Sunday, September 24, 2023 | 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.
Snapshots from the Jetski Jumping Competition. PICTURES: Shaji Kayamkulam
Inaugural Jetski Jumping Competition thrills Doha

The shores of the Old Doha Port witnessed a spectacular display of aerial acrobatics on the water as the first-ever Jetski Jumping Competition in Qatar kicked off Friday.During the first of the two-day exhilarating event, the participants – aged between 18 and 25 – enthralled spectators with their stunning performance in gravity-defying stunts. The competition concludes Saturday. The timing is from 3pm to 6pm.“It is very important for us to boost the water activities and encourage people to engage in these kinds of competitions since we do not have this kind of privilege everywhere," an organiser told Gulf Times.She noted that the event was divided into two categories: RXP and Spark, each featuring 10 expert participants. A pair of specially designed jet boats generate the waves, propelling the jetski daredevils to new heights.She added that the scoring for the competition is based on a number of key elements: style, height of jumps, hand gestures (one or two-handed), mid-air spins (including 360-degree rotations), and precision criteria determined by a panel of expert judges.“This event holds immense significance for Qatar, especially for our thriving tourism sector,” she said. “Doha Port enjoys year-round access to the sea, a precious resource for us. This competition not only amplifies water activities but also indicates more competitions and visitors to our shores.”She said enthusiasm for water sports is gaining traction in Qatar, and the nation is gearing up for the upcoming aquathlon in three weeks, combining swimming and running events at the Old Doha Port.Organisers have ambitious plans to elevate the Jetski Jumping Competition onto the international stage. “This year is a local affair, but if successful, we plan to make it a seasonal fixture. We want to throw open the registration to participants from across the Gulf and beyond, thus drawing in more visitors and propelling Qatar onto the global water sports map,” she said.“We have six, seven months cruise season so it’s a plus also for us because lots of tourists are also coming and they start here at the terminal and then they explore the Mina District before going around Doha,” she said.The competition’s limited capacity, due to the hot weather and time constraints, saw only 20 participants selected for the inaugural event. However, organisers expressed optimism that during the cold season, larger-scale competitions with greater participation can be held, further driving Qatar's prominence in the water sports arena.As the event season kicks into high gear, she said Qatar is poised to welcome crowds to the fully operational venue, offering an array of dining options and water-based activities, complementing the thriving cruise season that covers nearly half the year.The Old Doha Port is poised to become a hub for maritime enthusiasts and tourists, ensuring that Qatar's waterfronts remain vibrant and dynamic, she added.

Qatari street artist Mubarak al-Malik
Qatari street artist Mubarak al-Malik redefines creativity

For renowned Qatari street artist Mubarak al-Malik, art is a dynamic force that knows no bounds and extends beyond the confines of traditional galleries.In the latest video released by Qatar Tourism’s (QT) “Voices of Qatar” initiative, al-Malik sheds light on his creative process, highlighting the importance of breaking free from the ordinary.“Creativity for me is looking forward to something new, something out of the ordinary. Artistic ideas always appear in many places - sometimes on my bike if I’m riding long distances or when at home sitting in my studio,” he said.Al-Malik's artistic journey began at the age of 10 when he enrolled in art classes that introduced him to Arabic calligraphy, painting, and sculpture. His early experiences laid the foundation for his future endeavours, which resulted in a unique blend of both traditional and contemporary art expressions.His artistic vision has transformed public spaces into attractive masterpieces. With a deep understanding of local culture, al-Malik breathes life into the city's thoroughfares, infusing them with energy and vitality.By making art accessible to all, he creates an inclusive cultural experience that resonates with both locals and visitors.“When I had my exhibitions, the situation became boring, I saw the same visitors... the same people. So I said to myself, let me present street art. People pass by in their cars and see the work all year round. They can enjoy it all the time.“The cultural movement in Qatar has changed dramatically. All over the country, whether it is street murals or sculptures, anyone who is going to work, or going for a ride can see the artworks. I think it is excellent,” the street artist said.Central to al-Malik's work is the battoulah, a face cover worn by older Qatari women. Beyond its surface, he said the battoulah serves as a powerful symbol: “The battoulah is a symbol that I use in all my work, in many styles... For me, the battoulah is not just a symbol of Qatari women. It reflects the customs and traditions of the country. It is a symbol with many meanings”.Launched recently by QT, “Voices of Qatar” underlines Qatar’s local talents who are at the forefront of shaping the nation’s cultural landscape. From master chefs to artists, innovators to sports champions, the series offers a behind-the-scenes look at their remarkable journeys.Through interviews and personal narratives, QT noted that viewers gain insight into the challenges faced, triumphs achieved, and transformations started by these cultural change-makers.

Rosanna Orlandi and  Lucio Micheletti at the opening of ICONE: Voices of Italian Design exhibition yesterday.
ICONE: Voices of Italian Design exhibition unveiled at M7

The “ICONE: Voices of Design Made in Italy” exhibition opened at Msheireb’s M7 yesterday, offering an immersive experience into the world of design through the use of cutting-edge technologies.Curated by Rossana Orlandi, a leading figure on the international creative scene, Compasso d’Oro 2022 winner, and ambassador for “good design”; and designed by Lucio Micheletti, the exhibition is a collaborative endeavour promoted by the Embassy of Italy in Doha and hosted by Qatar Museums. It will be on view until December 20.Divided into two distinct parts, the first section animates objects, turning them into narrative actors, while the second section pays homage to the companies behind the iconic Made in Italy designs, weaving their stories into video compilations overseen by Francesca Molteni.In his speech, Italian Ambassador Paolo Toschi underlined the significance of the exhibit, lauding Orlandi as an embodiment of Italian design prowess and her dedication to sustainability, particularly her pioneering work with plastics.“You will have an opportunity to preview something that is truly an experience. Rosanna embodies what design means for Italy. She comes from the industry, in particular, the fabric industry where she spent time developing skills, understanding business, fashion and at some point in her life she had an epiphany and became one of the icons and a key player in the world of Italian design. And you know how much design means to us not just in terms of creativity but as a factor for growth and a factor for opportunity.”The envoy stressed the uniqueness of M7 as a hub of creation, beauty, and dialogue. He credited Qatar Museums chairperson HE Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani for her key role in making the event a reality and commended M7 Director Maha Ghanem al-Sulaiti for her steadfast leadership at M7.In her address, Rosanna Orlandi expressed her admiration for Qatar and her joy at returning to Doha, saying: “I love Qatar... I love Doha, every time I come back, I'm so happy, thanks to Sheikha Mayassa, thanks to the ambassador who invited me to do this presentation, thanks to everybody who helped us”.“What we want to do is really to give emotion around the design, we want to present not only design, as the ambassador said, but the voice of the designer,” she said, noting her personal involvement in reaching out to designers, resulting in a heartwarming collaboration.She also cited the key role of Micheletti – the architect, designer, and artist – who brought to life (what she envisioned) and presented the pieces in a unique way.“I chose the pieces and he realised what was in my mind, how to present in a different way with emotion because I think that emotion in design is very important,” she said.Al-Sulaiti underscored M7’s dedication to supporting local talent while also championing global design excellence. She thanked the ambassador and his wife for their staunch support of M7 and lauded Orlandi for her ongoing commitment to Qatar Museums.She cited the institution’s extensive track record of exhibitions, focusing on Italian design and including numerous ventures in fashion. The spotlight shifts to furniture design at the show, promising a showcase of exceptional creations.Al-Sulaiti expressed optimism for future collaborations with the Italian embassy, noting the shared objectives in promoting cultural exchange.“We share very common goals in supporting cultural exchange and I also want to thank Rosanna Orlandi, this is her second exhibition at M7. She's a great friend of Qatar Museums, and also for her support during the Milan Design Week in supporting Qatari designers,” she said.In his speech, Micheletti stressed the emotional connection forged through the exhibit and expressed hopes that visitors would appreciate this distinctive approach.“This exhibition is very interesting because it is a dialogue directly from the artists themselves” he stressed.Micheletti envisioned darkness as the optimal backdrop for showcasing the furnishings, seamlessly blending a museum ambiance with a theatrical stage to create an ideal focus and ambiance environment.

Charlene Kasdorf at the exhibition, showcasing her unique work. PICTURES: Thajudheen.
Innovative artwork showcased at "The Present: The Future of the Past” exhibition

Charlene Kasdorf, an accomplished illustrator and advocate for visual literacy, has taken a unique approach to her participation in the Fire Station: Artist in Residence (AIR) programme.Her latest artwork, inspired by archival elements and aesthetics from children's books in the region, aims to deconstruct and repurpose them, allowing individuals of all ages to create new and imaginative characters.“I've been an illustrator in Qatar for 11 years, and for so long I was looking for inspiration from children's books and illustrations. Most of the elements are coming from the library at the Liwan Art and Design Labs of Qatar Museums (QM),” Kasdorf said.The Fire Station, where the residency is based, played a crucial role in enabling Kasdorf to bring her vision to life. Her work is on display at the “The Present: The Future of the Past” exhibition, along with 30 other alumni from QM’s AIR programme.Featuring works stemming from artists’ residencies, which cover 2021- 2022 (AIR 6) and 2022-2023 (AIR 7), the exhibition offers visitors a glimpse into the inner workings of artists’ studios and their unique approaches.“I started maybe a year and a bit ago, and it grew. The Fire Station really enabled me to do something unexpected with it. I could make stamps out of it because they have a fabrications lab, and that’s 3D, which is not my area of expertise. But they helped me make stamps and do three-dimensional work, and it was fun,” she explained.The Artist in Residence programme provided Kasdorf with a supportive environment that goes beyond her own abilities.It is learnt that the diverse range of artworks on display at the Fire Station highlight how the AIR programme consistently promotes artists to embrace their uniqueness and explore uncharted territories. This entails thinking beyond conventional boundaries, venturing into unfamiliar mediums, experimenting with novel materials, and engaging with elements they may have never previously encountered.“It enables you to do things past your own ability because you have this support system from the fab lab, the wood shop, which I used both extensively and unexpectedly. It wasn't in my plan; it was unexpected, and they were really nice to work with, generous, and easy,” she said.Originally from Canada, Kasdorf has called Doha her home for 11 years and has lived internationally for 20. Her diverse background in graphic design, illustration, fine art, and international education culminated in a master’s degree with distinction in Museum and Gallery Practice from UCL Qatar in 2020.In her website, Kasdorf said her passion for visual literacy and creativity led her to collaborate with museums, institutions, and publishers in Qatar, focusing on research-driven picture books. Additionally, she has shared her knowledge through classes and workshops.In 2021, she launched a participatory drawing initiative, encouraging spontaneous character sketching through platforms like and @sketchykarakters.

Malaysian ambassador Zamshari Shaharan
Malaysia envoy keen to enhance bilateral ties with Qatar

Malaysian ambassador Zamshari Shaharan expressed optimism about the potential for high-level visits between Qatar and Malaysia soon, aimed at further boosting bilateral ties in various areas of co-operation.Interacting with the media recently, the envoy hoped that exchange of visits will take place with Malaysian ministers visiting Qatar in the near future.“Our goal is to elevate these bilateral relations to a higher level, and we also hope for our prime minister to visit Qatar,” Shaharan said, noting that the two countries continue to enjoy strong and deep-rooted ties.Highlighting a framework of relations established in 2019 through a ‘high-level joint committee meeting (HLJC),' he pointed out that the full potential of this framework is yet to be realised.The envoy noted that the establishment of the committee serves as a platform for regular meetings to discuss various aspects of the two countries’ relations, which include economy, healthcare, and education.About trade and investment, Shaharan underlined Qatar's proposed investment in Malaysia, which has been under discussion for two years. He noted the concerted efforts on the Malaysian side to welcome more investments from Qatar.He also expressed confidence that once this initial stage is complete, further investment opportunities will arise, aligning with Qatar’s goal to diversify its investment portfolio.In a recent visit to Qatar, Malaysia’s Minister of Economy Rafizi Ramli stressed his country's commitment to further deepen collaboration with Qatar across a range of sectors. He underscored the continuous work towards building strong connections, particularly in the areas of energy and food security.Noting the Malaysian government’s initiatives to foster co-operation with Qatar, Ramli said the two countries had signed various agreements focused on economic collaboration. This, he added, aims to enhance integration between the public and private sectors in both countries.Shaharan identified key sectors that Malaysia offers, citing food security as a prominent area of co-operation. He noted that there is a huge potential for co-operation in the hospitality sector, capitalising on the excellent connectivity between Doha and Kuala Lumpur.About flight connections, he said there are currently three daily flights between the two nations, with Qatar Airways operating one flight and Malaysian Airlines offering two. He noted the significance of Malaysian Airlines initiating flights to Doha for the first time, and highlighted positive feedback regarding the route’s popularity.On tourism, Shaharan cited a stable flow of Qatari tourists to Malaysia, and pointed to the influx of visitors from various other nationalities from Qatar. He said he sees a big potential for increased tourism promotion in both Qatar and Malaysia.Regarding visa arrangements, he said Qataris enjoy visa-free entry, while e-visa options are available for other nationalities – applying with ease and making Malaysia more accessible for visitors.

Imad Mansour (2nd left), along with other panellists at the discussion on Friday. PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam.
Conference explores impact of Iraq invasion on Qatar, Kuwait

A panel discussion on September 15 at the ongoing 'The Invasion of Iraq: Regional Reflections' Hiwaraat conference series shed light on the war’s impact on Qatar and Kuwait, particularly in terms of governance, foreign policy, and economic development.Imad Mansour from the Doha Institute for Graduate Studies said that while the invasion was a tragic event in the region’s history, it inadvertently eliminated threats faced by Qatar.He highlighted a structural change that enabled regional states to pursue more assertive policies globally – a shift allowing Qatar to experience unprecedented economic growth. This traced back to the 1970s and culminated in the 1990s when the country's diplomatic engagement with Iran intensified.“In the 70s and the 80s, Qatar faced a series of restrictions so state building was going on, there was less resources. The war between Iran and Iraq in the 80s limited what really Qatar and other states in the region could do because their main emphasis then was on securing themselves from the outside.“In the 90s... that war which decimated Iraq, was combined with changes in the technology to produce and export LNG (liquefied natural gas), which meant more resources for Qatar,” Mansour told Gulf Times on the sidelines of the discussion.Speaking at the session, titled “The View from the Peninsula: Kuwait and Qatar”, Laleh Khalili from Exeter University underlined the direct and indirect effects of the Iraq invasion on the economies of both Kuwait and Qatar. She pointed out that the uncertainties arising from military invasions have significant implications for oil markets, leading to fluctuations in prices and subsequently impacting GDPs.She also stressed the substantial influence of US military bases on both countries. These bases, she noted, serve as economic hubs, hosting various businesses and generating a “little American town” effect, contributing significantly to the local economies.Additionally, Khalili noted that the logistical and transport sectors have experienced substantial growth – written in her book (launched in 2020) titled ‘The Sinews of War and Trade: Shipping and Capitalism in the Arabian Peninsula’, which further stimulated economic development.“The indirect effect of course is that because of the uncertainties usually that such a military invasion creates, the oil markets, particularly the Futures oil market, react quite strongly, and those uncertainties and unpredictability resulting shift in the price of oil which we see again reflected in the GDPs.Mansour and Khalili were joined by other panelists, including David Roberts, chair of King’s College London; Ghanim Alnajjar and Bader Al-Saif, both from Kuwait University.The conference, organised by Georgetown University in Qatar (GU-Q), aims to provide a comprehensive overview of the impact of the Iraq invasion over the past two decades, It brought together experts from the US, the Middle East, and other regions.According to GU-Q, the discussions include critical themes such as the emergence of Da’esh, post-invasion Iraq's women, global governance, climate change, and natural resource management.The insights shared at the conference, which concludes on Saturday highlight the complex interplay of geopolitical events and regional economies, illustrating how unforeseen consequences can lead to unexpected opportunities for growth and development.

Dr Anat Denyingyhot conducts a demo of the Rapid Test Kit.
Thailand's Halal Science Centre showcases cutting-edge innovation at Doha seminar

A seminar, organised by the Thailand embassy in Doha yesterday (September 14), provided in-depth insights into Halal practices and technological innovation, highlighting the pioneering work of the Halal Science Centre (HSC) at Chulalongkorn University.The event, titled “Thailand's Shariah-Compliant Advancement,” shed light on the importance of science, technology, and ground-breaking developments in Halal authentication.Speaking at the event, Thai ambassador Sira Swangsilpa said the seminar carries a significant weight for both Qatar and Thailand, marking the start of a series of initiatives aimed at disseminating Thailand's exemplary practices and facilitating networking opportunities with diverse institutions and diplomatic entities in Qatar.“This initiative seeks to unlock untapped collaborative potential between Qatar and Thailand, simultaneously offering prospects for trilateral cooperation with your respective countries,” he told attendees, which include a number of ambassadors and diplomats from different embassies in the country.Beyond Thailand's renowned cultural diversity and tourist destinations, the envoy underlined the vibrant Islamic culture ingrained in Thai society with around seven million Muslims, constituting 10% of its population.He noted that this community played a vital role in Thai society for centuries, dating back to the 17th century when Arab and Persian merchants served as advisors in the Royal Court.“In contemporary times, the Royal Thai government has made significant strides to accommodate the religious values of this cherished population, fostering initiatives to ensure top-notch services and spiritual consumer protection for Muslims,” Swangsilpa said.Established in 2004 under Thailand's leading university, he added that HSC is recognised as the world's first Halal Science Institution and operates as a state-of-the-art laboratory utilising advanced scientific methodologies to detect forbidden components and ensure the production of Halal food and services.In addition, Swangsilpa said HSC offers extensive training for food technology professionals and has received recognition and awards for science and innovation, both domestically and internationally.In his presentation, Associate Prof Dr Winai Dahlan, founding director of HSC and vice chairman of the Central Islamic Council of Thailand, underlined Thailand’s strategies on Halal integrity with science and technology.Citing a scandal involving intricate Haram contamination in Halal food within a prominent Muslim nation like Indonesia, he stressed that Thailand's National Economic and Social Development Council recognised the critical role of science and technology in the production and certification of Halal food. This, he added, also extends to safeguarding the interests of Muslim consumers, a focus that had previously been advanced at the Faculty of Allied Health and Sciences, Chulalongkorn University.Following Dr Dahlan’s keynote address, Dr Anat Denyingyhot, assistant director at HSC, conducted a live demonstration of the Rapid Test Kit for contaminating non-Halal animals in Halal food products. Highlighting the key role that the Halal Forensic Laboratory plays, he explored how Halal sciences ensure consumer protection through a combination of science and Shariah principles.Dr Denyingyhot said that such innovation, which was awarded a gold medal at the 34th International Invention, Innovation & Technology Exhibition (ITEX 2023) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in May this year, showcased the centre’s commitment to ensuring the highest Halal certification standards.The seminar also highlighted Thailand’s National Strategy Framework, which aims to strengthen the economy and promote sustainable investments that address food security, climate change, and demographic shifts.According to Swangsilpa, the emphasis on balanced development and environmental responsibility aligns with Qatar’s National Vision 2030, creating potential avenues for collaboration.“I firmly believe that this seminar aligns seamlessly with the Qatar National Vision 2030, which revolves around four interconnected pillars of development: Human, Social, Economic and Environmental. It sets a clear roadmap for the country’s future while addressing societal needs and maintaining a delicate balance between modernisation and tradition preservation.“This alignment is a perfect match with Thailand's national development goals and several national agendas from your respective countries. By combining our countries development objective, we can chart a promising path to collaboration and a brighter future,” the envoy said.

Tony Ward, a Lebanese-Italian fashion designer, has transformed his family's couture house into an international brand known for innovation and masterful craftsmanship.
When Tony Ward blends fashion and sustainability

For the renowned fashion designer Tony Ward, architecture is more than just buildings, it is a fountain of creative ideas. His latest collection highlights the significance of sustainability through the incorporation of upcycled couture pieces.With a firm belief in the fashion industry's responsibility to combat pollution, Ward shares insights into his family's commitment to sustainability, from upcycling vintage pieces to educating the brand’s team on eco-friendly practices.As part of the trunk show, held at Fifty One East, Ward displayed the latest Fall Winter 2023/24 Couture Collection, which marked an important moment for the designer, as sustainability claimed a prominent role. Recognising the fashion industry as the world's second-largest polluter, Ward was driven by a sense of responsibility towards future generations.Drawing inspiration from his family, particularly his sustainably-minded children, he embarked on a mission to revolutionise his business. This journey included upcycling vintage pieces, reducing shipping waste, and reevaluating material usage.In an exclusive interview with Gulf Times, Ward, shared his vision for a sustainable future in fashion, highlighting the fusion of architectural inspirations with haute couture. Ward's innovative approach is demonstrated by his trunk show in Qatar at Fifty One East, introducing a collection that blends timeless craftsmanship with cutting-edge technology, all while prioritising sustainability.“My children are very sustainable. They are into sustainability, permaculture and upcycling. I learned from the younger generation how important it is to listen and be aware of the importance of learning something new even though our business,” he said. “We can make it function in a way that it works well and respects the environment”, added Ward.Ward's factory, home to 180 dedicated individuals, became a hub of sustainability education, underscoring responsible practices in every aspect of production.“So digging into the collections and taking upcycling and some of the important pieces of our vintage pieces is part of it, making fewer shippings and not harming the environment, is important,” he added.However, Ward said that transitioning towards sustainability is not without its challenges. He acknowledges the tension between commercial interests and environmental responsibility. He said that being truly beneficial means accepting reduced profits in the short term.Ward views this as an investment in a better tomorrow, where environmental consciousness is not a choice but a necessity dictated by economic and political forces. His commitment to sustainable practices is rooted in his conviction that it is a path towards a more balanced and ethical future.“Your benefit comes with less cost. Being cost-effective today means that sometimes you have to be less sustainable, which is also challenging. We’re not a fine razor company, we’re not a pro bono company, but I think that it is a start to building a better tomorrow. You have a choice today to make tomorrow more economical, as sooner or later the political situation will oblige companies to go towards this.“Whenever I’m ready for this, I will work towards complete sustainability and be able to stand on my feet while being part of a better solution. I will continue to respect the environment in a way that I feel comfortable when I look myself in the mirror,” he explained.THE FUTURE OF FASHION: BRIDGING TRADITION WITH TECHNOLOGYWard’s innovative approach bridges traditional craftsmanship with cutting-edge technology – reflected in his latest collection, “Under My Skin”. While embracing 3D printing and advanced techniques, he puts a spotlight on the irreplaceable value of handcrafted couture and stresses the importance of respecting the past for a sustainable future in fashion.While one piece showcases 3D printing technology, 54 others are handcrafted, highlighting the irreplaceable artistry of couture. Ward firmly believes that honoring the past and embracing sustainability is vital in shaping a brighter future for fashion. His creations stand as a testament to the enduring value of human touch and skill.“Couture is about unicity, high-end, and the work of the delicate hands of these ladies that work hours and overnight and this can never be replaced”, said Ward.“In fashion, you must honor your past to have a future. By respecting your past and overlooking how to get things done sustainably, your future in fashion will be worth keeping,” Ward pointed out.Ward said he puts the importance of both exclusivity and inclusivity in his designs. Having worked closely with Qatari clients for nearly three decades, he celebrates Qatar’s vibrant and fashion-forward youth, asserting their key role in shaping the nation's evolving fashion landscape.In Qatar's fashion scene, Ward recognises the emerging self-reliance and fashion-forward mindset of young individuals, which influences the direction of the fashion scene in the country.FIFTY ONE EAST: A KEY PARTNERWard lauds Fifty One East as a key partner, citing its influential market presence. In a rapidly changing landscape, he recognises the challenges faced by both retailers and designers, stressing the need to adapt to the evolving dynamics of the fashion industry.Ward, a Lebanese-Italian fashion designer, has transformed his family's couture house into an international brand known for innovation and masterful craftsmanship. Inspired by contemporary architecture, Ward's creations attract a diverse clientele, including members of royal families, celebrities, and high-end international stores. With a background in top Parisian fashion houses, Ward's unique vision combines sculptural forms with groundbreaking techniques, earning him the moniker "The Architect of Detail.”

Ronnie Llorin showcases some of the best and most expensive coffee machines. PICTURES: Joey Aguilar
'Doha poised to be a global coffee hub'

Doha has a huge potential to become an international coffee hub, thanks to the surging popularity of specialty coffee creations and signature drinks crafted by skilled baristas in the country, an industry expert said.Ronnie Llorin, Speciality Coffee Association (SCA) barista trainer at Partners&Partners, told Gulf Times that Doha has become the birthplace of numerous signature coffee concoctions, utilising an array of carefully sourced and high-quality coffee beans from diverse regions worldwide, including South and Latin America, and Africa.“I see Qatar to be a very popular destination for coffee lovers and connoisseurs. There is a flourishing coffee business here and a growing community of skilled and passionate baristas, which I think is a direct response to the rising demand for skilled professionals in this field,” he said.It is learnt that this surge in interest has also driven many companies to join forces in organising various coffee-related events in Qatar: from major exhibitions to trainings, seminars and coffee-tasting activities, adding to the country’s appeal as a haven for coffee lovers.Different coffee events and activities are scheduled to take place in Doha in the coming weeks, including the inaugural Doha International Coffee Exhibition 2023, which will be held at the Doha Exhibition and Convention Centre from tomorrow until September 16.Organised by the Qatar Specialty Coffee Association, this premier global coffee trade show promises to be a caffeine-fueled extravaganza, offering a dynamic platform for innovation, education, and coffee trade.Following this event, Qatar is slated to present the "Growing Kopi, Drinking Qahwa; Stories of Coffee in Qatar and Indonesia" exhibition at the National Museum of Qatar on October 24. This immersive exhibit, a collaboration with the National Museum of Indonesia, highlights the global history of coffee by exploring the distinct coffee cultures of Qatar and Indonesia.The exhibition, a key highlight of the Qatar – Indonesia 2023 Year of Culture and Qatar Creates, will be on display until February 17, 2024.This November, participants at Hospitality Qatar 2023 will have the chance to exhibit their offerings, which include coffee, along with associated equipment and expertise, to a large audience.In addition, organisers said they will also have the opportunity to gain valuable insights into the Qatari market.Llorin said that several coffee activities such as coffee tasting, seminars and workshops, and competitions will also be organised at Al Bidda Park during the six-month Doha Expo 2023.Citing the demand surge for coffee, he said coffee booths at events like the Qatar International Food Festival have become popular hubs for visitors, contributing to the vibrancy of the country’s culinary and food & beverage scene.Llorin pointed out that these major events, which feature numerous selections of food and beverages, particularly coffee, attract huge crowds and strengthen Qatar’s position as a popular and must-visit destination.Apart from several local specialty coffee roasters, Llorin noted that Qatar is also home to a wide range of high-end coffee machines, including a 24-carat gold-plated equipment.Many visitors echoed a similar view, saying that Qatar offers not only classic and traditional drinks such as cappuccino, Spanish latte, and macchiato, in addition to the popular Arabic coffee, but also several highly sought beverages from other countries such as Turkish coffee, karak or chai latte, and other tea blends.

Thai ambassador Sira Swangsilpa.
Thai embassy aims to strengthen food security cooperation with Qatar

The Thailand embassy in Doha is keen to deepen its bilateral ties with Qatar particularly in the area of food security, citing Thailand’s abundance of agricultural produce ranging from rice, vegetables and fruits to poultry.“I intend to expand cooperation with Qatar based on Qatar National Vision 2030, especially on food security because in Thailand, we have many agricultural products... from rice, vegetables and fruits to poultry,” Thai ambassador Sira Swangsilpa told at a recent meeting with the media.With a food security strategy in place, the two countries could explore greater coordination and collaboration over the next six years, he stated.Besides rice, some of the Thai food products being exported to Qatar include fresh, chilled or frozen fish; prepared or preserved fish, crustaceans, and mollusk; and fresh, frozen and dried fruits; among others.Many Thai products are offered by major supermarkets in Qatar such as LuLu Group, which collaborated with the Thai Trade Commission. In addition, the number of Thai restaurants in Doha witnessed a notable increase. Qatar’s appetite for Thai cuisine has also contributed to the strengthening of cultural ties.Aimed at fostering better mutual understanding and cooperation, the Thai embassy announced that it is hosting the “Thailand’s Shariah-Compliant Innovation” seminar, set on September 14 at Banyan Tree Doha.The event, according to the embassy, will discuss a diverse array of subjects, including the pioneering advancements in Halal science and technology, safeguarding consumer interests, and investigating potential collaborative opportunities within academia.The seminar will tackle a ‘Revolutionary Rapid Test Kit’, a breakthrough in detecting non-Halal elements in food products, an innovation that aligns with Thailand’s commitment to meeting the highest Halal certification standards.According to the embassy, the event will also feature sessions led by industry experts, including Associate Prof D. Winai Dahlan, founding director of The Halal Science Centre at Chulalongkorn University, and Dr Anat Denyingyhot, assistant director at the same institution.About trade ties, Swangsilpa noted that trade volume between the two countries stands at $4.5bn, with Thailand exporting automotive products, air conditioning machines and parts, and electrical equipment, among others, while importing natural gas from Qatar.Swangsilpa, who is in his third month since arriving in Doha, said he met with members of the Thai community in Qatar, including children attending Thai and English language classes.The envoy highlighted the growing number of visitors from Qatar, noting that around 100,000 tourists visit Thailand annually for leisure and medical tourism. He said Qataris are entitled to a 30-day visa on arrival to Thailand.

Saida al-Khulaifi at the Fire Station's latest exhibition. PICTURE: Thajudheen
Fire Station’s exhibition sheds light on future trends

The Fire Station's latest exhibition, titled “The Present: The Future of the Past,” offers a glimpse into the evolving world of art as it highlights the fusion of traditional artistic methodologies with cutting-edge technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and augmented reality (AR).Curated by Saida al-Khulaifi, the exhibition showcases creations from the Artist in Residence of 2021-2022 (AIR 6) and 2022-2023 (AIR 7). The event aims to explore the inner workings of artists' studios, providing visitors with a unique opportunity to understand the unique approaches and techniques employed by the latest batch of resident artists.Al-Khulaifi underlined the importance of encouraging artists to explore the potential of their creations, citing examples from the exhibition, including a cultural installation incorporating AR elements. She noted that one of the artists integrated AI technology seamlessly into his work.“I think one of the main things we try to do here (Fire Station’s AIR programme) is that if an artist has an artwork that has the potential, we try to ask them to experiment with that.“We have one cultural installation that has an AR augmented reality element, his work is a hybrid between AI and it is also his art so he would generate these images and then he will paint them again,” she said.The exhibition will remain on view until December 16 at the Fire Station's Garage Gallery, Gallery 3, and Gallery 4. It showcases interactive artworks equipped with sensors, allowing visitors to engage with the pieces – described as an innovative approach to art engagement, which demonstrates the evolving landscape of artistic expression.About the direction of interactive, immersive, and AI art in Qatar, al-Khulaifi expressed optimism about the future, saying that they are taking slow but careful steps towards embracing these forms of art.The integration of AI and immersive experiences, she noted, is becoming increasingly popular, and the Fire Station aims to nurture and develop this trend.“And also like in the other art galleries (of the Fire Station), we have a couple of immersive experiences that I think it's (AI art) coming and it's something that we really like to cultivate and develop as well... so we make sure that if we receive applications of that kind we know that the world is going this way and we want to also showcase local talents that can actually work with that,” al-Khulaifi pointed out.

Dr James She's research interests focus on the uses of AI and multimedia for art, media, culture and human creativity.
HBKU's generative AI technology pioneers characters tailored to Arab, Qatari culture

Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU), in a pioneering initiative merging technology, artistic innovation, and cultural awareness, is leading an ambitious research project focused on generative Artificial Intelligence (AI) tailored to Arab and Qatari culture.Led by HBKU’s College of Science and Engineering associate professor Dr James She, this innovative project is set to transform the landscape of digital media production by creating highly culturally aware and relevant AI-generated content.“Our technology breakthroughs and project deliverables stemming from this research on AI characters underscore Qatar’s unwavering commitment to research and education.“These developments are poised to significantly benefit a wide array of industries within Qatar, including media, culture, and creativity, by spearheading the utilisation of generative AI technologies for applications requiring precise, high-quality, and representative AI characters,” Dr She told Gulf Times.He pointed out that existing generative AI technologies and platforms like Midjourney, Dall.E, and Stable Diffusion often fall short when it comes to accurately representing Arab and Qatari cultures.Dr She, along with his dedicated research team at HBKU, has spent the last three years pushing the boundaries of generative AI technology to ensure it can effectively and authentically portray Qatari and Arab content, culture, and heritage.As a media artist himself, Dr She has not only been researching but also producing, exhibiting, and lecturing on AI art that encapsulates the essence of Qatari, Arab, and Islamic culture. His research interests focus on the uses of AI and multimedia for art, media, culture and human creativity and many of his artworks were previously exhibited in Qatar, UAE, South Korea, Australia, Thailand, China and other countries.He said that his team’s goal is clear: to provide a platform with culturally aware AI technologies that empowers media professionals and individuals to efficiently create lifelike AI-generated Qatari characters for digital images and videos.“Moreover, by positioning HBKU as a key research hub within the global research community, we are at the forefront of propelling future generative AI technologies, with a special emphasis on pioneering breakthroughs in the realm of Arab culture and content,” added Dr She, who was a visiting artist at Qatar Museums’ Fire Station: Artist in Residence in 2020.The team’s recent achievements feature a collection of Qatari AI characters, represented by “AI Fahad,” who can be seamlessly customised for various applications. For instance, he said AI Fahad can speak multiple languages such as Mandarin to promote attractions in Qatar, making him a powerful tool for tourism promotion.According to Dr She, these AI characters are a testament to technical innovation, cultural correctness, artistic endeavours, and media appropriateness. They not only look incredibly realistic but also meticulously preserve cultural details, from traditional “gitrah” and “thobe” attire to their ability to adapt to different languages and knowledge domains.“The implications of this project extend far beyond media and creative industries,” he stressed, noting that it holds immense potential for accelerating content production across diverse sectors, including tourism advertising, sports news broadcasting, online education, and training.Dr She and his team have developed their novel generative AI algorithms as a user-friendly platform, drawing from the latest open-source generative AI technologies. All Qatari AI characters produced from this platform are curated by experts with cultural, media, art, and technology backgrounds.In addition, he said his team is proactive in addressing potential risks and challenges associated with AI character technologies. They are collaborating with experts to develop effective detection and mitigation solutions to prevent misuse and abuse of this emerging technology, safeguarding against the spread of fake news and more.The team, Dr She added, is also actively exploring opportunities to deploy these AI characters in significant mega events and tourism projects in Qatar and the region, further solidifying its commitment to cultural representation and technological advancement.

The 7th edition of the Katara International Falcon and Hunting Exhibition, S'hail,' which concludes today, covers a diverse array of offerings and attractions centred around falconry, hunting, and camping. PICTURES: Shaji Kayamkulam
Unique, diverse offerings at S’hail exhibition

Unique and diverse offerings at the 7th Katara International Falcon and Hunting Exhibition ‘S’hail’ – designed to enhance experiences in falconry, hunting and camping – has been drawing massive crowds since its opening on September 5. This year’s exhibition, scheduled to conclude today (September 9) at Katara – Cultural Village, introduced groundbreaking and eco-friendly innovations poised to redefine such outdoor endeavours. S’hail 2023 puts a spotlight on a range of cutting-edge and sustainable technologies and practices such as the use of solar panels at tents, especially during the camping season. This, according to exhibitors, reflects a wider shift towards embracing sustainable living methods. This breakthrough in camping technology not only prioritises sustainability but also promises significant cost and energy savings by powering tents round-the-clock, making it ideal for desert camping. A number of companies at S’hail attracted many visitors for their modified and customised off-road vehicles, as well as hunting equipment. Equipped with advanced technologies, these vehicles were designed to navigate diverse climatic and environmental conditions. The exhibition showcases a comprehensive range of accessories and services, ensuring both the exterior and interior components of these vehicles are optimised for performance and comfort. Various selections of mobile caravans and homes adhere to the highest standards of craftsmanship and quality, putting them in direct competition with renowned international brands. They are equipped with innovative features, including cutting-edge sound and heat insulation, and can be modified to meet specific customer preferences. These mobile spaces offer a luxurious and comfortable experience, with amenities that rival those of a traditional home. S’hail features dedicated pavilions for rifles and pistols, citing the growing appeal of both traditional falconry and advanced hunting equipment in Qatar and the Middle East. An array of weapons, mainly for hunting pursuits, are displayed at several booths and the popularity of certain brands among hunters and falconers attests to their outstanding quality and performance. S’hail visitors also have the chance to explore the different collections of hand-crafted knives from Wazirabad, Pakistan, in which the designs and built reflect the rich heritage and preferences of Qatar and Middle Eastern markets. A number of enthusiasts find these intricately fashioned blades unique and a must-have since they have been meticulously created for hunting, falcontry, and camping. The exhibition underlines the longstanding and centuries-old tradition of knife craftsmanship in Wazirabad, presenting specially crafted knives that honour the local culture. Doha-based artists contribute to the appeal of the exhibition with their pieces, focusing on falconry and hunting. Like other artists at S’hail, Qatari artist Mohamed al-Saad’s work reflects the rich culture and heritage of Qatar and the Arab world. Several other artists who are showcasing their works aim to highlight the significance of falcons in the country's heritage, lauding the organisation of S’hail for providing a valuable platform for artists to showcase their talent. The Souq Waqif Falcon Hospital, known for treating approximately 35,000 birds annually, continues to provide exceptional avian healthcare at S’hail. Director Dr Ikdam Majed AlKarkhi emphasises the hospital’s comprehensive range of medical services tailoured for falcons, including advanced examinations and assessments aimed at evaluating the health of vital organs. In addition to various types of falcon breeds, S’hail also features a shooting booth for practice and competition, remote-controlled planes and drones, leather gears and accessories for falconry, cutting-edge medical equipment for falcons and other birds, and other camping and hunting equipment such as high-tech binoculars and rifle scopes, among others. These diverse offerings further enhance the experience for visitors and enthusiasts alike. A booth at S’hail has become one of the main attractions, showcasing preserved creatures like tigers, bears, and falcons, alongside other animals, presented by JP Gerard Simon Taxidermy. Noting a growing enthusiasm among youngsters on falconry, falconer Farhan al-Sayed told Gulf Times that many children, mostly around 10 to 14 years old, visit the Souq Waqif. “They roam around Souq Waqif because they were able to save money to buy falcons,” he said, adding that this trend shows a growing interest in such a healthy hobby instead of buying an electronic gadget. Al-Sayed said engaging in this activity is beneficial for society as it encourages youngsters to stay occupied, transitioning from a sedentary lifestyle to an active one. “It promotes a healthy, traditional approach to pet ownership, allowing young students to attend school while also caring for a pet and learning responsible handling,” he added.

Dr Ikdam Majed AlKarkhi with a falcon (supplied picture).
Souq Waqif Falcon Hospital treats 35,000 falcons in 2022

The Souq Waqif Falcon Hospital has treated 35,000 birds in 2022 and continues to provide excellent avian healthcare at the ongoing seventh edition of Katara International Falcon and Hunting Exhibition, according to hospital director Dr Ikdam Majed AlKarkhi.Providing some insights into their groundbreaking accomplishments, Dr AlKarkhi told Gulf Times that the hospital offers a wide range of medical services to falcons.“Last year, we received 35,000 birds, in our main branch and in Al Khor, so around this figure are treated annually,” he said, noting that the hospital has been participating in the exhibition for the last seven years.Dr AlKarkhi noted that these medical services cover cutting-edge medical examinations, including digestive system check-ups, respiratory system endoscopy, x-rays, hematology blood tests, and biochemistry assessments to gauge the health of essential organs such as the liver and kidneys.Among the services offered, he said, the hospital conducts laboratory tests for parasites and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests, enabling the diagnosis of bacterial and viral diseases. These tests are especially crucial for falcon owners planning to take their birds outside Qatar, as the hospital issues health certificates for these purposes.Dr AlKarkhi stressed the hospital's commitment to comprehensive care, which extends to a number of services such as microchip and Passive Integrated Transponder (PIT) implantations. These services underscore the hospital's dedication to meeting the unique and diverse needs of falconers.He stated that one of the achievements of the Souq Waqif Falcon Hospital is its integration of cutting-edge technology into falcon care. He underlined two major additions to the hospital's array of services this year: the introduction of X-ray examinations for falcons and the establishment of a PCR laboratory. These innovations, he pointed out, represent a significant leap in the hospital's capabilities, allowing for more accurate diagnoses and better treatment options.About the most common diseases treated at the hospital, Dr AlKarkhi cited parasitic and bacterial diseases as the prevailing challenges. These illnesses, he said, are particularly concerning due to their potential for easy transmission from other bird species like pigeons.With thousands of falcons being treated annually, he reiterated the hospital's year-round dedication to falcon health and welfare.

Farhan al-Sayed with a falcon at the seventh edition of Katara International Falcon and Hunting Exhibition. PICTURE: Joey Aguilar
Falconry tradition thrives amidst changing times

The old tradition of falconry remains an enduring symbol of Qatar’s rich cultural heritage, especially in a world that seems to be evolving at an ever-increasing pace, falconer Farhan al-Sayed said.“Falconry is a very old-fashioned thing, and lots of things remained traditional; they don't change,” said al-Sayed, who also serves as the president of the Qatar-Indonesia Business Council.Speaking to Gulf Times on the sidelines of the opening of the seventh edition of Katara International Falcon and Hunting Exhibition, S'hail 2023, he shed light on the continued vigor of this age-old practice, stressing the fusion of tradition and modernity within Qatar's falconry community.'S’hail 2023', organised by Katara - Cultural Village, began yesterday and will run until September 9. “Like in fashion, you have different kinds of falcon hoods, you can see different styles coming in, even in the gloves that we use. We wear gloves on the left hand, but if you compare with the Europeans, they might wear them on the right hand,” al-Sayed said.He pointed out that these gloves – crafted from leather – are not just for show as their thickness and strength protect falconers from the sharp and powerful claws of the birds. For newcomers to falconry, he said these gloves are essential to prevent injuries.According to al-Sayed, Qatar's tradition of falconry begins at a young age as Qatari children are introduced to this unique artistic endeavour from their earliest years. He recommends that young falconers start with the smallest species of falcon, known as the kestrel, to foster their passion for the ancient sport.Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, he said that enthusiasm for falconry and hunting remains high in Qatar. He added that the falconry season usually begins with an exhibition, a time when the weather becomes more favourable for related activities.Al-Sayed noted that Qatar holds a special distinction in the world of falconry, boasting the highest density of falconers globally. This prevalence, he stressed, underscores the importance of maintaining this tradition, a heritage deeply rooted in Qatari culture.He attributed this continuity to the vision of Qatar's leadership, saying: “I would give the credit to His Highness the Father Amir, who inspired this tradition during his term as the Amir of Qatar.“You can see the falcon souq at Souq Waqif and the state-of-the-art falcon hospital, which ensures the well-being of falcons from various corners of the world, including the UK, Spain, and Europe,” al-Sayed said.He reiterated that the growing popularity of falconry and hunting is a testament to the enduring traditions established by His Highness the Father Amir and continued under the leadership of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani.Owning a falcon in Qatar, particularly from childhood, is a matter of prestige and a symbol of the nation’s deep cultural roots, he said.Falconry, an ancient tradition dating back thousands of years, has long been seen as a partnership between falcon and human, al-Sayed said.“In the past, falcons were used for survival. The falcon's survival ensured the master's survival, and when combined with a team of camels and saluki breed dogs, they formed a formidable hunting force capable of hunting various game, including deer. The falcon would slow down the prey, and the saluki would bring it down,” he added.

Malaysian ambassador Zamshari Shaharan at the recently held Malaysia Education Fair in Doha. PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam
Qatar-Malaysia trade hit record high in 2022: envoy

The trade volume between Qatar and Malaysia reached a record high in 2022, exceeding $1bn, mainly attributed to the country’s successful hosting of the FIFA World Cup, Malaysian ambassador Zamshari Shaharan said.Speaking to reporters Monday, the envoy noted the surge in trade was driven by increased demand for various Malaysian products, particularly food items such as palm oil, as well as electrical and electronic products, processed food, machinery, and petroleum products.“Due to the organisation of the World Cup in Qatar, we have seen a significant increase, of course, because of Covid-19 (pandemic), it went down and it reached a certain level. But what important is to note that last year (2022), it (total trade volume) reached (over) $1bn, that is a record even for us,” he said.Based on figures given by the Malaysian embassy, the total trade volume in 2022 marked a remarkable 79.5% growth compared to the previous year.Apart from palm oil, Malaysian exports to Qatar include palm oil-based agriculture products ($49.7mn); electrical and electronic products ($48.9mn); processed food ($32.7mn); machinery, equipment and parts ($32.5mn); and petroleum products ($31.8mn).Major Malaysian imports from Qatar, on the other hand, include crude petroleum ($353mn); chemicals and chemical products ($187.7mn); petroleum products ($155.8mn); manufactures of metal ($39.8mn, mainly aluminium); other vegetable oil ($3.3mn).While total bilateral trade between Qatar and Malaysia witnessed a substantial increase in 2022, embassy figures noted that exports saw a slight decrease of 1.2% to $0.33bn, while imports surged by 184.9% to $0.75bn.This resulted in Malaysia registering a trade deficit of $0.42bn with Qatar in 2022.The envoy noted that a significant partnership was formed between Qatari dairy producer Baladna and Malaysian companies FGV Holdings Berhad and Touch Group Holdings Sdn Bhd. This joint venture aims to develop an integrated dairy farming business in Malaysia. It is expected to be commercially operational by 2025, capable of producing 100mn litres of fresh milk per year within the first three years, and eventually reaching 300mn litres.According to ambassador Shaharan, Malaysia offers several sectors where collaboration with Qatar could be mutually beneficial.These include food security and hospitality, leveraging the excellent connectivity between Doha and Kuala Lumpur.“May be hospitality is another that we can offer in Malaysia, given the good connectivity between Doha and Kuala Lumpur,” he said, adding there are currently three daily flights between Doha and Kuala Lumpur.

A surge in income levels has significantly contributed to the growth of the coffee market in the region, particularly in countries like Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Kuwait, where there is a rising demand for café and coffee shop culture, organisers noted.
All set for Doha International Coffee Exhibition debut

Qatar is set to host the first edition of Doha International Coffee Exhibition 2023, which will bring together coffee aficionados and professionals from around the globe at the Doha Exhibition and Convention Centre from September 14 to 16.This premier global coffee trade show, organised by the Qatar Specialty Coffee Association (Qatsca), promises to be a caffeine-fuelled extravaganza with a vibrant platform for innovation, education, and coffee trade.According to the organisers, this exhibition boasts an array of exciting features, including the Qatar National Coffee Championships where coffee connoisseurs will compete for top prize. The Roasters’ Village will be a hub for micro-roasters to meet customers, showcasing the latest trends in coffee sourcing, handling, roasting, brewing, and distribution, accompanied by plenty of coffee-tasting opportunities.The event’s website noted that other highlights will include the Brew/Espresso Bar, where skilled baristas will craft some of the most sought-after beverages while the Best Booth Design Awards will celebrate outstanding designs – known as a vital aspect of distinguishing specialty coffee.The exhibition will also showcase new and unique coffee products and services, alongside coffee lectures and training programmes, featuring renowned industry experts.Coffee enthusiasts will have the chance to savour unique coffee blends at the Cupping Corner, offering tasting rooms for businesses to present their coffees to a select group of customers and tasters.Organisers added that the event will also provide opportunities to meet and greet, as well as sign up for memberships with the Specialty Coffee Association and QATSCA, for networking and facilitating connections with global coffee industry leaders.Following the remarkable success of coffee festivals held in coffee capitals like Paris, London, and Amsterdam, organisers said the inaugural Doha International Coffee Exhibition is poised to become an indispensable gathering for coffee industry professionals. These include café owners, roasters, retailers, baristas, green coffee importers and exporters, coffee growers and producers, procurement, representatives from the hospitality, restaurants and catering sector, and coffee enthusiasts.“This exhibition has experienced remarkable growth in both scale and reputation worldwide over the past six years. It has evolved from a modest event with 4,000 attendees and 60 exhibitors to a spectacular showcase featuring 12,945 visitors and over 340 exhibitors.“With a history spanning over a decade, it is widely recognised as the foremost event in the global coffee industry, drawing the world's top coffee and Horeca industry suppliers,” organisers said.The organisers cited the remarkable growth of the Middle East coffee industry, with a compound annual growth rate of 7.5% during the forecast period. A surge in income levels has significantly contributed to the growth of the coffee market in the region, particularly in countries like Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Kuwait, where there is a rising demand for café and coffee shop culture. The number of specialty cafés in the Middle East continues to expand to meet consumer demands.It is learnt that the substantial growth in the number of coffee shops and specialty cafes, not only in Qatar but also in other GCC countries, has led to an unprecedented need for highly skilled baristas.

“The Present: The Future of the Past” exhibition, taking place at the Fire Station until December 16, showcases a diverse array of artworks by 31 accomplished alumni from QM’s AIR programme. PICTURE: Thajudheen
AIR programme’s remarkable growth and transformation

The Fire Station's Artist in Residency (AIR) programme has witnessed remarkable growth and transformation over the years, culminating in the ongoing exhibition, “The Present: The Future of the Past”, curator Saida al-Khulaifi said.Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the press preview recently, she shed light on the programme's evolution and the exceptional diversity and innovation displayed by resident artists.Al-Khulaifi said the platform has developed highly from its inception until today, citing more mentorship, studio critique, roundtable discussions, and encouragement for artists to engage in dialogue and be receptive to criticism.“The artists are very keen because the art scene in Doha is growing and there are more artists coming up every day,” al-Khulaifi observed, noting that artists in Qatar are enthusiastic and focused on crafting distinct and unique pieces, pushing their boundaries to present their best work.With a diverse array of artworks showcased at the exhibition, she pointed out that the AIR programme always encouraged artists to be unique and experimental, to think outside the box, to try different mediums and different materials, and something that they have never worked with before.“So hence, they (artists) push themselves and try, whether it's their own medium or others, sometimes their works were smaller and now they've done something bigger,” the curator said.According to the Fire Station, “The Present: The Future of the Past” exhibition encompasses artworks by 31 accomplished alumni from QM’s AIR programme during the residencies of 2021-2022 (AIR 6) and 2022-2023 (AIR 7).The show provides visitors with a window into the inner workings of artists’ studios and their distinctive creative processes, spanning from initial concept to final realisation. The result is a collection of thought-provoking artworks crafted in a diverse range of artistic media.The artists featured in this exhibition are: Abdulaziz Yousef, Abdulrahman Almuftah, Arman Mansouri, Aya Battiri, Charlene Kasdorf, Fatima Javed, Hind Alobaidli, Lucy Martin, Noor Alkharaan, N&LS, Sharefa al-Mannai, Simon Mortimer, Yousef Fakhroo, Amna Almuftah, Abdulrahman al-Thani, Voyyyd, Abir Zakzouk, Ali al-Naama, Farah al-Sidiky, Fatima al-Yousef, Hazim Hussain, Hemanth Madupu, Johnatan Machado, Mohammed Abdullah Alhamadi, Luke Webb, Maha al-Sulaiti, Noof al-Theyab, Noor al-Kuwari, Sarah Jayyousi, Sheikha al-Khulaifi, and Wadha al-Mesalam.Al-Khulaifi noted that the Fire Station offers state-of-the-art facilities, including a digital fabrication lab and workshop, which empower artists to create unique and groundbreaking pieces.“They (artists) have taken advantage of our facilities that we have here, our digital fabrication lab, and our workshop, a lot of the pieces here have at least, some of them, one to two elements, some of them were completely produced here,” she said, noting that the artists have helped each other a lot whether it is AIR 6 or 7.Al-Khulaifi attributed the growth of the art scene in Doha to government initiatives and private-sector support. Qatar Museums, she stressed, played a key role in nurturing local talent through programmes like the Fire Station's AIR, as well as several other public art initiatives.About the upcoming Expo 2023 Doha at the Al Bidda Park, she said “The Present: The Future of the Past” exhibition, which will run until December 16 located across the Fire Station's Garage Gallery, Gallery 3, and Gallery 4, is open to the public at no cost. However, visitors are encouraged to reserve their tickets online as a means of tracking attendance.As the art scene in Qatar continues to expand, al-Khulaifi reiterated that the Fire Station's AIR programme remains at the forefront of nurturing talent and fostering innovation.