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Tuesday, June 25, 2024 | Daily Newspaper published by GPPC Doha, Qatar.
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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.
Jewan Park at a recent Korean event in Doha. PICTURE: Joey Aguilar
Qatar
Korean cuisine gains popularity in Qatar

Cultural exchange and the influence of Korean drama and K-pop are driving the surging popularity of Korean cuisine in Qatar, according to South Korean businessman Jewan Park. Park, who has been active in Qatar’s food industry for years, told Gulf Times that back then, people were skeptical when he mentioned that Qatar could support more than 50 Korean restaurants.“Today, there are around 20 Korean restaurants, with new ones opening every year,” he said as he shared insights into the rapid growth and future potential of Korean cuisine in Qatar and the region. Park credits this rise to several factors, including the increasing number of Qataris visiting Korea and the global reach of Korean pop culture.“A decade ago, it was rare to meet locals who had visited Korea. Now, almost half of the people I speak to have been there. This cultural exchange, fueled by Netflix, YouTube, and social media, has expanded their culinary horizons beyond just kimchi and Tteokbokki. They are exploring a variety of Korean dishes and even sharing cooking tips with me,” he said.According to Park, the authenticity of Korean food in Qatar remains high, noting that in the country, almost all Korean restaurants are owned by Korean nationals, except one in a hotel. This, he pointed out, ensures that the quality and authenticity of the food remain intact. Some restaurants are even blending Korean and local flavours, creating unique fusion dishes, he added.“Social media acts as free daily advertising for Korean food,” Park noted. “K-Pop live performances and Korean cultural events are becoming more common in Qatar, further boosting tourism and interest in Korean culture.”He highlighted the growing investment and interest from Korean businesses in Qatar, noting that Korean government officials see significant potential in Qatar as a destination for investment. He said investment from Korea is increasing, likely leading to more establishments and stronger bilateral relations.

Dr Hafiz Ali Abdulla
Qatar
Msheireb Museums 'revolutionised' visitor experience with AI, interactive technology

Msheireb Museums has set a new standard in the world of museums by integrating immersive experiences, interactive screens, and narrative journeys into their exhibits, according to Msheireb Properties senior corporate communications director Dr Hafiz Ali Abdulla. Sharing his insight on this innovative approach in an interview, he said that Msheireb Museums is the first to use immersive experience, interactive screens, and a narrative museum journey. This approach, Dr Abdulla noted, has fundamentally changed the way people view museums. “Traditionally, museums have been about collections and the display of information about these collections,” he said. “We’ve shifted the focus to a more engaging and interactive experience.” Msheireb Museums consists of four heritage houses: Bin Jelmood House, Mohammed Bin Jassim House, Company House, and Radwani House, each highlighting unique facets of Qatar’s cultural and social evolution. These houses are crucial in Qatar’s national history, providing spaces for people to engage and share thoughts about their past and future. Transforming these historic houses into world-class museums is a central component of the Msheireb Downtown Doha development. On integrating artificial intelligence (AI) in their daily operations and projects, Dr Abdulla said that Msheireb Museums found ways to enhance the visitor experience. “By utilising various types of technology, we've made our exhibits more interactive and narrative-driven,” he said. “This allows visitors to embark on a journey through time and emotion, experiencing important topics that are relevant to our daily lives. Many museums are now adopting similar strategies to enhance their visitor journeys.” Dr Abdulla highlighted the museum’s role in societal engagement and education, saying that museums can play a key role in society by addressing social issues and covering a range of topics that help chart the future. Museums, he added, also serve as educational hubs for students and researchers interested in social history and societal changes. He said that Msheireb Properties is not just focused on museums; the entire Msheireb is built on a foundation of cutting-edge technology designed to enhance customer, visitor, resident, and commercial experiences. “We've signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Microsoft to explore how AI can serve our diverse clientele and provide technological solutions throughout the city,” Dr Abdulla said. “As a smart city, we are committed to adopting new technologies and integrating them into our solutions for the various customers we serve.” This month, Msheireb hosted a series of technology, fashion, art, and creativity events, part of a partnership between Doha Design District and M7, located at Msheireb. These initiatives, he said, are aimed at educating the younger generation about AI and design through workshops and interactive sessions.

Gulf Times
Business
Flourishing women entrepreneurship in Mena

The remarkable educational achievements of women in the Mena region lay a strong foundation for the rise of women-led businesses, especially among GCC countries, according to Unicorn Media CEO and co-founder Silvina Moschini.Speaking to Gulf Times on the sidelines of the Qatar Economic Forum (QEF) 2024, Powered by Bloomberg, she said: “Women here in Qatar, in the Emirates, (and) in Saudi Arabia are highly educated so that sets a ground for building entrepreneurs”.“Here, it’s a perfect combination of factors: high level of education, the access to resources, the market opportunities opening up, hunger for disruption and bringing new technologies and outstanding talent out there,” Moschini said.Beyond her role as CEO of Unicorn Media, she is recognised as a pioneer in the tech and investment sector and a prominent advocate for women’s economic empowerment. Her accolades include being named “Woman of the Year in Disruptive Technologies” by UN Women.The CEO pointed out that the transformation in attitudes and opportunities for women in the Middle East has been swift and substantial, particularly in the past five years.She contrasts this rapid progress with the pace of change in North America, asserting that the Middle East witnessed more significant advancements in women’s economic empowerment within a shorter timeframe.Moschini underscored the remarkable strides made in gender equality and women’s participation in the workforce in the region, who are now actively involved in innovation and business leadership roles. “They are innovating, building companies, and women entrepreneurs are taking control of their financial future as well,” she said. “Apart from being able to manage their own money, they also have an inheritance that they can decide whatever they want to do”.Besides high levels of education, Moschini attributes the conducive environment for female entrepreneurship in Qatar and the Middle East to a combination of factors such as access to resources, expanding market opportunities, and a growing appetite for innovation. She highlighted the importance of initiatives to support and scale up women-led businesses, particularly in the technology and investment sectors.As part of her commitment to promoting women’s economic empowerment, Moschini said they signed an agreement with the Qatar Financial Centre Authority (QFCA) to develop a framework aimed at strengthening Qatar’s innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystem. This, she said, also seeks to identify and support female entrepreneurs in Qatar and beyond, noting the global potential of businesses originating from Qatar and citing the ability to scale internationally despite being a relatively small market.“Qatar is small but a very powerful market and size doesn’t represent impact because you don’t need to limit yourself to the local market. You can create a company from here and take it to the world,” stressed the Unicorn Media CEO.Moschini signed a memorandum of understanding with the Qatar Financial Centre Authority CEO Yousuf Mohamed al-Jaida at the Qatar Economic Forum 2024. The partnership aims to develop a framework that will further strengthen Qatar’s innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystem.She draws attention to the proven financial benefits of women-led businesses, citing data suggesting they deliver a 28% better return on investment than their male counterparts. This statistic underscores the importance of fostering an environment conducive to female entrepreneurship and leadership in the region, said Moschini.

Gulf Times
Business
QEF boost for business, leisure tourism

The surge in international visitors during the Qatar Economic Forum (QEF) 2024 witnessed a demand for luxury accommodations and dining experiences, boosting the country’s tourism sector, an industry expert said.“This influx of visitors promotes inbound tourism and boosts demand for hotels, restaurants, transportation, and other hospitality services in Qatar and enhances the country’s reputation as a premier destination for business and leisure travel,” Outing Qatar founder and managing director Mosaad Moustafa Eleiwa told Gulf Times.He stressed that such a prestigious event has become a cornerstone in attracting investors, fostering partnerships, and showcasing Qatar’s expanding economic landscape. The forum serves as a global platform for discussions on economic matters, investment opportunities, and networking, attracting a diverse array of participants, including diplomatic dignitaries, business leaders, and media representatives, according to Eleiwa.Hosting high-profile events like QEF, he pointed out, also provides a unique opportunity to showcase Qatar’s rich cultural heritage and modern infrastructure. Eleiwa underlined the networking opportunities facilitated by QEF, where luxury tourism companies curate experiences for attendees: from hosting events on luxury yachts to exceptional car rental services.What sets QEF apart from other events, according to Eleiwa, is its alignment with Qatar’s national strategy 2030, focusing on economic diversification, sustainable development, and investment in cutting-edge technologies such as artificial intelligence, robotics and fintech.“QEF stands out as a unique event in the country due to several distinctive features as with the high-profile attendees, influential decisions and partnerships can be easily made,” he said. Eleiwa said events and exhibitions related to QEF create additional business and job opportunities as he outlined its short-term, medium-term, and long-term implications on Qatar’s tourism and business sectors.He added that the ease of establishing companies through the Qatar Financial Centre and other government institutions provided a platform for launching new businesses. He said this was evident in the recurring visits of company owners to the country, who had the opportunity to experience the city along with their families.“Overall, QEF 2024 served as a platform for dialogue, collaboration, and action, laying the groundwork for advancing tourism, business, and investment in Qatar and the wider region. It underscored the importance of partnerships, innovation, and sustainability in driving economic development and prosperity for all,” Eleiwa added.

Injaz Al Arab chairperson Sheikha Hanadi N al-Thani at the QEF 2024. PICTURE: Thajudheen
Qatar
Middle East sees significant push for SMEs

The Middle East is struggling with a concerning gap between education and job market demands, worsened by years of instability and rapid technological advancements, leading to millions of unemployed youth, Injaz Al Arab chairperson Sheikha Hanadi N al-Thani told the Qatar Economic Forum (QEF).During a panel discussion on *2024: Not Business as Usual on Wednesday, she said: “Let’s put it into context. I think we have one of the highest percentages of youth population in the world.”“Sixty-five per cent of the population of the Mena (Middle East and North Africa) region is under the age of 25,” Sheikha Hanadi stated. “If you take it into consideration, this is around 200mn people ... so we have around 50mn people who are jobless.”“How did we get there? We are a region that is plagued by instability, by turmoil, and we are facing an ever-changing landscape of changes in the way we live,” she said, pointing to the dire situation faced by the region’s youth population amid a landscape of staggering unemployment figures.The Injaz Al Arab chairperson underlined the unprecedented challenges stemming from a fundamental mismatch between the skills imparted by educational institutions and those demanded by evolving industries.Citing the complex nature of the crisis, she said the region had witnessed in the past decades financial meltdowns, fluctuating inflation rates, and the unprecedented impact of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.Sheikha Hanadi said that these chaotic circumstances have made “business as usual” a distant memory where the youth face a bleak reality with less hope for a better tomorrow.She lamented that many perceive a future devoid of promise, bereft of any avenue for financial independence or personal growth, and with no viable prospects for entering the labor market or realising their aspirations.However, Sheikha Hanadi noted a significant push towards entrepreneurship and the development of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) as key drivers of job creation and economic growth in the region.She said the region made impressive strides in fostering an ecosystem where SMEs can thrive, becoming significant job creators.“It is astonishing; they are entering every value-added sector in the economy, from ICT (information and communications technology) and tourism to healthcare,” Sheikha Hanadi said, attributing such progress as a result of decades of reforming education systems, understanding the need to diversify away from hydrocarbons, and promoting policies that support SMEs.She said that Injaz Al Arab, which operates in 13 Arab countries, observes a wide variety of systems, noting that not all Arab countries have achieved the same level of progress.Sheikha Hanadi said that there are still countries where the public sector is growing, and in some places, 65% of the unemployed are higher education seekers.This, she pointed out, indicates a mismatch between current policies and the goal of reducing unemployment and increasing youth employment.

Yousuf Mohamad al-Jaidah and Silvina Moschini at the MoU signing on the sidelines of QEF 2024. -supplied picture
Qatar
QFC partners with Unicorn Media to boost entrepreneurship and innovation in Qatar

The Qatar Financial Centre Authority (QFCA) and Unicorn Media have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to develop a framework aimed at strengthening Qatar’s innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystem.According to QFCA, this partnership will be realised through a series of innovation events, programmes, and projects across different business sectors.QFCA, the legal and tax arm of the Qatar Financial Centre (QFC), is a premier onshore financial and business hub in the region while its latest partner, a media services company, produces the ground-breaking business reality show ‘Unicorn Hunters’. This show provides a platform for entrepreneurs to pitch their business ideas to investors worldwide, offering them funding opportunities.In a press statement, QFC CEO Yousuf Mohamed al-Jaida underlined the importance of this collaboration, saying: “This partnership reflects QFC’s ongoing efforts in supporting Qatari entrepreneurs and empowering local startups and SMEs by providing a conducive business environment and an advanced innovation ecosystem that help them grow and expand.”The MoU outlines the formation of strategic partnerships with business accelerators, incubators, and global innovation hubs, providing entrepreneurs the opportunity to establish their businesses in Qatar and take advantage of QFC’s competitive facilities and incentives.The collaboration between QFCA and Unicorn Media aims to identify and nurture startups and innovative projects within Qatar, selecting the most promising candidates to participate in the “Unicorn Hunters” show.According to QFC, this initiative will not only provide a platform for local entrepreneurs to showcase their ideas to a global audience but will also attract international attention to Qatar’s growing innovation landscape.Speaking to Gulf Times on the sidelines of the Qatar Economic Forum 2024 yesterday (May 16), Unicorn Media CEO and co-founder Silvina Moschini said they want to integrate with Qatar’s innovation ecosystem and present the opportunities to global investors through ‘Unicorn Hunters’, allowing entrepreneurs to fundraise.“We did the first one in Los Angeles in Hollywood. The show will bring Filipino, Argentinian, and African entrepreneurs (among others) to Qatar and they will be pitching to the world. So people from all over the world will see it... this will be a massive amplification of Qatar’s capabilities to showcase the incentives, programmes, and funding opportunities,” she said.Moschini highlighted Qatar’s strategic position in fostering innovation, saying that “Qatar emerged as the perfect bridge connecting the innovative minds of the East and the West, fostering a unique blend of diverse perspectives and groundbreaking ideas”.“As the driving force behind ‘Unicorn Hunters’, our mission is to propel innovation further by empowering high-growth companies through global crowd-financing. By partnering with the government of Qatar and QFC, our leading partner in ecosystem building and innovation in the East, we are not only strengthening our global network but also paving the way for a new era of collaboration and prosperity,” she said in a statement.

Indonesia's President-elect and Defence Minister General Prabowo Subianto at QEF 2024 on Wednesday. PICTURE: Thajudheen
Qatar
Significant economic growth predicted for Indonesia

Indonesia is set to experience significant economic growth by focusing on digitalisation and reducing non-essential spending, according to President-elect and Defence Minister General Prabowo Subianto. Speaking at the Qatar Economic Forum 2024 on Wednesday, Subianto outlined his administration’s strategy for achieving this growth, saying: “That means refocusing and cutting down the wastes ... It is a matter of efficient, good governance, good administration, good management, and we are in the midst of introducing e-governance.He highlighted the government’s plans to computerise the procurement processes of all Indonesian government institutions, aiming to enhance revenue services and reduce waste. “We calculate that we can save a lot of money by cutting down waste, and this will be the growth driver, so we are very confident,” he added as he expressed optimism that achieving 8% growth within 2-3 years is feasible, while maintaining a budget deficit of 3%.“We studied all the figures and we are confident we can do that ... the 3% (budget deficit) is something arbitrary. Not many countries adhere to it, but we have a tradition of prudent fiscal management. I think we have one of the lowest debt-to-GDP ratios in the world. So now it is time to be a bit more daring within good governance.”About other growth drivers, Subianto identified agriculture, food production, food distribution, and energy as primary focuses.“The growth driver in the first years will be our concentration on agriculture, food production, food distribution, and energy. We want to go green quickly and produce our diesel from palm oil, which will be a very strong growth driver. We import $20bn every year for diesel oil, so imagine the savings when we switch to biofuel,” he pointed out.Addressing concerns about protectionist policies, Subianto clarified: “No, no, I think it is a misconception. We are not protectionist. What we are doing is very logical. Every country in the world will protect the national core interests of their people. We want to industrialise and utilise our natural resources fully. We cannot keep importing industrial goods all the time; it is not fair to our people. We will not be an advanced industrial society if we are just producers of raw materials.”Regarding the planned capital relocation from Jakarta, Subianto explained the $35bn project, saying: “First, the idea was to place the capital in a more central location. Secondly, Jakarta and its surroundings in Java are very highly populated, creating a tremendous ecological burden.“We are facing a sea-level rise of about 5 to 10cm a year, so we have to build a giant sea wall. Moving the capital will help spread growth beyond Jakarta and Java and protect the capital from inundation until the sea wall is completed, which will take 10-15 years.”Subianto noted that the construction would take 25 to 30 years, and would rely on national resources initially. “The Indonesian economy can bear the costs of that,” he said, expressing confidence in the country's financial capability to support this monumental project.

Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed bin Talal al-Saud (left) and Nasser al-Khori shake hands at the MoU signing on the sidelines of QEF 2024 as HE Hassan al-Thawadi looks on,
Qatar
GA inks pact with SFA

Generation Amazing Foundation (GA) signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Riyadh-based Saudi Sports for All Federation (SFA), aimed at enhancing educational and developmental capabilities and extending their positive impact on schools, sports clubs, and communities.The ceremony on the sidelines of the Qatar Economic Forum 2024, powered by Bloomberg, was presided over by SFA president Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed bin Talal al-Saud, Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy secretary-general and Council of GA chairman HE Hassan al-Thawadi, GA executive director Nasser al-Khori.In a press statement, al-Thawadi, said: “This partnership reflects our shared commitment to promoting inclusivity, health, equality, and public welfare through sports, aligning with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.”The three-year agreement between GA and SFA covers a broad spectrum of initiatives, including the joint development of programmes for students and communities.GA will actively collaborate with SFA in numerous upcoming events in Saudi Arabia to promote values and facilitate knowledge exchange among youths.The MoU also formalises the ongoing collaboration between the two institutions, which began earlier this year with the 2024 Global Goals World Cup in Riyadh.“We unite under a shared belief that sports can be used as a catalyst for positive change. Both organisations are committed to empowering youth, fostering inclusivity, and nurturing communities, resonating with our collective dedication to making an impact that transcends boundaries and inspires populations,” al-Saud said.Al-Khori highlighted the significance of the MoU, noting that: “With the signing of this MoU between GA and the SFA, we are truly advancing the legacy of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022. We envision this to be a transformative collaboration that will leverage the power of sport to create lasting positive change in our respective communities and globally.”As part of Vision 2030, the Ministry of Sport has tasked the SFA with increasing the number of people participating in physical activity by 2030.The agreement with GA supports the SFA’s mission to build partnerships, find best practices, and help achieve Vision 2030 goals. Since 2018, the SFA has launched several innovative sports programmes, boosting public participation and raising awareness of the benefits of sports for physical and mental health.

Gulf Times
Qatar
Malaysian PM lauds Qatar, partners’ mediation efforts for Gaza ceasefire

Malaysian Prime Minister Dr Anwar Ibrahim lauded Qatar and other mediators for their concerted efforts towards securing a ceasefire and ending the conflict in Gaza, highlighting the need for lasting peace in the region.Speaking at a session during the Qatar Economic Forum 2024, Powered by Bloomberg, Dr Ibrahim expressed his support for the mediation initiatives led by Qatar, the Arab League, the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation (OIC), and the international community.He stressed the importance of readiness to achieve peace and urged respect for the decisions and recommendations put forth by neighbouring countries. “What is their strong request? To stop the continued aggression, atrocities against children, (and) women due to the bombardment of Gaza and that includes the settlements... illegal occupation. We are talking about colonisation.“What was discussed in Ukraine was about colonisation, it is robbing, it’s possession of other lands, that’s all, and for that, I am sympathetic with them,” said Ibrahim at the discussion, moderated by Bloomberg Television anchor Francine Lacqua.Regarding Malaysia’s diplomatic relations, the Malaysian Prime Minister reiterated his country’s strong ties with China and the United States, noting the influx of investments from technology giants such as Microsoft, Google, and Nvidia. He cited Malaysia’s growing status as a semiconductor hub in the region in part due to American support.He also outlined Malaysia’s focus on digital transformation, energy transition, and artificial intelligence as key drivers of progress for the nation. He commended Malaysia’s efforts in combating corruption, highlighting the impartial and independent work of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission in upholding the rule of law.About Malaysia’s role in the post-war scenario in Gaza, Dr Ibrahim acknowledged the country’s limitations as an emerging economy but asserted its commitment to assisting in any capacity possible. “We are a small country relatively struggling to survive as an emerging economy. That is why I maintain excellent relations with Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Turkiye and get their sense on what to be done because it is our duty to do whatever is necessary given the limited of whatever capacity that we have,” he said, underscoring the importance of consulting regional partners and aligning with the positions advocated by organisations like the OIC.Addressing the challenges faced by Malaysia, Dr Ibrahim stressed the need to prioritise humanitarian values, compassion, and human dignity alongside economic and developmental agendas. The prime minister’s remarks underscored Malaysia’s commitment to regional stability, diplomatic engagement, and principled governance in navigating complex geopolitical challenges and promoting peace in conflict-afflicted regions like Gaza.

Gulf Times
International
Korea Tourism Organisation reveals plan to woo Middle East visitors

The Korea Tourism Organisation (KTO) outlined its strategic initiatives aimed at attracting visitors from the Middle East, tapping into the lucrative tourism market in the region.In a statement shared with Gulf Times, KTO executive vice-president Hakju Lee shed light on the organisation's plans to engage with Middle Eastern tourists, particularly targeting their high-spending demographics.“Although tourists from the Middle East constitute less than 1% of all international visitors to Korea, they spend significantly more, with an average expenditure of $1,700 — 27% above the overall tourist average of $1,240. Moreover, they tend to stay longer, with an average visit lasting 10.5 days, compared to the general average of 6.7 days,” he said.Lee was speaking at the recently held ‘2024 Korea Tourism, Medical, and Culture Festival’, which served as a platform to commemorate the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Qatar and South Korea.The KTO official noted that medical tourists from the Middle East spend an average of KRW15 million each, six times higher than the general average.He underlined the importance of recognising the Middle East’s growing market potential, especially among the MZ generation (individuals under 54 years old), who are active travellers and enthusiasts of the Korean Wave (Hallyu).Lee noted that with Qatar boasting a youthful population, ripe for exploration of Korean culture, the market holds promise for future tourism endeavours.To capitalise on this opportunity, he said KTO devised a three-pronged approach: First, the organisation plans to target Middle Eastern women with luxury Korean tourism offerings, tailored to their high spending habits and preference for extended stays. This involves developing luxury-themed tourism products and ramping up local promotional efforts.Second, KTO aims to expand its marketing initiatives to attract Middle Eastern medical tourists, whose spending habits far exceed the general medical tourist average. By shifting focus towards cosmetic and dental treatments, the organisation seeks to appeal to this lucrative segment of the market.“Lastly, our goal is to grow the Free Independent Traveler market by targeting the MZ generation with enhanced online engagement and marketing strategies.“We plan to deliver trendy and appealing content specifically designed for young women of the Middle Eastern MZ generation, utilising their preferred social media channels as the primary means of communication,” Lee said.

Gulf Times
Qatar
2024 Korea Tourism, Medical and Culture Festival kicks off

The ‘2024 Korea Tourism, Medical, and Culture Festival’ kicked off on Friday at Mall of Qatar, captivating attendees with live performances, interactive activities, and an array of offerings immersed in Hallyu themes, notably K-pop.Hosted by the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Korea and organised by the Korea Tourism Organisation (KTO), the two-day festivity marks the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Qatar and South Korea. In a press statement, KTO’s executive vice-president Hakju Lee said the festival aims to strengthen the growing tourism interactions between the two nations.“The 2024 Korea Tourism, Culture, and Medical Festival in Qatar aims to enhance the continuously growing tourism exchanges between the two nations. This event underlines the varied attractions of Korean tourism, encapsulated under the theme Korea Tourism, All in One,” he said.Lee highlighted strategic initiatives aimed at enticing more Qatari tourists to South Korea, including the appointment of 10 local travel agencies as ‘Private Travel Sellers’ tasked with expanding travel options to South Korea. He noted that more than 40 promotional booths, showcasing diverse themes such as travel, medical services, and the Korean Wave, were set up within Mall of Qatar, affording visitors a preview of Korean offerings.Lee noted a remarkable resurgence of Qatari inbound tourism to South Korea, saying a substantial recovery with visitor numbers climbing steadily. In 2022, he said there were 919 visitors from Qatar, marking a 43% rise from pre-pandemic levels. “In 2023, it further increased to 1,866, reaching approximately 87% of the demand seen in 2019. This figure significantly exceeds the overall recovery rate of 63% for inbound tourism in 2023, indicating a rapid rebound in the Qatari inbound market,” he said.Eyeing further growth, KTO plans to intensify promotional efforts, particularly through the organisation of the Qatar Cultural Medical Tourism fair. In addition, partnerships with local outbound travel agencies and airlines will be strengthened to craft and promote enticing tour packages to South Korea.The festival’s inauguration witnessed a one-of-its-kind performance by K-Travel Junior Leaders, introducing attendees, particularly fans of Korean culture from the MZ generation, to the charm of Korea.K-pop sensation MCND lit up the stage with a live concert, engaging the audience in the dynamic beats of the Korean Wave.Attendees were also treated to themed zones, each offering a glimpse into various facets of Korean ingenuity. From the K-Tourism Zone showcasing the best of Korean travel experiences to the K-Medical Zone offering consultations in traditional Korean medicine, the festival captured the richness of Korean culture and innovation.In a statement, South Korean ambassador Lee Joon-Ho said: “The year 2024 has been designed as the ‘Visit Korea Year’ following last year. Witnessing the recovery of international tourism, we have pledged to exert all our efforts to attract visitors to Korea from all over the world this year”.Citing South Korea’s diverse landscapes and state-of-the-art medical facilities, the ambassador described South Korea as an unparalleled destination for cultural exploration and medical tourism.

Kazuto Matsuda (right, standing) with volunteers at the Japan booth at the Doha International Book Fair on Thursday. PICTURES: Joey Aguilar
Qatar
Embassies showcase cultural riches at DIBF 2024

Several embassies in Qatar, including that of Japan, the US, Indonesia, and South Korea, have converged to unveil a treasure trove of cultural riches at the 2024 Doha International Book Fair (DIBF), which opened yesterday at the Doha Exhibition and Convention Centre.From an array of literary works and artifacts, these booths create a collage of diversity, encouraging visitors to embark on a journey through the vibrant landscapes of their respective cultures.Speaking to Gulf Times, Kazuto Matsuda, a researcher/advisor at the Embassy of Japan in Qatar, highlighted the unique nature of their participation this year, saying: “What's special about our booth this year is that we have Japanese calligraphy and origami, offering various activities where visitors can have their names beautifully inscribed in Japanese by a skilled calligrapher”.He said that origami enthusiasts can marvel at creations ranging from different vehicles to beloved anime characters like Pikachu, among other objects. Matsuda noted that their main aim is to promote Japanese culture while also fostering an interest in Japanese tourism, language, and literature.“Every year, more and more people in Qatar are expressing interest in studying Japanese language or visiting Japan,” he said, underscoring the growing popularity of Japan in Qatar and the region.Themed ‘Knowledge Builds Civilisations,” this year’s DIBF will continue its celebration of literature until May 18. The event features an array of literary treasures, with more than 180,000 titles showcased by 515 publishing houses from 42 countries.Another regular participant is the US embassy in Qatar, which curated an extensive collection of literary works by renowned American authors and publishers. It aims to enhance English language proficiency and inspire readers to explore a diverse array of literature.US ambassador Timmy Davis expressed his enthusiasm, inviting attendees to explore the vast array of books, saying: “I’m thrilled to announce the US embassy’s participation in this year’s Doha International Book Fair. We welcome you to read, learn, and grow across America by exploring the thousands of books in our booth.“Our set of collections covers themes such as STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education, sustainability and more. We are excited to share stories with Qatari book lovers and promote literacy across cultural and academic exchanges in our countries.”Indonesian Ambassador Ridwan Hassan stressed the key role of books in fostering understanding and tolerance. He said: “For Indonesian Embassy participating in Doha International Book Fair always becomes our priority. Why? Because we believe that book plays an important role in building understanding and tolerance among the society with different backgrounds. Thanks to the Ministry of Culture who always gives Indonesia a chance to be part of this excellent event. In this edition of the Book Fair, we are also proud to bring two Indonesian speakers”.Similarly, the South Korean embassy has returned to the fair with a captivating display of literary works, showcasing the richness of Korean culture and tourism.

Dr Hafiz Ali Abdulla
Qatar
MDD emerges as premier tourist destination, showcasing Qatar’s heritage

Msheireb Downtown Doha (MDD) has firmly established itself as a must-visit destination as it continues to attract a large number of tourists with its harmonious fusion of Qatar’s rich heritage and contemporary charm, Msheireb Properties’ Corporate Communications senior director Dr Hafiz Ali Abdulla said.Shedding light on the efforts to promote MDD as a regional hotspot, Abdulla underlined MDD’s strategic location at the heart of Doha, adjacent to the iconic Souq Waqif and easily accessible via the Doha metro.He highlighted the unique contrast between historical allure and modern elegance, providing visitors with an engaging journey through time.“Msheireb has evolved into a tourist destination... it has easy access for everybody to come to Doha and they (visitors) will experience the old heritage Souq and the modern sustainable smart city which is next to each other,” Abdulla said, citing its accessibility and the seamless co-existence of heritage sites and smart city infrastructure.He pointed out the collaborative efforts with Qatar Tourism, noting recent initiatives such as Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr activities, as well as hosting the AFC Asian Cup media hub and several exhibitions.During the AFC Asian Cup, he said MDD witnessed an influx of around 4mn visitors, signalling a growing interest in the district. He expressed satisfaction with the high occupancy rates in MDD’s hospitality establishments, attributing the success to the growing appeal among tourists, particularly from the other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries.Abdulla stressed that GCC visitors are charmed with MDD’s walkability and the opportunity to immerse themselves in both heritage and modernity, citing the district’s universal appeal. He noted a significant uptick in visitor numbers in recent months, fuelled by favourable weather conditions, diverse activities, and eased visa restrictions.“We see a lot of people from GCC countries, they are in love with MDD, and they are in love with what the city has to offer,” he said.With Qatar’s ongoing efforts to bolster its tourism sector and host an array of events, Abdulla said they anticipate a continued surge in tourist arrivals from GCC countries, cementing MDD’s status as a premier destination for cultural exploration and urban sophistication.

Gulf Times
Qatar
All set for ‘2024 Korea Tourism, Medical, and Culture Festival’

The ‘2024 Korea Tourism, Medical, and Culture Festival’ is all set to take place Friday and Saturday (May 10-11) at the Mall of Qatar, marking the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Qatar and South Korea.The festival, organised by Korea’s Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, in collaboration with the Korea Tourism Organisation, aims to deepen awareness of Korean culture and tourism in the country. This festivity promises a vibrant celebration of Korean culture, tourism, and medical offerings.The festival’s grand opening will be marked by captivating performances, including the globally popular Hallyu phenomenon. Attendees will have the opportunity to explore various themed zones, each offering a unique glimpse into different facets of Korean excellence.K-Tourism Zone will showcase the best of Korean travel experiences, featuring promotions and sales from both inbound and local travel agencies, as well as highlights from various Korean destinations such as Seoul, Incheon, Gyeonggi, Suwon, and Busan.Attendees interested in medical tourism will have access to consultations and experiences in traditional Korean medicine and beauty treatments, provided by medical companies and specialist travel agencies at the K-Medical Zone.From popular Korean cuisine to immersive experiences in traditional attire and calligraphy, the K-Culture Zone will delight visitors with a diverse showcase of Korean cultural heritage, offering a colourful panorama of traditions and customs. In addition, Middle East-friendly Korean content will be promoted, fostering cultural exchange and understanding.Packed with interactive attractions, the K-Event Zone will feature photo booths, live K-pop performances, and engaging activities aimed at showcasing the vibrancy of Korean tourism and entertainment.Themed ‘Korea Tourism, All In One,’ organisers noted that the festival embodies a spirit of unity and collaboration between the two nations, offering a comprehensive showcase of Korean tourism, medical services, and cultural treasures.Around 35 entities, including travel agencies, medical tourism providers, hotels, and shopping businesses, will participate, ensuring a diverse and enriching experience for all attendees.In addition to promotional and sales zones, the festival will feature K-pop concerts, non-verbal performances, and digital exhibitions, providing various exploration of Korean culture and entertainment. Attendees can also indulge in Korean culinary delights, participate in hands-on cooking experiences, and avail themselves of special medical tourism zones offering a range of health and wellness services.

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Qatar
Global witnessing amidst launch of ‘Shahid’ exhibition

Sudanese artist and political cartoonist Khalid Albaih’s “Shahid” exhibition shines a spotlight on the interconnected nature of the ongoing crises in Gaza and Sudan, and the urgent need for collective witnessing.The artist’s powerful installation, which opened yesterday at Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, confronts viewers with the stark realities of conflict and displacement in Gaza while drawing attention to the neglect faced by Sudan in Western media narratives.“We are all aware of Sudan’s neglect by Western media, particularly during the simultaneous devastations in Gaza and Sudan over the past year,” Albaih said in a statement. “This disregard of Sudan can largely be attributed to Western media’s struggle to simplify the country’s multifaceted issues into black-and-white narratives, overlooking its interconnectedness with the same regional powers.”“In my interactive installation Shahid, which means ‘witness’ in Arabic, I aim to highlight a few of the early viral images from Gaza, which were often quickly forgotten as the world witnessed wave after wave of horrific imagery from the ongoing massacres,” he said.“Additionally, practical challenges, like limited Internet access on the ground in Sudan, contribute to the scarcity of footage available for use by the media,” Albaih added. “Amidst my constant search for news on Sudan online, like many around the world, I became a firsthand witness to Gazans documenting their own genocide.”The exhibition invites visitors to immerse in the experiences of those affected by conflict.“Through this act of solidarity with Gaza, I also stand in solidarity with Sudan and other overlooked countries in conflict in the Global South. I firmly believe that only when the world sees the well-documented genocide in Gaza, will it see us all,” he said.Albaih’s work challenges mainstream narratives and calls for a reevaluation of how global crises are perceived and addressed.Through art, the artist advocates for solidarity, empathy, and action in the face of adversity.

Gulf Times
Qatar
Mathaf presents ‘Khalid Albaih: Shahid’ exhibition

Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art opened its doors to the ‘Khalid Albaih: Shahid’ exhibition today, showcasing the poignant work of Sudanese artist and political cartoonist Khalid Albaih.Running until August 10, the exhibition offers visitors an immersive and thought-provoking experience, inviting them to reflect on their role as witnesses to ongoing tragedies, particularly what the artist described as “an ethnic cleansing in Gaza”.Albaih’s installation, titled ‘Shahid,’ which translates to “witness” in Arabic, confronts viewers with the stark realities of the conflict in Gaza. Through interactive audiovisual elements, the exhibition compels visitors to contemplate their response to the crisis and recognise the humanity behind the staggering statistics of lives lost.During a media tour, Albaih highlighted the aim of his installation, saying: "In this one (installation), I ask the viewer to stand and to say these people’s names and be involved in those images that we all see. There’s a few images that we know who these people are, but there are 6,647 names that we'd never seen their pictures, we don’t know who they are.“But here, we say their names and we stand witness to their lives... If the world can’t see Gaza with all the evidence coming out of there, how can they see Sudan; which means if they can see Gaza, they can definitely see us and all of us”.The artist stressed the importance of acknowledging the individual lives lost, urging viewers to engage with the names and stories behind the images that often circulate on social media.Curated by Fatma Mostafawi and Hadeel al-Kohaji, the exhibition features four powerful digital illustrations displayed on a mirrored wall. These illustrations capture pivotal moments from the conflict, drawing attention to the human cost of violence and displacement. Visitors’ reflections in the mirror merge with the depictions of victims, reinforcing their role as witnesses to the tragedy unfolding in Gaza.The exhibition also incorporates a recorded recitation of the names and ages of martyrs, sourced from the Palestinian Ministry of Health. Albaih reiterated the urgency of bearing witness to these lives, highlighting the global community’s responsibility to confront injustice and amplify marginalised voices.Speaking to Gulf Times, Mathaf director Zeina Arida underlined the timeliness of the exhibition amid ongoing crises, noting that the artist informed her about the urgency and the pressing nature of his task - a factor that motivated Mathaf's decision to organise the exhibition.Welcoming Albaih's initiative, she cited the artist's clear vision and trusted his direction, saying: “Khalid is a politically engaged artist who brings his two-dimensional work to three-dimensional installations, addressing urgent issues with clarity and vision”.Arida expressed her pride in debuting Albaih’s exhibition at Mathaf, citing the museum’s dedication to highlighting a diverse range of Arab artistry and tackling urgent social and political issues. She lauded the artist’s ability to provoke meaningful dialogue through his immersive installations, which challenge viewers to confront uncomfortable truths.“It is with great pride that we unveil Khalid Albaih's exhibition at Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, reflecting Mathaf’s role as a platform for regional artists to showcase their visions. Since its inception, Mathaf has always been committed to illuminating the diverse tapestry of Arab artistry, covering unique, important causes and shedding light on the way societies are structured as it interrogates the role art plays in our local and regional contexts,” she said in a statement.

Dr Hafiz Ali Abdulla
Qatar
Teffa 2nd edition kicks off on Monday

Msheireb Downtown Doha (MDD) highlighted its commitment to sustainability and innovation as it launches its 2nd edition of the Technology Education Finance Fashion and Art (Teffa) on Monday (May 6) at M7.Msheireb Properties’ Corporate Communications senior director Dr Hafiz Ali Abdulla recently explained that upcoming initiatives at MDD this year aimed at fostering knowledge-sharing and engaging the participants in topics such as design thinking and artificial intelligence (AI).A partnership between Doha Design District and M7, he said these events at MDD, including Teffa (concluding on May 8), form part of a series of initiatives that target the young generation: “To know more about AI, design and there will be a number of workshops (and talks) that will engage people to learn (more) about it”.Building on the success of the recently concluded Innovation by Design Summit in April, Dr Abdulla stressed Msheireb’s role as a leader in sustainable urban development, describing it as the region's first sustainable smart city regeneration project.Teffa, is set to shine a spotlight on AI, blockchain, and the business of fashion, aimed at showcasing how technological innovation can shape the future of design and fashion industries with a focus on sustainability and the circular economy. Over three days, attendees will participate in panel discussions, artistic performances, and interactive workshops on topics such as upcycling and AI gaming.Msheireb unveiled on Saturday a strategic collaboration with Metahug, the innovative gaming studio, aimed at introducing an immersive Roblox experience. This interactive platform enables players to explore Qatar’s rich culture.In a press statement, Msheireb noted that this partnership was launched on the sidelines of Teffa, seeking to merge educational content with engaging gaming elements, highlighting Qatar’s sustainable innovations, creative expertise, and rich heritage.

Alexander C Solano showcases his creation at the Qatar Chef Challenge.
Qatar
Qatar Chef Challenge celebrates culinary excellence, camaraderie

The recently concluded 7th edition of the Qatar Chef Challenge once again demonstrated the remarkable talents and creativity of culinary professionals in Doha, allowing them to showcase their skills, exchange knowledge, and foster camaraderie.The event, from April 28-30 at The Park 900 in Doha, featured various competitions in different categories, attracting chefs from renowned restaurants and hotels across the country. Filipino expatriate Alexander C Solano, a senior chef de partie at Dinara Kasko Pastry Art, won a silver medal in the Novelty Cake Showpiece category and a bronze in the Freestyle Modern Cake category.Speaking to Gulf Times, Solano expressed his appreciation for the event, highlighting how it provided valuable feedback and opportunities for growth. “I noted all the jury’s comments and critique, which I think will help a lot to improve my skills further,” he said. “It was a successful and exciting event because it also formed a sort of camaraderie among the participants.“There’s an instance where a participant’s work got disfigured since his tool wasn’t working properly, a competitor has to stop for a while to help him, and good to see that both finished on time,” he said.The Qatar Chef Challenge, a staple since 2015, reflects the culinary expertise and dedication of chefs in the country. Supported by Worldchefs, the competition aims to promote excellence in the culinary arts while fostering a spirit of collaboration and learning.Organised by the Qatar Culinary Professionals (QCP), the event highlighted the association’s commitment to advancing culinary standards in the country. QCP, established in 2014, serves as the national chef association dedicated to upholding Qatar’s culinary prestige on the global stage.According to QCP, the event goes beyond a mere competition but also serves as a platform for promoting sustainability, food safety, and waste reduction in the culinary industry. The event attracts seasoned professionals and budding talents, offering them an opportunity to shine and contribute to the culinary landscape of Qatar.A distinguished panel of judges, including industry veterans like chef Andy Cuthbert and chef Evgeniya Sokolova, ensured that the competition maintained high standards of excellence. Their expertise and guidance added to the enriching experience for participants and attendees.