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 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.
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.

Saida al-Khulaifi at “The Present: The Future of the Past” exhibition Wednesday. PICTURE: Thajudheen.
QM alumni's dazzling art on display

A diverse range of works and artistic practices by 31 alumni of Qatar Museums’ (QM) Artist-in-Residence (AIR) programme were unveiled Wednesday at Fire Station’s “The Present: The Future of the Past” exhibition.Comprising creations originating from the artists’ residencies for 2021 to 2022 (AIR 6) and 2022 to 2023 (AIR 7), the exhibition provides visitors with an insight into the internal mechanisms of artists’ studios and their distinctive methodologies. This journey reveals the progression from concept to realisation, yielding thought-provoking artworks across diverse media.In a press statement, Fire Station director Khalifa Ahmad al-Obaidli said: “The Present: The Future of the Past exhibition truly embodies the essence of our Artist in Residence programme at the Fire Station. Our residency programme plays a vital role in supporting Qatar's art scene, fostering local talent, and cultivating a thriving creative community.“As an integral component of QM’s Creative Hubs, we actively contribute to the vision of creating a strong and sustainable cultural infrastructure, which is instrumental in shaping the future of art in our nation. We invite everyone to join us at Fire Station to explore the captivating works of these artists.”The exhibition will remain on view until December 16 at the Fire Station's Garage Gallery, Gallery 3, and Gallery 4.Fire Station’s exhibition curator Saida al-Khulaifi said: “This exhibition embraces the power and potential of the artistic process. From what is often a seemingly simple beginning, a concept can undergo a wondrous transformation, from an intangible thought to a concrete visual or audio presentation that can connect profoundly with the viewer.“During their tenure from September to June, artists had the invaluable opportunity to explore this phenomenon and wholeheartedly embrace its transformative power. The exhibited artworks represent diverse experiences, nurtured through numerous stages, and lovingly embraced within the artist's studio—a realm teeming with imagination, often defying the constraints of physics and reality.”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.The AIR programme at the Fire Station spans nine months, inviting artists from various disciplines in Qatar to take part. This initiative empowers them to cultivate and enhance their skills by offering assistance in production, curatorial direction, and invaluable mentorship.The artists are granted access to fully equipped studio spaces and unrestricted use of the establishment's amenities, including a fabrication lab, woodshop, and exhibition areas.At the culmination of their residency, artists are provided with the chance to present their artworks in a public exhibition hosted at the Fire Station.

S'hail – Katara International Hunting and Falconry Exhibition at Katara.
A celebration of culture, art, entertainment

From music and art to cultural exhibitions, Qatar is gearing up for a vibrant array of events and activities that showcase the rich heritage of the country and that of the Arab world.Aghani Al Mosalsalat is set to take the centre stage at the Qatar National Convention Centre (QNCC)’s Al Mayassa Theatre from Thursday to September 2, promising two hours of entertainment that will feature iconic music and clips from Gulf and Arab television series spanning decades.Led by the acclaimed Kuwaiti maestro Dr Khaled Nouri, the event will bring together 50 talented musicians and performers.A celebration of Gulf and Arab artistic heritage, this show is a journey through time, connecting audiences with the cultural history of the region.The Museum of Islamic Art (MIA) will host the "Mughal Artefacts Workshop" Thursday, focusing around the Mughal collection of gems and artefacts.Looking into the history of the Mughal Empire, participants will have the opportunity to explore the intricate treasures on display at the museum.This workshop aims to immerse attendees in the legacy of the Mughal dynasty and their artistic contributions.Another workshop at the MIA, the “Nasta’liq Script (for beginners) Workshop”, offers an introduction to the Iranian-founded script while the “Kufic Advanced (for women) Workshop” provides a more advanced opportunity for calligraphy enthusiasts.In addition, the “Mughal Florals Workshop” and the “Illustrating Islamic Objects Workshop” offer engaging artistic experiences that draw inspiration from historical art forms.The Fire Station is set to open the The Present: The Future of the Past exhibition Thursday and will run until December 16, offering a glimpse into the creative process of 31 resident artists.This event will showcase the journey of these artists from concept to final artwork.“The works displayed aim to convey a portion of this artistic journey while blurring the boundaries between the process and the outcome,” the Fire Station noted. “The exhibition bridges the gap between the exhilarating, chaotic and intimate personal experience in the studio and the finalised artwork showcased in contemporary art galleries.”Also from Thursday, mallgoers will have the opportunity to interact with life-size figures of famous characters and creations at “The Live Figures Exhibition”, located at City Center Doha.Running until September 30, this show on the mall’s second floor is a chance for visitors to engage with their favourite characters and capture memorable photos.Renowned Filipino singer Gigi De Lana and her band are set to perform on September 1 at the Al Gharafa Club Hall.Titled Gigi De Lana and The Gigi Vibes Concert, this musical extravaganza is expected to enthrall an audience of 5,000, mainly from the Filipino community, with her remarkable talent and charismatic stage presence.S'hail – Katara International Hunting and Falconry Exhibition, scheduled from September 5-9, will feature falcon auctions and showcases, and handicrafts related to hunting and falconry at the Katara – the Cultural Village.According to the organisers, this exhibition shows how Qatar is strongly committed to protecting its rich cultural history and raising awareness about the valued arts of hunting and falconry.

Yo-Yo competitor and performer Hamad al-Mansouri, along with another participant, at the World Professional Yo-Yo Championship 2023 in Osaka.  -screengrab from al-Mansouri's IG account.
Qatar sportsman sets sight on World Yo-Yo Championship 2024

Fresh from his historic participation in the World Professional Yo-Yo Championship 2023 in Osaka, Japan, Hamad al-Mansouri is already setting his sights on the next challenge.Despite not advancing past the qualifiers, al-Mansouri's determination and enthusiasm remain unwavering as he looks ahead to the 2024 World Yo-Yo Championship scheduled to take place in Cleveland, Ohio, USA next year.“Sadly I couldn't pass the qualifiers round with a ranking of 36 in the first division and 10th in the 4th style,” he told Gulf Times, reflecting on his experience.The Qatari yo-yo player noted that the journey was not without its challenges, with an unforeseen knee injury, the elevated difficulty level of this year's championship, and the pressures of being a first-time competitor all playing a part.However, al-Mansouri said he plans to use his current experience as a stepping stone for improvement. “I would like to add that I am preparing from now for a return next year where the tournament happens in Cleveland, Ohio, USA, and correct every mistake that I made,” he said, demonstrating his commitment to growth and learning from his past performance.He said the World Professional Yo-Yo Championship 2023 was a melting pot of adrenaline and excitement for him, recounting the exhilaration of mingling with international friends, fellow players, yo-yo legends, and event organisers within the growing yo-yo community.“Legends, idols, heroes, brothers, role models, friends, teammates, best friends and influencers. Meeting them for the first time was magical,” he posted on his Instagram page (@wav6) Sunday.Al-Mansouri said he was grateful for being a part of this vibrant network and urged yo-yo enthusiasts in Qatar to actively showcase their culture and personalities within the community.“My message to yo-yo enthusiasts in Qatar is they definitely need to show their great culture and personalities more often to the yo-yo community since it’s welcoming to everyone and to join the next big events like the World Yo-Yo Championship happening on July 31, 2024, in Cleveland,” he said.Al-Mansouri's participation in the World Professional Yo-Yo Championship 2023 is a historic achievement that not only showcases his dedication but also paves the way for other Qatari athletes and enthusiasts. His involvement marked the first of its kind for Qatar, the Arab Gulf states, and the entire Arab region.As Qatar continues to assert its prominence in the global sports landscape, al-Mansouri's journey holds the promise of inspiring his compatriots to embrace diverse athletic pursuits, including professional yo-yoing.

Many families are looking for enhanced customer experience, a reason for many outlets to increase staffing capacity and ensure that shoppers are assisted promptly and efficiently.
Back-to-school shopping sees uptick in customers

Families in search of school supplies and accessories for their children find the ease of shopping at stores that provide not only affordable prices for a variety of items but also convenience and ample parking facilities. In a busy back-to-school shopping season, LuLu Group has taken its customer experience a step further by introducing Al Rawnaq, a premium shopping area on LuLu Ain Khaled branch’s first floor, creating a shopping haven that appeals to both practicality and accessibility. Speaking to Gulf Times, LuLu Ain Khaled general manager Malik Mohamed said one of the most frustrating aspects of shopping, particularly during peak hours, is the search for parking. He said the branch has eliminated this headache by offering a generous parking space, allowing parents and shoppers to save precious time and avoid the hassle of waiting for parking spots to become available. Since Al Rawnaq's grand opening on August 16 this year, Mohamed said their footfall has surged dramatically due to the seamless shopping experience that it introduced. He pointed out that this uptick in customers is not solely due to the low prices and attractive promotions that the branch offers, but also of the ease of movement within the expansive shopping area. Al Rawnaq's first-floor location ensures that shoppers can navigate through the store with convenience, effortlessly accessing the items they need, according to Mohamed. Omar, a Doha resident and a satisfied customer, lauded LuLu Ain Khaled branch’s organised layout, comprehensive range of school and office supplies, and numerous parking spaces, setting it apart from other similar outlets. Together with his wife and two children, Omar said he was able to roam around the store easily, swiftly getting the items from their back-to-school checklist. “It’s my first time to visit this place, it’s very big, it has too much space, well lit, and properly organised. I’m buying some books, notebooks, pens, markers, and pencils for my two kids,” he said. Mohamed, meanwhile, expressed confidence that the trend of increased footfall and customer satisfaction will continue beyond the school’s opening, citing the comfort and functionality, as well as the appeal, of the store. He said he hopes to see an increase in the number of shoppers visiting the branch starting from Sunday due to anticipation of numerous students seeking the necessary supplies required by their schools. It is learnt that many families are also looking for enhanced customer experience, a reason for many outlets to increase staffing capacity and ensure that shoppers are assisted promptly and efficiently. Apart from school and office supplies and other accessories, additional services for motorists such as affordable car wash services have been appealing to many customers, Mohamed said. He added that these value-added services contribute to the branch's appeal, positioning it as a one-stop destination for both shopping and convenience.

Gulf Times
US envoy highlights progress, challenges in Yemen truce

The truce in Yemen has enhanced Sana’a airport’s commercial capacity, fostering confidence-building, and facilitating essential travel and medical care for Yemenis, according to US Special Envoy for Yemen, Tim Lenderking.“The commitment to build up the commercial capacity of Sana’a airport has been honoured, with the more than a hundred commercial flights that have gone back and forth between Sana’a and Amman, Jordan at the rate of three and sometimes more per week," he told a virtual press briefing on Wednesday.“This is not the end of that particular pillar of the truce; we would like to see more destinations, more commercial flights,” the envoy said, as he shed light on the developments and challenges surrounding the truce in Yemen, which was initiated in April of the previous year.The briefing covered key agreements and tenets that have been established, as well as measures in place for the expansion of the truce and the prospect of achieving sustainable peace in the war-torn nation.According to Lenderking, the expansion of commercial flights is an ongoing priority, aimed at further enhancing connectivity and accessibility for Yemeni citizens. There has been a substantial reduction in bureaucratic hurdles for the movement of oil and other commercial supplies through Hudaydah Port.He said that this decline aligns with the principle endorsed by the US and other stakeholders that an unhindered flow of humanitarian and commercial aid should reach Yemeni shores.“The US has long emphasised the principle that there should be no impediments to movement of commercial and humanitarian supplies into Yemen. And so we want to see that this principle is ultimately upheld,” the envoy stressed.About the issue of unpaid salaries for Yemeni civil servants, Lenderking pointed out that this long-standing concern has been addressed, urging both sides of the conflict to collaborate in finding a solution to this critical problem – with support from the United Nations and international partners.About the timeline for stability in Yemen, he acknowledged the positive strides made, including prisoner releases involving all sides of the conflict and the engagement of conflict parties in constructive dialogues.“Obviously, stability in Yemen is something that we wanted yesterday. We’re in a situation where, despite the positive elements that I’ve referred to, Yemenis are still suffering. While there are commercial flights and more ability to move around the country, the country is not fully at peace.“The war is not – is not fully over. And so the kind of process I’ve described of Yemeni-Yemeni dialogue which leads to a political agreement is something that we really have to see. And so that’s what’s driving our sense of urgency and our sense of commitment to wanting to see positive change,” the envoy said.While underlining the urgency and commitment driving the efforts for positive change, he lauded the willingness of the parties to engage constructively, shown by recent interactions between a Houthi delegation and Oman.According to Lenderking, these diplomatic moves, along with active involvement from regional actors, are seen as crucial components to ultimately ending the conflict on a durable note.“At the same time, we are also seeing the conflict parties engage in a constructive manner. You saw last April there was a very large release of prisoners, more than 900 prisoners, from all three sides – Saudis, Yemen Government, and Houthi side.“But there are still prisoners detained by the different sides. We need to see this file closed and resolved; we need to see the economic issues taken on. We are, at the moment, the largest humanitarian donor to Yemen with more than 665 million in humanitarian assistance so far this year. We want to see other donors step up and support Yemen’s humanitarian challenges,” he added.

Tim Lenderking
Gulf’s role essential for Yemeni dialogue, says US envoy

Gulf regional parties play a key role in advancing the peace agenda in Yemen as the US exerts intensive diplomatic efforts to bring about a viable resolution to the ongoing conflict.Speaking at a virtual press briefing Wednesday, US Special Envoy for Yemen Tim Lenderking emphasised that beyond financial contributions, the US seeks to leverage the considerable influence of the Gulf nations to encourage and support a Yemeni-Yemeni dialogue.“It’s not only being donors that we expect from the Gulf but harnessing their considerable influence to bring it to bear on regional actors to support a Yemeni–Yemeni dialogue,” he said, citing the vital function Gulf regional entities hold in expediting the resolution of the conflict.Lenderking highlighted the importance of building an international consensus and coordinating regional efforts as vital components in achieving a resolution to the crisis in Yemen.During his recent trip to the Gulf region, he met with officials from Yemen, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Oman, and the United Nations aimed at securing a more comprehensive ceasefire agreement and initiating a UN-mediated Yemeni-Yemeni dialogue.“The US recognises that in our effort to support a peace effort in Yemen, regional parties have an essential role to play, and that is why when I travel to the Gulf region as I have more than 30 times since being appointed in this role.“All of my trips generally visit the regional actors as well and so working on building an international consensus, coordinating the regional efforts, and uniting them around a common way forward is something that I feel the US prioritises,” the envoy said.Lenderking’s efforts also extended to addressing the dire humanitarian and economic crisis in Yemen, as well as devising strategies to mitigate environmental threats arising from the Safer oil tanker.Reflecting on the strides made over the past two years, he underlined the commitment of the Biden –Harris administration in prioritising an end to the Yemen conflict. He said notable accomplishments during this period include de-escalating the fighting, successfully maintaining a truce initiated in April of the previous year, and launching peace talks.“Yemen has witnessed the longest period of de-escalation since the war began, thousands of lives have been saved, cross-border attacks and air strikes have stopped, and freedom of movement has been improved, including the resumption of commercial flights from Sana’a airport for the first time since 2016. That said, much more is needed.“Only a Yemeni – Yemeni political agreement can durably resolve this civil conflict and only a comprehensive recovery and reconstruction effort with strong support from regional, as well international donors can reverse the humanitarian and economic crisis facing Yemenis every single day,” Lenderking said.Lenderking expressed optimism about the prospects of further peace progress, highlighting that ultimate decisions rest with the conflict parties.“We remain optimistic about the prospects for further progress towards peace, but ultimately, the key decisions rest with the conflict parties Yemenis must have difficult conversations with one another.“We know that a settlement would only be durable if it incorporates the perspectives and addresses the concerns of a wide range of Yemenis. That is why we and others in the international community are urging the Houthis to seize this unprecedented opportunity to sit down with the Republic of Yemen government to chart a brighter future for Yemen,” the envoy said.Affirming the continued commitment of the US and the Biden–Harris administration, Lenderking reaffirmed Yemen's status as a top foreign policy priority. The US, he added, seeks a stable and prosperous Yemen, free from undue foreign influence, and remains dedicated to collaborating with international partners, the UN, regional actors, and Yemeni parties to achieve this goal.

Gulf Times
Golden Line service update on Friday

The Doha Metro and Lusail Tram announced service updates for the Golden Line on August 25, marking the completion of temporary service adjustments on the networks’ three lines.Alternative bus routes will operate to ensure a seamless travel experience for passengers who typically rely on the Gold Line.Route 1, a one-way route, is set to operate from Al Aziziyah to Ras Bu Abboud, providing passengers with a convenient connection between these two important areas. Route 2, running in the opposite direction, will facilitate travel from Ras Bu Abboud to Al Aziziyah while Route 3 is designed as a shuttle service, operating between Al Sadd and Bin Mahmoud.According to the announcement, buses along these alternative routes will be available at intervals of five minutes, ensuring a smooth travel experience and minimal wait times for passengers.The announcement noted that the Metrolink M316 will also experience a change in its operating location as part of the service updates. Instead of Shelter 1, it will now operate from Shelter 2 at the Ras Bu Abboud Station.While these updates are set to enhance travel along the Gold Line, Doha Metro and Lusail Tram said that commuters can use the Metroexpress services, which will continue to operate as usual across Doha Metro network.The Gold Line, extending from Ras Bu Abboud to Al Aziziyah, is a pivotal east-to-west corridor that connects key destinations across the city. With eleven strategically placed stations, including stops at iconic locations like the Qatar National Museum, Souq Waqif, Sport City (for Khalifa International Stadium), and Al Aziziyah (for Villaggio Mall), it has become a lifeline for countless metro commuters.Commuters can continue to rely on the Green and Red Lines of the Doha Metro, as these lines remain unaffected by the upcoming service adjustments on the Gold Line.