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Wednesday, April 24, 2024 | Daily Newspaper published by GPPC Doha, Qatar.
 Joey Aguilar
Joey Aguilar
Joey Aguilar has been a journalist since 2013 at Gulf Times, reporting on events related to Qatar. He was earlier a journalist for eight years in the Philippines. He became one of the 2015 United Nations Foundation Global Goals Press Fellows. He has also attended a number of journalism seminars in the Philippines.
(From left) Dr Nabhan Abou Rjaili, Omar Hussain Alfardan, Dr Daniel Derman, and Dr Jessica Adam at the press conference on Wednesday at Burj Alfardan. PICTURE: Thajudheen
Qatar
AMNM sheds light on future expansions

Alfardan Medical with Northwestern Medicine (AMNM) has announced plans for continued expansion and collaboration with the launch of new offerings, apart from further enhancing its existing specialties, on the occsion of its first anniversary of providing premium and innovative health care in Qatar. Addressing a press conference on Wednesday at Burj Alfardan in Lusail City, Northwestern Memorial Hospital’s vice president of operations Dr Daniel Derman said they have opened the ‘Diabetes Excellence Centre at AMNM this week. “The Diabetes Excellence Centre provides all the care related to diabetes under one roof,” said Dr Derman, who was joined by Alfardan Group President and CEO Omar Hussain Alfardan, AMNM’s COO Dr Nabhan Abou Rjaili, and chief medical officer Dr Jessica Adam. AMNM offers a comprehensive, multispecialty and multidisciplinary plan to help manage diabetes, a condition that affects many parts of the body, explained Dr Adam. “That is something that we do really well here,” she said, noting that AMNM have a lot of highly qualified and skilled doctors who will be offering specialist level care in diabetes. Plans are also underway for the launch of Psychiatry and Psychology at AMNM – a high-quality, patient-centric medical and day surgery centre, which has a pioneering focus on tackling community-wide chronic illnesses. Current specialties offered at AMNM include Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT), Dentistry, Dermatology, Gastroenterology, Internal Medicine, Ophthalmology, Orthopedics and Sports Medicine, Cardiology, Plastic Surgery, Fertility Medicine and Gynecology, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Sleep Medicine, Paediatrics, Endocrinology, Radiology and Lab, and Executive Health. “AMNM gives patients a destination to receive a wide variety of ambulatory, meaning not in the hospital but outpatient care in one single location, really the first-of-its-kind offering in Qatar,” Dr Derman said. As part of a continuous ‘Quality Improvement Plan’, key stakeholders from Northwestern Medicine and Alfardan Group recently held organisational workshops to continue improving upon the processes laid out in AMNM’s mission: to deliver the most advanced care with service excellence. “The partnership between Alfardan Group and Northwestern Medicine leverages both organisations’ complementary strengths: Alfardan Group’s legacy of providing exclusive experiences in Qatar, and Northwestern Medicine's established reputation in the medical field as one of the top 10 hospitals in the US,” Dr Derman said. Omar Alfardan highlighted AMNM’s key role in bringing excellent, high-quality healthcare and medical specialties to the region, as it significantly contributes “to Qatar’s position as a hub for premium healthcare, advanced medical services, and medical tourism, unwaveringly working towards the human development pillar of the Qatar National Vision 2030”. “Qatar is striving to build a knowledge-based economy and society, including advanced health systems, and we aim to meet this challenge by fulfilling the healthcare needs of existing and future generations,” he said. AMNM offers an evidence-based, American healthcare model as a premium surgery center, and a recent expansion also allows surgical patients to stay overnight at the facility for up to 48 hours after their procedure. The AMNM team has the opportunity to consult with doctors at Northwestern Medicine for some cases live during surgeries and can refer patients directly to Chicago for more specialised treatments if needed, positioning it as one of the top medical facilities in the region. AMNM adheres to international benchmarks and standards of medical infrastructure and services, offering patients and their families a unique, upscale setting with innovative services and experienced physicians. It extends Northwestern Medicine’s patient-first mission to people seeking premier healthcare services in Qatar.    

HE Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani moderating a panel discussion at the Doha Forum 2022. Supplied picture
Qatar
Qatar plans major investments in museum development

Plans to develop three new museums in Qatar are underway as the country aims to further boost its investment in the arts, Qatar Museums (QM) Chairperson HE Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani said at the recently held Doha Forum 2022. One of these major projects is the Herzog & de Meuron-designed 'Lusail Museum', which will host “the world’s most extensive collection of Orientalist paintings, drawings, photography, sculptures, rare texts and applied arts”. The four-floor building will feature more than 52,000sq m of galleries, an auditorium, library and dedicated learning spaces, among other sections – marking four millennia of cultural exchange between the East and West. It also explores the influence of the Middle East and wider Islamic world in the arts. “The building is a kind of vessel that inside has a complex topography, a clash of fragments of different places and functions,” architect Jacques Herzog said at the panel discussion. “What we have learned during this process, to make space for that aspect of dialogue, is what will make the project important for Qatar and for us.” Designed by Santiago-based company, Elemental, and with landscapes by Swiss designer Gunther Vogt, the 'Art Mill' is being constructed at the area of the historic Flour Mill in Doha, in the eastern part of the Museum of Islamic Art Park. “We have never done a museum before, and so we ourselves are examples of the creative economy as something that requires trust,” architect Alejandro Aravena said. “One of its opportunities is that you can bet on people. With the Art Mill, we are trying to trigger some consequences for the local industry even before construction starts.” “The Art Mill will not just be a perfectly finished object, but an opportunity for young designers, artisans, craftspeople in Qatar to come together to deliver the knowledge they have accumulated and contribute to the building, so that it not only houses a great collection but expands to more popular audiences,” he added. The QM noted that this 80,000sq m museum “will bring together exhibition and performance galleries for modern and contemporary art, dedicated spaces for learning and artist residency programmes, production facilities, a village for Qatari creative industries, the Dhow Centre and gardens”. Along the Lusail Expressway, between the 5/6 Park and Katara – the Cultural Village, will be a first-of-its-kind 'Qatar Auto Museum' (former Doha Exhibition Centre) – designed by architect Rem Koolhaas’s OMA (Office for Metropolitan Architecture). The 30,000sq m museum will include permanent galleries that track the evolution of the automobile from its invention through today and how it has influenced culture in Qatar, and temporary exhibition spaces for the display of high-profile vehicles – from supercars and limited editions to racecars and classic cars. “Over the past 15 years, Qatar has made a significant public investment in the infrastructure of vibrant cultural and creative networks, as an important strategic factor for economic development,” HE Sheikha Al Mayassa said at the panel discussion she moderated, titled *Powering the Creative Economy to Drive Economic Development. Apart from the three new museums, the QM also commissioned Beirut-based designer Najla El Zein to build a unique public art installation for Qatar’s Flag Plaza and its impact within Lebanon. She said her project faced a number of challenges as it began before the economic crisis in Lebanon. “It has given hope to all the people involved and to their families. But it’s not only about finances. Lebanon has always been known for its highly skilled craftspeople,” El Zein said. “This project has brought them a shift from traditional practices and taken them to a new level. For me as an artist, it’s special to create something meaningful for the public and for the team that is making this work.” Qatar is also set to inaugurate the 3-2-1 Qatar Olympic and Sports Museum (QOSM) today at Khalifa International Stadium. Dadu, Children’s Museum of Qatar, the only institution of its kind in the region, is being developed. Renowned footballer, businessman and Unicef UK ambassador David Beckham, who visited the 3-2-1 QOSM, said: “Everything is about the future of the country, the vision that inspires so many people.” “I’ve been coming to Qatar since 2008, and it’s constantly changing,” he said. “Actually, I was here a couple of months ago and it’s changed since then.” “I’ve learned so much from being here,” Beckham added. “It’s all strategic and done in the right manner, looking at new ways to learn from different cultures and industries.” Highlighting the importance of investing in the arts, Qatar Development Bank acting chief executive Abdulrahman Hesham al-Sowaidi, who was among the panelists, said that culture and creative industries contribute 6% to global GDP annually, or $2.2tn, generating 30mn jobs worldwide. This, he said, shows “the importance to our country of being a catalyst to entrepreneurs within the creative economy”.

Gulf Times
Qatar
QM announces plans for Qatar Auto Museum

* Exhibition introducing the project opens today at NMoQ Qatar Museums (QM) on Monday announced plans for the Qatar Auto Museum in Doha, designed by the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA), led by Pritzker Architecture Prize-winning architect Rem Koolhaas. An exhibition introducing the project, A Sneak Peek at Qatar Auto Museum Project, opens Tuesday at the National Museum of Qatar (NMoQ). The Qatar Auto Museum (QAM) 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. Acting QAM director Dr Alkindi Aljawabra at the exhibition, located in the NMoQ's Mawater Gallery. PICTURE: Joey Aguilar The QM is working with the OMA on designs to transform the building. Development will begin after the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy has concluded its operations for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022. On view through January 20, 2023, the exhibition explores the significance of automotive design in the 20th century and the impact of automobiles on culture, previewing the content of the new museum. The exhibition, presented both inside and outside the museum, includes three iconic cars from the QM’s collection and approximately 20 unique cars on loan from members of the Qatar Auto Museum advisory board and Qatar’s community of automobile enthusiasts. A 1939 Pontiac Plexiglass Deluxe Six 'Ghost Car', the first transparent car built in America. PICTURE: Joey Aguilar HE Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, Chairperson of Qatar Museums, said: “From sporting events like Formula 1 races to classic car shows, car culture has an expansive presence in Qatar.” “We are thrilled to present this exhibition, which reflects our passions as auto enthusiasts, during a year when so many visitors will come to Doha to celebrate the World Cup,” she said. “The exhibition showcases our culture while introducing an exciting new institution dedicated to providing an inspiring educational and technological experience for all.” The  'Sneak Peek' at Qatar Auto Museum exhibition showcases three spectacular cars. PICTURE: Joey Aguilar “Qatar Auto Museum will serve as an innovative community hub for auto enthusiasts, students, collectors, engineers and all who appreciate the impact on our world of the emergence and evolution of the automobile,” HE Sheikha Al Mayassa added. Qatar Auto Museum President HE Dr Hessa al-Jaber said: “In modern history, very few inventions have impacted everyday life and the broader culture as powerfully and pervasively as the automobile.” “The Qatar Auto Museum will be a showplace for our unsurpassed collection, and like all Qatar Museums institutions, will spark innovation, creativity, dialogue, and community, as a destination that will offer new and exciting experiences on each visit,” she said. Advisory board members for the Qatar Auto Museum include HE Sheikh Joaan bin Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, HE Sheikh Khalid bin Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, HE Mansoor bin Ebrahim al-Mahmoud, HE Akbar al-Baker, Omar Alfardan, Salem al-Mohannadi, Sheikh Mohamed bin Faisal bin Qassim al-Thani, Sheikh Faleh bin Nawaf bin Nasser al-Thani, Hisham al-Mana, Mohamed al-Jaidah, Saud al-Mana, Mohamed Mahdi al-Ahbabi, Dr Khalid Kamal Naji, Dr Adnan Abu-Dayya, and Professor César Malavé. "The Qatar Auto Museum advances Qatar Museums’ legacy of work surrounding car culture, which includes assembling a world-class collection of automobiles, hosting several auto-themed exhibitions, and dedicating a gallery at the National Museum to vintage cars with the support of the Sealine Sports Club (Mawater),” QM said in a statement. “*A Sneak Peek at Qatar Auto Museum Project introduces the concept design for a new museum that will bring Qatar’s expanding car community under one roof.” The new project will convert the former Doha Exhibition Centre into “a centre for innovation, design, environmentally-friendly mobility, and road safety” in the country and the region. “We think that the vision for this museum is very unique, because it is not a traditional museum … we are not just making a base where we will display cars,” QAM acting director Dr Alkindi Aljawabra told reporters on the sidelines of the exhibition’s media preview Monday. The 30,000sq m (320,000sq ft) museum will include permanent galleries that track the evolution of the automobile from its invention through today, and how it has influenced culture in Qatar, and temporary exhibition spaces for the display of high-profile vehicles – from supercars and limited editions to racecars and classic cars. Additional facilities will include an Edutainment Centre and Workshop Spaces, as well as areas dedicated to children’s activities such as driving simulators, mini car mechanics, kids' driving areas, and more. Dr Aljawabra said the Edutaiment Centre will include workshops, besides collaborations with universities, science and technology centres, and other institutions, making it (museum) a community hub for students, engineers, car lovers and enthusiasts. In addition, he said that the museum will have a garage and a Technology Hub, as well as a restoration centre, and “this will be an open door conservation lab”. “We will be restoring our own cars … for collectors in the country who would like to restore their cars, they can bring them to the museum or they might just book the conservation lab to work on their vehicles by themselves, because many of them are really professionals, they just need a space,” he said. Besides classic cars, the museum director said that the QAM will also showcase concept and “futuristic” cars. The QAM, according to Qatar Museums, “will explore the past, present and future of the automobile and its impact on global life and culture”. It will spotlight the car as a proud marker of Qatar’s growth, a common thread between a diverse population and a unifying vehicle of culture and innovation. “In line with Qatar National Vision 2030, the development of the QAM will complement the State’s efforts to support the cultural, educational and tourism sectors, its strong investments in the automotive industry and its position as a host for global automotive events, such as the Qatar Geneva International Motor Show and Formula 1,” the QM said. “The exhibition has been made possible by generous support from the Qatar Investment Authority, the Sealine Sports Club (Mawater), and the Qatar Auto Museum Advisory Board members.” Additional plans for the Qatar Auto Museum will be announced in the coming months.

Costa Rican ambassador Mariano Segura at the recent coffee cupping event. PICTURE: Joey Aguilar.
Qatar
Costa Rica eyes direct coffee exports to Qatar

The Embassy of Costa Rica in Doha aims to further strengthen bilateral trade with Qatar by exporting coffee directly from renowned farms in eight regions, ambassador Mariano Segura has said. “We are trying to connect exporters from Costa Rica with importers in Qatar,” the envoy told Gulf Times on the sidelines of a recently held coffee cupping event at Flat White Specialty Coffee at the 2022 Iconic Building, Aspire. "Though you can find too much coffee from Costa Rica in Qatar but it comes from Europe and Qatari importers go to Europe to find coffee from our region," he explained. The event, held in collaboration with Flat White’s sister company Honoroast specialty coffee roastery, and the embassies of Costa Rica, El Salvador and Dominican Republic in Qatar, aims to boost co-operation and facilitate direct trade with coffee farms from countries in Central America and The Caribbean. Segura noted that the famous and high-quality coffee of Costa Rica – presented at the coffee cupping event – come from its eight regions: Tres Rios, Tarrazu, Brunca, Orosi, Central Valley, Guanacaste, Turrialba, and The West Valley. A large number of families throughout Costa Rica’s eight producing regions rely on coffee as a source of income, making it a key driver in every town or coffee community’s economy and social development. Coffee producers in Costa Rica strictly tend to their plantations year-round, and during harvest seasons, “families still collect the beans by hand and in a selective manner, choosing only the beans that have ripened perfectly in order to achieve a drink with excellent organoleptic qualities.” Segura said the coffee cupping event provided an opportunity for Costa Rican embassy, as well as the embassies of El Salvador and Dominican Republic, to showcase and promote their coffee industry in Qatar. Event host Flat White Specialty Coffee noted that coffee cupping is a tasting method often practised by coffee producers and buyers to observe and evaluate the quality of coffee, which is scored based on its sweetness, acidity, mouthfeel and after-taste. According to the embassy, Costa Rican coffee beans “is processed with modern methods – in harmony with the environment, which have allowed the coffee sector to remain a leader in the coffee world.” Apart from promoting their national brand dubbed as ‘Esencial Costa Rica’, Segura said the embassy also aims to strengthen its cooperation with Qatar in the area of tourism, promoting Costa Rica as a business and leisure destination and encouraging Costa Ricans to visit Doha, especially during the 2022 FIFA World Cup. The envoy said that the number of Qataris and people from the region visiting Costa Rica has been increasing, particularly with the easing of Covid-19 travel restrictions. He added that many families from Qatar go to Costa Rica for vacation, enjoying the beaches, mountains, rivers, and other tourism spots. Segura hopes to develop and strengthen its bilateral relations with Qatar in other fields of cooperation such as trade and investment, culture and the arts, tourism, and agriculture, among others.

Peruvian ambassador Jose Benzaquen at the embassy. PICTURE: Joey Aguilar
Qatar
Trade volume between Qatar and Peru surged 60% in 2021

Peru is keen to further strengthen its bilateral relations with Qatar as trade volume between the two countries surged by 60% in 2021 compared to the previous year, Peruvian ambassador Jose Benzaquen has said. “You can see in the Qatari market many of the Peruvian fruits and vegetables such as mangoes, avocados, lime, grapes, gingers, and pomegranates, among others,” the envoy told Gulf Times, noting that Peru imported a significant amount of petrochemicals and construction materials from Qatar. Peru is renowned for producing organic agricultural fresh produce, he stressed. Some of the seven ‘agreements under negotiation’ with Qatar includes a ‘Declaration of mutual intent on cooperation in the field of agriculture. “This year will mark the 33rd anniversary of diplomatic relations between Peru and Qatar, which started on November 7th, 1989, and it has been developing positively since that day. “The bilateral agreements signed so far include cooperation in the legal field, Memorandum of Understanding in Education, on mutual cooperation and news exchange, abolishing visa requirement for diplomatic and special passports, and letter of intent on fighting illicit trafficking in narcotic drugs, among others,” Benzaquen said. Peru is in talks with Qatar on the investment promotion and protection agreement, and the embassy expects to receive a Peruvian delegation to finalise it in the coming months. The envoy highlighted the importance of cultural cooperation between Qatar and Peru, noting that an Executive Programme of Culture agreement for the years 2022/2024 is set to be signed soon. Benzaquen underscored Qatar’s generosity and concern to various countries during the onslaught of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020. “We highly appreciate the precautionary measures Qatar has taken to protect the health and safety of its community during the Covid-19 pandemic. Qatar has been considered the perfect role model in dealing with global crises by supporting many other suffering nations worldwide to combat the spread of this pandemic,” he said, noting that Qatar donated equipment and medicines to fight the Covid-19 pandemic. The envoy also underlined the high-level visits between the two countries, “which had become significant signs in our ties. “We had the privilege to receive His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani in October 2018 in my country, and we are sure that the president of Peru reciprocally will be here in Doha as soon as we have the possibility,” Benzaquen said. About the much-anticipated football tournament, he said: We consider that Qatar FIFA World Cup 2022 will be a global event that promotes friendship between all nations. At the same time, I would like to express my admiration for the Qatari organisation through the amazing stadiums and places we have. Doha has been converted into an international attraction city for all people around the world to visit.” Abut Peru contributing to Qatar’s National Vision 2030, Benzaquen said the two countries have many common goals such as the prosperity and happiness of their people, promoting a close link between external action and development priorities.

Tulley: The 'Your Brain to Me, My Brain to You' exhibition is 'a big opportunity for people to be much more open about how they feel and to seek help if they ever feel the need'.
Qatar
'Qatar makes great strides in mental health services'

Qatar has made great strides in ensuring that mental health services are easily accessible through a number of initiatives and programmes, an official of the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) said. “Qatar has really moved immensely over the last few years in this regard, and with the plans that we have, we hope to see further developments and make it easier for people to seek help,” said National Health Strategy Lead of the MoPH’s Mental Health and Wellbeing, Iain Francis Tulley, who is also the Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC)’s Mental Health Service chief executive. He was speaking on the sidelines of the recent opening of *Your Brain to Me, My Brain to You exhibition by renowned Swiss artist Pipilotti Rist at the National Museum of Qatar (NMoQ). Citing the MoPH’s National Mental Health help plan, Tulley said that the country witnessed further improvements in its mental health services, allowing people to seek help anonymously and confidentially and “a way that perhaps they couldn’t do before”. He noted that in conducting regular attitude surveys to understand what public attitudes are to mental health, they have seen huge improvements in terms of people’s awareness and willingness to seek help if they feel the need. Tulley said that citizens and residents can reach mental health professionals without giving their names or health card number (unless they decided to seek medical treatment) via the helpline 16000. As part of the service, he said they also launched a virtual women service for problems such as post-natal depression, and “perhaps people who have had domestic abuse or some form of trauma”, among other issues, in addition to opening a new women’s in-patient service. “We have the redevelopment of our current hospital to ensure that we provide much greater privacy and dignity to people who need to be admitted to the hospital, and we will continue to open and develop our community services so we provide services to where people live,” he said, adding that these programmes aim to “improve access, reduce stigma, and integrate care so physical and mental health are look at in the same way”. “People are prepared to seek help in a way they didn’t before … the need has always been there, but what we do is to create the opportunity for people to seek help,” Tulley said. He noted that the MoPH has been running a campaign aimed at raising public awareness on the importance of mental health and psychological well-being, which shares its goals with Rist’s exhibition. Tulley lauded the *Your Brain to Me, My Brain to You exhibition, saying that “it is a fantastic metaphor in terms of helping people to forget the stigma and enter an experience that allows people to become much more mindful about life”. “It’s such a normal setting; it’s not a clinical place, it’s not a hospital, it’s not somewhere that people perhaps would feel shameful to go to, and the reach of this exhibition in terms of the message that we want to convey that mental health is something that we should all think about looking after our mind, looking after our psychological wellbeing is essential if we want to be healthy,” he pointed out, adding: “It’s a big opportunity for people to be much more open about how they feel and to seek help if they ever feel the need.”

Bouthayna M Baltaji at the u201cYour Brain to Me, My Brain to You (2022)u201d exhibition. PICTURE: Thajudheen
Qatar
Art exhibitions create cultural exposure

Art exhibitions create spaces of reflections, self-awareness, and “cultural exposure on different levels”, allowing people to view a wide range of perspectives and beliefs, and have a deeper understanding of issues, according to National Museum of Qatar’s (NMoQ) head of Exhibitions Bouthayna M Baltaji. Speaking to Gulf Times on the sidelines of the recently inaugurated “Your Brain to Me, My Brain to You (2022)” exhibition by renowned Swiss artist Pipilotti Rist at NMoQ, Baltaji underlined the importance of exhibitions (held at various locations across Qatar) and their accessibility, as well as presenting different narratives amid the various challenges the world is facing. “With the current state of the world, dialogue is something very important, tolerance is also something very important, not jumping into conclusions, not reacting immediately before really coming and assessing the whole situation from all angles. “This is again perfectly reflected in the exhibition (“Your Brain to Me, My Brain to You") in the sense that you have to sit and you have to contemplate and think about what is happening… what has happened in the past and then looking to the future,” Baltaji said. The installation, described as a “pixel forest” featuring 12,000 LEDs (light-emitting diodes) strung on cables throughout the gallery for visitors to navigate, will be on view until December 20. It will allow residents and hundreds of thousands of football fans who will be coming for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 the chance “to embark on a journey of self-discovery through a multisensory experience that inspires introspection and awe”. Baltaji highlighted the importance of using technology and collaboration with various institutions and organisations in presenting a unique and large-scale exhibition in the region. “For us, we don’t just look at ourselves as a museum or a cultural institution, this is why we collaborated with the Ministry of Public Health and we try to collaborate with different institutions across Qatar because we are all part of one government. “We are all part of Qatar and the whole end goal is to work towards the National Vision 2030, how do we bring this to life and we all need to be collaborating and these exhibitions are one form of that,” she said, adding that NMoQ continuously works in making these exhibitions accessible to the entire community. “In the end, we all become role models and individuals representing the country.” “This was Sheikha Amna bint Abdulaziz al-Thani’s vision, we are a national museum… and the whole idea is to talk to each other (like) what’s going on and does it link to any of the content in our museum and how we can bring it to life so that the National Vision is accessible to the entire community. “In the end, we all become role models and individuals representing the country,” she stressed.

Bouthayna M Baltaji at the u201cYour Brain to Me, My Brain to You (2022)u201d exhibition. PICTURE: Thajudheen
Qatar
Art exhibitions create cultural exposure

Art exhibitions create spaces of reflections, self-awareness, and “cultural exposure on different levels”, allowing people to view a wide range of perspectives and beliefs, and have a deeper understanding of issues, according to National Museum of Qatar’s (NMoQ) head of Exhibitions Bouthayna M Baltaji. Speaking to Gulf Times on the sidelines of the recently inaugurated “Your Brain to Me, My Brain to You (2022)” exhibition by renowned Swiss artist Pipilotti Rist at NMoQ, Baltaji underlined the importance of exhibitions (held at various locations across Qatar) and their accessibility, as well as presenting different narratives amid the various challenges the world is facing. “With the current state of the world, dialogue is something very important, tolerance is also something very important, not jumping into conclusions, not reacting immediately before really coming and assessing the whole situation from all angles. “This is again perfectly reflected in the exhibition (“Your Brain to Me, My Brain to You") in the sense that you have to sit and you have to contemplate and think about what is happening… what has happened in the past and then looking to the future,” Baltaji said. The installation, described as a “pixel forest” featuring 12,000 LEDs (light-emitting diodes) strung on cables throughout the gallery for visitors to navigate, will be on view until December 20. It will allow residents and hundreds of thousands of football fans who will be coming for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 the chance “to embark on a journey of self-discovery through a multisensory experience that inspires introspection and awe”. Baltaji highlighted the importance of using technology and collaboration with various institutions and organisations in presenting a unique and large-scale exhibition in the region. “For us, we don’t just look at ourselves as a museum or a cultural institution, this is why we collaborated with the Ministry of Public Health and we try to collaborate with different institutions across Qatar because we are all part of one government. “We are all part of Qatar and the whole end goal is to work towards the National Vision 2030, how do we bring this to life and we all need to be collaborating and these exhibitions are one form of that,” she said, adding that NMoQ continuously works in making these exhibitions accessible to the entire community. “In the end, we all become role models and individuals representing the country.” “This was Sheikha Amna bint Abdulaziz al-Thani’s vision, we are a national museum… and the whole idea is to talk to each other (like) what’s going on and does it link to any of the content in our museum and how we can bring it to life so that the National Vision is accessible to the entire community. “In the end, we all become role models and individuals representing the country,” she stressed.    

Dignitaries listen to a briefing at the exhibition Wednesday. PICTURES: Joey Aguilar.
Qatar
Italian Design Day exhibition begins

The Embassy of Italy inaugurated the ‘Beauty, Sustainability, Innovation: Design as a Bridge between Italy and Qatar’ exhibition on Wednesday at the Doha Design District at Msheireb Downtown Doha’s Doha Design District, marking the ‘Italian Design Day’ in the country. The event, under the patronage of HE Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad al-Thani and curated by Italian Architect Giampiero Peia, is in collaboration with the Italian Trade Agency in Doha, Peia Associati, Doha Design District and Msheireb Properties. The opening was attended by Italian ambassador Alessandro Prunas, Qatar Museums vice-chair Issa al-Mohannadi, and Qatar Tourism chairman and Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive HE Akbar al-Baker and other dignitaries. Some 55 design objects from Italian brands and designers are on display at the exhibition – and all are available in Qatar’s showrooms in the country, starting from Msheireb Downtown Doha. The exhibition runs until March 30, from 9am to 9pm. The embassy noted that the interlacement between design and smart cities is indeed pivotal to the project, as confirmed by Msheireb itself, a virtuous example of an ideal Smart City where the quality of innovative architecture and urban spaces merge together with avant-garde design to express the best contemporary interpretation of the Qatari identity.

Ministry of Commerce and Industry Undersecretary HE Sultan bin Rashid al-Khater and Japanese ambassador Satoshi Maeda, along with members of the preparation committee for Qatar's participation in Expo 2025 and a number of CEOs of Japanese companies in Doha at the reception, held at the envoy's residence in Doha recently. PICTURE: Thajudeen
Business
Qatar announces its participation in Expo 2025 in Japan

Qatar is one of the first countries in the world to announce its participation in Expo 2025 in Osaka, Japan – a major event “that is expected to have an economic ripple effect of approximately ¥2tn ($168bn), Japanese ambassador Satoshi Maeda has said. “We are pleased to announce that the location of Pavilion A-16 has been officially confirmed, which is the place for the largest pavilion size and located in the area with the sub-theme of ‘Empowering Lives’, has been selected,” the envoy said at a reception organised by the Embassy of Japan at his residence in Doha recently. Ministry of Commerce and Industry Undersecretary HE Sultan bin Rashid al-Khater took part in the event, marking the launch of Qatar’s pavilion at Expo 2025. It was also attended by members of the preparation committee for Qatar's participation in Expo 2025, as well as a number of CEOs of Japanese companies in Doha. Maeda also announced that Qatar's pavilion will be located near the Japan Pavilion at Expo 2025 – scheduled from April 13 to October 13 with the main theme "Designing Future Society for Our Lives". “The Japan World Exposition 1970 (Expo 1970) – the first Expo to be held in Asia – was also held in Osaka in 1970. Following Expo 2005 Aichi, Expo 2025 is the first international exposition to be held in Japan in 20 years and returns again in Osaka. “The main theme of Expo 2025 is to see a society in which various global issues are solved through technologies such as Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence, robotics, big data, and biotechnology, and in which the SDGs will be achieved. Moreover, Expo 2025 is expected to have an economic ripple effect of approximately ¥2tn ($168bn),” Maeda said, hoping that Expo 2025 will further promote the attractiveness and potential of Qatar to the Osaka-Kansai region, to all of Japan, and to the world. He thanked the Qatari government, Qatar Expo Committee, and those involved in the decision for Qatar’s participation and their efforts to build and maintain the excellent and long-lasting friendly relationship between the two countries. HE al-Khater said Qatar was pleased to participate and contribute to the success of Expo 2025 Osaka, alongside other friendly countries, as well as regional and international organisations. He stressed that Qatar’s involvement stems from the long-term relations between Qatar and “the friendly nation of Japan, which is currently witnessing growth and development in all fields. “We believe that Qatar's participation in this global event will open new opportunities for economic and trade co-operation between Qatari and Japanese businesses which will contribute to the benefit of both economies. Qatar will display its real-world solutions, past successes, as well as future projects and initiatives. Our core message is a deep commitment to a shared future of well-being, harmony, and stability,” HE al-Khater said. Al-Khater affirmed that the State of Qatar’s participation in the global event comes from its belief in the importance of the exhibition’s theme, ‘Designing Future Society for Our Lives’, which aligns with the objectives of Qatar National Vision 2030. Expo 2025 Osaka, which also has sub-themes: Saving Lives, Empowering Lives, and Connecting Lives, will address how to build sustainable, social and economic systems of the future that draw on robotics, modern tech, and artificial intelligence. The expo activities and events fall in line with Qatar National Vision 2030, as well as with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, which aim to achieve a diverse, inclusive, and sustainable society. On the economic level, al-Khater cited a steady growth of trade and investment in industrial and development projects between Qatar and Japan, as the co-operation between the two countries expanded from the energy sector, in addition to construction, health, sports, security, education, as well as research and development.    

Rist (left), Baltaji, and Tulley at the exhibition unveiling at the NMoQ Sunday. PICTURES: Thajudheen
Qatar
NMoQ unveils large-scale, immersive video installation

The National Museum of Qatar (NMoQ) has unveiled a large-scale and Middle East first museum installation by renowned Swiss artist Pipilotti Rist Sunday, offering visitors “an immersive experience of light and sounds”. The NMoQ has partnered with the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) and the Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) to organise this one-of-its-kind exhibition, titled *Your Brain to Me, My Brain to You (2022), as it puts a spotlight on the importance of mental health. The show, curated by Qatar Museums (QM) curatorial adviser Tom Eccles and the NMoQ's Head of Exhibitions Bouthayna M Baltaji, also serves as a reminder for people to engage in self-care by a number of means such as practicing mindfulness, being thankful, or even seeking professional counselling. In a press statement, QM chairperson HE Sheikha Al-Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani said: “Visitors of all ages are sure to be captivated by Pipilotti Rist’s dazzling artwork *Your Brain to Me, My Brain to You, a journey of light and sound that plunges participants into the intricacies of the human brain while at the same time sweeping them across the natural landscape of Qatar.” “I am thrilled to announce that after its initial presentation at the NMoQ, this specially commissioned artwork will be permanently installed at Dadu, Children's Museum of Qatar, where it will be part of the future museum’s stimulating and inspiring family experiences in the heart of Doha,” she added. The exhibition will be on view until December 20, giving residents and hundreds of thousands of football fans who will be coming for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 the opportunity “to embark on a journey of self-discovery through a multisensory experience that inspires introspection and awe”. The installation, described as a “pixel forest”, comprises 12,000 LEDs (light emitting diodes) strung on cables throughout the gallery for visitors to navigate. Representing neurons, constantly firing and communicating with each other, the pulsing resin-encased bulbs have been programmed in choreography with a soundscape and featuring abstract footage of Qatar’s landscapes. “The idea with the exhibition is to tackle mental health … for this reason, we partnered with the MoPH, which has a national mental health campaign called ‘Are You OK? Your Mind Matters’,” Baltaji said. The exhibition supports the goals of the partnership between the MoPH, the World Health Organisation, and the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, aimed at making the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar a beacon for physical and mental health promotion, and a model for ensuring future mega sport events are healthy and safe. Rist said that her work is both a collective and individual experience, aiming to understand what is happening inside the brain of the other. “And culture is the main way to try to understand each other beyond language,” she said. “I'm very much interested in rooms where people come together. Today, the electronic image is often separating us, everyone is looking to their own device.” “And then I'm searching for possibilities how we can use electronics as wonder lights to bring us together," Rist added. Organisers noted that the exhibition is inspired by the NMoQ and the landscape, history, and people of Qatar. Following the trajectory of the NMoQ – from early geology through the evolution of the Qatari people, pearling, oil exploration and the incredible growth of Qatar – the installation is a place for contemplation and awe. In a press statement, Assistant Minister for Health Affairs Dr Salih Ali al-Marri said: "This installation demonstrates our commitment to raising mental health awareness across a diverse range of cultural organisations and population groups.” “Specifically, engaging people through the medium of art to express themselves and connect to others in ways which surpass cultural, language and psychological barriers,” he added. HMC’s Mental Health Service chief executive Iain Francis Tulley, who is also the National Health Strategy Lead of the MoPH’s Mental Health and Wellbeing, lauded the exhibition. “The exhibition is a fantastic metaphor in terms of helping people to forget the stigma and enter an experience that allows people to become much more mindful about life,” he said. As part of the commission, the NMoQ has allocated two educational spaces inside the gallery, inviting visitors to practice mindfulness and to express their interpretation of Rist’s installation in relation to mental well-being on a dedicated writing wall. In line with the coronavirus (Covid-19) restrictions imposed by the MoPH to ensure the health and safety of the public, it is mandatory for all visitors to book tickets online ahead of their visit to the museum. Entry to the exhibition is free of charge.

The US embassy in Doha has underscored the strong and deep-rooted relations between Qatar and the US, marking the two countriesu2019 50th anniversary of establishing diplomatic relations on March 19.
Qatar
50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Qatar and the US celebrated

The US embassy in Doha has underscored the strong and deep-rooted relations between Qatar and the US, marking the two countries’ 50th anniversary of establishing diplomatic relations on March 19. “The bond between our two countries has never been stronger, thanks to our enduring partnership to address regional and global challenges. Bilateral cooperation between the US and Qatar on trade, education, humanitarian assistance and security have broadened and deepened significantly in recent years,” US embassy charge d'affaires Natalie Baker told a press briefing on Thursday. She said the two countries’ friendship, commercial ties, cultural exchanges and security collaboration will continue to deepen in the coming years, as she cited the meeting between His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani and US President Joe Biden at the White House early this year. The two leaders, Baker said, reaffirmed their mutual interest in promoting security and prosperity in the Gulf and the broader Middle East region, ensuring the stability of global energy supplies, supporting the people of Afghanistan, and strengthening commercial and investment cooperation. She noted that His Highness the Amir was the first Arab leader to be invited by President Biden to have a meeting and a state visit to the White House. “So it was extremely significant. Both President Biden and the Amir also welcomed the signing of a $20bn deal between Boeing and Qatar Airways, which will support manufacturing jobs at Boeing, General Electric and hundreds of high quality suppliers across the US, but also in Doha. This was significantly Boeing's largest deal in the history of the company,” Baker said. In recognition of the strategic partnership between the US and Qatar, she stressed that President Biden also designated Qatar as a major non- North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) ally. “This will confer on Qatar a variety of military and financial advantages not otherwise available to non-NATO partners. The Bilateral Security Partnership has been central to many of our most vital interests, relocating tens of thousands of vulnerable people from Afghanistan, maintaining stability in Gaza, and providing lifesaving assistance to the Palestinian people. “Keeping pressure on ISIS and deterring threats across the Middle East, supporting peace and diplomacy in Ukraine as it endures a Russian invasion, and much more,” ,” the envoy added. According to Baker, what a non-NATO ally designation means is a variety of financial advantages and also access to technical expertise and different forms of exchanges whether it is exchanges of military and security advisers, a fast track to purchasing some exclusive US military and defense equipment or other collaboration and consultation related to security issues. Such designation, she added, also reinforces security partnership between the two countries, pointing out that Qatar and the US now share a very strong military and security relationship. The envoy noted that Qatar is host to the largest US air force footprint outside of the US with the Arab base, further strengthening their partnership and providing Qatar with more access to training opportunities, as well as building the interoperability of military partners. “We understand that there's also going to be expanded maritime relationships between the US military and Qatar. So in all of those areas, as we continue to pursue mutual goals of regional stability and prosperity and global security and stability, this is another reaffirmation of the bilateral commitment to military cooperation and partnership,” she said. On cultural field, Baker said they are pleased to be recognised as the guest of honour for Qatar Museums’ 2021 Year of Culture, vowing to continue celebrating the strong bilateral partnership through a host of events throughout 2022. Such collaboration, she said, aims to further enhance diverse people to people connections, promote intellectual and intercultural dialogue, and build bridges between the two countries. Baker added that they witnessed exchanges in cultural envoys for various programming in music, food, the arts, and science across the board, developing cultural partnerships between the two countries. On education, she said the US embassy saw a decline in Qatari students going to the US in recent years due to Covid-19 and travel situations. “It was just very difficult globally but we are redoubling our efforts to try to recruit more Qatari students to US universities and to have more exchanges. At the same time, we want to bring more educational opportunities from the US here. So with Education City, that's a great model for of excellence in educational exchange,” the envoy said. “We're trying to bring and support more US branch campuses to come here to develop exchange programmes with Qatari universities and institutions”. On trade relations, the envoy said Qatar and the US share extensive economic ties that have flourished over the last 50 years, where the latter is Qatar's largest foreign direct investor and second largest source of imports while Qatar also has billions of dollars invested in the US. “Our partnership continues to deepen and diversify as together we work to achieve Qatar's ambitious Vision 2030 goals. For instance, just this week we witnessed Microsoft and the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology launched the Digital Centre of Excellence at Msheireb, that's a launching pad for next generation skilling for people of the US and here in Qatar,” Baker said. She noted that the US remains to be the leading equipment supplier and partner for Qatar's oil and gas industry, highlighting the key role that US companies play in the development and expansion (and continue to be highly involved) of the oil and gas sector. In addition to energy, Baker said US companies have performed well in export sales to Qatar’s defence, aviation, health care, ICT, food, and engineering and construction sectors. In addition, the US imports from Qatar include liquefied natural gas, aluminium, fertilisers and sulphur. The US is also committed to expanding close interagency cooperation with Qatar to ensure a safe and successful 2022 FIFA World Cup this year, collaborating on cybersecurity, law enforcement training, public relations, human rights and a carbon neutral footprint for the tournament, according to the envoy. “We congratulate Qatar for its innovative preparations thus far and will continue to support the Supreme Committee on Delivery and Legacy in advance of the 2022 FIFA men's World Cup in Qatar,” she said. “The US also welcomes the opportunity to consult Qatar in advance of the 2026 FIFA men's World Cup, which will be hosted in North America, across Canada, the US and Mexico. So we recognise that we have a lot to learn from the Qataris and that collaboration and lessons learning has already begun.    

Natalie A Baker
Qatar
Significant US presence at the Doha Forum 2022

A number of US officials and special envoys for various issues, including former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, will take part in the 20th edition of the Doha Forum, taking place on March 26 to 27 at the Sheraton Grand Doha Resort & Convention Hotel, US embassy charge d'affaires Natalie Baker has said. “We will have a significant presence at the Doha Forum, we're looking forward to that. We also have senior-level congressional officials coming out. So a variety of talks will happen on the margins of the Doha Forum in addition to participation in the panels,” she told reporters at a recent press briefing at the US embassy in Doha. The Doha Forum 2022, organised under the patronage of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, will be held under the theme ‘Transforming for a New Era’ and will focus on four core areas: Geopolitical Alliances and International Relations; Financial System and Economic Development; Defense, Cyber and Food Security; and Climate Change and Sustainability. According to Baker, the US’ participation reflects the direction it is looking in terms of future initiatives for its partnership on climate change and energy security. “That's a big focus right now because of the conflict and crisis in Ukraine. We'll have our special envoy for energy issues here discussing with his counterparts how to secure energy resources, how to look to expanding those resources in a timely and efficient manner, and how the US can be supportive in those efforts. “On climate change, we're looking at reaching our 2030 climate goals, how we can work together in partnership for that on various initiatives, including through the World Cup and the commitment to a carbon neutral footprint and how those lessons can continue to be to be implemented as the US takes on the hosting of the World Cup in 2026,” the envoy said. About the Ukraine crisis, Baker stressed that “Qatar has been a very strong partner to the US in solidarity and support of the people and the government of Ukraine as they face the Kremlin's aggression, which has been unprovoked. “And we're equally appalled by Russia's brutal tactics and its blatant disregard for innocent lives. The Qatari foreign minister has spoken with State of Secretary Antony Blinken a number of times since the beginning of this conflict. “We share goals of trying to resolve this situation diplomatically. We've been very, very encouraged by Qatar’s use of its good offices to try to promote a resolution, and have been very thankful that through our strong partnership, we've been able to coordinate on some of that outreach that the Qataris have been making to the Ukrainians, but also on the Russian side. “We have been in touch with the Ukrainians, of course, from the capital, but also here and maintain close contact with the Ukrainian ambassador regarding his assistance requests. And I know that he's made those directly to the Qatari government as well, and that His Highness, the Amir himself, has been in regular contact with President Zelensky. So through our partnership, we are exchanging information and determining the best way forward in support of the Ukrainian people,” Baker said. On Afghanistan issue, she said Qatar has been their most reliable partner in terms of evacuation that happened in August and September from Afghanistan, but also in support of rebuilding the country after years of crisis and conflict. “The Qataris are providing humanitarian assistance. We're also helping with that, trying to rebuild the country economically so that the people of Afghanistan do not continue to suffer and do have access to resources to ensure that governance is inclusive, that women's rights are respected there, that girls are able to have an education,” Baker said. She pointed out that Afghanistan will continue to be a focus of their joint efforts, citing that they signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Qatar in November last year – mainly on protecting a power arrangement whereby Qatar represents US interest in Afghanistan. “That means addressing consular services to American citizens and also caring for our facilities there, our embassy compound, and playing a role where they're also helping us to find a path eventually in the future, to go back into Kabul diplomatically,” Baker said. About the Doha Strategic Dialogue, she said the dates have not been fixed yet but she hopes the meeting will take place before the 2022 FIFA World Cup. The Dialogue was held in Washington, DC last year and it is expected to be hosted in Doha this year. Part of its economic component tackles further expansion of trade and investment relations between the two countries. As the Covid situation continues to improve and travel is increasing, Baker said they hope to host a number of trade delegations and support trade missions from Qatar to the US across all of the states. “We have a lot of those types of exchanges, both to expose Qatari investors to different markets across the US and also especially with small and medium sized enterprises from the US, bringing them here to make introductions and to expose them to a lot of the opportunities that are happening here, especially with the Vision 2030 goals and all of the development that will happen,” she said. However, the envoy noted that they are currently working on trying to maintain the momentum from the last strategic dialogue, as working groups focus on identifying the deliverables or announcements for the next meeting. “Some of the working groups are on educational issues and curriculum development. Other conversations we're having are on justice and security issues, how to promote exchanges, of course in the run-up to the World Cup, (and) also across the board security cooperation that we've had,” Baker said.    

Dr Mohamed Althaf
Qatar
'Qatar making good progress with green initiatives, food security'

 Qatar’s efforts to protect the environment and attain food security continue to make headway as the government focuses more on sustainable solutions to address challenges, LuLu Group International director Dr Mohamed Althaf has said. Speaking to *Gulf Times, he lauded Qatar for its initiatives – charted in the country’s climate change strategies and action plan – that are centred on achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). While Qatar is a small country and “already on the worst side of the weather”, Dr Althaf stressed that “Qatar is making good progress in that regard now, and that is why private companies like us are participating in many of those initiatives”. “We are targeting to reduce our carbon footprint by 50% by 2030 and go carbon neutral by 2050,” he stated. “And I think, with what we are doing and the progress that we are seeing, we are making very good progress and I hope we will achieve those numbers even before the deadlines.” Dr Althaf was sharing his view about Qatar’s key role in the fight against climate change and other environmental challenges, as well as the country’s policies towards self-sufficiency on food, at the 9th Qatar International Agricultural Exhibition (AgriteQ) and 3rd Qatar International Environmental Exhibition (EnviroteQ). LuLu participated in the five-day event at the Doha Exhibition and Convention Centre, which concluded yesterday (March 14). It brought together more than 650 local and international entities from the agriculture, environment, food and animal production industries. Organisers noted that AgriteQ and EnviroteQ provided “opportunities for industry specialists to explore a wide range of agricultural technologies, equipment, and related products, meet key decision-makers, gain valuable insights, and discover the best practices”. From a food security perspective, Dr Althaf said that Qatar, despite experiencing numeorus disruptions, has become “very wise in terms of devising its policies, and what Qatar has achieved is that there is a very good co-operation and blending of synergies between public and private sector players”. He said that the Qatar government has partnered and supported people and institutions, providing broad guidelines and creating infrastructure to achieve its food security goals. According to Dr Althaf, Qatar has been attracting foreign direct investments due to its sound food security strategy and diversification efforts. “I think a lot of initiatives are taken, and Qatar stands far more confident, stronger in terms of the food security component,” he said.    

Italian ambassador Alessandro Prunas
Qatar
Qatar a regional agri hub, says Italian envoy

Qatar is now an agricultural hub within the region, allowing many companies to operate and expand their businesses, Italian ambassador Alessandro Prunas has said. “It’s not just a local market that is interesting, but also the positioning of Qatar as a logistical hub, as a platform to reach other markets in the region,” he observed. Prunas was speaking on the sidelines of the 9th Qatar International Agricultural Exhibition (AgriteQ) and the 3rd Qatar International Environmental Exhibition (EnviroteQ), which conclude today (March 14) at the Doha Exhibition and Convention Centre. The Italian Trade Agency (ITA) – Trade Promotion Office of the Italian embassy is participating in the event, hosting five companies from the Italian Agricultural Machinery Manufacturers Federation, “Federunacoma”, at a 120sq m pavillion. The ambassador said that Qatar is a promising market that is both a local market and a platform for the region, which is “a very important aspect to be analysed for Italian companies”. “Qatar is a small but ambitious country, and it is amazing that it is now exporting dairy products,” Prunas said. “This tells you that magnitude of the ambition of the Qatar authorities when it comes to agricultural self-sufficiency … and (Italy) has the technical solutions, we have lots of expertise, we would gladly trade with Qatar and expand our exports here.” The envoy noted that Italy has been renowned for its organic farming (possibly the largest production in Europe) – an expertise it is currently sharing with Qatar, and “we are more than willing to continue sharing it with them”. Prunas said that Italy has many research programmes with Qatar and has successfully linked their scientific institutions with Qatar Foundation and the Qatar Environment and Energy Research Institute (Qeeri). He added that the Italians have been in contact with Qeeri “about six months now, they already have some talks with Italian research institutes, and the aim is to help finding environmental solutions (that are also) also solutions for agriculture”. About AgriteQ and EnviroteQ, Prunas said that the exhibitions have become greener, bigger, and continuously growing – “a clear indication of how much (Qatar is) interested in agriculture and environmental solutions, and it looks very promising and we will surely be continuing partnering with Qatar on this matter”.    

Sidi Rana Menggala
Qatar
'Indonesian expertise available for Qatar in spices production'

Indonesia is willing to share its expertise with Qatar in spice production, aimed at further boosting the latter’s growing agriculture sector and self-sufficiency efforts, according to Sustainable Spices Initiative – Indonesia executive director Sidi Rana Menggala. “Qatar could improve its bilateral relations in areas of agriculture to benefit from spices and other agricultural products abundant in the country; Indonesia can provide Qatar with the needed expertise to improve its spices and other agricultural products industry,” he said. Menggala was one of the speakers at the 9th Qatar International Agricultural Exhibition (AgriteQ) and the 3rd Qatar International Environmental Exhibition (EnviroteQ), which concludes today (March 14) at the Doha Exhibition and Convention Centre. In his presentation, titled ‘Strengthening Partnership Qatar and Indonesia for Spices’, he said enhancing their collaboration will play a key role in further improving both countries’ agriculture sectors and “could serve as an essential avenue for foreign exchange earnings and help improve their economies in general. “Through the collaboration, with the output as earlier that can boost food production and create employment”, Menggala stressed. He noted that Qatar, despite having harsh summer, can grow spices such as black and white pepper, among others, using modern farming technologies. Qatar and Indonesia, Menggala said, use various spices in their cuisine, besides offering a unique characteristic of plant species used as spices. He pointed out that while spices are plant materials (seeds, fruits, leaves, root buds, whole plants) traditionally used for flavouring, garnishing, or improving the quality of food, “they occupy a pivotal role in the traditional health care system as medicine, perfumes, and cosmetics for traditional rites.” Menggala said Qatar imported $18.9mn in spices in 2019, becoming the 35th largest importer of spices in the world. In the same year, he noted that spices was the 258th most imported product in Qatar and primarily from India ($5.96mn), China ($4.96mn), Iran ($2.67mn), Pakistan ($1.29mn), and Netherlands ($1.25mn). “What about Indonesia, especially for spices? Indonesia is a country rich in abundant natural resources, one of which is spices. Currently, spice commodities are still one of the leading export commodities to European and American countries. “Types of Indonesian spices that are well known to the world include pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, vanilla, turmeric, and ginger. Based on data released by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) 2016, Indonesia occupies the fourth largest position in the world as a spice-producing country with a total production of 113,649 tonnes and total exports reaching $652.3mn. “This is the entry-point of the south-south partnership, where educators, trainers, and other professional agriculture experts from Indonesia may have the opportunity to enrich the production and postproduction of agriculture-spices practices that lead to increased import of Indonesian spices to Qatar,” he said. Indonesian ambassador Ridwan Hassan said that high-quality agricultural products, as well as farming technologies, are being showcased at the event. These include spices and herbs, tea and coffee, various kinds of end-products from moringa and processed food from agricultural or fishery items. He stressed that the Indonesian government is working with the relevant ministries, as well as private sector, in Qatar "to discuss the cooperation that we can further elaborate in the agriculture sector, considering the two countries share the view of the importance of food security."    

Dr Althaf with LuLu's 'reduce.recycle' machine at AgriteQ 2022.
Qatar
LuLu Group steps up green and sustainability practices

LuLu Group International has stepped up its green and sustainability practices, showcasing a number of initiatives at the 9th Qatar International Agricultural Exhibition (AgriteQ) and 3rd Qatar International Environmental Exhibition (EnviroteQ). “We are revealing our ‘reduce.recycle’ machine here … this is a first and we are launching it across LuLu stores,” LuLu Group International director Dr Mohamed Althaf told *Gulf Times on the sidelines of the exhibitions taking place at the Doha Exhibition and Convention Centre. “We are now in a position to reduce and recycle the plastics and cans in all our supermarkets.” LuLu, which has set up a pavilion at the event, plans to install one “reduce.recycle” machine in every LuLu store across the country as part of its commitment to protecting the environment. Depending on the demand, Dr Althaf said that LuLu is looking into increasing the number of these machines and will start working with companies to at least use 50% of their packaging from recycled materials. It is learnt that LuLu has been continuously exerting efforts to help reduce carbon emissions and food waste, in addition to promoting healthy eating through an array of programmes. Dr Althaf noted that LuLu’s pavillion at AgriteQ and EnviroteQ 2022 puts a spotlight on how much of localisation that the company has done in terms of food production, increasing the category of local food products. “We are growing our category of local production tremendously on fruits and vegetables, (in which) we have achieved very high numbers … and the meat and poultry (too),” he said, citing LuLu’s keenness to implement sustainable policies. “Now we are also looking at package groceries, as well as other non-food items.” LuLu, he added, is also launching what it calls the eco-friendly category in all its supermarkets, which will introduce a wide range of biodegradable products. “The other food items that we want to highlight here are those with less than 100 calories. We are now generating a category where anything that you take will be less than 100 calories,” Dr Althaf said, noting that these food products contain less sugar, fat and sodium. About the event, he said LuLu has been partnering with AgriteQ and EnviroteQ since their inception and witnessed the exhibitions’ rapid growth over the years, getting bigger and better. “You will find that LuLu has almost doubled its presence in this (event) and we are very proud to be a partner of this particular initiative,” Dr Althaf said. “We are very happy that this is one of the major events happening after (the coronavirus pandemic) where people could actually meet up with one another. We are very excited to be back.” AgriteQ and EnviroteQ 2022, organised by the Ministry of Municipality and the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change, concludes tomorrow. The exhibitions have brought together more than 650 local and international entities from the agriculture, environment, food and animal production industries.

Nasser Ahmed al-Khalaf at AgriteQ and EnviroteQ 2022. PICTURE: Joey Aguilar
Qatar
Legislation sought to boost Qatar’s agri sector

Right legislation plays a key role in boosting Qatar’s agricultural sector – a move that will encourage more people to invest, in addition to further increasing the country’s food production, a prominent agriculturist has said. Speaking on the sidelines of the ninth Qatar International Agricultural Exhibition (AgriteQ) and the third Qatar International Environmental Exhibition (EnviroteQ), Agrico managing director Nasser Ahmed al-Khalaf underscored the importance of enacting laws that would advance the country’s agricultural industry. Apart from protecting investments, he said right legislation would significantly help enhance the agricultural (vegetable in particular) production in the country. Enacting the right laws, he stressed, also ensures the protection of local produce against imports, preventing some local farms from shutting down. Such a move, al-Khalaf noted, will lead to more developments of local farms – from infrastructure and road connectivity, telecommunication, and sewage management systems, among others. “In comparison and to be equal to the industrial sector, you take the licence first, the government provides you land, electricity, sewage (systems), telecommunication, that’s how it becomes interesting for the investor… money is not the most important part,” he said. Al-Khalaf also highlighted the importance of close cooperation between public and private sectors – not deciding alone by themselves – in addressing issues and challenges in the agricultural industry. He said that listening to each other and taking decisions together would generate right solutions. About modern technology in the sector, al-Khalaf pointed out that it “is a necessity and the key to increase production, reducing the cost of production, and to be more competitive in terms of quality.” “We focused a lot on the hydroponics system but for the past few years I don’t think there is much more to develop in this system, we are satisfied with the results and there is no need to develop more. “We developed the aquaponics system and for the past five years we’ve been studying indoor farming… we are developing at the moment (under construction) around 1,500sqm for indoor farming, for the lettuce, and we are opening the shrimp farm production as well. “We have under construction fish farm production and we have the egg farm production. So we look for different items with different technologies to increase our basket and to increase production,” al-Khalaf said. “We produce all around the year, of course, the winter is easier but summer we continue to produce but it is a little more difficult. We have no seasons, so our production is not stopped.” He expressed confidence that Qatar is ready to export such agricultural technology, saying that they have advanced negotiations with Oman and Kuwait, in addition to other countries with hot climate. “They are interested in our technology”. AgriteQ and EnviroteQ exhibitions, which kicked off on March 10 and will conclude on March 14 at the Doha Exhibition and Convention Centre, showcase cutting-edge farming technologies and present the best innovations in the field of sustainable development.