Monday, March 04, 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.
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.    

Nada Sayad
'Surge seen in demand for Integrated Viral Protection products'

The novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic has triggered a growing demand for Integrated Viral Protection (IVP) products in Qatar and other parts of the world, contributing significantly to prevent and fight the spread of emerging future viruses, according to Numbase Group. “Given that Qatar has been an example for the world in leading the fight against Covid-19, IVP products can complement the efforts in this regard for the long term as this technology is a pre-emptive one,” Numbase Qatar COO Nada Sayad told Gulf Times. “We already notice the huge demand for IVP in Qatar with many of the retail outlets, specifically those with waiting areas. Further, both the travel and room units are ideal for Majlis where gatherings take place. IVP does not only kill Covid and Anthrax, but also all airborne particles down to 0.1 microns, which is a main differentiator against all other air purifiers “Moreover, with life slowly going back to normal and exhibitions and weddings gradually rescheduled, IVP will be good to have to ensure full safety and reassurance of the quality of air and wellbeing of participants and guests,” she noted. Launched by leading innovators, scientists and engineers, she pointed out that IVP is the only technology that can kill Covid-19 instantly in a single pass of air (99.999%). This biodefense technology is engineered to eliminate pollutants and airborne pathogens instantaneously and is scientifically proven to disinfect and clean air at a microscopic level. Sayad said such innovative and backed by science technology has been endorsed by leading technology and engineering and educational entities, among which are MIT, Texas A&M, University of Houston Centre for Superconductivity, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and Galveston National Library, among others. Numbase Group acquired exclusive distribution for IVP products in the UK, Turkey and the GCC region. -Screengrab from the website “The game-changer of this technology is that it catches and kills the virus: it has a heated filter with a metal mesh foam to ‘catch and kill’ viruses of all species, along with other air pollutants, such as allergens and molds. “This heated filtration system is the first to show actual Sars-2-Covid, to be destroyed instantly in a single pass, without heating ambient air. This by itself is a key unique feature as most air purifiers either do not kill the virus or need at least 30 minutes to start operations. “The technology targets air transmission to eliminate the virus, disinfect the air and reduce a building's reliance on outside air mix. In so doing, recirculating clean fresh, viral-free air helps conserve energy, it has powerful circulation up to 1,800 CFM (higher than ASHRAE recirculation standards),” Sayad explained. She stressed that IVP does not only kill Covid and Anthrax, but also all airborne particles down to 0.1 microns, which is a main differentiator against all other air purifiers, “so we are talking about: chickenpox, measles, rotavirus, influenza, rhinovirus, mumps, smallpox, tuberculosis, MERS, dust Mite, seasonal allergies, etc. “It is a breakthrough for indoor air purification, knowing that his part of the world, nine out of 12 months of the year we spend it actually indoors.” “IVP is technology built with the safety and wellbeing of people in mind. Dr Mounzer Hourani, an American engineer and inventor of Lebanese origins invented this biodefense technology with the help and support of renowned scientists and engineers in Houston, Texas." According to Sayad, there are three sizes of the machines, along with a retrofit solution for HVAC:   ·         The Travel unit: which can be moved from a room to another and ideal for residential spaces, hotel rooms, personal meetings and get-togethers, ambulances, or covers an area of 25sqm is sold at QR4,500. ·         The Room unit: which can also be moved from room to room, is ideal for classrooms, majlis, office buildings, medical offices, emergency waiting rooms, retail outlets, restaurants and small theatres/cinemas, covers an area of 200sqm and is sold at QR18,500 ·         The Venue unit: which has a powerful circulation up to 850cubic meter – over 3-5 times an hour (exceeding ASHRAE recommendations) and is built for large commercial spaces & facilities, used in theatres, convention centers, school gyms, concert and wedding halls and is sold at QR55,750. Starting off as an international mobile value-added service provider, and growing into a key Global Referenced Group when it comes to Value Added Services (VAS) for Telecom, Numbase has evolved to offer a full spectrum of services to help businesses realise their full potential by establishing and sustaining a solid ecosystem with technology intrinsically nestled at the core of their transformation. It also locked strong partnerships, among which is Google Cloud alliance. Apart from being a digital transformation hub, Sayad said Numbase is also actively present in other industries or trades. The Group has acquired exclusive distribution for IVP products in the UK, Turkey and the GCC region.

Agrico's research and development for LED hydroponic system is ,very promising, and can help to further boost Qatar's agricultural sector.
Horticultural LEDs: promising new light for growing vegetables

A one-of-its-kind and sustainable farming system to grow vegetables in a complete indoor environment is currently being developed by a private Qatari agricultural development company. “The system, which is under testing at the moment, is very promising and doing very well so far,” prominent Qatari agriculturist and Agrico managing director Nasser Ahmed al-Khalaf told Gulf Times. The company, one of the registered Research Centre under the Qatar National Research Fund, finds LEDs as “the best lighting sources for indoor operations primary or supplemental". “With LEDs and new networking hardware and software, we can craft proprietary light formulas or recipes to bring out the characteristics of the plants to know (what) will make them most marketable,” according to information from Agrico's website. A recent study by Agrico, a collaborator in numerous research and development projects, showed that basil grown under five different light treatments was spicier, tasty, and aromatic (in a blind taste test). “Controlled growing environments already mean less water waste, less chemical runoff and a more efficient use of space. Add LEDs into this mix and indoor growing becomes that much more environmentally friendly. The efficiency of LED systems makes for a much-reduced carbon footprint as well. “Horticultural LEDs, networked control systems, and new developments in spectral science have led to a world of more efficient, less expensive, more productive growing operations,” Agrico posted on its website. Al-Khalaf said that they are focusing on exploring other technologies other than hydroponics, and have also successfully developed an aquaponic system to produce leafy vegetables and fish. After developing a highly sophisticated hydroponics system that can produce different types of organic and pesticide-free vegetables and fruits year-long, Agrico is now venturing into aquaponics to produce better and high-quality yields at a faster pace. Al-Khalaf underlined the key role that advanced farming technologies such as hydroponics and aquaponics play in further boosting production even in the summer. It is learnt that many supermarkets across the country witnessed a huge demand for local and organic fresh produce such as tomatoes, cucumber, lettuce, zucchini, mushrooms, and other green leafy vegetables, prompting local farms to produce more. He noted that the cost for using a system like aquaponics to complement farming is less compared to applying natural fertilisers, and can yield excellent results. “Also, we have our shrimp farm, which should be operational before the end of the year. By next year we will be producing around 350 tonnes of shrimp,” al-Khalaf said. Agrico, currently developing other local farms and involved in a number of agricultural projects in Qatar, aims to produce around 800 tonnes of fresh shrimps and fish (tilapia) annually to help the country achieve self-sufficiency in food. This figure will supply at least one-third of the total consumption of fresh shrimps in Qatar, estimated at 1,000 tonnes annually.

Retailers in Qatar, especially small and medium enterprises, will have the chance to open new stores, as well as expand their operations, at the Doha Metro stations and Lusail Tram network.
Qatar Rail offers retailers chance to open stores at 37 stations

Retailers in Qatar, especially small and medium enterprises, will have the chance to open new stores, as well as expand their operations, at the Doha Metro stations and Lusail Tram network. Qatar Rail announced in an advertisement yesterday that it is offering retail opportunities in its 9,200sqm retail space, spread across its 37 stations, comprising the Red, Gold, and Green Lines. Retail spaces (permitted trades) comprise services, general retail, food and beverages, convenience, and Automated Teller Machines (ATM) and vending machines. “Our retail proposition caters to the bespoke demands of rail commuters and neighborhood customers. In addition to the retail outlets, stations also include dedicated spaces for ATMs and vending machines. “Lusail Tram has 25 stations spread across four lines. The total route length is approximately 19kms. Retail space of approximately 1,500sqm is spread across 43 retail outlets,” Qatar Rail said on its website. Qatar Rail noted that some of the “unique value proposition” of the Doha Metro and Lusail Tram retail are: * Business access to rail commuters and neighbourhood customers * Modular shop format with a diverse retail mix * Partitioned shell and core retail space with flooring * Flexible Right to occupy term of three or five years with fixed fee * Fee inclusive of service and utility charges. The services trade include banks, money exchange, telecom service, pharmacy travel agent, courier service, health & beauty, laundry, government entity, and quick service repair, among others; while general retail include stationery, electronics, florist, accessories, gift/souvenir shops, book store, sports shop, and nutritional supplement. For food and beverage, retailers can open cafés, quick service restaurants, specialty foods, and juice bar. Convenience stores and news agents fall under convenience while ATMs and vending machines are under ancillary. In 2019, Qatar Rail announced that the Doha Metro’s Gold Line’s 10 stations from Ras Bu Abboud to Al Aziziyah will have 55 retail units and 33 ATM locations while Green Line’s Al Riffa station will have eight retail kiosks and two ATM locations. Meanwhile, Red Line’s five stations from Katara to Lusail and Hamad International Airport (Terminal 1) will have 19 retail units and 11 ATM locations. The Doha Metro is contributing significantly in boosting the country’s retail sector as it links various malls and shopping centres such as Mall of Qatar, Villaggio Mall, City Center Doha, and Galeries Lafayette at Katara – the Cultural Village, among others, giving easy access to a large number of shoppers. As the country started to reopen from the Covid-19 situation, the network is once again giving commuters easy, safe, and cheaper transport services to several tourist destinations such as Souq Waqif, Souq Al Wakrah (with Metro-Link buses), museums such as the National Museum of Qatar, and Katara – the Cultural Village, among others.    

The market has resumed with some 17 out of the usual 20 QatArt members and vendors showcasing an array of handmade products, adhering to Covid-19 safety protocols set by the Ministry of Public Health.
QatArt Handmade Community market reopens at Katara

The QatArt Handmade Community market has reopened at Katara – the Cultural Village for the first time since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, offering Qatar residents and visitors once again unique and customised items at reasonable prices. “This is the first one after a long gap and it’s so exciting for us, we couldn’t meet each other (before) and now we have the platform again,” QatArt board member Swapna Namboodiri told Gulf Times. The market has resumed with some 17 out of the usual 20 QatArt members and vendors showcasing an array of handmade products, adhering to Covid-19 safety protocols set by the Ministry of Public Health. Some of these handicrafts include a variety of jewellery, accessories, artworks, illustrations, graphic designs, craft kits, bags, home decors, chocolates and other homemade food, among others. “We have unique items all handmade in Qatar. Whatever we see here, we only have one person doing that item. “I'm an artist, I work with discarded plastics, I make sculptural artworks, so usually I sell through galleries but today I didn't, I have only few sculptures just to showcase but other than that I have art prints and I do paintings on glass and prospects,” Namboodiri said. Another QatArt board member, Somaiya Ansari, echoed Namboodiri’s view saying that QatArt is a community of crafters and artists in the country, who also uses various social media such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to promote and market their products. “Besides showcasing our products, we also have the artist here in person so that is another thing. They are here and they can answer your queries and people can get in touch with them right and there,” she said. QatArt’s concept, she stressed, remains to be “handmade and unique items by the creator himself”, and “people get this platform to interact directly with the makers themselves so that is the basic theme of the market.” The two board members added that the market opening “has gone really well and we are getting good number of people and they really are excited to see our offerings”.    

Noted Qatari artist Muna al-Bader at the Maserati showroom at a recent collaboration with the Italian car company. PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam
QM initiatives promote Qatari talent, says renowned artist

The various Qatar Museums (QM) initiatives provided a huge opportunity for Qatari artists to enhance and develop their skills amid a series of challenges, including the onslaught of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, artist and IT engineer Muna al-Bader has said. “The QM has supported Qatari artists a lot, and in the previous years we saw a huge development in the art sector in Qatar, especially with the different programmes that they are initiating,” the renowned artist told *Gulf Times on the sidelines of a recently-held event with Maserati at its showroom at the Pearl-Qatar. Her collection, *The great blue, along with Maserati masterpieces, were showcased in what was described as “an evening of luxury, art, and extravagance”. The artist lauded the QM for its initiatives, such as the Artist in Residence in Paris and New York, aimed at nurturing the next generation of artistic talents, especially women. Al-Bader said that she was one of the artists who have been selected in the latest edition of the QM’s Artist in Residence programme at the Doha Fire Station, and plans to apply for the QM’s international arts residency. “When I was chosen to join this programme, I was too happy because I’ll be able to share my experience with other artists, and at the same time, gain experience from others since we are located in one building, which is accessible 24 hours,” she said. “It is really an opportunity for me, especially the programme was extended for one and a half year (because of pandemic).” Al-Bader noted that QM programmes serve as platforms for new and emerging artists in Qatar, including women, to showcase their works in the local, regional, and international stage. “They are now having their own exhibitions outside Qatar, representing the country in international events and exhibitions,” al-Bader stressed. “I see a lot of difference since, let’s say 20 or 25 years ago, especially with the establishment of the QM.” She will be joining seven other Qatar-based artists (mostly women) – Mashael Hejazi, Naima al-Hail, Ali al-Kuwari, Zainab al-Shibani, Salha al-Subaie, Ahmed al-Ali, and Nouf al-Muraikhi – on a seven-day trip to Istanbul this year. It is part of the annual initiative, Ektashif 2, hosted in collaboration with “Doha Capital of Culture in the Islamic World for 2021” and the Ministry of Culture and Sports. “There, we will learn a lot of techniques on Islamic patterns, paintings on glass, and different art techniques,” al-Bader noted, adding that she will also be taking part in a “Qatar – USA Year of Culture” event in the US next month, where she will create a mural in Houston. “This is all initiated and supported by the QM,” she added.    

Gulf Times
QPO lines up special FIFA World Cup concert Saturday

A special and one-of-its-kind concert by the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra (QPO) is scheduled at the Qatar National Convention Centre (QNCC) on October 16, featuring iconic football anthems from around the world. In a statement, QPO said the programme –from 5pm and 7.30pm – will include more than 15 globally acclaimed songs such as the Final Countdown, Waka Waka, Hayo Fariqi, and Al Deera, among others, which will serve as a warm-up performance gearing up Qatar’s community for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in the country. QPO will also hold a concert on October 23 at QNCC’s Auditorium 3, showcasing “The Best of Baroque – Vivaldi’s ‘The Four Season’. “The performance will feature George Frideric Handel and Antonio Vivaldi classics, with a special nod to Vivaldi’s best-known work The Four Seasons, a set of four violin concertos that are considered the world’s most popular and recognised pieces of Baroque music,” QPO said in a press statement. The audience will see Eunhye Lee (piccolo), Christoph Teichner (harpsichord), and French violinist Lyonel Schmit, perform at the concert. Besides the conductor of the concert, Schmit, renowned for his phenomenological approach to music, will also perform as a soloist on Vivaldi ‘The Four Seasons.’ The programme will begin with Handel’s (1685–1759) ‘Music from the Royal Fireworks’, HWV 351 – Overture, followed by Vivaldi’s (1678–1741) Concerto in A minor for piccolo and strings, RV 445 – Movement I. It will also feature Handel’s Solomon, HWV 67, Act III ‘The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba’; and finally, Vivaldi’s ‘The Four Seasons.” Handel wrote ‘The Music for the Royal Fireworks’ to highlight the festivities of the Aix-la-Chapelle peace treaty, marking the end of the Austrian Succession War in 1748. QPO noted that Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons were “a revolution in musical conception: in them Vivaldi represented flowing creeks, singing birds (of different species, each specifically characterised), a shepherd and his barking dog, buzzing flies, storms, dancers, hunting parties from both the hunters’ and the prey’s point of view, frozen landscapes, and warm winter fires”. Vivaldi, born in 1678, was the son of a barber who later served as a violinist at the great Basilica of St Mark. He studied for priesthood and was ordained in 1703. QPO’s upcoming performance at QNCC includes Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 27 on October 27 – his final piano concerto before his passing. Performers include Sonja Park (piano) and Schmit, as the concertmaster and conductor. QPO stressed that “attendees will be only admitted if they are fully vaccinated or present a negative rapid antigen test within 72 hours of the concert start time”.

Kazakhstan ambassador Arman Issagaliyev briefs Prof Khalid Ibrahim al-Sulaiti about the images on display at Katara-the Cultural Village. PICTURE: Joey Aguilar
Photo exhibition showcases various facets of Kazakhstan

The Kazakhstan embassy in Qatar opened a photo exhibition at Katara–the Cultural Village yesterday as part of Kazakhstan’s 30th Independence Day, celebrated annually on December 16. The show, themed 'Kazakhstan recognised by the world community' and running until October 26, highlighted the natural beauty and architectural masterpieces of the country, in addition to the history, culture, traditions, and lifestyle of the people of Kazakhstan. In a statement, Kazakhstan ambassador Arman Issagaliyev said “the modern history of Kazakhstan, which is the heir of an outstanding nomadic civilisation of the Great Steppe, is closely linked with the name of the First President of the Republic of Kazakhstan – Elbasy Nursultan Nazarbayev”. The envoy accompanied Katara general manager Prof Khalid Ibrahim al-Sulaiti to the show, as he cited Kazakhstan’s key domestic political and socio-economic achievements “during the years of independence, and its successes in the international arena.” Issagaliyev also underlined the strong bilateral relations between Qatar and Kazakhstan in various fields of co-operation, including trade and commerce. “We are very pleased with the positive dynamics of the development of our relations. This year, despite the (Covid-19) pandemic, was very active and full of bilateral contacts,” he said, noting that the leaders of the two States – His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani and Kazakhstan President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev made phone conversations, “co-ordinating joint efforts to bring bilateral relations to a qualitatively new level”. “The leaders of our countries confirmed their commitment to expanding co-operation, and also noted the existence of serious potential and resources to fill the Kazakh – Qatari co-operation with new content,” he said. The envoy added that a number of important visits took place this year: the visit of the HE the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohamed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani to Nur Sultan; and the visit of the First Deputy Prime Minister Alikhan Smailov to Doha. “These visits have given a huge impetus to bilateral co-operation,” he stressed. According to Issagaliyev, the activity of the Kazakh–Qatari Business Council has resumed, further boosting the economic and investment co-operation between the two countries after a successful Doha meeting of the council in August. “The trade turnover between the two countries has significantly increased. We already have successes in the field of trade, now you can find Kazakhstani products in Qatari supermarkets,” he said. Besides resuming a “visa-free regime”, the envoy said there is also a plan to launch a direct flight between Qatar and Kazakhstan from November 19. “We are confident that the direct flight will serve as a serious impetus for the further development of bilateral relations in various fields, and will also serve to bring our peoples closer together,” Issagaliyev said.

Spanish ambassador Belen Alfaro
Envoy hails strong ties with Qatar at Spanish National Day celebrations

The Spanish embassy in Doha highlighted the outstanding relations between Qatar and Spain in various areas of co-operation while marking the National Day of Spain Tuesday. “The bilateral relations between Qatar and Spain remain excellent and inspired by the strong affection between both royal families,” Spanish ambassador Belen Alfaro said in a statement. Citing the two ministerial visits from Spain this year, she noted that Minister for Foreign Affairs, European Union and Co-operation, Jose Manuel Albares, met with His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, and HE the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohamed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani on September 14. The envoy added that His Highness the Amir also spoke with Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez “to express his solidarity with the Kingdom of Spain after the volcano eruption in La Palma and to discuss bilateral, regional and international developments”. Alfaro underlined the importance of Spain’s historic ties with the Arab world, particularly in the áreas of education and cultural co-operation, due to the Arab heritage and legacy of Al-Andalus. She said Qatar and Spain signed an agreement this year aimed at further boosting their cultural co-operation, leading to the launch of “The Majlis – Cultures in Dialogue” exhibition, a project by Sheikh Faisal Bin Qassim Al Thani Museum, in the Alhambra in Granada, after being displayed in Madrid. “In education, the learning of the Spanish language is on the rise in Qatar. The Spanish language has 8% of Arabic words from the history of Al-Andalus. It is the second most spoken language in the world as a native language, the official language of 21 countries. “It is the second most used language in international communication and the second most used language in social media, in Facebook and Twitter,” Alfaro noted. She added that Spanish International School in Doha – SEK, Qatar University, and Hamad Bin Khalifa University, offer a wide range of classes for adults and children while many private schools in Doha also have Spanish language courses in their curriculum. Alfaro stressed that the two countries also share a passion for sports, especially football, signing a memorandum of understanding on Youth and Sports which aims to further enhance their collaboration in this field this year. About the hosting of the first carbón neutral FIFA World Cup next year, she expressed confidence the tournament “will be a great success not only for the country but for the region”. “Spain is contributing to enhance sports culture in Qatar in many ways: through Aspire Academy and Aspetar, where highly qualified Spanish professionals work, with top Spanish players in Qatari teams. “Many Spanish companies have also been contributing to the development of the infrastructure projects designed to service the World Cup, such as the metro, airport, roads, etc. Two of the eight 2022 Qatar World Cup stadiums have been designed by the Spanish architecture firm Fenwick Iribarren Architects: Education City Stadium and Ras Abu Aboud Stadium,” Alfaro said. In the commercial and economic sector, she said the two countries’ bilateral ties are enhanced by the economic co-operation in various fields such as construction, architecture, food and beverage, facility management, consultancy services, healthcare sector, fashion retail, energy and water, sports business, and information and technology sector, among others. “Spanish business performance in Qatar is robust and sustainable with around 200 companies who wish to remain in Qatar and become reliable partners for local companies,” Alfaro added. Bilateral trade between Qatar and Spain stood at about €1.3bn in 2019 after years of steady growth and in 2020, it dropped around 43% due to the Covid-19 pandemic, according to Alfaro. She expressed optimism that it will keep its traditional upward trend once the economic recovery shows up. “Spain is a country that depends on foreign energy supply and Qatar is one of our leading suppliers of gas. On the other hand, Spanish exports to Qatar are well-diversified; the main items of our exports are machinery, mechanical appliances, clothing, electric and electronic devices, and equipment and furniture,” she said. In the area of direct investments, the envoy said Qatar´s capital investment stock has registered steady growth in recent years, and Qatar Investment Authority made significant investments in Spain. “By way of illustration, QIA holds stakes as relevant as the one in Iberdrola, with an 8.6% share of its equity. We may also find equity holdings in Colonial, Marina Port in Tarragona, W Hotel in Barcelona, Intercontinental Hotel in Madrid or even a small share of the Banco Santander in Brazil, among others. “Spain is an attractive destination for investments, since it is the natural gateway to Europe, the Mediterranean and Latin America. Spain is the first European investor in Latin America and the second in the world after the US. These ties to the Latino world offer to Qatar a trustable partner to open the door for new markets investment. “Our businesses in the field of telecommunications, financial and insurance sectors, energy, tourism, or infrastructure are well-known, making our companies attractive for co-operation around the world,” Alfaro said. She noted that the Spanish Secretary of State for Trade awarded its businessmen in Doha with the official title of the Chamber of Commerce of Spain to Qatar in February 2019 as a formal recognition for the prominent job that Spanish companies are doing in the country. In tourism, she noted that Spain remains to be the second destination of international visitors, seeking to recover and increase the pre-pandemic figures. Alfaro cited a strong enthusiasm by Qatari tourists to return to Spain, saying that many of them have travelled to her country in the first two months since the reopening of the borders in July. “Spain will come again as an attractive destination for natural parks and wonderful beaches. Our country is the third in terms of natural areas declared Biosphere Reserves and it harbours the coast with most Blue Flag beaches in the entire Northern Hemisphere. As mentioned before, the Arab legacy of cities such as Seville, Granada, or Cordoba makes them a favourite to visit,” she said. “I am confident that both our countries will continue to closely work together to further develop our bilateral relations to an even higher level, under the leadership of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani,” she stressed.

French ambassador Jean-Baptiste Faivre with chefs in Qatar at his residence yesterday. PICTURE: Joey Aguilar
Gout de/Good France to celebrate French cuisine

Some 14 restaurants and 17 chefs in Doha will take part in the 6th edition of Gout de/Good France from October 14 to 22, putting a spotlight on the richness of France’s culinary traditions. At a press conference Monday, French ambassador Jean-Baptiste Faivre said this year’s gastronomic event will have a regional and thematic focus: promoting the Centre Val-de Loire region and highlighting the importance of sustainable cuisine. “The region of honour this year is the Centre Val-de Loire region, famous for its goat cheese, apple pie, castles, and beautiful green surroundings,” the envoy said, inviting residents and visitors “to discover one of the most prolific French terroirs”. He added that the event this year, an initiative of the French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs and Alain Ducasse, also underlines “the respectful treatment of our natural resources, building on the French commitment to the environment”. “At the vanguard of global action for the environment and more eco-friendly cuisine, this new edition has appointed the two-Michelin-star chef Christophe Hay as this year’s ambassador. He was recently named ‘Chef of the Year 2021’ by the Gault & Millau restaurant guide in recognition of his commitment to local, sustainable and inclusive gastronomy,” Faivre said. Gout de/Good France celebrates French gastronomy and its values in more than 150 countries across the five continents, promoting French cuisine and France as a pioneer tourism destination globally. “The French culture is of course very rich but there is no doubt that there are a lot of people who enjoy visiting France also because of cuisine and I am very happy that we can celebrate it in Doha in the coming week,” Faivre told reporters. The annual event aims to gather chefs, restaurants, and all the ecosystem of gastronomy around a specific topic, which changes every year, according to Faivre. He said the celebration in Doha this year also seeks to further strengthen the bilateral relations between Qatar and France as it introduces a few Qatari flavours in the Gout de/Good France programme. “French cuisine can only evolve and comprise new ideas and recipes when it mingles with other cultures,” the envoy stressed, adding that chefs and restaurants in Doha will be proposing special set menus during the Goût de France week. The embassy is also collaborating with well-known Qatari chef Noof al-Marri, who will be working with the chef of the Ambassador’s residence, Thomas Vatar, to offer a Qatari-French menu. It is designed exclusively for the Goût de France/Good France special gastronomic dinner, which will take place in November. Faivre thanked the two chefs’ involvement in the event describing it as “a great symbol of the French Qatari special relationship”. He also announced that the French Institute of Qatar will be launching a web series titled: L'Instant Sucré (sweet moment) this month.

Prof Alba Cappellieri and Italian ambassador Alessandro Prunas at the opening of u2018Diva! Italian Glamour in Fashion Jewelleryu2019. PICTURES: Joey Aguilar
Expo puts spotlight on Italian fashion jewellery

* Titled ‘Diva! Italian Glamour in Fashion Jewellery’, the exhibition is a project promoted by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation The Embassy of Italy in Doha opened a one-of-its-kind jewellery exhibition at W Doha Hotel & Residences Sunday, featuring 200 pieces of Italian fashion jewellery that span years of evolution dating from the 1950s until today. Titled ‘Diva! Italian Glamour in Fashion Jewellery’, the exhibition is a project promoted by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation. It is curated by renowned Professor of Jewellery Design at Italy's Politecnico di Milano University and director of the Vicenza Museum of Jewellery, Prof Alba Cappellieri, along with Beatrice Rossato, Livia Tenuta, and Susanna Testa. Bozart for Tita Rossi, necklace, 1969 Omella Bijoux, Butterfly necklace, 1970. The showcased artworks highlight “the finest expression of Italian design and artistry" Some 200 pieces of Italian fashion jewellery on display at Art29. “We are very proud to display in Qatar a unique variety of jewels revealing how Italian creativity has evolved according to fashion trends and social transformations. Made in Italy jewellery has been able to combine over the years innovative design and sophisticated craftsmanship, a successful combination which continues to be the secret behind the creation of unique ornaments reflecting the changes of a culture constantly in motion,” Italian ambassador Alessandro Prunas said in a press statement. “Jewels are artworks turned into everyday fashion items inspiring ideas and dreams. We are glad that Italian jewellery is very much appreciated in Qatar. Italian designers and brands are eager to co-operate with the flourishing sector of local fashion artists to share their knowledge and know-how,” he said, thanking “W Doha Hotel for the out-of-the-ordinary sense of hospitality and Abu Issa Holding for sponsoring the exhibition stands adding extra value to the collection.” The exhibition, running until October 24 at the hotel’s Art29 from 10am to 10pm, put a spotlight on “the true Italian style through a rich collection of jewels that will take the passionate on a voyage through the evolution of Italy’s fashion, brands and customs”. According to the embassy, the showcased artworks highlight “the finest expression of Italian design and artistry. Not only jewellery lovers, but art lovers are promised an immersive experience through an evolution in style and fashion”. “This is a very exciting time for W Doha to be hosting the ‘Diva!’ exhibition in collaboration with the Embassy of Italy in Doha. The exhibition celebrates the evolution of Italian fashion over the years, narrating inspiring elements of the Italian culture through an exotic display of the finest Italian jewellery. A truly immersive exhibition not to be missed,” W Doha general manager Wassim Daageh said, urging residents and visitors to visit Art29 “to get a true taste of Italian fine jewellery”. For her part, Prof Cappellieri noted that these fashion Italian jewels date back “to the so-called period ‘La Dolce Vita’ during the '50s and continuing through the Pret-a-Porter in the ‘80s and the Minimalism in the ‘90s until the New Millennium fashion”. “This extensive collection represents the esthetic mirror of society, showing the transformation of styles and costumes, ambitions and achievements of women, as well as the evolution of shapes, materials and new production techniques. It tells a typical ‘Italian story’ that once again enhances creativity, craftsmanship, design, art, technology, beauty, and innovation of our country,” she said.

Polish ambassador Janusz Janke at 100th birth anniversary celebration of renowned Polish science-fiction writer Stanislaw Lem in Doha recently. PICTURES: Joey Aguilar
Polish president's visit to Qatar to strengthen bilateral relations

The state visit of Polish President Andrzej Duda to Qatar this year is expected to further strengthen the bilateral relations between the two countries, particularly in the field of energy, aviation, and banking and investments, Polish ambassador Janusz Janke has said. “We already have a very strong relationship with Qatar, importing one-third of our gas in LNG (liquefied natural gas) from Qatar, so Qatar is contributing a lot to Polish energy security and we are very strong in IT (information technology),” the envoy told Gulf Times. He was speaking on the sidelines of a recently-held cultural event at the Doha Fire Station, which marked the 100th birth anniversary of renowned Polish science-fiction writer Stanislaw Lem. A recently-held Polish embassy cultural event at the Doha Fire Station marked the 100th birth anniversary of renowned Polish science-fiction writer Stanislaw Lem. He noted that the visit will also witness the holding of the 2nd Qatari – Polish Business roundtable and the signing of a number of agreements. Poland, Janke added, is looking forward to some joint projects with Qatar, which he said has a great IT infrastructure and a country that aims to become a regional Information and Communication and Technology hub with its partnership with Microsoft and Google on cloud computing. “We would like to discuss co-operation in this field, plus of course, we are going to talk about investments during this visit, we are going to organise the 2nd Qatari – Polish Business roundtable, divided into three areas: energy, aviation, and banking and investments,” he said. Janke added that the visit of the Polish president could possibly take place during the FIFA Arab Cup 2021, scheduled from November 30 to December 18 – an opportunity to see the stadiums and various developments in the country. According to the envoy, economic and security issues, among others, are also expected to be tackled during President Duda’s visit, in addition to exchanging views regarding some challenges. Janke also highlighted the strong relations between Qatar and Poland in the area of culture and arts, saying that Katara – the Cultural Village has invited them to promote Polish culture in the country, especially during the 2022 FIFA World Cup. The embassy, he said, is ready to respond to Katara’s invitation as it mulls to organise cultural events such as street performances and “some aspects of our culinary arts” as part of this collaboration. He also expects performers from Poland to come to Qatar next year as the Covid19 situation continues to improve. “Classical music is popular here, we have a great co-operation with the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra, and just before Covid we had a great concert,” he said, adding that they also have close cooperation with Katara, Qatar Museums, and the Qatar National Library.