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 Joey Aguilar
Joey Aguilar
Joey Aguilar has been a journalist since 2013 at Gulf Times, reporting on events related to Qatar. He was earlier a journalist for eight years in the Philippines. He became one of the 2015 United Nations Foundation Global Goals Press Fellows. He has also attended a number of journalism seminars in the Philippines.
u2018Abstraction: Subverting Realityu2019 at Gallery 4 showcases more than 25 art pieces of 11 multidisciplinary contemporary artists.
Doha Fire Station fosters creative exchange

Qatar Museums (QM) chairperson HE Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani has put a spotlight on the Doha Fire Station’s key role in fostering creative exchange, as well as showcasing the works of local artists. “Since it opened in 2014, the Doha Fire Station has been an incredible hub for creativity, and I am always so proud to see the diverse and inspiring works made by our talented artists in residence," HE Sheikha Al Mayassa posted on Facebook. “This year is no exception, and the two exhibitions currently on display in our galleries, Abstraction: Subverting Reality, and Beyond the Rules showcase the very best in local creative talent. I encourage you to visit and enjoy before it closes on September 24,” she said. The two unique exhibitions at the Fire Station feature the works of a group of established and emerging Doha-based artists. Gallery 3 hosts 'Abeer Al-Tamimi: Beyond the Rules ’, a solo exhibition by the artist that focuses on her interest in human interaction and behaviour while ‘Abstraction: Subverting Reality’ at Gallery 4 showcases more than 25 art pieces of 11 multidisciplinary contemporary artists. These include Noor Abuissa, Amna al-Baker, Shaikha al-Hardan, May al-Mannai, Hassan al-Mulla, Ebtisam al-Saffar, Ryan Browning, Sarah Jayyousi, Jesse Payne, Michael Perrone, and Twiggy Shmeissany. The Fire Station announced it will be holding a Youth Summer Programme – a workshop on Fabric Patterning and Design with Paula Bouffard – scheduled from August 28 to September 1 at its Education Studio. Participants will learn “how to print on fabric using different techniques, explore several surface design basics, carve printing blocks, and experiment with simple shapes and colours,” in the final week of the programme, according to the Fire Station.    

ACD chair Shamzari Shaharan and ambassador Ibrahim Yousif Abdullah Fakhro, along with Asean ambassadors, led the cake-cutting ceremony on Tuesday to mark the 55th Asean Day in Qatar, held at Holiday Villa Hotel & Residence Doha. PICTURE: Shameer Rasheed
55th Asean Day celebrated in Doha

The Association of South East Asian Nations (Asean) Committee in Doha (ACD) marked the 55th anniversary of the union’s establishment in the country on Tuesday, underlining the strong relations between Qatar and Asean. “Although Qatar’s political and socio-cultural relations with Asean as a group is still nascent, its trade with Asean has been robust, and averages at around $10bn annually, with Singapore and Thailand among Qatar’s top trading partners,” Malaysian ambassador and ACD chair Shamzari Shaharan said at an event. The celebration was attended by ambassador Ibrahim Yousif Abdullah Fakhro, chief of protocol, Qatar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA); Yusof bin Sultan Yousef Laram, director of the Asian Department; Ali bin Khalfan al-Mansouri, director of International Organisation Department; Dr Hanouf Abdulrahman al-Thani; assistant director of International Organisation Department; ambassadors of the Asean member states in Doha; and members of the Working Group of ACD. “I believe that despite global economic challenges and geopolitical uncertainty, there is prospective economic co-operation to be explored between Asean and Qatar, especially pertaining to enhancing the supply chains that were disrupted due to the Covid-19,” Shaharan said. He added that digital infrastructure, industrial automation, robotics, energy, Islamic finance, tourism, digital manufacturing, and halal industry are some of the many potential areas to be developed for trade and investment between Qatar and Asean. The envoy said Asean’s 670mn population market - the third-largest after China and India with a total combined GDP of more than $3tn - may provide an array of opportunities for Qatar, “as Asean would be on track to become the fourth largest economy in the world by 2030”. Asean, in line with the celebration’s theme ‘Stronger Together’ this year, looks forward to a more substantive and meaningful engagement with Qatar’s MoFA and the Qatar government to explore practical co-operation under the three pillars: political security, economic and socio-cultural, Shaharan said. According to the ACD chair, the occasion also marks Qatar’s successful accession to the Treaty of Amity and Co-operation in Southeast Asia, which took place on the sideline of the 55th Asean Ministerial Meeting in Phnom Penh on August 3, signed by Qatar’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs HE Sheikh Mohamed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani. “The signing of the treaty marked an important milestone for Asean – Qatar relations and reflects Qatar’s commitment to Asean in the coming years. The recent visit by HE Sheikh Mohamed to Asean is seen as a positive development in this aspect too,” he added.    

Mexican MoFA official Alfonso Zegbe at Katara on Monday. PICTURE: Joey Aguilar
Mexican centre to be opened at Katara for World Cup

A Mexican centre in Qatar will serve as an extension of the embassy, providing information and consular assistance, among other services, to Mexican football fans during the FIFA World Cup 2022 in the country, Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) Strategy and Public Diplomacy Unit executive director Alfonso Zegbe has said. “Thanks to the excellent relations between Mexico and Qatar, we will be operating a Mexican Centre at Katara - Cultural Village, from November 15 to December 21, due to the large number of Mexican fans expected in Qatar for the World Cup, ” he told Gulf Times on the sidelines of his visit to Qatar on Monday. It is estimated that the number of Mexican football fans who will be travelling to Qatar could exceed 80,000, which will be the largest presence of Mexicans in a Middle Eastern country in history. Such strategy consists of two stages: a preventive campaign before the trip and the opening of the centre in Qatar with a multidisciplinary team drawn from MoFA, the National Guard, and other federal agencies. Zegbe, who is also the co-ordinator general of Mexico’s Strategy for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, said the Government of Mexico has been delivering messages to Mexican fans through social media platforms. He added that Minister of Foreign Affairs Marcelo Ebrard also announced preventive measures on “what you can do, what you cannot do, but also how important it is to learn about the cultural context in Qatar.” “We want people to be well informed and prepared but also what requirements they need to come to Qatar such as about the Hayya card, their medical coverage, hotel bookings, and the Ehteraz app, among others. “What the Mexican government is doing through the MoFA is informing people that there’s a travel guide where we update all the information about Qatar and other countries for Mexicans, what they need, what's happening there… and there is also a system for Mexicans to register when they go abroad for protection measures,” Zegbe said, adding that a web platform called “My Consulate” can be used in seeking for assistance. He noted that the Mexican football team will be arriving two to three days before the start of the tournament, and will be playing on November 21 against Poland; November 26 against Argentina; and November 30 against Saudi Arabia. About how special is the tournament for Mexico and its people, Zegbe said the World Cup in Qatar is important as it already broke prejudices, organising it for the first time in the Middle East – in a country of Arab culture and Islamic tradition. “The legacy of Qatar is very important for us, it’s a learning process, we are learning a lot because it’s a different world from where when Mexico was organising the World Cup in 1970 and 1986,” he said, highlighting the importance of keeping people safe during the tournament. Zegbe noted that it will be the first time a country like Mexico to host three World Cups: 1970, 1986 and in 2026 (together with the US and Canada). “It’s historical because Mexico will be by then the only country to organise a World Cup three times. Also, historically, this will be the first time that three countries together will organise the tournament and this will show how we work together as North American countries not just for trade and value chains and also for tourism and international events. That's part of the North American spirit,” he added. Zegbe, who has been visiting Qatar for the last five years, lauded the country’s World Cup preparations, saying he was impressed by the transportation system, infrastructure and new buildings, and stadiums.    

Prof Khalid bin Ibrahim al-Sulaiti, along with Claudio Cravero, Dr Salah Khaled, and a number of ambassadors, touring the exhibition.
‘Coffee for Two - Cultures in Dialogue’ exhibition opens

A unique exhibition, titled ‘Coffee for Two – Cultures in Dialogue’, opened Sunday at Katara – the Cultural Village, featuring a selection of around 50 artefacts that put a spotlight on the beverage as a universal language and symbol of generosity.  Evolution of coffee •    The exhibition underlines the evolution of coffee over time and its modern adaptation. •    Archival photos from FBQ Museum’s collection, compared with contemporary snapshots of coffee-to-go consumption, show how knowledge and traditions constantly merge to create a culture of social interaction and exchange. Katara general manager Prof Khalid bin Ibrahim al-Sulaiti, Unesco Gulf States and Yemen Office director Salah Khaled, and Sheikh Faisal Bin Qassim Al Thani (FBQ) Museum director Claudio Cravero led the opening, which was attended by a number of ambassadors from various embassies in Doha. “The exhibition is a multicultural project that wants to unite people in their diversity and shed light on what exactly unites us. Coffee for sure is the natural consequence or revolution of that exhibition because as we said before, coffee is a universal language, we sit down over a cup of coffee, we invite people over a cup of coffee,” Cravero said. He said the show is the continuation of a long-term project that Sheikh Faisal bin Qassim al-Thani started in 2018 dubbed “The Majlis – Cultures in Dialogue”. It was launched in France and has toured various European capitals, including Paris, Vienna, and Valletta, among others. (From right) Claudio Cravero, Prof Khalid bin Ibrahim al-Sulaiti, and Dr Salah Khaled, along with ambassadors from different embassies in Doha at the event. The exhibition ended in Madrid during the Covid-19 pandemic, and it resumed at Alhambra in Granada, according to Cravero. The collection on display, which includes photos, videos, and quiz games such as coffee pots, coffee thermos (1940), 20th-century glass mixer bottle, Arabic coffee fryer, and sieve, among others, “explore the cultural practices related to the home-roasted Arabic coffee (Qahwa) and the functions it performs for the communities.” A number of artefacts on display at the ‘Coffee for Two - Cultures in Dialogue’ exhibition. Cravero thanked Katara for hosting the exhibition (running until September 21 at Hall 47), saying there is no better place to open this show related to Qatari culture than in such a place (Katara), and Unesco for providing cultural support and patronage. Speaking at the event, Dr Khaled said the “Arabic coffee, a symbol of generosity” was inscribed on the Unesco Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2015, based on the nomination submitted by United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Oman, and Qatar. PICTURES: Shaji Kayamkulam He noted that the element of Qawah was inscribed in 2015 together with the Majlis, while the third element that is of Qatar – falconry – was inscribed a year later. “We have three elements here. In Unesco, we are working hand in hand with the different authorities, with different institutions to popularise this heritage, to make it known. Qawah in particular is an international language, it doesn’t stop here. “You can see, this is a majlis, we are all gathered around Qahwa to discuss, to exchange for intercultural dialogue, inter-religious dialogue, for social cohesion and this is the most important of it. Being an element of the intangible cultural heritage of humanity not only here in Qatar or the region. It has become an intangible cultural element of the entire humanity. “It is important to have these kinds of elements that facilitate or catalyse dialogue especially with the current challenges that the world is facing,” Dr Khaled said.

A young visitor tries to 'Beat the RoboKeeper'. PICTURES: Joey Aguilar
3-2-1 Qatar Olympic and Sports Museum a big draw

  The 3-2-1 Qatar Olympic and Sports Museum (QOSM) has become an integral part of the rising football excitement in Qatar, attracting a large number of visitors since the 100-day countdown to the 2022 FIFA World Cup tournament began. Described as the world's most sophisticated museum dedicated to sport, the 3-2-1 QOSM was one of the most visited museums in Qatar even during the summer season. The 3-2-1 QOSM visitors at the Olympic Theatre Families exploring the 3-2-1 QOSM. From families and groups of friends to students and individuals, museum-goers have been spending hours visiting all the seven gallery spaces that “reveal the cultural impact of sports through multiple perspectives: the history and contemporary significance of the Olympic Games, the inspiring journeys of global sports heroes, and the development of sports in Qatar”. Young visitors enjoying the interactive games at the 3-2-1 QOSM. The 3-2-1 QOSM's Gallery 4: Hall of Athletes features a number of tennis stars. For adults, the museum’s Gallery 2 (A Global History of Sport) and Gallery 3 (Olympics) kept them engrossed in the various collections and the way stories are presented, while Gallery 7 (Activation Zone) attracted young visitors. Gallery 2 houses nearly 100 objects and reproductions, ranging from the 8th century BCE to the early 20th century – backed by graphics, audiovisual and interactive digital elements. The Official Torch in the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, designed by Carl Diem and Walter E Lemcke The “Olympics” gallery offers visitors a trip down memory lane, “from Greek Antiquity to the present day”, and an opportunity to explore “the Ancient Games through the birth of the modern Olympics” via an immersive video at the Olympic Theatre. Some of the collections at Gallery 3 include the actual torches used in the Olympic Games, including the Official Torch in the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, designed by Carl Diem and Walter E Lemcke. An autographed running shoe from Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt, known as the 'fastest man alive' is seen at the 3-2-1 QOSM. A family visit to 3-2-1 will not be complete without going to its Activation Zone, which allows children to explore and engage in a range of interactive exhibits and physical games, such as the *Beat the RoboKeeper. According to Qatar Museums (QM), “the Museum’s final gallery promotes physical activity across Qatar and encourages healthy and active lifestyles”.  Some of the museum collections include an authentic costume of a Kemari player. “This interactive gallery experience begins with the inspirational stories of local people who have made the decision to adopt healthy and active lifestyles,” the QM said. “The gallery encourages continued engagement with the Museum through its exciting and innovative programme of events, challenges, and activities.” A bat from the legendary baseball player George Herman "Babe" Ruth is exhibited at the 3-2-1 QOSM. Besides the galleries, the museum’s café and Naua restaurant, which offer healthy and delicious choices, also drew many customers, especially during the weekend. Museum-goers can also find many interesting and exclusive items at the 3-2-1 gift shop.  A Breal Cup replica on display at the museum.  PICTURES: Joey Aguilar

The BMW Welt features fascinating and futuristic architecture while the BMW Museum displays a wide range of groundbreaking vehicle models. PICTURES: HE Sheikha Al Mayassa Facebook page
Ideas for the future Qatar Auto Museum

A recent visit by Qatar Museums (QM) Chairperson HE Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani to the BMW Welt and BMW Museum in Munich has given her ample ideas for the upcoming Qatar Auto Museum. “It was such a pleasure to visit the @bmwwelt Museum in Munich, and to see the evolution of such an iconic company from airplane war engines to motorbikes and finally cars and all this teaches us about science and engineering, creativity and design. “Seeing the historic vehicles presented throughout the museum has given me lots of ideas for the future #QatarAutoMuseum which will showcase an incredible collection of vehicles and explore the history and impact of automobiles on our culture,” HE Sheikha Al Mayassa posted on Facebook. BMW Welt is the company’s experience and automobile customer delivery centre and features fascinating, futuristic architecture. It hosts an array of exhibitions for all the BMW Group brands, virtual tours showcasing groundbreaking vehicle models and unique architecture, and a one-of-a-kind drone flight. The BMW Museum provides a unique presentation of the company, brand, and BMW product history. Spanning an area of 5,000sqm, it displays about 125 of the brand’s most valuable and attractive automobiles, motorcycles, and engines, (source: The 30,000sqm Qatar Auto Museum in Doha, meanwhile, is “a new project that will bring Qatar’s car community under one roof and one mission: to drive culture forward and to inspire the next generation of innovators, designers, engineers, collectors, and policymakers through a shared passion for cars,” QM noted. The Qatar Auto Museum, designed by the Office for Metropolitan Architecture led by Pritzker Architecture Prize-winning architect Rem Koolhaas, will feature permanent galleries that track the evolution of the automobile from its invention through today, and how it has influenced culture in Qatar. The temporary exhibition spaces will display high-profile vehicles – from supercars and limited editions to racecars and classic cars. Other facilities of the museum will include an Edutainment Centre and Workshop Spaces, as well as areas dedicated to children’s activities such as driving simulators, mini car mechanics, and kids' driving areas, among others. The Qatar Auto Museum 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. “If you have not visited yet, A Sneak Peek at Qatar Auto Museum Project exhibition is currently on display @nmoqatar until January. The display features a fascinating selection of vehicles on loan from Qatar’s community of automobile enthusiasts – definitely worth a visit if you love cars,” HE Sheikha Al Mayassa said.    

South Korean ambassador Lee Joon-ho.
Qatar, S Korea sign mutual visa exemption agreement

Qatar and South Korea signed Wednesday an agreement on mutual waiver of entry visa requirements, a move that will take the friendly bilateral relations between the two countries yet to a greater level, South Korean ambassador Lee Joon-ho has announced. The agreement was signed by Qatar’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs HE Sheikh Mohamed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani and South Korea’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Park Jin during the former’s visit to Seoul Wednesday. “The meeting, taking place in four years since minister Mohamed visited Korea in August 2018, will mark a meaningful milestone for our solid bilateral relations,” the envoy told a press briefing at the embassy in Qatar. Joon-ho said the new visa waiver is a legally binding agreement, which will take effect 30 days after its signing. It aims to ensure visa-free entry and short stays of nationals of the two nations for up to 90 days. The envoy expressed confidence that this new accord will increase the level of people-to-people exchanges between the two countries. “Indeed, as World Cup is getting closer, a lot of Korean football fans are showing greater interest in Qatar, and it will make it more convenient for Korean nationals who want to visit and explore Qatar before, during, and after the World Cup. “And it will facilitate Qatari citizen’s travel to Korea not only for business but also for tourism as there is the great enthusiasm in Qatar towards Korean cultural contents, especially K-pop and K-dramas,” Joon-ho added. “I believe that our enduring partnership, shared values, and vibrant people-to-people ties will ensure our friendship remains strong in the years to come.” The envoy said Qatari visitors will only be required to obtain a Korea Electronic Travel Authorisation (K-ETA) before travel by providing personal and travel-related information through the K-ETA website (or mobile app) in advance. Around 1,800 to 2,000 Qatari tourists visit South Korea annually before the number of visitors dropped due to the spread of Covid-19 in the last two years, according to Joon-ho. However, the number has increased by twofold this year when the (previous) visa-free entry scheme for Qatari citizens resumed in April. The envoy pointed out that the new visa waiver agreement, which the two foreign ministers signed in Seoul Wednesday, is different from the previous visa-free entry scheme (which has been based on reciprocity). He said more than 13,000 Koreans visited Qatar in 2019 before Covid-19 broke out and during the pandemic, around 4,000 to 5,000 Koreans visited Qatar. The envoy pointed out that they expect the number of Korean visitors will sharply increase as Covid-19 situations continue to improve especially when the visa waiver agreement enters into force. On the importance of the agreement to the World Cup fans from South Korea, Joon-ho said: “As the Qatar World Cup is getting closer, our football fans are also taking an even deeper interest in Qatar. We expect at least thousands of Korean fans to visit Qatar during the tournament.” On the country’s preparations for the prestigious tournament, he said: “Qatar has done an exceptional and impressive job in organising this first-ever World Cup in the region. It has dealt very well with all the aspects of the tournament such as public transportation, world-class stadiums, accommodations, and even environment protection as the first carbon-neutral World Cup. “I am very pleased that Korean companies have contributed to Qatar’s preparations for the World Cup by joining various infrastructure projects such as highway, Doha Metro, Al Thumama stadium and the iconic Lusail Plaza Tower. “And Qatar already showcased to the world its ability to hold major international football events successfully even amid Covid-19 such as the AFC Champions League and FIFA Club World Cup. I am sure that Qatar will host an unforgettable World Cup this year.” On enhancing trade and economic co-operation, Joon-ho said Qatar and South Korea have developed mutually beneficial economic partnership since establishing diplomatic ties in 1974. He said Qatar has been the largest supplier of LNG to South Korea and consistently supplying LNG for the last 20 years while South Korea is one of the major trading partners of Qatar as well. The envoy stressed that the sheer volume of trade between the two countries, which recorded $12bn in 2021, shows how strong the economic relations are and the visa waiver agreement will further strengthen this. About the prominent Qatari investment sectors in South Korea, Joon-ho said: “Based on such long-standing economic relations, our two countries are working closely together to diversify fields of our co-operation into new areas such as smart city, information and communication technology (ICT), agriculture, healthcare, education, and climate change. “For example, Qatari investors can find attractive investment opportunities in areas related to green energy and ICT in Korea. With new economic co-operation opportunities, I hope to see more Qatari investments in Korea and vice versa in the near future”.

Indonesian ambassador Ridwan Hassan leads the Tumpeng cutting ceremony at the embassy. Supplied picture
Indonesians in Qatar celebrate 77th Independence Day

Flag-hoisting, Tumpeng cutting, and awarding of sports competition winners marked the 77th Indonesian Independence Day at the embassy in Qatar Wednesday. Led by ambassador Ridwan Hassan, the event was attended by members of the Indonesian community in Qatar, as well as Indonesian students who took part as flag hoisting troops. Indonesian students in Qatar took part in the celebration as flag hoisting troops. The celebration showcased Tumpeng, a popular Indonesian cone-shaped rice dish symbolising the gratitude of the Indonesian people for the blessing of independence. The envoy also awarded community members who won the embassy-organised competitions such as bowling, badminton, and table tennis as part of the Independence Day festivity. Hassan highlighted the strong bilateral relations between Qatar and Indonesia, which began in 1976. Qatar opened its embassy in Jakarta in November 1997 while Indonesia opened its embassy in Doha on June 22, 1999. Over the years, he noted that the two countries enjoyed cordial relations in various fields: Co-operation in the political field, for instance, has been manifested, among others, through co-operation on defence, as well as in the peacemaking process for Afghanistan. Embassy officials and members of the Indonesian community in Qatar attend the celebration at the embassy Wednesday (supplied pictures). Qatar and Indonesia share a mutual partnership in the area of economy and trade with total bilateral trade reaching $893mn in 2021, according to the embassy. Indonesia's non-oil and gas exports were recorded at $217.2mn and imports amounted to $189.2mn, with Indonesia having a surplus of $28mn. Indonesia's oil and gas products from Qatar amounted to $486.5mn. From January to May 2022, total trade increased by 27.14% to $514.5mn compared to the same period in 2021. Indonesia's non-oil and gas exports were recorded at $100.6mn, up by 51.20%, and its imports also increased by 60.04% to $123.4mn compared to the same period in 2021. Overall, Indonesia experienced a trade deficit of $22.7mn. In the socio-culture field, Qatar and Indonesia entered a new phase with the selection of Indonesia as a partner country for the Qatar Year of Culture in 2023. Indonesia is the first Southeast Asian country to be selected as the partner country for this prestigious event. “In the coming months, Qatar will host the most-awaiting and one of the biggest sports events in the world – FIFA World Cup 2022. While Indonesia, in a different field, this year resumes its presidency of the G20. Next year, Indonesia and Qatar together will celebrate and appreciate their cultural relations through a year-long programme “Qatar – Indonesia Year of Culture. So, it’s time to collaborate stronger,” Hassan said.  

The site is located an hour and 20 minutes north of Doha by road, and 1.5km south-east of Fuwairit Village. PICTURES: Qatar Tourism
Fuwairit Kite Beach resort to open soon

Fuwairit Kite Beach, a state-of-the-art resort and new tourism destination in the northern part of the country, is set to open later this year, Qatar Tourism has announced. “Qatar is exceptionally well-placed to offer everything a kitesurfer seeks - stable and consistent winds for nine months of the year, calm and shallow lagoons, warm water, a favourable climate - and it’s globally accessible,” Qatar Tourism posted on its social media pages. The site, located an hour and 20 minutes north of Doha by road, and 1.5km south-east of Fuwairit Village, is supported by Qatar Tourism, Discover Qatar, and Qatar Airways. According to Qatar Tourism, Fuwairit is a coastal village with excellent kitesurfing conditions, consistent winds, ideal ocean water and powder-soft sands. Qatar’s geography also “offers optimal conditions that create the perfect opportunity to join the already well-established and successful global ‘surf tourism’ market.” “Qatar is exceptionally well-placed to offer everything a kitesurfer seeks - stable and consistent winds for nine months of the year, calm and shallow lagoons, warm water, a favourable climate - and it’s globally accessible. “The upcoming state-of-the-art resort is designed around the kitesurfer’s lifestyle. There will be a yoga studio, fully equipped gym, restaurants, pool, and much more,” Qatar Tourism tweeted. Qatar Tourism noted that water sports like kitesurfing continue to become increasingly popular in Qatar, making the country one of the favourite ‘go-to destinations’ for water sports enthusiasts from various parts of the globe. With a “combination of calm, shallow waters and consistently good wind,” Qatar serves as a safe place for beginners to practice and gain experience in kitesurfing. While there are several spots to choose from, Qatar Tourism noted that Fuwairit beach features “a powder-soft sandy beach and open water ideal for both beginners and experienced kiters”. “Apart from the weather, good wind, and great spots to practice at, Qatar is an optimal choice for kitesurfers from all over the world thanks to its strategic location. Being an international hub for travellers from either Europe or Asia, it’s often just a few hours’ flight to arrive at kitesurfing paradise,” Qatar Tourism said. Kitesurf expert Sarah Lord shares online (Visit Qatar website) what she described as “a fantastic experience” in Qatar, saying “it feeds the soul, as you feel truly connected to mother nature. You can experience both the adrenaline of the sport and the tranquility of the sea at the same time; it is a truly unique feeling.”

Indonesian ambassador Ridwan Hassan.
Qatar-Indonesia ties going from strength to strength: envoy

 Indonesia’s ambassador to Qatar has underlined the strong bilateral relations between the two countries, on the occasion of Indonesia’s 77th Independence Day on Wednesday. “Indonesia and Qatar have enjoyed excellent relations based on common faith and mutual interests,” ambassador Ridwan Hassan said. “Under the guidance of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani and our President Joko Widodo, the relations have been strengthened and nurtured from time to time.” “The contact and exchange visits from various levels of leadership have cemented the solid bilateral relations in political, economic and social-cultural spheres,” the envoy said in a statement. Hassan stressed that the Indonesian embassy in Qatar will continue to promote and facilitate any effort to strengthen and deepen “our brotherly countries’ relations, including in people-to-people relationship”. He said that 2022 will be exciting for both countries: Qatar will host one of biggest – and the most-anticipated – sports event in the world, the 2022 FIFA World Cup, while Indonesia resumes its presidency of the G20 this year. The 17th G20 Heads of State and Government Summit will take place in Bali on November 15-16 under the theme *Recover Together, Recover Stronger. Highlighting the impact of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic on the different sectors of society and understanding the challenges and the need for collective action, Indonesia is set to focus on three main pillars for its G20 2022 presidency: Global Health Architecture, Sustainable Energy Transition, and Digital Transformation. Hassan said that 2022 is an essential milestone in the plan to relocate Indonesia’s capital from Jakarta to Nusantara, which is situated between two regencies – Penajam Paser Utara and Kutai Kartanegara – in East Kalimantan province. This area of around 56,000 hectares, with a total development area of 256,000 hectares, is four times larger than Jakarta. About 75% of the site will be green space, meaning that Nusantara will become a forest city with the potential to absorb substantial carbon emissions. The envoy said that next year the two countries will celebrate and appreciate their cultural relations through a year-long “Qatar – Indonesia Year of Culture” programme. In a statement, the Indonesian Community in Qatar’s Cultural Art chief and Sanggar Seni Mesaieed (Mesaieed Cultural Club) head, Ika Ristiani, said: “As we commemorate the 77th Independence Day of the Republic Indonesia, we hope that we can share and contribute more to encourage our children to move on and to not hesitate when showing the beauty of Indonesia to the world.” “Indonesia has many ethnic groups with different languages, traditions, religions and beliefs,” he said. “We are rich in art and culture. However, we are one – one nation, one land and united by one language, Bahasa Indonesia.” Sanggar Seni Mesaieed was established in 2015 as Sanggar Tari Mesaieed (or Mesaieed Dance Club) and made its first performance in the internal Community of Qafco (Qatar Fertiliser Company) Indonesia (KOMIQ) events, and only comprised the children of Qafco employees. “We were doing our dance practice in Al Banush Club House, Mesaieed, under the management of Qafco, so it was not possible for us to accept children from other companies,” Ristiani said. “After receiving full support from Mesaieed International School, the club opened its membership to Indonesian children in Mesaieed.” In 2017, the club began offering traditional music, Angklung, one of Indonesia's traditional musical instruments for girls and boys. The club then changed its name to Sanggar Seni Mesaieed.    

The concert, which will take place on August 27 at the Katara Opera House from 7.30pm to 8.30pm, aims to enhance and preserve Gulf folk music by intertwining traditional Gulf folk styles with a Western orchestra for the first time.
Gulf folk music concert by QPO

A unique musical performance by the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra (QPO) will put a spotlight on the country’s rich maritime history with influences from the art of ‘Fijiri’ – a traditional form of music associated with pearl divers and the sea. The concert, which will take place on August 27 at the Katara Opera House from 7.30pm to 8.30pm, aims to enhance and preserve Gulf folk music by intertwining traditional Gulf folk styles with a Western orchestra for the first time. QPO deputy executive director Nasser Sahim has composed the music for the event, along with Dr Amer Jaffar and Mansour al-Mohanadi, a Qatari singer providing vocals for the performance. Sahim, as a vocalist-composer, has recorded more than 30 single songs in the Gulf region as well as an album of a dozen songs. He has produced musical projects, television programmes, sound effects, commercial music serials and classical music for all of Qatar’s national media. He has also composed orchestral music. Sahim’s Four Seasons symphony has been performed domestically and internationally from 2015 to 2017. Dr Amer Jaafer is an award-winning composer, life-long pianist, oud performer, orchestra expert, and talented music director. He has worked hard to build a strong cultural exchange between Uzbekistan and Kuwait, along with other GCC countries. The QPO performance, to be conducted by Kamoliddin Urinbaev, will include a traditional Gulf percussion group led by Dr Faisal Ibrahim al-Tamimi, composer, Qatari director, and researcher in arts and Qatari folklore. Urinbaev, who is the founder, artistic director and chief conductor of The State Symphony Orchestra of Uzbekistan, has worked with renowned orchestras and soloists around the globe.    

Each of Al Najadahu2019s houses has unique architectural details and qualities.
Local creatives to benefit from QM's Al Najadah

Emerging and established local creatives stand to significantly benefit from Qatar Museums’ (QM) Al Najadah initiative, which provides an array of opportunities for growth, collaboration and sharing of expertise. As a community, QM said Al Najadah can support creatives in attracting a bigger audience and in engaging with local and international partners for further cooperation and knowledge sharing. Al Najadah team is also ready to assist in marketing and communications, in addition to giving access to relevant events and programmes in the district. “We are looking for both emerging and established creative individuals and enterprises to join the community. We are ready to create a fertile ecosystem by providing the right incentives and support structures in order to enable this district to become a beacon for future-oriented artists, artisans, designers, makers, and chefs,” QM posted on the Al Najadah website. QM chairperson HE Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani recently urged local creatives to be part of Al Najadah’s transformation and apply for the open call. Emerging creatives include “individuals or micro-studios at the early stages of their business looking for a space to work and showcase their talent, and partners to work with and learn from. Benefits include rent subsidy (discounted rent fees), which will be provided based on each applicant’s project proposal and ability to pay; an opportunity to showcase marketing assets such as posters, banners, booklets, and stickers in the Majlis building (welcome point) as well benefiting from wayfinding and dedicated spatial interventions; free event hosting at House B15 along with other emerging members twice a year; opportunities to talk about their pieces or displaying them at bespoke programmes offered by the community to the general public; and a temporary free space at pop-up activations. Established creatives, meanwhile, include “select industry-leading enterprises with an existing audience and brand presence, looking for people to collaborate with and expand globally.” Al Najadah is ready to provide them with a seat at the Community Circle, an opportunity to display their portfolio and success stories, as well as marketing assets; and event hosting at House B15. Comprising 17 houses, QM noted that Al Najadah is one of Doha’s few remaining neighbourhoods that still features traditional architecture whilst retaining its original historical structure. QM, which is at the forefront of reviving Doha’s heritage districts, said Al Najadah’s cluster of houses used to belong to modest Qatari families and dates back to the 1930s. “Each of Al Najadah’s houses has unique architectural details and qualities. You can activate a unit or an entire building with temporary or permanent interventions. All permanent construction work will have to comply with heritage site regulations,” QM said. The Al Najadah Curation Committee, which will select future community members, encouraged local creatives to submit their business or project proposals not later than August 31.   Activation Strategy Three key pedestrian streets and three significant public squares constitute the main areas where the public can pass by, which were used to delimit Al Najadah’s three main clusters. Each cluster offers different types of experiences to community members who occupy these houses. Entry points, accessibility to the site and public circulation were taken into consideration when assigning each building’s specific functions. With the exception of House B01 and House B15 (reserved for the community and public programming), all remaining buildings are planned to be rented out to future community members. Project proposals for the activities to be undertaken must fit under one or a few of the main working modes: make, sell, show and connect. House typologies offer options for diversity and inclusion. Each of Al Najadah’s houses has unique architectural details and qualities. People can activate a unit or an entire building with temporary or permanent interventions. All permanent construction work will have to comply with heritage site regulations. (Source:    

Visuals from the activations at Place Vendome in Lusail Friday. PICTURES: Shaji Kayamkulam.
100 days to go countdown to conclude Saturday

The Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy’s (SC) football activations at three major malls in Qatar will conclude Saturday after attracting a large number of enthusiasts as the country marked 'the 100 days to go' countdown to the 2022 FIFA World Cup over three days. Football fans queued up to participate in a competition that will give winners FIFA World Cup (category 1) tickets to the opening match between Qatar v Ecuador at the 60,000-capacity Al Bayt Stadium on November 20. “I find the games very exciting and challenging but it is worth spending my weekend here at Place Vendome with friends. I hope one of us will win a ticket to the event on November 20,” said Indian expatriate Shakir M. He lauded SC’s activations saying the country is in a festive mood in the lead up to the prestigious football tournament, scheduled from November 20 to December 18 – which also marks Qatar’s National Day celebration. According to SC, the tournament will feature eight state-of-the-art stadiums, which will host 64 matches throughout the event – taking place for the first time in the Middle East and the Arab world. Filipino expatriate Arnel S, who mulls participating in SC’s mall activities, said excitement further builds up in Qatar as the much-anticipated sport competition draws near. Apart from the activations, he said he also hopes to witness some of the side events such as sports competitions, cultural performances, exhibitions, and the upcoming public artworks in the coming months before the tournament. “These various activations give us a glimpse of the kind of atmosphere during the month-long FIFA World Cup, and I am sure that it will be an unforgettable experience for me and my family. I also plan to explore the museums and the cultural centres here this year,” he added. Qatar Museums plans to transform the country into a vast outdoor art museum experience in the coming weeks with more than 100 installations, including 40 new and commissioned public artworks by celebrated Qatari, regional and international artists. The SC activations at Doha Festival City, Mall of Qatar, and Place Vendome witnessed many families and children enjoying the different activities, which include e-gaming and other football games. Football fans will also have the opportunity to watch the Lusail Super Cup at the 80,000-capacity Lusail stadium on September 9, featuring the champions of Saudi Arabia and Egypt, the event’s organising committee announced. Tickets will go on sale from August 18.

DHFC hosts an SC activation, which kicked off Thursday and attracted a large number of participants. PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam.
SC launches 100 days World Cup countdown activations in malls World Cup

The Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy (SC) launched Thursday a series of activations at two major malls in Qatar, marking the 100 days countdown to the 2022 FIFA World Cup in the country. A large number of football fans thronged the activations and competitions at Doha Festival City (DHFC) and Place Vendome from 12noon to 10pm. Mall of Qatar (MoQ) is set to kick off a two-day activation from Friday (August 12) – the start of SC’s 'the 100 days to go' countdown for the tournament. It will also be the venue for the grand finale event Saturday (August 13). SC noted that participants can win a FIFA World Cup (category 1) ticket to the opening match between Qatar v Ecuador at the 60,000-capacity Al Bayt Stadium on November 20 by getting the highest score on each day. Filipino expatriate John B, who was among the first five mall-goers to participate, lauded SC’s activations, saying it provided residents and visitors a chance to be part of the World Cup countdown, besides possibly winning a ticket. “Kicking the ball towards a particular target was really challenging, but nonetheless, I enjoyed all the activities here at the mall,” he said, showing his 21st ranking after completing the challenges. According to SC, those who want to participate in the competition must register first via a QR code, which is posted at the malls’ activation areas. SC’s mall activations also serve as special bonding moments for many parents and their children who are spending their weekend indoors – an opportunity to play together as they test their football and agility skills. The activations offer a feel of the prestigious tournament, taking place for the first time in the Middle East and the Arab world from November 20 to December 18. MoQ’s Oasis area will be hosting a number of competitions and exciting games, in addition to a flash mob performance at 4pm and at 8.30pm, before announcing a winner for the day. Mall-goers get to enjoy some entertainment shows and community performances, apart from the activations’ football activities, e-gaming, and special giveaways. Football fans taking part in these SC activities at the three major malls in Qatar are advised to strictly follow Covid-19 health and safety protocols. It is learnt that several sports competitions, cultural events and activities, conferences, and exhibitions across the country, including the Street Child World Cup Doha 2022 from October 5 to 15, are expected to take place in the lead up to the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.

Mubarak al-Malik's Figure of a Woman Wearing a Batoola and Offering a Plant at the Fire Station. PICTURES: Qatar Museums
QM initiatives nurture Doha-based artists

An array of Qatar Museums (QM) initiatives continue to provide Doha-based artists an opportunity to nurture their talents, and help make the country’s art scene more vibrant, according to Fire Station exhibitions co-ordinator Amal Zeyad Ali. She told Gulf Times that there are many QM open calls such as the Jedariart initiative where artists can apply and take part to grow and develop themselves. QM, Ali pointed out, also believes “in the fact that if you give an opportunity to an artist they will cherish it and they will grow out of that.” Abdulaziz Yousef Ahmed's Woman Side Profile in Abaya at Al Tarfa Al Khor Interchange. A public art programme by QM, Jedariart gathers artists to create murals and street art, adding vibrancy and meaning to the walls across Doha. It forms part of QM’s aim of supporting local artists and promoting public art. “I think the impact of it (Jedariart) is when you go abroad, oftentimes you see art everywhere whether it's graffiti or commissioned and I think to have it commissioned makes it local, very site specific. “It also brought in a lot of people (who) might not want to come to museums but they will see it in the roads like for example you go to Doha Festival City and as you're leaving you see Michael Perone’s mural, and maybe you're not very keen about art but you start being like ‘oh who's that where did that come from’ and you want to learn more,” said Ali, who is also the curator of ‘Abstraction: Subverting Reality’ exhibition and organiser of the ‘Abeer Al-Tamimi: Beyond the Rules’ exhibition at the Fire Station. Mural by Michael Perrone (assisted by Salma Awad, Teslim Sanni, Amna Al Muftah, Maha Nasr, Alice Aslem, Parthivan K) titled 'Home and Away' at Doha Festival City Interchange. Besides Jedariart, she added that other programmes such as the Fire Station’s Paris and New York international residency also provided artists the needed exposure abroad to enhance their skills and broaden their horizon and perspective. About challenges, Ali noted that the Covid-19 pandemic motivated people to look inwards and find their own identity as an artist. “I think the more and more that we see art and people practicing art, the more people will look inwards, the more you will look at a painting (and) be like ‘oh that's that artist’ and you'll see their personal take on it, and they will have a personal identity. “I think that will really shape Qatar not only as an international player in the art scene, not only an importer of art, but also an exporter of art and they've already started to do that but they will continue to do so,” added Ali.

Dadu is designed to nurture, challenge and inspire children and families.
Dadu, Children's Museum a platform for learning

Qatar Museums (QM) chairperson HE Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani has put a spotlight on the key role of ‘Dadu, Children's Museum of Qatar’ as a platform for learning, giving children the opportunity to develop and fulfil their potential. “What we learn through play from childhood, stays with us for life. It strengthens our bonds with family and friends and brings us much joy and laughter," HE Sheikha Al Mayassa posted on her social media pages Tuesday. “This is the driving force behind our future Children’s museum, Dadu, which will enrich the lives of children and their families by providing an unparalleled space for learning through open-ended play, exploration and experimentation,” she added. According to QM, families will have the chance to play and learn together at Dadu (meaning “pla”" in Arabic) through a wide range of “stimulating, interactive and accessible indoor and outdoor experiences”. While the museum has yet to open, QM said it is already engaging the community in the country such as family events with its partner organisations, as well as Museums in Residence programmes in schools around Doha. Dadu will also support all children and those with special education needs and disabilities to learn through play, family bonding and other funfilled activities. “As the plans for the museum develop, I have enjoyed participating in this special project with @daduqatar and @inq_giftshop for this uniquely sustainable toy – the Dal Blocks – inspired by the unique designs for the building to create a toy that will bring people together, regardless of age, gender and interests,” HE Sheikha Al Mayassa said, as she thanked participating Dadu Founding Families: Shell Qatar, Baladna, and Exxonmobil, “who share our belief in the value of play”. Echoing HE Sheikha Al Mayassa’s statement, Dadu director Essa al-Mannai highlighted the importance of the museum’s mission of nurturing children's creativity, imagination, and love of learning. “We feel we are needed at this time to support families, and to connect people and ideas despite being physically apart,” al-Mannai posted on QM’s website. Dadu has an ongoing interactive experiment titled ‘Light Atelier’, which began on July 1 and runs until September 11 at the Museum: Arab Museum of Modern Art. This educational space gives participants the opportunity “to take the lead and freely discover concepts about light and shadow, colour mixing, reflections and more”, allowing them “to play, explore and experiment”. “We take a broadly constructivist approach to learning, starting from the position that each learner is unique. Learning outcomes are developed and delivered while taking into account different learning styles and differing developmental stages. Children are encouraged to go on a learning journey that is both challenging and within reach. “Our playful approach creates a sense of delight and uses all types of play – pretend, dramatic, constructive, multisensory and social play to support children's learning,” QM said.

Part of Qatar Museums' mission is to revive Dohau2019s heritage districts, including Al Najadah.
Local creatives to be part of Al Najadah’s transformation

Qatar Museums (QM) chairperson HE Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani has urged local creatives to be part of Al Najadah’s transformation and apply for the open call. New members will then be joining “the growing community of creatives, partners and collaborators in this historic space”. Placed at the heart of Doha, the history of this cluster of houses which used to belong to modest Qatari families dates back to the 1930s. The open call focuses on reaching local and global audiences – finding the right members, partners, and collaborators – aimed at creating an inclusive and diverse community. The deadline is on August 31. “Once a humble neighbourhood, Al Najadah is now seeing a new lease of life as we work to transform it into a space for a new multidisciplinary community of emerging and established creatives focused on Qatar’s burgeoning new crafts: Contemporary Heritage, Culinary Arts and Digital Experiences,” HE Sheikha Al Mayassa posted on her social media pages. She also encouraged local creatives to visit Al Najadah’s open house on August 10. The event is set to present its vision, in addition to a tour through the district, which is just a walking distance from Souq Waqif and Mshereib. The culture of the past is represented by each design decision in this idyllic neighbourhood, which is now being prepared to host a creative community for the future. PICTURES: Qatar Museums and Al Najadah website Al Najadah is one of the city’s few remaining neighbourhoods that still features traditional architecture whilst retaining its original historical structure. It is comprised of 17 houses, one of which is a majlis (“sitting places”) where people used to gather to discuss collective needs and socialise). This cluster of courtyard homes that were once owned by modest Qatari households were later occupied by artisans who sold traditional goods and regional produce (source: Three key pedestrian streets and three significant public squares constitute the main areas where the public can pass by, which were used to delimit Al Najadah’s three main clusters. “Cultural heritage shapes values, beliefs and aspirations, defining a nation’s identity and representing a record of its human achievement. That is why we are committed to reviving Qatar’s heritage sites, such as Al Najadah, a cluster of beautiful, historic houses in the heart of Doha that date back to the 1930s,” HE Sheikha Al Mayassa said. Set to host a creative community of the future to preserve its artisan culture, Al Najadah aims “to become a crafts district that strives to blend social, economic and cultural elements in order to create an area that can empower creative businesses’ growth all while preserving the authenticity of the neighborhood environment and heritage structures. The district is just a walking distance from Souq Waqif and Mshereib. To achieve this goal, Al Najadah will offer an environment for collaboration and research between traditional artisans and contemporary artists, designers, and makers — all for the purpose of knowledge and cultural exchange. Al Najadah brings people together “to produce locally made, beautifully designed goods and to establish local brands in Qatar”. This regeneration project offers indoor spaces for potential tenants who want to establish their businesses. It is still renovating public spaces – designed as venues “to eat, rest, get inspired or just come together”. As part of the Al Najadah community, members can learn from others and share their knowledge or expertise, as well as forge partnerships and collaborations. Al Najadah seeks “to bring together those who have a shared desire to become pioneers in their industries and aim to flourish their businesses in a collaborative way”.

A gondola ride for QR20 at Villaggio mall. PICTURES: Visit Qatar
'QR100 can take you places in Doha in a day'

Qatar residents and visitors who want to explore a number of popular places in Doha 'can do so much in one day with QR100' this summer or even beyond, Visit Qatar suggests. The official social media tourism account of Qatar Tourism posted a video of a resident who shared her experience, spending less than QR100 to visit and enjoy a number of destinations in the city. The trip started by purchasing a QR6 day-pass of the Doha Metro and Lusail Tram, taking her to different metro-accessible locations and cultural centres. Enjoying the gondola ride First stop is the Al Thuraya Planetarium at the Katara – the Cultural Village via the Katara or Al Qassar metro stations. It has become a major attraction at Katara, providing visitors with a unique ‘edutainment’ experience. Katara noted that the 2,240sqm and full-dome digital system facility features a 22m screen – equipped with state-of-the-art digital projectors showing 2D and 3D tutorial shows. “The Planetarium features information on Earth Science which contains more than 200 unique data sets in five categories: astronomy, atmosphere, geology, and the oceans. This includes more than 25 terrestrial weather data, solar data sets, and a number of awareness presentations by professional trainers,” Katara said on its website. “The planetarium takes visitors on a journey around the galaxies of the universe in a simplified manner that fits children and adults in two languages, English and Arabic.” A QR6 day-pass of the Doha Metro and Lusail Tram can lead passengers to many destinations in the city. Katara, dubbed as “the largest and the most multidimensional cultural project of Qatar”, is also home to an array of exhibition galleries, concert halls, theatres, mosques, and state-of-the-art facilities, in addition to eateries and restaurants, including Chapati and Karak café – where anyone can have a meal for QR10. From Katara, the trip moves to the Villaggio mall via the Doha Metro’s Red and Gold Line. Visitors can enjoy a gondola boat ride for QR20 and lunch at its food court, which offers an array of tasty but affordable dishes such as a QR5 meal at Tea Time. A wide range of spices on offer at Souq Waqif. With a day-pass ticket, metro passengers can visit other malls such as Mall of Qatar (Green Line), Place Vendome (Red Line), and City Center Doha (Red Line) while Doha Festival City can be accessed via Metrolink No 145 at the Lusail metro station. The journey continued to Souq Waqif for other activities such as feeding the birds and buying some spices and souvenirs. Visitors can also buy a box of fresh dates for QR5 at the Local Dates Festival, which concludes on August 10. The planetarium takes visitors on a journey around the galaxies of the universe in a simplified manner. She had dinner at some eateries and outlets, spending less than QR10 for a kebab sandwich before buying some spices for QR14 and concluding her experience at the Doha Corniche to see the city’s scenic skyline and the dhows. For visitors who plan to take a similar tour to the traditional market, many residents suggest going to the Souq Waqif Art Centre, which has become a popular hangout for artists and enthusiasts. It also displays the work of local and visiting artists, in addition to hosting art workshops and classes or simply watching artists create their pieces. Visitors get to see cultural performances, parades, and exhibitions during festivals and other celebrations at Souq Waqif, held mostly in the cold months. Souq Waqif Art Centre has become a popular hangout for artists and enthusiasts.  PICTURES: Visit Qatar