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.
Dr Othman al-Thawadi, Dr Kamilla Swart and Dr James She.
Sada Insight: AI system for sport media and events launched

               Staff Reporter An artificial intelligence (AI) technology and data system aimed at providing ultrafast AI-based sentiment analysis, search, statistics and alerts on various aspects of a mega event like the FIFA World Cup was launched yesterday at The Pearl-Qatar.  ‘Sada (meaning ‘echo’ in Arabic) Insight: AI for Sports Media and Events’ was borne out of a research project about ‘Sentiment Analysis on FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Using Artificial Intelligence and Twitter’ by Hamad Bin Khalifa University College of Science and Engineering associate professor Dr James She, Dr Kamilla Swart and their teams at HBKU. Swart initiated the 2010 FIFA World Cup Research Agenda and has been part of several research initiatives that aim to enhance knowledge of mega sporting events in the Middle East and North Africa region, and Qatar in particular. According to the organisers, this project was initially funded by the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy and CyPhy Limited, and later on collaborated with Michael Linley, Victoria University, and Qatar University’s College of Business and Economics assistant professor Dr Othman al-Thawadi. Dr She, also the project lead, said “the unique capabilities of our AI technologies and Data system – Sada, developed in this project, are the ultrafast access and continuous insights about the sentiments for different aspects of a mega sports event by analysing the growing amount and complex content of tweets. “So far, over 1mn tweets highly relevant to the World Cup event, as the first in the community, are collected and analysed. The AI system, Sada, will collect more highly-related tweets every day, and then continuously analyse and report the sentiments of the identified concepts and keywords from newly accumulated tweets containing text, emoji or even user shared images later on using advanced machine learning techniques and system technologies.” As such, media channels, reporters, organisers, and individual professionals could get a nearly real-time summary and timely ideas about wide-ranging topics and incidents perceived by the public about a sport event. Organisers noted that social media remains a key source for retrieving public sentiment, citing Twitter as one of the most popular platforms for social media. More than 400mn tweets are posted daily and more than half a billion tweets were obtained in the previous World Cup. This large dataset allows the public reaction to an event like the World Cup to be analysed, providing information on public perceptions and attitudes. This research investigates the relationship between the sentiment based on Twitter tweets and the World Cup 2022, organisers said. “These tweets are only collected with the relevant hashtags or keywords about the World Cup 2022 in Qatar. Through our AI and data-driven Sada system and the derived methodologies, we discovered the sentiments and fun facts of some features important to the sentiments about the period before the World Cup. “The result shows that people are positive about the upcoming World Cup. Other breakthroughs and powerful features of the Sada system include the intelligent analysis of social media languages, daily mobile alerts, and summarised insight of total and daily tweet amount, average sentiment, and smart information visualisation,” the organisers added. Al-Thawadi underlined the capability of the Sada system and its generated insight to assist with better management and decision-making across all phases of event bidding, planning, and implementation. “Moreover, Sada system and the produced insight has applicability across different types and sizes of special events, ranging from sport to even non-sport, mega and annual sport events. “The initial groundwork of this project was a legacy of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, and the 2022 FIFA World Cup has presented an opportunity to evolve the analysis of public sentiment using AI technologies and massive data from social media that can provide real-time insights in order to create smarter events,” he noted. Dr Swart said that for future work, the collaborative project team will investigate the public sentiments by advancing novel AI, data, and system technologies from HBKU to help discover other key aspects or even predict the golden ball winner of this World Cup. “For example, football players’ sentiment could reflect their on-field performances, and the higher the sentiment could help us to track and predict the winner. Since many tweets can involve complicated sentences, and even contain trending multimedia content like emojis, images, or even video, the involved AI technologies, system, and methodologies in Sada is envisioned to provide much more accurate and earlier insight about the public’s sentiments of any mega sports event faster than hearing your sound echo,” she said.

High demand for football-related items at shops in Souq Waqif and elsewhere. PICTURES: Thajudheen and Joey Aguilar
Football fever grips shops as demand for accessories soars

Several retailers in Doha are doing brisk business as the demand for football- and World Cup-related products – ranging from countries' flags to banners and a wide range of accessories – continues to rise sharply in the run-up to the mega event in Qatar. The FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 will be held from November 20 until December 18. While FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 official licensed merchandise is sold at select outlets and can also be ordered online via the Qatar Post e-store, a variety of other football-related products, such as flags, scarves and headgear, can be found at different stores in Doha. It is prohibited to promote the sale of items bearing the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 logo, trophy, mascot or FIFA trademark, without obtaining prior approval from FIFA. The authorities have repeatedly reminded commercial entities and the public not to sell or use such products. The sellers are also mindful of this and they ensure that they store or sell no such product that is in violation of the law. An employee of an outlet at Souq Waqif, which sells FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 official licensed products, told *Gulf Times that orders from many companies in Qatar have increased significantly in the past few days. “Many people (of different age groups) are visiting the shop daily since late October,” he said. “They are looking for jerseys, caps, footballs and small flags. Flags of different sizes are also in high demand, both from walk-in customers and bulk orders.” Jerseys, he noted, cost QR99 (fixed price) each at their store but some outlets offer other similar products for QR50 using other designs and fabrics, while prices of flags range from QR5-QR30 depending on the size. Keychains are pegged around QR30, while miniature World Cup trophies, in addition to other unique items such as fancy sunglasses, cups and water bottles, are also in demand. Another shop employee shared the same view, saying that FIFA World Cup items have provided a huge boost to their sales, leading some to temporarily keep their usual wares aside in view of the World Cup rush. “Excited football fans, whether families, groups of friends, especially those who have bought tickets for the matches, began purchasing accessories like flags and caps to show support for their teams,” he said. He expressed confidence that the trend, just like any related to any major sporting event, would continue in the coming days and throughout the tournament. Shops and boutiques at malls, shopping centres and in other locations across Qatar, apart from tourist spots, also get a fair share of the pie, receiving an influx of shoppers, it is learnt. Prices of basic football-themed t-shirts start from QR35 while caps cost between QR45-QR75. PICTURES: Thajudheen and Joey Aguilar A boutique employee said they often run out of stock of jerseys with the names of participating countries such as Brazil, Argentina, Portugal and Qatar “for some obvious reasons”. “Price is not an issue, customers don’t even ask for discounts, they simply pay and want to get hold of them,” he said. “Some would buy more than one jersey – it's mostly football fans who collect such items.”

Gulf Times
All Doha Metro carriages to be Standard Class during World Cup

* Gold and Family class to be suspended from from November 11 to December 22 Qatar Railways Company (Qatar Rail) has announced that all Doha Metro carriages will be Standard Class from November 11 to December 22 to maximise train capacity throughout the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. Qatar Rail tweeted Sunday that the Gold and Family class will be suspended during this period, when a large number of people are expected to use the Metro services. From November 11 to December 20, the Metro will run from 6am to 3am, Saturday to Thursday, and from 9am to 3am on Friday. There are 37 Doha Metro stations across the Red, Gold and Green lines. According to Qatar Rail, 110 Metro trains will be in service or on standby while 18 trams will be deployed at all seven Lusail Tram stations. Hayya Card holders will be allowed to use the Metro free of charge between November 10 and December 23. A total of 18,200 parking spaces at 13 Metro stations will be available under its Park & Ride service. Qatar Rail noted that its metrolink feeder services will serve 23 Metro stations, while the metroexpress on-demand service will be available from 6am until noon. Meanwhile, Qatar Rail gave a service update on Sunday's launch of metrolink service No M111 from the Msheireb Metro station shelter 2 to cover the Fereej Abdel Aziz area, and resumption of the M105 service from the DECC station shelter 1 to cover Al Dafna zones 60 and 61. Metrolink route M112, which uses higher capacity buses, also started operating Sunday to and from Al Doha Al Jadeda station, and comes every 12 minutes. Several other metrolink routes and services were either launched or increased their coverage in October, including M110, which extended its service to Perlita Gardens at The Pearl-Qatar. Qatar Rail has been intensifying its Metro and tram services in time for the World Cup, scheduled to take place from November 20 to December 18, ensuring a safe, environment-friendly and seamless travel experience for passengers. The Metro network played a key role in the success of eight major local, regional and international sports events since the Metro’s inception in 2019, according to Qatar Rail.

Maryam al-Jassim
World Cup live screenings at Msheireb Dowtown Doha

Msheireb Dowtown Doha’s (MDD) premium zones will offer live screenings of FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 matches, Msheireb Properties public relations and communication manager Maryam al-Jassim said. The Barahat Zone will serve as the hub for live viewing either on a giant screen or in special pods, she told media on the sidelines of a press conference announcing the World Cup activations at MDD, surrounded by famous landmarks such as Souq Waqif, the Doha Corniche, and the main metro station – Msheireb. Besides the Barahat Zone, the official pointed out that many of the hotels within the district are also expected to offer live screenings of the matches throughout the prestigious tournament. She urged football fans, residents and visitors to explore the different activation zones, including the Heritage Zone, which hosts Al Annabi Village. Located at the company house at Msheireb Museums, it will serve as the Qatar National Team’s celebration hub, in partnership with Qatar Football Association and Qatar Shell. The Heritage Zone also houses the Universo Olivetti exhibition, a gallery of graphics and architectural models that tells the story of the Italian visionary “Adriano Olivetti”; and the Frida Kahlo - The Immersive Biography, an emotional and immersive journey through the life story of one of the world’s most iconic artists. The Sikka Zone will be hosting the Intaj – Film, Television, and Theatre exhibition (from November 8) – a multimedia exhibition of Qatar’s cinema, film making and theatre movements by the Doha Film Institute; Mawater Warehouse Exhibition, a showcase of unique cars (from November 15); and Host Country Media Centre, which provides broadcast and media facilities for 2,000 journalists; among other activations. “This will be the best version of the World Cup, and we welcome all visitors to see the beautiful Msheireb Downtown Doha,” al-Jassim said. She added that football fans would also have the chance to see the ‘Forever Valentino Exhibition’ at M7 – the largest to date and its first presentation in the Middle East.

Rixos Gulf Hotel Doha consists of two towers comprising of 378 luxurious rooms and suites. PICTURE: Ram Chand.
Katara Hospitality, Rixos Hotels debut All-Inclusive concept in Qatar

*Rixos Gulf Hotel Doha is set to reimagine the 5-star experience in Qatar Rixos Gulf Hotel Doha, Qatar’s first luxury beach resort to pioneer the all-inclusive lifestyle concept, opened Tuesday in time for the welcoming of over a million football fans for the upcoming FIFA World Cup 2022. The event highlights a unique brand of hospitality that Katara Hospitality, in partnership with Accor and Rixos Hotels, is introducing to Qatar for the first time. The hotel reiterates the brand’s commitment to creating an elevated 360° experience for guests. Officials of Katara Hospitality and Rixos Hotels lead the ribbon-cutting ceremony. PICTURE: Katara Hospitality. “We are very proud to witness the re-opening of the fully restored Gulf Hotel Doha in partnership with Rixos Hotels; 50-years ago, Gulf Hotel was the country’s first five-star hotel and helped lead the hospitality industry in Qatar," Katara Hospitality’s deputy chairman and Qatari Diar CEO engineer Abdullah bin Hamad al-Attiyah said. “The main purpose of the project restoration was to celebrate the heritage of Qatar and to bring back the original iconic identity of the building. Rixos brand is firmly rooted in the generous and authentic approach to hospitality as the origins and traditions of Turkish heritage, and we are happy to welcome the Turkish hospitality to Qatar with the opening of the first Rixos Gulf Hotel Doha,” he added. The Farmhouse is an all-day dining restaurant that introduces high quality, farm-fresh ingredients, with an emphasis on authentic Turkish cuisine. PICTURE: Katara Hospitality Since its opening in 1973 as the Gulf Hotel, the building itself has become a landmark in the city and this new venture reimagines the property with luxurious offerings under the All-Inclusive concept within the Rixos brand name. Established in 2000, the fast-growing Turkish hotel brand has redefined the meaning of All-Inclusive by creating individual and meaningful experiences through an unlimited selection of premium products and services across bucket-list worthy destinations. “This iconic landmark is the ideal venue to introduce Rixos and its All-Inclusive concept to Qatar. Rixos Gulf Hotel Doha perfectly balances the striking contrast between the 1970’s architecture of one of Doha’s most recognised landmarks with all the style and functionality that is expected of a leading 21st-century luxury hotel,” Rixos’ chairman Fettah Tamince said. The new venture reimagines the property with luxurious offerings under the All-Inclusive concept within the Rixos brand name. Rixos Gulf Hotel Doha consists of two towers comprising of 378 luxurious rooms and suites. The guest rooms blend comfort with the cutting-edge technology to satisfy all guests. The hotel features the brand’s highly acclaimed signature Anjana Spa. Offering luxurious amenities for different age groups, the hotel features a vibrant entertainment programme, several dining outlets, and engaging kids’ club and state-of-the-art fitness facilities. Rixos Gulf Hotel Doha’s dining outlets include the Farmhouse, the all-day dining restaurant that introduces high quality, farm-fresh ingredients, with an emphasis on authentic Turkish cuisine; Rasa provides guests with Indian classics with a modern take; Mr Tailor, a steakhouse offering the finest meat cuts and presenting Eastern Mediterranean cuisine; Crust, the 24-hour lobby lounge featuring a bakery with desserts; and M lounge. The Exclusive Sports Club and Rixy Kids Club are among the attractions. Since its opening in 1973 as the Gulf Hotel, the building itself has become a landmark in the city. PICTURE: Katara Hospitality Katara Hospitality acting CEO Andrew Humphries said: “Today marks a key milestone for Katara Hospitality with the re-opening of the Gulf Hotel, known to be the first 5-star hotel in Doha, and reiterates the hotel’s commitment towards creating an elevated brand experience for guests.” Rixos Hotels UAE regional general manager Cenk Unverdi said: “The opening of Rixos Gulf Hotel Doha is a monumental achievement for everyone involved, and the introduction of the All-Inclusive concept in Qatar’s hospitality landscape helps reiterate the hotel’s commitment to creating an elevated brand experience for guests.” Rixos Gulf Doha Hotel general manager Sherif Kasseb said: “The Qatari market is ready for an All-Inclusive destination where guests’ only concern is to sit back and unwind while their every need is attended to. Rixos Gulf Hotel Doha is fulling this market gap and will soon become the go-to destination for business travellers and vacationers alike. We look forward to welcoming guests to our hotel.”

Press Conference. PICTURE: Thajudheen
World Cup activations at MDD offer immersive experiences

Msheireb Downtown Doha (MDD) will host an array of events and activations during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, offering unique and curated experiences, Msheireb Properties has announced. Football fans will have the chance to explore various interactive activities and shows, which cover sports, culture and arts, entertainment, wellness, hospitality, and food and beverage catering to people of different age groups. The events, organised with several partners, are aimed at engaging families and guests from all cultural backgrounds. “Msheireb Downtown Doha will be the place where visitors and football fans from around the world will meet and celebrate this global event, to reflect the impact of sports on building bridges and relations between cultures,” Msheireb Properties markMonday yesterday. Besides brand installations at the MDD, each of the three main zones will host engaging activities and exhibitions, putting a spotlight on a number of artists and athletes. The Barahat Zone will serve as the hub for viewing the matches on a huge screen or in special pods. A key event is the Forever Valentino exhibition, which pays homage to Valentino Garavani at Maison Valentino, and the largest exhibition to date in his honour in the Middle East. The Heritage Zone includes several other activations: The Al Annabi Village, located at the company house at Msheireb Museums, will be the main celebration area for the Qatar national team where visitors can cheer for them. The Mohamed bin Jassem house hosts the Universo Olivetti – Italian exhibition, a gallery of graphics and architectural models that tells the story of the Italian visionary “Adriano Olivetti” in partnership with Italian embassy in Doha. The Bin Jelmood House houses the Frida Kahlo Immersive art exhibition at its lower gallery. It is described as “an emotional and immersive journey through the life story of one of the world’s most iconic artists”, in partnership with Frida Kahlo Corporation, Cels Group and Next Exhibition. The Sikka Zone offers a “selfie-worthy spots” covering art exhibitions and cinematic works. It also features interactive zones, giving fans the opportunity to play games and relax at cafes and restaurants. Broadcast and media facilities are also available for journalists and content creators at the Sikka Zone. The activities and facilities in Zone 3 are Al Sikka International Festival, a street-long celebration of cultures; Conmebol Tree of Dreams, an immersive experience of South American football; a Media Hub for content creators; different social media and digital platforms; and Mawater Warehouse Exhibition, a showcase of unique cars. The Sikka Zone hosts the Intaj – Film, Television, and Theatre exhibition that highlights the history of cinema, film making and theatre, Quest Gaming District, art exhibition, homegrown local products market, The Hangout, and Onside Doha – which is a pop-up cinema space where visitors can watch a series of Doha Outside that showcase stories and films. The zone also features the Host Country Media Centre, which provides broadcast and media facilities for 2,000 journalists, including broadcasting stations, live games viewing stations, conference rooms and service centres. “We welcome everyone in the heart of Doha, in our sustainable and smart city, which truly reflects the essence of Qatar culture and heritage,” Msheireb Properties public relation and communication manager Maryam al-Jassim said. MDD Roads & Operation Plan * Roads Most roads will be for pedestrians at Msheireb Downtown Doha, allowing access to residents, hotels and tenants. There will be six locations for valet parking, three for regular customers and three for hotel guests. Road closure plan will be implemented from November 3 to December 31. Access routes to the hotels’ parking remain open and accessible. * Parking operations Parking will be running 24 hours. Starting on November 15, all parking will be ticketed. Some closed roads might be temporarily opened after the match finish to facilitate cars’ exit – security team personnel will manage this operation. Many ramps will stay open to get access to parking. Guidance System inside Basement 3 will be implemented to avoid closed ramps. Partners and events retailers will be given special access to their parking spaces. * Trams Tram operation hours will be flexible, subject to public concurrence and crowds. - From November 15 until December 3: Normal operation from 9am-1pm. Two trams parked in the street for activities from 1pm to midnight. - From December 4-18: Normal operation from 9am-4pm. Two trams parked in the street for activities from 4pm to midnight. The plan will run in phases as follows: Actual implementation commences on November 3. The plan is effective until December 31.

Gulf Times
The Desert Rose symphony premieres at NMoQ

The highly anticipated 'Desert Rose' symphony, composed by Syrian-American composer Malek Jandali, premiered to the world Sunday at the National Museum of Qatar (NMoQ), marking the 10-year anniversary of Qatar Museums (QM)’s Years of Culture initiative. QM Chairperson HE Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani and ambassadors of various countries that partnered with the Years of Culture since its inception in 2012 graced the symphony and anniversary celebrations. First on the list is Japan (2012) followed by the UK (2013), Brazil (2014), Turkiye (2015), China (2016), Germany (2017), Russia (2018), India (2019), France (2020), the US (2021), and the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia (Menasa) region this year. The Years of Culture programme serves as a platform for exchange and collaboration connecting cultures and continents through annual bilateral exchanges. “When Qatar won the rights to host the FIFA World Cup, we mapped out a Years of Culture plan to bring the world to Qatar and Qatar to the world,” HE Sheikha Al Mayassa said. “Ever since, we have joined with another nation each year for a far-reaching programme of bilateral cultural exchange.” “Strengthening relationships with the partner nations and fostering mutual understanding between the people of the two countries, the Years of Culture helped us show the best of ourselves, carrying us toward the goals of the Qatar National Vision,” she added. “This year, we are at last welcoming everyone to the World Cup and celebrating a Year of Culture with all the nations of the Menasa region,” HE Sheikha Al Mayassa said. “I am truly thankful for their support and grateful to the ambassadors and officials who have joined together to realise our vision.” The Desert Rose symphony witnessed the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra with Grammy-nominated guest conductor Alastair Willis performing live. The sold-out public performance of the symphony will take place Monday. While tickets are sold out, fans can listen to the symphony for free on AppleMusic and Spotify. Copies of the album are also available at all QM gift shops. Cultural Diplomacy director Aisha al-Attiya said: “The Years of Culture initiative is based on the idea that beautiful things happen when cultures connect.” “Malek Jandali was able to weave a beautiful musical tapestry with authentic Middle Eastern melodies that honour and preserves his own Syrian heritage and now the heritage of Qatar,” she added. “We are honoured by the support of all our international partners and eager to grow this powerful group for years to come, starting with Indonesia as our official Years of Culture partner country for 2023.” “Through this timely partnership with Years of Culture, I have the honour of presenting Qatar’s musical traditions on the global stage,” Jandali said. “Together, we are contributing our rich Arab heritage to the lexicon of classical music and the progression of cultural modernity. We welcome orchestras around the world to join our symphony of peace, unity, and humanity.” For his support and contribution to the preservation of cultural heritage, Jandali was named as the QM’s new honourary Composer-in-Residence. The QM noted that the symphony is the culmination of more than four years of research and exploration, during which Jandali entrenched himself in the sounds and landscapes of Qatar, to preserve and present Qatari cultural heritage and traditions on the global stage. The *Desert Rose is inspired by nature’s desert rose, which form over millennia through the interaction of minerals, sand, and water in regions such as Qatar – a land of desert and sea. This wonder of nature is also the basis for Jean Nouvel’s spectacular design of the NMoQ, a stunning structure of interlocking discs that tells the story of Qatar from the natural history of its origins through its cultural developments to the cutting-edge technologies and international allure of today. The 'Desert Rose' symphony takes its inspiration from both “desert roses”, transforming them into a consummate orchestral work that preserves and extends the rich heritage of the region. The symphony is also a reference to the flag of Qatar, with its nine-movements – each based on an iconic element of Qatari culture – evoking the nine-point serrated line on the flag. Like its inspirations, the 'Desert Rose' symphony harbours an elaborate interlocking structure. Bookmarked in A-flat major, in which key the first and last movements end, the symphony comprises three interlaced musical forms. One is a Qatari symphonic suite based on traditional folk music and dances using the principal of contrast: Movements II, III, V and VII. Second is a traditional “old-fashioned” symphony of four Movements I, IV, VI and IX. The third combines the first two “symphonies” with Movement VIII, which brings about the grandiose conclusion of the 'Desert Rose'.

The Art Mill Museum 2030 exhibition runs until March 30, 2023 at the Qatar Flour Mill. PICTURES: Shaji Kayamkulam.
Art Mill Museum 2030 showcases process of developing world’s leading museums

  The staging of the Art Mill Museum 2030 exhibition in time for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 provides an opportunity to showcase the intricate process of developing “one of the world’s leading museums of modern and contemporary art” to huge audience, according to art historian and museum director Catherine Grenier. Catherine Grenier at the press briefing. “I think it is very important to share the development of the project at this stage… it is the first time that we’re making an architecture which is not from scratch, it’s a utilisation of an existing building, a heritage building that all the Qatari people know very well,” she explained. Grenier was speaking on the sidelines of a recently held press preview of the exhibition, taking place at the Qatar Flour Mill, and will be on view until March 30, 2023. It introduces the museum’s concept; the architectural project by Elemental, led by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Alejandro Aravena; and the garden design. Artworks on display at the Art Mill Museum 2030 exhibition According to Qatar Museums (QM), the 80,000sqm Art Mill Museum will house an exceptional and international art collection assembled over the past 40 years, with multidisciplinary works of great diversity dating from 1850 to the present. Grenier noted that the grain silos of the mill play a key role in the museum design and architecture, keeping the DNA of the building, in addition to the vast galleries and other sections. The grain silos of the mill play a key role in the museum design and architecture. She said the collections will be diverse in terms of discipline, from paintings, photographs, and installations to films, film props, and cars, among others. The museum will also offer visual art icons, as well as architecture and designs, fashion, crafts, and many more. “So it is a very open conception of arts and creativity.” “The target audience is very large. The public can find in the museum something that will be relevant for those who live here, people who have so much time to stay in the museums, and those who have a completely different background. The Qatar Flour Mill remains fully operational. “They will find different offers because it is a large museum with different galleries. Next to the museum, there is a creative village, people will be allowed to create art, listen to music, (and) watch at the theatre. We want to make this a public space for the people living in Qatar and for visitors from different countries. “In a way, we are building an audience, our museum wants to address the new generation, it will open in 2030 and it must be adapted to the new generation, and this is what we are working on from now until the opening of the museum,” Grenier said. A replica of Qatar's future museum. A pioneering institution in the non-Western world, QM noted that the Art Mill Museum will represent the modern and contemporary arts of all regions of the globe on an equal basis, engaging local and international audiences alike through multiple narratives of art history. Grenier said she sees Qatar as a cultural hub in the region as it hosts several museums, in addition to the upcoming ones, especially with the opening of the Art Mill Museum in 2030. “The National Museum of Qatar is not far away (from here), the Museum of Islamic Art is just in front, so you will have a triangle of museums, this is very strong I think. It will be a hub,” she added. An exhibit showcasing the different kinds of breads in Qatar.

Bird's eye view - The Outpost Al Barari. Supplied picture
Desert delight: Outpost Al Barari hotel resort set to open soon

A one-of-its-kind hotel resort – artfully embedded in nature, in the heart of the desert – will soon open in Qatar, joining other properties that have either opened recently or are set to be inaugurated next month in time for the FIFA World Cup 2022. “The Outpost Al Barari is about combining close to nature experiences with luxurious hospitality into an iconic hotel concept,” founding partner Peter Van De Bunt told reporters at a press preview of the resort Wednesday. The resort features 21 villas, comprising the Emiri and Heritage villas that provide guests with ultimate privacy. PICTURE: Joey Aguilar The 35,000sqm property, located 66km from Hamad International Airport, offers curated experiences that celebrate the country’s rich natural environment and heritage – surrounded by soaring sand dunes and desert wilderness. The resort will receive its first guests on November 19, while the official grand opening will take place later, it was revealed. The resort features 21 villas, comprising the Emiri and Heritage villas that provide guests with ultimate privacy and uncompromising comfort, scenic views of the desert “from private terraces with infinity pools that are inspired by the turquoise sea of Qatar”. Inside a Heritage Villa. Supplied picture “The idea is always to be embedded in nature, disconnect from the city life, and just enjoy and celebrate nature… We are a resort where there is subdued music, relaxing fireplace, we’re going to have open fire barbeque here as well, there is outdoor sitting…” De Bunt said. Besides taking an immersive desert walk, inland sea safari, camel ride and fat-bike trail, guests can also explore an array of offerings: from ‘Yoga on the Dunes’ and ‘Outdoor Cinema’ to an unforgettable culinary experience such as having a romantic dinner atop the dune while overlooking “the immense desert panorama”. Peter Van De Bunt tours reporters at the property Wednesday. PICTURE: Joey Aguilar Another way to see a picturesque view of the desert and dunescape is to go up 50m above the ground via the Al Barari hot air balloon. At night, the resort’s stargazing deck allows guests to stare at the stars and other heavenly bodies while having a snack or dinner. “The beauty is you are combining that luxury hospitality in a natural setting,” De Bunt said, noting they have seen this trend – an increasing interest in such kind of experiences – over the last 15 years. “We are trying to take everything on to the next level, talked a bit about the dining concept and desert tours, it will be educational (since) we are a brand of purpose. That's the beauty about it, it's not about just hospitality, selling rooms to make money, it's about a purpose really, and that is something meaningful and I think it fits into the time as well,” he pointed out. A gastronomic journey also awaits guests with exclusive private dining services either at the resort or at scenic desert sites. The Outpost Al Barari’s food and beverage concept is a blend of Mediterranean and Qatari cuisine, he said. According to De Bunt, The Outpost Al Barari is a homegrown brand that aims to expand to different countries in the region, including Oman. “Fast is the time frame. By end of this year, we'll hopefully sign all the contracts and then we would start doing it first in Oman and then, we plan the next one because it's like a snowball effect. “It is not just beautiful, it's also a high-yielding investment because we are really targeting in terms of experiences the ultra-luxury market and so the yields are quite pretty high compared to conventional hotel investments,” he noted. “It's a concept that caters to the local market but I hope that we are beautiful enough to attract and retain international guests as well.”

Joseph Rivera and Kulinarya Qatar chairperson and PFCTFQ overall head Dahlia Agbanlog at the event.
Philippine Food, Culture and Trade Festival kicks off

The much-awaited Philippine Food, Culture, and Trade Festival Qatar (PFCTFQ) kicked off yesterday, featuring more than 30 Filipino cuisines and trade exhibitors with hundreds of patrons in attendance at the Sapphire Plaza Hotel in Doha. The two-day event puts a spotlight on the Kulinarya Food Court, Bazaar and Trade Fair exhibition, “Munting Prinsipe at Prinsesa” pageant for children, Tiktok competition, HipHop Battle Championship, Karaoke challenges, and live band competition. Officials from the Philippine embassy, as well as prominent Qatari businessmen in partnership with Filipino entrepreneurs, are expected to grace a ‘grand opening’ today from 8am. Organisers noted that today’s highlights include a grand cultural fashion parade dubbed as the "sagala" with more than 300 participants, talent competitions, cultural performances, cooking competitions, exhibitions, and other activities for families. In a press statement, PFCTFQ programme director Joseph Timothy Rivera said the attendance for the initial programmes yesterday was overwhelming and a bigger crowd turn-out was expected today. “The outcome on the first day was beyond our expectations and we are braced for a more exciting day today as we welcome more guests from various nationalities,” he said. PFCTFQ is organised by Kulinarya Qatar in collaboration with the Philippine embassy in Doha and the Filipino community headed by the Association of Filipino Realtors and Entrepreneurs in Qatar. According to the organisers, PFCTFQ serves as a precursor to upcoming community and public events planned by Kulinarya Qatar and the Philippine embassy until next year.    

Deap Qatar holds a lecture at ACS International School Doha for Grade 6 and 7 students aimed at raising environmental awareness.
Creating awareness on protecting environment in the community

Apart from its regular beach cleanup drives, the Doha Environmental Actions Project (Deap Qatar) held a series of talks and lectures this month at various schools across the country. A lecture at Birla Public School focused on the negative effects of plastic pollution and how people, especially students, can be part of the solution than contributing to this environmental menace. Fourth grade students at Qatar Academy Doha were engaged in an interaction about the global environmental crisis. Deap Qatar holds beach cleanup drives to mark World Cleanup Day this month. The presentation highlighted the key role the each individual can play to help mitigate various environmental concerns by taking action locally in the community. The group also held similar presentations at Philippine School of Doha (PSD), ACS International School Doha (for Grade 6 and 7 students), and Compass International School Doha (for Grade 7, 8 and 9 students). At PSD, Deap Qatar director Jose Saucedo said: “We learned about the global and local impact of plastic pollution, and discussed different things the students can do to help mitigate the problem in Qatar and around the world.” PSD students take part in the lecture. Deap Qatar’s beach cleanup drives were also organised this month, including at Al Zubarah beach, to mark the World Cleanup Day – held annually on September 15. The initiative, organised by the Ministry of Municipality (represented by the General Cleanliness Department), in co-operation with Deap Qatar, Qatar Museums, HSBC Bank employees, and other companies and organisations in the country, brought together 200 volunteers from different sectors and collected six tonnes of waste. Deap Qatar director Jose Saucedo with students of Birla Public School. Deap Qatar’s social media posts saw some 53 volunteers from the Filipino community, led by Bantay and Kasannga team, taking part in a cleanup activity at Fuwairit recently, removing 200kg of trash. A similar initiative at Al Thakira gathered dozens of volunteers to clean the area aimed at protecting the mangroves. Deap Qatar also launched in August its free environmental educational packs for primary and secondary schools (English and Arabic) that “contain several mini lessons that can be included in the school’s curriculum or serve as an extension for extracurricular activities such as beach and desert cleanups or eco-club educational activities”.

A moment from the activation zone at Place Vendome in Lusail Friday. PICTURES: Shaji Kayamkulam.
World Cup activations draw crowds at major malls

The Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy (SC) has set up activations at three major malls in Qatar, providing number of engaging and interactive games and activities for visitors to enjoy. The activations at Place Vendome, Mall of Qatar, and Doha Festival City, which began on September 22 and running until October 5, serve as a platform to promote the upcoming FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and what the host country has to offer as a tourism destination. The three major malls also hosted previous SC activations in August, giving football fans "a feel of the World Cup excitement.” Visitors who want to explore Qatar’s culture and heritage can explore Katara – the Cultural Village, Al Zubarah Fort, and Souq Waqif, in addition to experiencing dhow boat tours and visiting FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 cultural activations, a flyer suggests. /> For Qatar’s mega attractions, several destinations such as Al Maha Island Lusail, D’reesha Performing Arts Festival, Festival in Motion, Qatar Fashion United by CR Runway, Our Life, and Fan Village Cabin Free Zone by Al Emadi Hospitality are places to discover. Those who are looking for fun and entertainment can head to FIFA Fan Festival, The Doha Corniche, Lusail Boulevard, Arcadia Music Festival, and MDL Beast Presents – Aravia for live and “eletricying performances and events" throughout the tournament. Qatar also offers an array of curated experiences, including thrilling adventures such as sand duning, Inland Sea, mangrove kayaking, kite surfing and waters sports, among others. The activations also distribute a pocket fan guide about the stadiums; match schedule; travelling by metro and tram, taxi and bus; Qatar etiquette, Covid-19 restrictions and updates, as well as advice and services from Qatar’s Ministry of Public Health. "It feels great to be part of the activities here today, I and my family had missed the mall activations in August so I was very happy to know that they are doing it again this month and my kids really enjoyed the VR games and the 360. This is phenomenal and I hope there will be more, " said Jay from the UK. Such excitement resonated with many mallgoers and shoppers who lauded an initiative that received a positive response since its launch in August to mark the 100 days countdown to the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022. Nationals from other GCC countries, especially Saudi Arabia, also visited the activation Friday, expressing their support for Qatar's hosting of the prestigious tournament from November 20 to December 18. With just 57 days to the much-awaited mega sporting event, football fever has been spreading across the nation that is eager to welcome players and fans from around the world.

Doha Healthcare Week will also begin on September 29 with an array of activities.
Paediatric conference, healthcare week slated to begin on Sept 29

Staff Reporter The Paediatric Neuroscience Conference 2022 will bring together local and international neuroscience experts from Europe, North America, and the Middle East and North Africa region from September 29 to October 1. The virtual event puts a spotlight on the advancements in treating neurological disorders. The three-day event, organised by Sidra Medicine in partnership with the Society for Research into Hydrocephalus and Spina Bifida, will witness key speakers sharing their “insights and best practice methodologies to understand the epidemiology and mechanisms of neurological diseases, focusing on treatable neurological and neurosurgical disorders”. The programme, according to the organisers, includes a series of lectures on “recent advances in diagnostic and therapeutic interventions that have helped improve the health outcomes of children living with chronic neurological and neurosurgical diseases”. Several physicians, surgeons, nurses, and allied health professionals will be attending the conference. Organisers noted that the Paediatric Neuroscience Conference 2022 will be an Accredited Group Learning Activity (Category 1) as defined by the Ministry of Public Health’s Department of Healthcare Professions – Accreditation Section and is approved for a maximum of 13 hours. The event will also tackle the recent advances in the surgical management of treatable neurosurgical disorders in children including hydrocephalus and spina bifida, as well as the role of personalised medicine in neurological disorders in children. The Paediatric Neuroscience Conference 2022 takes place three days after the hosting of the Precision Medicine and Functional Genomics Conference 2022 where researchers, healthcare professionals, policymakers, and community members from different countries will converge from today (September 23) until September 26 at St Regis Doha. Doha Healthcare Week will also begin on September 29, giving the local community the opportunity to take part in an array of health and wellness activities for different age groups. It will conclude on October 3. A prelude to the latest edition of the World Innovation Summit for Health scheduled from October 4 to 6 in Qatar, this five-day celebration will take place in collaboration with several local partners, including the Ministry of Public Health, Primary Health Care Corporation, and international partners such as The British Medical Journal. According to the organisers, the Doha Healthcare Week urges community members to donate blood aimed at supporting Hamad Medical Corporation’s ongoing campaign, in addition to supporting breast cancer awareness initiatives and activities.

The conference provides an opportunity for participants to learn about co-ordinated efforts to develop precision medicine around the world and specifically in the Middle Eastern region.
Top experts to attend Precision Medicine and Functional Genomics conference

The Precision Medicine and Functional Genomics (PMFG) 2022 conference is all set to take place from September 23 to 26 at St Regis Doha, bringing together researchers, healthcare professionals, policymakers, and community members from different countries. “Precision Medicine takes individual variations in genetics, pharmacogenomics, proteomics, microbiome, environmental, lifestyle factors, and others into account, allowing healthcare providers to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of disease prevention, diagnosis, and treatment,” Sidra Medicine’s chief research officer Dr Khalid Fakhro said in a statement. The sixth edition of the annual event, which will be preceded by a pre-symposium Biotech Forum tomorrow (September 22) at Sidra Medicine’s hospital auditorium, aims to “explore the latest developments and innovations in biomedical research and how they translate into precision medicine solutions”. According to the organisers, the four-day in-person symposium has pre-and post-conference workshops, as well as a satellite half-day meeting focusing on two major themes: ‘How cellular, organoid, and animal models are being used to facilitate the discovery of basic disease mechanisms and potential cures;’ and ‘The development of advanced therapies to treat diseases.’ “Over the years, the PMFG series has grown significantly in topics and diversity with a wide range of speakers and a growing audience worldwide. As part of its National Vision 2030, Qatar is committed to building a knowledge-based economy in the biomedical and health sciences. “Sidra Medicine supports this goal by actively engaging clinical and scientific expertise to establish a leading model for Precision Medicine in the region,” Dr Fakhro said. He noted that the conference also aims to “discover how personalised medicine can move from vision to practice and to draft with us the roadmap for a personalised health data ecosystem”. Organisers noted that the conference provides an opportunity for participants to: Learn about co-ordinated efforts to develop precision medicine around the world and specifically in the Middle Eastern region, best practices for conducting successful precision medicine clinical trials, learn how advanced diagnostics and personalised treatments improve the quality of care for children with rare and chronic diseases (i.e. immune deficiency, hemoglobinopathy, cancer, etc), understand the value of using cell, organoid, and animals as disease models in biomedical research and learn about modelling of human tissues and diseases and how large-scale data resources, genome sequencing and novel technologies are driving precision medicine.

Qatar Museums Chairperson HE Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani graced the inauguration of four stunning art exhibitions at Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art. PICTURES: QM
Qatar's vibrant art scene is focus at four stunning exhibitions

Four stunning art exhibitions at Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, which opened to the public on September 16, put a spotlight on Qatar’s vibrant art scene, according to Mathaf director, Zeina Arida. Qatar Museums Chairperson HE Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani graced the inaugural event on Thursday. The exhibitions forms part of Qatar Creates, showcasing the works of renowned artists from across the region. “Providing a platform for artists who explore Arab perspectives and share cultural and historical connections with Qatar has always been at the heart of the vision for Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art," Arida explained. “That’s why as we celebrate the creative power and heritage of the Middle East, North Africa, South Asia region through the Qatar – MENASA (Middle East, North Africa, South Asia) Year of Culture 2022 I am so pleased to see four incredible exhibitions open at Mathaf. “From Sophia al-Maria’s incredible installations in Invisible Labors daydream therapy, to Taysir Batniji’s works of art that explore the struggle for freedom and systematic oppression, Ho Tzu Nyen’s work inspired by polarizing figures in South Asian history, and the work of alumni from @dohafirestation’s artist in residence programe in Majaz, I have no doubt they will be enjoyed by all who visit,” HE Sheikha Al Mayassa posted on her social media pages,” HE Sheikha Al Mayassa posted on her social media pages. Speaking on the sidelines of a media tour on Thursday, Arida said al-Maria’s ‘Invisible Labours daydream therapy’ and Batniji’s ‘No Condition is Permanent’ (both running until January 21, 2023) are the artists’ first monographic exhibitions in the region. She said the works of Batniji are very intimate but as well political that attempts to tell in a very poetic way, the fragility and the impossibility of returning to Palestine. “There is a very vibrant work (of Batniji) titled ‘To My Brother’ that is a tribute to his brother, who was killed during the First Intifada in 1987,” Arida noted. One Tiger or Another (open until January 21, 2023) explores history as the product of both fact and fiction, through a CGI-animation by Singaporean artist Ho Tzu Nyen (b. 1976) and artefacts relating to the legend of Tipu Sultan, the Tiger of Mysore, one of the most famous and polarising figures in South Asian history, across mediums and time. Majaz: Contemporary Art Qatar (open until February 25, 2023) marks five years of the Artist in Residence programme at the Fire Station in Doha, featuring 25 alumni and their works.    

beFitness Active Wear is a fitness clothing brand that seeks a balance between aesthetic and functionality while maintaining sustainability. PICTURE: Thajudheen
Decode marks exclusive launch of beFitness Active Wear

Locally-designed Spanish women’s sportswear label beFitness Active Wear was launched recently at Decode, the unique concept store from Fifty One East. The launch event, which marks the worldwide debut of the brand, was attended by founders Adiel Mohamed (a Qatar Chain Reaction Saturday Social Ride cyclist) and Carla Pregiguero, brand ambassadors and sports and fitness enthusiasts. According to Pregiguero, the new fitness clothing brand aims to provide women a comfortable feel either on daily use or when doing physical exercise and fitness training such as running and yoga, among other activities. “Our concept is a fitness clothing brand that looks for sustainability, in the sense that it seeks a balance between the aesthetic and the functional. Undoubtedly, this brand has pieces that, analysing the latest trends, you can (and want) to wear, not only for your training but also in your day-to-day living,” she said. beFitness Active Wear will be retailing exclusively through Decode, located on the ground floor in Lagoona Mall. From sportswear to designer denim and from vintage-inspired to modern apparel, Decode brings an array of global brands to a huge space of more than 635sqm. The launch further enhances the store’s position as the ultimate destination for international casual ready-to-wear labels. It also reinforces Fifty One East’s commitment to supporting the sports and fitness community in Qatar. With its motto "training has never been so comfortable”, beFitness Active Wear is a fitness clothing brand that seeks a balance between aesthetic and functionality while maintaining sustainability. While the brand mainly targets women; the founders said a custom-made men's line is also available upon request and it includes apparel for gyms, wellness clubs and sports teams. “In the brand’s catalogue (available on our website in Spanish and English), most of the garments are made up of a very high percentage of polyester and a very high percentage of nylon (depending on the piece) and in all of them in a lower percentage, we will find a percentage of spandex, which makes the garments long-lasting and resistant to any impact or type of position or body movement,” Pregiguero said. Matching the latest fashion trends, the brand’s collections adopt a minimalist style with monochromatic and functional looks aiming to make women feel comfortable wearing the pieces during training and also in their daily routines. “Today when it comes to physical exercise, there are many variants that influence the practice of physical activity that we carry out and its success. One of these requirements is the use of the best brands of sportswear,” Pregiguero noted. beFitness Active Wear apparel are also available for all countries in the Middle East and soon in Spain, she said.    

Sri Lankan ambassador Mohamed Mafaz Mohideen at the Explore Sri Lanka event. PICTURES: Shaji Kayamkulam
Sri Lanka keen to promote tourism

The Sri Lankan Tourism Board is geared towards a much wider effort to promote the South Asian country as a tourism destination, particularly in Qatar and the region, ambassador Mohamed Mafaz Mohideen has said. “The worst is behind us, the fuel/gas situation has been resolved, and hotels have opened up. We are ready to welcome tourists and showcase our beautiful country,” the envoy told Gulf Times on the sidelines of the recently held Explore Sri Lanka at Education City. To further attract more visitors from Qatar, he said Sri Lanka’s minister of tourism visited Doha recently, engaging with Qatar Airways to look for possibilities of collaboration between the two countries. Besides bilateral trade and investments, he underlined the importance of tourism as an equally important income-generating sector for Sri Lanka, which witnessed an increasing number of visitors in a post Covid-19 pandemic period during the early part of this year. “It was peaking, then we had a few dull months. Right now is our low season (but) despite that we had 40,000 foreigners visiting us last month… We are hoping that by November and December these numbers will pick up and we’ll be able to showcase what Sri Lanka has to offer,” Mohideen said. Emerging from a domestic crisis, he said Sri Lanka is bouncing back as one of the most popular leisure and MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Exhibitions) destinations. The envoy highlighted the importance of co-operation between Qatar and Sri Lanka in the cultural field saying it plays a key role in deepening friendly relations. He noted that the recently held cultural event, which forms part of the Qatar – MENASA (Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia) Year of Culture 2022 also provides an opportunity for Sri Lanka to showcase its rich culture and heritage in the country. “Culture goes hand in hand and once you start appreciating others’ culture, that relationship grows deeper,” Mohideen said, adding that cultural exchanges between the two countries will continue. The embassy, he said, is planning to hold a number of cultural events “to showcase our culture and heritage in all facets, it’s a multi-dimensional thing… so that people in Qatar can experience and begin to appreciate what we have to offer better.” With the Year of Culture and the upcoming FIFA World Cup 2022, Mohideen said Sri Lanka has been given the opportunity to bring traditional performers and take part in a wider celebration “which I’m sure will be an enriching experience for the people and visitors (especially those who will be coming for the first time) in Qatar.”    

QPO executive director Kurt Meister
QPO to perform outdoor concerts during World Cup

The Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra (QPO) will perform a number of outdoor concerts during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, providing fans with popular Arab and football-themed music, QPO executive director Kurt Meister has said. “There will be open-air concerts, we have many requests. Altogether, eight to 10 outdoor concerts and we will have smaller groups in the fan zones with the brass section or with the string section to welcome football guests,” he explained. Meister said that some of the locations for these upcoming QPO concerts include the Doha Corniche, Katara Amphitheatre, and Oxygen Park at Education City. He noted that many similar performances had taken place at venues like the Ceremonial Court at Education City last year. The world-renowned Orchestra presented a unique concert last month in an indoor setting, at the Katara Opera House, putting a spotlight on Qatar’s rich maritime history, as well as enhancing and preserving Gulf folk music. Led by Maestro Kamoliddin Urinbaev, the music at the event titled ‘Gulf Folk meets the Philharmonic’ was composed by QPO’s deputy executive director, Nasser Sahim, with award-winning composer Dr Amer Jaafer and Qatari singer Mansour al-Mohanadi. Apart from entertaining audiences during the 29-day tournament, Meister said that QPO also aims to bring more interesting music for people, especially football fans, to enjoy. The FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, taking place from November 20 to December 18, is set to receive a large number of foreign visitors from various countries. “We think about performing famous football (-themed) songs. Last year, we made arrangements… also the most famous football songs from different countries… such kind of music we will do. “We are also working on performing Arab-themed music, and again also we have new compositions for the QPO, it’s our target,” he added. “We will be very busy from 10am to 12 midnight (during the much-awaited tournament in Qatar).” QPO set a series of performances in the lead-up to the 2022 FIFA World Cup, including the concerts this month: Philharmonic at the Library: Music from Around the World, featuring eight members of the Orchestra to perform Schubert’s Octet in F Major scheduled at Qatar National Library on September 14; Sergei Prokofiev: Peter and the Wolf at the Hamilton International School Theatre, Mesaimeer on September 16; and Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 20. Peter and the Wolf was composed by renowned Russian musician Sergei Prokofiev in 1936 while Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 20 was “the first of six stunning pieces composed for piano and orchestra between 1785 and 1786,” and “was regarded by 19th century critics as Beethoven-like, the highest level of praise during the period- and a moody epoch to the Romantic Era”.