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Wednesday, February 28, 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.
Philippine ambassador Alan L Timbayan and BLS International Regional (Middle East) head Anne Kurian led the ribbon-cutting ceremony to inaugurate the PaRC in Doha. Supplied pictures
Qatar
Philippine Passport Renewal Centre in Al Sadd inaugurated

The Philippine embassy in Doha inaugurated the Passport Renewal Centre (PaRC) in Doha yesterday, further enhancing passport services for Filipino expatriates in the country. PaRC, a standalone facility established by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) with BLS International, is located on the 17th floor of Al Shoumoukh Tower, which is close to the Al Sadd Metro station. The newly opened facility provides Filipino expatriates in Qatar with another accessible and convenient option, apart from the embassy, to renew their passports. “Despite the challenges brought by the Covid-19 pandemic, the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs remains proactive in finding solutions that would continue to improve its services, whatever the challenges may be,” said Philippine ambassador Alan L Timbayan, who was joined by BLS International Regional (Middle East) head Anne Kurian for the inauguration of the facility. The envoy noted that the embassy “implemented an online appointment system for passport renewal applications to ensure that health protocols will be strictly observed on its premises." “Although the embassy accepts and processes an average of more than 200 passport renewal applications per day, the need for passport services remains significantly high,” he stressed. The PaRC in Doha has a reception, five processing counters, a section for biometrics and a passport collection area. It will be open for 12 hours a day, from 8am to 8pm, seven days a week except during holidays in Qatar. Applicants must visit https://qatar.blsphilippinepassport.com/book_appointment.php to book an appointment. The total cost for passport renewal is QR331, which includes the usual application fee of QR240 and a ‘convenience fee’ of QR91 collected by BLS International for the use of the PaRC. Processing of the passports will take at least four to six weeks, and an additional fee may be collected by BLS International for home delivery to the passport holder’s preferred address. “We are honoured to serve the Republic of the Philippines' Department of Foreign Affairs and confident that our tech-enabled ePassport renewal services will be faster and convenient for the Filipino diaspora in Qatar. We will simplify the application procedure and shorten the application processing time, which will, in turn, contribute to overall improved customer service,” said BLS International joint managing director Shikhar Aggarwal in a press statement. To ensure data privacy and security, the embassy noted that PaRCs use DFA propriety ePassport System only in processing all personal information. It also stressed that the PaRC in Doha “only caters to simple renewal of the passport, and not those requiring any changes in the biographic details of the passport holder”. “The department ensured that the employees of BLS International working in the PaRC and involved in passport renewals are properly vetted, subjected to thorough background checks, and are bound by Philippine data privacy and confidentiality rules,” the embassy said. Besides from the PaRCs in Saudi Arabia (Riyadh and Jeddah) and the UAE (Abu Dhabi and Dubai), the embassy noted that passport renewal centres will also operate in other countries, including the US, Italy, France and Malaysia, aimed at better serving Filipino expatriates.    

The PaRC, located at Al Shoumoukh Towers, 17th floor, Building 58, 231 Suhaim Bin Hamad Street, Zone 23, in Doha, will serve as another option for the renewal of Filipino expatriatesu2019 passports apart from the embassy at Jelaiah Area.
Qatar
Passport renewal centre opened for Filipinos

Filipinos in Doha can now renew their passports at the newly-opened BLS International-Philippine Passport Renewal Centre (PaRC), the Philippine embassy in Qatar has announced. The PaRC, located at Al Shoumoukh Towers, 17th floor, Building 58, 231 Suhaim Bin Hamad Street, Zone 23, in Doha, will serve as another option for the renewal of Filipino expatriates’ passports apart from the embassy at Jelaiah Area. “The opening of the PaRC will now allow Filipinos to have the option to process the renewal of their passport at the embassy or at the PaRC,” the embassy said in a September 25 circular posted on its Facebook page. “The PaRC will only cater to simple renewal of the passport and not those requiring any changes in the biographic details of the passport holder.” The embassy said those who want to apply for passport renewal at the PaRC can visit https://qatar.blsphilippinepassport.com/book_appointment.php to book an appointment. The Centre is open from Sunday to Saturday between 8am-8pm, except during official holidays in Qatar. The PaRC, on its official website, said that “booking a prior appointment is preferred” for the renewal of passport. “This is keeping in mind that we maintain proper social distancing to ensure the safety of all customers and to cater to the high demand of renewals,” the PaRC said. “And to ensure availability of time slots, customers are requested to book their appointments well in advance.” The Centre also issued a number of guidelines such as: * Carrying e-mail confirmation of the appointment at the scheduled date and time to the Centre to show it to staff attendant/security guard. * Applicants shall be charged a convenience fee of QR91 per application to be paid to the service provider in addition to the passport renewal fees. * Completing online application form with all the supporting documents required for the passport renewal before appearing for the scheduled appointment. * Arriving at Centre 15 minutes prior to the appointment time. Only applicants will be allowed to centre. Only one appointment can be booked per passport. The embassy noted that “Qatar is the third country in the Gulf region, after Saudi Arabia and the UAE, that the Philippine government has opened a PaRC to cater to the needs of the Filipino community”.    

(From left) Tiziana Beghin, Marc Tarabella, and Jose Ramon Bauza Diaz at the press conference on Friday in Doha. PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam.
Qatar
EU Parliament team lauds Qatar for labour reforms

A delegation from the European Parliament has lauded Qatar not only for achieving huge progress in its labour reforms vis-à-vis the preparation and hosting of the 2022 FIFA World Cup but also for its humanitarian efforts to help Afghan refugees. “Our visit here proves that Qatar values our inputs and want to work together to achieve the best outcome for workers not only now but for many years to come and we look forward to engaging with them further and of course checking again soon to see what further progress has been achieved over the coming months,” Marc Tarabella, vice-chair of the delegation for relations with Arab Peninsula and chair of the Sport intergroup – EU Parliament, told a press conference on Friday in Doha. He said the abolition of the Kafala system, the safety measures and high-level standards of protection for all the workers, and the introduction of minimum wage in the country proved that Qatar is working hard to implement fast and effective labour reforms. The delegation’s meeting with HE the Prime Minister and Interior Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Khalifa bin Abdulaziz al-Thani on Thursday was “one filled with hope,” according to Tarabella. He said the HE the Prime Minister made it clear that the process of reform does not end in the tournament next year but will continue long after 2022. Tarabella urged colleagues and institutions in the EU Parliament who criticise and asking for some sanctions on Qatar to organise an official visit to the country. “The (Qatari) authorities are open, an International Labour Organisation office is here,” we can say that that the evolution is very positive and we invite all people who want to come… but please don’t criticise without knowing… it is better to see than to criticise 5,000km from here. “The awarding of the FIFA World Cup 2022 has accelerated the process of reform, the reforms are real, we can see, we can check, and we spoke about the salaries, the minimum wage, and also the security, the equipment of workers,” he said. Tiziana Beghin, member of the Committee of the International Trade/Budget, and member of the Sport Intergroup – EU Parliament, said she was impressed not only with the high-level of technology that have been implemented in 2022 FIFA World Cup infrastructures but also in using them for humanitarian purposes. “I want to underline that these people (Afghan refugees) are hosted in an infrastructure planned for the FIFA World Cup and is now being used for humanitarian help and supporting the humanitarian organisations so thanks a lot to the sport that can show the power and the role that it can play also in such important social issues,” she said. “We visited Lusail city and I personally found great dignity in workers’ life. On labour reforms, the introduction of the basic salary, overcoming of the kafala system, for sure represent important milestones and I’m sure they will lead to greater equity and respect for human rights,” Beghin said. Apart from labour reforms, she also lauded Qatar for providing the best possible accommodations for Afghan refugees, mostly families and children. “These are facts. The children that we saw that are entertained in order not to crash in emotional desperation… we saw volunteers, we saw a real structure. We in Italy have to face the challenge of migration coming (mostly) from Africa, I can testify that it is not easy to receive so many people at the same time and we are not able to offer them such accommodation such clean and proper and safe accommodation,” she added. Jose Ramon Bauza Diaz, member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs/Transport and Tourism and DARP delegation/chairman of the EU-Qatar friendship group – EU Parliament, shared the same view saying that “children were provided by almost everything that they should need”. “You look at their (children refugees) faces it is so incredible, so impressed… and they were trying to reunite them with their families and relatives,” he said. Diaz underlined the importance of continuous co-operation between Qatar and the EU in areas such as security is paramount, aimed at ensuring that Afghanistan does not become a safe haven for terrorism and to preserve regional stability. “Second one, addressing to the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan is another area in which Europe and Qatar need to continue cooperating together… We also need to work with Qatar to ensure the respect of human rights in Afghanistan especially those of women and children. “Third, the evacuation and resettlement of those fleeing Afghanistan which still continue today and will require a continuous cooperation between the EU and Qatar,” Diaz said.    

Thailand ambassador Nathapol Khantahiran, left, and LuLu Group International director Dr Mohamed Alt
Qatar
Demand for Thai food products 'to rise in countdown to 2022 Qatar World Cup'

The demand for Thai food products in Qatar is expected to increase as the Covid-19 situation further improves and as the country continuously prepares for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, Thailand ambassador Nathapol Khantahiran has said. Speaking to reporters recently, the envoy said there are around 10 Thai restaurants in Doha now and this number, as well as the volume of Thai food products, will grow in the coming months. He noted that the volume of exports from Thailand to Qatar fell in 2020 from nearly $400mn to $300mn compared to 2019 due to the onslaught of the Covid-19 pandemic. However, plans to expand trade co-operation with Qatar “both in terms of volume and value” aimed at increasing more imports from Thailand are in the pipeline. “We prioritise safety (during the pandemic) and second, we try to introduce more healthy Thai products and food, which we plan to bring more, in co-operation with LuLu,” Khantahiran said. He added that 2020 marked the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Qatar and Thailand but the celebration had to be cancelled due to the global health crisis. LuLu Group International director Dr Mohamed Althaf cited the huge demand for Thai food products not only in Qatar and the region but also globally. He noted that there are close to 1,500 high-quality Thai food products, from rice, seasoning, coconut, and drinks, including vegetables and fruits, among others, in Qatar. “Thailand is one of biggest food exporters of Asia, they keep on innovating not only on food, but also on packaging and processing, they also have a lot of nutrition planning, even cater for special needs, and for cooked food also they are very good. “We have very strong relations with Thailand. In terms of volume, it is significant and not only for LuLu, if you look at even Qatar as a whole, the food export especially for rice, sugar, a lot of other food products they have a very predominant position. “With some level of modesty, LuLu takes the claim of making Thai food, fruits, and vegetables popular in Qatar. So we started 18 years ago, this is the result of our collaboration with the Thai Trade Commission, they are promoting these Thai products here now,” Althaf pointed out. He added that Thai food – an international cuisine - has become very popular to different nationalities living in Qatar. “Asians are always very used to it. I will rate Thai food in the top four cuisines in Qatar and this is also international. If you look at Mediterranean, Indian, Italian, and Thai, these are all like the very big ones, and there are so many nationalities that will share the same culinary habits such as Filipinos and Sri Lankans (among others),” Althaf said.    

Juan Miguel Ramirez aka u2018Icarou2019 receiving the 'Distinguished Mexican Award 2021' from Mexican ambassador Graciela G?mez Garc?a at the event, which was attended by Qataru2019s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Protocol Department director ambassador Ibrahim Yousif Abdullah Fakhro.
Qatar
Mexican embassy in Qatar presents the “Distinguished Mexican Award 2021”

The Mexican embassy in Qatar presented the “Distinguished Mexican Award 2021” to Doha-based Mexican artist and photographer Juan Miguel Ramirez, aka “Icaro”, citing his contribution to the arts and for strengthening the cultural ties between the two countries. “In 2018, our ministry of foreign affairs created the medal ‘Mexicanos Distinguidos’ to recognise the outstanding contribution of our diaspora abroad, and I have the privilege to invest it on one of the best cultural ambassadors of Mexico in Qatar, our dear friend, Juan Miguel Ramirez ‘Icaro’,” Mexico’s ambassador to Qatar Graciela Gómez García said at the ceremony. The envoy, who led the awards and cake-cutting ceremony along with Qatar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Protocol Department director, ambassador Ibrahim Yousif Abdullah Fakhro, noted that Icaro has been living overseas for the past 25 years, and spent the last 15 in Qatar. Gómez Garcia said that Icaro’s work as an architect (with a Master in Design) and as a photographer has been featured prominently in Qatar and the Gulf; served as “a reference of the artistic scene in Doha; and a proud representative of Mexican talent and creativity”. “As a founder and leader of Latin American Artists Doha, Icaro has contributed to promote the talent of the region among the Qatar public and has been instrumental in other collaborative platforms with expat artists from all over the world,” she added. The Mexican artist thanked the Institute of Mexicans Abroad and the ministry of foreign affairs for the award – a recognition “which helps to highlight the important work carried out by various members of our diaspora in Qatar, and that contribute to raise the image and prestige of Mexico in the world”. Born Juan Miguel Ramírez Escalante on September 29, 1960 in Cuernavaca, Morelos, Icaro developed an interest in photography at age 11 and studied with renowned Mexican photographers Rene Bárcenas and Antonio Berlanga. Icaro left Mexico in the dawn of the century in search of new horizons, living in various countries such as Spain, France, and Bulgaria, before coming to Qatar where he developed an important part of his artistic work for the past 15 years. In Qatar, Icaro joined the group Ankaboot in 2014 and became a member of the collective “International Artists in Doha” in 2015. In the same year, he became a founding member of the Group of Latin American Artists in Qatar, a collective of relevant Latin American artists residing in the country. Ícaro has a long career that led him to take part in several solo and group exhibitions in his home country, in Qatar (at Katara – the Cultural Village), and in other countries, including Russia. The artist is well-known for using watermelon in many of his works as a symbol to express his perception about a certain subject, including Qatar’s history and heritage reflected in museums, buildings and architecture in particular.    

Dr Mohamed Althaf. PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam
Qatar
Hybrid shopping to stay: LuLu director

Shopping experience in Qatar and other countries is expected to become hybrid as online shopping and delivery started slowing down, LuLu Group International director Dr Mohamed Althaf has said. “If you look at all the online (shopping) and delivery worldwide that pressure has gone now and kind of slowly easing up and becoming hybrid,” he told reporters at the recently held ‘Thai Halal Products In-store Promotion in Qatar’. He said that over the past several years online shopping and delivery for food and retail in some countries only hit 5 to 6% increase – the highest so far – since it usually remains well below 5%. According to Dr Althaf, it was only during the Covid-19 pandemic that it surged up to 10% and in some cases, 12% while “many other things like textile went up to 20% in some other countries”. During the onslaught of Covid-19 and the imposition of certain restrictions last year, a number of leading hypermarkets in Qatar increased their capacity for home deliveries at various locations to serve customers who prefer to shop online. It is learnt that many residents in Qatar still prefer to visit the hypermarkets and supermarkets to buy food and other perishable items such as fruits and vegetables, as well as meat and seafood. “When going to a store you realise there are so many other things that you need to stock," the LuLu official said. “The other thing is that the number of shops are increasing, people are also assured with the measures the government has taken here, for example, the vaccination rate is very high, almost everyone, 100% of the people who work for food including LuLu – eligible people – are all vaccinated and tested regularly, social distancing is being done,” Dr Althaf said. Qatar being a safe country with all the Covid-19 protocols in place such as mandatory wearing of facemasks and showing of a green code Ehteraz app, he added that the level of shopping confidence is also continuously growing. Four new LuLu stores are scheduled to open in Qatar this year and The Pearl-Qatar store by the first quarter of next year, LuLu Group International director Dr Mohamed Althaf announced. .    

Gulf Times
Qatar
Mexican embassy presents ‘Icaro’ Distinguished Mexican Award 2021

The Mexican embassy in Qatar presented the “Distinguished Mexican Award 2021” to Doha-based Mexican artist and photographer Juan Miguel Ramirez aka ‘Icaro’ recently, citing his contribution to the arts and for strengthening the cultural ties between the two countries. “In 2018, our Ministry of Foreign Affairs created the medal ‘Mexicanos Distinguidos’ to recognise the outstanding contribution of our diaspora abroad, and today I will have the privilege to invest it on one of the best cultural Ambassadors of Mexico in Qatar, our dear friend, Juan Miguel Ramirez “Icaro”,” Mexican ambassador Graciela Gómez García said at the ceremony, held at the Diplomatic Club. The envoy, who led the awards and cake-cutting ceremony along with Qatar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Protocol director, ambassador Ibrahim Yousif Abdullah Fakhro, noted that Icaro has been living overseas for the past 25 years and spent the last 15 in Qatar. Garcia said Icaro’s work as an architect (with a Master in Design) and as a photographer has been featured prominently in Qatar and the Gulf; served as “a reference of the artistic scene in Doha; and a proud representative of Mexican talent and creativity”. “As a founder and leader of Latin American Artists Doha, Icaro has contributed to promote the talent of the region among the Qatari public and has been instrumental in other collaborative platforms with expat artists from all over the world,” she added. The Mexican artist thanked the Institute of Mexicans Abroad and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the award – a recognition “which helps to highlight the important work carried out by various members of our diaspora in Qatar, and that contribute to raise the image and prestige of Mexico in the world”. Born as Juan Miguel Ramírez Escalante on September 29, 1960 in Cuernavaca, Morelos, Icaro developed an interest in photography at age 11 and studied with renowned Mexican photographers Rene Bárcenas and Antonio Berlanga. Icaro left Mexico in the dawn of the century to search for new horizons, living in various countries such as Spain, France, and Bulgaria before coming to Qatar where he developed an important part of his artistic work for the past 15 years. In Qatar, Icaro joined the group Ankaboot in 2014 and became a member of the collective “International Artists in Doha” in 2015. In the same year, he became a founding member of the Group of Latin American Artists in Qatar, a collective of relevant Latin American artists residing in the country. Ícaro has a long career that led him to take part in several solo and group exhibitions in his home country, in Qatar (at Katara – the Cultural Village), and in other countries, including Russia. The artist is well-known for using watermelon in many of his works as a symbol to express his perception about a certain subject, including Qatar’s history and heritage reflected in museums, buildings and architecture in particular.

Shaikha al-Sulaiti
Qatar
Growing number of designers help achieve Doha Design District

A continuously growing design community in Qatar will help achieve the Doha Design District, Msheireb’s aim of becoming a design hub in the region, according to Qatari designer and the District’s manager, Shaikha al-Sulaiti. The District, located at the world’s first sustainable downtown regeneration project, was designed to be a vibrant hub and cultural destination for local and international designers. “We do have a robust, really good designers, the design community here is growing and it is continuously growing and there is a lot of talent for sure, there’s a lot of creativity,” al-Sulaiti said. “I can see a lot of hardwork, also with the younger generation and I do believe that this will help us towards our vision which is to become the regional design hub.” She noted that the District’s ground floor highlights luxury retail, focusing mainly on furniture and lighting for its interiors. It also has some offerings and activations on luxury fashion, which are currently taking place and runs until the end of the year. While the ground floor was built to promote luxury international brands aimed at raising awareness on the importance of quality and design, al-Sulaiti said the first floor, which has 3D printing facilities, is dedicated more towards makerspace. She said the District is also set to be the main hub for the design activities relating to the fifth edition of the month-long Shop Qatar, the first major event taking place in the country in 18 months. According to Shop Qatar organisers, a fashion show will put a spotlight on the creations of New York -based fashion designer Naeem Khan while a trunk show will display creations and unique pieces of Bollywood celebrity designer Maneesh Malhotra. The District will also host exclusive activations such as pop-up shops as part of the Shop Qatar Design Week, taking place from October 3 to 9 from 3pm to 10pm. Apart from international designers, the event will see local entrepreneurs showcasing their designs; an array of food and beverage offerings; workshops; and other creative initiatives. Al-Sulaiti noted that the District has unique features and offerings over the Doha Fire Station: the former is more towards interior and fashion but can also include art activities while the latter heavily focuses on art. “We are planning to have collaborations with different artists, either for murals or different exhibitions that we can host together so the Doha Design District is really dedicated to the creative community, we are not really focusing on one specific specialisation but more towards who is interested in arts and designs,” she said. Al-Sulaiti added that the District will hold several activities until year-end, as well as its launch event in the first quarter of 2022. About the art scene in Doha, she said it has been booming over the past few years: “I do believe that Doha is the leader in the art world in the region and we do have the right elements to make this also the regional design hub which is our main mission as well.” “We have a very strong programme that will be focusing mainly on educating both the public and the design community to the international level that the brands currently work towards. So we have a lot of things that we are planning and it’s all very exciting,” al-Sulaiti said.

Swiss photographers' works that put a spotlight on the importance of u2018Humanitarian Principles.u2019 PICTURES: Joey Aguilar
Qatar
Photo exhibition by Swiss embassy brings humanitarian principles to focus

The Embassy of Switzerland in Qatar has inaugurated a one-of-its-kind exhibition at the Doha Fire Station, featuring the works of 10 Swiss photographers that shed light on the importance of ‘Humanitarian Principles’ and provide a platform for discussion. “The 10 Swiss photographers they have done some photographs to somehow reflect on the issue of violence, of inspiration, but also of hope, that through the respect of international principles of humanity these violations of human rights can be avoided and ended even in the direst conflict situation,” Swiss ambassador Edgar Doerig told Gulf Times. Swiss ambassador Edgar Doerig at the opening of the Humanitarian Principles Here and Now exhibition. The contemporary art installation, titled ‘Humanitarian Principles Here and Now’ is curated by the Musée de l’Elysée in Lausanne, Switzerland and being held in Doha until October 19 in co-operation with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Doha Institute for Graduate Studies. The exhibition, shown in 50 locations around the world, aims “to give the visitors a better understanding and deeper insight into the significance that humanitarian principles have in everyday life and provides a space for dialogue on humanity.” It started in Geneva two years ago. Some of these photographs include Virginie Rebetez’s Memorial Garden, Mark Henley’s Facing Prejudice, Rebecca Bowring’s The Mechanical Bride, and Sarah Carp’s Renaissance, among others. Doerig said that 10 short films around the same topic are also being screened at the Doha Fire Station cinema, in addition to a symposium on International Humanitarian Law (IHL). “The conventions are maybe not so easy for the access for the general public but there you can really see what is not allowed even in war situations, but it boils down at the end to respect of life, of human behaviour – even prisoners – they have rights, they cannot be tortured, etc… and that is expressed here in these photos, in these films, and also in the general principles,” the envoy said. The embassy noted that Qatar residents and even those from abroad can also follow the exhibition via QR codes to see the photos, videos, and reactions of the public in 11 languages. They can also take pasrt and share their views, personal thoughts, feelings, questions and stories in the worldwide conversation #DialoguesOnHumanity. Speaking at the event, ICRC Qatar Head of Mission Cherine Pollini underlined the significance of the exhibition saying “it allows us to dive into those humanitarian principles and leads us to think about the impacts of war, natural catastrophes, and more recently, of pandemics and their bearing.” “There is a special relationship between the ICRC and the IHL, the ICRC was founded more than a 150 years ago in recognition of the reality that even in armed conflicts there must be limits and those limits are enshrined under IHL,” she said. Pollini also stressed that ICRC remains constant in its neutral, independent, and impartial humanitarian approach to providing protection and assistance to victims of armed conflicts and other situations of violence. The opening of the exhibition was also attended by Sultan Barakat, director of the Centre for Conflict and Humanitarian Studies at the Doha Institute for Graduate Studies; Doha Fire Station exhibitions co-ordinator Amal Zeyad Ali; and other dignitaries and guests.

The exhibition, titled u201cPlastic Seas: Eco-Fables on Showu201d, which will run until October 2, originates from the artistic projects of Farina and Mohammed, who partnered with the Italian embassy in Doha to bring attention locally on the global climate emergency.
Qatar
Katara exhibition draws attention to dangers of plastic pollution

The Italian embassy, in partnership with Katara – the Cultural Village, opened a unique exhibition at Building 19 Sunday, showcasing the works of Qatari artist Fatima Mohammed and Italian artist Elisabetta Farina aimed at raising awareness on the dangers of plastic pollution. “I would like to thank the two artists… for enlightening us with their works, through their imagination, allowing us to understand that this problem goes beyond human understanding somehow, you need art to actually, somehow, through art and irony put a spotlight on this incredible programme that we all have to face, which is pollution, not just of the ocean but also of land,” Italian ambassador Alessandro Prunas said in his speech. The exhibition, titled “Plastic Seas: Eco-Fables on Show”, which will run until October 2, originates from the artistic projects of Farina and Mohammed, who partnered with the Italian embassy in Doha to bring attention locally on the global climate emergency. The event was attended by Katara general manager Prof Khalid bin Ibrahim al-Sulaiti, Unesco regional director and representative in the GCC and Yemen Anna Paolini; British ambassador Jon Wilks; Qatar Foundation’s (QF) CEO Office Strategic Initiatives and Partnership Development director, and head of  QF’s delegation attending the pre-Conference of the Parties (COP) 26 Aysha Abdulhameed A J al-Mudahka; Education Above All  pre-COP26 delegate Dana K al-Anzy; Arab Youth Climate Movement Qatar executive director and Youth Representative Qatar in Milan Neeshad Shafi; and Youth representative Qatar in Milan Fatima Abuhaliqa. “Environment and climate change degradation are undermining the rights to health and well-being of many communities whose survival is at risk. These issues must be urgently addressed by the International Community before it is too late,” the envoy added. The exhibition also underscores the urgency of ridding seas, as well as lands, of plastic pollution, which is reflected in the works of the two artists. “I hope the show raises awareness about the (dangers) of plastic pollution and how we should try to protect the environment,” said Mohammed, whose work is focused on the social anatomy of the Arabian Gulf and how it has evolved over time. Mohammed’s works also showcase “the grim reality of plastic islands” in the ocean: patches of floating plastic debris and deep in the waste land, following the wanderings and explorations of Anaj, the character which she created. The eco-fables on show – through art installations, design objects, photos and projections – aims to highlight how climate change is threatening seriously the earth and the presence of mankind. Farina lauded the works of Mohammed and thanked Prof al-Sulaiti, Prunas, and embassy officials, for their contribution to the event, which she hopes “to give a little contribution to raise the awareness on this huge and urgent environmental issue”. This year, Italy is leading these efforts to protect the environment by assuming the G20 presidency and co-chairing with the UK the COP26, a key milestone in the global fight against climate change.   Before COP26 takes place, Italy is hosting in Milan from September 30 to October 2 a preparatory meeting called pre-COP, which provides a selected group of countries with an informal setting to discuss and exchange views on some key political aspects ahead of the event. Italy is also committed to increase the non-state actors engagement by hosting during the pre-COP a range of initiatives promoted by nonprofit organisations, associations and civil society. “I am very glad that Qatar has ensured the participation of a large delegation led by QF with a full programme of very interesting activities. “It proves that the commitment by our countries at government level against climate change is deeply shared and supported by our peoples, especially young generations. I am also very pleased that two young delegates from Qatar have been selected to take part in the youth event “Youth4Climate: Driving Ambition,” Prunas said, congratulating Abuhaliqa and Shafi. During the event in Milan, Abuhaliqa and Shafi, the envoy added, “will have the chance, together with other young participants coming from all around the world, to put forward ideas and concrete proposals on some of the most pressing issues on the climate agenda.” For her part, al-Mudahka said: “At QF, we believe we play a key role in supporting the nation’s vision of a future that is pegged on sustainability. For the past 25 years, we have made significant investments in social development, research and innovation, and education – all of which are integral to shaping a nation that reflects not just environmental sustainability, but sustainability in all its forms. “Driving our efforts further, we are very excited to be participating in Youth4Climate: Driving Ambition that is taking place in Milan next week. Through our active participation, we are demonstrating how we believe sustainability should be constantly at the top of the global agenda, and that conversations about how to build a more sustainable world should be taking place where the most urgent action is required.” Al-Anzy, meanwhile, said: “During times of environmental crisis the provision of education is generally the first service provision to be affected, forcing many children to drop out of school. The most marginalised might not return at all to school due to economic hardship. Our programmes have geared an approach to tackle climate change as a global challenge with support from our strategic partner QFFD.” In a press statement, Wilks said: “On behalf of the UK Government and the British embassy in Doha, I am delighted to participate in the launch of this exhibition. This event draws attention to one of the most pressing issues contributing to degrading the global environment. I wish all the participants success in building public support for decisive action to limit pollution and preserve a sustainable marine environment for all.” Paolini, on the other hand, said: “The UN have declared the decade 2021-2030 as a decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development. Unesco is a major partner in leading the decade through its International Oceanic Commission. “From the many UN, experts, and activists’ statements and appeals, each of us is now aware of the urgency to change behaviour in the way we leave and in the decision we take. Raising awareness about the criticality we globally face is also through events like this. While we admire art though, let’s not forget to act”.

Gulf Times
Qatar
Doha student's website gives free access education

A 16-year old female student based in Doha has developed a unique and interactive website aimed at promoting and giving access to education free of charge. “In a gist, my website - https://tutorsandstudents.com - gives students like myself an opportunity to be a mentor and a tutor to students who need academic guidance,” the founder of the website, Priyanka Bansal, told Gulf Times.  Priyanka Bansal The goal, she said, is to offer services and courses that promote student success in a collaborative and inclusive environment: Peer-to-peer interactions, supported by the site, centre on the growth and development of the learner and the peer educator. Bansal, a grade 11 student of DPS Modern Indian School, Doha, noted that such platform helps increase the knowledge and academic independence of the participants. “The ultimate goal of the website is to empower students as they develop resiliency and successful habits in their fields of study and beyond. It has been designed to help students by their peers who are A graders (GPA 3.7 and above) in all subjects and are capable of assisting the students free of charge. “These tutors support the students in their free time as part of their community services to society. This also helps the students grow into thoughtful and caring individuals who can be upstanding pillars of society,” she added. According to Bansal, the website received positive feedbacks from student users, vouching for its reliability and has been supporting them based on the topic or course they have selected. A student named Veda Tripathi lauded her Computer Science teacher saying: “Vanishka did a very good job is clearing the concepts on qbasic. Tutors in the class are very competitive and they know the subject well. This is very helpful for kids and a must-try for all students.” Two students – Pranshu and Mohamed Syed – said their Mathematics class was great and helpful while student Shubhang Srinivasakumar noted that everything in the Physics class was proper. Meanwhile, Savaaa, an 11th-grade student, said: “I never knew that physics could be so easy to understand.” As participants, Bansal said students will have the opportunity to gain one-on-one attention during the sessions, improve academically, develop positive learning habits, get self-motivated for independent learning, enhance self-esteem, and create a stress-free workspace. Student tutors, meanwhile, can strengthen their knowledge in subject comprehension, polish their communication skills, help them gain problem-solving skills, and improve their organisational skills. They can also get a chance to earn a certificate for community services to help them apply for universities abroad. “The purpose of tutoring is to help students help themselves or to assist or guide them to the point at which they become independent learners, and thus no longer need a tutor,” Bansal said. She added that many of the students in Doha who previously registered and had tried the programme are requesting for more courses. “This proves that they are happy with the service and so far we have more than 50 students registered in one month,” Bansal said. About what inspired her to create and develop the website, she said it started when she couldn’t find online tutoring opportunities, “where I could teach students of my age and those who are younger than me, because I knew I was capable of that and somehow wanted to give back to society”. Felt upset and unable to find a platform that will fulfill her requirements, Bansal said her mother suggested in a casual manner: “Why don’t you just make your own solution, then?" After a series of brainstorming with her mother, Bansal, with the help of her cousin decided to put up the website, and “the rest is history.”

Khalifa International Stadium, The Torch Doha, and Sheraton Grand Doha Resort & Convention Hotel u2013 have been illuminated with the colours of the Mexican flag
Qatar
Qatar landmarks adorn colours of Mexican flag to mark Mexican National Day

A number of Qatar’s iconic landmarks – Khalifa International Stadium, The Torch Doha, and Sheraton Grand Doha Resort & Convention Hotel – have been illuminated with the colours of the Mexican flag on Thursday to mark Mexico’s National Day. Described by Mexican ambassador Graciela Gomez Garcia as “a generous tribute to Mexico and to the Mexican community in Qatar”, the festivity is “a great opportunity to meet with our fellow nationals and to share our unique identity, full of values and traditions built and consolidated over time”. “Last year, the pandemic prevented us from getting together as a community and therefore, todays’ celebration is even more special,” the envoy said. The celebration of the ‘200th Anniversary of the Consummation of the Independence of Mexico’ in Doha also served as a symbol of unity and patriotism among Mexicans living in Qatar and the close relations between the two countries – particularly in the field of sports. The event was the first time that a national day of a foreign country was celebrated in an official act within the Aspire Zone and Public Domain, and the first time that a country’s banner was lit in these famous venues. Hundreds of Mexicans and their friends have gathered at the Qatar Olympic and Sport Museum esplanade to join the occasion as the envoy led the civic ceremony of “El Grito” the Cry of Independence and the singing of Mexico’s National Anthem. “We receive this gesture of friendship from our host country with gratitude and humbleness. Thank you for such a precious gift. I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Qatar, as well as the directors of Aspire Zone, Aspire Logistics and Public Domain, for their invaluable support to make it possible for the Mexican community to gather here at the most emblematic date for us Mexicans who live abroad and find ourselves thinking of our families and missing our country. “Let us remember that ‘Mexico begins where a Mexican is,’ and here in Qatar, our country is present and it is being seen and heard as never before,” the Garcia said. Dressed in green, white and red costumes representing the flag, Mexican families who attended the celebration enjoyed the choreographies “Me nace del corazón”, “El Jarabe Tapatío” and “El Son de la Negra”. It was performed by the Ballet Folklórico Latinoamericano, and directed by renowned choreographer Cristina Cobos, who has a long career in the promotion of Mexican culture through dance in Qatar. Active in Qatar for 11 years, this dance group’s performance wowed attendees while the lady dancers’ colourful attires have energised the place despite the humidity. Garcia said: “Dear friends, living outside of our beloved Mexico and in cultural contexts different from ours, we experience our Mexicanness differently, and we cherish the few occasions in which we can gather to express with all our emotion the love and joy we feel for our country.” In line with the upcoming 2022 FIFA World Cup, she said they are anticipating the Mexican National Team to have a wonderful performance in the prestigious tournament, which will be held in Qatar, “hence, the importance that we are gathering tonight at the football epicenter of Qatar, the historic Khalifa Stadium, amidst the true heart of 2022.” The Embassy also kicked off its countdown for the 2022 FIFA World Cup at the event, which saw Mexicans taking photos and videos and sending it to friends in their home country. The Embassy noted that it has been deeply engaged in a sports diplomacy strategy aimed at linking Mexico to Qatar through sports in general, and football in particular… especially with the 2022 FIFA World Cup around the corner and the 2026 that will be hosted by Mexico (including the US and Canada). As such, the Embassy added, the 2022 baton will be passed from Qatar to Mexico. In addition, the Embassy said that Mexico is so far the number one sender of football fans for 2022, “so it’s very likely that Mexicans will be largest fan community in Qatar’s World Cup.” The envoy also underlined the Embassy’s close collaboration with the Supreme Committee and Delivery, and several stakeholders in Mexico and Qatar, to ensure an amazing experience for everyone during the prestigious tournament.

u201cThis exhibition is something that we are proud of, this is our way to show that Italy in general as a country is very committed to sustainability and to fighting climate change,u201d Italian ambassador Alessandro Prunas told attendees at the event.
Qatar
Italian embassy opens travelling exhibition

The Italian embassy in Qatar opened a travelling exhibition titled “3CODESIGN - 3R: Reduce, Recycle, Reuse” on Wednesday at the Doha Design District, Msheireb Downtown Doha, putting a spotlight on Italian design that promotes environmental sustainability. A project by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation curated by Silvana Annicchiarico, the exhibition is being held until September 29 in Qatar in partnership with Msheireb Properties. “This exhibition is something that we are proud of, this is our way to show that Italy in general as a country is very committed to sustainability and to fighting climate change,” Italian ambassador Alessandro Prunas told attendees at the event. He said 3CODESIGN - 3R: Reduce, Recycle, Reuse is an innovative exhibition project that explores a key topic for our planet through the contemporary works of emerging designers and internationally renowned names. The exhibition features a sustainable installation plan designed by Bruno Morello. It offers an inevitably concise yet sufficiently paradigmatic overview on how Italian design is working in this direction, according to the latest environmental sustainability needs – a real inversion of trend compared to the systems of production and design strategies employed during the 20th century. The process is an overall and radical rethinking of a production model that aimed at the over-exploitation of resources; this means reviewing all stages of design and production, starting to think, from the beginning, of objects and products that become repairable, reconditionable, reusable, shareable, and recyclable. Instead of ending up as landfill, the value of an object must remain in circulation by regenerating itself continuously. “The aim is to ensure a sustainable presence of humankind starting from a new creative design approach, based on reducing the use and waste of raw materials, recycling what has been consumed, and reusing outdated products,” Prunas said. “This need has now turned into an emergency due to the rapid process of land degradation and climate change”. “In 2021 Italy has a great responsibility in leading the green transition at international level. The Italian presidency of the G20, the Pre-COP events in Milan and the presidency of the COP26 co-chaired with the UK in Glasgow witness the importance and the relevance of our country’s commitment. Italian design, thanks to visionary protagonists, has the potential to lead the change in the right direction, laying the foundation of a creative process more focused on the concept of sustainability,” the envoy said. The event, he stressed also wants to show how designers and artists can contribute to sustainability and to fighting climate change. “We are delighted to host the “3CODESIGN - 3R: Reduce, Recycle, Reuse” travelling exhibition at Doha Design District which addresses the important aspect of environmental sustainability, that has a direct impact on our communities and the planet,” Msheireb Properties acting CEO Eng. Ali al-Kuwari said in a press statement. Thanking the Italian Embassy and the artists for this initiative, he expressed confidence that such partnership “will further strengthen awareness of the need to embrace environment-friendly practices in our daily life. “Msheireb Properties is committed to promoting sustainability and places it at the heart of everything we do to support the goals of the Qatar National vision 2030, which prioritises sustainable development.” Explaining the process, Annicchiarico said: “We need to make sure that rubbish turns into raw materials and place recycling and reuse at the base of a circular economy that can overcome squandering and wasting. “Not only rethinking design and production, keeping environmental sustainability in mind, but also building a new sociality based on sharing, responsibility, and respect for future generations. “These are some of the connotative traits in the latest Italian design, referred to as ‘Ecodesign’, whose primary objective is to contribute to the creation of a new ecology of the artificial.” Ecosocial artist Luca Gnizio, an emerging Italian designer, whose work is aimed at transforming every item of industrial waste into a precious commodity and a means of ethical education, attended the opening of the exhibition in Qatar. Some of his iconic design pieces include Forstreet, Forsoulworld e Forsoulmoon. “Through creative action, I’m constantly seeking to disprove the idea that waste materials yield products of inferior value. Quite the opposite. Waste can be transformed into something that is beautiful and functional. I don’t just mean works of art; my work involves ecological innovation that leads to new patented processes and products,” said Gnizio, who has been engaged in creating increasingly vast eco-synergies through his own "eco-socially" approach since 2009. In addition to his art, some of which is on permanent exhibit at a number of museums, he also holds award-winning ecological patents and collaborates with multinationals and universities.

French violinist Lyonel Schmit, renowned for his phenomenological approach to music, will be the concertmaster and conductor of the performance.
Qatar
Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra’s new season set to kick off Saturday

Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra’s (QPO) 2021 – 2022 season is set to kick off with a one-of-its-kind concert “with an unusually festive programme” on September 18 at the Qatar National Convention Centre Auditorium 3, it was announced. The concert, taking place between 4pm and 7.30pm, will only allow fully vaccinated or individuals showing a negative PCR test within 72 hours of the concert to enter the venue (including children). In a press statement, QPO’s opening performance – featuring many and classical romantic music composers such as Tchaikovsky, Grieg, and Khachaturian, among others – aims to welcome back concert-goers but adhering to Covid-19 protocols to ensure their safety. The programme includes ‘Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: Eugene Onegin - Polonaise’, an opera in three acts he composed in 1878, followed by his ‘Music from The Nutcracker, Op. 71 –March, Chinese, Spanish and Russian Dance (Trepak)’, which he arranged for a concert performance in 1892. QPO noted that The Nutcracker, which was a tale by ETA Hoffman before it became a ballet, tells the story of Clara, a little girl “who receives a magical nutcracker in the form of a little man for Christmas”. “Tchaikovsky based the ballet he created upon on a translation of the original story by Alexandre Dumas.” QPO’s performance will also include Alexander Porfiryevich Borodin: In the Steppes of Central Asia, a music “full of great tunes and beautifully comprehensible”; and Edvard Grieg: Peer Gynt Suite No. 1, Op. 46 - I. ‘Morning Mood’ and Op. 23 ‘In the Hall of the Mountain King’,  which brought Gynt to the international stage. Part of the programme are: Aram Ilitch Khachaturian: Masquerade Suite- Waltz, written in 1941 as incidental music for a production of the play of the same name by Russian poet and playwright Mikhail Lermontov; Jean Sibelius: Finlandia, Op. 26, a work that has become a powerful statement of triumph amid the political climate in Finland in 1899; and Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: Symphony No.4 in F Minor, Op. 36 – Mov. 4: Finale, dubbed as “one of the most performed symphonies of the end of the twentieth century.” French violinist Lyonel Schmit, renowned for his phenomenological approach to music, will be the concertmaster and conductor of the performance. He has been the concertmeister of the Luxembourg Chamber Orchestra since 2012 before joining QPO in September 2019 as 1st concertmeister.

Shops, boutiques, and other retail outlets, including restaurants and cafes, received a huge number of customers u2013 adhering to Covid-19 protocols set by the Ministry of Public Health u2013 to benefit from the various offers as part of the month-long festivity.
Qatar
Month-long Shop Qatar kicks off

Shop Qatar’s fifth edition kicked off on September 10, offering an array of discounts and promotions at participating malls and shopping centres. Shops, boutiques, and other retail outlets, including restaurants and cafes, received a huge number of customers – adhering to Covid-19 protocols set by the Ministry of Public Health – to benefit from the various offers as part of the month-long festivity. An employee of a popular American restaurant at a participating mall told Gulf Times that “the first day of Shop Qatar is a good start for us as we received many customers, both returning and new ones, and it’s more than the usual number.” She hoped the trend would continue even during the weekdays for the next four weeks of the event, scheduled to conclude on October 10. Some 15 retail partners across the country are taking part in the festival, including Qatar Duty Free, The Pearl-Qatar, Doha Design District at Msheireb Downtown Doha, Qatar National Convention Centre, and more than 60 hotels. Other official partner includes the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. Besides giving away up to 90% discounts, Shop Qatar also provides an opportunity for shoppers to participate in four weekly digital raffle draws and win over hundreds of prizes, including cash and cars wort more than QR4mn. To be eligible for the raffle draw, customers must register via WhatsApp number +974 4499 7499 by sending Hi. They should spend QR200 at any participating outlets, take a photo of the receipts, and send it to the specialised Whatsapp number to earn a digital raffle ticket. Organisers noted that “receipts from other branches outside of Shop Qatar participating malls will not be accepted.” The schedules of the raffle draws are as follows: September 17 at Doha Festival City, September 24 at Hyatt Plaza Mall, October 1 at Lagoona Mall, and October 8 at Mall Of Qatar. According to Qatar Tourism, Shop Qatar will also host live music concerts, featuring renowned regional artists. Names of the performers and details of the tickets will be announced soon through www.shopqatar.qa. International and regional celebrity makeup artists will share some of the newest trends in the world of fashion and makeup at three masterclasses during the festival. “Shop Qatar celebrates the country's wide range of retail, beauty and entertainment options and unfolds around popular Doha shopping malls. It's an annual event that aims to enhance Qatar's fashion and lifestyle scene and showcase its hospitality. At the same time, Shop Qatar introduces various compelling workshops and masterclasses and presents exciting surprises,” Qatar Tourism said. BOX: Step 1: To participate, send “Hi” on WhatsApp to “+974 4499 7499” and scan the QR code advertised in the mall. Step 2: Enter your details. Create a customer profile by requesting National ID and retrieving name, number, nationality, email, gender and other details to know your customers. Step 3: Purchase confirmation. Send the message “Win” to the WhatsApp Virtual Agent 2. The Virtual Agent asks the customer to send an image of the purchase receipt. Point system: QR1 = 1 point; i.e 200 points = 1 raffle ticket. (source: www.shopqatar.qa)    

HE Sheikh Mohamed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani addressing the event.
Qatar
Qatar deeply concerned with access to education in Afghanistan for children, youth: FM

Qatar is deeply concerned with access of children and youth to education in Afghanistan, and is doing its utmost to support them, HE the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohamed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani has said. He made the observation while participating in the high-level event to commemorate the International Day to Protect Education from Attack (September 9) on Thursday. HE the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs said Qatar is honoured to host this important event to mark the second International Day to Protect Education from Attack. "Over a year ago, the State of Qatar spearheaded the efforts that led to the adoption of landmark Resolution 74/275, establishing September 9 as the International Day to Protect Education from Attack," he said. "We did this because education is a core political and development priority for the State of Qatar." HE Sheikh Mohamed continued, “We deeply believe in education’s transformative power. Therefore, it is of key importance that we ensure the continuation of education during armed conflict, and to provide and facilitate international co-operation and assistance programmes working to prevent or respond to attacks on education. This is not an option but an imperative. "It is an imperative because education gives girls and boys hope, confidence and dignity. It equips them with knowledge and skills to escape poverty. It saves lives and reduces the spread of preventable diseases and pandemics." Education plays a vital role in rebuilding conflict-affected communities as they transition to peace, he stressed. "By influencing people’s attitudes and behaviours, education is a key channel for better mutual understanding, tolerance and respect for each other and our planet." "We all know this to be true. Yet, millions of children and youth are out of school due to living in - or having fled an emergency or conflict," HE Sheikh Mohamed said. "Furthermore, in recent years there has been a significant increase of attacks on schools and their infrastructure, resulting in an alarming number of children denied access to quality education. What worries the State of Qatar the most is that many of the affected children and youth will be forgotten and they might never resume their education." "We must also prioritise the education of girls in conflict situations. When girls are not in school, the risk to their safety and dignity mounts significantly," he added. About the situation in Afghanistan, he said Qatar is deeply concerned with the access of children and youth to education. “For instance, a group of 111 Afghan schoolgirls attending a special leadership school in Kabul, sponsored by the Government of Qatar, were able to fly out to Doha. Members of Afghanistan’s famous girls’ robotics team are also in Qatar. They were flown out of Kabul to Doha with the assistance of the Qatari government. They will be given the chance to continue their education and robotics work." “We are as well working continuously with our international partners to protect civilians in Afghanistan in the context of the current political situation in the country, including students and scholars, citizens of friendly countries and journalists who are seeking to leave Afghanistan by providing safe passage to travel to Doha and beyond," he pointed out. “To conclude my remarks, I would like to reaffirm that the State of Qatar spares no efforts to strengthen monitoring and reporting mechanisms, including investment in data collection and analysis, in order to ensure accountability for violations committed against children and teachers, as well as attacks against schools in contravention of international humanitarian law,” HE Sheikh Mohamed added.    

HH Sheikha Moza participated Thursday in a virtual event marking International Day to Protect Education from Attack. PICTURE: AR Al-Baker
Qatar
Sheikha Moza urges international community to protect education

Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, Chairperson of Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development (QF), urged the international community to unite in asking the United Nations (UN) Security Council to take action and bring to justice those who commit atrocities against education – and what it represents. “Those who attack education are criminals who steal far more than reading, writing, and arithmetic. Such criminals should be held accountable,” Her Highness Sheikha Moza said at a panel discussion marking the ‘Second International Day to Protect Education from Attack’, held virtually on Thursday. Titled “Protecting Education and Building Sustainable Peace”, the talk was organised by Education Above All (EAA) Foundation in partnership with Unicef, Unesco, and the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict. It was moderated by The New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof. Her Highness Sheikha Moza, who is also the Chairperson of Education Above All Foundation, and a UN Sustainable Development Goals advocate, believes the international community should ensure that those responsible – with strong evidence behind the attacks – must be brought into account “to face the consequences and pay for the damages they have done.” Her Highness Sheikha Moza highlighted the importance of holding the event saying it aims “to draw attention to the magnitude of an issue and to provide a rallying point because there are millions of children who no longer have schools as a result of conflicts.” Her Highness Sheikha Moza stressed that despite the global health crisis and the UN secretary general’s call for global ceasefire, the number of attacks to education has increased by a third in 2020. “One year alone, there were nearly 2,400 attacks on students and staff,” Her Highness Sheikha Moza said, noting that these victims were not collateral damage but were deliberately targeted and “attacked in cold blood in the various places where they should be safe and play.” “Let me repeat, deliberately targeted, and why? Because schools are places where new generations start their language, learn their history, culture and traditions, develop a sense of identity and confidence,” stressed Her Highness Sheikha Moza, underscoring the importance of the annual event. Protecting education has been on the forefront of the international agenda since the International Day to Protect Education from Attack was established in 2020 as per UN General Assembly Resolution A/74/275. The second edition of the event witnessed the participation of UN secretary-general António Guterres, Mohamed Bazoum, President of the Republic of Niger; Audrey Azoulay, director general of Unesco; Henrietta Fore, executive director of Unicef; HE Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim al-Thani, Qatar’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs; Karim Khan, chief prosecutor, International Criminal Court; Peter Maurer, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross; and Josep Borrell, High-Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy; among other speakers.    

The report covering the January-June 2021 period noted that average room rates (ARR) increased by 16%, and revenue per available room (RevPAR) increased by 24%, all outpacing 2020 monthly averages.
Qatar
Accommodation sector shows signs of bouncing back, says Qatar Tourism H1 performance report

Domestic tourism played a key role in boosting Qatar’s hospitality sector amid the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic situation, registering a 7% increase in hotel accommodation supply between the first half (H1) of 2020 and H1 2021, a mid-year performance report of Qatar’s tourism and hospitality sectors has shown. The report covering the January-June 2021 period noted that average room rates (ARR) increased by 16%, and revenue per available room (RevPAR) increased by 24%, all outpacing 2020 monthly averages. Properties that have been utilised as quarantine/Covid-19 response facilities have been removed from the full market data set from March 2020 to date. “The upswings in Qatar’s accommodation sector can primarily be attributed to an increase in domestic tourism,” Qatar Tourism said in a statement yesterday. It is learnt that many residents, especially families, have opted for local “staycations” at hotels and resorts, as well as dining in several restaurants, in the country instead of travelling overseas in H1 2021, giving a fillip to these sectors. The 7% overall increase in hotel accommodation supply between H1 2020 and H1 2021, the report said, was mainly driven by additional hotel apartment and five-star hotel keys in operation across Qatar. The total number of keys at the end of Q2 2021 amounted to 29,688 keys, compared to 27,829 keys in the same period in 2020, it added. The report noted that the lifting of the blockade and opening the borders to GCC nationals in January 2021 also helped to boost the number of arrivals from neighbouring countries to Qatar, witnessing a 9% increase in Saudi visitors and 100% increase in Emirati visitors. Qatar Tourism cited the high vaccination rates and issuance of approvals for hosting and organising events and necessary business activity as factors that will support the gradual recovery of Qatar’s tourism and affiliated sub-sectors such as aviation, hospitality, entertainment, and retail. “Qatar’s government is keen to provide safe and enjoyable travel experiences for international visitors and is taking all necessary precautions to ensure visitors have a safe experience,” Qatar Tourism said. While the number of international visitors in the first six months of 2021 remained low due to the pandemic, the report said it is seeing a return of “business and leisure visitations” with the partial reopening of Qatar’s borders in July this year. As such, it also expects hotel occupancy to improve further with more foreign visitors arrivals. “International visitation decreased by 82% in H1 2021 as compared to H1 2020. This decline is largely due to very strong visitor arrivals figures for January and February 2020, just prior to border closures in March 2020,” the report noted. However, the report stressed that “despite the negative impacts of the pandemic, Qatar’s hospitality sector fared exceptionally well compared to global benchmarks”. “Doha had the 6th highest occupancy rate worldwide and the smallest RevPAR decline, by far, among all key cities in 2020,” it added. The report is available at https://www.qatartourism.com/en/news-and-media/sector-statistics/tourism-reports.    

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