Monday, February 26, 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.
The speakers with delegations of youths from all competing nations in the FIFA Arab Cup 2021. PICTURES: Shaji Kayamkulam
Generation Amazing Festival 2021 opens

The Generation Amazing Festival 2021 opened Wednesday at Education City’s Ceremonial Court, bringing together youths from all competing nations in the FIFA Arab Cup 2021 and offering them an opportunity to learn about the social impact of football and how it can be used to transform their communities. The event, organised by the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC) in partnership with Qatar Foundation (QF) until December 18, is a celebration of the “football for good movement”. Legacy of War Foundation founder and CEO Giles Duley addressing the event yesterday as other speakers look on “The legacy of Generation Amazing will continue to impact many lives over the years to come. For our festival this year, the theme is ‘All-In’ which emphasises the vital role of the youth in developing their communities,” programmes director Nasser al-Khori said in his speech. He was joined by other speakers, including QF’s Community Development president Machaille al-Naimi, Qatar Football Association general secretary Mansoor al-Ansari, Yemeni-Russian award-winning journalist, filmmaker, curator, and educator Mariam al-Dhubani, and Legacy of War Foundation founder and CEO Giles Duley. Duley, a renowned British photojournalist who lost both his legs and left arm in Afghanistan in 2011 after stepping on an improvised explosive device, shared his story of resiliency, strength, and determination with the participants. However, this tragedy did not stop him from pursuing his passion. In 2012, he returned to Afghanistan and started documenting the stories of those who were impacted by the conflict. “I am incredibly privileged that I am able to continue that work (humanitarian photographer) but it is because each day I repeat that mantra to myself and I say focus on what you can (control) and do not worry about the things you can’t control. Each day focus on yourself and how you can improve yourself as a person and as an athlete,” said Duley, who just travelled to at least 10 countries this year, including Afghanistan, Congo, and Ukraine, among others. After the success of the first two editions of the Youth Festivals in 2019 and 2020, this year’s celebration continues with the SC legacy programme’s vision to inspire a generation committed to social change through the power of sport. Participants have started attending a series of workshops, sessions, and panel discussions delivered by several internationally acclaimed organisations. Key learning outcomes for participating youth include using football as a tool for development and peace, addressing social challenges, project management and implementation, as well as leadership and advocacy. According to the organisers, the festival’s closing day “will be dedicated to the final game of our All-In tournament (designed to maximise the social skill development outcomes) in the presence of several football legends. The finale of the day being the participants attending the final match of the FIFA Arab Cup 2021.”

Qataru2019s first female singer-songwriter Dana Alfardan has announced a new project. PICTURE: Stan Barouh
Acclaimed Qatari musician Dana Alfardan announces new project, ‘Dido Queen of Carthage’

After the success of ‘Broken Wings’ and the recent world premiere of ‘Rumi: The Musical’, Qatar’s first female singer-songwriter Dana Alfardan has announced a new project. “My next undertaking is going to be ‘Dido Queen of Carthage’, so it is going to be a mini-series, I am commissioning a research on it at the moment,” the internationally renowned contemporary composer and songwriter told Gulf Times. Alfardan was speaking on the sidelines of a special screening of a globally acclaimed film, ‘Street Kids United 3 – the Road To Moscow,’ at the Hamilton International School recently. The event, which aims to raise awareness on the plight of street children across the world, featured performances by Alfardan and the Qatari Philharmonic Orchestra. D’reesha Performing Arts Festival will be a year-round performance lab that aims to empower students. It will culminate in an annual festival that transforms Education City into an open stage. In the long term, the unique multidisciplinary platform provided by QF will give the world a performance experience unlike any other. Some of Dreesha’s spotlight performances include Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra, Showtime production, and, of course, a very special performance by Dana. “When I put my mind to things, things start to spiral and appear and manifest quickly so this is one to look out for,” she said, noting that Dido or Elisha – as she is known – was the first queen of Carthage who fled Phoenicia after her brother murdered her husband. “She left and with a handful of trusted followers, arrived on the shores of North Africa, and then from there, her story began. So again, another direction, there is Gibran, there is Rumi, and now I think it is time for me to grapple with a female figure in Middle Eastern history. “And my whole mandate is basically to highlight Middle Eastern stories, bring these figures from Middle Eastern history, and literature and project them onto an international stage,” stressed Alfardan, who will be performing a seven-song concert, accompanied by a chamber orchestra and inventive light and colour theatrics during the D’reesha Performing Arts Festival, a first-of-its-kind in Qatar. The event is on December 16 from 8pm at the Ceremonial Court in Qatar Foundation's Education City. Doha and London, among other major cities across the world, witnessed the success of Alfardan’s musical masterpieces, inspiring audiences of diverse cultures and backgrounds. ‘Rumi: The Musical’, she co-created with prominent British-Lebanese theatre actor, singer, and writer, Nadim Naaman. About the direction and the future of Qatar’s music industry, Alfardan, who has been exerting extraordinary efforts and contributing immensely in nurturing creative talents, expressed optimism that Qatar could be a hub for creating exceptional content. “I think that we have a lot of resources, this place right here (Hamilton International School in Doha) is a testament to the fact that we have all the resources to start creating content for export. “This is definitely one of the best theatres I’ve seen in the world and I performed in a lot of places so it is incredible that kids have this, kids and people here in Qatar have these resources to showcase and create content and I think this could be a hub, this is what I see the future of the music industry over here. “I don’t see it (Qatar) as a place for importing content, I see it as a hub for creating new materials for international export, and the success of Rumi – the fact that it was sold out in the largest theatre in London – is a reflection of the fact that there is an appetite for new stories, there is an appetite for flavours and textures that come from the Middle East”.

Heya puts a spotlight on Indonesian fashion designs. PICTURES: Thajudheen
Juxtapose: When heritage meets hybrid

The opening of “Heya” Arabian fashion exhibition’s 18th edition on Sunday at the Doha Exhibition and Convention Centre puts a spotlight on the exceptional works of three renowned Indonesian fashion designers at a fashion show, themed as ‘Juxtapose’. The event, organised by Qatar Tourism and Qatar Business Events Corporation, witnessed the participation of the Embassy of Indonesia in Doha for the first time, showcasing some of the latest designs by Mel Ahyar, Rinaldy Yunardi and Rumah Tenun. “The year of the pandemic has brought plenty of shifts in so many lives worldwide that we are now familiar with the term ‘hybrid’. But a thing that cannot be replaced by digitals in the fashion world is probably craftsmanship. ‘Juxtapose’ is a collection made of fusing the artistry with the digital one, a hybrid work,” the embassy said in a statement. “The theme ‘Juxtapose’ was created as a fashion design concept for the collections”. “Ahyar personally combines different clothing patterns and elements in each collection so that the differences between contrasting objects are pointed up. This resembles a reflection of the Indonesian motto: Bhinneka Tunggal Ika, which means unity in diversity. “For the Heya 18th edition runway, Ahyar is supported by Yunardi and Tenun to elevate the looks. Yunardi is a well-known fashion art accessories designer whose designs have been worn by world celebrities such as Madonna, Rihanna, Lady Gaga, and many more. Tenun presents high-quality local craftsmen of Indonesia,” the embassy noted. Together, the three designers, aim to come as a fashion icon that represents Indonesia in the world, the embassy added. In a press statement, Indonesian ambassador Ridwan Hassan said: “We are very happy to participate in this prestigious event and show to the Qatar public some of our decent works from our designers. I hope it will open the door for more co-operation and engagement in the fashion industry of both countries.”    

HE Akbar al-Baker inaugurates the 18th edition of Heya Arabian Fashion Exhibition on Sunday (December 12)at the Doha Exhibition and Convention Centre. PICTURES: Thajudheen
Heya Arabian Fashion Exhibition opens with wide participation from the region

The 18th edition of Heya Arabian Fashion Exhibition opened on Sunday (December 12), featuring two introductory fashion shows and a talk show, held the Doha Exhibition and Convention Centre. Qatar Tourism Chairman and Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive HE Akbar al-Baker, in the presence of various dignitaries, guests and exhibitors, inaugurated the event, which showcases more than 130 brands from GCC countries, India, Indonesia, Lebanon, Morocco, Qatar, and Turkey. It will run until December 17. “Qatar Tourism is pleased to launch the 18th edition of Heya, which welcomes talented designers from across the country and region to showcase their one-of-a-kind products and fashion lines. “This world-class exhibition is an important part of Qatar’s calendar of events, bringing together thousands of women to witness exclusive collections and the latest fashion innovation. I am confident visitors and residents alike will discover anew our authentic tourism experiences and Service Excellence in Qatar,” al-Baker said in a statement. Heya, organised by Qatar Tourism and Qatar Business Events Corporation, forms part of the country’s vibrant calendar of events. This year’s theme, ‘Ignite’, underlines its aim of empowering female entrepreneurs in Qatar and the Middle East. The introductory talk show featured Doha Film Institute CEO Fatma Alremaihi and Papillon Jewellery founder and CEO Noura al-Ansari, who highlighted the importance of maintaining cultural heritage while designing the latest trends in fashion. The first fashion show, presented by the Embassy of Indonesia in Doha, displayed some of the unique works of three renowned Indonesian fashion designers – Mel Ahyar, Rinaldy Yunardi, and Rumah Tenun, while second showcased Al Hasnaa Signature’s designer line. According to the organisers, this edition of Heya provides an opportunity for visitors to explore an array of local, regional and international designs. The collections range from High-street fashion and haute couture collections, as well as luxury modest evening gowns and abayas, are on display at the event, which also offers a wide variety of accessories, cosmetics, and perfumes. Heya and AlHosh Gallery at Msheireb Downtown Doha have collaborated for the first time this year, showcasing the works of local artists, and bringing together emerging and established designers. Such partnership aims to strengthen Qatar’s position as a major retail destination and centre for fashion innovation. Nine talk shows – featuring fashion icons, designers, and leading personalities from education, fashion, and media – will be held at Heya, which continuously maintains its commitment to support aspiring designers and entrepreneurs. The programme includes representatives from Bedaya, Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts (VCUarts), AlHosh Gallery, DFI, Printemps Doha, and Harper’s Bazaar Qatar, among others. The event is also scheduled to hold eight fashion shows, including the two on opening day. Today (December 13) will witness three fashion shows by Haifa Alangary, Istituto Di Moda Burgo Qatar, and Qatar Tourism talents while the fourth day (December 15) will feature three fashion shows by AlHosh Gallery, VCUarts Alumni, and VCUarts Faculty. ‘Fashion for a cause’ Heya has endorsed ‘fashion for a cause’, partnering with Education Above All (EAA) which provides access to quality education for the most vulnerable and marginalised children. Heya has also partnered with Al Shafallah Centre for Persons with Disability, showcasing the talented designs of Al Shaffallah students in the exhibition. The 18th edition has a range of partners, including Qatar Airways (Official Airline Partner), Education Above All (CSR Partner), VCUarts (Education Partner), and Bedaya (Entrepreneurship Partner), among others. The exhibition is open from 10am to 10pm from Sunday to Thursday, and 3pm to 10pm on Friday. To ensure a safe environment and adherence to precautionary measures set by the Ministry of Public Health, attendees are requested to please register at:    

ignitaries at the ribbon-cutting ceremony at LuLu Hypermarket, Abu Sidra branch, to mark the launch of the Asean Festival. PICTURES: Shaji Kayamkulam
LuLu Group hosts Asean Festival

A diverse range of products from the Association of South East Asian Nations (Asean) are being showcased at all LuLu stores across Qatar as part of the Asean Festival. The event also highlights the strong economic relations, as well as other fields of co-operation, between Qatar and the Asean nations. Running until December 16, the recently launched festival at LuLu Hypermarket, Abu Sidra branch, was inaugurated by the ambassadors and charge d’affaires of different Asean countries in Doha - representing Indonesia, Brunei Darussalam, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. The envoys of China and Australia were also present at the ceremony. A cultural performance at the opening of the Asean Festival. Guests of honour included Max Tunon, head of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Project Office in Qatar, and others representing the embassies of Asean countries, Ministry of Commerce & Industry, and Qatar Chamber. The festival offers more than 160 varieties of fruits and vegetables, together with grocery, deli hot and cold items, ice-creams, chips, candies, biscuits, coffee, dry fruits, canned foods, beverages, and frozen food items such as fish fillet and processed fish products, sauces, chicken franks, chicken breast and pastries, among others, from the Asean countries. Some of the food products on offer A wide range of health and beauty, and household items are also available on shelves at “competitive prices”. Special counters allow customers and foodies to taste the fruits and different varieties of food items, in addition to offering discounts on a wide range of imported products from Asean countries. The festival has a wide range of Asean products on offer “Over the years, we have enjoyed excellent support and co-operation from each of your embassies. Asean countries are playing a vital role in the food safety and we are looking forward to co-operate more with our partners from the Asean region to accelerate the imports and to further strengthen our relationship,” LuLu Group director Dr Mohamed Althaf said, adding that the event was a timely effort at promoting Asean food products in Qatar. The festival has become popular in Qatar since 2010 as the volume of imports have increased substantially. It largely focuses on food and non-food products, and the culinary heritage of the East. Organisers noted that “the collective efforts of the embassies of Southeast Asian countries were to promote products of Asean origin in the Qatari market”. LuLu’s management has been importing products from Asean countries for more than two decades to Qatar. With this festival, the company intends to further promote Asean products through its stores in the country. Speaking at the event, Indonesian ambassador and Asean Committee in Doha chairman Ridwan Hassan said: “The 10 countries of Asean enjoy good relations with Qatar, underpinned by co-operation spanning the political, cultural and especially economic sectors. Economic co-operation and engagement remain the cornerstone of Asean-Qatar ties. “We can see that in 2020, the volume of trade between Qatar and Asean countries amounted to over $9bn. Qatar is also a key investor in Asean countries with investments in the energy (including alternative energy), financial, real estate, telecommunications, agribusiness, hospitality and medical sectors. The envoy noted that around 300,000 Southeast Asian nationals have made Qatar their second home as they continue to contribute significantly in the country’s economic sectors, as well as their countries. He said the Asean economy is expected to rebound 5% annually – despite the challenges brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic – and forecast to become the fourth-largest economy in the world by 2030. While Qatar, Hassan said, “emerged as a significant political player in the region, as he expressed confidence that Asean – Qatar relations in the future would grow stronger". “And Lulu – with plenty of outlets both in Qatar and Asean countries – has been playing its part in achieving that goal." LuLu, with 16 state-of-the-art stores operating in Qatar, is continuously exerting efforts to provide and sustain the supply of global products at the best rates.

Mohamed u201cMaliku201d Alhammadi
Qatar culinary scene resilient despite pandemic

Qatar’s food and beverage sector proved to be resilient in the face of a global health crisis, overcoming many challenges with the use of modern technology – backed by creativity and innovation, The Cooking Academy founder and CEO Mohamed “Malik” Alhammadi has said. The Cooking Academy is participating for the second time at the Qatar International Food Festival (QIFF) with 12 chefs, catering for different cooking demonstrations and workshops, which include bakery and pastry chefs, and food vloggers. “Covid-19 (pandemic) was a major hit to all businesses, all dine-in was shut down. My business, The Cooking Academy, has the slogan “Let’s get together”, so getting together was not possible and we had to challenge ourselves and change our ideas, our operating model, and our business model in order to survive. “Therefore this challenge only made us stronger, we acquire more positions, we lifted our name by going to people’s houses instead of gathering in a digital mean, we created something called “Cook it at home” where you receive a box with chopped and weighted ingredients,” Alhammadi said. “It is cleaned and all you have to do is play a game of lego and keep on following instructions and you will have a dish readymade.” “Cook it at home” is “a unique cooking experience; specialised cooking boxes containing the finest and freshest ingredients, alongside with a recipe booklet and a live video demonstration by our certified in-house chefs.” He highlighted the significant contribution of technology in the F&B sector, in making Qatar’s culinary scene more vibrant, and specifically in reaching out to clients amid the Covid-19 pandemic. He said they were able to cope up with the demand despite the difficulties during the onslaught of the crisis. “We were successful enough to sell around 4,000 units of ‘Cook it at home’ and this was a kind of safety net for us to survive the first and second wave of the Covid19. “We are creating a bigger gallery just in case this hits us again, God forbid, but we need this digital means. We also got involved with German schools, Swiss schools with the Turkish culinary academy in the pandemic time and we were sharing digitally on live Instagram, and on different engagements together to keep us alive around that time,” Alhammadi said. “With the health awareness that is happening and the knowledge of gastronomy being embedded I think more and more people are getting to understand that culinary is not only our traditional dishes, rather it is a science,” he stressed.    

Chef Amal joins the audience at the 11th edition of QIFF. -Supplied pictures
Cooking Academy continues to enthral at QIFF

The Cooking Academy’s live cooking demonstrations and workshops – led by some of the renowned local, regional, and international chefs – continue to enthrall the audience at the 11th edition of the Qatar International Food Festival (QIFF), taking place at Al Bidda Park. Speaking to Gulf Times, The Cooking Academy founder and CEO Mohamed “Malik” Alhammadi said their shows have been attracting a huge number of people at the Live Cooking Theatre and online. Chef Wadih Alhaddad at a live cookng demo at QIFF “People were participating, engaging with our shows,” he said, noting that their Instagram page has seen more than 1,500 new followers since the event has started. The Cooking Academy is taking part for the second time at QIFF with 12 chefs – including Alhammadi – catering for different cooking demonstrations and workshops, including bakery and pastry chefs/vloggers. Chef Claudio holds a workshop for kids “I am not a chef but a son of a chef and I understand the food business very well and an F&B (food and beverage) consultant and an event manager co-ordinating all those chefs. I'm a father of two boys, I travelled to 52 countries, I enjoy hiking, camping and exploring other cultures,” he said. Chef Natasha engages with the audience   The Cooking Academy founder and CEO Mohamed Malik Alhammadi Alhammadi, who worked in the oil and gas industry for 20 years, is a holder of a bachelor's degree in Engineering and Strategic Management. He specialised in Organisation Development and Change management. He is also the head of Talent Development at Commercial Bank. As an F&B company based in Qatar, the Academy aims to “bring people together to learn and enjoy the art of cooking,” linking “culinary professionals and food lovers through innovative concepts, high-quality products, and special events.” Alhammadi said a recent workshop for children by Cucina Chef Claudio Trovato, general manager chef at Cucina – one of the best Italian restaurants in Doha, has been successful, where participants learned how to make homemade pasta. “All of the chefs have brought in fantastic recipes, the tasting that we’ve been doing have a lot of engagements with the customers,” Alhammadi said. Participants enjoying the workshop by The Cooking Academy

Football fans come in droves to cheer for their teams
Doha Metro clocks up more than 41mn trips

The Doha Metro has recorded more than 41mn trips since it opened in May 2019, providing a safe, faster, and efficient mode of transportation to Qatar residents and visitors, especially during major sporting events such as the ongoing FIFA Arab Cup 2021. Speaking to Gulf Times on the sidelines of an exclusive tour at the Education City station before the Qatar – Oman match yesterday, engineer Mohamed al-Hashemi from the Transportation Planning Department at Qatar Rail said there was “a rapid response from the public” to use the metro since its launching. All roads lead to the Education City Stadium for the Qatar-Oman match Friday. PICTURES: Shaji Kayamkulam “It is safe, there is zero accident, people can get from point A to Z without facing any traffic, and the demand has been increasing dramatically since we opened, and during such a tournament (Arab Cup),” he said. “Hopefully in the (FIFA) World Cup (in 2022), it will be the same as we planned”. The Doha Metro, with 37 stations in three lines (Red, Green, and Gold), now operates with 110 trains in its entire network, extending more than 76km, according to Qatar Rail.   Engineer Mohamed al-Hashemi As part of the operational plan during the Arab Cup, Qatar Rail has increased the number of cars per train from three to six on the 40km Red Line, which covers 18 stations. Qatar Rail noted that “the Arab Cup represents an important opportunity to measure the efficiency of the network in light of the presence of large numbers of fans looking to go to the matches, and at the same time learn about the different destinations where they can have fun.” The Qatar - Oman match yesterday has attracted a huge number of football fans Doha Metro services working hours have been extended for the tournament from 6am to 3am (Saturday to Thursday) and from 9am to 3am on Fridays until December 18. Qatar Rail issued a digital guide dubbed “Your Guide to the Stadium” to provide details about metro transportation, and the stations and lines that must be headed to reach the stadiums where the tournament matches will be held. Metro passengers can also scan a QR code at Metro stations and in the screens inside the trains to obtain the needed information. All set to cheer for the Qatar team Qatar Rail noted that the Education City station, one of the 11 Green Line stations (including the Msheireb and Al Bida interchange stations) where the Education City Stadium can be accessed, has a maximum capacity of 15,000 passengers per hour. Education City Stadium is hosting five matches throughout the tournament, including the December 1 clash between Saudi Arabia and Jordan, and one of the quarter-finals matches on December 10. Al-Hashemi said they have been collaborating with different government organisations such as the Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Transportation and Communication, Qatar Foundation, Ministry of Municipality and Environment, and Public Works Authority (Ashghal), among others, to deliver a successful tournament such as the 2021 Arab Cup. Qatar Rail has been keen to enhance the transportation experience through support services such as Metrolink and Metro Express, which facilitate public access to metro stations, he added. Operational plan for Doha Metro during the FIFA Arab Cup 2021: •    For stations located near the stadiums where the tournament is being held, the public can go directly to three of them - Stadium 974 through Ras Abu Aboud Station (Golden Line), Education City Stadium through Education City Station (Green Line) and Ahmed Bin Ali Stadium through Riffa Station (Green Line). •    Co-ordination with the organising committee of the tournament regarding buses transporting fans from stations to stadiums that are not directly connected to the metro network, where fans can go to the other three stadiums (all located on the red line), which are Al Bayt Stadium through Lusail QNB station, and to Al Thumama Stadium through Free zone Station, and to Al-Janoub Stadium through Al-Wakra Station. •    Tournament fans can use the metro services through the (Haya) fan card to travel throughout the tournament on the economy class on the metro until December 19, 2021. In this regard, the Doha Metro team has programmed and activated more than 210,000 cards within a short period, as all tests were conducted necessary to ensure their compatibility with the current metro system regulations. •    The Qatar Rail company, in co-ordination with the authorities concerned, has been keen to provide “park and ride” parking spaces around metro stations, a service currently available in 14 stations to allow the public to park their cars and continue their journeys by metro.

A general view of the ongoing 11th edition of Qatar International Food Festival (QIFF) 2021 at Al Bidda Park. The event which continues until December 17 features local and international cuisines, live cooking demonstrations, hot air balloon rides, live music and dance performances, along with the highly anticipated fireworks display during weekends. PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam.
Good weather, great food at QIFF 2021

The 11th edition of Qatar International Food Festival (QIFF) continues to draw big crowds a week after it started, wooing food lovers with a wide variety of delicacies from different parts of the world. QIFF is set to conclude on the Doha Corniche today and continue at Al Bidda Park until December 17. Apart from local and international cuisines, people visiting the festival also enjoy the various activities being held at the event such as live cooking demonstrations, hot air balloon rides, live music and dance performances, along with the highly anticipated fireworks display at night. Other attractions and games – eight interactive installations, a musical water show, Qatar’s biggest LED installation, trampolines, carnival games and other activations – provide curated and unique experiences for all ages. The weekend is expected to be a particularly busy period for the festival, with people venturing out in large numbers to enjoy some good food along with the pleasant weather. “It’s been just a week since our last visit here at QIFF and we have already missed it a lot. We like the setting, the ambiance and definitely the many food offerings. So, for today we will try different kinds of Indian and other Asian desserts,” said Filipino expatriate Edgar B, as he roamed around the park with his compatriot. He lauded Qatar Tourism and its partners for their “extraordinary efforts in making QIFF bigger” this year. Edgar added that the annual event serves as “a haven for many families and children who want to spend their weekend outdoors particularly with the weather now, and those who are looking for great food”. Foodies are also given the opportunity to explore popular cuisines from Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, prepared by the participating vendors. Dubbed as the country’s longest-running food and beverage festival, QIFF also has a live cooking theatre featuring internationally renowned chefs who hold live demos and take part in friendly competitions. It opens at 3pm and runs until 11pm on weekdays and from 3pm to 1am on weekends. It is learnt that burgers and shawarma are among the bestselling food items, while milk tea tops the list of popular drinks at QIFF. Visitors also find this year’s QIFF as “one of the best culinary events and the safest” amid the Covid-19 situation in the country due to its organisation and because it is being held in “a very suitable month and location.” “We feel comfortable, safe and relaxed because Al Bidda Park is huge and most people maintain a distance from each other. There are tables and chairs almost everywhere, you can even sit on the grass if you like. There is also a play area for children,” said Indian expatriate Soumya. The QIFF and a number of other winter attractions have been planned in Qatar to coincide with the ongoing FIFA Arab Cup 2021.    

Marina view
Technology is key in hospitality industry

Technology plays a big role in keeping up with the demands and developments in the hospitality sector, especially amid challenges such as the Covid-19 pandemic and the preparations for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, a leading hotelier said.   Carlo Javakhia “We know that we need to keep up with the progress and understand the current trends and requirements of tourists, residents or local guests,” Ritz-Carlton, Doha general manager Carlo Javakhia told a recent media briefing to mark the hotel’s 20th anniversary. Ritz-Carlton, Doha is a five-star, Katara Hospitality-owned property in West Bay Lagoon, and features the largest chandelier in the Middle East. Opened in October 2001, the hotel currently has 374 redesigned rooms and suites, three restaurants, the signature Ritz-Carlton Spa as well a Club Lounge with skyline and sea views. Javakhia cited QR codes as an example of modernisation, which he said now makes it easier for guests to scan for room service. “We are working on a system where guests can scan the menu and order through the process without even calling the room service team and placing it. When it comes to reservation, the guest can directly place their request to the system,” he pointed out. About the growing competition, he said: “Knowing our clientele, how we're looking after them it’s not only about how much money you can generate but how you make your guests feel and we can see this through the comments. “We will not go through a price war, we will not adjust our pricing because the competition is higher. We are a very niche market when it comes to the brand and our client are people that follow Ritz Carlton as a brand,” Javakhia added.

The Perfume Museum's owner Reem Abu Issa with dignitaries. Supplied picture
First perfume museum in the region opens

The Perfume Museum By Reem Abu Issa – the first in the region – was opened at The Pearl-Qatar recently, featuring thousands of unique collections dating back to the 1800s and 1900s. “This is mainly a museum of commercial perfume bottles. We try to give people an idea about (perfume) ingredients and how the Arab world contributed to the development of perfumery,” museum owner Reem Abu Issa told Gulf Times. (From left) Sheikh Hassan al-Thani, Abu Issa Holding chairman Ashraf Abu Issa, QM CEO Ahmad Musa al-Namla and Issa Abu Issa at the opening of The Perfume Museum recently She was speaking on the sidelines of the event, which was attended by Sheikh Hassan al-Thani, Qatar Museums (QM) CEO Ahmad Musa al-Namla, Abu Issa Holding chairman Ashraf Abu Issa, and Issa Abu Issa, as well as other dignitaries and guests. Some of the collections include 1960 Rolex- and 1926 Rolls-Royce-inspired perfume bottles, as well as a miniature 1952 Rue de la Paix lamp post and several other French-inspired designs. She said The Perfume Museum, which displays “valuable, rare and historically important perfumes of the past decades”, is a result of close collaboration between talented glassmakers and fashion designers “to create the most intriguing perfume bottles as objects of luxury, creativity and art”. The collections include 1960 Rolex- and 1926 Rolls-Royce-inspired perfume bottles The museum gives visitors an opportunity to walk down memory lane “of scents and fragrance along the Silk Road – a network of trade routes connecting Asia and Europe with the Middle East as the crux”. They can also learn the process of perfume-making: “from raw ingredients to extraction, distillation, formulation, industrialisation and bottling”. Apart from perfumes, a unique collection of early cosmetics - from Kohls and face powders to compacts and lipsticks - are also on show. The Perfume Museum features thousands of unique collections. PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam “It’s more of an interactive museum and then you get some collections and masterpieces from R Lalique and Baccarat,” Abu Issa said, adding that many items from the collection are French perfumes. “As my family has always been in the perfume business, we were one of the first people to bring commercial perfume bottles to Qatar. As a child, I used to collect miniatures, and then I decided to collect bottles instead 20 years ago, and thought I would share it with people,” she recounted. A miniature 1952 Rue de la Paix lamp post. PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam Abu Issa describes the museum, which she says is 20 years in the making, as “a work of art” – offering visitors an exceptional olfactory experience. “It’s nice to have something like this (The Perfume Museum) for people to maybe introduced to something different. For many, perfume is always a scent but there is more to it; so that is how it started, it is more of an artwork." “I think it will be interesting and it’s nice to have something like this in our region, it is a special thing, I like my collection a lot and want to share it with people. It’s only for them to enjoy and I try to put as much information as I could about perfumes for them to come and maybe to learn something new,” she added.

Mexican ambassador Graciela Gomez Garcia with Mexican artists participating at QIAF 2021.
Mexican art on display at QIAF

A group of renowned Mexican artists participating in the Qatar International Art Festival 2021 put the spotlight on Mexico’s rich culture and heritage through their vibrant and colourful works showcased at the event. “At 2+ Gallery we are proud of our roots and culture. It is our mission to promote fine Mexican art in Mexico and abroad. “We are pleased to present this distinguished group of artists who share their creativity at the Qatar International Art Festival 2021, embarking on an adventure to Qatari land where east and west meet in the most literal sense of geographical and cultural aspects in a diverse and creative art festival,” Margarita Chacon, 2+ Gallery manager and exhibition curator, said in her presentation. She was joined by two other Mexican artists, Gretchen Velarde and Angelica Gatica, at QIAF which concludes today at the Katara – the Cultural Village. The works of 12 other artists are also on display at the event. According to Chacon, the artists use painting, photography, ceramics and fashion design “to express their aesthetic point of view” and “their works are the ambassadors of peace and friendship; reminding us that there are no borders in art, only bridges that bring humanity together”. In a statement, Mexican ambassador Graciela Gomez Garcia said: “QIAF is a lively example of Qatar’s openness to the world; witnessing so many cultures together bridging distances through colour, shape and art has been an unmatchable opportunity to confirm the country’s vision of the present and future. “Having 15 Mexican artists exhibiting at the festival is unprecedented in Qatar; certainly a powerful reason to be proud of Mexico’s diversity and talent, and the willingness of our artists to both convey a message of peace and embrace otherness”.

The QIAF 2021 provides a platform for Qatar-based artists and those from around the globe to promote and showcase their creativity
Qatar is now a hub luring world-renowned artists

Qatar is fast becoming an art hub as it continues to attract world-renowned artists, Qatar International Art Festival (QIAF) 2021 head Rashmi Agarwal has said. Also the founder and president of Maps International, she was highlighting the success of the event, which has more than 300 artists from 65 countries participating. The third edition of QIAF, organised by Katara – the Cultural Village in co-operation with Maps International, was inaugurated by Katara general manager HE Prof Dr Khalid bin Ibrahim al-Sulaiti on Monday and will conclude on October 28. “We welcome all the participating artists and art lovers to different activities of the festival. I am deeply thankful to Katara for hosting the festival and supporting us with all possible means. The contribution of Katara towards promoting art and culture in Qatar is immense. “The increasing number of participating artists from Qatar and other countries speak volumes about the rising popularity of the QIAF at international art scenes. The festival aims at providing conducive atmosphere for the global artists to exhibit their works and earn recognition,” Agarwal said in a statement. According to organisers, the festival provides a platform for Qatar-based artists and those from around the globe to promote and showcase their creativity, as well as “amass due recognition”. A cultural tour around Doha was organised recently for participating artists. Numerous activities are also being held as part of the event such as painting and sculpture exhibition, live painting symposium, artistic fashion show, master classes, cultural talks and panel discussions. The festival will also hold a grand award ceremony on the concluding day. The US embassy in Doha is taking part in QIAF 2021, as part of Qatar – USA 2021 Year of Culture and Qatar Sustainability Week, by featuring US sustainable fashion designer Noor Bchara. Organisers noted that Florence Biennial gallery from Italy is the participating partner of the festival, along with other art galleries from around the world such as Crislolart Galleries from Spain, Artmosphere Magazine from New York, Gallery 2+ from Mexico, Funun Arts from UAE, Areme Art Gallery from Armenia, Iranian Art Gallery from Iran, Ethiopian Art Gallery from Ethiopia, Art Guest Agency from Russia and UFS in American University of Beirut from Lebanon.    

Qatar Tourism COO Berthold Trenkel
Qatar, emerging foodie capital in Middle East

The ‘World Class Chefs’ initiative will play a key role in positioning the country as a foodie capital in the Middle East, and further boosting its tourism industry,” Qatar Tourism COO Berthold Trenkel has said. “We’re bringing chefs to Qatar and that will help us to grow tourism and the whole food scene in Qatar,” he told reporters during the recent launch of the programme at Mandarin Oriental Doha. The two-year initiative, organised by Qatar Tourism in collaboration with Qatar Airways, Qatar Aircraft Catering company, and Kings of Kitchen, aims to host high-profile chefs from various regions globally and explore investment opportunities by introducing the world’s top culinary talent to the emerging hub of gastronomy in the region. About 50 renowned chefs from different regions, including India, Switzerland, France, the UK, Italy, and China, among other cities and destinations, have so far expressed interest to participate in the initiative. “This is not a short thing, we really want to really grow this, it is amazing when you look around the region there is no one who has established themselves as in being the foodie capital so there is a chance for Qatar if we step this up. “We become the place when people think about the Middle East, think about food, and they think about Qatar. That is the end goal where we want to go,” Trenkel pointed out. He said the initiative will also put a spotlight on local Qatari talents and their partnership with international chefs, providing an opportunity to showcase an array of dishes. “There are endless opportunities, I think I can scratch now the surface on what we can do and the amazing thing is that we got the approval from our chairman to do this from now until way after the (2022 FIFA) World Cup,” Trenkel added. The launch of World Class Chefs witnessed Michelin Star chef Julian Roucheteau presenting a signature dish, and will be holding live demo of delectable dishes at exclusive 'Chef’s Table' sessions until October 30 at IZU restaurant, Mandarin Oriental, Doha at Msheireb Downtown, between 6pm and 8pm and from 8.30pm to 10pm. “First this will help all of us, because new chefs, new food, will come here and I hope the locals will like it. Then we bring also more chefs into the (Qatar International) Food Festival…. they will do cooking classes and things like that. “Beyond that I think there is a business opportunity because we have so many new hotels that are under construction and all of them need chefs,” Trenkel said.    

Ritz-Carlton, Doha general manager Carlo Javakhia (3rd from left) with some of his team members. PICTURE:Shaji Kayamkulam
Foreign tourist arrivals to Qatar soaring, reveals hotel's general manager

Doha has been attracting an increasing number of foreign visitors as several tourism destinations started witnessing a recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, a leading hotelier said. "In many countries, we see already that tourism is back to 2019 levels and Doha is getting traction in international markets, and we can see that based on our bookings that we are getting as well," Ritz-Carlton, Doha general manager Carlo Javakhia explained. “We see new bookings from Germany, the UK, and from different markets for leisure purposes,” he told a recent media briefing to mark the hotel’s 20th anniversary scheduled Wednesday. The Ritz-Carlton, Doha is a five-star, Katara Hospitality-owned property in West Bay Lagoon, and features the largest chandelier in the Middle East Ritz-Carlton, Doha is a five-star, Katara Hospitality-owned property in West Bay Lagoon, and features the largest chandelier in the Middle East. The Viennese Baakowitz chandelier located at the hotel’s lobby was assembled by three people within a week’s time. With over 2,000 individual crystals, it is 7.5m in height, 3.5m in diameter and weighs 1.2 metric tonnes. The hotel hosts a total of 264 chandeliers throughout its premises. “We're in close partnership with FIFA and with local authorities and we understand as a hotel, as a brand, what exactly the high-end clientele needs, and we are always on our toes, that is one of the reasons why we are the primary choice when it comes to VIP delegations,” he said. Javakhia cited the collaboration between Qatar Tourism, Qatar Airways, and Discover Qatar, saying it has put the country on the map as a destination “and we see results coming very positive”. “We have clients who are just coming to celebrate their wedding anniversary and spend seven, eight to 10 days and 10 nights in Doha. They truly come for leisure so people understand in international markets that Qatar as a country can offer more than they knew in the past." He underlined the key role that the Hamad International Airport (HIA) plays in attracting foreign visitors saying that the country “has all the required infrastructure in order to grow the tourism sector”.

Michelin Star chef Julian Roucheteau and HE Akbar al-Baker at the launch of Qatar Tourism's 'World Class Chefs' initiative Monday. PICTURES: Shaji Kayamkulam.
World Class Chefs initiative launched

Qatar Tourism has launched the ‘World Class Chefs’ initiative Monday at Mandarin Oriental Doha, featuring Michelin Star chef Julian Roucheteau who presented a signature dish at the event. “We are opening up the approach for Michelin star chefs to come (to Doha) and start promoting the Food Festival (Qatar International Food Festival),” said Qatar Tourism Chairman and Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive HE Akbar al-Baker, who joined Roucheteau at the live food demonstration. He said the two-year programme will also open new opportunities for Michelin star chefs to open restaurants in Doha and work with hotels, as well as upgrade the food offering in the country. According to Qatar Tourism, ‘World Class Chefs’, organised by Qatar Tourism in collaboration with Qatar Airways, Qatar Aircraft Catering company, and Kings of Kitchen, aims to host high-profile chefs from around the world and explore investment opportunities by introducing the world’s top culinary talent to the emerging hub of gastronomy in the Middle East. Roucheteau is holding love demo of delectable dishes at exclusive 'Chef’s Table' sessions from October 26 to 30 at IZU restaurant, Mandarin Oriental, Doha at Msheireb Downtown, between 6pm and 8pm and from 8.30pm to 10pm. Qatar Tourism COO Berthold Trenkel told reporters that about 50 renowned chefs from various regions across the globe have expressed interest to take part in the initiative. “For November, December, and January, so the next three months are already booked, and then we'll work next year to confirm for February, March, etc. We will take a break in the summer and we will restart again in autumn before the 2022 FIFA World Cup. “This is a really great initiative, we did a lot of research what people obviously are looking for and everyone has their own interest but there’s one common thing when people are on vacation – food,” he added.

A Doha Metro station.
Retail spaces up for grabs at Metro stations

Qatar Rail is offering retailers an opportunity to open new stores at various Doha Metro and Lusail Tram stations, it is announced. In an advertisement, Qatar Rail announced that retail spaces are available in at least 12 Metro stations: Al Wakra, Lusail QNB, Ras Bu Abboud, Sports City, Al Riffa Mall of Qatar, Education City, Free Zone, Hamad Hospital, Qatar National Museum, Qatar National Library, Al Waab QLM and Bin Mahmoud. According to Qatar Rail, permitted trades for this particular offering include General Services (stationery, accessories, gifts/souvenir shop, sports shop, nutritional supplements and florist); Food, Beverage and Convenience Store (café, quick service restaurant, juice bar, specialty food, convenience store and news agent); and Services (electronics, laundry, health and beauty, pharmacy, travel agent and quick service repair). “Our retail proposition caters to the bespoke demands of rail commuters and neighbourhood customers. In addition to the retail outlets, stations also include dedicated spaces for ATMs and vending machines,” Qatar Rail said on its website. Qatar Rail noted that retailers who will avail of this offer can get up to 12 months of licence fee for free, and a flexible agreement duration of three years or five years, while water and electricity costs will be included in the licence fee. The Doha Metro comprises 37 stations spread across three lines – Red, Gold and Green – and has a retail space of approximately 9,200sq m spread across 213 retail outlets. Meanwhile, the Qatar Rail website notes that the 19km Lusail Tram comprise 25 stations spread across four lines aboveground and underground, and offers approximately 1,500sq m of retail space spread across 43 retail outlets. It is connected to the Doha Metro via the Lusail and Legtaifiya interchange stations. Trams, Qatar Rail pointed out, provide efficient and environment-friendly transport services for commuters compared to petrol-powered vehicles. “Lusail Tram will soon become the main transportation hub for the visionary Lusail City, the largest single sustainable development to be undertaken in the State of Qatar,” the website states. Many retail outlets are now operating at Metro stations, including coffee shops, banks, telecom services, pharmacies, convenience stores, quick service restaurants, specialty foods and juice bars, in addition to ATMs, vending machines and other stores.

Ritz-Carlton, Doha general manager Carlo Javakhia. PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam
Luxury hospitality segment witnessing huge local demand

Qatar’s luxury hospitality industry witnessed a huge local demand amid the Covid-19 pandemic as most guests sought curated experiences and unique offerings, Ritz-Carlton, Doha general manager Carlo Javakhia has said. “In luxury hospitality, the negative impact was only for the few months when travel wasn’t allowed for international markets. However, the local market demand was very strong, very high, this allowed us to run on weekends (and) we were sold out,” he told a recent media briefing at the hotel’s Sel & Miel restaurant to mark the hotel’s 20th anniversary on October 27. The global health crisis, Javakhia said, created a positive impact “in the way people became more conscious when it comes to health and safety measures”. “They (guests) are now more brand conscious than they would be in the past because they trust certain brands and they trust certain companies and they feel more secured, safer,” he stressed, adding that people are willing to pay higher rates for luxury than in the past since not every hotel could offer such product. A Katara Hospitality-owned property, Ritz-Carlton, Doha completed the renovation of its Grand Amiri suites in 2020. The hotel has 374 rooms, including 42 Club-level rooms and 61 suites (four of them named as Grand Amiri suites), of the luxury hotel fuse contemporary styling with classic Arabic and ‎‎European design. Three distinctive restaurants compile the hotel’s culinary journey; The French restaurant Sel & Miel, the American Steakhouse STK Doha, and the Pan Asian restaurant B-Lounge. “The products are launched in such a way that they can cater to the international traveller and can meet the local client as well,” Javakhia said. He pointed out that Covid-19 affected more the middle class and entry-level products than the luxury as demand grew for “more personalised, more private experiences than it was in the past”. Javakhia said the hotel also brought curated menus from the lounge to guests’ suites as people became extra conscious to dine at restaurants. He noted that the five-star hotel – featuring more than 2,000 sq m of meeting space – also saw a “double-digit increase” for leisure business not only from the local but also from the international market. Besides launching various offerings from the best brands across the globe, the general manager added that Ritz-Carlton, Doha’s chefs also introduced new menu items to cater to different segments. “Then we launched the beach which was one of the main components for the leisure market,” he added.