Wednesday, October 04, 2023 | Daily Newspaper published by GPPC Doha, Qatar.
 Joey Aguilar
Joey Aguilar
Joey Aguilar has been a journalist since 2013 at Gulf Times, reporting on events related to Qatar. He was earlier a journalist for eight years in the Philippines. He became one of the 2015 United Nations Foundation Global Goals Press Fellows. He has also attended a number of journalism seminars in the Philippines.
Thai ambassador Nathapol Khantahiran with Abeer Saad al-Kuwari and Lolwa al-Naemi at QNL.
Thailand embassy in Doha donates books to Qatar National Library

* To commemorate the 41st anniversary of diplomatic relations between Thailand and Qatar   The Thailand embassy in Doha donated recently a collection of 141 books to the Qatar National Library (QNL) to mark the 41st anniversary of diplomatic ties between the two countries, which falls on August 7. “QNL is one of most prominent libraries in the Middle East which offers learning resource for people from all walks of life, not only for the Qataris but for all regardless of their nationalities. “The collection of books that are donated today present several aspects about Thailand, such as Thai history, the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej The Great, Thai arts and culture, architecture, tourism, Thai culinary and Muay Thai, as well as Thai language studies and children's books,” Thai ambassador Nathapol Khantahiran said. The envoy, who was welcomed by QNL’s Research and Learning Services director Abeer Saad al-Kuwari and Strategic Planning director Lolwa al-Naemi at the event, added: “We hope that these books will help expand the growing collections at QNL, cultivate the culture of reading and lifelong learning, and promote better understanding about Thailand among the general public in Qatar.” “Through these books, which serve as a source of knowledge and wisdom, we hope to bring the peoples of Qatar and Thailand closer together, especially the younger generations who will become our future. This will enrich people-to-people understanding which has been the fundamental aspect of our cordial bilateral relations for the past 41 years,” Khantahiran said. The envoy thanked QNL, Qatar Foundation, and Qatar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs for their collaboration in celebrating the 41st anniversary of Thailand - Qatar diplomatic relations.    

Movenpick Hotel Doha
Hospitality sector to continue upward trend

Qatar’s hospitality sector, including the food and beverage (F&B) industry, will continue to be on an upward trend up to the 2022 FIFA World Cup as more people get vaccinated and the current situation continues to improve further, a hotelier has said. "The drop in room rates since their last peak in 2019 for 4- and 5-star hotels/resort properties has attracted high volumes of local guests," Movenpick Hotel Doha’s Public Relations and Communications assistant manager Ritika Ramani told Gulf Times. “The aspect of being able to an affordable local vacation in a safe and hygienic environment has been an added attraction,” she said. It is learnt that the summer season this year is witnessing a demand surge for local hotel bookings particularly during the weekend, mostly families who find staycations practical than travelling abroad. Qatar remains to be one of the safest countries in the world for visitors and residents, Ramani said while citing that it retained its position as number one globally in terms of safety on the Numbeo Global Index. Qatar government’s efforts to prevent the spread of Covid-19, and in vaccinating the population also play a significant role in boosting customer confidence to dine at restaurants and other food outlets. Ramani noted that several hotel restaurants in Doha, which offer seafood buffets, have enticed residents to dine and spend their evenings or weekends at hotels. “A lot of hotels on the stretch, including ourselves do a seafood night and I guess people like it because the variety that you get with something like that is extensive at a very valuable price. Many hotels in Qatar, including Movenpick Hotel Doha – locally owned and operated by Katara Hospitality – have either renovated or currently making some structural changes as they prepare for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. “Closer to this prestigious tournament, there will be other changes. We want to make sure we are supporting team Qatar and we just want to showcase the Qatari flag across the hotel. “We want to make sure we are up to date when it comes to next year specifically for the World Cup,” said Ramani, adding that Movenpick now has 148 rooms. It introduced a spa last year and has recently opened a men’s barbershop.    

Cycling has become an increasingly popular sport and recreational activity in Qatar since the onslaught of the Covid-19 pandemic last year, inspiring more residents to stay active and healthy.
Cycling soars in popularity during Covid-19 times

Cycling has become an increasingly popular sport and recreational activity in Qatar since the onslaught of the Covid-19 pandemic last year, inspiring more residents to stay active and healthy. “The number of cyclists and enthusiasts just grew exponentially where many people made the move of training from indoors to outdoors because the gyms and pools were (temporarily) closed,” Qatar Chain Reaction’s (QCR) Saturday Social Ride cyclist Adiel Mohamed told Gulf Times. During that period, he said that many citizens and residents also bought new bicycles and “now enjoying it a lot more than before because of being forced to start cycling.” It is learnt that the Covid-19 situation also witnessed a demand surge for different types of bicycles and cycling apparel and accessories in the country from last year – a sign of the growing appeal of cycling to both individuals and families. “What makes cycling amazing, it is a group sport, besides the training part there is the social aspect as well like going to coffee rides, meeting different people on the rides, it’s the exciting part of buying a new bike, buying the clothes, buying the accessories. “And coming from a cyclist who has been cycling for over 20 years it’s an amazing sport to keep fit, you can definitely push yourself to either racing or just recreational or like myself just being a café rider, riding to stop for a coffee. It’s a better option in my opinion than running, some people enjoy running some people prefer cycling over running cause in their opinion it’s a bit easier than running and I share the same sentiment,” Mohamed said. Qatar Chain Reaction (QCR), one of the largest groups of cyclists in Qatar which holds Friday and Saturday bike rides year-round, in addition to several races and cycling events, provides useful information on its website for both cyclists and enthusiasts, especially those who are new in the country. Layla Bernal, a member of a Filipino cycling group called “Doha ChiQlistas At TamBikes Qatar”, shares Mohamed’s view saying that cycling has enticed an increasing number of “kabayans” to engage “in an enjoyable” physical activity. Besides being a reliable mode of transportation, she said cycling is an excellent and effective way to stay fit and healthy, and a mood booster. Bernal noted that unlike others, she prefers to cycle during the summer than the cold months “because I sweat a lot and I burn more calories (losing 10kg) during the summer, which also requires fewer clothes.” She said she likes the bike paths in Qatar, especially the 33km Olympic Cycling Track (OCT), providing safe and smooth rides for cyclists. According to QCR, “the construction of the OCT – a road dedicated to cyclists – has been a game-changer for the serious cyclist.” The Qatar Cycling Federation noted that this car-free two-lane road connects Doha and Al Bayt Stadium outside Al Khor, enabling safe riding round the clock. It features 29 tunnels and five bridges, as well as parking areas, and was designed to host international sports competitions. Other cycling paths in the country include Losail International Circuit, Al Shahaniya to Al Jamailiyah cycle path, Ceremonial Road, and C Ring to Airport cycle path, among others. (Source: QCR website).    

HE Akbar al-Baker
Tourism sector should devise ways 'to live with' Covid-19

The tourism sector would need to devise ways “to be able to live with” Covid-19 as many countries are continuously fighting the pandemic, particularly new variants of the novel coronavirus, Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive and Qatar Tourism Chairman HE Akbar al-Baker has said. In doing so, he said tourism authorities can continue their affairs possibly in “a more controlled and smaller way”, which could then gradually increase as different parts of the world achieve herd immunity. HE al-Baker was speaking at a recent press conference and signing ceremony in Doha announcing a partnership between Qatar Tourism and the Geneva International Motor Show (GIMS). The two organisations signed an agreement to develop and host a new and one-of-its-kind motor show for the Middle East, set to take place in Doha in 2023. About the tourism industry’s return to normalcy, HE al-Baker stressed he cannot give an answer at this time due to a number of factors such as the continuous surge of infections in several parts of the world, including the US, the UK, and Africa, among others. “There are still major parts of the world that need to be vaccinated. There will be new variants, there will be new waves, we have seen in the US they are having a massive wave of infections, you can see the increase in infection rates in the UK keeping in mind that most of their population is vaccinated… really I wish I have the crystal ball to give that answer but I cannot,” al-Baker said. As for the tourism between Switzerland and Qatar, he said GIMS has been attracting visitors not only within Switzerland but from all over the world. “It’s not only concentrating just because the show has the name ‘Geneva’ that it will only attract people from Switzerland. It will attract people from all over the world, who are motor enthusiasts and also within our region, the biggest motor enthusiasts are in our region,” the Qatar Tourism chairman said, adding that this prestigious event will also further boost the country’s home-grown Qatar Motor Show. “The aim of Qatar Tourism is not only to concentrate to develop tourism in one country, our aim is to attract the world to Qatar and this is what will we do. GIMS is only one of the events that we are targeting. There will be many other events which gradually we will unveil as and when the pandemic is coming under control and that major parts of the world, especially the target markets of us as Qatar Tourism, get herd immunity,” al-Baker said. Echoing al-Baker’s statement, GIMS’ Permanent Committee president Maurice Turrettini said: It is fair to say that the outlook for the motor show to be developed in Qatar is dazzling. As an emerging tourism destination with the vibrant business metropolis of Doha as its capital, we see huge potential for this new platform. I am sure that it will be a magnet for exhibitors and visitors alike far beyond the borders of the country and the continent.”    

Deap Qatar volunteers at a recently held beach cleanup in northern Ghariyah.
Weather no hurdle for Deap Qatar's committed beach cleanup volunteers

There is no stopping volunteers of Doha Environmental Actions Project (Deap Qatar) from holding a series of beach cleanup drives amid the hot and humid weather. The group restarted its weekly activities early this month after a short break in July, and is now set to organise a family and kids-friendly activity at the Al Zubarah Unesco World Heritage Site on August 27. Deap Qatar, in collaboration with Qatar Museums’ (QM) Cultural Heritage Division, as well as with the Italian and British embassies in Qatar, the Unesco Office for the GCC Countries and Yemen, and in partnership with the Arab Youth Climate Movement Qatar, also held similar activities at Al Zubarah in 2020 and in March this year. It is learnt that these joint efforts, which form part of the Keep Qatar Clean campaign launched by QM Chairperson HE Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, contributed significantly in protecting Qatar’s marine life and natural resources. According to Deap Qatar, organising beach cleanup drives also underlines the importance of raising public awareness on the dangers caused by plastic pollution and its negative impact on the environment and wildlife. The group has inspired many residents, including families and children, to take action and participate regularly in its environmental activities at various locations across the country. Due to the current Covid-19 situation, volunteers are required to adhere to restrictions on site such as wearing face masks, showing of green health code on their Ehteraz app, and keeping a distance from others. Apart from bringing their own gloves, participants are also advised to dress properly (shoulders covered and no small shorts), use sun protection, and to bring their own food and drinks.   Some 25 volunteers took part in a beach cleanup activity in northern Ghariyah beach recently, collecting 100 kilos of trash while 22 volunteers were able to collect 40 kilos at Al Thakira in Al Khor, also this month. A similar drive was also held at Salwa beach with 12 volunteers collecting 100 kilos of trash. Many residents lauded the efforts of Deap Qatar in fighting plastic pollution, in educating the public and spreading awareness, but criticised those who “have no respect of their surroundings”. Deap Qatar urged all sectors of the society to do their part as everyone plays “a different role in the fight against plastic pollution, and protecting our oceans.”    

(From left) Maurice Turrettini, HE Akbar al-Baker, and Sandro Mesquita at the signing ceremony yesterday.
Doha to host Qatar Geneva International Motor Show in 2023

*The first edition of the show is planned for autumn 2023, taking place biennially   Qatar Tourism has partnered with the Geneva International Motor Show (GIMS) to develop and host a one-of-its-kind auto show for the Middle East, set to take place in Doha in 2023. “The details of the exciting new format, the Qatar Geneva International Motor Show 2023, will be revealed at GIMS 2022 which is due to take place from 19 to 27 of February 2022,” said Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive and Qatar Tourism Chairman HE Akbar al-Baker. At a press conference and signing ceremony in Doha yesterday he was joined by GIMS’ Permanent Committee president Maurice Turrettini, and GIMS CEO Sandro Mesquita. “With this partnership, we aim to introduce newer markets to this prestigious event which will become truly global. It will further enrich Qatar’s vibrant calendar of events showcasing the destination and sharing our offerings with the world,” HE al-Baker said. Qatar Tourism chairman pointed out that this new event will not replace but rather complement and enhance the experience of motor shows in the country, citing the successful editions of the Qatar Motor Show (QMS) which takes place every alternate year. The first edition of Qatar Geneva International Motor Show 2023 is planned for autumn, taking place biennially. HE al-Baker stressed that the partnership with GIMS will expand the nation’s “burgeoning reputation as a destination to watch,” further raising Qatar’s profile internationally. “Qatar established itself as a destination for large-scale events and our excellent facilities, cutting edge infrastructure, global connectivity, and bespoke event management services help deliver unique and memorable experiences. “GIMS offers us a distinct diversity and we eagerly await car enthusiasts from all over the world to visit this exciting exhibition. We sincerely look forward to sharing with them Qatar’s unique cultural experiences and unmatched hospitality. Qatar is a comfort destination with world-class tourism offerings that are readily accessible,” al-Baker said. Qatar Tourism is expanding its offerings to position the country as a world-leading destination in line with the national strategy, Qatar National Vision 2030. Al-Baker stressed that hosting internationally renowned events serves as an important pillar of their strategy, in addition to extensive hotel and resort development, the refurbishment and creation of tourism assets, and an expanding culinary scene. Turrettini echoed al-Baker’s statement saying that the partnership between Qatar Tourism and GIMS “is a natural fit and combines our strengths in a way that will place this new progressive show in the global spotlight”. He noted that GIMS has been pioneering the automotive space since 1905 and has built a strong brand reputation in the sector while Qatar “stands out globally for its outstanding experience offer and infrastructural capabilities.” “Our partnership is the result of very trusting and constructive talks from day one. The joint forces with Qatar Tourism empower us to focus on the upcoming 91st edition of GIMS in February 2022, where we will be able to gather ideas and learnings for the new motor show in Doha,” Turrettini said. GIMS has been a launchpad for the future of mobility since 1905. Widely recognised as Europe's most important automobile exhibition, and one of the most prestigious and influential in the world, each show attracts over 10,000 journalists and more than 600,000 visitors to Geneva. While the 2020 and 2021 editions were cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the show is now on track to launching a much-anticipated 2022 edition.    

Plant nurseries offer an array of indoor and outdoor plants, as well as gardening items, tools, and equipment. Apart from plants, ceramic pots of various sizes, colours, and designs are also in high demand in Qatar as they serve as aesthetic decors at home. PICTURES: Shaji Kayamkulam.
Plant nurseries anticipate demand surge

Sales of various indoor and outdoor plants in Qatar may exceed previous records as plant nurseries see a demand surge as the summer heat cools down over the next several weeks and as part of the preparations for the FIFA 2022 World Cup. “We have been receiving more inquiries from different companies in the country who are requesting for quotations for ornamental plants and trees,” a plant nursery manager told Gulf Times. She said they plan to double the volume of their orders (compared to past years) from suppliers who also anticipate such a scenario. Various types of plants, she added, are fast-moving items, particularly during the peak season. It is learnt that besides the beautification of public parks and other business establishments and institutions, many families also buy plants in bulk to adorn their homes and gardens with ornamental and seasonal plants. The manager noted that the first year of the Covid-19 pandemic (2020) witnessed a huge demand for nearly all kinds of plants and trees as compared to 2019. She said many residents who either worked or stayed at home last year found backyard and home gardening to be “a relaxing hobby”, apart from cooking and baking. “We also expect a huge demand for landscaping services, in addition to seasonal plants, next year as more public places are being prepared and decorated for the prestigious tournament,” she said, adding that they also get many orders from hotels and schools, among other institutions in the country. Several nurseries along Al Rehab Street, near the Wholesale Market in Doha, offer a wide range of indoor and outdoor plants being imported from different countries, mainly from Holland, Italy, and Thailand. An employee of another plant nursery shared the same view saying they expect the number of customers (individuals and companies) to grow in the coming months until December and from early next year onwards. He said ceramic pots of various sizes, colours, and designs have become bestselling items since last year and he expressed optimism that such trend would continue even during the post World Cup period. “A lot of families here always want to beautify and at times modify their gardens, adding a variety of ornamental and flowering plants. They also like to put some decorations,” he said. “They have become accustomed to staying at home and attending to their plants.” It is learnt that plant nurseries have also started increasing their stocks and item displays of plant seeds, saplings, pots, potting soil, fertilisers, and gardening tools, among other items.    

The Indonesian Independence Day celebration began with a flag-hoisting ceremony.
76th Indonesian Independence Day celebrated

The Indonesian mission and members of the Indonesian community in Doha marked their nation’s 76th Independence Day on Tuesday with a flag-hoisting ceremony, ‘tumpeng’ cutting, and a number of virtual activities. Speaking at the event, Indonesian ambassador Ridwan Hassan highlighted the importance of keeping the nation’s diversity and tolerance saying that all Indonesians, including those living in Qatar, “have no room for division and conflicts.” The envoy noted that Indonesia is one of the most diverse and largest archipelagic countries in the world, comprising thousands of islands, hundreds of ethnicity and local languages, as well as different religions. “More importantly, Indonesia is built on and by various groups ranging from political belief, ethnicity, religion, and so on. All these groups have their own contribution in maintaining, defending, and protecting independence. Everyone should embrace our diversity,” he said. Hassan was also joined by his spouse, Madam Lita Kadartin at the tumpeng-cutting ceremony (Tumpeng is an Indonesian cone-shaped rice dish with side dishes of vegetables). The celebration, held at the embassy premises at the Onaiza area with strict Covid-19 precautionary measures, was attended by embassy officials and members of the Indonesian community in Qatar. According to the embassy, some 17,000 Indonesian nationals currently live in Qatar and work in various sectors such as oil and gas, education, healthcare, and hospitality, among others. “Indonesian citizens in Qatar have also been known for their activeness and creativity in social and community activities. The activeness of the Indonesian diaspora in Qatar is a good asset for Indonesian diplomacy here, particularly in enhancing people-to-people contact between the two countries,” Hassan stressed. In a statement, Indonesian community member Agri Sumara said the Independence Day commemoration “should be used not only to reflect but also to put on reality the vision of the country. “Seventy-six years for a nation may not be too old, but it is surely not young too. As a nation we should be more mature to take a step ahead”. Amy Smith, one of the Indonesian young diaspora in Qatar, said such an event has a special meaning for her. Born to a British father and an Indonesian mother, she stressed that she has always been very proud of being an Indonesian. “I love Indonesia and I feel honoured to join the celebration here at the embassy”, said Smith, who was also one of the participants at the Embassy’s programme dubbed ‘Indonesian Language for Us (Bikta)’. The embassy also organised a series of activities in line with the Independence Day commemoration, but due to the current Covid-19 restrictions, many were held virtually. Fun race individual trial (fun bike competition), underwater flag hoisting, and badminton competition titled ‘Ambassador Cup’ are set to take place in person from August 21 to 28.    

Apart from mall shoppers, telecom subscribers who use Urban Point (Ooredoo) or MyBook (Vodafone) are also getting discounts, promotions, and other u201chigh-value offersu201d when purchasing items and dining-in or making takeaway/online orders at participating stores.
Customer loyalty programmes increasingly popular

Qatar consumers stand to benefit from the increasing number of customer loyalty/reward programmes being offered by various businesses and retail outlets in the country. Apart from mall shoppers, telecom subscribers who use Urban Point (Ooredoo) or MyBook (Vodafone) are also getting discounts, promotions, and other “high-value offers” when purchasing items and dining-in or making takeaway/online orders at participating stores. It is learnt that the growing popularity of loyalty apps helped boost economic activity, as well as consumer confidence, in the country amid the current Covid-19 situation. “The continuing ascent of ‘loyalty/reward apps’ is familiar to consumers across the world markets. There is no doubt that the pandemic made the ‘digital world’ of retail increasingly relevant and accessible and so to extend certain offers through an app should meet with consumer confidence in the use of such technology,” Doha Festival City (DHFC) general manager Robert Hall told Gulf Times. DHFC recently launched ‘Festival Rewards Qatar’, a lifestyle and loyalty mobile application that provides shoppers with an array of deals and benefits across selected brands and more than 550 stores and kiosks at the mall. Some of the offers include ‘buy one, get one free deals, up to 50% discounts on selected items, and free services and products from select retailers, among others. Hall noted that food offers remain to be the most popular category for promotions, but DHFC is constantly working to expand and increase the offers and opportunities, and add new incentives. Many residents also find similar and unique offers from Urban Point and MyBook apps, giving them a wide range of options for certain categories they want to avail, from food & drink, beauty & health, fun & leisure, and retail & services. Carrefour Qatar’s MyClub has also become one of the most popular loyalty apps among residents, allowing shoppers to earn points “on selected products, categories and brands” each time they buy at a Carrefour Hypermarket, Supermarket, or through online. “By using these apps, I was able to save more than 10% of my monthly expenses. When dining out, I often use the ‘buy 1 get 1 offer, so there is no need to spend for my next meal,” said Joanna A, a Filipino expatriate who is using MyBook app. She added that she also earns points every time she shops at Carrefour (MyClub), and Ikea and other Al-Futtaim stores (Blue Rewards).    

Rare collections at the Faisal Bin Qassim Museum (from FBQ Museum website)
Various events to mark World Calligraphy Day

Qatar Museums (QM) is highlighting an array of exhibitions and collections at galleries and museums, in addition to public art, to mark World Calligraphy Day this year. “World Calligraphy Day brings together calligraphy enthusiasts to celebrate the art of penmanship. It offers an opportunity to discuss, practice, and learn this beautiful art form,” the QM said in an e-mail to Culture Pass members on Wednesday. The event, founded by Manuscript Pen Company in 2017, brings together “experts and novice across the globe to discuss, practice, learn and celebrate the art of calligraphy and creative lettering” on August 11 annually. In the face of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, this year’s campaign focused on spreading additional positivity and goodwill by encouraging people to “write their favourite positive word, take photos of their handwritten creations, and post it to their social media channels”. Meanwhile, the annual Mal Lawal exhibition, taking place at the National Museum of Qatar (NMoQ), features a diverse range of objects, including a collection of Islamic manuscripts by Qatari engineer and collector Ibrahim al-Fakhro. He is described as “a passionate collector deeply interested in showcasing the development and progression of calligraphy within the Islamic world”, whose compiled items span more than 1,400 years. Visitors meanwhile have the opportunity to take part in a 3D virtual tour at the Museum of Islamic Art and view rare collections and items, such as a bowl made in Basra (in today’s Iraq) with inscriptions of “earliest modes of Arabic calligraphy”, such as Kufic scripts. This old city is known to be a leading centre of fine pottery in the Abbasid Caliphate (750-1258 CE). A wide range of collections that “demonstrate the finesse of Arabic calligraphy” also fascinate visitors at the Faisal Bin Qassim Museum, including a ceramic bowl from the 18th century in Kashmir. Motorists who often roam around the city will also notice several public art, especially the murals at Salwa road created by renowned French-Tunisian artist, eL Seed. “Big, bold and unmissable, eL Seed’s Calligraffiti presents a fresh take on a traditional art form,” the QM said. “The murals are anchored in our culture, each inspired by an aspect of life in Qatar.” “In our continued efforts to promote creativity from within and take art out onto the streets, we asked Calligraffiti artist, eL Seed, to decorate the Salwa Road with 52 large-scale murals,” the QM added. The QM also put a spotlight on a 7.5m-high stainless steel sculpture by British calligraphy artist Sabah Arbilli, which stands at a prominent area on the Doha Corniche. Arbilli drew inspiration in creating this piece “based on a poem by HE Sheikh Jassim bin Mohamed al-Thani, the founder of Qatar”. Qatar-based artist Fatima al-Sharshani is highlighting “the beauty of Arabic calligraphy alongside the beauty of shapes and lines”, with her public art installation at the Post Office park. “Some say that calligraphy is the engineering of the soul excited by your hands. To many, calligraphy is just a subject, mastering different fonts … but it is more than that, it is a form of art that utilises the beauty of language,” she said.    

Some 106,349 passengers received at the seven Doha Metro stations located in the Corniche area
Doha Metro facilitates passenger movement following temporary closure of the Corniche Road

Qatar Railways Company (Qatar Rail) has announced that 106,349 passengers used Doha Metro services at seven stations located in the Corniche area during the temporary road closure from August 6 to 10. Doha Metro stations located in the Corniche area, including the National Museum Station, Souq Waqif, Corniche, Al Bidda, West Bay, and DECC, witnessed a wide turnout from the passengers. At the same time, the metrolink and metroexpress services continued to transport passengers throughout the Corniche area, as these two routes were diverted. The two services temporarily provided alternative routes during the closure period, which helped transport the public around the main destinations in the Corniche area allowing them to reach their destinations easily. This confirms the integral role of the Doha Metro in enhancing the public transport system, providing an effective alternative means of transportation and facilitation of the movement of individuals. In addition, Doha Metro aids the free flow of traffic avoiding congestion, especially during temporary road closures.    

Al-Remaihi: Humility in filmmaking is really important, and often gets understated or disregarded.
'DFI a crucial asset for region's filmmakers'

The Doha Film Institute (DFI) has been an instrumental and crucial asset for filmmakers in the region, specifically in Qatar, serving as a platform to create meaningful films and to further their careers, Qatari filmmaker Majid al-Remaihi has said. “Numerous films that have been produced either through the DFI Documentary Film Labs or that have gone through platforms, such as Qumra, are now selected and presented at platforms such as Tribeca, Venice, and Cannes,” he noted. Al-Remaihi made history after his film *And Then They Burn the Sea, along with four other DFI-supported films, was selected to screen at the Locarno Film Festival in Switzerland, which opened on August 4 and closes on August 14) It is the first Qatari film chosen for the official in-competition segment. The Qatari director said filmmakers and the DFI exerted extraordinary efforts in creating high-quality films amid many challenges, including the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic. “I’d say both the filmmakers and the DFI staff have worked tremendously hard this past year and a half, and have given so much to overcome these obstacles, and we’re now seeing the fruits of their labour,” al-Remaihi said. “This project (*And Then They Burn the Sea) received enormous support from the DFI (from) its initial stages, and had been given the care it needed, given its sensitive and personal nature,” he stressed. “I am grateful for it, and I think the sort of space of opportunity that the DFI creates for young local filmmakers is immeasurable.” About becoming the first Qatari filmmaker selected in a prestigious international film festival, he said he was “happy to represent the film internationally and the many efforts and contributions which went into making it”. “As cliché as it sounds, but this film deeply connected me to numerous people and continues to do so, which is an outcome that always feels very gratifying,” al-Remaihi said. “It’s only a single short film – even if it were the first from Qatar – and it’s hard for me to foresee the impact it can have on the entire industry, but I am hopeful, and want, to see more Qatari films receive this kind of visibility.” About the film’s title, he said it is “a description of a pre-oil ritual in the Gulf that women performed by the sea to lament their sons and husbands, who may or may not return from their pearl diving trips”. “As part of the ritual, the women ‘burn’ the brutal sea to render some sort of meaning out of their imminent loss,” the director explained. “That kind of mourning ritual against the ‘irretrievable’ resonated a lot with me.” About the film’s message and what makes it special compared to his other films, al-Remaihi said: “The initial seeds of the film originated from a point in my life where I eagerly wanted to come to terms with my relationship to memory, its unreliability, and the power it had over my own sense of being in the world.” “At the same time when my mother was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s, I began to feel acutely aware of the memories I had of her, and from her, and what space they occupied alongside the terminal memory loss that she was experiencing, and which I was subconsciously mourning,” he added. Asked about tips for aspiring filmmakers, al-Remaihi said: “I think you never stop being an ‘aspiring’ filmmaker regardless of any minor achievements, because every film should bring about its own crucial challenges that you can never be too prepared or experienced for.” “It’s good to remember that every time you make a film, there is a mode of learning and readjustment that is as much about being open to new ideas and feelings as it is about assuming confidence,” he noted. “Also, humility in filmmaking is really important, and often gets understated or disregarded.”    

Asean ambassadors in Doha at the Asean Day cake-cutting ceremony on Sunday.
Envoys mark Asean Day in Doha

 The cordial relations between Qatar and the Association of South East Asian Nations (Asean) was highlighted at the 54th anniversary celebration of the establishment of Asean on Sunday. The Asean Committee in Doha (ACD), chaired by Indonesia’s ambassador to Qatar Ridwan Hassan, marked the Asean Day commemoration with a flag-raising ceremony and reception at the Indonesian embassy in Doha. The ACD hopes that such ties will further improve in the future, especially in politics, economic, and socio-cultural co-operation. “The ACD welcomes the progress on the accession of Qatar to the Asean's Treaty of Amity and Co-operation (TAC), which has already been reiterated by 54th Asean Foreign Ministers’ Meeting on August 2, 2021,” the envoy said in his remarks. “This will pave the way to establish Asean's official partnership with Qatar and foster collaboration on the basis of mutual respect and co-operation.” The ACD Chair underscored Qatar's key role in handling the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, inoculating majority of the population and taking care of affected people. He thanked “His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, His Highness the Father Amir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, other leaders of Qatar and the Qatari people who provided a comfortable, happy and good life for more than 300,000 Asean nationalities residing in Qatar, who also play an important role in contributing to the development of Qatar”. Hassan noted that Asean members, which comprises Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines, Thailand, Brunei Darussalam, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and Myanmar, have been struggling with the pandemic, like many other countries across the globe. “There is no other way to deal with this global pandemic, other than through global co-operation,” he stressed. “While this global health crisis is a challenge for all, Asean has taken proactive steps in tackling the pandemic through collective regional efforts,” the ambassador said. “Further, as stated during the Asean Leaders' Meeting on April 24, 2021 in Jakarta, Asean countries have agreed to use the Covid-19 Asean Response Fund to tackle the pandemic in the region.” “In the upcoming future, Asean will also establish the Asean Centre for Public Health and Emerging Diseases,” he added. “Through these existing mechanisms, Asean will continue to work closely together to better tackle the pandemic regionally and ensure sustainable recovery measures.” Hassan said that the chairmanship of Asean is held by Brunei Darussalam from January 1 to December 31, 2021, with the theme *We Care, We Prepare, We Prosper. This theme portrays Asean’s collective commitment to care for its people and prepare for future opportunities and challenges, with the goal of ensuring that the whole Asean community can sustainably prosper. “Cambodia will take over the chairmanship in 2022,” he said. All of the 10 Asean members, except for Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar, have resident embassies in Qatar, which form the ACD, with Indonesia its chairman this year. Asean was formed on August 8, 1967 in Bangkok, Thailand. “Since its establishment, Asean has become a model of regional association which has successfully maintained the peace and stability in the South East Asia region,” Hassan stressed. “In this regard, we put aside our differences and work together towards the future of a more prosperous region of South East Asia.” “We recognise this as the Asean Way,” the envoy stated. The Asean Day in Doha was attended by ambassadors Hassan (Indonesia), Mohamed Bahrin Abu Bakar (Brunei Darussalam), Zamshari Shaharan (Malaysia), Alan L Timbayan (the Philippines), Jai S Sohan (Singapore), Nathapol Khantahiran (Thailand), and Tran Duc Hung (Vietnam), as well as members of the ACD Working Group.    

u2018Seagrass Tales, Dugong Trailsu2019 at the National Museum of Qatar.
Qatar Museums and partners staging events this month

Qatar residents will have the opportunity to take part in a number of workshops and talks by Qatar Museums (QM) and its partners, in addition to visiting some of its ongoing exhibitions this month. The Doha Film Institute (DFI) will organise an online course Screenwriting for Beginners from August 25-29, giving participants the chance to “discover the creative process of writing for the screen, all from the comfort of your own home”. The five-day workshop includes “the foundations of screenwriting, with mentors covering the ‘architecture’ of screenplays (storytelling, screenplay guidelines, non-verbal storytelling and characterisation) and the ‘formatting’ of a screenplay (visual grammar and Celtx/Final Draft)”. “Taught remotely, the lab is offered in English, blending online lectures, assignments, and group discussions to give participants a comprehensive and well-rounded understanding of screenwriting,” the DFI said on its website. “As this is a beginner’s lab, the aim is for participants to produce a minimum of one scene for their screenplay.” “They will also have the opportunity to continue their filmmaking journey with the DFI development team, working towards further education and grants,” the DFI added. The Lab fee is QR300, but Culture Pass members are entitled to a 10% discount. The Lab mentors are Anthea Devotta, who has more than 10 years of work experience in the film industry, and now works at the DFI’s Training and Development team, and Amna al-Binali, who has been with the DFI’s development team since 2013. The Architects Hub Qatar, a business networking hub that offers an online directory for local architecture firms in the country and organises events for face-to-face networking, will hold an online talk – focusing on *3D construction techniques – with HAL Robotics co-founder and vice-president of human-machine interactions Sebastian Andraos on August 11. Meanwhile, the Museum of Islamic Art (MIA) wants to engage residents in the process of redesigning and reimagining its galleries, by getting their feedback via administered interviews and focus group discussions. In an e-mail to Culture Pass members yesterday, the MIA said that “dates and times would be agreed upon in advance, and all comments are confidential, but this is a great opportunity to get involved and make a difference”. The QM is also urging Culture Pass members to upgrade their tiers to Culture Pass Plus or Family memberships in order to visit and take part in family tours and exhibitions, including the *Seagrass Tales, Dugong Trails at the National Museum of Qatar and the *Grey Times at the Doha Fire Station. M7, a creative startups hub dedicated to innovation and entrepreneurship, established by Qatar Museums for the nation’s growing fashion and design industry, continues to hold its weekly series focusing on design, fashion, and innovation. “Every week, we highlight a local creative, so you can learn more about what drives their work, what inspires their creations, and how they use creativity to express their voice and ideas,” M7 said.    

Anna Hayley Desouza managed to rehome two dogs in Seattle and is currently working on rehoming five cats to the UK.
An obsession to rescue animals

Anna Hayley Desouza, a 16-year-old Qatar resident has rehomed more than 80 strays in a year   A 16-year-old Qatar resident who has so far rehomed more than 80 stray animals for a year now is seeking the support of local community members to further her cause. “Being an independent rescuer is not easy as so many lives depend on me directly and without much support it can be quite difficult and truly exhausting to fund their daily needs and medical requirements," Anna Hayley Desouza, who has rehomed more than 80 stray animals, told Gulf Times. "I love what I do but it is definitely a lot of hard work, commitment, and unpredictability," she explained. Adopting a rescued fur baby reduces the stray animal population and also gives “a second chance of life to the animal in need.” Desouza, who managed to rehome two dogs in Seattle and currently working on rehoming five cats to the UK, noted that all her rescued animals are either in foster homes or boarded in veterinary clinics until they can be rehomed permanently. She stressed that such process of rehoming animals, which includes completing all medical requirements before they can be flown to their new homes abroad, is a very expensive and tedious process “but definitely worth it.” “It costs QR2,500 per cat as they can travel to the UK only as manifested cargo and not as accompanied baggage.” “I rely completely on the local community to keep my rescue services running, I have two colonies in Doha which I regularly feed and I also TNR (trap-neuter-rehome/release) all the strays in them. “Unfortunately I can’t do what I do alone with no support, with so many pending bills at various vet clinics and having to feed and take care of so many, it definitely takes a village to rescue one animal which is why being an independent rescuer is so hard,” she said, as she thanked all supporters who have already helped her cause or by fostering or adopting a rescued animal. Desouza, who can be reached via her Instagram page @furrypawsrescue, said she hopes to find someone who is travelling to Canada in early August and willing to help get two dogs to their forever homes abroad. “Lastly, I ask the community in Qatar to extend their support via coming forward to help by adopting, fostering, or donating to a worthy cause,” she said. Desouza has been living with her father and mother in Doha since 2011 and currently preparing for her International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) examinations, scheduled in January 2022. Her goal is to become a veterinary surgeon.    

Lt Fahad Jassim al-Mansouri with the participants at the Various Crimes and Ways of Prevention from
MoI webinar sheds light on various aspects of security

* Titled 'Various Crimes and Ways of Prevention from them', the event was held in collaboration with the Criminal Investigation Department CID and attended by representatives from various public/private entities and expatriate communities   A webinar, organised by the Ministry of Interior's (MoI) Public Relations Department yesterday, highlighted the importance of maintaining a ‘sense of security’ to safeguard valuables, properties, and workplaces from theft and other crimes. Titled 'Various Crimes and Ways of Prevention from them', the virtual event was held in collaboration with the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of General Directorate of Criminal Investigation, and attended by representatives from various public and private companies, schools, and expatriate communities, among others. Speaking at the webinar, Lt Fahad Jassim al-Mansouri, officer, Technical Office of Criminal Investigation Department of General Directorate of Criminal Investigation, said money and valuables should be kept away from “the eyes of the weak-minded people” to heighten one’s security and serves as a protection from theft. “Security is a joint responsibility,” he said, citing the functions and services of the CID and giving a number of tips on how to secure vehicles, residential complexes, and offices from theft. He also shared some precautionary measures while withdrawing funds from banks or automated teller machines, stressing that using electronic alternatives such as bank transfers or money exchanges remains to be a safer option. However, in case it is necessary to withdraw cash, al-Mansouri recommends not to leave the withdrawn money or any valuables such as jewellery in the vehicle when parked elsewhere unattended. “For the safety of the amount withdrawn from the bank, after fund withdrawal, we urge to head directly to the company’s headquarters or the specified location to utilise the money, without stopping on the way to finish any other tasks,” he pointed out. Besides ensuring the doors and windows of cars are closed/locked, he urged drivers to switch off vehicles when leaving even for a short period. Such practice of keeping the car switched on but unattended is extremely dangerous and “invites theft”. Meanwhile, installing alarms and CCTVs at home, company headquarters, and residential complexes also help keep these premises secured, according to al-Mansouri. At work, he advised residents to “be vigilant to the suspicious and unjustified behaviour of workers.” He also stressed the importance of adhering to the residency and labour laws in the country, saying “as the head of the family or owner of the company is urged to ensure that the person whom you employ is a legal resident in Qatar and not a runaway worker or those who are residing in the country against the employment contract that they have signed.” Al-Mansouri reminded residents to carry their QID at all times particularly when going to public places but should avoid handling it to anyone for completing any transaction “in order to avoid its misuse except for an emergency.” Residents can verify the misuse of their QIDs via the Ooredoo and Vodafone apps. About photography and filming, he noted that taking pictures in public places is acceptable but should avoid taking pictures of women and men without their permission. “The Qatari law prohibits filming the government buildings and locations, military, diplomatic and sensitive organisations and those premises with a notice prohibiting photography. Commercial filming of public places requires permission from the authorities concerned,” al-Mansouri said. About the proper procedures, if ever a person was robbed or witnesses something suspicious, he said such an incident should be reported immediately to the police on 999. The person should “give the correct information to the police about the location of the incident (house number, street name, and zone number.” For those who found lost items like mobile phones, money, and jewellery, al-Mansouri said they should hand it over to its owner or to the nearest police station within seven days. Otherwise, the person shall be sentenced with imprisonment for not more than six months with a fine of not more than QR3,000. He also discussed related topics such as imposing penalties on destroying the properties of others, assault, fraudsters and swindlers, and ‘using alcohol’. In submitting criminal complaints, al-Mansouri advised residents to download and use Metrash 2 app since it lessens the time for receiving the complaints, in addition to simplifying the procedures.    

Mangroves, the only type of tree that can stand and grow in salty waters, serves as natural air filters, which can significantly sequestrate carbon emissions u2013 one of the main causes of global warming. An aerial view of Al Thakira mangroves in Qatar.
Sheikha Al Mayassa highlights importance of mangroves

Qatar Museums (QM) chairperson HE Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani has highlighted the importance of mangroves in keeping coastal communities around the globe safe and protected. “Mangroves are rare, spectacular and prolific ecosystems on the boundary between land and sea. These extraordinary ecosystems contribute to the wellbeing, food security, and protection of coastal communities worldwide,” HE Sheikha Al Mayassa said in a tweet to mark World Mangrove Day or the International Day for the Conservation of the Mangrove Ecosystem. In Qatar, mangroves are located in the north of the seaside city of Al Khor – Al Thakira Mangroves, the only type of tree that can stand and grow in salty waters, serves as natural air filters, which can significantly sequestrate carbon emissions – one of the main causes of global warming. According to Unesco, mangroves “support rich biodiversity and provide a valuable nursery habitat for fish and crustaceans. Mangroves also act as a form of natural coastal defense against storm surges, tsunamis, rising sea levels, and erosion.” However, Unesco noted that mangroves continue to disappear “three to five times faster than overall global forest losses, with serious ecological and socio-economic impacts. Current estimates indicate that mangrove coverage has been divided by two in the past 40 years.” A view of Al Thakira mangroves In Qatar, mangroves are located in the north of the seaside city of Al Khor – Al Thakira – and has become a popular destination due to its vast green scenery and kayaking activities. In a bid to raise environmental awareness, various government and non-governmental organisations, as well as volunteer groups and expatriate communities, regularly hold beach cleanup drives in Al Thakira to help protect the mangroves and the place’s natural beauty. The place draws many visitors who want to see flocks of pink flamingos during the cold months between November and April, according to Visit Qatar, the official social media tourism account of the Qatar National Tourism Council. Al Thakira mangroves are a popular destination due to its vast green scenery and kayaking activities “They come in droves around the wet season, when algae and rare species of birds are abundantly available, making this the best time for sightings,” Visit Qatar posted on its social media pages. Apart from its stunning natural landscapes, Al Thakira also offers “an abundant marine life and crystal waters” – a great place for visitors to relax and spend their weekend or free time to do an array of activities such as sailing, fishing, canoeing, water-skiing, and kitesurfing, among others. Al Thakira mangroves have been attracting different kinds of migratory birds from Europe in the cold season, and are visited by many bird lovers, photographers, and enthusiasts every year.

Deap Qatar honours its volunteers. (Picture from Deap Qataru2019s Instagram page)
Beach clean-up volunteers honoured

The Doha Environmental Actions Project (Deap Qatar) has honoured 1,610 volunteers who took part in a series of clean-up campaigns at beaches across the country. “This is a small tribute to the 1,610 volunteers, who supported our efforts to inspire the public to take action against plastic pollution in Qatar during the past year,” the environmental group said in a post on its social media pages. “Despite being a very challenging year, with your help we completed 67 clean-ups, where we removed 18 tonnes of trash from Qatar’s beaches, sand dunes, and heritage sites.” “Words are not enough to show our gratitude and appreciation to all the incredible volunteers, companies, and schools that make our efforts possible,” the group stressed. “Thanks to HE Sheikha Al Mayassa for her incredible leadership, to @albaladiya for their continuous support, to all the people that want to see Qatar clean and beautiful for many years to come, thank you,” Deap Qatar added. “We still have a lot of work to do, so we hope to see you soon on season 5.” Since its foundation in 2017, Deap Qatar has been spearheading the fight against plastic pollution in the country, organising beach clean-ups to raise awareness on the dangers of plastic pollution and inspiring people to take action. This year, the group held clean-up drives at different locations, including Zekreet and Al Thakira in March, in partnership with various government institutions (such as Qatar Museums and the Ministry of Municipality and Environment) and non-governmental bodies, embassies of different countries, expatriate communities, and businesses. Deap Qatar noted that over 8mn tonnes of plastic enter the oceans around the globe annually, killing a large number of marine animals and seabirds. However, the group stressed that such a problem can be fixed with a concerted effort by individuals and groups. While Deap Qatar is set to restart its weekly activities next month, it urged visitors to do their share and help maintain the natural beauty of beaches in the country by properly disposing their wastes. Volunteers who want to take part in clean-up drives are advised to follow coronavirus (Covid-19) protocols such as wearing masks, and showing of “green” health code on their Ehteraz app, among other measures, in addition to bringing their own gloves (work or gardening gloves are recommended), and dressing up properly. Besides beach clean-ups, Deap Qatar is also supporting a number of youth initiatives, such as the Qatar Youth Power Conference in May. It also organised a virtual talk dubbed as “Water for World Water Day” in March, in collaboration with the US embassy in Doha as part of the Qatar-USA 2021 Year of Culture.