Thursday, February 02, 2023 | 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.
Singaporean ambassador Jai Sohan
Singapore companies have keen interest in Qatar market: envoy

Business interest among Singapore companies in the Qatar market remains strong, further boosting economic and possible avenues of collaboration between the two countries, Singaporean ambassador Jai Sohan has said.  “Our companies have participated in projects in Qatar in various sectors, including waste and water management, oil and gas, urban planning and e-solutions,” the envoy told Gulf Times. Qatar and Singapore, which enjoy warm bilateral relations since diplomatic relations were established between the two countries in January 1984, co-operate in a number of areas such as trade and investment, energy, public sector training, urban planning, and environmental and water management. In 2019, Sohan noted that Qatar was Singapore’s third largest trading partner in the Middle East. Bilateral trade amounted to S$8.64bn (about QR22.5bn) with energy exports from Qatar comprising almost 80% of the two countries’ bilateral trade. He also urged Qatar’s energy companies to explore using Singapore as a regional hub to conduct their Liquefied Natural Gas-related business in Southeast Asia – a region of approximately 650mn people, and many rapidly growing economies. The envoy said they also established the Singapore Business Council Qatar (SBCQ), comprising Singaporean professionals and businesspersons from across all industry sectors and registered with the Qatar Financial Centre, to further boost the economic relationship between the two countries. He noted that SBCQ aims to deepen connections between the business communities of both countries, as well as serve as a resource point for companies interested in exploring commercial opportunities in the two markets.  Sohan cited the strong relations between the two countries, saying “our leaders know each other well, and we had a healthy exchange of bilateral visits prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, which has unfortunately resulted in a cessation of most international travel.” Qatar and Singapore also aim to further develop their co-operation, explore business opportunities in various areas, including the small- and medium-sized enterprises sector.  Last year, more than 100 Singaporean professionals in Qatar, apart from other local business community members with close connection to Singapore, took part in a networking event for hosted by Qatar Chamber, which also aims to deepen trade relations between the two countries.

Mohamed Shahir Sabarudin
‘Qatar-Malaysia ties to continue to maintain upward trajectory’

The change of leadership in Malaysia is expected to witness the continuation of Qatar-Malaysia bilateral ties on an upward trajectory, further strengthening the two countries’ close and brotherly relations, Malaysian embassy charge d’affaires Mohamed Shahir Sabarudin has said. The envoy told Gulf Times that Malaysian Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin had a phone conversation in April with His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, in which both leaders agreed to further strengthen bilateral ties. “Both leaders extended visit invitations to each other, and it is hoped that these bilateral visits will take place as soon as the Covid-19 pandemic is over,” Sabarudin said. In 2019, he noted that a number of steps have been taken to further strengthen and expand bilateral ties between the two countries, including high-level visits and close co-operation in multilateral institutions. The visit of the former prime minister of Malaysia, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamed, to Qatar in December 2019, followed by the visit of His Highness the Amir to Malaysia provided an excellent opportunity to both sides to engage at the highest level, and gave a fresh momentum to the bilateral ties between the two countries, it was observed. Sabarudin said the visit also provided an opportunity to better leverage the existing complementarities between the two countries in key areas of mutual interest, including trade and investment, infrastructure, higher education, health, legal and judicial co-operation. He highlighted trade as a key pillar of Qatar-Malaysia co-operation, saying that total trade in 2019 reached $.079bn (RM3.43bn). “Although trade between the two countries has come down slightly by 9% in 2019 as compared to the previous year, Qatar has improved its overall ranking from the 5th largest trading partner for Malaysia in 2018 to the 4th largest trading partner in 2019 in the region,” the envoy noted. He said Malaysia’s main exports to Qatar in 2019 were petroleum products; manufactures of metal; jewellery; transport equipment; processed food; machinery, equipment and parts; iron and steel products; palm oil and palm oil-based agricultural products; electrical and electronic products; as well as chemicals and chemical products. Meanwhile, Malaysia’s imports from Qatar in 2019 were mainly petroleum and chemical products. About Qatar Chamber board member Mohamed bin Ahmed al-Obaidli’s earlier statement that the Qatari private sector views Malaysia as one of the “most important” economic destinations worldwide, Sabarudin said Malaysia echoes the same sentiment “mainly due to the fact that Malaysia remains a pro-business nation, backed by strong economic fundamentals, stability, cost-competitiveness and its strategic location in the centre of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (Asean). “As a gateway for Qatar to access Asean markets with more than 600mn people, Malaysia continued to further explore potential co-operation to address the food security issue, agriculture and tourism. Strategic economic alliances and partnerships are more crucial than ever at this moment due to the great global lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic that has interrupted the global supply chain,” he stressed. Sabarudin said several Malaysian companies have been involved in crucial infrastructure development projects in Qatar for the past decade while many others are currently involved in the facility management services for airport operational facilities and ancillary buildings and the hospitality industry. “We are also working very hard to support Qatar on its National Vision 2030 efforts as well as the efforts that will make the  2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar a success,” he added. About the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak on Qatar-Malaysia relations, the envoy said: “The Covid-19 pandemic is a test for our leaderships and countries’ economy. I am proud to say that Malaysia and Qatar have passed this test, and we have shown a great example on how to address the pandemic. Low death and high recovery rates for our countries are a testimony to our nations and able leaderships during this crisis.” He said the Malaysian prime minister thanked Qatar for the medical treatment and assistance to Malaysians affected by Covid-19 in the country. He also commended the Qatar government for effectively handling the spread of Covid-19 pandemic. “Malaysia also appreciates Qatar’s efforts in treating 40 Malaysians who were infected with the Covid-19 virus. It is a relief to us to learn that 39 of them have fully recovered. Meanwhile, one Malaysian passed away on June 10,” Sabarudin said. “Thanks to the swift response from Hamad Medical Hospital, the deceased was buried on the same day and the family member has extended their appreciation to the medical team who had been treating the person for the past one month,” he added. He stressed that bilateral relations between Malaysia and Qatar are  getting stronger during the Covid-19 crisis. On the cultural front, the envoy said this area has been one of their priorities, which he described as a suitable platform to increase people-to-people contact and to close the gap between Malaysians and Qataris. The Malaysian embassy organised many cultural and dance performance events for the past few years. The latest event was ‘Colours of Malaysia 2019’, organised in partnership with Qatar Airways to further promote Malaysia’s historical heritage and culture. Ten professional dancers were flown in from Istana Budaya (palace of culture) to perform at Hamad International Airport and Katara – the Cultural Village. “These initiatives will be continued in the years to come after travel restrictions have been eased by both Malaysian and Qatar governments,” Sabarudin said. The two countries, he noted, have actively pursued co-operation in education, which saw the former Malaysian Minister of Education visiting Qatar in November 2019 to attend the World Innovation Summit for Education in Doha. The envoy said Malaysia and Qatar also discussed issues of mutual interest in the higher education sector in August 2019 during its 1st Joint Working Group (JWG) meeting held in Kuala Lumpur. The meeting was held within the framework of the agreement that was signed between Qatar and Malaysia in 2017. “At the moment, the number of students from both countries is still low. However, Malaysia has been actively engaging with Qatar University, Hamad Bin Khalifa University and top-notch US and UK universities in Qatar to increase the number of Malaysian students in Qatar, including the exchange of students between universities,” Sabarubin said. “There are also Malaysian academicians who are working in various universities in Qatar.”

Robert Hall, general manager of Doha Festival City.
Malls will remain a central part of shoppers, says DHFC official

While digital platforms now play a vital role in retailing, an industry expert said malls and shopping centres still provide unique experiences and offerings that many residents and visitors look for. “Online platforms will continue to hold a place in this world with the increasing demands on people’s time, but we firmly believe that malls such as Doha Festival City (DHFC) will remain a central part of the community for many years to come,” DHFC general manager Robert Hall told Gulf Times. Phase 2 of the gradual lifting of Covid-19 restrictions, which began on July 1, includes the reopening of all retail outlets in malls and commercial centres. Accordingly, DHFC announced the reopening of all retail outlets there amid the observance of a host of precautionary measures.  Hall said the mall has received a positive response and support from shoppers to its ‘welcome back’ announcements, as well as for following stringent health and safety measures throughout its premises. “E-commerce has its place in our modern society, but nothing replaces the experience of beautiful stores, viewing products and significant brand ranges at ease and in the space that Festival City provides,” he said. “Retailers will certainly improve their website design and usability, but we still look forward to welcoming our visitors, if only for a coffee, or keeping fit with a walk around our extensive mall space,” Hall said. Besides stores reopening, he announced that DHFC will also open new shops in the coming months with both first-to-market brands and extended store offers. Hall expressed confidence that Qatar’s retail sector will witness continuous growth with the upcoming FIFA World Cup 2022, the ongoing substantial infrastructure work to support this event, and in continuing to meet the original timescales. “Qatar enjoys a strong retail market and therefore the demand for consumer goods remains. Our customers appreciate the variety of international brands in Festival City and a competitive pricing policy to match consumer needs,” he said. About the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on consumer spending, which focused more on groceries and home entertainment, Hall said they witnessed “a very short-term increase due to customers being temporarily restricted in terms of choice with malls closed and a necessity for people to stay indoors and to socially distance”. “We expect some of these changes to remain, but at a lesser degree.” Consumers might choose to rely more on home delivery and online ordering, and some store brands will work to improve their online footprint through improvements in website design and functionality, according to Hall. “Qatar is very well-positioned for home delivery with numerous existing structures to support, but ordering from international suppliers still may incur delays due to supply disruptions,” he said. About the future of Qatar’s retail industry, which has witnessed a surge in the use of online platforms during the Covid-19 outbreak, he noted that the country has a history as a trading nation, from its port to souqs and modern retail destinations such as DHFC. “We do not envision a long-term shift in shoppers’ behaviour as these retail destinations in Doha not only provide a place to purchase goods, but also provide a space for people to come together, share experiences and new memories,” Hall said.

Mikel Ibrahim
Boost for F&B outlets

The food and beverage (F&B) sector in the country gets a further boost as the Qatar government implements Phase 2 of the gradual lifting of Covid-19 restrictions, it is learnt. One of the key aspects of Phase 2, which began on July 1, allows restaurants across Qatar, including those in tourist spots such as Souq Waqif, Old Souq Al Wakra and Katara – the Cultural Village, among others, to reopen with limited capacity. F&B outlets across Qatar have been exerting efforts to follow and implement precautionary measures set by the Qatari authorities such as social distancing practices, requiring customers to show the ‘Green’ status on Ehteraz app, monitoring of body temperature and regular cleaning and sanitisation. “With precautionary measures remaining in force throughout all reopening phases, we have a very positive outlook on the impact of the lifting of restrictions on restaurants as well as on consumers at this stage,” Mondrian Doha executive assistant manager Mikel Ibrahim told Gulf Times, noting they started to witness a rising local interest in bookings and reservations even before the outlets were allowed to reopen. He said Morimoto, Ella Mia and Smoke and Mirrors began welcoming guests (pre-booking required) on July 1 while Walima will reopen on July 15. Strict sanitary and hygiene measures are in place, complying with government directives. Ibrahim noted that all their F&B outlets provide hand sanitisers across restaurant facilities, place safe-distancing stickers on restaurant floors and redistribute the furniture, leaving no less than 2m between each table and allowing a maximum of five people to sit at each table (excluding members of a single family). “These are in addition to reducing the restaurant’s capacity to 50% of the maximum number of diners and encouraging customers to pay using credit cards rather than cash. Menus across all our outlets will be digital, adhering to very strict rules of sanitisation,” he added. It is learnt that many hotel restaurants under Katara Hospitality have witnessed a surge in interest in bookings since the date of the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions was announced. A number of restaurants, cafés and food outlets at Katara – the Cultural Village, like L’wzaar, are also back in business, offering an array of delicacies to customers. Apart from takeaway orders, the drive-thru facility at popular fast-food chains in the country such as McDonald’s and KFC has been attracting a large number of commuters who find such an option safer.

Singaporean ambassador Jai Sohan.
Qatar, Singapore working together in Covid fight: envoy

Qatar and Singapore continue to work together in terms of the response to the Covid-19 outbreak, Singaporean ambassador Jai Sohan has said. “Singapore’s Minister for Health Gan Kim Yong and Qatar’s Minister of Public Health HE Dr Hanan Mohamed al-Kuwari have had discussions on our countries’ response to, and management of, the pandemic,” the envoy told Gulf Times. He said Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Qatar Prime Minister and Minister of Interior HE Sheikh Khalid bin Khalifa bin Abdulaziz al-Thani had a telephonic conversation June 25, and discussed co-operation on the Covid-19 front, both in the bilateral context and at the multilateral level. Given the magnitude of the challenge, Sohan underscored the importance of sharing information, resources, strategies and experience for like-minded countries “to overcome the pandemic and restore normalcy to our economies and the lives of our people”. He lauded Qatar for doing an excellent job in dealing with the current situation, acting decisively on many fronts as it moved quickly in mid-March to close the country’s borders to restrict imported cases of Covid-19. When local infections later started to rise, the envoy said Qatar imposed precautionary measures such as wearing of face masks, safe distancing rules and use of the Ehteraz contact tracing application to track local transmissions.  “Though there was a rise in infections among expatriate workers, Qatari government agencies, including the Ministry of Public Health, Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs worked together to isolate, treat and care for all affected workers,” he said. Sohan noted that Qatar has also undertaken an aggressive testing regime, testing more than 381,000 people to date. “This, coupled with Qatar’s excellent medical and diagnostic facilities, has meant that almost all infected individuals have been isolated and treated, and mortality figures from the virus have remained low,” the envoy said. “The authorities have also been communicating frequently with the public, keeping them apprised of the government’s various measures and policies.” Covid-19 has had a dramatic and significant impact on Singapore – disrupting international trade flows and the movement of travellers. The country had to close its borders and impose lockdown measures to contain the spread of the virus among its population, according to Sohan. He said the Singapore government imposed a “circuit breaker” on April 7 aimed at curbing rising infections and reduce person-to-person transmission of the virus by implementing several restrictions. “With the circuit breaker measures successful in bringing down the number of new infections, the Singapore government commenced a gradual three-phased easing of some of the lockdown measures. We commenced Phase 1 on June 2 and then moved into Phase 2 on June 19, which saw more businesses, including retail outlets, gyms and fitness centres, being allowed to open, as well as a resumption of dine-ins at restaurants,” Sohan said. “Our students will be allowed to return to schools and institutions of higher learning for face-to-face classes. Sports and recreational facilities have been allowed to open. We have now permitted small social gatherings and family visits of up to five persons,” he added. Many of Singapore’s major tourist attractions – zoos and wildlife parks, integrated resorts and museums - will also be reopening with necessary precautionary and safe distancing measures in place, the envoy said. He noted that commencement of Phase 3 – which will see the resumption of larger-scale social, cultural, religious and business events – will depend on how the Covid-19 situation in Singapore evolves. Sohan also highlighted the warm bilateral relations between Qatar and Singapore since diplomatic relations were established in January 1984. “Our leaders know each other well, and we had a healthy exchange of bilateral visits prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, which has unfortunately resulted in a cessation of most international travel. Our two countries also co-operate well at multilateral fora, given our shared interests and concerns as small states,” he said.

Stylish eco-friendly items on offer
Residents urged to join in Plastic Free July

Qatar Museums (QM) has urged residents in the country to take part in a global initiative, ‘Plastic Free July’, by reducing plastic use and aimed at protecting the environment. Launched in 2011 by Plastic Free Foundation founder Rebecca Prince-Ruiz, the movement has been attracting many people around the world every year to join the cause and “Say No To Plastic”. While it is celebrated for a month, the campaign saw participants going beyond July and continue to lessen their use of plastic. QM yesterday also shared a number of documentaries to its Culture Pass members on the negative environmental impact of plastic pollution. Plastic Wars by PBS Frontline “examines the industry’s role in shaping a system that has never worked as advertised and the decades-long effort to keep a highly profitable secret alive: recycling hasn’t kept plastic out of the environment or the oceans. It has just sold more plastic.” Premiered on March 31 this year, this documentary about the “battle over plastics and recycling” got 227,212 views and hundreds of comments on YouTube. A Plastic Wave (November 18, 2018) by James Roberts, a surf photographer, provides a deeper understanding of the cause and extent of this crisis, which has become a huge threat to the planet. Alon (meaning wave) by The De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde, which bagged the 2020 Best Film for Science and Education at the London International Film Festival, “explains the effects of marine plastic faced by different surfing communities in the Philippines and explores ways to reduce the consequences.” QM also shared a number of articles on reducing plastic use such as ‘Tips To Use Less Plastic’, ‘The Lifehacker’s Guide to Living with Less Plastic’, and ‘10 Simple Ways to Reduce Single-Use Plastics in Your Life.’ “Switching to a plastic-free lifestyle is accessible and achievable. You can take small steps, which will contribute in a big way to this global movement. We have different tips and product swaps that you can incorporate into your daily life right now,” QM said. A number of companies such as EcoSoul,, The Neat Store, The Flying Rooster Soap Company, Ecoloco offer various product (to eco-friendly) swap solutions. Their products such as stylish reusable coffee cups, water bottles, and tote bags can be used daily and help reduce plastic waste at home and in the community. QM cited an article by Plastic Pollution Coalition highlighting 12 artworks that inspire others to act and stop plastic pollution. These include the “Vida Toxica” (Toxic Life) by Catalan artist Alvaro Soler Arpa, “Natural Plasticity” by Jana Cruder and Matthew LaPenta, and “Bristol Whales” by Sue Lipscombe, among others.

Sharq Village & Spa
Reopening phase 2 a positive sign for hospitality sector

Qatar’s hospitality sector is set to get a further boost as the country moves into the second phase of the gradual lifting of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) restrictions, an industry expert told Gulf Times. Marriott International’s Luxury Eastern Europe and Gulf Levant & Pakistan Area vice president Safak Guvenc expressed excitement about expanding their footprint in Qatar with plans to introduce new brands and concepts to the market. "Such progress across the country is a positive sign for Katara Hospitality and Marriott International," he asserted. Sheraton Grand Doha Resort & Convention Hotel Katara Hospitality-owned and operated by Marriott International include Sharq Village & Spa, a Ritz-Carlton Hotel; Ritz Carlton Doha; Sheraton Grand Doha Resort & Convention Hotel; and Al Messila, A Luxury Collection Resort & Spa, Doha. Other hotels operated by Marriott International but non-owned by Katara Hospitality are: Marriott Marquis City Center Doha Hotel, JW Marriott Marquis Doha City Center, The St. Regis Doha, W Doha Hotel and Residences, The Westin Doha Hotel & Spa, and Four Points by Sheraton Doha. “Qatar has been at the forefront of managing this crisis efficiently and effectively and we are delighted to see the country lift many restrictions and open up,” Guvenc said. “The leaders of this country have done an incredible job with their ongoing efforts to safeguard public health.” Al Messila He lauded the continued support and guidance of the Qatar government and Qatar National Tourism Council for imposing the appropriate measures during the entire crisis. According to Guvenc, clear communication channels were cascading all necessary information and keeping them updated with all new developments. Phase 2, which starts Wednesday, will see the opening of all parks, beaches and the Doha Corniche, including malls, souqs and wholesale markets, with restricted hours and capacity while Phase 3 will begin on August 1, allowing low-risk inbound flights for priority passengers. Meanwhile, mosques will fully reopen and resume Friday prayers around the country in Phase 4, which will start on September 1. It will also see the list of inbound flights expanded as advised by the Ministry of Public Health. Doha Metro and public bus services, as well as the new academic year, will also resume during this phase but with restrictions. “In terms of the food and beverage scene, home delivery will still continue to be a popular choice for residents, and we continue to adapt and meet the requirements and experience of guests,” Guvenc said. “Prior to the pandemic, dining-out was a popular choice among residents and we envisage that people will want to get out to once again experience their favourite spots. However, under the ‘new normal’, health and hygiene will be at the forefront of their minds,” he noted. Guvenc stressed that the food and beverage experience will be a completely new experience with cleanliness and hygiene at the centre of their operations. The Qatar government’s stringent measures will also be followed. Cleaning and safety measures have been enhanced to ensure that Katara and Marriott hotels and restaurants remain a comfortable and safe environment for guests and associates, he added. “This pandemic has required us to raise our exacting standards to an even higher level with new protocols for the current circumstances and we are reimagining how we can deliver the customer experience in a hygienic yet human way,” Guvenc said. Highlighting its commitment to cleanliness, the company recently announced the Marriott Global Cleanliness Council – a multi-pronged platform focused on developing the next level of global hospitality cleanliness standards, norms and behaviours, and whose work will be informed by both in-house and outside experts. Food and safety is a key part, which will include: enhanced sanitation guidelines and training videos for all operational associates that includes hygiene and disinfecting practices; all food handlers and supervisors are trained on safe food preparation and service practices; Marriott’s food and beverage operations are required to conduct self-inspection using the company’s food safety standards as guidelines, and compliance is validated by independent audits; development of new guest interaction protocols; and modifying operational practices for in-room dining and designing new approaches to buffets. “We are grateful for the trust our guests have shown us through the years and we want them to see and understand what we are doing and why we are doing it - so that when they walk through the doors of one of our hotels or restaurants, they know our commitment to their health and safety is our priority, whichever of our brands they are staying with,” Guvenc added.

Hawksbill turtle hatchlings
QM Culture Pass members can witness Hawksbill turtle nesting

Qatar Museums' Culture Pass members will have the opportunity to witness the process of nesting and hatching of hawksbill turtles at Fuwairit beach from next month. “You asked – we delivered! The Hawksbill turtle hatching season is here, and we are happy to facilitate visits to our Cultural Pass members to participate in visiting the nesting grounds located in Fuwairit for the month of July and August, on Thursday to Tuesday between 6pm and 8pm,” Qatar Museums (QM) Chairperson HE Sheikha Al-Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani said on her Facebook page Sunday. According to QM, visits will be organised to the nesting ground between July 2 and August 31, but priority of booking will be given to Culture Pass Plus and Family members. The mating season for these critically endangered species occurs every two years and nesting period starts in late March or early April where female turtles look for suitable grounds to lay their eggs. These eggs hatch after two months and the young turtles instinctively crawl towards the sea. While hawksbill turtles also nest at Lehwaylah, Ras Laffan, Al Ghariyah, Al Marounah, Al Mafeer, Haloul, Sharaawah, Rukn islands, and Umm Tees beaches, it is learnt that Fuwairit remains to be the most common breeding area in Qatar. Besides from being away from buildings and camping sites, Fuwairit beach’s serene atmosphere and soft sand makes it a suitable place for nesting where turtles can dig easily. According to the Ministry of Municipality and Environment (MME), Fuwairit is closed from April every year to prepare for the nesting season, aimed at protecting the turtles and their eggs. However, a number of field visits (turtle nesting watch) in the area are organised for people to see, especially at night. “The hawksbill turtle hatching season has arrived and we would like to welcome you to witness this miracle of life in its purest form,” QM told Culture Pass members on its e-mail yesterday. QM noted that each visit will be limited to only eight attendees, including children aged five and above, to maintain social distancing. Wearing of face mask is also required aimed at preventing the spread of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) in the country. Other precautionary measures, in compliance with health and safety recommendations issued by the Ministry of Public Health, will also be in place such as requiring attendees to present a “green” health code on their Ehteraz mobile application, and using their own cars for transportation. QM also advised attendees to bring their own torches or lighting devices for easy viewing at night. Efforts to protect these sea turtles on Qatar’s northern coast and in a number of islands started in 2003 led by Qatar Petroleum, Qatar University and the MME.

Preparations underway for MIA's exhibition u2018A Falconu2019s Eye, Tribute to Sheikh Saoud Al Thaniu2019
Art lovers in for a treat as museums prepare to reopen

Qatar residents will again have the opportunity to explore the permanent collections at the Museum of Islamic Art (MIA) and Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art from July 1 as a number of museums prepare to reopen. Qatar Museums (QM) is also scheduled to unveil a special exhibition ‘Picasso’s Studios’ at the Doha Fire Station on the same date – the start of the second phase of the general resumption of public activity in the country. The upcoming MIA exhibition marks the outstanding accomplishments of one of Qatar’ greatest collectors A featured object (Qajar Iran, circa 1820) in MIA’s permanent collection MIA’s collections, which can also be accessed digitally via Google Street View, include ceramics, glass, manuscripts, jewellery, wood work, textiles, and metalwork obtained from three continents, which date back from 7th to the 19th century, according to QM. Meanwhile, Mathaf collection – dubbed as the largest of Arab modern and contemporary art in the region – “represents major trends and sites of production through paintings, sculptures, works on paper, installation and video works, produced since the mid-19th century until the present day.” Key artworks by pioneer Arab artists such as Jewad Selim’s Baghdadiat, and Mahmoud Moukhtar’s The Nile are part of this vast collection. MIA will also open some of its exhibitions soon such as ‘A Falcon’s Eye: Tribute to Sheikh Saoud Al Thani’. It was originally scheduled to open to the public on March 25 and will run until January 2, 2021 but was postponed along with other major events in Qatar and around the world due to the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak. MIA tweeted recently a number of pictures about the ongoing preparations for this show as it urged visitors to “follow the preventive measures to move forward the quarantine stages and enable us to see you soon.” ‘A Falcon’s Eye: Tribute to Sheikh Saoud Al Thani’ marks the outstanding accomplishments of one of Qatar’ greatest collectors who was largely responsible for laying the foundation for QM’s world-class collections. According to QM, this exhibition features “more than 300 works from prehistoric fossils and Egyptian antiquities to Orientalist paintings and masterpieces of the history of photography in a spectacular display following the concept of ancient (Renaissance) ‘cabinet of curiosities’ reflecting Sheikh Saoud’s fascination with both natural history and the art world.” Other postponed exhibitions include ‘Splendours of the Ancient East: Antiquities’ from the al-Sabah Collection at National Museum of Qatar (NMoQ), featuring around 170 priceless objects in gold, silver, glass, and precious stones collected by Sheikh Nasser Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah and Sheikha Hussa al-Salem al-Sabah of Kuwait; ‘Yto Barrada: My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nougat’ at Mathaf, the first solo exhibition in the Gulf region of the remarkably varied and conceptually challenging work of Barrada (b. 1971) in photography, video, sculpture, and installation made between 2009 and 2019; ‘Huguette Caland: Faces and Places' at Mathaf, an overview of four decades of the joyously sensuous paintings, drawings, sculptures, and clothing designs of Caland (1931-2019); and ‘Lived Forward: Art and Culture in Doha from 1960-2020’, which looks at reference points of generations of artists, intellectuals and cultural activists who played a major role in activating the cultural scene in Doha for more than half a century. These exhibitions offer residents and visitors globally “exceptional opportunities to enjoy artworks and artifacts that span centuries and the globe.” Apart from MIA and Mathaf, Al Zubarah, Al Jassasiya and Barzan Towers are among the institutions and heritage sites in Qatar that will reopen on July 1, in accordance with recommendations from the Health Protection and Communicable Disease Control office of the Ministry of Public Health to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

A virtual visit at 'Patches' exhibition by Hadi Qasous
Katara hosts virtual exhibitions

Art enthusiasts in Qatar and elsewhere in the world will have the chance to view stunning works by local and regional artists at virtual exhibitions organised by Katara – the Cultural Village. Katara launched several other virtual initiatives recently as part of its Summer Festival 2020, which aims to encourage and inspire groups in the country to further enhance and develop their creativity through different activities and competitions. A series of virtual exhibitions organised by Katara will run until December A number of 'Culture Collision' paintings feature popular cartoon characters with Qatari landmarks on the backdrop Qatar residents can take part in an array of activities and competitions – presented remotely through Katara’s social media pages in line with the state’s precautionary measures in preventing the spread of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19). Opened on June 23 and running until December, Syrian artist Hadi Qasous’ 'Patches' showcases 16 unique paintings which reflect the artist’s penchant for calligraphy and colour. In his post on Instagram, Qasous, who lives in Lebanon, thanked Qatar and officials of Katara led by its general manager, Dr Khalid bin Ibrahim al-Sulaiti, for sponsoring his third exhibition at the Cultural Village. The Syrian-born artist, a member of various art organisations, has taken part in many art exhibitions across the globe and received many awards and citations from notable institutions and cultural centres. A fascinating exhibition titled ‘Al Taybeen’ by Qatari artist Ali Dasmal al-Kuwari also kicked off in May and will be on show until December 31, displaying 17 paintings that focus on local architecture. Katara also presents Hassan Taleb Alsalat’s 'Cultures Collision', a one-of-its-kind exhibition featuring a number of works that put a spotlight on popular cartoon characters with well-known Qatari/Arab landmarks on the backdrop. Another Qatari artist, Fatima al-Nuaimi, a graduate of Art Education at Qatar University and member of Qatar Society of Fine Arts, displayed several pieces “that reflected both of unanticipated and foreseen results combined in one artwork to demonstrate the comparison” in her latest exhibition, titled 'The Result'. Besides virtual exhibitions, Katara’s Heritage collections (photography) competition is underway, which gives residents the opportunity to take part and shoot videos using their mobile phones. Each participant is allowed to submit three videos (not exceeding three minutes) on or before July 30. QR15,000 is at stake for the top prize while the second-place winner will get QR12,000 and QR10,000 for the third.

Major retail outlets race to keep up with online trend

Major hypermarkets in Qatar continue to upgrade their websites to meet the growing demand for online shopping and home delivery services amid the Covid-19 pandemic, it is learnt.  A number of stores, including retail chain Spar, have also launched online platforms, taking orders digitally from customers who opt to stay at home in the current situation. LuLu Group International regional manager Shanavas P M told Gulf Times that they have increased the slots for Standard, Express and ‘Click and Collect’ (collect from store) deliveries. “We also added more items (various brands) on our website as per customer demand,” he said, adding that they plan to further improve their services online. To entice more customers, LuLu is also giving away free items such as QBake butter bread for every grocery order. Carrefour Qatar, which has been getting some feedback from customers via online surveys, has focused on further improving its delivery services by ensuring that all items are sent on time. The company recently introduced a new feature on its website, which allows substitution for out-of-stock grocery products or brands. A minimum order of QR150 is required before checking out.  Apart from special discounts, customers also have the option to select the number of items or weight (in kilograms) they want to order, depending on their budget. Shaher Express, a one-stop-shop for fresh fruits and vegetables, groceries and other necessities, as well as apparel and electronic items, ensures that items are delivered within 24 hours.  In some cases, delivery takes only an hour or less. Retail outlets also have different delivery fees: QR15 flat for LuLu, QR10 for Carrefour (less than QR250), QR20 for Spar and QR25 for Shaher Express. The leading online food ordering platform in the Middle East, Talabat, meanwhile, continues to expand by increasing the number of partner stores and restaurants. Talabat has also introduced ‘rider chat’ and contactless delivery to ensure the safety of customers and its riders, encouraging online payment to minimise contact.  Customers can request the rider to leave the items in front of their door. Carriage has become popular among Qatar residents for delivering an array of food and dishes, as well as drinks such as karak tea, “as fast and in the best condition possible”. It has no minimum charge and customers can live-track their orders. It is learnt that many restaurants, eateries and popular fast food chains such as McDonald’s, Jollibee and Kentucky Fried Chicken, among others, also continue to improve their online and delivery platforms even as Qatari authorities are gradually lifting Covid-19 restrictions.

Doha Fire Station provides opportunity for Qatari and Qatar-based artists to develop their creative possibilities.
QM extends Artist in Residence submission

The deadline for the ‘Artist in Residence’ programme for the September 2021-June 2022 period has been extended until December 1 this year, allowing more local artists to submit their application, Qatar Museums (QM) has announced.  The nine-month residency at the Doha Fire Station provides an opportunity for Qatari and Qatar-based artists (with valid QID) to develop their creative practice and “take their passion to the next level”. The programme is open to all artistic practices, which include but not limited to visual arts (painting, drawing, sculpture, media art, installation, graphic arts, illustration, etc.), photography, film, sound art, design, and literature.  Successful applicants (who will be notified by March 2021) will work in a dedicated studio and take part in a series of workshops and activities which involve sharing of knowledge with other artists. Previous editions of the programme saw participants taking part in lectures, weekly mentoring sessions, working with curators, and meeting arts professionals from around the world. It also gave them access to all exhibitions. Artists are given the chance to showcase their works in a public exhibition at Doha Fire Station’s Garage Gallery by the end of their residency, according to QM. QM established two extensions of the Residency programme: one in Paris (Cité internationale des Arts), France and in New York (Studio 209), USA, giving local artists more exposure and helped them to further enhance their artistic talent and creativity. The renowned Cité internationale des Arts is one of the biggest and most important art residencies in the world with 325 residency studios and with artists in residence from more than 55 countries.  The three-month programme in the two cities provides talented individuals in Qatar with studio accommodation space and the chance to be fully immersed in Paris’ and New York City’s art and culture scenes. An artist in residence at the Doha Fire Station in 2018-2019, Mohamed Faraj al-Suwaidi, also an architect, animator and designer, opened his exhibition titled ‘Digital Transactions’ at the Doha Fire Station in January this year.  The show, QM said, “introduces al-Suwaidi’s exploration during his residency at International Studio & Curatorial Programme in New York in 2019.” “The exhibited works include a series of digital prints, composed of scenes captured around New York and altered using 3D software in a repetitive manner.  These scenes are digitised into virtual immersive spaces that the viewer can be part of,” QM said.

A live yoga session on Instagram on Sunday
International Yoga Day marked in Doha

The 3-2-1 Qatar Olympic and Sports Museum (QOSM) held a live virtual yoga session on Sunday (June 21) to mark the International Yoga Day, catering for Qatar Museums (QM) Culture Pass members. Themed ‘Yoga at Home at Yoga with Family’ this year, the event aims to spread public awareness about the physical, mental and spiritual benefits of practicing yoga. It is observed on June 21 annually. QM noted that this idea was first proposed by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on September 27, 2014 and debuted on June 21, 2015, describing the initiative as “an invaluable gift of India's ancient tradition.” In Qatar, 3-2-1 partnered with ‘Classtap’ to organise a live yoga routine, teaching basic poses, stretches and breathing exercises led by one of its instructors on Instagram (321qosm). The video was also posted on the same IG page for viewing. Classtap is a lifestyle company which provides users access to different fitness and yoga sessions in Qatar “at any studio online with one tap” through its mobile application. Residents can also participate in a daily yoga class while staying at home via Vishnu Swasthi Yoga’s Instagram page from 7.30pm to 8pm. “On the occasion of International Yoga Day, we would like you to revisit the yoga initiative between Qatar Museums and Qatar Foundation. As part of Qatar-India 2019 Year of Culture, an Indian yoga master class was organised at the ceremonial court,” QM said. A classtap yoga instructor leads the session to mark International Yoga Day on Sunday QM, through, highlighted the benefits of yoga: it improves flexibility, builds strength, increases muscle tone and definition, improves balance, supports joint health, prevents back pain, teaches better breathing, fosters mental calmness, reduces stress, and increases self-confidence. The 3-2-1 forms part of QM’s long-term aim of creating a strong and sustainable cultural infrastructure in the country. It occupies 19,000sqm of gallery space, which will be the largest museum of its kind in the world in terms of floor plan, exhibition area and content. 3-2-1, also a member of the Olympic Museum Network (currently unites 22 Olympic museums worldwide), aims to educate residents and visitors about the origins of global (Olympic) and Qatari sports, giving them access to hundreds of objects from around the world and interactive exhibits, in addition to unique activities.

The 'Laundromat' exhibition showcases thousands of pictures and videos
Ai Weiwei’s 'Laundromat' goes virtual to mark World Refugee Day

*QM and partners also posted online documentaries and films about the plight of Syrian refugees Qatar Museums (QM) provides an opportunity for residents and people from various countries to view digitally a unique exhibition by renowned Chinese artist Ai Weiwei as part of the World Refugee Day Saturday.  The show, titled 'Laundromat' and staged at the Doha Fire Station in 2018, was a response from QM’s invitation for the artist to bring the powerful commentary on the global refugee crisis to the Gulf region for the first time. 360-degree virtual visit of 'Laundromat' via Google Street View Ai Weiwei's 'Laundromat' on show digitally Born in Syria by Hernan Zin on Netflix Kids in Camps by award-winning online platform Real Stories A film about the struggles of a Syrian refugee family “The exhibition displays the possessions that were haphazardly left behind by the occupants of a vast makeshift camp near the village of Idomeni, on the border with the Republic of Macedonia,” QM said in its email to Culture Pass members Friday. Laundromat can be viewed through the 360-degree Google Street View, featuring 2,046 items of clothing, a wallpaper of 17,062 pictures relating to refugees and meticulously arranged shoes. Virtual visitors can move and view in details the exhibited works, including the pictures, videos and thousands of articles of clothing collected from Idomeni. QM describes the exhibition as “a traveling installation that brings the current European migrant crisis into sharp focus.” “Working in a wide range of media from architecture to social media, Ai Weiwei is renowned for elevating art practice into a call for action on major geopolitical issues impacting global communities,” QM said. Museums and galleries in Qatar have remained closed to prevent the spread of Covid-19 but are expected to open on Phase 2 of the gradual lifting of Covid-19 restrictions scheduled from July 1. The first World Refugee Day was observed in 2001 and it continued annually every June 20 “to communicate to the world the plight of different refugees, why they need protection, empathise with them and also applaud their resilience and spirit to improve their conditions.” According to the Norwegian Refugee Council, there are 29mn refugees (including 5.5mn Palestinians under the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees’ mandate) out of the more than 70mn people globally who were forced by persecution, conflict, violence and human rights violations to flee their homes. QM also features a story of a Syrian refugee family on UN Women Youtube channel (360 VR experience), showcasing the struggles faced by many displaced people. The Doha Film Institute also posted a film ‘Born in Syria’ and directed by Hernan Zin, which was presented at the Ajyal Film Festival in 2016, to mark World Refugee Day. The full film can be viewed via Netflix. A documentary titled ‘Kids in Camps’ by award-winning online platform Real Stories was also shared on social media. The film focuses on the lives of Sudanese children who have been affected by the South Sudanese Civil War. The celebration also underlined the efforts of the Qatar government in supporting a large number of refugees through the Qatar Fund for Development and Qatar Red Crescent Society. These include providing medical, food and health assistance for Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, and urgent relief ($4mn) for displaced Syrians and refugees, particularly children and women.

Hospitality sector accommodation set to increase

Room supply from properties under development in the country is expected to further increase in the coming years, according to Qatar National Tourism Council’s (QNTC) Annual Tourism Performance Report. These will include 107 projects, comprising an estimated 21,500 rooms, under various stages of development, as well as other project proposals under consideration. The total number of rooms in Qatar currently stands at 27,261 across 130 properties. Out of this, 24,562 are hotel rooms and 2,699 hotel apartments. Hotels and hotel apartments in the country witnessed high occupancy in 2019, receiving more guests compared to the previous year, the report said. QNTC noted that Qatar’s hospitality accommodation industry recorded 66% total occupancy rate across all hotels and hotel apartments last year – an increase of 9%. “Overall, the number of rooms sold (demand) in hotels and hotel apartments increased by 15% in 2019 compared to 2018. All hotel and hotel apartments witnessed increases in occupancy in 2019, except for deluxe apartments,” the report said. Both one-star and two-star hotels benefitted the most with more than 23% increase in occupancy followed by three-star hotels, up by 11%, the report added. The demand for standard hotel apartment rooms also increased by 10% while five-star hotels recorded a 9% growth. Deluxe hotel apartments saw a slight decline of 1% in occupancy. The report added that the Average Room Rate (ARR) across all segments fell slightly by 2%, particularly in standard hotel apartments (down 9%) and in four-star and five-star hotels (both down 4%) last year compared to 2018. However, QNTC noted that ARR was up across one-star and two-star hotels by 3% and 1% in deluxe hotel apartments while figures for three-star hotels remained unchanged. “Across all segments, Revenue Per Available Room (RevPAR) was up 7% in 2019. In a similar pattern to occupancy rates, RevPAR was up in all segments for 2019 compared to 2018, except for the deluxe hotel apartments segment, which showed a very minor decline (-1%),” the report said. “Most notable increases in RevPAR were witnessed in one-star and two-star hotels (up 26%), followed by three-star hotels (up 11%). Both the four-star and five-star segments saw a 5% increase in RevPAR,” the report added. QNTC saw a slight decline of 2% in the average length of stay (ALOS) across all hotels and hotel apartments last year (3.7 nights per trip) compared to the same period in 2018 (3.8 nights per trip). “However, ALOS showed increases in two segments; by 29% in three-star hotels and 7% in five-star hotels. The highest drops were seen in deluxe hotel apartments (-58%), one- and two-star hotels (-33%), as well as in 4-star hotels (-12%),” the report said. The start of 2019 saw the opening of 10 new properties, adding 1,899 new hotel rooms to the market. QNTC noted that 2019 also recorded a 6% increase in the number of rooms across Qatar’s hospitality accommodation market compared to 2018. Despite the temporary closure of two five-star hotels for renovation in the third quarter of 2019, the five-star hotel segment remains the largest, with approximately 12,900 rooms across 49 properties at the close of 2019,” the report said.

DFI Summer Youth Camp to be mentored by internationally renowned artists and filmmakers.
DFI to launch series of virtual workshops

The Doha Film Institute (DFI) is set to launch a series of virtual workshops aimed at developing the storytelling skills of young and aspiring filmmakers and enthusiasts in the country, it was announced. Such initiative forms part of DFI’s ‘Youth Summer Camp’, which consists of three classes designed for 8-17 year old participants mentored by internationally renowned artists and filmmakers. “Each of our three workshops are centred on the values of the Ajyal Film Festival and follow a close curriculum and philosophy of active learning – leading up to our ever-popular Ajyal Jury Programme later this year,” said DFI. Between June 28 and July 18, DFI will conduct the “Animated Stories Summer Camp” for beginners (aged 8-10) described as “an exciting journey from the basics of storytelling to modern animation.” This class will teach participants “how to develop an idea into a compelling narrative and produce their own short animation” through discussions, presentation of animated films and practical exercises. Animator, writer and director Fadi Syriani will serve as mentor for this workshop, scheduled from 3pm to 4pm every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. Next is the “Photography and Visual Arts Summer Camp” for aged intermediate (aged 11-13), which focuses on exploring visual storytelling and photography. “During this inspiring workshop, participants will learn all about the theoretical basis of image composition and sketching visual stories to help them gain a deeper insight into different types of cinematography,” DFI said. “Engaging in hands-on photography, each student will produce their own content for an e-book that members of the class will collectively conceptualise.” Scheduled from July 5 to July 30 between 4.30pm and 6pm, classes will take place every Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday. Mentors are Jordanian-Texan photographer Tanya Habjouqa (Noor Images) and multidisciplinary artist Bayan Dahdah. The third workshop, titled “Contribute to Your Own Film Summer Camp”, takes participants (aged 14-17) to “the exciting world of documentary filmmaking.” “This thought-provoking workshop is a well-rounded introduction to the essential tools of filmmaking. Through hands-on and enjoyable exercises participants will learn all the technical and practical techniques required to make a documentary film, starting with the basic elements of narrative development and visual storytelling - to the actual production of the story,” DFI said. “During the workshop, students will work individually on their stories and film at home to contribute to a final collective film produced by the class as a whole,” DFI added. Classes will take place every Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday from June 28 to July 30 between 10am and 12noon under the mentorship of Marcus Zaiser, who has been in filmmaking since 1998 and took part in over 100 productions during this period.

Morning prayer in the mosques of Qatar after nearly 3 months of closure
Mosques, malls and parks reopen

Malls and shopping centres, as well as public parks, started welcoming visitors Monday with all precautionary measures in place to help prevent the spread of Covid-19. A number of mosques also opened as the first phase of the gradual lifting of restrictions began Monday. The authorities concerned have put in place a number of precautionary and preventive measures in all these places to ensure everyone’s safety. These include wearing a face mask, installing and activating the Ehteraz application on the smartphone, and maintaining social distancing, among others. A view of Doha Festival City on Monday. PICTURE: Anas al-Samaraee From the Villagio mall. PICTURE: Shemeer Rasheed City Centre on Monday. PICTURE:  Jayaram The Mall. PICTURE:  Jayan Orma In line with the directives of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry and other relevant Qatari authorities, security personnel and mall staff were seen conducting routine checks and taking other necessary steps to ensure the health and safety of shoppers as well as the people working there. These include checking the body temperature of visitors as well as their Ehteraz mobile application for the 'Green' status before allowing them entry into the premises, and other safety guidelines such as wearing of face masks. Apart from conducting regular cleaning and sanitation, malls have also placed signage and marks on the floor to remind and encourage people to practise social distancing at all times. “It is good to see that mall-goers are keeping a reasonable distance from other people while they go to different stores,” said an employee of a tech shop at a major mall in Doha, adding that few shoppers came in the morning but the number started to increase by late Monday afternoon. When parks opened Monday. PICTURES: Shaji Kayamkulam, Ram Chand Hypermarkets, pharmacies, money exchange outlets and banks, among others, were also open to serve their customers while many outlets continued offering online shopping and home delivery services. The businesses allowed to resume operations and the conditions applicable to them are as follows: partial opening of some shops in commercial centres, provided the outlet’s floor space is not less than 300sq m; restaurants that deliver to home addresses or hand over orders while prohibiting customers from dining in; and shops selling sweets, ice cream, cakes, pastries, honey and dates. It is learnt that several shops continue to be closed but employees of a few boutiques were seen doing general cleanup and sanitation. “We want to make sure that our place is clean and ready in the coming days,” said another employee who was wearing a face mask as well as a face shield. Malls and shopping centres are allowed to operate from 8am-8pm on weekdays in Phase 1, but these businesses will remain closed on Fridays and Saturdays, according to a recent notification from the MoCI. The second phase of the gradual lifting of restrictions will start on July 1, the third on August 1 and the final stage on September 1. Meanwhile, public parks and open areas, such as the Souq Waqif Park, Hotel Park and the Doha Corniche, also reopened Monday, welcoming a number of visitors who spent their afternoon walking and doing other physical activities. Several stationary fitness equipment at the Souq Waqif Park were put into use as they are placed at a good distance from each other. The Ministry of Municipality and Environment (MME) also reopened a number of parks Monday. It had earlier announced that eight parks – Al Wakra Public Park, Al Khor Park, Al Qutaifiyah Park 66, Al Shamal City Park, Al Sailiya Park (Abu Nakhla), Al Dafna Park, Museum Park and Al Rayyan Park – would reopen on June 15. They will welcome the public from 4am to 9am and from 4pm to 10pm daily. The MME also announced the opening of Al Bidda Park along the Doha Corniche Monday. Aspire Zone Foundation started welcoming visitors on the walking tracks of Aspire Park from Monday, while the North and South Katara Hills promenade was also opened for walking purposes. Mosques across Qatar also reopened Monday with the Fajr prayer. These included mosques in Abal Heeran, Bin Omran, Bu Sidra, Bu Hamour, Ezgava, Al Salata Al Jadeeda, Umm Saneem, Umm Al Amad, Umm Salal Ali, Umm Salal Mohamed, Gharrafat Al Rayyan, Umm Qarn, Umm Lekhba, Al Luqta, Bane Hajer, Bu Sidra, Al Khor, Al Kheesa, Al Ruwais, Al Rayyan Al Jadeed, Al Sadd, Al Sudan, Al Shahaniyya, Al Azeeziya, Onaiza, Ain Khaled, Al Gharrafa, Madinat Khalifa South, Legataifiya, Al Mirqab, Al Meshaf, Muaither South, Al Wajba, Al Hilal, Al Wakra and Al Wukair. Phase 1 will see the restricted opening of mosques, excluding Friday prayers.

All contents of Fare Cinema can be accessed online for free
Extraordinary heritage of Italian cinema goes on display

Filmmakers and movie lovers in Qatar and around the world will have the opportunity to explore what was described as “the extraordinary heritage of Italian cinema” at the third edition of “Fare Cinema – Making Cinema” festival, the Italian embassy in Doha has announced. The week-long initiative by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation, in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the Italian Trade Agency, the National Association of Film, Audiovisual and Multimedia Industries and the Istituto Luce Cinecittà, kicked off yesterday and will run until June 21. Fare Cinema offers virtual masterclasses for free Italian ambassador Alessandro Prunas told Gulf Times that the event highlights special and original contents dedicated to the renowned Italian film director Federico Fellini and Italian actor Alberto Sordi on the 100th anniversary of their birth. “Career professionals of the film industry, especially young professionals, will be offered a chance to learn from the knowledge, experience and talent of Italian industry experts, reflecting on the connections between the past, present and future of the cinema,” he said. All contents of Fare Cinema can be accessed online for free and without any geographical restrictions until June 21 on Raiplay platform (, thanks to the partnership with the Italian National broadcasting RAI. “The billboard offers an unprecedented array of content dedicated to the Italian cinema and film industry, subtitled in English, French and Spanish, including masterclasses with film critics and journalists, lectures on careers in film, short films, and other original material,” he said. Fare Cinema will display original contents by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation: a masterclass by screenwriter, director and journalist Gianfranco Angelucci, dedicated to Federico Fellini’s films; two masterclasses by journalist and critic Gianni Canova, dedicated to Alberto Sordi and contemporary Italian film; 14 online lessons on careers in the world of film, with the biggest Italian trade associations; and a short film on Federico Fellini; La voce di Fellini (“The voice of Fellini”). Other contents include: three episodes of the series OffStage, dedicated to the career of acting and made by the Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia in Rome; three episodes of the series A scuola di cinema con RaiMovie (“At cinema school with RaiMovie”), dedicated to the career of screenwriting and made by the Associazione 100Autori; and 18 episodes of the series Fellini in Frames, a journey through the great director’s films through material from the archives of the Istituto Luce Cinecittà. Prunas stressed that the Italian embassy in Doha is always ready and eager to exchange knowledge and develop projects for sharing Italian tradition and expertise in filmmaking. “We plan to organise more masterclasses and initiatives of this kind in the future as they are great opportunities for students and young professionals to meet high-profile representatives of the Italian cinema industry and learn from their expertise,” Prunas added.