The Spanish embassy in Doha highlighted the outstanding relations between Qatar and Spain in various areas of co-operation while marking the National Day of Spain Tuesday. “The bilateral relations between Qatar and Spain remain excellent and inspired by the strong affection between both royal families,” Spanish ambassador Belen Alfaro said in a statement. Citing the two ministerial visits from Spain this year, she noted that Minister for Foreign Affairs, European Union and Co-operation, Jose Manuel Albares, met with His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, and HE the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohamed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani on September 14. The envoy added that His Highness the Amir also spoke with Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez “to express his solidarity with the Kingdom of Spain after the volcano eruption in La Palma and to discuss bilateral, regional and international developments”. Alfaro underlined the importance of Spain’s historic ties with the Arab world, particularly in the áreas of education and cultural co-operation, due to the Arab heritage and legacy of Al-Andalus. She said Qatar and Spain signed an agreement this year aimed at further boosting their cultural co-operation, leading to the launch of “The Majlis – Cultures in Dialogue” exhibition, a project by Sheikh Faisal Bin Qassim Al Thani Museum, in the Alhambra in Granada, after being displayed in Madrid. “In education, the learning of the Spanish language is on the rise in Qatar. The Spanish language has 8% of Arabic words from the history of Al-Andalus. It is the second most spoken language in the world as a native language, the official language of 21 countries. “It is the second most used language in international communication and the second most used language in social media, in Facebook and Twitter,” Alfaro noted. She added that Spanish International School in Doha – SEK, Qatar University, and Hamad Bin Khalifa University, offer a wide range of classes for adults and children while many private schools in Doha also have Spanish language courses in their curriculum. Alfaro stressed that the two countries also share a passion for sports, especially football, signing a memorandum of understanding on Youth and Sports which aims to further enhance their collaboration in this field this year. About the hosting of the first carbón neutral FIFA World Cup next year, she expressed confidence the tournament “will be a great success not only for the country but for the region”. “Spain is contributing to enhance sports culture in Qatar in many ways: through Aspire Academy and Aspetar, where highly qualified Spanish professionals work, with top Spanish players in Qatari teams. “Many Spanish companies have also been contributing to the development of the infrastructure projects designed to service the World Cup, such as the metro, airport, roads, etc. Two of the eight 2022 Qatar World Cup stadiums have been designed by the Spanish architecture firm Fenwick Iribarren Architects: Education City Stadium and Ras Abu Aboud Stadium,” Alfaro said. In the commercial and economic sector, she said the two countries’ bilateral ties are enhanced by the economic co-operation in various fields such as construction, architecture, food and beverage, facility management, consultancy services, healthcare sector, fashion retail, energy and water, sports business, and information and technology sector, among others. “Spanish business performance in Qatar is robust and sustainable with around 200 companies who wish to remain in Qatar and become reliable partners for local companies,” Alfaro added. Bilateral trade between Qatar and Spain stood at about €1.3bn in 2019 after years of steady growth and in 2020, it dropped around 43% due to the Covid-19 pandemic, according to Alfaro. She expressed optimism that it will keep its traditional upward trend once the economic recovery shows up. “Spain is a country that depends on foreign energy supply and Qatar is one of our leading suppliers of gas. On the other hand, Spanish exports to Qatar are well-diversified; the main items of our exports are machinery, mechanical appliances, clothing, electric and electronic devices, and equipment and furniture,” she said. In the area of direct investments, the envoy said Qatar´s capital investment stock has registered steady growth in recent years, and Qatar Investment Authority made significant investments in Spain. “By way of illustration, QIA holds stakes as relevant as the one in Iberdrola, with an 8.6% share of its equity. We may also find equity holdings in Colonial, Marina Port in Tarragona, W Hotel in Barcelona, Intercontinental Hotel in Madrid or even a small share of the Banco Santander in Brazil, among others. “Spain is an attractive destination for investments, since it is the natural gateway to Europe, the Mediterranean and Latin America. Spain is the first European investor in Latin America and the second in the world after the US. These ties to the Latino world offer to Qatar a trustable partner to open the door for new markets investment. “Our businesses in the field of telecommunications, financial and insurance sectors, energy, tourism, or infrastructure are well-known, making our companies attractive for co-operation around the world,” Alfaro said. She noted that the Spanish Secretary of State for Trade awarded its businessmen in Doha with the official title of the Chamber of Commerce of Spain to Qatar in February 2019 as a formal recognition for the prominent job that Spanish companies are doing in the country. In tourism, she noted that Spain remains to be the second destination of international visitors, seeking to recover and increase the pre-pandemic figures. Alfaro cited a strong enthusiasm by Qatari tourists to return to Spain, saying that many of them have travelled to her country in the first two months since the reopening of the borders in July. “Spain will come again as an attractive destination for natural parks and wonderful beaches. Our country is the third in terms of natural areas declared Biosphere Reserves and it harbours the coast with most Blue Flag beaches in the entire Northern Hemisphere. As mentioned before, the Arab legacy of cities such as Seville, Granada, or Cordoba makes them a favourite to visit,” she said. “I am confident that both our countries will continue to closely work together to further develop our bilateral relations to an even higher level, under the leadership of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani,” she stressed.
Some 14 restaurants and 17 chefs in Doha will take part in the 6th edition of Gout de/Good France from October 14 to 22, putting a spotlight on the richness of France’s culinary traditions. At a press conference Monday, French ambassador Jean-Baptiste Faivre said this year’s gastronomic event will have a regional and thematic focus: promoting the Centre Val-de Loire region and highlighting the importance of sustainable cuisine. “The region of honour this year is the Centre Val-de Loire region, famous for its goat cheese, apple pie, castles, and beautiful green surroundings,” the envoy said, inviting residents and visitors “to discover one of the most prolific French terroirs”. He added that the event this year, an initiative of the French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs and Alain Ducasse, also underlines “the respectful treatment of our natural resources, building on the French commitment to the environment”. “At the vanguard of global action for the environment and more eco-friendly cuisine, this new edition has appointed the two-Michelin-star chef Christophe Hay as this year’s ambassador. He was recently named ‘Chef of the Year 2021’ by the Gault & Millau restaurant guide in recognition of his commitment to local, sustainable and inclusive gastronomy,” Faivre said. Gout de/Good France celebrates French gastronomy and its values in more than 150 countries across the five continents, promoting French cuisine and France as a pioneer tourism destination globally. “The French culture is of course very rich but there is no doubt that there are a lot of people who enjoy visiting France also because of cuisine and I am very happy that we can celebrate it in Doha in the coming week,” Faivre told reporters. The annual event aims to gather chefs, restaurants, and all the ecosystem of gastronomy around a specific topic, which changes every year, according to Faivre. He said the celebration in Doha this year also seeks to further strengthen the bilateral relations between Qatar and France as it introduces a few Qatari flavours in the Gout de/Good France programme. “French cuisine can only evolve and comprise new ideas and recipes when it mingles with other cultures,” the envoy stressed, adding that chefs and restaurants in Doha will be proposing special set menus during the Goût de France week. The embassy is also collaborating with well-known Qatari chef Noof al-Marri, who will be working with the chef of the Ambassador’s residence, Thomas Vatar, to offer a Qatari-French menu. It is designed exclusively for the Goût de France/Good France special gastronomic dinner, which will take place in November. Faivre thanked the two chefs’ involvement in the event describing it as “a great symbol of the French Qatari special relationship”. He also announced that the French Institute of Qatar will be launching a web series titled: L'Instant Sucré (sweet moment) this month.
* Titled ‘Diva! Italian Glamour in Fashion Jewellery’, the exhibition is a project promoted by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation The Embassy of Italy in Doha opened a one-of-its-kind jewellery exhibition at W Doha Hotel & Residences Sunday, featuring 200 pieces of Italian fashion jewellery that span years of evolution dating from the 1950s until today. Titled ‘Diva! Italian Glamour in Fashion Jewellery’, the exhibition is a project promoted by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation. It is curated by renowned Professor of Jewellery Design at Italy's Politecnico di Milano University and director of the Vicenza Museum of Jewellery, Prof Alba Cappellieri, along with Beatrice Rossato, Livia Tenuta, and Susanna Testa. Bozart for Tita Rossi, necklace, 1969 Omella Bijoux, Butterfly necklace, 1970. The showcased artworks highlight “the finest expression of Italian design and artistry" Some 200 pieces of Italian fashion jewellery on display at Art29. “We are very proud to display in Qatar a unique variety of jewels revealing how Italian creativity has evolved according to fashion trends and social transformations. Made in Italy jewellery has been able to combine over the years innovative design and sophisticated craftsmanship, a successful combination which continues to be the secret behind the creation of unique ornaments reflecting the changes of a culture constantly in motion,” Italian ambassador Alessandro Prunas said in a press statement. “Jewels are artworks turned into everyday fashion items inspiring ideas and dreams. We are glad that Italian jewellery is very much appreciated in Qatar. Italian designers and brands are eager to co-operate with the flourishing sector of local fashion artists to share their knowledge and know-how,” he said, thanking “W Doha Hotel for the out-of-the-ordinary sense of hospitality and Abu Issa Holding for sponsoring the exhibition stands adding extra value to the collection.” The exhibition, running until October 24 at the hotel’s Art29 from 10am to 10pm, put a spotlight on “the true Italian style through a rich collection of jewels that will take the passionate on a voyage through the evolution of Italy’s fashion, brands and customs”. According to the embassy, the showcased artworks highlight “the finest expression of Italian design and artistry. Not only jewellery lovers, but art lovers are promised an immersive experience through an evolution in style and fashion”. “This is a very exciting time for W Doha to be hosting the ‘Diva!’ exhibition in collaboration with the Embassy of Italy in Doha. The exhibition celebrates the evolution of Italian fashion over the years, narrating inspiring elements of the Italian culture through an exotic display of the finest Italian jewellery. A truly immersive exhibition not to be missed,” W Doha general manager Wassim Daageh said, urging residents and visitors to visit Art29 “to get a true taste of Italian fine jewellery”. For her part, Prof Cappellieri noted that these fashion Italian jewels date back “to the so-called period ‘La Dolce Vita’ during the '50s and continuing through the Pret-a-Porter in the ‘80s and the Minimalism in the ‘90s until the New Millennium fashion”. “This extensive collection represents the esthetic mirror of society, showing the transformation of styles and costumes, ambitions and achievements of women, as well as the evolution of shapes, materials and new production techniques. It tells a typical ‘Italian story’ that once again enhances creativity, craftsmanship, design, art, technology, beauty, and innovation of our country,” she said.
The state visit of Polish President Andrzej Duda to Qatar this year is expected to further strengthen the bilateral relations between the two countries, particularly in the field of energy, aviation, and banking and investments, Polish ambassador Janusz Janke has said. “We already have a very strong relationship with Qatar, importing one-third of our gas in LNG (liquefied natural gas) from Qatar, so Qatar is contributing a lot to Polish energy security and we are very strong in IT (information technology),” the envoy told Gulf Times. He was speaking on the sidelines of a recently-held cultural event at the Doha Fire Station, which marked the 100th birth anniversary of renowned Polish science-fiction writer Stanislaw Lem. A recently-held Polish embassy cultural event at the Doha Fire Station marked the 100th birth anniversary of renowned Polish science-fiction writer Stanislaw Lem. He noted that the visit will also witness the holding of the 2nd Qatari – Polish Business roundtable and the signing of a number of agreements. Poland, Janke added, is looking forward to some joint projects with Qatar, which he said has a great IT infrastructure and a country that aims to become a regional Information and Communication and Technology hub with its partnership with Microsoft and Google on cloud computing. “We would like to discuss co-operation in this field, plus of course, we are going to talk about investments during this visit, we are going to organise the 2nd Qatari – Polish Business roundtable, divided into three areas: energy, aviation, and banking and investments,” he said. Janke added that the visit of the Polish president could possibly take place during the FIFA Arab Cup 2021, scheduled from November 30 to December 18 – an opportunity to see the stadiums and various developments in the country. According to the envoy, economic and security issues, among others, are also expected to be tackled during President Duda’s visit, in addition to exchanging views regarding some challenges. Janke also highlighted the strong relations between Qatar and Poland in the area of culture and arts, saying that Katara – the Cultural Village has invited them to promote Polish culture in the country, especially during the 2022 FIFA World Cup. The embassy, he said, is ready to respond to Katara’s invitation as it mulls to organise cultural events such as street performances and “some aspects of our culinary arts” as part of this collaboration. He also expects performers from Poland to come to Qatar next year as the Covid19 situation continues to improve. “Classical music is popular here, we have a great co-operation with the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra, and just before Covid we had a great concert,” he said, adding that they also have close cooperation with Katara, Qatar Museums, and the Qatar National Library.
The Embassy of Poland in Doha highlighted the works of one of the most renowned and prominent Polish science-fiction writers, Stanis?aw Lem, at a cultural event held at the Fire Station – Artists in Residence Wednesday to mark his 100th birth anniversary. “The significance of his legacy was appreciated by Polish parliament which declared 2021 to be the Year of Stanislaw Lem,” Polish ambassador Janusz Janke said in his speech. The event, attended by Fire Station director Khalifa Ahmad al-Obaidli, members of the Polish community in Doha, and other guests, also screened two short films based on Lem’s works: The Room by Krzysztof Jankowski and The Mask by Hanka Brulinska. The envoy also announced that Lem’s most popular novel Solaris has been finally translated into Arabic (by Hatif Janabi) and it is expected to be presented to the Qatari audience at the Doha International Book Fair in January 2022. Janke noted that Solaris – directed by A. Tarkowski (1972) and by S. Soderberg (2000) “deals with the idea of First Contact with an alien being, but also with the fragility of a human mind. The book’s message has fascinated readers around the globe and remains appealing until now”. According to the envoy, Lem inspired many artists from across the globe despite the fact that his novels and stories were not easy to read, but many found them fascinating. “The ideas he tried to share with his audience were captured in drawing by Daniel Mroz, whose works are on display in the exhibition that we have arranged for you. In the 60s and 70s, Lem gained the status of an international expert on contemporary civilisation, mainly due to the surprising accuracy of his long-term predictions of concepts such as artificial intelligence (AI), cyberspace, or virtual reality. “In 1976, Lem was claimed to be the most widely read science-fiction writer in the world. Until now his works have been translated into 42 languages and have sold over 27mn copies,” Janke said. Lem was born in 1921 in Lviv, which was then part of the Second Polish Republic. After passing his high-school exams in 1939, he pursued his medicine course until 1941 when the Nazi German army took over Lviv. In 1946, the Lem family left Lviv and settled in Krakow where he continued his medical studies. It was after his graduation when he started working at the scientific conversatory of Jagiellonian University assistants, giving him access to the most recent scientific works from various fields. Lem’s passion for writing came after the unexpected success of his scientific-fiction novel “Astronauci” (The Astronauts), and some of his books that followed have been adapted onto screen. Among the most prominent include Przektadaniec (Layer of Cake), directed by A. Wajda (1968); and The Congress, directed by A. Folman (2013) – which inspired the next generation of artists. He died in Krakow in 2006.
Several restaurants in Doha have been carefully devising their offering, including themed special menus, as Qatar continuously prepares to welcome more than 3mn visitors during the 2022 FIFA World Cup, Sheraton Grand Doha Resort & Convention Hotel’s oriental pastry chef Hamdi Chaklabakji has said. The local food and beverage sector is already flourishing with a a variety of outlets that serve cuisines from across the world to all customer segments. Chaklabakji told Gulf Times that the hosting of the prestigious tournament is expected to significantly boost the retail restaurant industry. “In my experience, football lovers as sports enthusiasts are easy-going so I believe comfort food and street food from around the globe will prove to be most popular. Portable, convenient food items like churros, fish and chips, and enchiladas will be hits with the fans,” Chaklabakji said. He was commenting on the sidelines of More Cravings by Marriott Bonvoy’s Doha Food Fest 2021, “a month-long celebration of Qatar’s diverse culinary offering and a delightful experience for food lovers of all ages”, which will run until October 31. During the festival, guests will enjoy specially curated menus, exclusive dining and tasting experiences, and cooking classes featuring an array of Doha’s leading restaurants, top chefs, and 11 hotels, including The Sharq Village & Spa, a Ritz-Carlton Hotel; The Ritz-Carlton, Doha; The St Regis Doha; Al Messila, a Luxury Collection Resort & Spa Doha; JW Marriott Marquis City Center Doha; W Doha; The Marriott Marquis City Center Doha; Sheraton Grand Doha Resort & Convention Hotel; Westin Doha Hotel & Spa; The Marriott Executive Apartments City Center Doha; and The Four Points by Sheraton Doha. “The festival will be an ideal platform to showcase this innovative mixture of Arabic and multicultural cuisine, and introduce the masterminds behind the country’s top restaurants. It is designed to provide guests the perfect platform to sample a range of different restaurants and cuisines at affordable prices with set menus starting from QR80 per person,” Chaklabakji said. The culinary event will also host a series of masterclasses, in addition to two Botanical Beverage masterclasses at Jamavar at Sheraton Grand Resort & Convention Hotel on October 21 where guests will be guided by professional mixologist Lalit Rane through five botanical beverages paired with the royal tastes of India.
Shop Qatar 2021’s Design Week is open at the Doha Design District at Msheireb, featuring a series of fashion and cultural events, workshops, and more than 30 pop-up shops by local designers, entrepreneurs, and food and beverage outlets. The opening ceremony, in partnership with Instudio, was highlighted by a pink-themed fashion roaming show as part of the breast cancer awareness month. The Design Week hosts a number of workshops Local entrepreneurs showcasing their products at the week-long event A fashion show marked the opening of Design Week “Shop Qatar is one of the country’s most important retail and fashion festivals, inspiring across design disciplines in Qatar,” said Berthold Trenkel from Qatar Tourism. “Through events such as this, we are able to showcase Qatar and its offerings to newer audiences.” He was joined by Omar al-Jaber, also from Qatar Tourism, and Qatari designer and the District’s manager Shaikha al-Sulaiti at the event. “This year, our partnership with Doha Design District enables us to leverage this superb platform, and enable the sharing of the latest industry trends, with design workshops allowing aspiring artists and entrepreneurs to learn authentic craftsmanship,” Trenkel added. The Doha Design District hosts a number of popup shops and activations as part of Design Week Qatar Tourism and Msheireb officials, as well as local designers, at the opening ceremony The festivity, running until October 9, will host a private viewing of New York-based fashion designer Naeem Khan’s exclusive collection on October 8 from 4pm-6pm (reservations can be made by calling 44335588). Khan’s designs will also be showcased at Lagoona Mall on October 7 at 7pm. “We are thrilled to host the Design Week in Doha Design District, the art and creativity hub at Msheireb Downtown Doha," Msheireb Properties acting chief executive engineer Ali al-Kuwari said. "It is part of our mission to promote the art and creativity scene in Qatar, offer a creative space for designers and artists to display their latest collections,” he added. “Visitors are welcomed for a whole week to enjoy the event and the workshops which enrich their knowledge and experience.” The event also serves as a platform for more than 20 local entrepreneurs to promote their products, and for local artists and designers to exhibit their work. One of the participating designers is Ghada al-Subaey, a renowned Qatari fashion designer and entrepreneur, who has been part of the fashion and design industry since 2012, and the creator and founder of “The Kayys”, and “1309”. Others include Qatari talents Aisha al-Mohannadi and Kaltham al-Kuwari who founded the Design House Interiors – a full-service interior design firm – which completed more than 300 projects and bagged the UK based International Property Awards for the category of Residential Interior for Arabia – Qatar; Mariam al-Muhannadi’s Lafemm, which was established in 2015 and started with abayas, and “concentrates on elegance and style while presenting femininity with a timeless touch of creativity”; WAAD, an award-winning Qatari fashion designer who created WAAD designs – an abaya brand launched in 2010 with a passion for unique abayas that are easy to wear; and creative fashion designer Maryam al-Darwish, who established her brand (Maryam al-Darwish) in 2015, and won the “Emerging Talent Award” from *Grazia magazine in 2018. According to the organisers, “Presented By”, a UK-based consignment store for sneakers and streetwear, also has a pop-up shop, giving patrons an opportunity to customise purchases. Other participants include Altair, Designed with Love by Noora F, Essentials by Dana, Five Fashion Line, Mono Mi, Pashmeen, Pattern by Wadha, The Fayve, Threadscorner, Volevo, Aldukan, Noor Stationary by Noor Ali Bahzad, INOYsport, Sonali Raman, Renkler, and Local Art by Roda. Doha Design District, in collaboration with Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar (VCUarts Qatar) and other partners, will be hosting seven workshops: Candle workshop by Candeel on October 3 from 4pm-8pm, denim workshops by VCUarts Qatar on October 4-5 from 4pm-9pm, perfume-making workshops by Francis Hembert (VCUarts Qatar) on October 6-7 from 4pm-9pm, accessories workshop by Instudio on October 8 from 3pm-8pm, and skincare workshop by Instudio on October 9 from 3pm-8pm. Several venues within Msheireb Downtown Doha are taking part in this year’s Shop Qatar, offering residents and visitors unique and curated experiences, organisers said.
A recently-held underwater clean-up drive in the country has collected 960kg of waste, helping to protect Qatar’s marine life and raising awareness on the dangers of plastic pollution. Khaled Zaki, an award-winning underwater photographer/videographer who is passionate about marine conservation, said that the initiative forms part of a global movement for marine life conservation dubbed as “Project Aware”. Themed *Dive Against Debris, the environmental campaign urges divers to use their endeavour to help keep the oceans “free of rubbish and stop plastics from harming marine animals”. The waste collected by the group at the diving site was composed of 192kg of metals, 480kg of plastic, and 288kg of wood, cigarette butts, clothes, and other non-recyclable items. Zaki, a PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) master instructor with 25 years in the diving industry in the Middle East and Egypt, said that they try to keep diving sites in the country clean by collecting debris whenever is possible. “Sometimes I do it by myself, sometimes I do it with friends, sometimes I organise campaigns every month or every three or four months,” he said, adding that they do diving almost daily as they try their best to keep the waters clean. Zaki noted that a number of spots, however, needs special attention especially the popular and most-visited beaches. He urged beachgoers to be more responsible by putting their trash on the right place during their stay. He also urged visitors to reduce the use of single-use plastic as it creates a huge negative impact on marine life “because these things stay there in the waters forever”. “During the dive, I spotted a group of small fish which keep circling around me and the group, and I can hear a voice deep inside my head saying that these fish are very happy, and they know what we are doing for them,” Zaki said. “So they were like celebrating and giving us a kind of salute for what we are doing. Let’s hope for the best for our environment.” About Project Aware, he said this global movement is powered by a community of adventurous enthusiasts who espouse marine life conservation. According to PADI.com, it is estimated that more than 250mn tonnes of plastic will pollute the ocean by 2025 and the environmental impact caused by plastic debris alone is estimated at $13bn a year. “Divers are often the first to witness the human impact on the marine environment and are uniquely positioned to help report, remove and advocate to stop marine debris at its source,” it added. Zaki underlined the importance of “spreading the word” with the advent of modern technology and social media, helping to create public awareness on the importance of marine life conservation. PADI’s flagship programme, *Dive Against Debris – representing the largest underwater cleanup globally – helped “removed over 2mn pieces of debris and aided over 10,000 entangled marine animals”. It aims to reduce marine debris by 50% in targeted countries by 2030, and among its “key actions” are engaging the “torchbearer community in citizen science”, and supporting targeted countries through community grant programme.
The month-long Doha Food Fest, which will open today (October 1), will be a true showcase of Qatar’s flourishing gastronomic scene, Sheraton Grand Doha Resort & Convention Hotel’s Oriental Pastry Chef Hamdi Chaklabakji has said. The event, organised by More Cravings by Marriott Bonvoy ahead of the Qatar International Food Festival in November, will put a spotlight on the country’s “diverse culinary offerings and a delightful experience for food lovers of all ages”. “I strongly believe Doha is now well-positioned as a culinary hub in the region. More Cravings’s extensive offering is another testament to this with more than 65 globally renowned restaurants already opened to date,” Chaklabakji, who is one of the participating chefs at Doha Food Fest, told Gulf Times. Fascinated by innovation and technique of oriental pastry and seeking an environment that supported his vision, he moved to Qatar in 2009 and had the opportunity to work in the Amiri Palace as the executive chef for seven years. Chaklabakji said Qatar is a key destination in the region as it welcomes visitors from various parts of the world and “a truly international food hub with great food offerings ranging from popular street food to fine dining in upscale restaurants”. “Drawing a fine line between modernity and tradition, Doha is exploding with a rich and diverse culinary scene with a myriad choices, including Michelin-starred restaurants and experimental cuisine that caters to all needs and tastes,” he added. “Qatar’s food scene will keep evolving, embracing flavours from all over the world, with influences spanning across traditional Qatari cuisine, and authentic Iranian, Indian, African, and European flavours, with a heavy focus on fresh seafood,” he said. Chaklabakji will be hosting an exclusive cooking class at the Sheraton Doha, featuring the iconic dessert favourite, Umm Ali on October 19, where he will present the dish, along with sharing some of the secrets for mastering the recipe. He noted that Umm Ali – an Egyptian dessert – has been popular in Arab kitchens across the region for more than 700 years. “The simplicity in preparing the dish, combined with the rich flavours and ingredients including sugar, nuts, pastry and dairy – propelled it to become one of the most popular desserts in Qatar and across the Arab region. “Umm Ali is similar to bread pudding. This popular Arabic dessert is made of puff pastry sheets and milk, served with a topping of nuts as well as raisins. There are many places to try it but here at the Sheraton Doha, the Umm Ali is the most popular with more than 40 years taken to perfect the recipe since the hotel first opened,” Chaklabakji said. Michelin-Starred Chef Pino Lavarra will also be hosting a cooking class on October 13 at Al Messila, a Luxury Collection Resort & Spa, Doha in its iconic Food Lab. At The Ritz-Carlton, at STK Doha, the organisers said guests may attend a unique culinary experience with Le Petit Chef, an interactive dining experience with the world’s smallest chef beginning October 3. A series of masterclasses will be held in tandem, including two Botanical Beverage Masterclasses at Jamavar at Sheraton Grand Resort & Convention Hotel on 21 October, where guests will be guided by professional mixologist Lalit Rane through five botanical beverages paired with the royal tastes of India. The festival will also offer curated menus and feature exclusive dining and tasting experiences, as well as cooking classes by Doha’s leading restaurants, top chefs and 11 hotels, which are mostly owned and operated by Katara Hospitality.
The overseas voting registration (OVR) for Filipino expatriates in Doha has been extended for two more weeks, from October 1 to 14, the Philippine embassy has said. The decision from the Commission on Elections (Comelec) was communicated by the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs-Overseas Voting Secretariat to the embassy in Qatar. “The embassy will continue to accept registrants during this period (October 1 to 14). The registration will run from 7am to 4pm,” Philippine ambassador Alan L Timbayan said in an embassy circular issued yesterday and was posted on its Facebook page. However, he stressed that “in view of the space limitation of the embassy and limited units of Comelec registration terminals, the embassy can only accommodate up to 300 registrants per day. Hence, the embassy accepts registrants on a first come, first served basis”. The embassy also sent another request to relevant Qatari authorities for the conduct of OVR on October 1 and 8 (two Fridays) during the extension period. The embassy added that it can only operate on weekends if allowed by relevant Qatari authorities: “In any case, as soon as the embassy obtains approval, it will release a separate announcement to confirm the registration on Fridays”. According to the embassy, “those who were able to vote in Qatar in the last two elections in 2016 and/or 2019 need not register again”. Only those with a green code on their Ehteraz app will be allowed to enter the premises, adhering to Qatar’s health and safety protocols. Many Filipino expatriates lauded the latest announcement from the embassy, which has been working hard to accommodate the large number of registrants (with all the Covid-19 protocols in place) prior to the previous deadline. “It’s a welcome development, we have been given another opportunity to register and vote in the 2022 presidential elections. However, it’s still our fault if we failed to register because we have been given enough time to do it – even after the 2019 elections,” Filipino expatriate Joseph R said. It is learnt that in May this year, there were only few registrants come to the embassy to register, and in some days, none at all.
The Philippine embassy in Doha inaugurated the Passport Renewal Centre (PaRC) in Doha yesterday, further enhancing passport services for Filipino expatriates in the country. PaRC, a standalone facility established by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) with BLS International, is located on the 17th floor of Al Shoumoukh Tower, which is close to the Al Sadd Metro station. The newly opened facility provides Filipino expatriates in Qatar with another accessible and convenient option, apart from the embassy, to renew their passports. “Despite the challenges brought by the Covid-19 pandemic, the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs remains proactive in finding solutions that would continue to improve its services, whatever the challenges may be,” said Philippine ambassador Alan L Timbayan, who was joined by BLS International Regional (Middle East) head Anne Kurian for the inauguration of the facility. The envoy noted that the embassy “implemented an online appointment system for passport renewal applications to ensure that health protocols will be strictly observed on its premises." “Although the embassy accepts and processes an average of more than 200 passport renewal applications per day, the need for passport services remains significantly high,” he stressed. The PaRC in Doha has a reception, five processing counters, a section for biometrics and a passport collection area. It will be open for 12 hours a day, from 8am to 8pm, seven days a week except during holidays in Qatar. Applicants must visit https://qatar.blsphilippinepassport.com/book_appointment.php to book an appointment. The total cost for passport renewal is QR331, which includes the usual application fee of QR240 and a ‘convenience fee’ of QR91 collected by BLS International for the use of the PaRC. Processing of the passports will take at least four to six weeks, and an additional fee may be collected by BLS International for home delivery to the passport holder’s preferred address. “We are honoured to serve the Republic of the Philippines' Department of Foreign Affairs and confident that our tech-enabled ePassport renewal services will be faster and convenient for the Filipino diaspora in Qatar. We will simplify the application procedure and shorten the application processing time, which will, in turn, contribute to overall improved customer service,” said BLS International joint managing director Shikhar Aggarwal in a press statement. To ensure data privacy and security, the embassy noted that PaRCs use DFA propriety ePassport System only in processing all personal information. It also stressed that the PaRC in Doha “only caters to simple renewal of the passport, and not those requiring any changes in the biographic details of the passport holder”. “The department ensured that the employees of BLS International working in the PaRC and involved in passport renewals are properly vetted, subjected to thorough background checks, and are bound by Philippine data privacy and confidentiality rules,” the embassy said. Besides from the PaRCs in Saudi Arabia (Riyadh and Jeddah) and the UAE (Abu Dhabi and Dubai), the embassy noted that passport renewal centres will also operate in other countries, including the US, Italy, France and Malaysia, aimed at better serving Filipino expatriates.
Filipinos in Doha can now renew their passports at the newly-opened BLS International-Philippine Passport Renewal Centre (PaRC), the Philippine embassy in Qatar has announced. The PaRC, located at Al Shoumoukh Towers, 17th floor, Building 58, 231 Suhaim Bin Hamad Street, Zone 23, in Doha, will serve as another option for the renewal of Filipino expatriates’ passports apart from the embassy at Jelaiah Area. “The opening of the PaRC will now allow Filipinos to have the option to process the renewal of their passport at the embassy or at the PaRC,” the embassy said in a September 25 circular posted on its Facebook page. “The PaRC will only cater to simple renewal of the passport and not those requiring any changes in the biographic details of the passport holder.” The embassy said those who want to apply for passport renewal at the PaRC can visit https://qatar.blsphilippinepassport.com/book_appointment.php to book an appointment. The Centre is open from Sunday to Saturday between 8am-8pm, except during official holidays in Qatar. The PaRC, on its official website, said that “booking a prior appointment is preferred” for the renewal of passport. “This is keeping in mind that we maintain proper social distancing to ensure the safety of all customers and to cater to the high demand of renewals,” the PaRC said. “And to ensure availability of time slots, customers are requested to book their appointments well in advance.” The Centre also issued a number of guidelines such as: * Carrying e-mail confirmation of the appointment at the scheduled date and time to the Centre to show it to staff attendant/security guard. * Applicants shall be charged a convenience fee of QR91 per application to be paid to the service provider in addition to the passport renewal fees. * Completing online application form with all the supporting documents required for the passport renewal before appearing for the scheduled appointment. * Arriving at Centre 15 minutes prior to the appointment time. Only applicants will be allowed to centre. Only one appointment can be booked per passport. The embassy noted that “Qatar is the third country in the Gulf region, after Saudi Arabia and the UAE, that the Philippine government has opened a PaRC to cater to the needs of the Filipino community”.
A delegation from the European Parliament has lauded Qatar not only for achieving huge progress in its labour reforms vis-à-vis the preparation and hosting of the 2022 FIFA World Cup but also for its humanitarian efforts to help Afghan refugees. “Our visit here proves that Qatar values our inputs and want to work together to achieve the best outcome for workers not only now but for many years to come and we look forward to engaging with them further and of course checking again soon to see what further progress has been achieved over the coming months,” Marc Tarabella, vice-chair of the delegation for relations with Arab Peninsula and chair of the Sport intergroup – EU Parliament, told a press conference on Friday in Doha. He said the abolition of the Kafala system, the safety measures and high-level standards of protection for all the workers, and the introduction of minimum wage in the country proved that Qatar is working hard to implement fast and effective labour reforms. The delegation’s meeting with HE the Prime Minister and Interior Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Khalifa bin Abdulaziz al-Thani on Thursday was “one filled with hope,” according to Tarabella. He said the HE the Prime Minister made it clear that the process of reform does not end in the tournament next year but will continue long after 2022. Tarabella urged colleagues and institutions in the EU Parliament who criticise and asking for some sanctions on Qatar to organise an official visit to the country. “The (Qatari) authorities are open, an International Labour Organisation office is here,” we can say that that the evolution is very positive and we invite all people who want to come… but please don’t criticise without knowing… it is better to see than to criticise 5,000km from here. “The awarding of the FIFA World Cup 2022 has accelerated the process of reform, the reforms are real, we can see, we can check, and we spoke about the salaries, the minimum wage, and also the security, the equipment of workers,” he said. Tiziana Beghin, member of the Committee of the International Trade/Budget, and member of the Sport Intergroup – EU Parliament, said she was impressed not only with the high-level of technology that have been implemented in 2022 FIFA World Cup infrastructures but also in using them for humanitarian purposes. “I want to underline that these people (Afghan refugees) are hosted in an infrastructure planned for the FIFA World Cup and is now being used for humanitarian help and supporting the humanitarian organisations so thanks a lot to the sport that can show the power and the role that it can play also in such important social issues,” she said. “We visited Lusail city and I personally found great dignity in workers’ life. On labour reforms, the introduction of the basic salary, overcoming of the kafala system, for sure represent important milestones and I’m sure they will lead to greater equity and respect for human rights,” Beghin said. Apart from labour reforms, she also lauded Qatar for providing the best possible accommodations for Afghan refugees, mostly families and children. “These are facts. The children that we saw that are entertained in order not to crash in emotional desperation… we saw volunteers, we saw a real structure. We in Italy have to face the challenge of migration coming (mostly) from Africa, I can testify that it is not easy to receive so many people at the same time and we are not able to offer them such accommodation such clean and proper and safe accommodation,” she added. Jose Ramon Bauza Diaz, member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs/Transport and Tourism and DARP delegation/chairman of the EU-Qatar friendship group – EU Parliament, shared the same view saying that “children were provided by almost everything that they should need”. “You look at their (children refugees) faces it is so incredible, so impressed… and they were trying to reunite them with their families and relatives,” he said. Diaz underlined the importance of continuous co-operation between Qatar and the EU in areas such as security is paramount, aimed at ensuring that Afghanistan does not become a safe haven for terrorism and to preserve regional stability. “Second one, addressing to the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan is another area in which Europe and Qatar need to continue cooperating together… We also need to work with Qatar to ensure the respect of human rights in Afghanistan especially those of women and children. “Third, the evacuation and resettlement of those fleeing Afghanistan which still continue today and will require a continuous cooperation between the EU and Qatar,” Diaz said.
The demand for Thai food products in Qatar is expected to increase as the Covid-19 situation further improves and as the country continuously prepares for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, Thailand ambassador Nathapol Khantahiran has said. Speaking to reporters recently, the envoy said there are around 10 Thai restaurants in Doha now and this number, as well as the volume of Thai food products, will grow in the coming months. He noted that the volume of exports from Thailand to Qatar fell in 2020 from nearly $400mn to $300mn compared to 2019 due to the onslaught of the Covid-19 pandemic. However, plans to expand trade co-operation with Qatar “both in terms of volume and value” aimed at increasing more imports from Thailand are in the pipeline. “We prioritise safety (during the pandemic) and second, we try to introduce more healthy Thai products and food, which we plan to bring more, in co-operation with LuLu,” Khantahiran said. He added that 2020 marked the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Qatar and Thailand but the celebration had to be cancelled due to the global health crisis. LuLu Group International director Dr Mohamed Althaf cited the huge demand for Thai food products not only in Qatar and the region but also globally. He noted that there are close to 1,500 high-quality Thai food products, from rice, seasoning, coconut, and drinks, including vegetables and fruits, among others, in Qatar. “Thailand is one of biggest food exporters of Asia, they keep on innovating not only on food, but also on packaging and processing, they also have a lot of nutrition planning, even cater for special needs, and for cooked food also they are very good. “We have very strong relations with Thailand. In terms of volume, it is significant and not only for LuLu, if you look at even Qatar as a whole, the food export especially for rice, sugar, a lot of other food products they have a very predominant position. “With some level of modesty, LuLu takes the claim of making Thai food, fruits, and vegetables popular in Qatar. So we started 18 years ago, this is the result of our collaboration with the Thai Trade Commission, they are promoting these Thai products here now,” Althaf pointed out. He added that Thai food – an international cuisine - has become very popular to different nationalities living in Qatar. “Asians are always very used to it. I will rate Thai food in the top four cuisines in Qatar and this is also international. If you look at Mediterranean, Indian, Italian, and Thai, these are all like the very big ones, and there are so many nationalities that will share the same culinary habits such as Filipinos and Sri Lankans (among others),” Althaf said.
The Mexican embassy in Qatar presented the “Distinguished Mexican Award 2021” to Doha-based Mexican artist and photographer Juan Miguel Ramirez, aka “Icaro”, citing his contribution to the arts and for strengthening the cultural ties between the two countries. “In 2018, our ministry of foreign affairs created the medal ‘Mexicanos Distinguidos’ to recognise the outstanding contribution of our diaspora abroad, and I have the privilege to invest it on one of the best cultural ambassadors of Mexico in Qatar, our dear friend, Juan Miguel Ramirez ‘Icaro’,” Mexico’s ambassador to Qatar Graciela Gómez García said at the ceremony. The envoy, who led the awards and cake-cutting ceremony along with Qatar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Protocol Department director, ambassador Ibrahim Yousif Abdullah Fakhro, noted that Icaro has been living overseas for the past 25 years, and spent the last 15 in Qatar. Gómez Garcia said that Icaro’s work as an architect (with a Master in Design) and as a photographer has been featured prominently in Qatar and the Gulf; served as “a reference of the artistic scene in Doha; and a proud representative of Mexican talent and creativity”. “As a founder and leader of Latin American Artists Doha, Icaro has contributed to promote the talent of the region among the Qatar public and has been instrumental in other collaborative platforms with expat artists from all over the world,” she added. The Mexican artist thanked the Institute of Mexicans Abroad and the ministry of foreign affairs for the award – a recognition “which helps to highlight the important work carried out by various members of our diaspora in Qatar, and that contribute to raise the image and prestige of Mexico in the world”. Born Juan Miguel Ramírez Escalante on September 29, 1960 in Cuernavaca, Morelos, Icaro developed an interest in photography at age 11 and studied with renowned Mexican photographers Rene Bárcenas and Antonio Berlanga. Icaro left Mexico in the dawn of the century in search of new horizons, living in various countries such as Spain, France, and Bulgaria, before coming to Qatar where he developed an important part of his artistic work for the past 15 years. In Qatar, Icaro joined the group Ankaboot in 2014 and became a member of the collective “International Artists in Doha” in 2015. In the same year, he became a founding member of the Group of Latin American Artists in Qatar, a collective of relevant Latin American artists residing in the country. Ícaro has a long career that led him to take part in several solo and group exhibitions in his home country, in Qatar (at Katara – the Cultural Village), and in other countries, including Russia. The artist is well-known for using watermelon in many of his works as a symbol to express his perception about a certain subject, including Qatar’s history and heritage reflected in museums, buildings and architecture in particular.
Shopping experience in Qatar and other countries is expected to become hybrid as online shopping and delivery started slowing down, LuLu Group International director Dr Mohamed Althaf has said. “If you look at all the online (shopping) and delivery worldwide that pressure has gone now and kind of slowly easing up and becoming hybrid,” he told reporters at the recently held ‘Thai Halal Products In-store Promotion in Qatar’. He said that over the past several years online shopping and delivery for food and retail in some countries only hit 5 to 6% increase – the highest so far – since it usually remains well below 5%. According to Dr Althaf, it was only during the Covid-19 pandemic that it surged up to 10% and in some cases, 12% while “many other things like textile went up to 20% in some other countries”. During the onslaught of Covid-19 and the imposition of certain restrictions last year, a number of leading hypermarkets in Qatar increased their capacity for home deliveries at various locations to serve customers who prefer to shop online. It is learnt that many residents in Qatar still prefer to visit the hypermarkets and supermarkets to buy food and other perishable items such as fruits and vegetables, as well as meat and seafood. “When going to a store you realise there are so many other things that you need to stock," the LuLu official said. “The other thing is that the number of shops are increasing, people are also assured with the measures the government has taken here, for example, the vaccination rate is very high, almost everyone, 100% of the people who work for food including LuLu – eligible people – are all vaccinated and tested regularly, social distancing is being done,” Dr Althaf said. Qatar being a safe country with all the Covid-19 protocols in place such as mandatory wearing of facemasks and showing of a green code Ehteraz app, he added that the level of shopping confidence is also continuously growing. Four new LuLu stores are scheduled to open in Qatar this year and The Pearl-Qatar store by the first quarter of next year, LuLu Group International director Dr Mohamed Althaf announced. .
The Mexican embassy in Qatar presented the “Distinguished Mexican Award 2021” to Doha-based Mexican artist and photographer Juan Miguel Ramirez aka ‘Icaro’ recently, citing his contribution to the arts and for strengthening the cultural ties between the two countries. “In 2018, our Ministry of Foreign Affairs created the medal ‘Mexicanos Distinguidos’ to recognise the outstanding contribution of our diaspora abroad, and today I will have the privilege to invest it on one of the best cultural Ambassadors of Mexico in Qatar, our dear friend, Juan Miguel Ramirez “Icaro”,” Mexican ambassador Graciela Gómez García said at the ceremony, held at the Diplomatic Club. The envoy, who led the awards and cake-cutting ceremony along with Qatar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Protocol director, ambassador Ibrahim Yousif Abdullah Fakhro, noted that Icaro has been living overseas for the past 25 years and spent the last 15 in Qatar. Garcia said Icaro’s work as an architect (with a Master in Design) and as a photographer has been featured prominently in Qatar and the Gulf; served as “a reference of the artistic scene in Doha; and a proud representative of Mexican talent and creativity”. “As a founder and leader of Latin American Artists Doha, Icaro has contributed to promote the talent of the region among the Qatari public and has been instrumental in other collaborative platforms with expat artists from all over the world,” she added. The Mexican artist thanked the Institute of Mexicans Abroad and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the award – a recognition “which helps to highlight the important work carried out by various members of our diaspora in Qatar, and that contribute to raise the image and prestige of Mexico in the world”. Born as Juan Miguel Ramírez Escalante on September 29, 1960 in Cuernavaca, Morelos, Icaro developed an interest in photography at age 11 and studied with renowned Mexican photographers Rene Bárcenas and Antonio Berlanga. Icaro left Mexico in the dawn of the century to search for new horizons, living in various countries such as Spain, France, and Bulgaria before coming to Qatar where he developed an important part of his artistic work for the past 15 years. In Qatar, Icaro joined the group Ankaboot in 2014 and became a member of the collective “International Artists in Doha” in 2015. In the same year, he became a founding member of the Group of Latin American Artists in Qatar, a collective of relevant Latin American artists residing in the country. Ícaro has a long career that led him to take part in several solo and group exhibitions in his home country, in Qatar (at Katara – the Cultural Village), and in other countries, including Russia. The artist is well-known for using watermelon in many of his works as a symbol to express his perception about a certain subject, including Qatar’s history and heritage reflected in museums, buildings and architecture in particular.
A continuously growing design community in Qatar will help achieve the Doha Design District, Msheireb’s aim of becoming a design hub in the region, according to Qatari designer and the District’s manager, Shaikha al-Sulaiti. The District, located at the world’s first sustainable downtown regeneration project, was designed to be a vibrant hub and cultural destination for local and international designers. “We do have a robust, really good designers, the design community here is growing and it is continuously growing and there is a lot of talent for sure, there’s a lot of creativity,” al-Sulaiti said. “I can see a lot of hardwork, also with the younger generation and I do believe that this will help us towards our vision which is to become the regional design hub.” She noted that the District’s ground floor highlights luxury retail, focusing mainly on furniture and lighting for its interiors. It also has some offerings and activations on luxury fashion, which are currently taking place and runs until the end of the year. While the ground floor was built to promote luxury international brands aimed at raising awareness on the importance of quality and design, al-Sulaiti said the first floor, which has 3D printing facilities, is dedicated more towards makerspace. She said the District is also set to be the main hub for the design activities relating to the fifth edition of the month-long Shop Qatar, the first major event taking place in the country in 18 months. According to Shop Qatar organisers, a fashion show will put a spotlight on the creations of New York -based fashion designer Naeem Khan while a trunk show will display creations and unique pieces of Bollywood celebrity designer Maneesh Malhotra. The District will also host exclusive activations such as pop-up shops as part of the Shop Qatar Design Week, taking place from October 3 to 9 from 3pm to 10pm. Apart from international designers, the event will see local entrepreneurs showcasing their designs; an array of food and beverage offerings; workshops; and other creative initiatives. Al-Sulaiti noted that the District has unique features and offerings over the Doha Fire Station: the former is more towards interior and fashion but can also include art activities while the latter heavily focuses on art. “We are planning to have collaborations with different artists, either for murals or different exhibitions that we can host together so the Doha Design District is really dedicated to the creative community, we are not really focusing on one specific specialisation but more towards who is interested in arts and designs,” she said. Al-Sulaiti added that the District will hold several activities until year-end, as well as its launch event in the first quarter of 2022. About the art scene in Doha, she said it has been booming over the past few years: “I do believe that Doha is the leader in the art world in the region and we do have the right elements to make this also the regional design hub which is our main mission as well.” “We have a very strong programme that will be focusing mainly on educating both the public and the design community to the international level that the brands currently work towards. So we have a lot of things that we are planning and it’s all very exciting,” al-Sulaiti said.