Tuesday, December 05, 2023 | Daily Newspaper published by GPPC Doha, Qatar.
 Joey Aguilar
Joey Aguilar
Joey Aguilar has been a journalist since 2013 at Gulf Times, reporting on events related to Qatar. He was earlier a journalist for eight years in the Philippines. He became one of the 2015 United Nations Foundation Global Goals Press Fellows. He has also attended a number of journalism seminars in the Philippines.
Jureena Binti Noordin at the two-day event in Doha.
Malaysia’s first offshore university branch to open in Qatar

The National University of Malaysia (Universiti Kebangssan Malaysia or UKM) will open a branch campus in Doha this October, offering information technology, business management, sciences and engineering courses to both Qatari and expatriate students, Malaysian ambassador Zamshari Shaharan has announced. The announcement came following the visit of Malaysia’s Minister of High Education Datuk Seri Noraini Ahmad to Qatar, who witnessed the agreement signing between UKM and its local partner, The Regional Group, to open Malaysia’s first offshore university campus. “This is a milestone for Malaysian Higher Education and we are very happy with this achievement,” the envoy told reporters on the sidelines of the two-day Education Malaysia Fair in Doha. Jureena Binti Noordin at the two-day event in Doha Nine reputable Malaysian universities participated in the fair, organised by MY Aspiration (Malaysia) and led by Education Malaysia Dubai. It is supported by the Malaysian embassy in Doha. The two-day event provided students with extensive and insightful information on diverse and quality educational opportunities in Malaysia. As one of the top public universities in Malaysia, Shaharan noted that UKM ranks 144th in the QS World University Rankings, and placed 33rd in Asia. It has 13 faculties and 12 institutes offering undergraduate and postgraduate courses in various fields. UKM is also home to more than 2,500 international students. “This is a good opportunity for us to offer our programmes especially for Gulf countries,” said UKM’s Marketing head Jureena Binti Noordin, noting that the university’s Qatar campus at Fereej Al Soudan is set to welcome its first batch of students this October. UKM is one of five research universities in Malaysia that aims to be a regional leader in academic and research excellence. It also partnered with various organisations around the world to further enhance its academic and research capabilities. The Regional Group, founded more than 50 years by the late Sheikh Khalifa bin Abdul Aziz al-Thani, focuses on achieving sustainable growth through a balanced diversity of activities. Its executive management is now led by Sheikh Abdul Rahman bin Khalifa al-Thani. BOX: UKM Qatar branch campus * Intake: October 2022 * Admissions to open: July/August 2022 * List of programmes offered by faculty 1. Faculty of Sciences and Humanities - Bachelor of Social Sciences with Honours (Political Science) - Bachelor of Social Sciences with Honours (Developmental Science) - Bachelor of Social Sciences with Honours (Media Communications) - Bachelor of Arts with Honours (English Language Studies) 2. Faculty of Economics and Management - Bachelor of Economics with Honours - Bachelor of Business Management with Honours - Bachelor of Entrepreneurship and Innovation with Honours 3. Faculty of Law - Bachelor of Law with Honours 4. Faculty of Information Science and Technology - Bachelor of Computer Science with Honours - Bachelor of Information Technology with Honours - Bachelor of Software Engineering with Honours (Information System Development) - Bachelor of Software Engineering with Honours (Multimedia System Development) 5. Faculty of Science and Technology - Bachelor of Science with Honours (Actuarial Studies)

Malaysian ambassador Zamshari Shaharan (centre, seated) and Marliza Zorakin Malek (seated, right), with other embassy officials and representatives from the nine Malaysian universities taking part in the Education Malaysia Fair in Doha. PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam
Education Malaysia Fair opens in Doha

Nine Malaysian universities are taking part in the two-day Education Malaysia Fair in Doha, providing students with extensive and insightful information on diverse and quality educational opportunities in Malaysia. Organised by MY Aspiration (Malaysia) and led by Education Malaysia Dubai, the event opened Friday at JW Marriott Marquis Hotel, City Centre Doha. It is supported by the Malaysian embassy in Doha. The participating universities are: Asia Pacific University of Technology and Innovation, International Medical University, Management and Science University, SEGi University, Sunway University, Swinburne University of Technology Malaysia Campus, Taylor’s University, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, and the University of Nottingham Malaysia. “The embassy of Malaysia is very happy to have the organiser, Marliza Zorakin Malek (managing director of MY Aspiration), come over to Doha and to restart this process (which had been put on pause due to the coronavirus pandemic) – the usual thing that we do to promote the higher education in Malaysia and to promote universities,” Malaysian ambassador Zamshari Shaharan told reporters on the sidelines of the event. The embassy noted that Malaysian universities rank in the world’s top universities, and with a total of 35 in the top 600, based on QS World University Rankings 2021. The QS World University Rankings by Subject 2021 shows that 32 Malaysian programmes were placed among the top 100 universities for the study of their academic subject. Five Malaysian universities featured in the QS World University Rankings for 2022, headed by Universiti Malaya (now ranked 65th in the world). According to Malek, some of the nine leading Malaysian universities participating in the fair are recognised by Qatar’s Ministry of Higher Education. She said that these Malaysian universities have different niches, from medical and health sciences to engineering, computer science, and information technology (IT). In a pre-registration conducted among 25 nationalities from Qatar last month, Malek noted that at least one-third are highly interested in medicine, followed by engineering, and computer science and IT. The embassy noted that there are 100,381 international students from 160 countries who are currently pursuing their studies in international schools, colleges, universities, language centres, and training institutes in Malaysia as of December 2021. Of this figure, more than 11,010 students are from Bahrain, Djibouti, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Oman, and the UAE, including expatriate students, and 77 Qataris. Malaysia is also hosting branch campuses of prestigious universities from the UK, the US, Australia, and China. Students pay only a fraction of the cost when studying in Malaysia compared to what they need to pay in the main campus.

Project Qatar is expected to attract leading brands from around the globe (file photo).
Qatar to host multiple events in June

The second edition of the Qatar Human Resource (HR) Conference is set to take place on June 1 in Doha, marking the start of a series of events leading up to the 2022 FIFA World Cup in the country, according to Visit Qatar website. Themed Excellence in Human Capital Management, the conference will witness executives from the HR, recruitment, education, and training sectors presenting “key insights and invaluable business experience with other industries and businesses to help them navigate uncertainties and be more agile”. While 2020-2021 has been a turbulent period for various sectors especially in managing of human resources, the event organiser Nextfairs noted that these industries still face with new set of challenges as they recover from the impact of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic. Many businesses aim to implement “new strategic initiatives towards transforming the working environment and maintaining a balance between traditional and modern approach”. On June 3, a Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra (QPO) concert titled The Best of Franz Liszt will serenade the audience at Katara – the Cultural Village Opera House from 7.30pm to 9.30pm. Performers include Alastair Willis (conductor) and Janos Balazs (piano). “The concert will feature Piano Concerto No. 1, a piece so magnificent that it took Liszt over 25 years to complete, as well as Les Préludes, the best known of Liszt’s symphonic poems,” the organisers said. “This concert is for piano enthusiasts as Liszt was considered the greatest piano virtuoso of his time.” “János Balázs will perform solo piano and Alastair Willis will conduct,” the organisers added. Two events will be taking place from June 6-9 at the Doha Exhibition and Convention Centre (DECC): “Project Qatar 2022” and “Hospitality Qatar 2022”. Project Qatar 2022, under the patronage of HE the Prime Minister and Interior Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Khalifa bin Abdulaziz al-Thani, returns for its 18th edition and is expected to attract leading brands from around the globe. It “connects industry professionals to high-ranking decision makers in Qatar, making way for lucrative partnerships and agreements”. Hospitality Qatar, the country’s exclusive and longest-running international hospitality and Horeca trade show, will further boost and provide an array of opportunities for the sector. “As 2022 is set to be a remarkable year in Qatar, the hospitality sector in the country is bound to witness a surge in demand fueled by initiatives taken by the government and a line-up of global and local events,” the organisers said. “Sports events, staycation demand, cruise business, travelers from GCC countries, exhibitions, food festivals, and other such events will drive the growth of Qatar’s hospitality sector in 2022 to unprecedented levels.” “The hotels market’s supply alone is set to exceed 44,000 rooms by the end of 2022, almost a 50% growth from the current supply of 30,000 rooms, offering opportunities unmatched by any other market in the world,” they added. The QPO, in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture’s Music Affairs Centre, returns on June 9 at the Katara – the Cultural Village Opera House for the “Classics of the Golden Age” concert, between 7.30pm and 9.30pm. Dubbed as a “never before seen concert”, it will feature “classics from the golden age of Arabic cinema, as well as music from Qatar, with distinguished participation of many young singing talents”. Performers include Nayer Nagui (conductor) and Nasser Sahim (vocals). The QPO is also scheduled to perform on June 18 at Katara for “The Best of Brahms” concert, featuring three of the greatest pieces of classical music ever played with Maestro Elias Grandy. It includes “one of the great musical expressions of tragedy from the Romantic age, Brahms’ Tragic Overture and Brahms’ Symphony No. 1”. Qatar will also host the International Air Transport Association (IATA)’s 78th Annual General Meeting and World Air Transport Summit from June 19-21. It will bring together “top leadership from airlines, the aviation value chain, and governments as the aviation industry faces complex and dynamic operating, business and geopolitical environments”. Cityscape Qatar, the country’s only property exhibition of its kind, is set to return for its latest edition from June 20-22 at the DECC. It will put a spotlight on a wide range of diverse real estate opportunities for local, regional and international investors. The QPO will be performing on June 21 for its “Classical Hits – Bruch Violin Concerto” at Katara, featuring “one of Mozart’s supreme achievements and one of the greatest operas of all time Don Giovanni – Overture”. It also includes Max Bruch’s most popular violin concertos in solo violin repertoire Violin Concerto No. 1. Performers include Elias Grandy (conductor) and Joo Young Oh (violin). On June 25, the QPO will return to Katara for the “Northern European Impressions by Grieg and Sibelius”, which will highlight “Sibelius’ most enduring work, Finlandia, the symbol of ending struggle for nationhood, in addition to the universal favourites with its bright and cheery character Peer Gynt, Suite No 1 by Edvard Grieg. The programme ends with the romantic and memorable melodies of Sibelius’ Symphony No. 2.    

Nada Khamis al-Sulaiti showcasing her award-winning piece. She also held a workshop at DJWE titled u2018The Story of Hairaat.u2019
DJWE workshops enhance visitors' knowledge of gems Talks and workshops at DJWE

Apart from showcasing an array of luxury collections by renowned local and international brands, the Doha Jewellery and Watches Exhibition (DJWE), which concluded on Saturday, also hosted talks and workshops that provided participants and visitors a deeper understanding of precious gems, branding, art and gemmology. The six-day event, held from May 9-14 at the Doha Exhibition and Convention Centre, witnessed experts discussing a wide range of topics “from the creative process of jewellery formation to consumer savviness when it comes to buying diamonds and precious stones”. One of the workshops included ‘The Story of Hairaat,’ highlighting the success of award-winning Qatari jewellery designer and founder of the brand, Nada Khamis al-Sulaiti. Al-Sulaiti, who established her own brand in 2011, opened the first boutique in November 2019 at The Gate Mall in Doha. Hairaat showcases luxury pieces that reflect Qatar’s rich heritage and architectural concept “with the highest of standard jewellery design concepts”. “Each Hairaat jewellery piece has a story behind it,” stressed al-Sulaiti, who was a product of the Young Qatari Designer initiative and now aims to continuously raise the quality of jewellery design in the region. A workshop by International Gemological Institute (IGI) provost and creative head Sara Ben Zid on ‘Beauty and Value of Rubies, Sapphires and Emeralds’ discussed the importance of certification, as well as recognising the different types of precious gemstones through various factors such as formation, location, and various sources. Papillon Jewellery founder Noora al-Ansari and Image, Etiquette and Protocol consultant Elisabete Reis put a spotlight on ‘Jewellery Etiquette’, concept and collection, and “the importance of buying the right piece of jewellery that reflects your beauty and personality”. At another workshop, Letrange president and CEO Sebastien Letrange focused on “bringing modernity into the 184-year-old luxury leather goods brand.” He also tackled the brand’s “pursuit of excellence in savoir faire, constant innovation in products and the love of art.” Sebastien is the 7th generation member of Letrange, a family business established in 1838 and one of the oldest makers of leather goods France. The 18th edition of DJWE also held a workshop titled ‘Journey through time with Vacheron Constantin’ presented by renowned watch collector and Qatar Watch Club founding member Abdulla Sager al-Khouri. As Qatar is all set to host the FIFA 2022 World Cup, this year also marks what was described as an exceptional year for watchmaking, especially with the oldest watchmaker, Vacheron Constantin. The brand was showcased at the Alfardan Jewellery pavilion, along with other renowned luxury brands. DJWE 2022 also witnessed the debut of Qatar’s Gems and Metals Calibration Lab (GMCL) – an IGI-certified facility. It aims to raise awareness on the importance of grading and help ensure products available in the Qatar market meet international standards. A first-ever at the exhibition include the showcasing of Louis Vuitton’s Saturne necklace, an extraordinary creation of 186.42 carats featuring more than 140 multi-coloured sapphires and diamonds; Gaga Milano’s collection, which comprised unique and limited edition Italian timepieces such as the Quirky Tourbillon, Napoleone, Manuale 48mm and Skeleton 48mm; and Mouawad’s Regina Suite (a dazzling necklace that turns into a crown), and Dragon Suite (largest yellow diamond of its type as graded by GIA). At DJWE, Alfardan Jewellery’s Al Tawash showcased exceptionally created pieces, highlighting Qatar’s rich pearling heritage. It displayed Alfardan’s vast collection of the world’s most beautiful natural pearls – known as a source of pride, joy, and wealth for Qataris.    

Purnima Sheth showcases some of Rose's collection at DJWE's Alfardan pavillion. PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam
Rose dazzles at Alfardan pavilion at DJWE

Rose, one of India’s leading jewellery houses, is showcasing an array of collections with exquisite design and craftsmanship at the Doha Jewellery and Watches Exhibition's (DJWE) Alfardan Jewellery pavilion. The six-day event, which opened on May 9 at the Doha Exhibition and Convention Centre, will conclude on May 14 after bringing together more than 500 brands from over 10 countries and attracting a huge number of visitors from Qatar and the region. “We are very proud and honoured to be a part of the Alfardan Group and our product has been well received by the Qatari and the Dubai customers. We come out with six collections in a year and they are inspirations from Mother Nature. “Our most popular collection is called the ‘Colours of Life’, and we also have ‘Treasures’, which is one of a kind in the world,” Purnima Sheth, Rose founder and senior sales director – Luxury, told Gulf Times. She noted that Rose is a 41-year-old company from India, which she started in 1981. It now has two retail stores for jewellery in Mumbai and Delhi, and a multi-brand watch store in Mumbai. The company has been participating in the DJWE as part of the Alfardan Group in the last eight years. It has three to five stores in the Alfardan Group in Doha and in Dubai. One of Rose’s unique and special pieces is the ‘Begum Sahiba’, which Sheth says is an inspiration, and has 274.84 Mozambique ruby tumbles, 32.29karat fancy old mine cut diamonds, 8.09 freshwater pearls, and has a 12.5karat center solitaire brilliant-cut diamonds. “It's a beautiful piece and very gracious and also has some kind of mix of cultures, which would blend very well with the region and with Indian history,” she said. Rose also features a special piece called ‘The Countess’, 11.5karat, which is also a mixture of yellow and white diamonds, and has rose cuts and centerpiece. “People do like colour diamonds, they just go up to yellow and beyond that, they don't go to the brown and green, except yellow but they prefer the classic white,” she added. “First they want to make the complete collection, then comes the yellows and the greens, when you're a collector you go into the colours at the end of it.” She said the Qatari market is one of the best in the region – that has good taste and who understands good design and workmanship. “They also understand that there is a lot of effort gone into this manufacturing and design, they appreciate us which is why we are here so often and they have received us very well,” said Sheth. The latest edition of the exhibition, she said, is witnessing “a very good quality crowd, and that makes a big difference. “You don't need lots of crowds, you need good quality and people who are buying so that's important, and fortunately Rose has a very good location, good presence, good brand presence, and people know us so they come looking for us.” Rose has been taking part in many exhibitions in the region since 2003, and has become a popular brand, especially with its online platform. Sheth noted that Rose further strengthened its digital vertical (online platform) in the last two years in the region, thanks to its very pro-active Instagram handle. “We get tonnes of orders from people looking at it, they give us the advance (orders) and we ship it through Alfardan in Doha and in the other regions also,” she said. “We are very excited about this new way of selling and our whole team is extremely active on WhatsApp and Instagram and Snapchat for all their regions.” About Rose’s partnership with Alfardan, Sheth said “Alfardans are wonderful people, they love our product, very hospitable and very fair in their pricing and everything is just perfect it can't have a better business model.”    

Mahallati Jewellery's Ceylon sapphires on display at the Alfardan pavilion. PICTURE: Ram Chand
The best sapphires

Mahallati Jewellery, one of the premier jewellery houses of the Middle East, is showcasing a collection of Ceylon sapphires – known as the world’s best sapphires – at the Alfardan pavilion as part of the ongoing Doha Jewellery and Watches Exhibition (DJWE). “Sapphires from Sri Lanka, which are of exceptional quality, speak very well in terms of their complexion, colour, hue and the sheen brightness,” operations director Mohamed Mahallati told Gulf Times on the sidelines of the 18th edition of DJWE, taking place at the Doha Exhibition and Convention Centre until tomorrow (May 14). Jewellery experts since 1968 and established by Abdul Karim Mahallati, the company offers a wide variety of jewellery, from everyday use pieces to bridal settings.   With more than 50 years of retail excellence, Mahallati experts guide and help clients “to find the perfect piece”, ensuring their “jewellery experience is one to treasure”. “Imagine all the sapphires to have, like when you move from one side to the other as the light plays on the stone, the same hue, same colour, and clarity … it is quite very difficult to find this,” said Mohamed Mahallati, who is also the son of the owner. He cited a huge demand for Ceylon sapphires in Qatar and the region, especially in a post-coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic era, as many people are keen to get back to normalcy. “We see that here now, people are present, they are coming, and it is like how it is used to be and we are very excited to be back here,” Mahallati said. “We have been participating for many years, and coming back after Covid, we can see a very cheerful and joyful experience right now,” he said, expressing optimism that the exhibition will become a success once again. From a small workshop in 1968, Abdul Karim Mahallati is now joined by his children and has expanded the brand into one of the most trusted and renowned jewellery brands to come from the Middle East. Mahallati began his journey into the industry at the age of 15 at a gold workshop in Iraq, where he learned goldsmithing. He became passionate about the intricate workmanship that is crucial in creating superior and notable pieces. Mahallati opened his own jewellery manufacturing facility and first Mahallati Jewellery boutique in 1968. From there, he travelled the world to source the best materials for his jewellery collection. From Japan, South East Asia, Africa and Europe, he developed the highest standards of jewellery creation, which remain a signature of Mahallati Jewellery today. As his flair for quality created an increasingly strong demand for his jewellery in Iraq, Mahallati began to expand, establishing jewellery boutiques all across the Middle East with a head office in Dubai. In 1998, he was joined in the business by his eldest son, Mehran Mahallati, who shares in the Mahallati jewellery credo of excellence and innovation in jewellery design and manufacture. Together they further expanded the Mahallati Jewellery brand, opening luxury retail stores in Mall of the Emirates, Dubai Mall and Dubai Marina Mall. Mahallati Jewellery is family-owned and run: Abdul Karim Mahallati is now also joined in the business by daughter Marwa and youngest son, Mohamed. The company has a manufacturing facility in Thailand, employing more than 200 jewellery experts and incorporating in-house jewellery development, with retail and wholesale stores across the Middle East. (source:    

Shelley Kabilu showcasing her collections, comprising natural fancy colour diamonds, rare white diamonds and fine jewellery, at the DJWE. PICTURES: Joey Aguilar
Shelley & Co creates magic with colour diamonds

Shelley & Co, a leading expert, source, supplier and manufacturer of natural fancy colour diamonds to the global diamond and jewelry industry, is showcasing an array of collections at the ongoing Doha Jewellery and Watches Exhibition (DJWE). “Our colour diamonds that we are known for are natural,” Shelley & Co owner Shelley Kabilu told Gulf Times. “We have a collection of custom-made beautiful pieces with unique diamond shapes like heart shapes, which I love very much.” She is exhibiting her pieces, which include rare white diamonds and fine jewellery, at her booth at the Almajed pavilion on the sidelines of the 18th edition of the DJWE, which concludes tomorrow (May 14). Among the colour diamonds on display are pink, yellow, and green diamonds, which have been in high demand globally, including Qatar and the region. Kabilu said that she has been getting “requests for green diamonds ever since, I guess, Jennifer Lopez got her new engagement ring from (American actor) Ben Affleck … so people are asking more about green”. She noted that the post-pandemic era is witnessing a huge demand for luxury pieces such as diamonds and other jewellery across the globe. Some clients, Kabilu said, want something beautiful to make them feel happy especially after the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, while others who have not travelled for a long time prefer to spend on things they enjoy, such as jewellery. “Especially after the pandemic, we need things to make us happy, even the simple things,” she said. “When you buy jewellery you really have something that you own, that you enjoy, and something that has value.” Shelley & Co is offering an array of daily wear jewellery collections, in response to requests during the previous edition of the DJWE. These include gemstones like emeralds from Colombia and Africa, rubies, and sapphire, in addition to flower-inspired pieces. “I love flowers and everything floral, and it is something that I feel the whole world shares,” Kabilu said. “Anyone who gives or receives flowers is just something special. I take that with me in my designs.” She plans to create Qatar-inspired pieces, and has started working (beginning stages of the prototype) on a new collection. “Absolutely, I would love to launch a new collection around the time of FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, and that would be so special to be able to do something that inspires me so much from Qatar,” Kabilu said. This is the second time she is participating in the exhibition, but Kabilu said she has been coming to the region for more than 12 years. About the exhibition, she said: “It is fabulous to be back here and to see the different brands showcasing their jewellery. The feeling is wonderful and the atmosphere is great.”    

Hairaat Jewellery founder Nada al-Sulaiti at her own booth at DJWE. PICTURES Joey Aguilar
Epitome of a successful Qatari designer

* A product of the Young Qatari Designer initiative, Nada al-Sulaiti has established her own jewellery brand and has a booth at DJWE Hairaat Jewellery founder Nada al-Sulaiti has become an epitome of a successful Qatari designer: from nurturing her passion since childhood to receiving international awards and establishing her own jewellery brand. “My jewellery is primarily inspired by Qatar, so what we do in Hairaat is we take the architectural language and the hidden beauty that we find in Qatar, whether it is in the sea or desert, and ornaments from the heritage, and transform it into modern jewellery that suits ladies -- and that what has distinguished us. Hairaat Jewellery showcases an array of unique and Qatari-inspired collections at DJWE “Each and every piece holds a story, all of our pieces have a story behind it,” said al-Sulaiti, who was a product of the Young Qatari Designer initiative. This year, she opened her own booth at the 18th Doha Jewellery and Watches Exhibition (DJWE), a six-day event taking place at the Doha Exhibition and Convention Centre until May 14. Pearls never went out of fashion and will always have a market The exhibition, held under the patronage of HE the Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Sheikh Khalid bin Khalifa bin Abdulaziz al-Thani, brings together more than 500 brands from over 10 countries. Al-Sulati lauded the Young Qatari Designer initiative, which aims to support Qatari jewellery designers and promote their work giving them the chance to showcase their collections alongside famous luxury brands, saying it served as a platform for her to grow. In 2015, she exhibited a commissioned piece – the Sakura Necklace -- which bagged two international awards: 'Merit Award in International Jewellery Design Excellence' (Hong Kong in 2017) and 'Golden Award from A’ Design' in 2015. Specialised in bespoke jewellery, al-Sulaiti said her exquisite and award-winning piece helped her to reach greater heights and opened more opportunities. << Nada al-Sulaiti's award-winning Sakura Necklace ____________________ “Between 2015 and 2017, I started developing a defined jewellery line in order to sell to the public because I specialised in commission pieces, big pieces, it took me two years to develop four lines which were launched in 2017 at DJWE. “In 2018, we introduced another two collections, and in 2019 we were ready to open our own boutique, and the growth kind of went on,” she said. The Hairaat founder cited a growing demand for personalised/customised jewellery, saying that it has become the trend not just in Qatar and the region, but also internationally. “Now, there are mass productions, there are a lot of items that are not recognisable and people want to feel that there is something intimate to them, something that they like,” she said. About the natural pearl, al-Sulaiti said while it did not become very trendy, it never went out of fashion and will always have a market. “We always have a pearl collection, we actually don’t sell natural pearls unless it’s commissioned because the materials are so precious that we want it to be specialised, made for the client himself or herself, for them to choose what design they want,” she pointed out. However, al-Sulaiti noted that there are certain clients who will only buy natural pearls but she sees a bit of change in consumer behaviour. “I see non-Qataris who are living here who would like to take natural pearls, not the expensive ones, natural ones to keep.”

Lala Busatti showcases some of her pieces at DJWE's Alfardan pavillion. PICTURES: Joey Aguilar
Italian brand Busatti Milano a show stealer at DJWE's Alfardan Pavilion

Renowned Italian jewellery brand, Busatti Milano, is showcasing its latest collections – comprising unique and exquisite pieces made with passion and art – at the ongoing Doha Jewellery and Watches Exhibition (DJWE). “We have brought our high-end fine jewellery  All-Italian excellence Tradition, innovation and design: a winning combination deriving from all-Italian excellence. These values distinguish Busatti Milano, the Haute Joaillerie Maison founded in 1947 thanks to the intuition of Antonio Busatti. The six cousins, Lalla, Davide, Barbara, Simone, Luca and Andrea, armed with experience in the precious metal industry, decided to carry forward the ingenious spirit of their founder confirming their style and savoir faire. A new way of understanding the jewel that combines the avant-garde, always in the DNA of the family, international spirit and combinations up to date. Creations, real works of art, reveal a unique world, where the creativity of the six young professionals meets the expertise of talented craftsmen and the search for raw materials haute de gamme. Busatti Milano is one of the most revolutionary company in the field. It opened in 2014 its first boutique in Milan in via Spiga 1 and takes part to the most prestigious trade fairs. (source: collection, all handmade in Italy with high-quality materials and diamonds,” the brand's creative director, Lala Busatti, told 'Gulf Times' on the sidelines of the event, taking place at the Doha Exhibition and Convention Centre. Busatti joins 70 other luxury brands at the Alfardan pavilion, exhibiting a wide range of jewellery and timepieces, including necklaces, bracelets, rings, and earrings. Lala said one of Busatti’s popular and most-sought collections, ‘Mosaico’ – also on show at DJWE 2022 – is about patterns in the city of Milan. A number of Mosaico pieces reflect Qatar’s culture as Lala used the colour of the Qatari flag in designing them, saying “we always try to give a touch of other cultures”. Busatti Milano jewellery pieces on display at the Alfardan pavillion Some of the brand’s collections on show at the exhibition, including Busatti Milano and Eterna, among others, are classy but at the same time, unique, she added. “There is a lot of effort behind every piece we make. The Eterna collection, as in eternity, will last forever,” Lala stressed, adding that other Busatti diamonds and animal-inspired pieces are trendy in Milan. Classy and unique Italian jewellery pieces by Busatti Milano She said there is a growing demand for Italian jewellery in Qatar and the region “because my country is well known for beauty and the culture of things done artistically and passionately. I think all over the world they understand and appreciate the effort in everything we do.” A number of Mosaico pieces reflect Qatar’s culture (supplied picture) Busatti puts a spotlight on its stunning long necklaces as well – all with diamonds. Lala said each diamond was properly cut for a necklace and the right colour and stones selected for months just to have a one-of-a-kind piece. “As you see, the necklace is very simple, very elegant but behind this necklace, there is a lot of work and research, it is not like the others,” she said. Lala said Qatar remains to be a key market for Busatti where clients know what they want, and such an environment allows the brand to be constantly in contact with them year-round. As a long-time participant of DJWE, she said: “We love Doha, we feel at home, we are happy and we love Alfardan”.

Julian Hajibay with his mother, Mimi -- the creative director and president of Piranesi -- showcasing some of their collection at DJWE 2022. PICTURE: Joey Aguilar
Piranesi debutes 'Palace Ring' at DJWE

Piranesi, renowned for its rare and exotic stones, unique jewellery designs, and statement pieces, is debuting the “Palace Ring” at the 18th edition of the Doha Jewellery and Watches Exhibition. The jewellery brand joins the almost 70 famous luxury brands at the Alfardan pavilion, exhibiting very rare and exquisite stones and pieces at the six-day event, taking place at the Doha Exhibition and Convention Centre until May 14. Piranesi's 'Palace Ring' - supplied picture “The ‘Palace Ring’ is inspired by our boutique in St Moritz in Switzerland at the Badrutt's Palace Hotel. This hotel, like our family, has been in business for many generations. It’s a 40karat emerald, vivid green colour, super high quality, and the setting is part of our Gemma collection and it is an absolute one-of-a-kind piece,” Piranesi managing director Julian Hajibay told Gulf Times. Piranesi is also be featuring the “Elizabeth Earrings” and “our Elizabeth Taylor Binder from all the work we used to do with her. We will also be bringing the auction book from Elizabeth Taylor’s estate, with 80% of the pieces being stamped Piranesi”. A lot of pieces in Piranesi’s collection are very unique and it specialised in colour gemstones – the core of its business – apart from the beautiful diamond pieces it offers. Piranesi also puts a spotlight on its Masterpiece collection, which features the finest yellow diamonds, Burmese sapphires, Burmese rubies, and Colombian emeralds, as well as Aspen double flower ring, Aspen necklace which is inspired by the scenery in Aspen Colorado during the winter. The brand’s core collection, Gemma, displays exceptional pieces designed by Hajibay’s mother, Mimi.

Taylor Lopez (left) and Ladan Vahdat wearing Shay pieces at DJWE's Alfardan pavilion. PICTURES: Joey Aguilar
Shay Jewellery launches ‘Mini Me’: a celebration of family tradition and new motherhood

Shay Jewellery unveils its latest collection ‘Mini Me’ at the Doha Jewellery and Watches Exhibition (DJWE), bringing an exceptional way to share “jewellery love” between mother and children. “We just did some very simple but beautiful kind of fun pieces and just the right kind of style on your child if you are trying to look for something… This is our first collection for children, and we just launched it in Qatar,” Shay’s Marketing coordinator Taylor Lopez told Gulf Times on the sidelines of DJWE. Shay's Mini Me collection on display at DJWE. PICTURE: Joey Aguilar Shay’s latest collection’ is “a celebration that combines family tradition with the joy of new motherhood”. Inspired by the birth of co-founder Tania Shayan’s first son, the collection consists of six design capsules, created to bring delight and happiness to the wearer or the giver. Based on best-selling pieces from the Shay collection, ‘Mini Me’ calls out teardrops, baby hearts, rainbows, bezel settings, personalised nameplates, and pave halos in a combination of natural diamonds, emeralds, rubies and pink and blue sapphires. “We have rainbow, just plain diamonds, all the gemstones, I think it is just very simple and really fun that you are able to give to your child and make it this special investment for them, and they can have it when they grow up. It’s just really sweet,” said Lopez, who was with Shay’s founder, Ladan Vahdat, at DJWE. About the exhibition, Lopez said that they’ve always wanted to be in Doha to showcase their collections, especially Mini Me. Shay also produces a lot of customised pieces and offers various gemstones, from pink and blue sapphire to ruby and emerald. “Adults can also order and we can always customised to make it to be a little bigger, so it can match their kids,” Lopez said, citing a growing demand for customised pieces.

Wafa Habbar (right) with colleagues at the Robert Wan booth, located in the Alfardan pavilion, showcasing beautifully-handcrafted Tahitian pearls. PICTURE: Joey Aguilar
Robert Wan's latest collection shines light on beauty of Tahitian pearls

Robert Wan is showcasing its latest collection, 'Contour', at the 18th Doha Jewellery & Watches Exhibition (DJWE), putting a spotlight on the remarkable colour tones and beauty of Tahitian pearls from French Polynesia. The Robert Wan booth is located in the Alfardan Pavilion at DJWE 2022. Robert Wan general manager Wafa Habbar said they collaborated with jewellery designer Maria Argyraki this year to create such a signature collection, which comprises pieces that “are perfectly balanced and detailed”. “This year, we want to highlight the beauty of the black pearl’s different colours. We have cherry, green, peacock and gray dark, and we have almost 10 different colours and each has different shades,” she told Gulf Times. Using simple lines and elegant minimalism to represent her creations and give them an organic feel, Habbar said the designer’s goal is to underline the nature of the pearl by exposing the variety of colours, shapes and sizes of these gems. The unique oyster, known as Pinctada margaritifera, which Robert Wan uses to create such magnificent pieces is very rare, fragile and requires specific conditions in order to grow to its full size, and it could take years to assemble one necklace. “That is also one of our knowhow and craftsmanship, to be passionate and build necklaces, that is why they are very expensive,” she said. According to Habbar, Robert Wan also displays a wide range of pieces from different price points, making them accessible for any budget. “Based on your budget, you can choose the size from 9-13mm and then pick the pearl of your colour and then you choose a thread and we make for you here a personalised bracelet,” she said. Habbar cited the huge demand for personalised pieces, especially in Qatar, where many “want to have their own jewellery, their own identity, and pieces that they will always wear and feel it is their own, it is their creation, it is the one they choose and made only for them, and not for someone else.” Such pieces have exceptional appeal for the new generation – young people who have access to information from different brands and collections, she said. “Here (at DJWE), we are all exhibitors bringing the best every year, so we always try to show the best of what we have to clients who are looking for something extra different and they want to feel they are bringing their own touch to the piece.”

Qatari designers like Nouf al-Meer, Sameera Hamed al-Mulla, and AlDana Hamad Alhenzab, showcase an array of jewellery pieces reflecting the country's culture at DJWE 2022. PICTURE: Joey Aguilar
Qatari designers sparkle at DJWE

Apart from renowned international brands, the 18th edition of Doha Jewellery and Watches Exhibition (DJWE) presents an array of Qatar-inspired jewellery pieces created by local designers. The event, which opened Monday and runs until May 14 at the Doha Exhibition and Convention Centre, has dedicated a pavilion for Young Qatari Designers aimed at nurturing local talent and creativity. Some 10 Qatari designers showcase magnificent collections that reflects the country’s heritage and architecture, ranging from bracelets, necklaces, bangles and pendants to earrings and rings that highlight the colour and design of Qatar’s flag. Nouf Jewellery as a brand, by Nouf al-Meer – also the owner and CEO, “offers a wide range of a wide range of diverse and unique items made with different materials and precious stones.” Some pieces, made of yellow and white gold, are known for their intricate details with colourful gems and diamonds of international standards. Jewellery aficionados know Nouf as a brand that is simple yet creative. Besides nature and the environment, the Qatari designer finds inspiration from highly-celebrated occasions such as the National Day, and creates unique and exclusive pieces such as “bracelets and rings bearing the colours of the Qatari flag.” Hessa Jewels, owned by Qatari jewellery designer Sameera Hamed al-Mulla, is becoming increasingly popular with its “traditional designs and its ability to combine classic and contemporary with a creative touch.” Founded in 2017, Hessa (meaning ‘pearl’), the brand joined Qatar Museums in 2019 to showcase some collections, particularly “Al Battola”, “worn by women and all designed with diamonds and gemstones”. Among Hessa’s famous designs include the Kohl, Mashmum, and the Palm. While al-Mulla holds a Master’s degree from Aberdeen University and works in the banking field, her works mirror the kind of passion she has for jewellery. DW by AlDana Hamad Alhenzab displays simple yet creative pieces that makes one feel unique. Some of her collections include the Safety Pin collection, which stands out to suit all types of events and personalities. These include 18karat gold rings, bracelets, earrings, and necklaces with diamonds, and other gems such as ruby. DW by Dana also showcases its Butterfly Collection – “a pure definition of elegance and pride” with handcrafted pieces that meet the expectations of different age groups. “Just like a butterfly, our jewels will make you feel flawless and sophisticated all at once. We ensure that one piece can have a different meaning with each different outfit and occasion,” says Alhenzab.

Alfardan Group Chairman Hussain Alfardan
Al Tawash to showcase Qatar’s rich pearling heritage

Alfardan Jewellery’s Al Tawash is set to showcase special pieces exceptionally created for the 18th edition of Doha Jewellery and Watches Exhibition (DJWE), highlighting Qatar’s rich pearling heritage. “It is our history, our tradition. People here used to make a living out of pearls (before the discovery of oil and gas),” Ali Hussein Alfardan, vice chairman of Alfardan Group and president of Alfardan Jewellery, told a roundtable discussion yesterday. Al Tawash Pearl Gallery displays Alfardan’s vast collection of the world’s most beautiful natural pearls – known as a source of pride, joy, and wealth for Qataris. At the DJWE 2022, taking place from today (May 9) until May 14 at the Doha Exhibition and Convention Centre, Al Tawash unveils exquisite and exclusive pieces designed by Alfardan Group chairman Hussain Alfardan for the six-day event. “We will be signing agreements with some big brands who want to buy (natural) pearls to make their jewellery,” Ali Alfardan said. “A lot of people would love to buy a necklace with pearl or a bangle or a ring or an earring because pearls reflect our culture, our history.” He recounted that their forefathers, including his father, had to go pearl diving and return after a month, selling their pearls to the Maharajas in India since nobody was buying pearls in Qatar then. “We have big demand for pearls now, from big companies who want to buy from us to make their jewellery with natural pearls because as you know is becoming very difficult to find and to get and we have some special pieces,” Ali Alfardan said. A huge collection at Al Tawash Pearl Gallery, from handcrafted ornaments to raw pearls, attracted many visitors and collectors from the region and other parts of the world. Besides pearls, Ali Alfardan also cited a huge demand for men’s watches, especially among the young generation in the country, who have been researching and following renowned watch brands. According to Ali Alfardan, this was not the case two years ago compared with most women who have always been keen on luxury timepieces. “They know what they buy, they read and research a lot. They know what is coming out, and they know what is special about a watch.” Ali Alfardan noted that if 90% of the sales used to come from women, today, the ratio is about 50 – 50, possibly due to a number of factors such as social media and internet where most information can be found. “Many of the watches we usually sell were mostly for ladies. Now you see a lot of men are following the watches and you see the prices are going up in the black market,” he said, noting the demand for these luxury timepieces continue to rise. “There is a big shortage of supply. I know some brands which make about 4,000 to 5,000 pieces per year, (and now) they have orders of about 20,000 watches,” he said. Ali Alfardan noted that the young generation is now his biggest customers, who find daily (use) and simple items appealing. Since a big number of them are collectors, the Alfardan pavilion has allotted a big space for such pieces. Renowned Qatari brand Noudar by Noor Alfardan, Ali pointed out, sells many of these high-demand pieces almost everywhere in the world. “We are selling it in Los Angeles, London, Mikonos and in many countries (in the region) like Saudi Arabia and Dubai. We manufacture everything here in Doha, and we have a big workshop for Noudar. Celebrities like Lady Gaga JLO (Jennifer Lopez), the Kardashians, among others, are wearing Noudar,” he said. “Noor is also set to launch a new model in the exhibition.” Ali Alfardan said DJWE is getting bigger and famous worldwide, bringing together renowned international brands never been seen in other similar events. Unparalleled quality and sophistication are the hallmarks of Alfardan Jewellery, trusted by generations. Alfardan Jewellery is a pioneer in the region for holding the exclusive Jewellery and Watches Exhibition for the first time in 1977. It eventually became a public event in 2003 where the world’s finest designers descended to the region to feature their best works. Alfardan Jewellery will feature several high-class brands under its portfolio: Chopard, Vacheron Constatin, Marli, Sartoro, Girard-Perregaux, Noudar, Dior, Franck Muller, Chaumet, Kismet by Milka, Persee Paris, Mouawad, Casato and Corum. Spanning over 33,000 sqm, 500 exclusive brands will be represented at the exhibition, with 65 exhibitors from over 10 countries. On display will be local talent, international designers, global brands and jewellery connoisseurs. Indian actress Alia Bhatt will inaugurate the exhibition. For 17 years, DJWE has been the go-to, exclusive, high-profile gathering for jewellery aficionados, global brands, and aspiring designers.    

Ali Hussein Alfardan at the roundtable discussion on Sunday. PICTURE: Thajudheen
Alfardan Jewellery pavilion to sparkle with 70 luxury brands at DJWE

Almost 70 renowned luxury brands will be joining the Alfardan pavilion at the 18th edition of the Doha Jewellery and Watches Exhibition (DJWE), set to open on Monday at the Doha Exhibition and Convention Centre (DECC). This was announced by Ali Hussein Alfardan, vice chairman of Alfardan Group and president of Alfardan Jewellery, at a roundtable discussion on May 8 at the Alfardan Centre, Bank Street. “We (Alfardan) will have a lot of important pieces showcased at the exhibition, including a 102.60karat flawless type 2A white diamond, which will be shown for the first time in Qatar, and a rare, one-of-its-kind jewellery piece.     Ali Alfardan announced that famous international brands and jewellery connoisseurs from around the globe are bringing very rare and large stones - both in value and uniqueness - to the exhibition. Alfardan Jewellery has witnessed an increase in the number of exhibitors at its pavilion since DJWE’s inception, apart from the all-time favourites and the nearly 70 brands participating in this year’s exhibition. These include Shay Jewelry, which is all set to celebrate the family tradition and new motherhood with Mini Me Collection for Kids; La Bella; Kismet by Milka, best known for their ear jewellery/ear piercing collection and with other varieties of jewellery ranging from necklaces, rings, bracelets; Persee Paris; Monan, which will be giving a new experience with its latest collection Another World and Secret Garden collection; and Piranesi, debuting the “Palace Ring” and featuring “Elizabeth Earrings”. The Alfardan Pavilion is also putting a spotlight on Al Tawash - featuring exquisite unique pieces designed exclusively for the DJWE by Alfardan Group chairman Hussain Alfardan. Noudar by Noor Alfardan will reveal a new line following the huge success of the Henna collection as it marks its 10th anniversary and being the choice of celebrities around the world. The Alfardan Pavilion at DJWE will have among its highlights exclusive collections such as: • Chopard – releasing gents limited edition 42 Mille Melia (50 pieces only) and Burgandy Alpine Eagle 41mm Qatar edition (50 pieces only). • Franck Muller – Vanguard Steel Qatar edition, 100 pieces with Indian numeral sky blue. • Corum – Admiral Cup Green dial, 41mm Qatar edition, 100 pieces. • Girard – Perregaux, presenting the very first time the Quasar Light with three different carrures (red, blue and yellow), an epic masterpiece with gleaming aerial view of the manufacturers most iconic movement. • Dior – time piece with Burgundy Dial limited Qatar edition. • Marli – presenting the latest Tip-Top collection, a versatile, contemporary jewellery with the famous Balqees Fathi as their latest ambassador. • Chaumet – presenting two special collections - Josephine Valse Imperiale and Lacis High Jewellery set. Ali Alfardan said limited edition timepieces – exclusively made for Qatar by renowned brands such as Vacheron Constantin, Chopard, Frank Muller, Girard – Perregaux, and Corum celebrating the FIFA World Cup 2022 – have been nearly sold out. “We made limited edition with Vacheron Constantin, which is sold out; with Frank Muller for women and men’s watches, and each one is 100 pieces, also sold out, and with Corum, which we will unveil at the exhibition. “The Chopard limited edition is sold out, and one will be shown at the exhibition. Girard - Perregaux, one model of 60 pieces is sold out . There is another model which will be delivered in September this year but it will be showcased at DJWE,” Ali Alfardan said. While most of the brands are making special editions for Qatar this year, he said Dior is making 50 limited edition timepieces marking the FIFA World Cup 2022. Alfardan Jewellery It all began over one hundred years ago, when the Alfardans set out on the clear warm waters of the Arabian Gulf and established themselves as pearl traders. They soon established themselves as leading experts on the pearl within the Gulf, and today, Alfardan Jewellery’s chairman, Hussein Alfardan is considered a leading expert and authority on the natural pearl, not only in the Gulf – but in the world. With growing prosperity and new opportunities, it was not long before the first Alfardan Jewellery store opened in 1954 and they soon started long standing business partnerships with many of Europe's finest watchmakers and jewellery houses. Today, Alfardan Jewellery is firmly established as a leader in luxury, growing from a local store to become a major retailer operating several luxury showrooms and boutiques across the city – including The Alfardan Centre, Villaggio Mall, Landmark Mall, The Pearl-Qatar, St Regis Doha, Chopard - Qatar Duty Free, Mall of Qatar, and most recently, the official re-opening of its Villagio Mall Tiffany & Co. showroom – where they have redefined the luxury retail experience, establishing the presence of a luxury shopping destination reflecting Tiffany's legendary style, while presenting new jewellery lines that appeal to the Qatar market and their valued customers. True to their innovative outlook, Alfardan Jewellery were the first to introduce the concept of a Jewellery Exhibition in the region – when back in 1977 they hosted the first of its kind private Jewellery & Watch Exhibition which later in 2003, became a hugely successful public event attracting many visitors both locally, regionally and internationally as well as the world's top jewellers and watchmakers. Alfardan Jewellery's success reverberates as strongly today. Guided by the same family values and enriched by the wealth of accumulated experiences, Alfardan Jewellery boldly sets out to uncover new possibilities in the continuous pursuit of providing only the finest.     

The Rawdat Al Khail Park offers green spaces and scenic views for visitors to enjoy. PICTURES: Joey Aguilar
Qatar's public parks key holiday attractions

With vast green sceneries and spaces, as well as fitness and play areas, Qatar’s public parks continues to be favourite destinations for many residents and visitors during holidays. The Doha Corniche – pedestrianised throughout the three-day Eid Festival – drew hundreds of thousands of festival-goers, especially in the evening where key attractions take place. Just adjacent to the Corniche is the 2mn sqm Al Bidda Park, which provided visitors a place to rest and relax while watching the fireworks display and the first-ever giant balloon parade at night. The park has many play and fitness areas for both adults and children The Rawdat Al Khail Park attracts many football enthusiasts Featuring an amphitheatre, several playgrounds, walkways, bicycle paths, and parking areas, Al Bidda Park continue to draw crowds since its reopening a few years back. The Rawdat Al Khail Park, the erstwhile Al Muntazah Park located in the busy Mansoura area of Doha, has been attracting a huge number of visitors since it opened last month. Apart from its lush greenery and scenic view, this park features several fitness and play areas, in addition to a 1,300m pedestrian and bicycle path, and wide green areas to sit and unwind. It also has 401 car parking slots. A huge play area in the middle of the park Sitting areas spread across the park An Indian expatriate who was with his family said they like to visit the Rawdat Al Khail Park because of the various play areas for children and its proximity from their home. “Many eateries and food stalls are also a walking distance from this park so food is easy to get, and it’s very comfortable for us, it saves time,” he said. “It also has a lot of toilets, which is really very important for a park.” Football and volleyball are among the popular sports and recreational activities at Rawdat Al Khail Park, besides walking, jogging, and cycling. Some visitors said they prefer to play volleyball during this period when humid summer temperatures start to set in than during the cold season. “You burn a lot of calories and you tend to sweat a lot when the weather is slightly hot and it’s humid, that feels great,” one of the players said. “But when it is cold, you just want to stay home and sleep”. Other parks such as the Katara South Hills at the Katara – The Cultural Village also continues to entice many residents who often spend their early morning and afternoon to walk and jog. This place offers a picturesque view of the beach and a number of landmarks, including Galleries Lafayette, the highway going to Lusail, and Katara mosque, among other attractions. The park has been a haven for different species of birds due to the plants and trees that surround the whole area, including walkways and in various locations. South Hills visitors can also roam around the cultural village, which hosts several art galleries and exhibitions, as well as restaurants offering authentic Arabic and international dishes. Many of the parks in Qatar, including Aspire Park, Souq Waqif Park, and Old Airport Park, are accessible via the Doha Metro, providing a reliable mode of transportation to commuters.

The giant balloon parade underway at the Doha Corniche yesterday. PICTURE: Thajudheen
Giant balloon parade thrills Eid fest visitors

More than a dozen character balloons soared above the Doha Corniche on Wednesday, marking the launch of the region’s first-ever giant balloon parade on the second day of the Eid Festival in Qatar. Festival-goers witnessed helium-filled balloons featuring characters from popular video games, cartoons and films such as Angry Birds, Minions and Super Mario, among others, alongside a Qatar Airways balloon plane. A large number of people thronged Qatar’s famous thoroughfare, which has been transformed into a colourful walkabout as part of the festival. The much-anticipated parade was held late in the evening on Wednesday. The parade on the festival’s opening day (May 3) was cancelled due to bad weather, according to Qatar Tourism. Spectators, especially children were thrilled to see the balloons. “It was a long wait but worth it,” said a resident who had gone to the Corniche with a friend. “It was simply great. Seeing some of my favourite characters as giant balloons made my day,” said a youngster who had been waiting for the parade with his family. Another key part of the programme – the daily fireworks display – lit up the sky from 9pm and added to the spectators’ delight. It will continue today at exactly 9pm and is expected to draw a big crowd, many of whom arrive in the early afternoon and wait patiently to take part in the festival and witness key activities and shows. Many of the festival-goers, along with their families and friends, were fascinated to witness both the daily fireworks display and the giant balloon parade.  An Indian expatriate said he was surprised to see such a huge crowd at the venue and hopes that there will be more food stalls in the future.  The festival is hosting activities for different age groups such as the local marching bands that roam around the venue to greet and entertain visitors.  The organisers said the giant balloon parade and a third live concert will be held on the concluding day (today) of the festival, in addition to carnival games, an inflatable play area for children, and an array of food stalls. Qatari artiste and singer Nasser al-Kubeissi enthralled the audience with his performance yesterday, a day after renowned Iraqi artiste and composer Mahmoud al-Turki drew a huge crowd on the first day of the festival. Fans of Saudi Arabian artiste/singer and composer Sultan Khalifa will have the opportunity to witness his show today. Food trucks, serving Arabic, Indian and other dishes and snacks, saw huge demand for different types of food and beverages at the event. Apart from the Doha Corniche, the Eid al-Fitr holidays has led to citizens and residents spending time shopping and dining at major malls and restaurants. Others are taking the opportunity to explore various places of interest and cultural centres in Qatar, such as Souq Waqif and Katara – the Cultural Village, among others. Parks and beaches have also been huge crowd-pullers over the past few days. It is learnt that Qatar’s hospitality and food & beverage sectors has received a further boost with families, as well as individuals, booking special ‘staycation’ packages in many hotels and resorts throughout the Eid holidays. Msheireb Downton Doha witnessed a surge in the number of visitors since the start of the Eid break with families, individuals and groups visiting several restaurants, which offer authentic local and international dishes.

The fireworks display marked the start of the first Eid Festival in Qatar at the Doha Corniche.
Eid Festival kicks off

The first-ever Eid Festival in Qatar kicked off on Tuesday, featuring a spectacular fireworks display and a live concert on the Doha Corniche that attracted a huge number of spectators. Such a gathering was a first since the Covid-19 outbreak. The fireworks display at 9pm enthralled the crowd, who filled a stretch of the Doha Corniche, as well as several areas of Al Bidda Park. The spectacle marked the start of a three-day festivity in the country, which will conclude on May 5. In a statement, Qatar Tourism’s Marketing and Planning department head Hessa al-Thani said: “Qatar Tourism is pleased to bring back large-scale events that are open and accessible to everyone, especially on this joyous occasion of Eid. We’re particularly proud to bring to Qatar a new show not yet experienced in the region. Furthermore, we are pleased that this festival will support and benefit partners across the tourism and hospitality sector”. Qatar Tourism’s Events and Festivals Technical Support Section acting head Hamad al-Khaja said: “We are delighted to celebrate Eid in Qatar with the residents and visitors of Qatar, having paused for some time owing to the pandemic. We are also continuing our tradition of hosting family-friendly events, bringing multiple activations that suit every age and that align with our culture and traditions.” One of the highlights of the three-day event – the region's first-ever giant balloon parade scheduled 4.30pm – was cancelled yesterday due to bad weather, according to Qatar Tourism. The parade, which will feature more than a dozen helium-filled balloons with varying designs, shapes, and colours, was supposed to take off at 4.30pm yesterday (May 3) but the timing was changed to 9.30pm. However, organisers announced later that it was cancelled. As part of the programme, the parade of giant balloons, featuring characters from popular video games and films such as Angry Bird, Minions, Super Mario, and Disney, among other cartoons, is expected to take place today (May 4). The first day of the festival showcased wholesome activities and activations for families and individuals to enjoy such as marching bands, carnival games, and food stalls. All food trucks, offering an array of local and international dishes, snacks, and drinks – from burgers, sandwiches, wraps, and sweets to coffee, milk teas, and other offerings – witnessed long queues since the opening of the event. Both the Doha Corniche and Al Bidda Park served as a play area for children and picnic ground for thousands of visitors, especially families, spending the Eid holidays in the country. For the live music concert, renowned Iraqi artiste and composer Mahmoud al-Turki took the centre stage at a dedicated section of the event, drawing a huge number of fans. Qatari artiste and singer Nasser al-Kubeissi is scheduled to perform today (May 4) at the festival while Saudi Arabian artiste/singer and composer Sultan Khalifa will be on stage on May 5. The festival also offers a number of fun-filled carnival games for different age groups, in addition to inflatable play areas for children to enjoy. The Doha Metro and Lusail Tram networks, which have 12,000 parking spaces for metro users, proved to be a reliable mode of transportation as it helped ease public movement during the Corniche Road closure for the Eid Festival. The network’s 37 stations provided seamless transportation for passengers going to key destinations in the city and the Corniche area such as the National Museum, Souq Waqif, Corniche, Al Bidda, West Bay, and DECC station, in addition to leisure destinations, parks, and gardens. Many residents are spending most of their time during the day at major malls and shopping centres before heading to the Eid Festival using the metro. It is learnt that the Qatar National Library is also one of the most visited places in Qatar this Eid. “I’m trying to maximise my Eid holidays by roaming around the city, going from one place to another using the metro. It’s a very practical way since it saves me a lot of time and money,” said Filipino expatriate Jerome F, who, along with his friends, also witnessed the fireworks display. Box: The daily schedule of events is as follows: * Crowd entrance and lineup from 3pm * Giant balloon parade from 4.30pm to 5.30pm * Concert from 7.30pm to 9pm * Fireworks display at 9pm * Games and activities/roaming performers from 5.30pm to 11pm * Helium balloon showcase from 5.30pm to 11pm