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Wednesday, February 28, 2024 | 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.
Gulf Times
Qatar
Smurfs arrive Doha to take children on magical adventure

Following the successful staging of ‘Alice in Wonderland’ and ‘Aladdin and the Magic Lamp’ cirque shows in Doha, ‘The Smurfs – Live on Stage’ is all set to entertain the crowd at the Lusail Multipurpose Hall (former Lusail Handball Stadium) from July 28 to 30. The event, organised by Alchemy Project Entertainment in cooperation with Qatar Tourism (QT), Qatar Airways and Ooredoo, forms part of the ‘Summer in Qatar’ campaign aimed at   Smurfs series: 272 episodes, 40 languages Created in 1958 by Pierre Culliford, fondly known as Peyo, The Smurfs have become some of the most loved cartoon characters all over the world, especially after the launch of their animated cartoon series in 1980. Produced by Hanna Barbera, the Smurfs series spanned 272 episodes, which were dubbed into 40 languages, and has enjoyed top rating in more than 100 countries. Millions of Smurfs DVDs continue to be sold in huge volumes internationally. Recently, a new milestone was achieved with the creation and release of the Smurfs 3D movies; the first 3D movie came out in 2011 and sequels followed in 2013 and 2017. Smurfs once again are endearing themselves to new audiences with all new CGI Animated TV series now released globally. With all this on the cards for the Smurfs, audiences in Qatar will have the chance to watch their favorite Smurfs up close and to be a part of their adventures. Ticket rates: Silver 1 and 4 (QR145), Silver 2 and 3 (QR195), Gold 1 and 4 (QR245), Gold 2 and 3 (QR295), Platinum 1 (QR345), and Royal 1 (QR545). Note: Children below two do not require tickets offering residents and visitors in the country an array of indoor entertainment and family-friendly shows throughout the season. In a press statement, Alchemy Project said the internationally-renowned animated, blue and bubbly Smurfs cartoon characters, will “come to life and perform live on stage” in Doha for three days. According to the organisers, eight Smurfs characters, including Papa Smurf, Clumsy Smurf, Brainy Smurf and the adorable Smurfette, as well as ‘the evil wizard Gargamel and the puppeteers’ will be coming to Doha to present a one-of-its-kind show. Presenting what it described as “a magical musical for children of all ages”, Alchemy Project said: “The Smurfs Live on Stage is a tale of magical adventure that will see the Smurfs battle Gargamel and save Mother Nature while promoting family values and the power of a true team spirit amongst children. “The story is set in Spring – Smurfs’ favourite time of the year when the characters are busy preparing for the much-awaited annual Spring Parade” – a time for merry-making, singing and dancing – but the main antagonist wants to wreak havoc on this highly-celebrated festivity. Organisers noted that Smurfs is a story based on the classic Smurf comic books and animations, but puts a spotlight on the importance of protecting the environment. In 2021, the United Nations partnered with the European Union and The Smurfs to raise environmental awareness and encourage people “to clean beaches and riverbanks across the world”. Themed “Together to protect marine life,” the initiative also aims to support Sustainable Development Goal 14: ‘Life below water’. Alchemy Project noted that the show in Doha will feature “life-sized Smurfs in their mushroom-shaped forest houses, vibrant backdrops and wonderful sing-along music”. The first show on July 28 will take place at 5pm while two shows (2pm and 7pm) are scheduled on July 29. The third day (July 30) will also see two shows (1pm and 5pm) on stage.

Qatar is home to one of the largest whale shark aggregations in the world. PICTURES: VisitQatar
Qatar
Qatar beckons marine life enthusiasts to explore the world of whale sharks

The summer season provides an opportunity for Qatar residents and visitors to discover “one of the world’s last undiscovered gems” in an educational tour to the country’s northern coasts. The coastal waters of Qatar provide the perfect location to see large numbers of whale sharks that gather to feed close to the surface. “Qatar is constant to the largest aggregations of hundreds of whale sharks in the country's northeast coast every year, creating a fascinating sight to behold,” VisitQatar says. “Qatar is home to one of the largest whale shark aggregations in the entire world.” Although whale sharks share a lot of similarities with whales, it belongs to the shark family. Wildlife enthusiasts get to see a huge number of whale sharks without disrupting their environment with Discover Qatar’s ‘Daily Explorer’ and ‘Private Charter’ itineraries. The tours allow people to view these magnificent sea creatures for 2.5 hours from the vessel or via kayaks but swimming with, as well as touching and feeding, them is strictly prohibited. A professional photographer is also assigned to take pictures (free of charge) throughout the tour. Pose no threat to humans With its appearance and the confusing name, it often is puzzling whether these endangered gentle giants are a breed of whales or sharks. Although whale sharks share a lot of similarities with whales, it belongs to the shark family. Let's dive into a few fascinating facts: • Scientifically identified as 'Rhincodon Typus', the whale sharks can grow up to 20 meters in length, parallel to the stretch of a large city bus. • While the fish matures like a whale and expels water through its gills, it also exhibits a few characteristics of sharks, such as their skeleton system being made of cartilages (not bones), • The female species grow larger than the male species. • Whale sharks are known for their distinctly dotted patterns and camouflaging appearances, making the migratory phenomenon a must-witness marine activity when in Qatar. Regardless of the riveting moniker, whale sharks impose no threat to humans, whether spectators or divers. They meander in warm and shallow sea waters of the Northern coasts of Qatar, located about 145 kilometres afar the shores of the capital city, Doha. Whale sharks appear in schools of over 100-150 fishes at a time. (source: Visit Qatar website) According to Discover Qatar, these kinds of excursions offer guests a unique and unforgettable experience “no one else ever has before” and “the chance to explore an environment so remote that nature and wildlife flourish, to go somewhere unlike anywhere else in the world and to do so in the utmost luxury. “The coastal waters of Qatar provide the perfect location to see large numbers of whale sharks that gather to feed close to the surface.” Guests will also learn more about the whale sharks about “their habits, feeding, and an overview of the research being carried out in Qatar” through a presentation. However, according to Discover Qatar, these whale sharks tours “are subject to favourable weather conditions” but guests are usually notified 48 hours before the departure date.

A scene from u2018Aladdin and the magic lampu2019 cirque show which opened at Lusail Multipurpose Hall yesterday. PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam.
Qatar
‘Aladdin and the magic lamp’ cirque show wows audience with stunning performance

The ‘Aladdin and the magic lamp’ cirque show kicked off Thursday, enthralling a huge number of spectators at the Lusail Multipurpose Hall (former Lusail Handball Stadium). The live performance, organised by Alchemy Project Entertainment in cooperation with Qatar Tourism (QT), Qatar Airways and Ooredoo and running until tomorrow (July 23) is part of the ‘Summer in Qatar’ campaign. The award-winning show from ‘A Thousand and One Nights’, a collection of Middle Eastern folktales, featured a colourful and breathtaking performance by a team of about 35 performers and artists who mesmerised the audience with their impressive acts and acrobatics, and music on stage. The staging of ‘Aladdin and the magic lamp’ also highlights the efforts of QT in positioning the country as a favourite family destination in the region by presenting one-of-its-kind shows year-round. In a press statement, QT COO Berthold Trenkel said: “In keeping with our strategy, bringing family-friendly entertainment is a hallmark of our work to drive domestic tourism which in turn acts as a key contributor to the growth of our sector. “Both residents and visitors can enjoy the multiple shows that will be on offer this season, while also exploring the additional summer features that are highlighted in our monthly calendar.” “This is one of the first times after two years of pandemic that we are seeing exciting and quality shows happen back to back in a great city like Doha, with full of potential. We have three top-quality shows and ever green titles that are perfect for all members of the family and a brand new state-of-the-art venue to explore,” Alchemy Project CEO Mac.s.Far said. Summer in Qatar brings three exciting, family-friendly cirque shows, including “Alice in Wonderland”, held from July 14 to 16; ‘Aladdin and the magic lamp’; and ‘Smurfs Musical Live on Stage’ from July 28 to 30 – all in the same venue. Tickets start at QR145 and can be purchased via Tixbox.com, Virgin Megastore and QTickets.com. ‘Alice in Wonderland’, according to organisers, attracted a huge number of families and children in the country, as well as from neighbouring GCC countries such as Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. The show featured a combination of musical theatre and modern ballet, in addition to a spectacular circus and acrobatic performances. Moza Khalid al-Muhannadi, director, Corporate Social Responsibility, Sponsorship and Media, at Ooredoo, said: “We’re delighted to be sponsoring these three exciting shows. We have a firm commitment to supporting our local communities as part of our CSR strategy, and are always pleased to support events that promote community cohesion. We look forward to seeing everyone get together to enjoy this family entertainment.” ‘Aladdin and the magic lamp’ will have two shows today (July 22) at 3pm and 7pm, while tomorrow, shows will take place at 1pm and 5pm at Lusail Multipurpose Hall. It is learnt that QT's live performances not only helped boost the tourism industry but also the country's retail and hospitality sectors. Malls and shopping centres witnessed a rise in footfall while many hotels recorded a continuous increase in bookings both from local and international visitors during this period. The three-day 'The Smurfs – Live on Stage’, set from July 28 to 30, is also expected to be an exceptional and crowd-puller show.

Gulf Times
Qatar
Aladdin and the Magic Lamp show from Thursday

Aladdin and the Magic Lamp – cirque show is set to enthrall Qatar residents and visitors for three days from Thursday at Lusail Multipurpose Hall, as part of Qatar Tourism’s ‘Summer in Qatar’ campaign in collaboration with Qatar Airways and Ooredoo. A team of about 35 performers will bring to the renowned and award-winning show from ‘A Thousand and One Nights’, a collection of Middle Eastern folktales, and wowed audiences around the world. Thursday's show is at 5pm. Friday's shows are at 3pm and 7pm. On Saturday, the performances will be at 1pm and 5pm. The popular show tells the adventures of Aladdin, a kindhearted poor person who found a magical lamp and wished to become a prince in order for him to meet and marry Princess Jasmine. Renowned artist and stage designer Lev Bakst took part in Aladdin’s first stage performance, held in Paris 100 years back. The show is expected to attract a huge number of local and international spectators, including those from neighbouring GCC countries such as Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. Aladdin follows the first Summer in Qatar cirque show, ‘Alice in Wonderland’, which enthralled audiences for three consecutive days with a combination of musical theatre and modern ballet, in addition to a spectacular circus and acrobatic performances. According to the organisers, children below two can enter the show for free. Doors to the reception area will be open around 60 minutes before the show starts. The venue (former Lusail Handball Stadium) can accommodate some 1,390 guests. Wearing of face masks will be mandatory. As part of the Summer in Qatar campaign, hotels across the country are offering promotional packages, which include stays with dining, spa, and other selections while tour operators provide a diverse range of activities for guests such as scuba diving, stand-up paddle boarding, and kayaking, among other unique and curated experiences. According to Qatar Tourism, its latest campaign in the summer will feature 15 popular shows and packages.

u201cA Sneak Peek at Qatar Auto Museum Projectu201d will run until January 20, 2023 at NMoQ's Mawater Gallery. PICTURE: Joey Aguilar
Qatar
QM summer activities for all age groups

Qatar Museums (QM) offers an array of activities and initiatives, as well as exhibitions, for different age groups in the country to explore during the ongoing summer season. Designers and enthusiasts will be fascinated with the “the reimagined designs and creation” of seven local creatives at the second edition of Zwara: Doha Dreams pop-up exhibition. The show, which kicked off on June 8 at M7 Msheireb and running until August 31, displays the works of Mashael al-Naimi, Layla al-Ansari, Haytham Sharrouf, Maryam al-Majid, Aliya al-Obaidly, Nada al-Sulaiti, and Muna Saad. NMoQ's Mawater Gallery features iconic cars from QM’s collection. PICTURE: Joey Aguilar According to QM, these designers were inspired by the recent Christian Dior’s first retrospective exhibition, Designer of Dreams, held at M7 from November 6, 2021 to April 2. The one-of-its-kind show displays a selection of pieces that have never been shown before, including ensembles from the private collection of Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser. “Zwara is a fluid programme that seeks to spark creativity and collaboration against the backdrop of Qatar’s creative landscape. Held yearly, it’s an invitation for creatives to explore exhibitions, archives and collections and then respond to a design brief, showcasing the importance of storytelling and experimentation in design. The second edition of Zwara: Doha Dreams pop-up exhibition features “the reimagined designs and creation” of seven local creatives". PICTURE: Qatar Museums “For this second edition, the participating designers were invited to explore the themes, culture and moments featured in the recent exhibition Christian Dior Designer of Dreams. Each designer was then tasked with reimagining the luxury and aesthetics reflected in Dior’s work through their own lens,” QM said on its website. Qatar residents and visitors can also visit National Museum of Qatar’s (NMoQ) Mawater Gallery for “A Sneak Peek at Qatar Auto Museum Project”, which will run until January 20, 2023. It serves as an introduction to a “new museum that will bring Qatar’s car community under one roof and one mission”. The exhibition explores the significance of automotive design in the 20th century and the impact of automobiles on culture, previewing the content of the new museum. Presented both inside and outside the museum, it features three iconic cars from QM’s collection and approximately 20 unique cars on loan from members of the Qatar Auto Museum advisory board and Qatar’s community of automobile enthusiasts. The Qatar Auto Museum, designed by the Office for Metropolitan Architecture, led by Pritzker Architecture Prize-winning architect Rem Koolhaas, will be located along the Lusail Expressway between the 5/6 Park and Katara – the Cultural Village, in the former exhibition centre building that hosted the first Qatar Motor Show in 2011. Artists can still participate in QM’s three open calls: 5/6 Initiative, Jedariart Initiative, and Student Initiative. The deadline for submitting of application is on August 5. According to QM, 5/6 requires artists to propose a permanent public artwork that speaks to the local community while Jedariart aims to activate urban areas and promote artistic intervention in designated districts. The Student Initiative, meanwhile, “invites students and alumni to propose a permanent or temporary public artwork”. This year’s edition urges student participants “to think about the dialogue they want to spark through their work”. The selected artist will be commissioned to create their proposal with the support of the Public Art team. QM noted that a number of workshops and other activities (online and face-to-face) are being organised at a number of museums and cultural centres in Qatar.

Dadu currently holds an interactive experiment u2018Light Atelieru2019.
Qatar
Enlightening activities for children at Dadu

The summer season is giving a chance for Qatar residents, particularly children, to explore and take part in a number of engaging activities at Dadu, Children’s Museum of Qatar. Dadu is hosting an interactive experiment ‘Light Atelier’, which runs until September 11 at the Museum: Arab Museum of Modern Art. Using different light fixtures, Qatar Museums (QM) said this free-of-charge activity “allows children to be self-reliant in exploring concepts around light, shadow, colour mixing, reflections, and more”. Turtle-hatching activity aims to familiarise participants with the hawksbill turtle “Dadu's Light Atelier utilises different installations, allowing children to take the lead and freely discover concepts about light and shadow, colour mixing, reflections, and more. The educational space will allow you and your child to play, explore and experiment,” QM said on its social media pages. Dadu, which means “play” in Arabic, is a “word that has a strong presence in poetry” and such activity forms an essential part of childhood, according to QM. Children enjoying the activities at Dadu As one of QM’s latest institutions, the museum serves as a platform “for learning and growth through inclusive, open-ended play, exploration and experimentation”. It has been developed under the leadership of QM chairperson HE Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani. QM noted that Dadu activities help children to unlock and develop their potential to be successful, providing innovative “child developmental settings and resources”. “We support all children, including those with special education needs and disabilities, to learn through play, have fun and bond with family and friends, while nurturing them to be the future leaders and caretakers of Qatar, supporting the goals of the Qatar National Vision 2030,” QM said. Young participants learn through play at Dadu, Children’s Museum of Qatar. Some of the activities at Dadu include bird feeder-making, which aims to empower children to take action and raise awareness on the importance of protecting Mother Earth; flipbook animation, which allows participants to explore and experiment with basic animation skills; desert box-making, which teaches about Qatar’s rocky desert habitat, and aims to “build a connection and appreciation for our natural environment.” Other Dadu workshops aim to develop scientific inquiry and observation skills of children, such as the turtle-hatching activity, which familiarises participants with the hawksbill turtle and their nesting season during early summer at Fuwairit beach, as well as the danger they face. ‘Light Atelier’ uses different light fixtures “We at Dadu invite children to leave their mark while playing and look forward to being part of children’s journey in learning through play. “A variety of stimulating, interactive, and accessible indoor and outdoor experiences will offer families opportunities to play and learn together. Families are the threads of our community’s fabric – the tighter our weave, the stronger we are. “Although our doors are not yet open, we are already engaging our community in Qatar, from family events with our allied organisations to Museums in Residence programmes in schools around Doha,” QM said. Dadu activities help children to unlock and develop their potential Mathaf is also holding guided family visits for five Saturdays. Two were held on May 21 and July 16 while three are set on September 17, October 15, and November 19 from 3pm to 4pm. Children and their families can also join the ‘Story Time at Mathaf’ – a reading of Message to the Penguin: Don’t Tell Your Mother – on July 30 from 4pm to 5pm at the Mathaf library. It is free of charge but registration is required. Mathaf will also hold an artists’ gathering (free workshop) for 13 years old and above every Saturday, scheduled throughout the year from 10am to 7pm.

Dahl Al Misfir is described as u201cone of the countryu2019s most exciting natural sitesu201d. PICTURES: VisitQatar
Qatar
Qatar's 'hidden gems' big attraction for tourists

The hosting of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 provides an opportunity for the country to showcase and promote its ‘hidden gems’ for tourists to explore, an industry expert has said. Speaking to Gulf Times, Outing Qatar founder and managing director Mosaad Moustafa Eleiwa said the ‘historic adventure sites’ such as the Dahl Al Misfir sinkhole would attract a large number of local and international visitors. Al Thakira “Highlighting those spots will guide locals, residents and visitors to plan their itinerary and also enjoy safari and other experiences like they have never seen before,” he said. Located west of Doha and a 50-minute ride by car, VisitQatar described Dahl Al Misfir as “one of the country’s most exciting natural sites”.   Mosaad Moustafa Eleiwa A prehistoric natural formation “burrowing deep into the ground”, the place is approximately 40m deep and believed to have been formed 325,000 to 500,000 years back in the mid-Pleistocene Era, according to Visit Qatar. “Known for emitting a moon-like glow, this phosphorescence is the result of gypsum deposits found in the centre of the peninsula. These give rise to the geological phenomena known as ‘desert roses’ (clusters of roughly rose-shaped gypsum crystals),” Visit Qatar said. While there is no entry fee, the site is fenced and visitors are advised to wear proper attire since the temperature usually drops when reaching the bottom of the cave. Hiking shoes are recommended since the area is comprised mostly of rocks. Visitors, especially birdwatchers, also have the chance to see nightjars, wagtails, bee-eaters, and Eurasian hoopoes, among others, as most of these birds either transit or sometimes stay in the country while on their way to Africa. Al Safliya Island To reach the site, visitors must drive off-road through Salwa road and Rawdat Rashed road using a 4x4 vehicle – aided by a GPS since it is located in the desert. The cave’s loose rocks and depth may not be suitable for small children as it could injure them. VisitQatar noted that visitors can also try some of the nearby attractions such as the Aqua Park, Khor Al Udeid (the Inland Sea), and the Singing Sand Dunes. Inland Sea According to Eleiwa, other popular heritage sites and public artworks in Qatar such as the East-West/ West-East (in Zekreet) by renowned American artist Richard Serra provide travellers a wide range of destinations to discover. Other must-visit destinations in Qatar include the old Al Ruwais Police Station (now Arsan Café), Barzan Towers, Al Zubarah archaeological site, Film city in Zekreet, Ruwayda, Ras Abrouq, Al Safliya Island, Al Wajbah Fort, The Pigeon Towers, Al Thakira, and Purple Island, among others. He said tourists will also experience Qatar Tourism’s curated and multiple offerings, from dune bashing, camel riding, and falcon photography to engaging in water activities/sports and enjoying a five-star dinner on board a luxury yacht or in renowned hotels, and many more.

A scene from u2018Alice in Wonderlandu2019
Qatar
‘Summer in Qatar’ campaign kicks off

The ‘Summer in Qatar’ campaign, organised by Qatar Tourism (QT), kicked off Thursday with the staging of the first of three 'Alice in Wonderland’ – cirque shows at the Lusail Multipurpose Hall. The campaign, in collaboration with Qatar Airways and Ooredoo, offers an array of indoor entertainment and family-friendly shows throughout the summer season. ‘Alice in Wonderland’ treated the audience with a combination of musical theatre and modern ballet, in addition to a spectacular circus and acrobatic performances from 5pm yesterday. It will be taking place for three days: two shows at 3pm and 7pm today (July 15) and another two shows tomorrow (July 16) at 1pm and 5pm. Another award-winning show – ‘Aladdin and the Magic Lamp’ – is expected to fascinate families and children, for three days: July 21 (5pm), July 22 (3pm and 7pm), and July 23 (1pm and 5pm), also at the Lusail Multipurpose Hall. QT’s campaign is also bringing to Qatar another popular show, ‘The Smurfs – Live on Stage’ from July 28 to 30. Eight Smurf characters will take the centre stage at 5pm on July 28, 3pm and 7pm on July 29, and 1pm and 5pm on July 30. According to QT, tickets for all shows start at QR145 and can be purchased at Tixbox.com, Virgin Megastore and Q-Tickets.com. Summer in Qatar also provides residents and visitors an opportunity to avail of the various tour packages such as day trips and adventures, as well as staycations offered by operators and hotels. A diverse range of offerings can be viewed on Visit Qatar, QT's official website, which presents a variety of interests such as nature retreats, retail escapes and private dinner experiences. The website showcases several stunning destinations in the country, including the Al Safliya island (manta ray-shaped island) – known as one of Qatar’s uninhabited islands. It can be accessed through dhow boats or yachts and provides picturesque views for visitors. For adventure seekers, water activities such as scuba diving, stand-up paddle boarding, and kayaking in the mangroves at Al Thakira offer unique and curated experiences. QT noted that many hotels across the country offer promotional packages, which include stays with dining, spa and other selections. The campaign is expected to attract a huge number of local and international visitors, particularly from neighbouring GCC countries such as Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, further boosting Qatar’s tourism and hospitality sectors.

Alongside the trade relationship, ambassador Faivre noted that the two countries also have numerous areas of co-operation such as food security, maritime transportation, sustainable development, circular economy and waste management, and energy, and plan to bolster mutual investments .
Qatar
'Qatar a key trading partner of France'

Qatar remains to be a key trading partner for France in a wide range of areas, from energy to transport, as well as logistics, luxury and food, as both countries witnessed continuous growth in economic relations, French ambassador to Qatar Jean-Baptiste Faivre has said. “In terms of commercial exchange, the bilateral relation between Qatar and France is excellent but we are dedicated to reaching new heights. The trade volume between both countries in 2021 amounted to €1.6bn: it is a very good outcome, even though it was affected by the pandemic, as it was everywhere else,” the envoy told reporters at a recent press conference at his residence in Doha. He expressed optimism that these trade exchanges will expand in the coming years as a result of the global economic recovery. Alongside the trade relationship, Faivre noted that the two countries also have numerous areas of co-operation such as food security, maritime transportation, sustainable development, circular economy and waste management, and energy, and plan to bolster mutual investments. The two countries, Faivre said, also signed in December 2021 a memorandum of understanding between their Ministers of Finance supporting enhanced cooperation in the fields of public-private partnerships and green finance. “We are working to strengthen cross-investment in France and Qatar. I am very happy to see the participation in Choose France of the HE the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohamed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani, who is also the Qatar Investment Authority chairman in Choose France,” he said. The envoy said major French companies have been very successful in Qatar in major projects, citing a partnership between TotalEnergies and QatarEnergy in June 2022 for the development of North Field East as an example. He noted that French small and medium entreprises, and mid-caps invest also in Qatar such as the French tech company Gaussin, which put up the first electric vehicle factory in the country in 2020.

French ambassador to Qatar Jean-Baptiste Faivre speaks at a recent media interaction. PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam.
Qatar
French envoy highlights exceptional relations with Qatar

On the occasion of the French National Day, observed Thursday, the French ambassador to Qatar has underlined the strong and deep-rooted relations between both countries, and efforts to continuously expand co-operation in various fields. “The relationship excellent, but we will work to do even better. I am convinced that this relationship must be exceptional, and that is precisely what our efforts are aimed at,” ambassador Jean-Baptiste Faivre said at a recent media interaction. With the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 scheduled to take place from November 21 to December 18, the envoy stressed that France will stand by Qatar to contribute to the success of hosting this prestigious football tournament. Citing France's expertise in providing utmost security in major events such as the 2006 Asian Games in Doha, he said the French police, gendarmerie, and the army will help in ensuring a safe and secured World Cup 2022. As such, Faivre said that France has a lot to learn from Qatar’s experience in the upcoming competition to ensure the success of its hosting of major sporting events such as the Rugby World Cup in 2023 and the Olympic games in 2024. In the political sphere, he said the relationship between the two countries remains very close and developing in a spirit of mutual trust. “A strong impetus has been given by our heads of state. Since my arrival, they have met three times, each time for in-depth talks, in Baghdad in August, in Doha in December, and in May in Paris,” the envoy said, adding that the former minister for Europe and foreign affairs, Jean-Yves Le Drian, has visited Qatar three times in six months between September 2021 and March 2022. French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna spoke with Qatar's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs HE Sheikh Mohamed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani on June 27 over the phone, and they met in Paris recently on the occasion of the Choose France Summit, according to Faivre. The envoy said French Minister of Home Affairs Gérald Darmanin visited Qatar in December last year and in May this year for the inauguration of the Milipol Qatar, alongside Qatar's Prime Minister and Interior Minister HE Sheikh Khalid bin Khalifa bin Abdulaziz al-Thani. A strategic dialogue was also held in March at the ministerial level, where a roadmap for the relations between the two countries has been designed and also outlines a co-operation that is being strengthened in all sectors, Faivre said. He highlighted the two countries’ strong commitment to peace, sharing “the will to resolve regional issues through peaceful means and dialogue and not through confrontation.” “One of my key priorities was to reengage with Qatar on these issues. And that’s what we did a lot. During this year, we have had many contacts on major international issues such as Libya, Syria, and Iran. The aggression of Ukraine by Russia has of course triggered a lot of exchanges with Qatar and the need to ensure respect for international law,” the envoy said, noting that they are working closely on the Chad issue to ensure the success of the Qatari mediation. “We have done a lot of work together on Afghanistan. We have done an important joint humanitarian operation. I want to thank Qatar again for its important help. “France is committed to the enforcement of international law everywhere, in Ukraine as in the Middle East. France is firmly committed to the two-state solution so that the Palestinians have a state. France has long been opposed to the continuation of the occupation and colonisation, which are not acceptable neither sustainable. “These situations, which are contrary to international law, lead to tragedies as we have unfortunately seen with the death of the journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, who was killed on May 11 in Jenin. This shocking attack, as well as the police violence that occurred during the funeral, were condemned by France,” he said. The envoy cited France’s long tradition of military co-operation with Qatar and remains committed to supporting the country’s defence and fostering regional security. The French army’s chief of staff met his counterpart, Lieutenant General Salem bin Hamad al-Nabit during a recent visit, despite a very busy agenda with the Sahel and Ukraine. “He had a very good exchange with Qatar's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State for Defence Affairs HE Dr Khalid bin Mohamed al-Attiyah. It was decided to develop operational co-operation, training, and exchange visits and jointly help Lebanon and the Lebanese army,” Faivre said. According to the envoy, several Qatari military authorities also visited France in recent weeks, including Commander of the Amiri Land Forces HE Major General Saeed Hussain al-Khayarin and Commander of Qatar Amiri Air Force Major General (Pilot) Jassim Mohamed Ahmed al-Mannai. Ambassador Faivre said France remains a partner of Qatar for its top-level military equipment, including in particular the Rafale fighter aircraft which provides Qatar with a unique defence capability in the Gulf. The two countries, which have close co-operation in internal security, are working on current and developing threats such as cyber threats, and in the fight against terrorism or organised crime, among others. Another key priority in the Qatar-France relations is culture and education, which also continues to expand as the two countries are working on new projects. On education, Faivre said two new joint degrees were put in place: one between Paris I – Panthéon Sorbonne and Lusail University; and between Bretagne Sud University and Qatar University in cybersecurity. “We are also establishing long-lasting partnerships with Qatar Museum. Teams of French experts are involved for projects such as the Orientalist Museum, by 2027, and the Art Mill Museum planned for 2028. We have a co-operation between Sports Museums (or 3-2-1 Museum) and the National Sports Museum in Nice. We should sign an agreement soon. “The World Cup will be a great moment to showcase the variety of French culture and I hope that we will have French artists coming for the event,” he added.

Qatar, Switzerland to see further strengthening of bilateral relations, says Swiss ambassador Edgar Doerig. PICTURE: Thajudheen.
Qatar
Qatar, Switzerland to see further strengthening of bilateral relations

Qatar and Switzerland will see a further strengthening of bilateral relations, especially in the field of tourism, as thousands of Swiss football fans are expected to arrive for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, Swiss ambassador Edgar Doerig has said. “The World Cup is a sport event that will draw a lot of Swiss fans and tourists and I would say 5,000 or more could be expected from Switzerland," the envoy told reporters on the sidelines of a Katara Hospitality event recently. According to Doerig, tourism will be stronger in the direction from Switzerland to Qatar in the upcoming major sporting event. But traditionally, he noted, it has been very strong from Qatar to Switzerland due to the latter’s growing popularity as a healthcare destination. The Swiss embassy in Doha, he noted, sees an uptrend based on the number of visa requests it receives. It is learnt that Switzerland’s booming medical tourism sector is due to the cutting-edge facilities, top-notch doctors, and exceptional treatment that Swiss hospitals provide. Doerig said a delegation of about eight hospitals and hotels who visited Doha recently are in talks with Qatari health organisations for co-operation. Renowned Swiss clinic, Clinique La Prairie, will be forging a partnership (co-operation on medical and wellness) with Alfardan Medical and Northwestern Medicine, which aims to ensure patients’ continued treatments in Qatar, he revealed. The envoy said he expects other partnerships to take place between medical institutions from the two countries in the future, including exchanges of experts and other specialists. ‘Traditional tourism,’ he noted, is also another area that can be explored between Qatar and Switzerland such as culinary, mountaineering, and visiting cultural sites, among others. “I find it very important that Qatari citizens and residents discover other parts of Switzerland. Traditionally, I have been very fond of the Lake Geneva region, of Zurich. I'm sure there are other hidden gems, such as Eastern Switzerland,” Doerig said. Regarding participation in the World Cup, he said the Swiss national football team, which earned a ticket to the prestigious tournament, is ramping up its preparations. They will be staying at the Le Royal Meridien Doha in Lusail during the event. Swiss ministers and VIPs who will be coming to Qatar during the month-long event, scheduled from November 21 to December 18, are expected to meet their counterparts in Doha as well, Doerig said. He noted that bilateral relations between Qatar and Switzerland remain excellent: signing an agreement on cooperation on financial matters between the finance ministers of the two countries – Ueli Maurer (Swiss) and Ali bin Ahmed al-Kuwari, and witnessing high-level visits. Doerig said that big Swiss banks such as Credit Suisse and UBS have been in the process of expanding their presence in Doha, in addition to other banks that also planning to open representative offices. About trade and investments, he said Qatar’s investment in Switzerland remained at a good level, citing Katara Hospitality’s three hotels: Burgenstock Hotels and Resort Lake Lucerne, Hotel Schweizerhof Bern & Spa, and the Royal Savoy Hotel & Spa Lausanne. Apart from Qatar Investment Authority’s significant participation, the envoy said that a number of Qataris have purchased houses or apartments in Switzerland as well. In the area of education, he said there has been occasional co-operation between Swiss universities such as the Graduate Institute Geneva and a technical school in Lausanne with Qatar University.

Companies like Outing Qatar offer unique luxury offerings such as romantic dinners on a helipad, which many people find memorable and rewarding. ---screengrab from Outing Qatar Instagram page
Qatar
Curated and unique luxury offerings keep locals stay in Qatar this season

Curated and unique luxury offerings entice many Qataris and residents to stay in Qatar this summer and the upcoming Eid al-Adha holidays while attracting visitors from neighbouring GCC countries, an industry expert has said. Speaking to Gulf Times, Outing Qatar founder and managing director Mosaad Moustafa Eleiwa said a lot of people in Qatar – from individuals and couples to groups of friends, athletes, and families – get to see and enjoy exceptional and add-on experiences without travelling abroad. Mosaad Moustafa Eleiwa He said many who prefer to spend the season and the short break in Doha find romantic dinners either on a yacht, in the desert, or on a helipad memorable and rewarding. “Those who didn’t travel outside the country, they look to the sea, to the desert, and they want different experiences (apart from the usual summer activities). We do it and give them a five-star experience,” Eleiwa said, noting that his company has partnered with prestigious hotel brands in Doha in delivering one-of-a-kind and unforgettable experiences to clients. Special events that require presenting an array of local and international cuisines have also become appealing to many, prompting companies such as Outing Qatar to provide high level of customer care and service. It is learnt that such trend has become increasingly popular in the country as the 2022 FIFA World Cup approaches, attracting more regional and international visitors. Besides Qataris and residents, Eleiwa said they also witness a huge number of bookings for a wide range of packages from abroad, mainly from Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. “They want to experience Qatar like never before (pre-pandemic period) and they are looking for different activities inside the country. Qatar is again open and visitors want to come because of the World Cup, it’s a prestigious and global event,” he said. Apart from activities like kayaking, jetski and luxury boat rides, and dune bashing, among others, Eleiwa cited a huge demand for helicopter tours in Qatar. The company, which also offers bespoke events and breathtaking experiences, has been receiving several calls daily but could only accommodate bookings after July 22 due to a demand surge. It operates two helicopters and conducts a total of four tours only on Fridays, he said. Eleiwa pointed out that such kinds of exceptional offerings, in addition to the various developments taking place in Qatar, will further help position the country as a luxury destination not only in the region but also globally.

Shady Abdelaziz
Qatar
Qatar witnesses visitor surge from Gulf countries

A hospitality industry expert has stressed that Qatar is once again witnessing a growing number of visitors as the Eid al-Adha holidays draw near, particularly from neighbouring Gulf countries, boosting its hospitality and tourism sectors. “Saudi Arabia is at the top of this list of visitors as the travel arrangements are extremely convenient either by road or by air. The country should most definitely experience heavy footfall of inbound travelers starting August, in anticipation of the FIFA 2022 (World Cup) grand event,” Shady Abdelaziz, director of Sales and Marketing at Sharq Village & Spa, a Ritz-Carlton Hotel, Doha, told Gulf Times. He said while the Katara Hospitality-owned hotel is not running any staycation offers, its 174 rooms and suites are already almost booked out for the week of Eid al-Adha. It is learnt that Qatar, which is becoming a popular leisure destination, continues to witness increasing demand for both inbound and outbound travel despite an off-peak season this summer. Abdelaziz pointed out that the food and beverage sector serves as a big part of travellers’ choice of accommodation since they are looking to explore local cuisine but also have international options available. Qatar Tourism’s (QT) launch of the ‘World Class Chefs’ initiative in October 2021 is also expected to further raise the level of food offerings across the country, and attract more visitors from various parts of the world. It aims to host Michelin star chefs and open investment opportunities by “introducing the world’s top culinary talent to the emerging hub of gastronomy in the Middle East”. The QT initiative also served as a promotion for the staging of the Qatar International Food Festival (QIFF) – dubbed as the country’s longest-running food and beverage festival – in its 11th edition held in December last year. It witnessed a huge number of visitors coming to Doha. QIFF and other food-related events have become increasingly popular in Qatar, attracting and taking local and international visitors to new gastronomic experiences. Abdelaziz said Qatar’s burgeoning list of offerings in the dining, lifestyle and hospitality segments is a great attraction for GCC nationals from neighboring countries to visit. He noted that travelers usually spend about three to four days on average at the resort, “so our staycation packages reflect the best all-inclusive rates according to the demographic and what they’re looking for”. It is learnt that several other hotels in Doha recorded a significant increase in bookings in the past weeks, primarily guests from Saudi Arabia, for the upcoming holidays.

Mehdi Bensouda
Qatar
Switzerland turns into hot healthcare destination for Gulf visitors

Switzerland, particularly Geneva, is becoming an increasingly popular healthcare destination for Gulf visitors not only for the high-quality medical services that hospitals provide but also due to the wholesome attractions and flight connectivity, according to a Hôpital de La Tour official. Geneva, renowned for its scenic view of Lake Geneva and Mont-Blanc, offers visitors a unique and relaxing experience, and one-of-its-kind hospitality, in addition to an array of shopping selections. “Switzerland is known for the quality of care and personalised services for decades. Actually, Swiss healthcare ranks top in the 2021 World Index of Healthcare Innovation with a 65.15 score ahead of the Netherlands and Germany. Its medical facilities offer high-quality care and have world-class infrastructure, attracting patients from various parts of the world,” Hôpital de La Tour’s CFO and International Development head Mehdi Bensouda told Gulf Times during his recent visit to Doha. He said the medical facility developed a unique Value Based Healthcare framework (VBHC) and it has been recognised recently as the most advanced private hospital in Europe in this area, which will transform the healthcare sector in the coming years. Besides the advanced technology used at the hospital and the multidisciplinary approach it follows, Bensouda noted that Hôpital de La Tour “also adopts a patient-centric healthcare model to make everyone feels right at home while with us”. “We understand the cultural differences between the international patients and we try our best to consider them during their healing journey. In line with this, we have recently started offering special services and amenities to Arab patients so they can enjoy the highest quality care. “These include employing nurses and care coordinators who speak Arabic, offering translation services, upscale private suites, limousine services, concierge services, making hotel reservations and more,” he said, adding that the hospital is a pioneer in VBHC in Switzerland and Europe,” he added. Bensouda said he had the chance to visit different leading healthcare providers in the Gulf countries recently and was impressed by the quality of the infrastructure and services they provide. “Our ambition is to share best practices in those areas with leading healthcare providers based in Gulf countries and also learn from those institutions by keeping in mind our vision to continuously provide the best healthcare to the patients across the world,” he said. Hôpital de La Tour, Bensouda noted, developed a unique expertise in movement therapy (sport medicine, orthopedic and physiotherapy), heart, cancer treatments, and metabolism (digestive and obesity programme). “At Hôpital de La Tour, we are strongly committed to training future generations of health care professionals in all main specialties and we can contribute to the vision that Qatar is working to achieve,” he said. He added that they currently have 11 postgraduate accredited training programmes as he encouraged medical students in Qatar who seek to deepen their knowledge of Hôpital de La Tour’s innovative training programmes Specialties include general internal medicine, emergency medicine, family practice, cardiology, pneumology, paediatrics, neonatology, orthopaedics, sports medicine and pain management. There are also new training programmes that are constantly put in place, making La Tour the leading private teaching hospital in the French-speaking part of Switzerland. “We are open to any potential partnership (with countries like Qatar) as long it brings value to both institutions. We discussed opportunities to collaborate around training and education and research in areas where we developed centers of excellence such as in hip, shoulder and knee or TAVI, rhythmology and cardiac surgery, among others,” Bensouda said.

Indonesian ambassador Ridwan Hassan takes part in the coffee cupping event.
Qatar
Indonesian embassy hosts coffee cupping event

The Indonesian embassy in Qatar held a coffee cupping event on June 30 in Doha, showcasing the richness and the variety of coffee produced and exported by the Southeast Asian nation. Titled ‘Indonesian Coffee O’clock’, the event brought together representatives from Indonesia’s coffee industry and entrepreneurs in Qatar, as well as talented Indonesian baristas at the Intercontinental Doha The City. Indonesian baristas showcase their talent at the event. Supplied pictures Only very little of the coffee imported by Qatar comes from Indonesia, ambassador Ridwan Hassan said in his speech. "Hence, there is still so much room for opportunities in Qatar for Indonesian coffee, particularly for specialty arabica coffee." The envoy said the embassy hopes to see more Indonesian coffee in the country, citing the increasing number of coffee shops and roasteries, as well as the growing appreciation and love for coffee, across Qatar. Based on the data from the Ministry of Trade of Indonesia, he noted that Indonesia exported coffee with a value of $842.5mn around the world, mainly to the US and Europe, citing 2021 data. Representatives from Indonesia’s coffee industry and entrepreneurs in Qatar, including guests, participate in the coffee tasting. According to Hassan, Indonesia now ranks as the fourth largest coffee-producing country in the world, following Brazil, Colombia and Vietnam, and the coffee being traded is usually a combination of roasted beans and green beans, both for arabica and robusta variants. He said Indonesia’s coffee plantation began in the 1690s during the Dutch East Indies Company (VOC) period and became one of the top Dutch commodities. Most of the cultivated coffee is robusta, and only a quarter is Arabica. The envoy added that VOC exported the first batch of Indonesia's coffee in 1711, which grew to 60 tonnes annually within 10 years. Indonesia to offer plenty of coffee types globally, especially those termed specialty coffee, he said. “The specialty varieties include those cultivated in various places in Indonesia, such as Gayo, Flores, Sidikalang, Toraja and of course Java. Each of the specialties has its own distinguished aroma and taste. Ambassador Ridwan Hassan was joined by baristas, entrepreneurs, and community members at the coffee tasting event. “Over the years, the number of exported specialty coffee from Indonesia keeps growing. Indonesia's specialty arabica coffee also has gained worldwide acknowledgment with nearly 100 genetic varieties of arabica coffee available,” Hassan said. He added that coffee grows well in Indonesia given its climate and mountainous areas, providing “the experience of taste but also cultural identity”. “Hopefully by today's event, Indonesian coffee is not only better known in Qatar but also becoming more available and reach more people and more lives, the lives of the farmers and the heart of the coffee lovers,” the envoy said.

Manga artists and enthusiasts in Qatar participate in a friendly competition as part of QM's Years of Culture u2013 manga community gathering Wednesday at Anime Cafe. PICTURES: Thajudeen
Qatar
30 Manga artists showcase creativity at competition

The Qatar Museums (QM) Years of Culture – manga community gathering Wednesday brought together around 30 artists and enthusiasts, showcasing their creativity at a friendly competition held at The Pearl Qatar. Held in partnership with Anime Cafe and Store 974, the event puts a spotlight on the deep and solid diplomatic relations between Qatar and Japan and marks the Qatar-Menasa (Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia) 2022 Year of Culture. A participant uses classic sketching for her drawing “The theme of this competition is ‘friendship’ so we are looking for artworks that highlight culture and most importantly, the friendship between the two countries. Like the stories that come out with friendship, strong bonds are built with people coming together and amazing things are created,” Al Jazi Saeed al-Khayareen, legacy co-ordinator, QM Chairperson Office, told Gulf Times on the sidelines of the gathering. A young artist takes part in the mini-competition. She said the mini-competition, which was open to different age groups, forms part of a number of QM-organised activations aims at engaging local talents in the field of arts and storytelling. “Now people are having the opportunity to gather back again, being excited about gathering with other talents and discussing things… I’m excited they (young generation) could be potentially the people that we can work with in the future so I'm happy to see this, I wish them all the best,” al-Khayareen said. She noted that these kinds of competitions allow both traditional and digital sketching, giving the participants more freedom to showcase their talent. “We don't want to limit it to the old style since we know that there's the new digital art…(creating those 3D effects) and all that amazing things so we give more exposure whether it's classic or new because people deserve new opportunities here,” she added. QM, al-Khayareen noted, plans to organise a bigger manga-style competition in the country, which will also allow different age categories to participate. Al Jazi Saeed al-Khayareen at the event. “I feel like Anime (animations) is quite popular (here) and it's also linked to art and fashion, it's linked to storytelling it's people's creativity being showcased,” she said. It is learnt that the growing popularity of Japanese anime and cartoons boosts Qatar’s art scene to be more vibrant, and helped form a huge community of artists, cosplayers, and enthusiasts. Al-Khayareen expressed confidence that manga-style events will spur further strengthening of bilateral relations between Qatar and Japan, especially in the area of culture and arts. She noted that Japan is QM’s first partner country for its Years of Culture Programme, which marks its 10th anniversary this year. “Japan is one of the countries that we've been having really good solid relations with. Now, we will beat the pandemic and further strengthen these relations and hopefully, because of the pandemic, this will even help us push our limits,” she said, adding that QM is also working on a mural art projects with Japan.

The artworks depict the experiences of people impacted by addiction, as well as their recovery. PICTURE: Joey Aguilar
Qatar
Msheireb Museums hosts 'Recovery Road' Exhibition in collaboration with Naufar

* Art exhibition aims to raise awareness of addiction and mental health    Msheireb Museums, the cultural and tourist destination at Msheireb Downtown Doha, has joined hands with Naufar, the sanctuary for wellness and treatment of substance use and related behavioural disorders, to host an art exhibition titled 'Recovery Road' to mark the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking observed annually on June 26. Taking place at the Bin Jelmood House Lower Gallery, the art exhibition sheds light on the substance use disorder illness. It raises awareness about addiction and mental health, and the reasons people develop addiction – expressed through creative, human, cultural and artistic language. This exhibition is a part of a series of future collaborations and engagements with Naufar on topics related to substance use and stigma The exhibition also endeavours to fight the stigma and misconceptions of addiction and mental health in the Qatari community through portraits and paintings created by patients during their Expressive Art therapy sessions. In addition, the 'Recovery Road' Exhibition provides the community with an opportunity to engage in the conversation around mental health and addiction. A collection of 40 diverse paintings are on display at the exhibition This exhibition is a part of a series of future collaborations and engagements with Naufar on topics related to substance use and stigma. Msheireb Properties pays special attention to the mental and psychological health of the community, and has also developed the Zulal Wellness Resort, the biggest and first of its kind in Qatar that follows a retreat that allows people to rebalance and rejuvenate in body, mind, and spirit. Fahad AlTurky, exhibitions manager at Msheireb Museums, said: “We are delighted to host the “Recovery Exhibition” that sheds the light on an important concern to humanity – addiction and mental health. We believe that art is an important and effective medium to convey awareness messages and change the perceptions of people positively. The exhibition aims to raise awareness on substance addiction and mental health. PICTURES: Joey Aguilar and supplied “We are confident that our collaboration with Naufar will succeed in accomplishing our objectives and enable our visitors to interact and engage on this important subject. This is part of our continuous collaborations with the national entities to raise awareness on matters that are relevant to our community”. Dr Khalifa al-Kuwari, assistant director-general at Naufar, praised the Msheireb Museums for their ongoing efforts to address humanity and societal issues that affect the Qatari community. As he said, substance use disorder is a serious health condition that can affect anyone, but it's rarely discussed as a mental health condition. “When we understand the root causes behind substance use disorder, we can encourage many individuals and their families to seek help early in their lives. Educating and enlightening the community about the challenge that many families are facing can't be accomplished by one entity by itself, but it can be accomplished when everyone works together. “As community members, we all have a duty to support them and their families through overcoming social obstacles by recognising it is time to make treatment and recovery a reality for those who need it, and we hope it starts today.” The art exhibition features a collection of 40 diverse paintings mostly on canvas, and some on paper and glass that tell the stories of those impacted by addiction as well as their recovery. These are depicted in three distinct sections: 'Reasons behind addiction', 'During the treatment' and 'After recovery'. Allowing the visitors to interact with the theme, the Tree of Hope or the Wall of Hope will be set up, enabling them to leave a message of inspiration for individuals who were impacted by addiction. 'Recovery Road' will be open during the working hours of the Museums, from Monday through Saturday.

(From left) Alan L Timbayan, Frederick Epistola, HE Prof Khalid bin Ibrahim al-Sulaiti, Ridwan Hassan and Jairo Lopez Bolanos at the unveiling of 'Kulintang' and the 'Philippines Corner' at Katara - the Cultural Village Sunday. PICTURES: Thajudheen
Qatar
Renowned Filipino artist's work unveiled at Katara

    * 'Philippines Corner' inaugurated at Cultural Village   A unique artwork titled ‘Kulintang’ by Frederick Epistola, one of the Philippines’ renowned visual artists, was unveiled as a permanent installation in the new 'Philippines Corner' at Katara – the Cultural Village Sunday. The event was graced by Philippine ambassador Alan L Timbayan and Katara general manager HE Prof Khalid bin Ibrahim al-Sulaiti, along with Indonesia's ambassador Ridwan Hassan, Costa Rica deputy head of mission Jairo Lopez Bolanos, other diplomats representing different embassies, art enthusiasts and guests. HE Prof Khalid bin Ibrahim al-Sulaiti, Alan Timbayan and Frederick Epistola led the unveiling of the new permanent art installation at Katara Sunday. The 'Philippines Corner' was inaugurated by HE Prof al-Sulaiti in the presence of the other dignitaries. The opening comes within the framework of Katara's artistic project, which aims to attract artists from all over the world and enable them to display their works in different corners of the Cultural Village, helping people learn about the heritage of different countries. “I am deeply honoured and grateful for this opportunity to use my art as an expression of my heritage, and as a vehicle to translate the Filipino identity across space and time," Epistola said. “The kulintang is tied to the musical culture of the Maguindanaon tribe in the Southern Philippines. It has become an instrument representative of Philippine gong music, and beyond that, an instrument to celebrate a living tradition — that of the Filipino sense of community." The indigenous musical instrument was played at the unveiling. The sculpture, located near Katara’s Building 14, is Epistola’s interpretation of the indigenous musical instrument kulintang, which is characterised by tightly controlled rhythmic patterns achieved through the combination of a repeating bass rhythm, while a spontaneous improvisation is played. The instrument consists of a row of small brass or bronze gong kettles horizontally laid upon a rack that functions as a resonator. It is played by striking the bosses of the gongs with two soft wooden beaters. When used as part of an ensemble, the kulintang is the main melody instrument. “Whatever the design, whether played individually or as an ensemble, the kulintang represents what is unique, integrative and communal in the music of our indigenous culture: open-ended and participatory. “Such characteristics that are reminiscent of creative communal interaction, are for me, very important to highlight in today’s installation of the 'Kulintang' sculpture in Katara. Having a 'Philippines Corner' in this living museum is a testament to what Katara represents: a space to create dialogue between communities and promote better social knowledge and understanding. “These qualities are crucial pillars of peace, which begin when we as people – whichever part of the world we come from, whatever language we speak, whatever nationality we represent – can overcome boundaries and are free to flourish,” Epistola said. Kulintang, preserved for more than 1,700 years by the indigenous communities in the Southern Philippines, is one of the living testaments to the Philippines’ rich cultural history. In bringing Epistola’s work to Katara, Timbayan hopes Kulintang may find a permanent home in Katara’s collection as cultural legacy of the Philippines and as a symbol of the deepening cultural relations and people-to-people linkages between the two countries. The envoy noted that Epistola previously held a solo exhibition in August 2019 at Katara, showcasing his stunning collage painting and clay sculptures, two of which he donated to the Cultural Village. In a statement issued by Katara, HE Prof al-Sualiti said: “At Katara, we are working hard to open up to all kinds of people, cultures and arts, and we continue to provide support and ideas in order to achieve our cultural vision and goals.” BOX: About Kulintang Kulintang music is played during large feasts and harvest gatherings. It is also used during state functions and official celebrations for entertaining foreign dignitaries and important visitors; and in court ceremonies of either the sultanate or village chieftains such as the enthroning/coronations of a new leader and the transfer of a sultanate from one family to another. In the old times, Kulintang music was used for communicating long-distance messages from one village or longhouse to another. The gong was a symbol of riches and power in Asian cultures. Okir is the name for geometric, flowing, and folk motifs that are typically found in Muslim-influenced artwork in the Southern Philippines. These designs are frequently based on intricate leaf and vine patterns. The metal cradle represents life or the beginning of a civilisation that is artistic and cultural. Red is a colour that represents power and life. The colour gold represents success and fortune.