* Art exhibition aims to raise awareness of addiction and mental health Msheireb Museums, the cultural and tourist destination at Msheireb Downtown Doha, has joined hands with Naufar, the sanctuary for wellness and treatment of substance use and related behavioural disorders, to host an art exhibition titled 'Recovery Road' to mark the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking observed annually on June 26. Taking place at the Bin Jelmood House Lower Gallery, the art exhibition sheds light on the substance use disorder illness. It raises awareness about addiction and mental health, and the reasons people develop addiction – expressed through creative, human, cultural and artistic language. This exhibition is a part of a series of future collaborations and engagements with Naufar on topics related to substance use and stigma The exhibition also endeavours to fight the stigma and misconceptions of addiction and mental health in the Qatari community through portraits and paintings created by patients during their Expressive Art therapy sessions. In addition, the 'Recovery Road' Exhibition provides the community with an opportunity to engage in the conversation around mental health and addiction. A collection of 40 diverse paintings are on display at the exhibition This exhibition is a part of a series of future collaborations and engagements with Naufar on topics related to substance use and stigma. Msheireb Properties pays special attention to the mental and psychological health of the community, and has also developed the Zulal Wellness Resort, the biggest and first of its kind in Qatar that follows a retreat that allows people to rebalance and rejuvenate in body, mind, and spirit. Fahad AlTurky, exhibitions manager at Msheireb Museums, said: “We are delighted to host the “Recovery Exhibition” that sheds the light on an important concern to humanity – addiction and mental health. We believe that art is an important and effective medium to convey awareness messages and change the perceptions of people positively. The exhibition aims to raise awareness on substance addiction and mental health. PICTURES: Joey Aguilar and supplied “We are confident that our collaboration with Naufar will succeed in accomplishing our objectives and enable our visitors to interact and engage on this important subject. This is part of our continuous collaborations with the national entities to raise awareness on matters that are relevant to our community”. Dr Khalifa al-Kuwari, assistant director-general at Naufar, praised the Msheireb Museums for their ongoing efforts to address humanity and societal issues that affect the Qatari community. As he said, substance use disorder is a serious health condition that can affect anyone, but it's rarely discussed as a mental health condition. “When we understand the root causes behind substance use disorder, we can encourage many individuals and their families to seek help early in their lives. Educating and enlightening the community about the challenge that many families are facing can't be accomplished by one entity by itself, but it can be accomplished when everyone works together. “As community members, we all have a duty to support them and their families through overcoming social obstacles by recognising it is time to make treatment and recovery a reality for those who need it, and we hope it starts today.” The art exhibition features a collection of 40 diverse paintings mostly on canvas, and some on paper and glass that tell the stories of those impacted by addiction as well as their recovery. These are depicted in three distinct sections: 'Reasons behind addiction', 'During the treatment' and 'After recovery'. Allowing the visitors to interact with the theme, the Tree of Hope or the Wall of Hope will be set up, enabling them to leave a message of inspiration for individuals who were impacted by addiction. 'Recovery Road' will be open during the working hours of the Museums, from Monday through Saturday.
* 'Philippines Corner' inaugurated at Cultural Village A unique artwork titled ‘Kulintang’ by Frederick Epistola, one of the Philippines’ renowned visual artists, was unveiled as a permanent installation in the new 'Philippines Corner' at Katara – the Cultural Village Sunday. The event was graced by Philippine ambassador Alan L Timbayan and Katara general manager HE Prof Khalid bin Ibrahim al-Sulaiti, along with Indonesia's ambassador Ridwan Hassan, Costa Rica deputy head of mission Jairo Lopez Bolanos, other diplomats representing different embassies, art enthusiasts and guests. HE Prof Khalid bin Ibrahim al-Sulaiti, Alan Timbayan and Frederick Epistola led the unveiling of the new permanent art installation at Katara Sunday. The 'Philippines Corner' was inaugurated by HE Prof al-Sulaiti in the presence of the other dignitaries. The opening comes within the framework of Katara's artistic project, which aims to attract artists from all over the world and enable them to display their works in different corners of the Cultural Village, helping people learn about the heritage of different countries. “I am deeply honoured and grateful for this opportunity to use my art as an expression of my heritage, and as a vehicle to translate the Filipino identity across space and time," Epistola said. “The kulintang is tied to the musical culture of the Maguindanaon tribe in the Southern Philippines. It has become an instrument representative of Philippine gong music, and beyond that, an instrument to celebrate a living tradition — that of the Filipino sense of community." The indigenous musical instrument was played at the unveiling. The sculpture, located near Katara’s Building 14, is Epistola’s interpretation of the indigenous musical instrument kulintang, which is characterised by tightly controlled rhythmic patterns achieved through the combination of a repeating bass rhythm, while a spontaneous improvisation is played. The instrument consists of a row of small brass or bronze gong kettles horizontally laid upon a rack that functions as a resonator. It is played by striking the bosses of the gongs with two soft wooden beaters. When used as part of an ensemble, the kulintang is the main melody instrument. “Whatever the design, whether played individually or as an ensemble, the kulintang represents what is unique, integrative and communal in the music of our indigenous culture: open-ended and participatory. “Such characteristics that are reminiscent of creative communal interaction, are for me, very important to highlight in today’s installation of the 'Kulintang' sculpture in Katara. Having a 'Philippines Corner' in this living museum is a testament to what Katara represents: a space to create dialogue between communities and promote better social knowledge and understanding. “These qualities are crucial pillars of peace, which begin when we as people – whichever part of the world we come from, whatever language we speak, whatever nationality we represent – can overcome boundaries and are free to flourish,” Epistola said. Kulintang, preserved for more than 1,700 years by the indigenous communities in the Southern Philippines, is one of the living testaments to the Philippines’ rich cultural history. In bringing Epistola’s work to Katara, Timbayan hopes Kulintang may find a permanent home in Katara’s collection as cultural legacy of the Philippines and as a symbol of the deepening cultural relations and people-to-people linkages between the two countries. The envoy noted that Epistola previously held a solo exhibition in August 2019 at Katara, showcasing his stunning collage painting and clay sculptures, two of which he donated to the Cultural Village. In a statement issued by Katara, HE Prof al-Sualiti said: “At Katara, we are working hard to open up to all kinds of people, cultures and arts, and we continue to provide support and ideas in order to achieve our cultural vision and goals.” BOX: About Kulintang Kulintang music is played during large feasts and harvest gatherings. It is also used during state functions and official celebrations for entertaining foreign dignitaries and important visitors; and in court ceremonies of either the sultanate or village chieftains such as the enthroning/coronations of a new leader and the transfer of a sultanate from one family to another. In the old times, Kulintang music was used for communicating long-distance messages from one village or longhouse to another. The gong was a symbol of riches and power in Asian cultures. Okir is the name for geometric, flowing, and folk motifs that are typically found in Muslim-influenced artwork in the Southern Philippines. These designs are frequently based on intricate leaf and vine patterns. The metal cradle represents life or the beginning of a civilisation that is artistic and cultural. Red is a colour that represents power and life. The colour gold represents success and fortune.
Qatar has the platform to support creative talents, making the country “a very attractive hub” for artists, designers and filmmakers, Qatar Museums (QM) Chairperson HE Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani has said. “In everything that we do, in all of our projects, we're really trying to incorporate the creative economy as elements of our initiatives,” she said recently at the Qatar Economic Forum (QEF), Powered by Bloomberg. Titled 'The Role of Sport in the Game of Life', the talk put a spotlight on the importance of sports and culture as a driving force for economic growth, community development, and people-to-people diplomacy. HE Sheikha Al Mayassa underlined the resilience and determination of Qatari artists who initially faced challenges and now inspire others and play a key role in the country’s creative economy. “Two weeks ago, Shouq Almana installed a new installation of the Arabic *egal … she’s an artist who we discovered on Instagram during the blockade, and she was a very patriotic artist,” she said. "She created amazing paintings and so for the very first time, her paintings are now translated in sculpture,” HE Sheikha Al Mayassa said, adding that Al Hosh Gallery in Qatar is not only supporting a lot of young designers but also continues to make innovations. She noted that the Doha Jewellery & Watches Exhibition, held in May, witnessed the collaboration between jewellery designers and artists, which attracted many people to buy their collections. “It is growing gradually, but in every industry, if you want film, if you want fashion, we have the platform to support them, and (we have) the museums and the collections to inspire them, so Qatar becomes a very attractive hub,” HE Sheikha Al Mayassa said. Citing some of her challenges, the QM Chairperson, also the Chairperson of the Doha Film Institute (DFI), Reach Out to Asia and Qatar Leadership Centre, said: “I think our biggest challenge was – I don't think it's as big of a challenge today as it was – for people to understand and realise that culture is not a hobbyist job … many artists that we initially supported had to have a full-time job to support themselves.” “Today that has changed … many of these artists, by becoming successful whether it's in film, fashion, design, have been able to stand on their own feet, thanks to the support of all of the different artists that are here,” HE Sheikha Al Mayassa said. “I think that was a challenge initially because culture or museums in the past was looked at as a form of entertainment, when actual fact it's a key component for a knowledge-based economy.” She noted that some Qatar Museums programmes included the training of teachers on how to use the museum and the various subjects they require to teach in schools, as well as “to align the skills that children need today for their future professions”. “So that was a challenge initially, but to be honest, whenever we explain what we're doing and how we're doing it, the reception we've been getting has been very, very positive,” HE Sheikha Al Mayassa said. In her takeaway message at the talk and vis-a-vis the upcoming 2022 FIFA World Cup, she said: “We’re open to the world, and we want the world to be embracing and respectful to our cultures, and understand the roots of our tradition and why we do certain things the way we do and they are open for a conversation.”
The launch of the Generation Amazing (GA) Community Club played a key role in promoting physical literacy in Qatar and abroad, engaging communities through various activities that help develop life skills, an official at Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC) has said. “The idea behind the community club is that it’s an ecosystem and incubator where you can empower the community itself; it's a place not just for physical activity for families and members to come together,” said SC partnership officer Mohamed AlMuhannadi. He was speaking at the recently held “Discovering Physical Literacy” conference and launch of Qatar’s national physical literacy journey at the 3-2-1 Qatar Olympic and Sports Museum. The conference was organised in partnership with the International Physical Literacy Association, the Qatar Olympic Committee, Unesco, the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH), and Generation Amazing. AlMuhannadi, joining other panelists at the talk, said that the community club – launched in Lusail – serves as a platform to introduce programmes that fit the needs of the community. It also partners with organisations in Qatar such as Qatar Social Work, Qatar Foundation (QF), and various schools, among other institutions. “We've launched a concept that is not unique to us, it's a concept that's been kind of rolled out in the past but we've made a few twists and added on to this concept,” AlMuhannadi said, adding that they try to look at the needs and conduct some analysis to see what social issues these communities face. “We're in Lusail, and for example Shafallah (Centre for Persons with Disabilities) is right next to the community club, literally a minute away, that's a good opportunity for us to offer ability-friendly programming,” he said. “It could be educational workshops, whatever it is that benefit the community … we're rolling out this concept in different communities so we have a community club in Rwanda that is going to be launched very soon, the Philippines, in India and also in Jordan.” In Qatar, AlMuhannadi said they designed their programming to promote physical literacy by contributing to the development of key life skills such as communication, leadership, and inclusion. “Globally it's a similar kind of engagement, so we've been working in … I think we'll be reaching over 60 countries this year, and we've reached 750,000 beneficiaries since the start of the programme, which is really an achievement for a World Cup project for the host country,” he noted. According to AlMuhannadi, GA also launched an online coach education, with seven units tailoured/designed to teach a community coach. It aims to promote inclusion and create a safe environment for children from different ethnic and racial backgrounds, from different religions, and from different abilities to come together and play. He said that such a programme was also used in countries like Argentina, Myanmar, Uganda, Iraq, Pakistan, Nepal, and Jordan, and in many different countries, partnering with the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in training these young facilitators. “These young facilitators have led their own micro-projects using these curriculums, and it's through this consciousness, it's through this awareness, that physical literacy is key to solving key social issues such as exclusion … exclusion is a huge issue in every single country,” AlMuhannadi said. Generation Amazing was launched by the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC) in 2010 and is active in countries around the world, including Qatar, India, Jordan, Lebanon, Myanmar, Nepal, Oman, Pakistan, the Philippines, Rwanda, and Uganda. The foundation operates in alignment with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, promoting inclusion and gender equality in its football for development programme, and has positively impacted more than 750,000 people since its launch. It aims to exceed 1mn beneficiaries before the end of 2022.
The 2022 FIFA World Cup provides an opportunity to showcase the diversity and rich heritage of Qatar and the Arab world, featuring an array of cultural events and exhibitions planned in the past 10 years since winning the bid in 2010, Qatar Museums (QM) chairperson HE Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani has said. “These are very interesting exhibitions about the Arab world that we're showing for the first time and I’d love to share that with the audience whenever it’s appropriate,” she told on Wednesday the Qatar Economic Forum, Powered by Bloomberg. HE Sheikha Al Mayassa, also the chairperson of Doha Film Institute, Reach Out to Asia, and Qatar Leadership Centre, said these shows are set to open before the prestigious tournament and will run until the end of March and beginning of April 2023. Several public artworks have also been installed at various locations in the country. As part of the Qatar – Menasa (Middle East, North Africa and South Asia) Year of Culture 2022, the exhibitions mark the programme’s 10th anniversary and underline its keenness to welcome the world for the World Cup. Apart from museums in Europe and the US, HE Sheikha Al Mayassa said QM also partnered with the Baghdad museum for an upcoming exhibition, about the 500 years reign of “the Abbasid Empire when Baghdad was the capital of the Islamic world.” She cited the upcoming reopening of the Museum of Islamic Art, which will feature “works that have never been seen before,” and an exhibition at Lusail museum, which “talks about orientalist paintings and design with objects that only Qatar has”. “We're having an exhibition of the world of football, opening at the 3-2-1 Qatar Olympic and Sports Museum, that talks about football players who represented other nations around the world,” she said. Other exhibitions in the pipeline include Al Jazeera’s 25th-anniversary celebration, Valentino, and another show in collaboration with a Palestinian museum. The National Museum of Qatar is hosting an exhibition about Qatar’s future car museum, in addition to Pipilotti Rist’s installation. An upcoming exhibition on nomadic tents, which connects the region of Asia, Africa and the Middle East, serves as a highlight of QM’s programme. Besides unique cultural experiences and offerings, HE Sheikha Al Mayassa said visitors will also get to see a heritage village and a new installation in the desert. “People do not want to go to countries and see the same thing everywhere, they want to visit and go for unique experiences and that's exactly what we’re offering during the World Cup. “The World Cup is a great opportunity to celebrate people and celebrate our differences and bring people together to have conversations,” she said. HE Sheikha Al Mayassa underscored the key role that technology plays in the creative and cultural space, particularly in running the museums and their programmes. “The National Museum is really a good example of that. When we had the building we realised the walls are very complicated, there are no straight walls inside the museum so we combined technology with the artefacts and storytelling using the walls to project films, but also understanding how the visitor can pass through and not be disturbed by the films that will continue in the galleries. “The Sports Museum (3-2-1) is also a good example, we've actually borrowed many objects from around the world for the museum whether it’s from the US or Europe or other parts of Asia and we use technology to connect with the audiences and engage with them. “The future children's museum will also have the technology. Ooredoo is a major partner, we're very grateful for all of the work that they've done with us they've been a strategic partner. “At the Jeff Koons, we had a collaboration with Ooredoo and Snapshot where you could have a Jeff Koons in your living room,” HE Sheikha Al Mayassa said, noting that they are currently looking at other collaborations with their upcoming exhibitions. “Many people have come to us for the metal verse and the NFTs’ and obviously these are conversations that we're continuing to have.” Citing M7, an incubation between Qatar Development Bank and QM aimed at supporting entrepreneurs, she said incorporating the creative economy as element of QM’s initiatives forms a key part of the projects they do. Just last week, she said a private company tapped two Qatari designers in producing furniture who will now have a permanent showroom in Milan. Also last week, the World Cup poster was launched and it's a Qatari designer who did well with her art. “Now she's represented in collections around the world and major museums.”
The ease of getting visas for travellers from Qatar and the Gulf region continues to boost the tourism sector of eastern European countries such as Georgia and Armenia, an industry expert has said. “Georgia and Armenia are really booming when it comes to visa facility for all Qataris and residents,” Tawfeeq Travel Group CEO Rehan Ali Syed told Gulf Times, stressing that there is a huge interest from Doha to visit eastern and other European countries, especially during the current period. The main reason, he pointed out, is easing visa access as it enticed a huge number of nationals and expatriates from Gulf countries to visit these countries, especially during holidays like Eid. According to Syed, travellers from the region get visa-on-arrival to these increasingly popular destinations – “a very good feature for anybody who wants to plan and do not want to spend time and going to queue, particularly at a very busy season for getting visas.” Visa-on-arrival also serves as a quick fix for travellers who plan to either go solo or pick a group, and join fixed departures, he added. Syed noted that countries like Turkey, which also offers easy visa access for those who have travelled to destinations such as the US and Europe, remained to be favourite destinations for Qataris and nationals from the Middle East. “These are all beautiful countries and apart from that they have fantastic weather and nature,” he said, noting that travellers can experience these places at a lesser cost compared “to other big places”. “That is a big value add, everybody wants to jump on a plane to go on a vacation, this is the first summer after all the pandemic and everything. “It is a good opportunity for people and nobody wants to let it go whether it is going for a short trip or going back home, they are all intending to travel so it is good news for the travel industry,” Syed said, noting that they witnessed huge bookings coming in. Tawfeeq saw group departures are sold out despite airfares are soaring high, seeing many people travelling and enjoying short vacations. Apart from Georgia and Armenia, Syed noted that Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, and other eastern European places, as well as South East Asian countries like Thailand, are picking up well and have become more lucrative due to visa-on-arrival facilities. “Thailand is getting a lot of demands again, either for young generation or families. It has always been a very strong destination in the entire GCC, along with Qatar. We feel that going forward as more countries open up borders and ease out restrictions,” he added.
The opening of 3-2-1 Qatar Olympic and Sports Museum (QOSM) puts a spotlight on the country’s keenness to promote sports and host major competitions even beyond the 2022 FIFA World Cup, International Walking Football Federation in Qatar and Asia Pacific president Farhan al-Sayed has said. Speaking to 'Gulf Times', al-Sayed noted that the museum cements Qatar’s position as a sports hub and destination, showcasing the achievements of sporting legends, including Qatar's renowned rally driver and sport shooter Nasser al-Attiyah Mutaz, track and field and high-jump Olympic champion Essa Barshim, and Olympic gold winning weightlifter Fares Elbakh. He said the museum provides an opportunity not only for World Cup fans, locales, and the young generation to learn and explore the sporting world, but also to encourage the International Olympic Committee “to think about Qatar as the future host of the Olympic games.” “We have a lot to offer, from state-of-the-art stadiums (built to host the World Cup) to an array of sports facilities, as well as hotels (to welcome a huge number of visitors) and restaurants,” said al-Sayed, stressing that 3-2-1’s opening highlights Qatar's key role in hosting international competitions, including the upcoming World Cup in Doha. The 3-2-1 QOSM, under the patronage of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, offers interactive exhibits and an array of rare and notable collections that celebrate the achievements of sports, athletes, and the Olympics. The museum, which is the newest member of the Olympic Museums Network and one of the world’s most innovative and technologically advanced museums dedicated to sports, aims to inspire and engage its visitors and encourage the public to participate in sports and physical activity. Designed by Spanish architect Joan Sibina, the museum is spread over approximately 19,000sq m and is built onto Khalifa International Stadium, part of Aspire Zone Foundation, making it one of the largest of its kind. Qatar Museums encourages residents to visit 3-2-1. Culture Pass Plus and Family members can avail of exclusive members-only guided tours under its Mathafek programme. Apart from 3-2-1 QOSM, al-Sayed noted that Qatar also has many museums that house collections underlining the country’s rich culture and heritage. These include the Museum of Islamic Art, National Museum of Qatar, Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, Msheireb Museums, and Sheikh Faisal Bin Qassim Al Thani Museum, among others, “Any World Cup host will automatically become a hotspot for sporting events in the future,” said al-Sayed, adding that Qatar’s tourism sector stands to benefit from hosting a major sporting event. He said the country is ready to receive a huge number of tourists even after the tournament, “not to forget that it is part of the National Vision 2030”. Al-Sayed expressed confidence that Qatar will be one of the most sought-after tourism destinations, attracting more foreign visitors from different parts of the world.
Qatar has done “a phenomenal job” in its preparations for hosting the 2022 FIFA World Cup, from building state-of-the-art stadiums and infrastructure to addressing some of the biggest challenges, three US mayors who are visiting the country have said. “I couldn't imagine preparing for the World Cup in a situation where all stadiums are so close to one another, all crowds are so close to one another, and the complexities that arise out of preparing for something like that: from the infrastructure to the food to water to shelter, you name it, there are so many complexities that come in the play. “I have the utmost confidence a Qatar is gonna be able to pull it off unlike anybody else could have in a situation like that,” Arlington city mayor Jim Ross told Gulf Times on the sidelines of their visit to Qatar. He was with mayors Bryan Barnett (Rochester Hills) and Mike Duggan (Detroit) during a tour at the Al Thumama Stadium on Monday. The delegation also met with ministers and high-ranking Qatari officials, and took part in a number of forums and activities in the country. Ross, echoing earlier Duggan’s view, said that the prospect of a small country like Qatar being able to host a World Cup within such close proximity is exceptional. “We've been able to tour one of the stadiums and see what an incredible job not just in getting things done, but also the technological aspects of an open-air stadium, in keeping everybody cool, that is something that's just unheard of. “My city is a finalist for the World Cup in 2026, so I was especially interested in that. We got the tour in one of the new stadiums (and museums) and met with a number of government officials to see how everything is done, from waste management to infrastructure, you name it, and it is very exciting,” he said, adding they also saw Qatar’s stunning architecture and how the city operates. According to Duggan, the US can learn enormous lessons from Qatar, which can efficiently manage several issues such as transportation and construction. He also finds the disassembling of the stadiums after the tournament and use its parts elsewhere as impressive and calls it “a visionary approach”. For Barnett, Qatar’s ability to finish the infrastructure needed for the World Cup way ahead of schedule is extraordinary, apart from executing a good plan to address other concerns such as transportation. He stressed that the people of Qatar are very excited to host such a prestigious tournament and show the world what they prepared and created. “I know they want everyone to have a wonderful experience and feel the Qatari hospitality that's so world-renowned,” Barnett said.
Qatar and US ties will further deepen in a post-pandemic era and amid certain geopolitical challenges, according to a delegation of US mayors on a tour of the country. Speaking to Gulf Times, Rochester Hills mayor Bryan Barnett expressed confidence that such relationship “will only get stronger”, citing that US mayors passed a resolution a week ago recognising 50 years of partnership and friendship between the US and Qatar. He said the resolution puts a spotlight on the strength of the two countries’ economic and cultural relationship, as well as other areas of bilateral co-operation. “I think that’s symbolic of our past and as mayors ourselves, we’re here in part to look at the next 50 years and how we can continue those relationships and learn from each other as we represent our unique and distinct populations,” said Barnett. He, along with city mayors Jim Ross (Arlington) and Mike Duggan (Detroit), took part in a number of high-level meetings with some Qatari ministers and government offi cials, as well as investment groups, in addition to attending forums and other activities, as part of their visit to Qatar. Ross, who is also visiting the country for the first time, cited Qatar’s significant contribution to their city museum, which recognises military personnel who received medal of honour. He also lauded Qatar’s hospitality and the warm reception of its people, saying that “everybody from the upper levels of government to the individuals working at the hotel are just as friendliest can be, and for me, that’s what communities are all about.” “I am especially indebted to Qatar for their willingness to participate and recognising military veterans and our community,” Ross stressed. Like its generosity to Arlington and other cities in the US, Duggan said that Qatar donated research projects to the University of Michigan and Wayne State University. The mayors also see an array of opportunities in trade and investment between the two countries and their cities as Qatar had previously shown interest in many communities around the US becoming partners. “Collaborative eff orts begin with relationships, you can’t collaborate effectively with anybody that you can’t develop relationships with. Qatar and the United States have 50 years of showing what really good relationships are about,” Ross pointed out, as he expressed confidence that such relations will grow further in the next 50 years. “I’m excited about the ongoing relationships between the US and our individual communities in Qatar. I am excited about how Qatar has been able to develop itself and Doha and seeing the tremendous growth here and what is happening here in this community and I’m excited about what they can offer the US and what the US can in turn offer them, so it’s really special for us.” The Arlington mayor finds education as an area for further collaboration between the two countries, as he lauded Qatar for creating Education City and bringing over half a dozen diff erent US universities to have satellite campuses in Doha. “This includes Texas A&M, I went there and I’d like to brag about it, that’s why I went to Law School and I was happy to see it here,” Ross said. “The way Qatar has developed that centre (Education City) is just phenomenal and I’d love to see that collaborative effort continue and grow.”
Qatar continues to witness a huge demand for both inbound and outbound travel even during the summer, which is evidently an off-season for tourism in the country and the region, an industry expert has said. “The demand this year for summer is soaring high with bookings pouring in from all ends whether it is travel to back home or exotic vacations. Since the pandemic, this is the first summer which is looking extremely promising,” Tawfeeq Travel Group CEO Rehan Ali Syed told Gulf Times. He noted that booking for outbound travel is trending very high, citing a surge in cruise bookings starting from Europe. Key destinations this year are Turkey, Greece, UK, France, Georgia, Switzerland, Austria, Spain and the US. On the other hand, Syed noted that many travellers, especially football fans from various regions globally, are extremely keen to explore Qatar with the 2022 FIFA World Cup getting closer. “Thanks to Qatar Tourism for engaging in several programmes to promote the country in different parts of the world. The cruise season just got over last week, and we are looking forward to next season just before FIFA,” he added. Syed noted that Qatar tourism has been working relentlessly in extending its footprints in every country to ensure more visitors come into Qatar and enjoy various activities, and more importantly, to learn more about the Qatari culture. “Qatar’s dunes are one of the best in the world and there is no place in the GCC where the desert is directly connected to the inland sea. There are various camps available for customers to enjoy, the Arabian nights in the traditional tents as well as for those who prefer luxurious living,” Syed said. He noted that the opening of several resorts such as Hilton Salwa Resort, Messila Resort, Zulal Wellness Resort, Banana Island and soon to open, Rixos, will make Qatar an attractive destination for travellers in times to come. “There will be enough in offering for Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions tourism and other adventure activities. It is quite evident that most of these places are on a good occupancy with more and more people opting for staycations,” Syed said. Qatar Tourism COO Berthold Trenkel shared the same view, noting the rapid recovery of the sector from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic due to cruise tourism’s robust performance. He said the cruise season, which usually takes place between November and April, significantly contributed to the recovery of the tourism industry. It is learnt that Doha Port received more than 16 cruise ships carrying a huge number of passengers and crews during the 2021/22 season. According to Trenkel, the past couple of months also witnessed an increasing number of visitors coming from other GCC countries such as Kuwait, Saudi, and Oman by car. Apart from attracting visitors from the Gulf, Qatar Tourism expects to unlock major markets once further relaxations of Covid restrictions take place.
Qatar continues to witness a huge demand for both inbound and outbound travel even during the summer, which is evidently an off-season for tourism in the country and the region, an industry expert has said. “The demand this year for summer is soaring high with bookings pouring in from all ends whether it is travel to back home or exotic vacations. Since the pandemic, this is the first summer which is looking extremely promising,” Tawfeeq Travel Group CEO Rehan Ali Syed told Gulf Times. He noted that booking for outbound travel is trending very high, citing a surge in cruise bookings starting from Europe. Key destinations this year are Turkey, Greece, UK, France, Georgia, Switzerland, Austria, Spain, the US. On the other hand, Syed noted that many travellers, especially football fans from various regions globally, are extremely keen to explore Qatar with the 2022 FIFA World Cup getting closer. “Thanks to Qatar Tourism for engaging in several programmes to promote the country in different parts of the world. The cruise season just got over last week, and we are looking forward to next season just before FIFA,” he added. Syed noted that Qatar tourism has been working relentlessly in extending its footprints in every country to ensure more visitors come into Qatar and enjoy various activities, and more importantly, to learn more about the Qatari culture. “Qatar’s dunes are one of the best in the world and there is no place in the GCC where the desert is directly connected to the inland sea. There are various camps available for customers to enjoy, the Arabian nights in the traditional tents as well as for those who prefer luxurious living,” Syed said. He noted that the opening of several resorts such as Hilton Salwa Resort, Messila Resort, Zulal Wellness Resort, Banana Island and soon to open, Rixos, will make Qatar an attractive destination for travellers in times to come. “There will be enough in offering for Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions tourism and other adventure activities. It is quite evident that most of these places are on a good occupancy with more and more people opting for staycations,” Syed said. Qatar Tourism COO Berthold Trenkel shared the same view, noting the rapid recovery of the sector from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic due to cruise tourism’s robust performance. He said the cruise season, which usually takes place between November and April, significantly contributed to the recovery of the tourism industry. It is learnt that Doha Port received more than 16 cruise ships carrying a huge number of passengers and crews during the 2021/22 season. According to Trenkel, the past couple of months also witnessed an increasing number of visitors coming from other GCC countries such as Kuwait, Saudi, and Oman by car. Apart from attracting visitors from the Gulf, Qatar Tourism expects to unlock major markets once further relaxations of Covid restrictions take place.
The Doha Film Institute (DFI) will make a series of film screenings in the run up to the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, aimed at highlighting the works and creativity of filmmakers in the country and the region, DFI CEO Fatma Alremaihi said. “We will hold film screenings in the M7 at Msheireb Downtown Doha,” she explained on the sidelines of the recently-held Qatar Creates event. Alremaihi said DFI will also put a spotlight on this year’s Ajyal Film Festival, divided into two parts and set to take place between October and November. The first part is for the jury programme, scheduled for the beginning of October, featuring the regular competition, shorts, features, and documentaries, as well as the Talk with filmmakers. In November, she said the annual event “will have a showcase of everything related to the film industry in Qatar in different locations and environments,” in addition to art exhibitions, Geekdom, and music concerts, among other activations. According to Alremaihi, part of DFI’s plan also includes showcasing the evolution of Qatar’s film industry and what it has achieved in more than a decade. “The industry is booming,” she stressed, noting that Qatari and Doha-based filmmakers are not just making films as a hobby but taking their careers seriously. “We are proud of our filmmakers….their films are selected in major festivals around the world and are actually winning many awards. It is very rewarding to see all the hard work that has been done, and the grounds have been building over the years step by step to see this result. “We always hope for more, so all of these filmmakers have finished their short films, they are now working on their features and this will be the next step for Qatar. And we already have people like Suzannah Mirghani, a Qatar resident whose short film won every award you can think of around the world,” Alremaihi said. “Now her feature was selected in Cannes, and won the prize so we are very proud to be behind all of these filmmakers supporting them all the time.” According to DFI, Mirghani is the writer, director, and producer of ‘Al-Sit’ (2020), which bagged 18 international awards, including three Academy Award qualifying prizes in 2021: Best of Fest at LA Shorts; Grand Prix at Tampere Film Festival; and Best Short Film at BronzeLens. Her latest short, ‘Virtual Voice’ (2021), had its World Premiere at Tribeca Film Festival. Her latest film, 'Cotton Queen' (Sudan, Qatar), was screened in the Directors’ Fortnight (Quinzaine des réalisateurs), an independent selection at the Cannes Film Festival. Alremaihi said that hopefully, residents and visitors will see local feature films being screened in commercial cinemas soon.
Qatar Creates’ all-new format is expected to attract more foreign visitors, further boosting the country's tourism sector, Qatar Tourism COO Berthold Trenkel has said. Speaking on the sidelines of Qatar Creates launch on Monday, Trenkel said that such initiative is popular in markets like Europe where people are typical visitors of museums and known to be highly culturally oriented. “Qatar Creates is a great initiative and we are doing a lot of collaboration. We’ve fully integrated it like all the calendars from the museums (to be) a part of the Qatar Calendar, which is the big umbrella, which covers anything whether it is a sports event, exhibition, and etc,” he said. Qatar Creates’ new edition, now a year-round celebration of art, fashion, design, culture and architecture, features a wide range of cultural and artistic offerings across the country leading up to the FIFA World Cup 2022. According to Qatar Museum (QM), Qatar Creates 2022 will be the first year to witness two editions of the celebration as it welcomes visitors during the prestigious football tournament in the country. It will also introduce QM’s upcoming museums and galleries, including the Art Mill Museum, Qatar Auto Museum and Lusail Museum. Qatar Tourism is also set to ramp up its efforts to entice more travellers from neighbouring GCC countries during the summer, Trenkel said. “Obviously the GCC region is the easier one because it is where the neighbours live, it is hot here and you don’t have that perception challenge (since people are more used to the weather). “So that is the primary target and then I am hoping the Indian subcontinent will open up but that will still depend on the Ministry of Public Health rules, once these rules relax… then we can also target this market,” he added. Trenkel added that the country witnessed a surge in the number of visitors from other GCC countries during the Eid al-Fitr holidays, many of whom travelled by car. Qatar Tourism, he noted, also saw a strong recovery during the cruise season (which typically starts in November and ends in April), which substantially helped Qatar’ tourism sector. Trenkel said that further relaxations of Covid-19 restrictions in Qatar and other countries will enable them to unlock other markets in different regions. “It depends also what is the situation in other countries like China, where parts of it are still in lockdown and people cannot travel. So for us the Chinese market is not accessible or it is not accessible to anyone right now. “But once that changes, then we will also go after these markets. Right now the focus is largely North America and Europe because these markets are way relaxed in terms of travel restrictions and everything, and people are travelling,” Trenkel pointed out. While the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 is expected to draw large crowds, he said the tourism team is exerting efforts to capitalise on the winter peak and the first quarter of 2023. Trenkel said Qatar Tourism will also launch a programme next month aimed at attracting transit passengers at Hamad International Airport. “We will launch a campaign that we are working on and it should go live in key markets like Australia and the UK because that is where the transit traffic comes from, so that is a big thing,” he said. “It’s our ‘Stopover Campaign’ trying to capitalise on all the air capacity that obviously Qatar Airways has.”
* More than 1mn visitors to be greeted with spectacular performances, groundbreaking museum exhibitions, premier fashion shows and more * Complete cultural offering to be presented through all-new Qatar Creates One Pass An all-new format of Qatar Creates was launched at Msheireb Downtown Doha’s M7 on Monday, featuring an array of cultural and artistic offerings across the country leading up to the 2022 FIFA World Cup. “Today, I am excited to announce that we are now transforming Qatar Creates from a limited period of events into a year-round national cultural movement, for local and international audiences alike. “I am pleased to tell you about a new way in which Qatar is elevating and expanding the great array of cultural activities and experiences we offer. We are beginning this initiative as part of the excitement surrounding the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022,” said Qatar Museums and Doha Film Institute Chairperson, and Fashion Trust Arabia Co-Chair HE Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani. She was joined by M7 director Maha Ghanim al-Sulaiti and Qatar Creates director Saad Saleh al-Hudaifi at the event. According to HE Sheikha Al Mayassa, the latest edition of Qatar Creates serves as “all-embracing vehicle that curates, promotes, and marks the diversity of cultural activities in the country”. It will feature 17 exhibitions across five museums and five creative hubs, 10 high-profile events, three live festivals, 15 Qatar Creates lounges and more than 80 public art installations across Qatar this autumn. “As the countdown intensifies toward the opening of the World Cup, we are delighted to share a picture of autumn 2022 in Doha, when the calendar will be overflowing with museum exhibitions, premier fashion events, spectacular music and theater experiences, and eye-opening previews of the exciting cultural future that Qatar is building today,” HE Sheikha Al Mayassa said. She noted that many of the initiatives “will also raise funds aimed at supporting the creative economy and impact environmental change by supporting innovative ideas that are directly addressing this global challenge”. “And beyond the World Cup, we intend for the Qatar Creates movement to expand and grow. Our aim is for it to touch and enrich people’s life. And for this reason, we are proud to invite everyone to participate in Qatar Creates, in whatever capacity they are able.” Several other high-profile events and live performances, among other programmes, are geared toward the start of the much-awaited tournament from November 21 to December 18. The Qatar Creates kick-off also witnessed the launch of its new One Pass – an online portal that offers a one-stop resource for all of Qatar’s cultural offerings. It gives residents and visitors the opportunity to immerse and fully experience a wide range of cultural, leisure and entertainment offerings across the country. One Pass holders get free admission to all museums, discounts at events and performances, restaurants, and local retailers, as well as front-of-line privileges. They will also receive a daily newsletter of events and online access, which provides details about the activities taking place in Doha during the 2022 FIFA World Cup. “By bringing this all together with the One Pass, our hope is that everyone will have the opportunity to live it all, to experience the very best our country has to offer, turning visitors into ambassadors who will share their experiences and want to return to Qatar again and again. Most importantly, wherever you are you will always be informed of our latest programmes and events,” HE Sheikha Al Mayassa said. What is Qatar Creates? Qatar Creates is a cultural initiative that was launched by Qatar Museums in 2019 to celebrate the inauguration of the National Museum of Qatar. It is an annual celebration of art, fashion, design, culture and architecture through a weeklong series of community events and programmes including fashion shows, exhibitions, tours, workshops and panel discussions. Qatar Creates is a global summit for the cultural innovation economy, acting as a platform to promote local, regional and international cultural perspectives. Led by HE Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, Qatar Creates promises to showcase local and global talent. It will bring together the best of Qatar’s cultural entities including Museum of Islamic Art and MIA Park, Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, the National Museum of Qatar, QM Gallery Al Riwaq, QM Gallery Katara, 3-2-1 Qatar Olympic and Sports Museum, Dadu, Children's Museum of Qatar and its newly created Creative Hub comprising of the Fire Station – Artists in Residence, M7, Tasweer Qatar Photo Festival and Liwan Design Studios and Labs. Qatar Creates 2022 will be the first year to witness two editions of the celebration to welcome visitors during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022. This edition will also introduce QM’s upcoming museums and galleries, including the Art Mill Museum, Qatar Auto Museum and Lusail Museum.
The Philippine embassy in Doha highlighted the strong relations between Qatar and the Philippines to mark the latter’s 124th anniversary of Independence on Monday at a ceremony at Sheraton Grand Doha Resort & Convention Hotel. Ambassador Alan L Timbayan was joined by Qatar's Minister of Education HE Buthaina bint Ali Al Jabr al-Nuaimi, HE the Minister of Communications and IT Mohammed bin Ali bin Mohammed al-Mannai in cutting a ceremonial cake at the diplomatic reception. Qatar Ministry of Foreign Affairs' Department of Protocol director Ibrahim Fakhro and Diplomatic Corps dean and Eritrean ambassador Ali Ibrahim Ahmed and other dignitaries were present in addition to guests from the business and government sectors, and members of the Filipino community. “The Philippines particularly notes its robust bilateral relations with Qatar, which began 41 years ago. The two countries’ strong people-to-people linkages have cultivated mutual trust and goodwill between the two countries from two diverse regions,” ambassador Timbayan said in his address. The envoy thanked Qatar “for being a close ally of the Philippines and for standing with us during difficult times. The Philippines is grateful and looks forward to bringing its relations with Qatar to new heights”. “The celebration of Philippine independence is a proud moment for the Filipino people because the history of our country’s freedom is a narrative of the quest for Filipino nationhood and identity. “The story of the Philippine independence is one of courage, sacrifice, and love of country - where stories of valor not only revolved around men but also women and the youth. “Since the declaration of our independence on 12 June 1898 from three centuries of colonialism, the Philippines has gone a long way as a sovereign state and as a member of the international community. It has stood shoulder to shoulder with many countries in many circumstances – in war and in peace – and has built strong ties with many nations over the years in pursuit of its national interests,” ambassador Timbayan added. The event featured a performance by the String Quartet of the Manila Symphony Orchestra.
After the recent unveiling of its new brand identity, Dana Club – now owned and operated by Katara Hospitality – has inaugurated the Bayt Al Dana restaurant. Promising “a fresh, new experience” to mark the nation’s diverse flavours, Bayt Al Dana offers a fusion of authentic and delectable Arabic cuisine for both members and non-members. Dana Club offers families a place to relax, dine, exercise and play “Bayt Al Dana restaurant offers a variety of authentic Arabic cuisines from west to east up to north. It serves North African cuisine and also Lebanese and Jordanian fare,” Dana Club general manager Ahmad Hussaen al-Abdulla told reporters on the sidelines of the event. Bayt Al Dana’s a la carte menu provides guests with Middle Eastern gastronomy (including Lebanon, Tunisian, and Moroccan) paired with Qatari culinary traditions – a wide selection of dishes such as hot and cold mezze, Qatari Lamb Majbous, Royal Couscous, and Lamb Tajine, among others. Al-Abdulla said the restaurant has brought together some of the finest chefs to form a culinary team who will be preparing the best dishes that fit the taste of their clients. He noted that Bayt Al Dana, meaning House of Dana (big pearl), reflects the country’s rich heritage and history, and aim to contribute to Qatar’s National Vision 2030. Bayt Al Dana’s a la carte menu provides guests with Middle Eastern gastronomy According to al-Abdulla, Dana Club, described as “one of Doha’s most recognisable buildings”, is the first club to be part of Katara Hospitality’s portfolio, which comprises renowned luxury brands and assets. “Previously, the restaurant was exclusive to members only. Our new vision, by introducing this outlet and its facilities to the public, will be to welcome guests, members and food lovers." A private members club, Dana Club is located close to the Doha Corniche and beside the West Bay business district. The restaurant’s kitchen has been renovated, and with its new setup, its food and beverage team now offers innovative and exciting dishes to diners with the introduction of new Lounges and SuperBowl Menus. “It has been incredible to have this opportunity to develop a menu that appeals to all tastes. At Bayt Al Dana we create a true taste of Arabic cuisine using delicious locally sourced ingredients, combined with the knowledge and knowhow of my fantastic team of chefs” said the executive chef Mohamed Kammleh in a press statement, promising to take guests “on a journey of timeless delicacies from different regions of the Middle East.” The dishes at Bayt Al Dana are created to perfection with contrasting texture, colours, and flavours. The star of the menu, Smoked Freekeh with Lamb shank, is artfully presented and pays homage to traditional Arabic ingredients. Diners can also enjoy the outdoor terrace with the view by the pool.
Katara – the Cultural Village, in co-operation with the Georgian embassy, will screen award-winning Georgian movies for three days at the Drama Theatre from May 24. “We brought some of the best Georgian movies to be screened at Katara,” Georgian ambassador Nikoloz Revazishvili told Gulf Times. Tangerines (2013), directed by Zaza Urushadze, will be screened on May 24. It had been nominated for an Academy Award and Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language film in 2015, according to the embassy. The film also won a number of leading awards, including Gaudi Awards – Best European Film in 2016; Bari International Film Festival – Best Picture in 2014; Fajr International Film Festival – The Crystal Simorgh for Best Screenplay, The Crystal Phoenix for Best Picture in 2014; and Satellite Awards – Best Foreign Language Film 2015, among others. Screening of Dede (2017), directed by Mariam Khatchvani, is on May 25. It won the Unesco award at the Asia Pacific Screen awards 2017. It also bagged the Special Jury Prize in the East of the West competition at Karlovy Vary International Film Festival 2017 This film won the Audience Award at the Montpelier Mediterranean Film Festival 2017 and the Jury Prize at the Batumi International Arthouse Film Festival 2017. The embassy noted that the third Georgian movie, Giorgi Ovashvili’s Corn Island (2014), will be screened on May 29. It won a number of leading awards, including Karlovy Vary Film Festival – Crystal Globe 2014; Athens Panorama of European Cinema – Audience Award, Fipresci Prize 2014; Kinoshok – Open CIS; and Baltic Film Festival – Best Cinematography Award 2014, among others. Organisers announced that only those who were fully vaccinated can attend the screenings while children below 12 years of age will not be allowed to enter the venue. Booking to get a free ticket is now available on Katara’s website.
The reopening of Malaysia’s borders in April provides an opportunity for West Asian travellers to visit and explore the Southeast Asian country – renowned as a favourite family and Muslim-friendly destination, a senior official of Tourism Malaysia has said. “One of the main advantages of Malaysia is that it offers a lot of Muslim-friendly facilities,” International Promotion Division (Asia/Africa) senior director Manoharan Periasamy said. “People from the region feel more at ease when they travel to Malaysia, because halal food and mosques are there.” Manoharan Periasamy speaking to journalists at a recent roadshow in Doha. PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam “We want to capitalise on that, where people don’t have to feel alienated,” he said. “Halal food is all over Malaysia, you can walk around with the hijab or head covering.” He spoke to reporters at Tourism Malaysia’s roadshows in Iran, Oman and Qatar, held between May 13-21, designed to attract more visitors from West Asia. The roadshows brought together Malaysia's tourism fraternity comprised of travel agents, hoteliers, product owners, state tourism bodies and medical tourism industry players, visiting Tehran, Muscat and Doha. “We do have several activities to suit the Middle East market,” Periasamy said, citing an array of tourism offerings for the family, including adventure seekers. He said Malaysia has a lot of new attractions such as the Genting Highlands, which underwent a significant transformation, in addition to the famous Sunway Lagoon Theme Park, the Sunway Resort in Kuala Lumpur, and the world's second tallest skyscraper, Merdeka 118, among others. He added that soft adventure activities such as snorkeling and scuba diving would continue to entice tourists due to Malaysia’s pristine beaches and beautiful coral reefs. Tourism Malaysia noted that travellers from the West Asian market dominate the top five international tourist spending in Malaysia in terms of per capita expenditure, and usually stay longer compared to tourists from other markets. Visitors from the region, including nationals from Qatar and Saudi Arabia, have an average per capita expenditure of about $3,000, staying between 10-14 days. According to Periasamy, young Arab visitors aged 22-25 prefer adventure over the usual city tour, exploring other destinations beyond Kuala Lumpur. “They like going to Kota Kinabalu, going to the islands, they like snorkeling, some soft adventure kind of activities, so we see this trend,” he said. “They are dispersing themselves, not really concentrating in the city.” “In the last couple of years, we realised that (all of a sudden) we don’t see Arabs in Kuala Lumpur … they have disappeared, they go to other places, they are changing maybe because of (the coronavirus pandemic), they don’t want to be in a populated area,” Periasamy said. “They want to enjoy the holidays and be part of it, not just sitting there and watching the twin towers.” “Now, they want to indulge and don’t want to be part of the attraction, but rather, they take a sunset cruise or do cycling and trekking,” he added. In a press statement, Tourism Malaysia director-general Zainuddin Abdul Wahab said it is a timely occasion to strengthen their partnership with international airlines such as Qatar Airways, Oman Air and Mahan Air, which offer direct flights to Kuala Lumpur, as Malaysia welcomes back more West Asia travellers. According to Tourism Malaysia, fully vaccinated inbound travellers are no longer required to undergo pre-departure and on-arrival coronavirus (Covid-19) tests, including children aged 12 and below. This also includes those who tested positive of Covid-19 within 6-60 days before departure to Malaysia. Travel insurance is also not a prerequisite for foreigners entering the country.