Sunday, April 21, 2024 | Daily Newspaper published by GPPC Doha, Qatar.
 Joey Aguilar
Joey Aguilar
Joey Aguilar has been a journalist since 2013 at Gulf Times, reporting on events related to Qatar. He was earlier a journalist for eight years in the Philippines. He became one of the 2015 United Nations Foundation Global Goals Press Fellows. He has also attended a number of journalism seminars in the Philippines.
WNBA icon Sylvia Fowles with aspiring female basketball players at the event Friday at Education City. PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam
Qatar Foundation, NBA inspire athletes at ‘Her Time to Play’ panel discussion

Qatar Foundation and the NBA held a panel discussion Friday, titled 'Her Time to Play', at Education City aimed at fostering female empowerment through sports. The event featured Sylvia Fowles, a two-time WNBA champion, 2017 WNBA MVP, and an eight-time WNBA All-Star; Dawn Smyth, NBA Head of Head of International Youth Development; and Amal al-Keldi, Technical Affairs Coordinator at the Qatar Basketball Federation.Dozens of budding female basketball players, coaches, and trainers gathered for the talk, which explored topics about self-confidence, teamwork, and inspiration in sports. According to the organisers, the 'Her Time to Play' initiative, spearheaded by the NBA and WNBA, underlines a commitment to providing girls and women with opportunities to engage in basketball and pursue careers in coaching and athletic leadership.Sharing her insights and personal journey, Fowles credited her mother as her greatest inspiration, saying: “I really wasn’t into basketball, it took me to get into high school to appreciate the game and really have good coaches, but if I had to choose one person who really inspired me, that will have to be my mom, she is my biggest fan.”Al-Keldi, expressing her enthusiasm for the initiative, stressed its potential to instill invaluable life lessons in young athletes, both on and off the court. “This initiative can help the girls learn values not only on the court but also off the court,” she told 'Gulf Times' on the sidelines of the event, highlighting the importance of confidence and teamwork in shaping future leaders.Smyth, meanwhile, echoed sentiments of empowerment, drawing parallels between her own experiences and the aspirations of the young athletes in attendance. “We operate in hundreds of countries around the world and get to work with young and inspiring women like you,” she said, citing the global impact of initiatives promoting female participation in sports.About the significance of teamwork in basketball and its impact on broader life experiences, Fowles underscored the transformative power of collaboration, saying: “The more we understand each other and help each other out, the outcome is always better.“When you can do things in a group, you learn these certain skills that do translate over and realised it. For me it was travelling overseas, fly to different countries, meeting new people, try new food, and basketball did that, without basketball I don’t think I have those opportunities,” she said, noting the profound life lessons learned through the sport.About navigating the challenges of balancing athletic pursuits with academic responsibilities, Fowles offered encouragement to aspiring athletes, highlighting the importance of time management and prioritisation.“If this is something that you are passionate about, something that you want to see flourish, of course, this is something that you have to put time into,” she pointed out.About developing self-confidence, Smyth cited the value of confronting diverse challenges, embracing occasional setbacks, and the importance of resilience. She urged them to navigate discomfort by exposing themselves to new experiences, whether in unfamiliar countries, with different people or through trying new sports.“You might have a big challenge and you might fail, but the next morning you get up and you work hard and you do something to make a change, and the more time you do that the more confidence you have to lead yourself through these challenges, and I think that is important. The more time you try that, the easier it gets,” she said.

Gulf Times
QM marks World Heritage Day 2024 with focus on Al Zubarah archaeological site  

Qatar Museums (QM) shines a spotlight on the nation’s inaugural Unesco World Heritage Site, Al Zubarah, highlighting ongoing excavations and conservation efforts to mark World Heritage Day 2024.In a post on its social media pages, QM noted that in 2023, numerous visitors witnessed the restoration endeavours firsthand, underlining Qatar’s commitment to preserving its rich cultural heritage.In collaboration with the Arab Regional Centre for World Heritage, QM recently held a three-day workshop aimed at bolstering the protection and conservation of World heritage sites in the country.Titled “Mechanisms and Concepts of the 1972 World Heritage Convention and the 1954 Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict,” the workshop brought together heritage professionals to enhance their skills and capacities, fostering a more robust framework for heritage preservation.Qatar’s Ministry of Culture also marked the 20th anniversary of the ‘2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2008’ with a special event. At the Unesco headquarters in Paris, Qatar unveiled an exhibition showcasing its cultural heritage, featuring “The Majlis: A Social and Cultural Space,” traditional crafts, falconry, popular arts, culinary arts, and achievements in heritage preservation.Qatar also launched various initiatives to promote co-operation and harmony among state institutions dedicated to safeguarding intangible cultural heritage. Several significant elements, including falconry, Arabic coffee, the Majlis, and the palm tree, have been proposed for inclusion on Unesco's Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.In addition, Qatar spearheaded the effort to nominate the ‘Bisht’ for inclusion on Unesco’s Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage, demonstrating leadership in Arab initiatives through collaboration with the Arab League of Educational, Cultural, and Scientific Organisation.In the past, Qatar pushed for the joint registration of Arab cultural assets, such as palm tree, Arabic calligraphy, and metal engraving art, the latter poised for registration under an Iraqi-led initiative, with involvement from 14 Arab nations.Reflecting on last year’s World Heritage Day, QM organised guided tours to Al Zubarah, underscoring Qatar’s rich heritage amidst climate change challenges. It is learnt that experts continue to address conservation efforts and sustainability concerns at the archaeological site, ensuring its legacy endures for future generations.

Gulf Times
Autonomous e-Mobility Forum in Qatar 

The Autonomous e-Mobility (AEMOB) Forum is set to take place from April 30 to May 2 at the Qatar National Convention Centre, bringing together more than 500 industry experts, policymakers, and technology innovators from over 20 countries.The event, hosted by The Ministry of Transport, seeks to spark discussions and initiatives concerning the convergence of driverless e-Mobility and sustainability—an increasingly vital global concern.“E-Mobility in the wider context of sustainability and energy diversification efforts has been central to governments’ and industry considerations for several years.From the onset, the AEMOB Forum in Qatar has been designed as a first-mover in creating a multilateral platform for constructive exchange in a sustainability innovation space that is of utmost global importance,” HE Qatar’s Minister of Transport Jassim Bin Saif Bin Ahmed al-Sulaiti said in a statement, as he highlighted the forum’s role as a significant platform for international collaboration in addressing pressing sustainability challenges.According to the organisers, the three-day forum will witness participants engaging in keynote addresses, panel discussions, and breakout sessions designed to explore the technological, policy, and research dimensions of autonomous e-Mobility.The event also aims to facilitate knowledge-sharing, foster international relationships, and pave the way for the practical implementation of driverless e-Mobility solutions.Key speakers at the forum include prominent figures such as Mohamed Jaidah, Group Executive Director of Jaidah Group; Ahmed al-Ansari, Executive Committee member of the Autonomous E-Mobility Forum; and Kai Keller, Initiative Lead at the World Economic Forum, among others.Organisers noted that these thought leaders will offer diverse perspectives on sustainable mobility's future and autonomous technologies' role in driving innovation.The forum will feature a two-day conference showcasing keynote sessions and panel discussions led by experts from around the globe. A one-day eco-system tour will see participants visiting select locations in Qatar associated with sustainable transport initiatives.The event will culminate in a gala dinner and awards ceremony, celebrating outstanding contributions to autonomous e-Mobility.Among the awards to be presented is the AEMOB Most Promising Start-Up Award, recognising innovative start-ups driving sustainability in the e-Mobility sector. The AEMOB Visionary Award will honour individuals making significant contributions to sustainable innovation, while the AEMOB Tech Innovation Excellence Award will highlight groundbreaking technological advancements in the field.The Ministry of Transport, in partnership with Mowasalat (Karwa) and Qatar Foundation (QF), recently held a week-long demonstration of the country’s inaugural self-driving electric bus (e-Bus) at Education City.Beyond presenting cutting-edge technology and sustainable transport options, the event highlighted Qatar's commitment to innovation, safety, and environmental stewardship in its transportation industry.

Mohamed Saleh
QPO's 15-year milestone festival from Thursday

The Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra (QPO) is set to mark its 15-year journey with a three-day grand musical festival from today at the Qatar National Convention Centre's (QNCC) Auditorium 3.In a statement, QPO noted that it will shine the spotlight on some of its most talented soloists in a concert titled 'Pearls of the Philharmonic'. Breaking away from tradition, this concert will offer a platform to showcase the brilliance of various performers within QPO.Under the baton of the German conductor Elias Grandy, renowned for his dynamic and precise interpretations, the concert will be a journey through a diverse selection of solo repertoire. From the classical elegance of Mozart to the fiery passion of Ravel, QPO said the programme showcases the orchestra’s versatility and virtuosity.The lineup of performers include Aura Lorena Manescu, Egle Valute, Shaza Oweda, Georges Yammine, Mohamed Oweda, Jihoon Shin, Mohamed Saleh, Miroslav Stoyanov, Gideon Seidenberg, Richard Alonso Diaz, Alexander Kamenarov, Georgi Varbanov, and Anca Bold.The programme will include masterpieces such as Carl Maria von Weber’s enchanting overture from 'Oberon', Maurice Ravel’s virtuosic 'Tzigane', and Jules Massenet’s evocative 'Méditation' from 'Thaïs'. The audience will also be treated to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s charming 'Rondo in C Major' and Balys Dvarionas’ poignant 'Pezzo Elegiaco'.Adding a touch of Latin flair, the concert will feature Enrique Crespo’s vibrant 'Escenas Latinas' alongside Antonio Vivaldi’s timeless 'Violin Concerto in G Minor'. After an intermission filled with musical delights, including works by Beethoven, Weber, Mozart, Morricone, and Reznicek, the evening will conclude with a flourish, leaving the audience spellbound.The concert’s second day commences with a family-friendly concert titled 'Mozart: A Musical Sitcom', offering a one-of-a-kind musical journey enriched with 18th-century attire and characters from Mozart’s era, brought to life by QPO’s Cinemoon Ensemble and esteemed guests.Part of concert’s day two brings the audience to the Royal courts of the Renaissance era, immersing themselves in the timeless works of the Baroque period of classical music. The performance will feature compositions by revered European composers who served in Baroque courts, including Bach, Händel, Lully, and Corelli.Joining forces for this event are QPO’s Doha Baroque Ensemble, along with oboist German Diaz Blanco, bassoonist Daniel Hrinda, and the Qatar Concert Choir, under the baton of conductor and harpsichordist Christoph Teichner.QPO’s grand finale offers a musical voyage across the globe, showcasing exceptional compositions from every country the orchestra has visited in the past, including Syria, England, the USA, France, Italy, Germany, Russia, and China.

Nasser Abulhasan
Innovation by Design Summit at MDD to gather luminaries

Innovation by Design Summit 2024 is all set to debut on April 24, bringing together more than 400 luminaries, including thought leaders, innovators, artists, creators, business magnates, and entrepreneurs at Msheireb Downtown Doha’s (MDD) Doha Design District.The event, organised by Msheireb Properties in collaboration with Fast Company Middle East, aims to spark a transformative dialogue on the power of design and explore its potential for change.The day-long summit will tackle a diverse array of topics, ranging from sustainable materials to the global impact of the region’s design language – influenced by the vibrant creativity at the heart of MDD.A highlight will be the inaugural edition of the Msheireb Awards, celebrating Innovation in Design, recognising the innovators and visionaries shaping the landscape of Qatar and beyond. Blending art, architecture, design, and sustainability, organisers noted that the summit promises to be more than just a conference but a dynamic melting pot of ideas. It will feature sessions, panels, debates, and workshops, offering attendees a comprehensive and influential experience.Set against the backdrop of the Doha Design District, renowned as a unique hub for creatives, this summit is poised to be a must-attend for those eager to explore emerging trends and be part of the global design community.The schedule and programme of activities include speaking sessions and panel discussions with prominent speakers, including Faysal Tabbarah, associate dean and Professor of Architecture, American University of Sharjah; Nasser Abulhasan, principal, AGi Architects; and Ahmad Kattan, concept designer and architect; among others.“Can Design Save the World?” will explore how design can change minds and perhaps even the planet itself while “Can We Adopt Sustainable New-Age Materials?” focuses on the possibilities of adopting sustainable materials and their impact on global sustainability efforts.“Mind the Artificial Intelligence (AI) Gap: Deciphering Content and Business Realms” by Dr Mario R García, CEO and founder of García Media, will unravel the mysteries behind AI and its influence on content creation and corporate strategies.“Circular Design in Practice - Transforming Waste into Resources” by Arthur Huang, founder of Miniwiz will lead attendees through practical strategies for implementing circular design principles, turning waste into valuable resources.A discussion, titled “Fireside Chat: How Can Museums Use Technology to Become Immersive?” will look into the transformative journey of museums as they integrate technology to create immersive experiences for visitors. “Are We Designing for the Experience Economy?” will dissect the strategies needed to exceed expectations in the experience economy.

Holiday-goers camp at Al Kharaij beach this Eid al-Fitr break. PICTURE: Joey Aguilar
Popular and hidden coastal treasures

Qatar’s pristine beaches have enticed many holiday-goers, luring them from the bustling tourist hubs towards tranquil coastal retreats this Eid al-Fitr break.It is learnt that many residents and visitors have opted for the serene landscapes, quieter atmospheres, and potential for relaxation offered by the nation’s popular and lesser-known shores.While Qatar boasts an array of most-visited beaches, such as Al Thakira, Al Wakrah and Sea Line, this Eid witnessed a surge in visitors to the more secluded gems like Al Kharaij, Al Mafjar, and Umm Bab coast.These hidden coastal retreats provide a respite from crowded places, attracting discerning travelers seeking solace amidst nature’s embrace.Filipino expatriate Andrey D shared his experience at Al Kharaij beach, nestled close to Umm Bab coast in the southwestern part of Qatar.For him, it was a discovery – a serene sanctuary far from the bustling tourist spots.“It’s quieter compared to the other beaches I’ve visited before,” Andrey said, noting the area’s ample camping space, clear waters, and pristine surroundings.Despite some “minor challenges” on the road, he highlighted the accessibility of the beach, even for sedans, making it an ideal getaway just over an hour away from Doha.“We enjoyed our overnight stay there with several families and friends this Eid break, and we plan to return there hopefully next year,” Andrey said, as he cited the potential development of the area to attract more campers, particularly during the colder months.Meanwhile, Al Farkiah beach in Al Khor emerged as one of the favourites among families seeking a perfect blend of pleasant weather, clear waters, and recreational facilities.The beach, renowned for its well-maintained premises and accessibility, witnessed a steady influx of visitors throughout the Eid holidays.Families bonded over picnics, children played in the playgrounds, and many enjoyed the scenic views offered by this coastal gem.Beyond these hidden havens, several other beaches across Qatar were also favoured holiday spots, drawing families and groups during Eid and in transitional periods between seasons.Al Jassasiya beach, located near the Al Jassasiya rock carvings in the northeast, is dubbed as a hidden oasis as it hosts mangroves that provide an ideal backdrop to the pristine sands and crystalline waters.According to Visit Qatar, Al Jassasiya boasts the most impressive rock-carving sites in Qatar, with 874 carvings, known as “petroglyphs”, dating back to Neolithic times.As visitors explore these ancient wonders, they also immerse themselves in the tranquility of the beach, experiencing a harmonious blend of history and natural beauty.

Gulf Times
Pet care a priority for owners on vacations

Allocating a budget for pet boarding and care becomes essential for a section of Qatar residents as they plan vacations while ensuring the well-being of their fur babies.According to a number of pet owners in Qatar, ensuring the comfort and safety of their furry companions is paramount and leads to a reasonable portion of their travel cost being allocated to pet-sitting services.A Doha resident highlighted the importance of finding a reliable facility for their two cats, saying: “While we love to travel, our pets’ health and happiness come first,” she said. “We pay QR60 per cat per day for boarding, which we find reasonable. It's a small price to pay for the peace of mind knowing that our pets are in good hands during our absence.”Eid al-Fitr is traditionally a time for travel and vacation for many residents in Qatar, either returning to their home countries or exploring new destinations. Numerous establishments in Qatar, including pet hotels, meanwhile, witness a surge in demand for pet boarding services during this period.It is learnt that these pet facilities offer a range of services catering to different preferences and budgets, with prices varying from QR50 to more than QR200 per night. Services may include nutritious meals, comfortable accommodation, and supervised playtime with trained staff. Some establishments go the extra mile by providing cage-free boarding, access to outdoor areas, and personalised care routines.One pet facility, as advertised on its social media page, boasts about its commitment to ensuring the well-being of pets during their stay, offering both short and long-term boarding options.The post noted that it aims to provide a nurturing environment where pets can feel at home even when their owners are away.However, not all pet owners opt for professional boarding services. Some individuals rely on friends or colleagues to care for their pets during their absence, saving on boarding expenses and ensuring their pets receive personalised attention.For others, the Eid al-Fitr break presents an opportunity to spend quality time with their furry companions.Ruby, a Filipino expatriate, and her family decided to postpone their travel plans to prioritise bonding with their pets, Maki and Meow-meow.“With our busy work schedules, we haven't been able to give our pets the attention they deserve. This break allows us to reconnect as a family and create cherished memories with our fur babies,” she shared.Amidst the holiday hustle, veterinary clinics in Doha also witness an influx of patients as pet owners ensure their fur babies are up-to-date on vaccinations and receive necessary health checks before boarding.

The ‘Eid-venture’ desert safari at Khor Al Adaid, nestled within the Inland Sea, scheduled for April 11, is expected to entice enthusiasts this holiday season.
Diverse experiences this Eid holidays

As Qatar gears up for the Eid al-Fitr holidays, residents and visitors are offered with an array of opportunities to explore beyond the traditional destinations.From heart-pounding outdoor adventures to soulful musical performances, this Eid promises an array of experiences for everyone. With a blend of thrilling outdoor escapades and musical performances, it is learnt that this Eid guarantees a diverse range of experiences for different age groups.The ‘Eid-venture’ desert safari at Khor Al Adaid, nestled within the Inland Sea, scheduled for April 11, by 365 Adventures Qatar offers an expedition through the singing dunes of Mesaieed, followed by opportunities for relaxation and swimming in the sea.Filipino expatriates in Doha are in for a musical treat with Sarah Geronimo and Bamboo Manalac set to perform at the Qatar National Convention Centre, also on April 11, organised by Qabayan Radio, in collaboration with Visit Qatar.At the 'Eid-venture Paddling' event at the Museum of Islamic Art on April 13, participants can choose from kayaking, stand-up paddling, or pedal-powered paddling.National Cruise Qatar also offers special Eid trips from April 9 to 13, featuring a range of activities such as swimming, island hopping, and sightseeing cruises. The five-hour package includes amenities like boat setup, dining on board, and optional water activities.Qatar’s extensive public transportation system, including the Doha Metro and Lusail Tram, facilitates easy access to renowned indoor and outdoor attractions in Doha this Eid break.Commuters can explore major malls, cultural centres, public parks, museums, and art galleries, as well as discover new places and attractions in Lusail with the launch of the full Orange Line and Pink Line of the Lusail Tram by Qatar Rail.While it is common for people to travel abroad during Eid, it is learnt that many residents are choosing to camp at Qatar’s public beaches this year. They find it a perfect retreat, particularly with the pleasant weather during this period.

Naser Karukapadath
Qatari travellers keen to explore new destinations

As the Eid al-Fitr holiday approaches, Qatari travellers are diversifying their destinations beyond the traditional European favourites with a keen eye on business opportunities and unique leisure experiences, according to a number of travel agencies in Doha.Shedding light on emerging trends and preferences among Qataris, Tawfeeq Travel Group CEO Rehan Ali Syed told Gulf Times that the UAE and Saudi Arabia remain prominent business hubs for Qataris due to their proximity and favourable business environments within the GCC.He highlighted the UK’s prominence as a favoured destination, attributed to familial ties, educational endeavours, and property investments. He pointed out that China emerges as a significant player for trade and business, while Germany and Switzerland attract Qataris for tech-related and banking services.About other countries he perceives to have a huge potential to become popular business destinations, Syed said: “Qataris are exploring the world and any country where they can find good potential for investments and trading, they would like to step in.“We can see quite a few trends of travellers opting for Japan and South Korea along with Canada, South Africa and especially the east European countries, as well as Vietnam, Malaysia and Singapore.”Echoing a similar view, Avens Travel & Tours Doha managing director Naser Karukapadath noted the increasing appeal of China as evidenced by the introduction of new airline routes.“Since the introduction of Chinese airline XiamenAir and the upcoming operation of China Southern effective April 23, 2024, it is giving more capacity and options for passengers between Qatar and China,” he said.Turkey also gains traction due to the ease of travel and cordial bilateral relations, according to Karukapadath.With the upcoming Eid al-Fitr holiday, he said Greece and Spain are witnessing heightened interest, reflecting a growing inclination among Qataris to explore new European destinations.Besides China, Karukapadath also underlined the growing interest in Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa, not just for tourism but also for potential business ventures.He said Japan presents itself as an ideal choice for those seeking alternatives to mainstream destinations, offering a blend of tourism and business opportunities.Following the implementation of the Japan visa waiver for Qataris on August 21, 2023, it is learnt that there has been a surge in interest among Qatari travellers to visit Japan. This newly introduced online passport registration system offers a visa waiver, allowing Qatari nationals to stay for up to 30 days.In addition, Karukapadath added that Seychelles, an Indian Ocean gem, remains relatively unexplored by Qatari travellers, providing an off-the-beaten-path option for island holidays.

Souq Waqif serves as a melting pot of cultures as it brings together people from various countries with its array of rich offerings. PICTURE: Joey Aguilar
Souq Waqif, a fusion of tradition and festivity

Not only an ideal place for Iftar and Suhoor this Ramadan, the lively ambiance of Doha's Souq Waqif heightens for the upcoming Eid al-Fitr festivities.Featuring an array of offerings, from local and international cuisines to engaging cultural activities, Qatar’s celebrated marketplace has evolved into an essential destination for both residents and visitors.Souq Waqif promises an enchanting Eid experience this year set against the backdrop of its historical charm.Holiday-goers are poised to flock to this popular place, enticed by wholesome activities tailoured to delight all ages.Among the highlights are a fireworks display, scheduled to illuminate the Eastern Square during the first four days of Eid, starting at 8.30pm, in addition to a number of fun-filled activities for families and children.Dining enthusiasts find themselves spoilt for choice amid the diverse culinary landscape, featuring both local and international food.From Arabic street foods like crepes and kunafa to the soothing indulgence of karak tea, the gastronomic offerings promise to lure taste buds and evoke a sense of culinary delight.A restaurant staff told *Gulf Times that they are witnessing a busy pre-Eid period, citing a surge in customers, including international visitors, seeking traditional dining experiences.She said the appeal of Souq Waqif, underlined by its pleasant atmosphere and wide range of offerings, continues to draw throngs of visitors, particularly during the evening hours when the Doha metro commuters join the fray.Throughout its winding alleys, Souq Waqif reveals many treasures, including a birds and animal section that hosts well-loved and charming species like parrots; stalls showcasing traditional attire such as thobes and abayas; and several other shops that reflect Qatar’s rich cultural heritage.As the Eid approaches, demand for these traditional garments remains high, with vendors preparing to receive eager Qatari patrons.For those seeking to adorn themselves in traditional garments, an assortment of headwear such as the gatra and gahfiya are available at numerous shops, each exuding its unique charm.Meanwhile, many visitors find themselves drawn by the captivating scents emanating from shelves adorned with saffron, dried flowers, and a variety of nuts and dried fruits at the stalls of local spice vendors.Art enthusiasts have ample reason to visit the Souq Waqif Art Centre, which extends a warm invitation to those who want to explore the several artworks on display.It also offers an opportunity to engage directly with local artists.

Ramadan witnessed a huge demand for pastries and cakes with an Arabic touch.
Arabic culinary delights continue to dominate Qatar’s Ramadan, Eid celebrations

Local and regional culinary offerings continue to be highly favoured among both Qataris, residents and visitors from neighbouring GCC countries throughout Ramadan, and this trend is expected to persist during the upcoming Eid al-Fitr holidays.An employee from a luxury hotel in Doha told Gulf Times that Arabic flavours reign supreme among their guests, proving to be the bestsellers for both Iftars and Suhoors. From seafood platters to a diverse array of meat dishes, he said the savoury tastes of Arabic cuisine continue to captivate palates.She cited the influx of guests from Saudi Arabia, who eagerly seek out special local and regional cuisines, including an assortment of Arabic-inspired beverages and sweets.In anticipation of an increase in demand during the Eid al-Fitr break, she said the hotel plans to elevate its offerings, promising an exquisite selection of local dishes in both indoor and outdoor settings.A pastry chef at a popular bakery in Doha noted a surge in demand for cakes infused with Arabic flavours such as saffron and dates since the start of Ramadan.He said the appetite for these delicacies, including sticky date cake and bite-sized treats like petit four and maamol, has seen a remarkable uptick, with orders tripling during Ramadan and sustaining through the Eid holidays.Many gatherings hosted at their homes, he added, tend to favour these types of desserts, as most Qataris find local dishes more enticing for their visitors, especially relatives and friends.“Over other flavours such as red velvet and chocolate, Arabic sweets are in huge demand and it comprise more than 95% of our orders during Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr,” he said.Echoing this sentiment, an employee from a five-star hotel highlighted the popularity of Arabic cuisine among guests. While European food such as Italian and French graces their menu, it is the rich flavour of Arabic dishes, including salads and desserts, that leads the spotlight during Ramadan and Eid festivities.Attributing this culinary fascination to Qatar’s recent hosting of global events such as the FIFA World Cup 2022 and the AFC Asian Cup, the employee noted a growing appreciation for local cuisine, characterised by its bold flavours and aroma.He expressed optimism that the growing culinary scene in Qatar, especially with many hotels and restaurants serving Arabic food and beverage, will continue attracting more visitors from GCC and other nations who want to indulge in unique and flavoursome experiences.

Rehan Ali Syed
From luxurious indulgences to adventurous thrills

As the Eid al-Fitr holidays draw near, travelers from Qatar are eagerly preparing for their leisurely escapes, showcasing a range of preferences from luxurious indulgences to adventurous thrills, it is learnt.According to prominent travel agencies in the country, their choices vary and reflect the diverse tastes and interests among citizens and residents.Tawfeeq Travel Group chief executive Rehan Ali Syed shed light on the most sought-after destinations for both Qataris and residents.“Everybody prefers to take short-haul flights for the short breaks so that they can spend more quality time with loved ones rather than spending time on long flights,” he said.“Most popular destinations with the citizens and residents are Maldives, Dubai, Thailand, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Georgia, Switzerland, Vietnam, and Bali,” Syed added. “All these destinations can provide the most desired break with relaxation, good weather, shopping and fun activities.”He outlined the distinct preferences among travellers from Qatar, citing two main categories: One settles towards luxury travel, indulging in opulent hotel stays, private transfers, and elite dining experiences.Syed noted that destinations such as Courchevel (France), Greece, Switzerland, France, and the UK are favoured by this group while adventurous souls seek thrill and nature, opting for wildlife safaris, snorkeling, or diving expeditions in destinations like the Maldives.He said that Qatar residents consistently seek brief getaways to destinations like Georgia, Vietnam, Thailand, and Kazakhstan, choosing locales with good weather and hassle-free visa procedures, with visa-on-arrival options often dictating their final travel decisions.For those seeking alternative experiences away from the crowds, Syed suggested destinations such as Salalah in Oman, Albania, Skopje (North Macedonia), Kyrgyzstan (often dubbed the “Switzerland of Central Asia”), Armenia, and Tbilisi (Georgia).Echoing similar sentiments, Alpha Travel general manager Khaled Rustom highlighted the growing interest in Far East destinations such as Japan, South Korea, and Vietnam, particularly during the cherry blossom season when nature showcases its most splendid colours.He underscored the trend of European vacations and cruise bookings for the summer, noting that Qatari travellers are increasingly drawn to the allure of cruising, especially with the sight of major ships docking at Doha Port.When asked about potential emerging destinations for Qataris, Rustom stressed the significant potential of European countries if visa processes were streamlined, advocating for online visa applications without the need for appointments.

Richard Serra's '7' at MIA Park. PICTURES: QM
Qatar Museums honours renowned artist Richard Serra

Qatar Museums (QM) is honouring renowned American artist Richard Serra posthumously, following his passing on March 26 in New York at the age of 85.In a statement shared on its social media platforms, QM expressed its profound condolences to Serra's family and the wider artistic community, mourning the loss of an influential figure.QM highlighted its collaboration with Serra, celebrated globally for his monumental sculptures, as it cited the significance of his contributions to Qatar’s cultural landscape.QM had worked closely with Serra on several projects, including the creation of “7”, a large-scale steel sculpture situated at the Museum of Islamic Art (MIA) Park. Unveiled in 2011, “7 marked Serra’s inaugural public artwork in the Middle East, showcasing his mastery of form and space.In 2014, QM unveiled another monumental installation by Serra titled “East-West/West-East”, located near Zekreet in western Qatar. Coinciding with the opening was Serra’s first solo exhibition in the Middle East, titled “Richard Serra”, held at the Al Riwaq Doha Exhibition Space and QM Gallery at Katara.Stretching for more than a kilometre, the awe-inspiring artwork at Brouq Nature Reserve is composed of four steel plates, each standing tall at over 14m in height.Serra meticulously studied the topography of the land to ensure flawless alignment, skillfully enhancing the vast, desolate space within the desert’s heart. QM described the outcome as “The result is spectacular and although contemporary, timeless”. “East-West/West-East” captures the essence of Serra's five-decade-long career, showcasing his evolution as an artist.According to QM, the legacy of Serra in Qatar’s cultural scene is profound, with his sculptures joining other iconic artworks like Louise Bourgeois’ “Maman” and eL Seed’s Calligraffiti project. QM chairperson HE Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani acknowledged Serra’s significant contributions, portraying him as a “true giant of the art world” whose lasting influence will endure through his works across Qatar’s landscape.

Msheireb hosts a Garangao event on March 14, attracting many children. PICTURE: Thajudheen
MDD: A vibrant hub for Ramadan celebrations

Msheireb Downtown Doha (MDD) has become a premier destination for families seeking to immerse themselves in the spirit of Ramadan, featuring an array of traditional, cultural, and religious activities, it is learnt.MDD has been attracting crowds eager not only to engage in these offerings but also to see a glimpse into Qatar’s history and rich heritage.From the symbolic first iftar cannon on March 11 to Garangao tradition, live performances, and an array of community engagements, MDD has remained a bustling hub throughout Ramadan.Msheireb Properties continues to promote the different attractions within the area through its social media channels, showcasing a wide range of Ramadan dishes, including those featured at the Ramadan Nights Iftar hosted at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Doha.In addition, live cooking sessions and numerous local and international culinary delights further enhance the dining experience for visitors.As the sun sets, MDD starts to draw crowds with activities lasting from 8.30pm to 1.30am daily. Workshops, exhibitions, entertainment shows, a bazaar, and a Garangao mini-fashion show have entertained and engaged attendees.Visitors can also visit MDD’s Doha Design District to see a number of unique fashion pieces being showcased by Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts in Qatar as part of a unique exhibition.A highlight for children was the unique Garangao night held at Sahat Al Nakheel, where participants showcased their traditional attire for a chance to win exciting prizes, including a staycation at the Mandarin Oriental Doha.To promote an active lifestyle during Ramadan, Msheireb Properties is organsing a padel tournament at the Company House, fostering friendly competition among enthusiasts. The tournament, which commenced on March 14, is set to conclude on April 13.MDD’s mosques host scholars and imams leading the Isha and Taraweeh prayers. In collaboration with the Ministry of Endowments and Islamic Affairs, these spiritual gatherings aim to provide worshippers and visitors with a suitable environment for prayer and reflection.In addition to these religious and recreational activities, MDD offers a range of community-centric events. From Ramadan arts and crafts for families to lantern-making workshops, henna art sessions, and calligraphy classes, there has been something for everyone to enjoy.A curated photography exhibition capturing the essence of Ramadan, featuring works by local photographers, has been on display at Barahat Msheireb.For those seeking refreshment and relaxation, a dedicated Ramadan corner at Sikka Wadi offers henna art, dates, teas, and coffees, providing a serene refuge amid the celebration.

M7 collaborates with FTA to nurture talent and creativity in Qatar’s growing fashion scene.
M7, Fashion Trust Arabia partner to empower Qatar’s designers

A unique partnership between M7 and Fashion Trust Arabia (FTA) provides an opportunity for aspiring designers to join the prestigious FTA London Mentorship Programme, it was announced. According to M7, the latest initiative aims to nurture talent and creativity in Qatar’s growing fashion scene and foster innovation and entrepreneurship in design, fashion, and technology.The call welcomes applications from local and Qatar-based designer brands, with the deadline set until April 3, M7 noted. This exclusive programme offers participants a chance to immerse themselves in the global fashion community in London, UK while receiving tailored mentorship from M7 and industry experts.M7, known for its commitment to nurturing talent, empowers designers to explore, collaborate, and develop successful businesses. With a focus on responding to the evolving demands of Qatar’s flourishing fashion and design industries, M7 provides designers with the necessary tools and expertise to bring their ideas from concept to market.The invitation extends across diverse categories, including ready-to-wear (for both women and men), eveningwear (ranging from haute couture to ready-made), and accessories (including footwear, bags, and eyewear). The selection process prioritises key factors such as brand identity, past experiences, readiness, engagement, and commitment to sustainability.M7 said applicants must submit brand profile and business plan to be eligible for the programme, it is learnt. Additionally, they should have presented and produced a minimum of three cohesive collections within the same category.Designers with a distinct brand identity and compelling storytelling, as well as those incorporating sustainable practices into their work, are particularly encouraged to apply. Following the application process, M7 noted that designers who meet the criteria will undergo screening and contact. Selected designers will then be invited for a one-on-one interview and will work closely with M7 to prepare for the mentorship programme in London. Selected participants are expected to commit to both local and international mentorship programmes.

Saad Ismael Khalifa al-Jassim showcases some of the pearls at his shop at Souq Waqif. -screengrab from Visit Qatar's FB page
Ramadan highlights Qatar’s rich heritage

Saad Ismael Khalifa al-Jassim, a prominent figure in Qatar’s history, welcomes visitors to his pearl shop at Souq Waqif this Ramadan, providing a window into the nation’s remarkable heritage.Drawing residents and visitors into a captivating journey through time, Saad’s shop serves as a treasure trove of history and tradition as he shares tales of the heydays and challenges of pearl diving before the era of LNG exploration transformed Qatar’s economy.Featured at Visit Qatar’s social media pages, Saad, renowned not only as a former bodybuilder and wrestler but also as one of Qatar’s oldest pearl divers, passionately narrates the traditional techniques used by ancient pearl divers.He cited the wooden dhows that ventured deep into the sea, as well as the Al Hajer stone weights, the Al Dayeen net baskets, and the Al Fitam nose clips that facilitated their dives.According to Visit Qatar, shoppers at Saad’s shop are immersed in a journey spanning nearly 7,500 years of pearl trade traditions. It showcases several artefacts, including pearls of varying colours (white, pink and grey). Visitors also get insights into Qatar’s maritime legacy from a former pearl diver.The exploration of Qatar’s heritage extends beyond pearl diving as Visit Qatar showcases an array of experiences for Ramadan revelers, from iftar gatherings on traditional dhow boats overlooking Doha’s skyline to strolls through the picturesque Old Doha Port adorned with street art.For culinary enthusiasts, Doha offers numerous street foods and beverages, ranging from karak tea to falafel, luqaimat, kunafa, and shawarma. Meanwhile, health-conscious individuals can engage in physical activities at Lusail, Qatar’s newest district, featuring scenic public parks and nature spots, as well as cycling lanes.It is learnt that several destinations have emerged as favourites this Ramadan such as the Mina District at Old Doha Port, offering a relaxing ambiance, while Msheireb Downtown Doha invites exploration of its historic heritage houses.Visit Qatar said Katara – the Cultural Village, with its Al Thuraya Planetarium, offers celestial wonders, while the iconic Souq Waqif entices with its blend of culinary delights and artisanal crafts.Transit passengers at Hamad International Airport also have the opportunity to explore Qatar’s popular tourism destinations, and take advantage of the stopover packages, Visit Qatar added.From iconic museums and art galleries to numerous cultural locations, Visit Qatar noted that visitors can immerse themselves in a wide range of curated experiences and must-visit places throughout Ramadan.

Abdel-Wahed El-Wakil
Top architect Abdel-Wahed El-Wakil wins ICAA’s Arthur Ross award

Renowned Egyptian architect Abdel-Wahed El-Wakil has been announced as one of the winners of the prestigious Arthur Ross Awards for Excellence in the Classical Tradition for the year 2024.The Institute of Classical Architecture and Art (ICAA) revealed this award on its website, recognising El-Wakil’s outstanding contributions to architecture.ICAA, a non-profit organisation dedicated to promoting and preserving classical design, said Prof El-Wakil will be presented with the award in architecture at a ceremony scheduled for May at the University Club of New York.The event, ICAA noted, will host an array of distinguished personalities from various fields, including architecture, design, education, fine arts, and patronage.Among the other notable recipients are Féau Boiseries for artisanship and craftsmanship, Julia Watson for education, Markham Roberts for interior design, Thomas Wells Schaller for fine arts, and Stephen A Schwarzman for patronage.Describing El-Wakil’s architectural prowess, ICAA highlighted his significant role as one of the leading voices in contemporary Islamic architecture.Over four decades, it said that El-Wakil has left an indelible mark by constructing mosques, public buildings, and private residences across the Middle East. His approach beautifully balances tradition with innovation, celebrating the timeless principles of Islamic architecture while incorporating regional nuances into each project.El-Wakil’s designs integrate traditional elements with modern technology, resulting in structures that are not only functional and environmentally sustainable but also deeply rooted in their cultural context, ICAA added.Quoting El-Wakil, ICAA cited his profound belief in the importance of tradition in architectural practice. He said: “To abandon tradition, to disregard the achievements and models of the past and to be caught up in the trauma of change means to be incapable of handling the new.”He said his inspiration was drawn from the natural world, aligning his design philosophy with the divine order.ICAA noted that El-Wakil’s exceptional talent has earned him prestigious accolades in the past, including two Aga Khan Awards for Architecture (for the Halawa house in Agamy, Egypt, in 1980, and for the Corniche Mosque in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia in 1989) and the Driehaus Architecture Prize in 2009.His architectural accomplishments garnered worldwide recognition, firmly establishing him as a leading figure in the field of classical and traditional architecture.In a statement, ICAA president Peter Lyden said: “The story of classical and traditional architecture, art, and design is a global one, encompassing a great diversity of practices, languages, and precedents, and fittingly this year’s Arthur Ross Award winners reflect a far-flung cross-section of practitioners.”

(From left) Simon Peers and Nicholas Godley at a media tour of the ‘Golden Spider Silk’ exhibition at MIA on Tuesday. PICTURE: Thajudheen
Golden Spider Silk pioneers keen to collaborate with Qatar

Nicholas Godley and Simon Peers, the innovative minds behind the marvel of spider silk textiles, have expressed keen interest in partnering with a country like Qatar to pioneer the biomedical use of what they described as “the material of the future”.Speaking during a media tour of the ‘Golden Spider Silk’ exhibition at the Museum of Islamic Art on Tuesday, the duo disclosed their aims for possible future partnerships and highlighted Qatar’s forward-looking approach towards biotechnology and medical science as a prime reason for their interest.“If we commercialise this, we would want to do it in a place like Qatar, that is looking to the future and interested in biotechnology and medical science. This would be a wonderful project to develop in Qatar, absolutely," Godley said.“I am amazed how much Qatar has done, I got to know Qatar mostly, like everyone else, because of the World Cup, and coming here for the first time, I am amazed at how beautiful and how organised and environmentally conscious, everything is in Qatar.“And for a good reason too, Qatar is using its resources not for today but for the future and so if spider silk is a material of the future, it should definitely be done in a country that values the future and is interested in the future,” Godley said.“The door is always open for future collaborations. Certainly, we had discussions with commercial collaborators, with scientists.”He highlighted the huge potential of spider silk for biomedical purposes rather than as a mere fashion item, noting the unique properties that make it ideal for such applications.“Spider silk as a material could be commercialised and will be commercialised for biomedical uses,” he said, pointing out that the prospect of collaborating with Qatar opens new doors and opportunities.Regarding the challenges in producing the textiles, Godley described their journey as arduous – spending two decades of continuous research and testing. He said their meticulous efforts yielded four stunning textiles crafted solely from spiders’ silk: an embroidered cape, a brocaded weave lamba, sheer taffeta, and a satin weave shawl.He said about 70 people worked in spider silk extraction and creating the pieces in Madagascar, while others served as weavers.However, Godley noted that their current focus is to showcase their work to the public, noting that the impact their creations have on people is insightful, often leaving a lasting impression.“When people see it, they never forget it,” he said, adding that he met individuals who, even 10 years later, still vividly remember seeing their work exhibited in major cities such as New York and London.He said the British ambassador to Qatar attended the exhibition’s opening at MIA recently, and noted that he had seen these works in London 11 years ago.Godley hopes that visitors to their exhibition in Doha would similarly remember the experience and that the city would become a significant part of spider silk history for people around the world.