The use of modern technology and online presence play a vital role in providing art enthusiasts with a platform to explore exhibitions while ensuring their safety amid the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, AlBahie Auction House officials have said. “This is a good idea especially for collectors, people who love and are enthusiastic about art,” AlBahie auctioneer and senior client liaison Ayoub Bouali told Gulf Times, as he lauded the efforts of museums and art galleries in Qatar for giving people with easy access to view high-definition images of numerous artworks and collections virtually. During the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, Qatar Museums noted that Google Arts & Culture found a way to virtually visit various museums around the world, including the Museum of Islamic Art, National Museum of Qatar, and Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art. Google Arts & Culture, in partnership with different museums worldwide, serves as a digital platform that also showcases a wide range of online exhibits and collections from various artists. “Other museums internationally do the same thing, so it is a good thing and a good idea”, Bouali stressed. He said AlBahie will also start adopting new technology via its online auction of contemporary art tomorrow (August 8, Saturday), featuring 32 works by 11 Qatari artists. The artworks are showcased in high-resolution for preview. “For this auction, we’ll do it as we used to do, which will be live, but the only thing is that audience will not be here but they can participate through our platform. They will see what is happening here, the auction proper, the bidding, through the camera”, Bouali said, adding that such set up aims to ensuring the safety of all. AlBahie's head of sale Arbia Khssib echoed Bouali’s view saying that people should be given options and opportunities to take part in such events despite the Covid-19 pandemic. She underscored the importance of art and culture appreciation, describing it as “the greatest sides that keep on protecting humanity so we need to keep it active and working.” “It is a global situation, it’s a struggle for all of us, but it won’t stop us from doing what we love to do, like before this auction, we hosted two other categories during the Covid-19,” Khssib said. However, she pointed out that while she still prefers the traditional live auction with the actual interaction, going online due to the Covid-19 pandemic would be the solution. For the upcoming auction, she said AlBahie wants to introduce a new category that will support young Qatari artists as part of its efforts to constantly improve and innovate its programme. The artists are: Maryam Faraj al-Suwaidi, Mohamed Faraj al-Suwaidi, Sheikh Mubarak Nasser al-Thani, Manar Ahmad al-Muftah, Muna Khalid al-Bader, Ahmad Khalid al-Jufairi, Khalifa Hamad al-Marri, Abdullah Najib al-Kuwari, Aisha Saleh al-Fadhala, Sara al-Buainain, and Shouq al-Mana. .
AlBahie Auction House is set to hold an online auction of contemporary art on August 8, featuring 32 works by 11 Qatari artists. “What makes this (auction) unique, it is a platform for young Qatari artists to reveal their works internationally,” AlBahie head of sale Arbia Khssibi told Gulf Times. She noted that these young and ambitious artists “who take art seriously” will be the sought after and big names in the future: Maryam Faraj al-Suwaidi, Mohamed Faraj al-Suwaidi, Sheikh Mubarak Nasser al-Thani, Manar Ahmad al-Muftah, Muna Khalid al-Bader, Ahmad Khalid al-Jufairi, Khalifa Hamad al-Marri, Abdullah Najib al-Kuwari, Aisha Saleh al-Fadhala, Sara al-Buainain, and Shouq al-Mana. Some of the works, currently on display at AlBahie at Katara–the Cultural Village Building 22c, include: Maryam’s ‘Designer Baby: Mirage’ (mixed media, 24k gold and silver layered on white concrete and metal); Mohamed’s ‘Consumer Consumed’ (ink on paper by plotter machine); Sheikh Mubarak’s ‘Stigma’ (acrylic on canvas); al-Muftah’s Thaa’ (mixed media on paper); al-Bader’s ‘Qatari women’ (oil on canvass); al-Jufairi’s Desert Rose (oil on canvas); al-Marri’s ‘His Excellency Sheikh Hamad and his father His Excellency Sheikh Khalifa’ (oil and acrylic on canvas); al-Kuwari’s ‘The Hiding Fox and the Robotic Wolf’ (mixed media on paper); al-Fadhala’s ‘Street Art’ (acrylic and spray paint on wood panels); al-Buainain’s ‘Father & Son’ (digital print on paper); and al-Mana’s ‘The Standing Woman’ (acrylic on canvass), among others. “We have some calligraphy, we didn’t restrict them with one theme, we want them to reveal themselves as they want to. You can see the variety from one artist to another, none of the artworks are even similar to the other,” Khssibi said. AlBahie auctioneer and senior client liaison Ayoub Bouali said the event on August 8 will be AlBahie’s third auction for modern and contemporary works, which aims to support young Qatari artists. He noted that the auction will be held live online as a precautionary measure to prevent the spread of coronavirus (Covid-19) where the audience can participate through AlBahie’s digital platform. It will be conducted in US dollars and payments will be requested in Qatari Riyals. The auction will be open for bidders from around the world, mainly from the US and the UK, according to Bouali. AlBahie will also host a series of auctions in the coming months such as the ‘Art in Qatar Today’ on September 24, bringing a selection of works from the local and international artist practicing in Doha; Special Numbers on October 15, which will includes plate numbers, phone numbers and QPost box numbers; Amber on October 29, feature hand-carved and vintage misbaha, as well as decorative sculptures and other collectibles; and another modern and contemporary art auction on November 25, offering exceptional works by established artists from the Middle East and North Africa, alongside internationally renowned artists of the Arab diaspora.
Ghana's embassy in Doha Friday repatriated the first batch of stranded Ghanaians from Qatar onboard a chartered Ethiopian Airlines flight. Ghanaian ambassador Emmanuel Enos, along with a number of his staff and Ghanaian Community chairman Stephen Adjei, were at Hamad International Airport (HIA) to ensure the smooth departure of their compatriots. Ghanaians waiting to board their flight at HIA Friday “With the advent of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic and its attendant economic and social challenges, many Ghanaian workers were left stranded in Qatar. The Government of Ghana, through its embassy in Doha, and executives of the Ghanaian Community organised an evacuation exercise for the stranded Ghanaians, numbering 226,” he said in a press statement. The envoy noted that the repatriation arrangements have been successful due to the close collaboration between the embassy, Qatar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, through its Chief of Protocol ambassador Ibrahim Yousif Abdullah Fakhro and his staff, and a number of relevant government agencies. “Without a doubt, the resounding success of the evacuation exercise is a testament to the existing cordial bilateral relations between the two friendly countries,” Enos said. “The embassy of Ghana in Qatar is hopeful that the existing bonds of friendship between Ghana and Qatar would continue to be strengthened and deepened, even further, in the coming years for the mutual benefit of the two countries. Long live Ghana! Long live Qatar! Long live Ghana-Qatar relations!” he stressed.
The main and children’s gift shops were in leading for the Retail category on Thursday. Winners will be announced on August 4 After winning various international accolades in 2019, National Museum of Qatar (NMoQ) gift shops now made it to the 2020 Architizer A+Awards as finalist for ‘Best Retail Popular Choice Awards’. The A+Awards, dubbed as the largest awards programme globally dedicated to honouring the year’s best architecture, spaces and products, is highlighting the most pressing issues facing architecture and design today for its 8th season. The main and children’s gift shops were on top (1st place) for the Retail category at 33% as of on Thursday evening, leading the race over four other finalists: Carner Barcelona Perfumery (Spain), WOWDSGN Shanghai MixC Store (China), 277 Mott Street (US), and Zhuyeqing Green Tea Flagship Store (China). In a post on its Instagram page, NMoQ shared a link where the public can cast their votes for this year’s award, which will conclude today (July 31). Winners will be announced on August 4. The gift shops’ unique design was inspired by Dahl Al Misfir (Qatar’s “Cave of Light”), located in the heart of the country. It is a picturesque underground sanctuary formed largely from fibrous gypsum crystals that give off a faint, moon-like, phosphorescent glow. Their organic architecture, designed by Koichi Takada Architects, reflect his vision of bringing nature back into architecture, establishing relationships that connect people and nature through design. These stunning works of architecture are made of 40,000 pieces of wooden panels – creating a massive wooden canyon. The main gift shop stocks a large collection of well-designed, exclusive gifts, many of which draw their inspiration from the history, heritage, and culture of Qatar. Meanwhile, the children’s gift shop offers a diverse range of locally designed souvenirs and gift items, including educational toys, books, puzzles and games. Both gift shops are located on the first floor of NMoQ and are open to the public during museum operating hours. The gift shops have a vertical proportion with high sinuous walls and narrow passageways, all clad with horizontal solid oak strips. This ‘skin’ generates a fluid and unfurling movement, creating a massive wooden canyon, which is not only a shell but a free-standing element itself. Display islands are scattered in the middle of the gift shops, playing with the layout and offering the necessary exhibition stalls and a place dedicated to retail needs. In 2019, these museum gift shops bagged four international awards in different categories, including retail and interior design. They were recognised as the Interior Design 2019 Best of Year Award winner for Mixed Retail and also won the Architecture MasterPrizeTM Award for the Retail category in the US. In the United Kingdom, the gift shops won the 2019 World Interiors News Awards in the Independent Shops or Small Chains category. They also received the Gold Winner title by the Driven x Design 2019 Sydney Design Awards in Australia for Interior Design – Retail, a category that celebrates innovative and creative building interiors. In addition to winning awards, the gift shops were also nominated for the 2019 INSIDE Award for Annual Best Interiors, Dezeen Awards 2019 for Retail Interior, and the Frame Awards 2020 for the Multi-Brand Store of The Year category.
Driving schools in Qatar will implement strict precautionary measures on their premises and during practical lessons to ensure the health and safety of both employees and students against the novel coronavirus (Covid-19), it is learnt. The third phase of the gradual lifting of Covid-19 restrictions in the country will see the reopening of various business establishments, including driving schools – which had been closed since March in view of the outbreak. Private healthcare facilities are also allowed to operate at 80% capacity in this phase. In addition, 80% of employees will be permitted at the workplace subject to strict health precautions. An employee of Dallah Driving Academy told Gulf Times that apart from their premises, all vehicles will be regularly cleaned and sanitised after every road activity. Employees and students are also required to wear gloves and face masks, show the ‘green’ health code on their Ehteraz mobile application and follow applicable social distancing measures while at the academy. Dallah has announced that it will resume its operations in August and has started the registration of applicants online. Fee payments can also be made online. “We already have new student drivers (newly registered), while the old ones are scheduled to continue their road practice next month,” the employee noted. Other driving schools like Al Khebra Driving Academy have also announced their reopening on August 3 on social media platforms, posting a number of pictures and videos showing Covid-19 protocols have been put in place. All newly registered applicants “are welcome to come from the first day”, the academy has said on its Facebook page. “Old students can come according to the schedules they received,” it continued, adding that other services can be availed of by logging on to its website and booking appointments for the service they need (through QR codes). Applicants can also take their theory classes online from their homes for three days (instead of five days). An instructor at another driving school told Gulf Times that their cars have been properly maintained and thoroughly sanitised prior to the reopening in August. The company, he stressed, requires them to wear gloves, a face mask and face shield, as well as bring sanitisers with them while on duty. After work, the instructor stressed that they all stay in the company accommodation and avoid going out unnecessarily. “We don’t roam around in other places to avoid being infected by others.” Besides posts on social media, a number of driving schools also started sending text messages yesterday to inform the public of their special discounts and reopening promotions. Applicants are advised to send a copy of their Qatar ID to verify if their profession is included on the list of categories of workers (a total of 240) who are ineligible to apply for a driving licence.
The unity of all GCC States plays a vital role in helping to advance progress in many different areas that would benefit the people of the region, United States (US) special representative for Iran and senior policy advisor to the Secretary of State Brian Hook has said. “The dispute (Gulf crisis) has continued for too long, and it ultimately harms our shared regional interests in stability, prosperity, and security. The US will continue to stress the benefits of co-operation with all GCC members, and support steps to rebuild trust and unity,” he told reporters on a video press roundtable Sunday. Before the press briefing, Hook met with Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohamed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani and discussed a wide range of topics, including the Gulf rift. He said President (Donald) Trump and Secretary (Mike) Pompeo, who have “invested a great deal of time trying to help mediate the dispute”, continue to stress the importance of unity among the GCC members. Qatar’s hosting of a base for US Forces significantly contributes to greater peace and stability in the region, according to Hook. Apart from being partners in the area of security, he said the two countries also have deep economic and diplomatic co-operation, and cultural ties, among others. “Qatar is a great friend to the US," he stressed. Hook cited the efforts of Kuwaiti Amir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah in resolving the crisis, which started on June 5, 2017 after the Saudi-led bloc severed ties with Qatar. “I think our role and the role of Kuwait is to do what we can to foster dialogue, to help them make progress, because bringing an end to this dispute really advance the collective interest of all the parties to this conflict,” he stressed. “I’ll be going to Kuwait next as part of this trip to the Gulf. We are going to continue our efforts, something which I have been engaged on for a number of years and hoping the two sides can resolve their differences,” Hook said. “My expectation is that the role that Kuwait has been playing will continue, the US hopes for the Kuwaiti Amir’s (who underwent a successful surgery recently and is currently undergoing treatment in the US) improved health. I know that the Amir has invested a lot in this, I think he would very much like to have this work continue,” he said. Before arriving in Qatar, Hook noted that he was in Tunisia for consultations with the President’s office and the Foreign Minister. “Tunisia currently sits on the Security Council, and I used the opportunity to discuss our shared interests at the United Nations,” he said. “I am back in the region today to advance the Administration’s priority of extending the UN arms embargo on Iran, which expires in October.”
* New elements to be launched to wider audiences over coming months Salwa Beach Resort has partially opened with a small number of highly luxurious beach villas, Katara Hospitality has announced. Hilton’s new beach resort and Qatar’s new major leisure destination, located 84km from Doha, will also launch several other elements and facilities that will be accessible to a wider audience in the coming months. Salwa Beach Resort is Qatar's new major leisure destination Nesma Lounge hotel lobby Lavish and spacious accommodation A section of the waterpark In a press statement Friday, Katara Hospitality said the resort, which spreads across 3.5km of picturesque private beaches, has opened with two-, three- and four-bedroom beach villas with private pools, gardens and scenic terrace. These are "lavish and spacious", measuring from 318sq m to 1,353sq m in size. Salwa Beach Resort is also offering an exclusive guests’ preview of some waterpark attractions, such as the King Cobra slide, Ship Kids’ Pool and the Waterfall Pool, between 3pm and 6pm daily. In-villa dining menus are available round the clock. "Over the coming months, many other elements of the extensive resort will be launched one by one, extending facilities that will be accessible to a wider audience," the statement noted. These include the following: * 246 deluxe rooms and suites (Hilton Hotel) with wonderful sea and garden views, providing a wider variety of accommodation to welcome more guests. * Over 20 restaurants offering the finest cuisine, such as the locally inspired all-day dining restaurant Souk Kitchen, the vibrant Dante Cucina Italiana, the fashionably stylish Octa seafood restaurant and lounge, Miss Wong Chinese restaurant and others. * Arabian Village with 31 secluded villas reflecting traditional Arabian architecture, with the authentic Arabic restaurant Levantine at its heart. * Outdoor swimming pools set among beautifully landscaped gardens. * Eforea Spa, which offers 2,800sq m of relaxation and wellbeing over two floors. * Marina with 56 berths. * A meeting centre with a ballroom for large weddings and conference and a selection of versatile, well-equipped meeting rooms. * Salwa Beach Resort will also launch to the public the Desert Falls Water & Adventure Park, offering 57,000sq m of fun. It has 28 slides and rides, including Spinning Rapids, Superbowl, lazy and torrent rivers, surfing dunes, Whizzard mat racing and many additional attractions such as cliff jumping and diving experiences, go-karting track and laser tag. * The resort will also open the Salwa Sports Academy, featuring training facilities, football pitches and multi-purpose playing courts, as well as a sports bar, The League.
The Ugandan embassy in Doha repatriated the second batch of stranded Ugandans from Qatar via a chartered flight Friday. Ugandan ambassador Dr Stephen Chemoiko Chebrot told 'Gulf Times' that 167 Ugandan citizens and legal residents departed from Hamad International Airport (HIA) aboard the Qatar Airways chartered flight organised by the embassy. “Among the returnees are citizens and legal residents from Australia, Pakistan, and Iran (who were stranded in Qatar due to the Covid-19 pandemic),” the envoy said, adding that all the passengers were tested for Covid-19 and found negative and safe to travel. He thanked the Qatar government, including Ministry of Foreign Affairs Protocol director ambassador Ibrahim Yousif Abdullah Fakhro, for facilitating the travel of his compatriots, especially the Covid-19 test and aircraft clearance. The embassy, in close collaboration between the Ugandan embassy in Doha, Qatar and the Ugandan government, had repatriated 238 Ugandans on July 18. Another batch of Ugandans is expected to be repatriated in early-August, according to the envoy. Dr Chebrot said such collaboration would further strengthen the excellent bilateral relations between Qatar and Uganda. Apart from Ugandans in Doha, a number of Ugandan expatriates from other countries such as Japan, Australia and Lebanon, who had been stranded, were also included on the July 18 flight. A number of community leaders from the Uganda Peninsula Community Qatar (UPCQ) led by its chairman Benson Akampumuza were present at HIA Friday to see off their compatriots. Akampumuza and his team thanked the embassy “for the remarkable support towards the successful repatriation” of their compatriots. The UPCQ official also cited the efforts of Richard Otto and Jacob Bamwesigye, and "all camp representatives for the excellent work done in co-ordination with all the community members to have a successful repatriation." “We shall continue uniting all Ugandans in Qatar as we strengthen the culture and bonds among us and other communities,” Akampumuza stressed.
Virtual exhibitions at Katara – the Cultural Village continue to provide an opportunity for Qatar’s creative community to showcase their works, including the recently launched “The Unreachable Mirage” by Qatari artist Masoud al-Bulushi. Katara, as well as museums, heritage sites, and galleries in Qatar, have been hosting exhibitions and a number of art activities remotely since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. These efforts are in line with the state’s precautionary measures in preventing the spread of the virus. Open until December 31 on Katara’s website, the solo exhibition features 20 unique and thought-provoking paintings which highlight a traditional veil used mostly by Arab women – the batoola. Al-Bulushi’s latest works also reflect his keenness on this subject as depicted in many of his previous exhibitions in Qatar and other countries, including France, Britain, Cuba and Morocco, among others. The artist, a member of Qatar Fine Arts Society and Souq Waqif Art Centre who won a series of awards, has a distinct style of infusing abstract and reality on his work. He was awarded by the Qatar Fine Arts Association with the grand prize at the 2003 Youth Exhibition, in addition to the Ministry of Culture and Sports’ top award at the 2015 Second International Mini Art exhibition for visual arts. Some of the artist’s solo exhibitions also include ‘Behind the Dark’ at Souq Waqif in 2011, ‘Al That’ at Katara in 2013, and a similar exhibition also titled “Unreachable Mirage” at W Doha’s Art29 art gallery, which displayed many of his exceptional works. Apart from “The Unreachable Mirage”, Katara is also hosting a number of virtual exhibitions such as Qatari artist Hassan Bu Jassoum’s “Heritage”, Syrian contemporary artist Hadi Qasous’ “Patches”, Qatari artist Fatima al-Nuaimi’s “The Result”, Qatari Artist Ali Dasmal al-Kuwari’s “Al Taybeen”, and artist Hassan Taleb Alsalat’s “Culture Collusion”. The “Heritage” exhibition underscores the importance of remembering the past through art while “Patches” presents 16 paintings that reflect the artist’s penchant for calligraphy and colour. Virtual visitors can view al-Kuwari’s 17 paintings that focus on local architecture while “Cultures Collision” put a spotlight on popular cartoon characters with well-known Qatari/Arab landmarks on the backdrop. These virtual initiatives also form part of Katara’s Summer Festival 2020 aimed at encouraging and inspiring the creative community in Qatar to take part and further enhance their skills through various activities and competitions.
Qatar Museums (QM) has urged students and teachers to register for its new Culture Pass tiers, offering a curated programme and benefits that suit their passion. While QM opened a number of its museums and heritage sites on July 1, the first day of the second phase of the gradual lifting of Covid-19 restrictions in the country, students and teachers can also take part in these creative online programming by registering via https://www.qm.org.qa/en/culturepass. “Culture Pass is your gateway to explore culture, art and heritage. Membership draws together the wealth of experiences we offer at our museums,” QM said on its Instagram page. The programme, QM noted, includes two new tiers, the Culture Pass Students and Culture Pass Teachers memberships, “designed to create a community, be proactive and share the love of knowledge to future generations by offering them an exclusive and behind the scenes access to tours, talks, and workshops”. The expanded Culture Pass programme was launched in June as an added support to teachers and students in Qatar, giving them access to QM’s educational services, workshop opportunities and an array of free-of-charge virtual activities. Teachers will receive unique educational training opportunities, as well as expand their cultural knowledge. They can join tours, exhibition training tours, local artists’ workshops and the ‘Teachers Teaching Teachers’ programme, and get invitations for the Teachers’ Council and the Executive Teachers’ Council. QM said teachers, under the new Culture Pass tier, will also enjoy a wide range of discounts at various restaurants and cafes across the country. These include 10% discount at QM gift shops, IN-Q Online and Cass Art Qatar, as well as QM ticketed exhibitions. For students 16 to 25 years, the tier gives them access to an array of QM events. It also allows them to register for development platforms such as the Museum of Islamic Art Infinite Programme, and apply to the QM Internship Programme and volunteering opportunities with the Public Programme’s Team. Students members stand to benefit from priority registration to student arts workshops and artists talks. They are also entitled to a 10% discount at QM gift shops. QM noted that the original free Culture Pass Basic membership, which is “hugely popular” with more than 20,000 members, will remain available for Qatari nationals, residents and visitors, along with core benefits.
The Doha Film Institute (DFI) has opened the door for filmmakers in Qatar to take part in the eighth edition of Ajyal Film Festival, scheduled from November 18- 23 this year. In an e-mail to Qatar Museums Culture Pass members, DFI said it has started accepting entries for the Made in Qatar section. The deadline is on September 3. Entries - narrative or documentary films of any length – must be shot in Qatar or the film’s story must revolve around Qatar, according to DFI. Winners of the Ajyal competition sections, including Made in Qatar, will receive cash prizes: $5,000 for the Best Narrative Award, $5,000 for Best Documentary Award, $3,000 for Abdulaziz Jassim Award for Best Performance, and diploma for the Special Jury Mention. To qualify, DFI noted that “the writer, director or producer must be a Qatari national or other holding a valid residence permit in Qatar.” DFI requires all non-English-language works to have English subtitles, which must be accompanied by an industry-standard time-coded English-language dialogue list to be eligible for consideration. DFI noted that the six-day festival (Ajyal is Arabic for ‘generations’) “will bridge gaps and bring generations together through activities and events designed to inspire creative interaction among the various sectors of the regional community.” According to DFI, Ajyal’s format includes the Ajyal Competition, as well as the Made in Qatar section. Alongside the official film programme, it also features special screenings, thematic tributes, ‘Cinema Under the Stars’ and the ‘Creativity Hub’. Besides Made in Qatar, the Ajyal Competition sections 2020 also include Mohaq (New Moon) for jurors aged 8-12 years; Hilal (Crescent) for jurors aged 13-17 years; Bader (Full Moon) for jurors aged 18-21 years; Bariq (Sparkle) for jurors-in-training (4-7 years) and their families; and Special Screenings, a selection of diverse films including opening night, tributes, Cinema Under the Stars and themed screenings. DFI said “the festival is designed to enhance and encourage regional film-related education programmes, making it an engaging, fun experience for families and educators through collective and individual interaction with the medium of cinema.” “At the same time, the festival provides an open forum for dialogue and discourse among its many participants, where the full scope of complex issues facing today’s youth can be discussed. This not only empowers the next generation of storytellers, but also gives them a secure platform from which their voices can be heard,” DFI added. Submission of entries started on June 4 and the deadline for the Ajyal competition will be on August 9 and participants will be notified of the status of their entry on October 4.
Some 238 Ugandans were repatriated back to their home country on Saturday, thanks to the close collaboration between the Ugandan embassy in Doha, the State of Qatar and the Ugandan government. “We are grateful to the Qatar government, the ministries of foreign affairs of the two countries, especially the efforts of Qatar's Ministry of Foreign Affairs Protocol director ambassador Ibrahim Yousif Abdullah Fakhro, for making it easy for us to repatriate our compatriots back home,” Ugandan ambassador Dr Stephen Chemoiko Chebrot told Gulf Times. Apart from Ugandan expatriates in Doha, the ambassador noted that a number of Ugandan expatriates from other countries such as Japan, Australia and Lebanon, who were earlier stranded were also put on the flight. The envoy was joined by a number of community leaders (Uganda Peninsula Community Qatar (UPCQ) led by its chairman Benson Akampumuza) to see off their compatriots at Hamad International Airport (HIA). Akampumuza echoed Dr Chebrot’s statement, thanking the embassy, MoFA and the ministries of health of both countries “for the support and guidance that led us to this remarkable day amidst the pandemic”. Dr Chebrot said the Qatar Airways chartered flight left Doha around 11:30am on Saturday and was expected to arrive at Entebbe International Airport around 5.30pm. A second repatriation flight is scheduled for July 24. “The whole process of preparing our compatriots’ repatriation was smooth, including their Covid-19 PCR (polymerise chain reaction) tests,” said Dr Chebrot. A PCR test is the standard test used to determine whether an individual is infected with Covid-19, Hamad Medical Corporation had recently stressed. The envoy expressed optimism that many of his compatriots, who considered Qatar their second home, would be able to return and work again in the country post Covid-19. Dr Chebrot noted that close to 10,000 Ugandans are currently living in Qatar and involved in various projects for the upcoming FIFA World Cup 2022. He stressed that such collaboration would further strengthen the excellent bilateral relations between Qatar and Uganda.
Major hypermarkets and retailers in Qatar have witnessed a surge in demand for cookware sets and baking equipment, as well as other kitchenware and accessories, amid the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) outbreak, it is learnt. From peelers, all-purpose knives, cutting boards and mixing bowls to pans, skillets, and cooking appliances like food processors and mixers, many residents have felt the need to purchase such items while working from or just staying at home. LuLu regional regional manager Shanavas P M told Gulf Times that many of their cookware and baking tools are fast-moving items even during the Covid-19 pandemic. He noted that LuLu stores have seen record sales in the current situation and stocks had at times run low but were immediately refilled. One of the reasons for the demand surge, Shavanas said, is that home cooking has become a trend as many people find it safe, healthy and practical to prepare their own meals for the family. It is learnt that many people also want to learn new skills such as cooking and are enticed to buy cookware used by their favourite chefs who vlog on YouTube or other social media channels such as Instagram. An employee of a renowned specialty store in Qatar said most of their baking essentials, including measuring cups, silicone mat and rubber spatulas, were sold out a couple of weeks ago. “We thought this Covid-19 pandemic will substantially reduce our sales but it was the other way around. We were so busy until now, we’re hoping our next shipment will come very soon,” she said. The employee noted that many customers placed their orders online or personally visited the store when Qatari authorities started the gradual lifting of Covid-19 restrictions. Due to the huge demand for some essential items and accessories for cooking and baking, many residents are prompted to order on popular e-commerce companies such as Amazon, Rakuten and e-Bay, among others. “The downside is I have to pay the shipping fee and wait for a few days for the delivery. So, what I and my friends do is to pool our orders so everyone gives his or her own share for the total charge,” a homemaker said. “The good thing is that all of the essential cooking and baking products such as flour, yeast, sugar, egg, salt, butter and milk are readily available locally,” she added.
Football fans and enthusiasts in Qatar will have the opportunity to watch former Argentina, Barcelona and Liverpool star, current Estudiantes de La Plata player, Javier Mascherano on Generation Amazing (GA) Instagram live session in the upcoming week, the embassy of Argentina in Doha has said. Mascherano will be talking about his illustrious career, discipline and drive in the GA talk on Instagram live, which forms part of a weekly collaboration between GA and the Qatar Children’s Museum (QCM). He is scheduled to speak on @GA4Good from 9pm (Doha time GMT +3) while all other GA sessions are to be broadcast at the regular time of 4pm. “The week will be wrapped up with another GA Star Chat with former NAC Breda, Nottingham Forest and Netherlands striker, Pierre von Hooijdonk who will talk about his motivations and journey to football,” the embassy said. The virtual event between GA and QCM also provides young audiences with sports-themed arts and crafts sessions and challenges throughout the summer holidays. Previous sessions saw young participants making a paper plate tennis racket via the @Childrensmuseum.qa channel “which was later used in a live activity with GA master coach Mike on @GA4Good Instagram Live.” This was followed by a GA Star Chat with women’s football star, former Dutch centre back and WorldCoaches ambassador, Anouk Hoogendijk, who shared some inspiring stories about life as female footballer. “Follow your dream and dream big. The sky is the limit,” said Hoodgendijk who spoke about building aspirations and her experience in football. GA has been going live now for 14 weeks, extending its programme to audiences in Qatar and globally who are confined at home during the pandemic. The live sessions, which also featured GA figures such as master coaches Michael Richardson and Hamad Mohamed, and BeIN Sports anchor Mohamed Saadon al-Kuwari, also highlighted ways on how to stay fit and active while staying home. According to GA, these virtual events attracted a large number of viewers across the world who enjoyed the football for development sessions.
Qatar Museums (QM) highlighted the remarkable project carried out by Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts in Qatar (VCUarts Qatar) to mark this year’s World Youth Skills Day yesterday. In an e-mail to Culture Pass members, QM noted that “the VCUarts Qatar team made and delivered two dozen infant face-shields to Dr Mai al-Qubaisi, a senior consultant and medical director of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Hamad Medical Corporation, upon her request.” Dr al-Qubaisi sought options to ensure the safety of newborn babies from contracting Covid-19 and reached out to Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar (WCM-Q), which referred her to VCUarts Qatar. She then approached digital fabrication lab and woodshop co-ordinator Chris Buchakjian and the FabLab team who used infant-sized dolls supplied by the university’s Health and Safety department to design the final product. This was the same team that also helped design and manufacture adult face shields for Qatar Foundation’s Primary Health Care Centre in Education City recently. Observed annually on July 15, World Youth Skills Day aims to inspire and encourage the youth in acquiring many skills that would be beneficial for their personal interest and success, as well as contribute to global needs. Under the theme ‘Skills for a Resilient Youth’, the celebration this year featured several virtual events such as panel discussions organised by the Permanent Missions of Portugal and Sri Lanka to the United Nations, together with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, International Labour Organisation, and the Office of the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth. QM’s IN-Q gift shop is also offering educational and experiment kits such as the water-jet powered car that will introduce children to science, engineering, and technology through play. Meanwhile, the Taqaddam Life Skills, a new free application designed to help young people develop essential skills for life, work and society, was also launched yesterday in Qatar to mark the annual event. The app was developed by the British Council and HSBC Middle East through their joint programme Taqaddam (Arabic for ‘moving forward’), “a life skills programme for young people in the Middle East and North Africa”. Its four main components are student workshops, life skills classes, personal missions and team projects. The Taqaddam programme, according to the British Council, has reached more than 11,000 students and over 400 teachers in the past five years.
The strategic partnership between Qatar and the US plays a key role in the fight against terrorism, General Kenneth McKenzie Jr, Commander of the US Central Command, has said. General McKenzie Jr was providing an update on the US Central Command’s operations, including counter-terror and Defeat-ISIS efforts, via a telephonic press briefing Tuesday. “As you know, my forward headquarters is in Qatar, which should send a very significant signal about the importance of that relationship. We maintain [inaudible] structure in Qatar as well. So this is an important relationship; it’s one that we work at and one that we feel is vital to us,” he told reporters. He is currently on his first trip to the region since February after postponing several trips due to Covid-19 concerns. “We’re in Syria to fight ISIS. That’s our primary reason for being there with our partners on the ground. And I think we are keeping very good, solid pressure on ISIS, where sometimes they’re a little more active from one month to the next,” General McKenzie Jr said. “I’m not willing to say that there’s a trend of a resurgence occurring in Syria. I just don’t believe that to be the case. I mean, but it’s important to understand this: at no point in the future is there ever going to be a period where there’s not some form of ISIS left on the ground,” he pointed out. “And so I think we’re going to continue to see guerrilla activity, insurgency activity from ISIS, and really, well into the future. I don’t see that as ending,” he added. He underscored the importance of creating local conditions that would allow security forces on the ground to be able to deal with these attacks from ISIS. “It is not a bloodless future; rather, it is a future that can be handled by local people, and we’re working very hard up and down the Euphrates River Valley, and particularly east of the Euphrates River Valley, with our partners there to ensure that local security forces are in place and will be able to prevent this,” General McKenzie Jr said. About plans regarding the presence of US troops in the Middle East, he said the first phase of the strategic dialogue between US and the Iraqi government was held recently and the second phase would take place in a couple of weeks. “It is my belief that in the long run, Iraq will see the virtue of a US presence in Iraq and, in fact, a coalition and Nato (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation) presence in Iraq, and they will want us to remain. We’re there to continue operations against Daesh,” General McKenzie Jr said. “There is still work to be done on that front, and I believe they will see the advantage of US forces remaining. So, I’m actually optimistic about that going forward.” Like Qatar, he also cited Kuwait as one of their main partners in the region in combating terrorism, which “has been a good friend of the US for many years”. “It is key to our basic structure in the region. They allow us to move in and out as necessary. We have a very good series of agreements with Kuwait, and they’ve always been wonderful hosts [inaudible] flexible, very willing, very accommodating,” General McKenzie Jr said. About the impact of Covid-19 to the US Central Command’s operations, he said they were still able to carry out all their activities amid the Covid-19 outbreak both globally and regionally. “All our capabilities remain; all our force elements are capable of carrying out their assigned tasks. It is a very stressful and demanding time, but I think the close co-operation that we’ve had with nations across the region is just indicative of our larger approach to problems here in US Central Command, and indeed, the willingness of the nations to work with us and with each other in the region,” General McKenzie Jr stressed.
The country’s agriculture sector has many potential projects in the pipeline, and some 150 hectares can be developed over the next few years, prominent Qatari agriculturist Nasser Ahmed al-Khalaf has said. Al-Khalaf, who is the managing director of Qatari agricultural development company Agrico, was highlighting the importance of continuously investing in technology to further increase yields and help Qatar achieve food security. “We have developed over 200,000sq m of horticulture projects, which has increased the local production by 7,000 tonnes annually,” he told Gulf Times. Al-Khalaf noted that part of these projects – all using hydroponics farming – includes the growing of several fruits and vegetables that will substantially reduce the reliance on imported fresh produce. He stressed that Qatar’s agriculture sector has been continually booming despite the Covid-19 pandemic in the past months, having no effect on production. “We have proven at Agrico that we can reduce costs and increase crop yields to give a better return of investment,” al-Khalaf said, citing the efficiency of hydroponics farming compared to the use of conventional growing systems. He said Agrico played a key role in supporting those who invested in hydroponics farming in Qatar, which saw substantial gains annually. A sustainable way of farming, he pointed out that hydroponics reduces water consumption and produces higher yield and high-quality crops such as cucumber, tomato (all types), zucchini, eggplant, lettuce of various types, sweet and hot pepper, spring onion, beans (all types) and other green leafy vegetables, as well as melon and other fruits. “We try to increase the variety of crops as much as we can. However, there are some crops that are not in our pipeline to produce at the moment, such as onions,” al-Khalaf said. “Due to the fact that such crops require a large size of land, consume lots of water and the market value is low, it does not make sense to grow it at the moment.” “We are, however, studying the development of new ways to grow those crops commercially in Qatar,” he added. About floriculture, al-Khalaf said there is no issue with growing flowers in Qatar because it is not as complicated as vegetables. “However, it is not our aim at Agrico to produce flowers, our aim is to use our technologies to increase the local production aiming for food security,” he pointed out.
E-commerce will play a significant role in the food and beverage (F&B) sector as the demand for online orders and delivery services continue to rise in the country, Mondrian Doha executive assistant manager Mikel Ibrahim has said. He was highlighting the positive impact of adapting to digital platforms on their business to serve more customers amid the Covid-19 pandemic. “We have seen a steep increase in online orders and delivery services prior to lifting the restrictions in Qatar as well as in Phase 1 of the lift,” Ibrahim told Gulf Times. Morimoto, Ella Mia and Smoke & Mirrors began welcoming guests (pre-booking required) on July 1 while Walima will reopen on July 15. Strict sanitary and hygiene measures are in place, complying with government directives. The Qatar government is now implementing Phase 2 of the gradual lifting of Covid-19 restrictions in the country. Restaurants in tourist areas such as Souq Waqif, Souq Al Wakra, The Pearl-Qatar and Katara-the Cultural Village are allowed to operate apart from those in sports clubs/tourist places, Qatar Museums, AlHazm and Msheireb. Phase 2 also allows takeaways and home deliveries for restaurants, cafeterias and cafes (coffee shops) in malls, shopping centres and other non-designated tourist areas. “With those surges in orders and customer behaviour changes, and as the Covid-19 outbreak continues to evolve, it will undoubtedly have a significant effect on our business,” Ibrahim said. “We foresee the shift of customer behaviour to e-commerce to continue as a trend throughout this year and we are very well geared to respond to it." Ibrahim lauded Qatar’s advanced and efficient Information and Communication Technology infrastructure, particularly during this current situation in which are people are relying on fast and uninterrupted connectivity. “The Covid-19 pandemic raised a key concern among all sectors and industries operating locally, and the need for a resilient Internet connection with sufficient bandwidth to meet an explosion of data needs was a must,” he pointed out. Ibrahim noted that Qatar is among the countries whose wireless and fixed networks are holding up well against massive spikes in demand and allowing the use of emerging technologies for remote work and study. “Being a digitally advanced nation, data usage and the proportion of ‘high bandwidth’ being used have been rising long before the outbreak, and Qatar has had the insight to make full-fibre broadband a major priority well ahead of time,” he stressed.