the athlete to set a world record. We are also trying to arrange some financial support for the initiative and request community members to provide all support for this great cause.”So far, Sufi holds three Guinness World Records for her various ultra-distance running expeditions. She rose to prominence when she became the fastest female runner to complete the Trans India Running challenge of 4,000km in 87 days in 2019.“This expedition, I am doing at one go without breaks. This is just about 200km and is a great opportunity for us to traverse the country from south to north without any major break. My target is to complete the whole run within 35 hours or less than that. This will be the first leg of my international expedition, which I am planning to take up in various other countries,” Sufi explained.As for the modalities of completing the run and setting a new record, Sufi said Guinness World Records officials have given some clear guidelines to fulfil the conditions for the new world record. “We have to follow these guidelines and submit various files such as the GPS, photographs and videos. We have to record the whole run and submit all the evidence to them after completing the expedition. A support team of four members will accompany me during the run, including my physiotherapist, nutritionist and a media crew,” she noted.The run will pass through Doha and many people from Qatar have already expressed their desire to join her during the run. The entire expedition is expected to cost around QR30,000 and the organisers have appealed for support from everyone in the country to meet the expenses of the initiative. “As I posted about the expedition on my social media handles, many from Qatar have expressed their interest in participating in the run. They will be taking part along with me from different places for short distances according to their capacity. We have already got 40% of the finance needed for the event and we hope more people will come forward,” Sufi added.

Generation Amazing aims to empower new generations of young leaders.
Qatar leaves a lasting legacy of World Cup through Generation Amazing foundation

With FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 coming to a spectacular and stunning close, a special programme set up in connection with the successful bid of the tournament is leaving a lasting legacy for the entire globe.Generation Amazing, launched in 2010 by the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC) as part of Qatar’s bid for the FIFA World Cup 2022, has now been turned into a foundation to continue its activities in different parts of the world.“Generation Amazing is now officially a foundation that will continue to empower and unlock human potential and will cement its role as a centre for youth excellence and leadership around the world for many years to come,” HE Hassan al-Thawadi, secretary-general, SC announced at a programme prior to the World Cup in Qatar.“When we host the final match at Lusail Stadium and when the last ball is kicked and the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 champion is crowned, that will be the final day of World Cup 2022. However, it will serve as a launch pad for Generation Amazing legacy. Your inspiring stories will continue to be written over the coming years and decades,” al-Thawadi had told the Generation Amazing team at the event.Generation Amazing’s football for development outreach and education programmes help support vulnerable and displaced people. The goal is to empower new generations of young leaders to transform their communities and generate positive social development through the creation of sustainable programmes.Over 1mn people in more than 35 countries across Africa, Asia and the Americas have already benefitted from the programmes.Generation Amazing has established long-term partnerships with FIFA Foundation, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, Education Above All, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and CONCACAF, football’s governing body for North, Central America and the Caribbean. Generation Amazing has also built more than 30 football pitches for under-privileged communities across the Middle East and Asia over the past 10 years.Beyond 2022, Generation Amazing Foundation will continue to use sports as a tool for lasting social change with the vision to use football to transfer skills that empower a generation of change makers and their communities. It aims to inspire a generation of young people active in their support for less privileged communities around the world.“By using the power of football, participants in our programmes learn key life skills such as teamwork, leadership and communication, to address social issues in the places they live,” said Nasser al-Khori, executive director, Generation Amazing Foundation. “With the support of our partners, Generation Amazing is making an important global contribution and working hard to leverage Qatar’s hosting of the FIFA World Cup.”Generation Amazing Community Clubs are active in four countries and helping people to organise social events, learn key skills and develop community spirit. Community clubs were first established in India and the Philippines in 2020 before new facilities were launched in Qatar and Rwanda earlier this year. Activities delivered as part of the Generation Amazing programme teach sporting values and essential life skills. All the programmes adhere to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.In 2020, Generation Amazing created the first Generation Amazing Community Clubs (GACCs), starting with projects in Tacloban (the Philippines) and Rurka Kalan (India). A safe place to gather, learn and play, the Community Club model is designed to complement and build upon the successes of the Generation Amazing football for development programme in line with United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals.In 2022, Generation Amazing launched two GACCs in Qatar, one at the Temporary Afghan Evacuee Camp and the other in Lusail.

QF providing accessibility services during a football match
Qatar makes giant strides in accessibility in 2022

The country made giant strides in accessibility during 2022 with several achievements, including making the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 one of the most accessible tournaments in history.During the year that concluded Saturday, several initiatives were launched to ensure all sections of the society have access to key facilities and services in the country. With the World Cup in focus, there were special efforts to ensure that nobody is left out from watching and enjoying the matches.“From the very beginning of our journey to host this historic tournament, our commitment to accessibility has been unwavering. Not only did we work diligently to see that stadiums and tournament sites met the highest accessibility standards, we also actively involved the disabled community to make sure the World Cup creates a lasting legacy for the disabled community beyond Qatar 2022,” said HE Hassan al- Thawadi, Secretary General, the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy ( SC) while speaking at one of the events in November.Qatar 2022 featured a number of firsts for disabled fans, including the availability of audio descriptive commentary in Arabic at all matches. Three stadiums hosted sensory rooms for fans with sensory access requirements, while every match venue was built to exacting accessibility standards, including accessible parking, seating, bathrooms and concession stands.Members of the Accessibility Forum worked closely with organisations in the transportation, hospitality and cultural sectors to make Qatar more accessible. The result has been substantial enhancements – making it easier for people to move around the country and access key sites and services.Qatar Foundation (QF) is one organisation that has been in the forefront promoting accessibility with several programmes in the recent years. In the run up to the World Cup, QF launched a special guide, an e-guide, ‘Qatar for All', to support people of all abilities to explore Qatar.QF had already initiated another initiative ‘Ability Friendly Programme’ which is open to members of the community through QF’s Qader Award regardless of their financial circumstances and provides people with specific needs and disabilities to participate in specialised sports programmes free of cost.The QF guide made available in Arabic, English and in braille versions help better enable everyone to navigate through Doha’s rich cultural, educational, and entertainment experiences. Inspired by the demand for accessibility-specific information, the inclusive guide is built based on the experiences and recommendations of people with disabilities.QF’s guide enables users to explore 30 attractions and experiences, saving time and effort for those looking for places suitable for people with disabilities. The guide is also designed for everyone, including the elderly and with children in strollers. The one of its kind in Qatar, the guide clearly details some of the rich experiences that everyone can partake in; from culture, education to entertainment.By delivering an amazing World Cup, Qatar has set the accessibility standards so high and ensured that accessibility is a core aspect of community development in the country.

The building decorated in sky-blue colour
QU turns Argentine team's quarters at the campus into a mini museum

Qatar University (QU) has earmarked the quarters where the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 champions, Argentina led by captain Lionel Messi stayed at the university campus into a mini museum. QU announced the same through its social media handles Tuesday.QU campus was the base camp for the La Albiceleste for practice during the Qatar World Cup along with Spain. QU had opened three sports complexes for the teams to practise outdoor, in addition to the indoor gym facilities.QU has decorated the place in the blue and white theme replicating the colour of the jersey of the Argentinian team. The university has adorned the rooms with photographs of the jerseys of the players and the names of several players written over them. There are also autographs by the players and a large Qatari and Argentine flag adorn the entrance of the area.The entire structure is decorated in blue with the pictures of the players and the logo of the Argentinian Football Association (AFA) at the opening door. In addition ‘Vamos Argentina’ is also written in bold over the building. The lobby of the place is filled with blue sofa sets and the facades with pictures of the team members and its halls filled with posters of the World Cup champions.QU has also released a video which starts showing ‘Heroes Residence’ and accompanied by the famous Argentine chant which the Argentine fans used to sing to support their team on and off the field.

Dignitaries at the event. PICTURE: Thajudheen
Sheikha Moza urges realisation of SDGs; EAA donates 27 tents to displaced communities

Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, Chairperson of Education Above All (EAA) Foundation, drew a parallel with the question, "If not now, when?”, which Her Highness had asked some 12 years ago about the hosting of the FIFA World Cup in Qatar, in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations.Her Highness Sheikha Moza was speaking at the closing ceremony of the EAA’s Scoring 4 the Goals campaign at EAA's SDG Pavilion, FIFA Fan Festival, Saturday.Her Highness also participated in the 'Walk to Zero' walkathon that took place to raise awareness of achieving three key ambitious goals that are part of the effort to achieve the SDGs - zero hunger, zero out-of-school children, and zero-dose immunisation.She was joined by deputy secretary-general of the United Nation Amina Mohamed, former President of Croatia Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, First Lady of Rwanda Jeannette Kagame, First Lady of Albania Armanda Ymeri, and several of sheikhs and ministers.EAA, the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy, and its human and social legacy programme, Generation Amazing Foundation, announced that 27 tents, designed by Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA) to serve and support displaced populations, will be donated to the International Organisation of Migration (IOM) and Qatar Red Crescent Society, as part of the country’s efforts to ensure the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 has a lasting impact beyond the tournament. The news was announced at a ZHA-EAA replica tent inside the FIFA Fan Festival in Doha.With the FIFA World Cup final taking place Sunday and the need for both the finalists to score goals to win the tournament, Her Highness Sheikha Moza said; “Argentina and France have to score goals to win the World Cup. And we, governments, NGOs, civil societies and everyone of us must contribute for scoring the goals our planet definitely needs.”“Across the last four weeks of the World Cup here in Qatar, we have hosted several heads of states, ministers and other global leaders. Beyond football, these world leaders have participated in SDG advocacy and several of them making commitments here in our pavilion. We have used the platform created by a world event to highlight matters crucial to all of us. This pavilion in itself is a great place for commitment to sustainability,” she explained.In her address, Her Highness Sheikha Moza said many tents designed by ZHA will be sent to different countries to serve and support displaced populations and to be used as classrooms or other purposes."Unlike the teams in this World Cup, the SDGs do not compete and every one of them must be achieved. If every action we take, from refilling a water bottle to building a school, is made with thought and purpose, then our planet has a future," Her Highness Sheikha Moza concluded.Three ZHA-EAA tents are currently being used as schools for hundreds of displaced Pakistani and Syrian children in Pakistan and Turkey, respectively. The newly donated structures will be used as schools, clinics and temporary shelter for displaced communities in Syria, Turkey and Yemen. Fifteen tents will be given to IOM, of which 10 will serve as schools and five as health clinics in Turkey and Yemen. In Syria, for its part, Qatar Red Crescent Society will receive 12 structures that it will serve as shelters for displaced communities in Syria.Yasir al-Jamal, director-general, Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy, said: “These vital structures will showcase the legacy of the first FIFA World Cup in our region. From day one, our goal has been to deliver a tournament that would benefit Qatar, the region and the world.“This project highlights the power of the World Cup by helping vulnerable communities long after the final whistle and complements our already successful Generation Amazing Foundation, a football for development legacy initiative. We are proud that Generation Amazing will continue toinspire and serve communities through football well into the future.”Education Above All’s CEO, Fahad al-Sulaiti, said: “At EAA, we are committed to doing our part to achieving SDG 4, and by donating these tents, we are acting now to help countless children in Yemen, Turkey and Syria to have access to quality and accessible education.”Zaha Hadid Architects’ project architect Gerry Cruz added, “We have a like-minded partner in Education Above All who is committed to investing in innovative design for the better good of disadvantaged and vulnerable communities. We hope these newly donated tents will bring safety, learning and play to thousands in Yemen, Syria and Turkey.”The ZHA-EAA tents allow for natural daylight and are sustainable, weather-proof, modular structures that can be easily moved and re-assembled, incorporating components that can also be upcycled, thereby making them ideal for displaced populations. With more than 70mn people displaced in their own countries or living as refugees, and half under the age of 18, EAA saw a critical need for a suitable infrastructure that could serve as classrooms, temporary housing, and medical centres for displaced children and their families. That’s when EAA teamed up with Zaha Hadid Architects to create a structure that offers safe, versatile and sustainable spaces for children to use for play, learning, and development.The ZHA-EAA tent housing EAA’s Scoring 4 the Goals campaign at the FIFA Fan Festival has been visited by football fans over the course of the FIFA World Cup. The campaign includes art and immersive video exhibits, games and activities which creates awareness about the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.