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.
Sri Lankan ambassador Mohamed Mafaz Mohideen and other guests, lead the cake-cutting ceremony at the Explore Sri Lanka - Qatar-MENASA Year of Culture 2022 Friday at Education City. PICTURES: Shaji Kayamkulam
Explore Sri Lanka event showcases culture, heritage

  A series of traditional performances and activities yesterday marked the Explore Sri Lanka cultural event at Education City, aimed at showcasing the South Asian country’s rich culture and heritage. The event, which forms part of Qatar-Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia (MENASA) Year of Culture 2022, showcased Sri Lankan dances and provided an opportunity for visitors to try authentic Ceylon tea and a wide range of native food and products. Sri Lankan traditional musical instruments and products on display at the event. “As you would note, culture is one of the most effective tools to bring people closer together, encourage dialogue, and deepen understanding between nations,” said Sri Lankan ambassador Mohamed Mafaz Mohideen, who led the cake-cutting ceremony at the celebration. Traditional performances take centre stage at the Explore Sri Lanka cultural event. Explore Sri Lanka was attended by Ali Hassan M R al-Emadi, second secretary of the Embassy of Qatar in Sri Lanka, Qatar-Indonesia Business Council president Farhan al-Sayed, embassy officials, members of the Sri Lankan community in Doha, and other guests. This special occasion, Mohideen said, gives residents and visitors in Qatar a great exposure to identify their rich cultural heritage and learn more about their traditions, arts and crafts, and mouth-watering traditional Sri Lankan cuisine. Sri Lankan ambassador Mohamed Mafaz Mohideen hands over a memento to Ali Hassan M R al-Emadi, second secretary of the Embassy of Qatar in Sri Lanka. The envoy also highlighted the strong and long-standing friendly relations between Qatar and Sri Lanka, saying such a vital juncture allows both their people to come together. “The people connection is a cornerstone of our bilateral relationship and we value it. In the last 18 months, we had a lot more engagement with our counterparts here, and we believe in the coming months and years, we will take this relationship to new heights. The event featured traditional Sri Lankan dance performances “The friendship which is a key ingredient in this relationship grows from strength to strength. I am confident that our bilateral ties would be further enhanced through this cultural co-operation for the benefit of both our countries,” Mohideen said. Visitors try a variety of Sri Lankan foods at the event. He lauded Qatar Museums’ Years of Culture initiative, saying the MENASA edition has given them the opportunity to display Sri Lankan culture and heritage, arts, crafts, and cuisines in Qatar. He thanked QM, Qatar Foundation, and Qatar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs for their continued support and invaluable assistance. Sri Lankan artists showcase artworks at the celebration. “This is the first time that Qatar is partnering with an entire region – MENASA,” the envoy said, noting that the Years of Culture programme – under the leadership of QM Chairperson, HE Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani – is an international cultural exchange that deepens understanding between nations and their people. Sri Lankan ambassador Mohamed Mafaz Mohideen with embassy officials, members of the Sri Lankan community in Qatar, and other guests. PICTURES: Shaji Kayamkulam

Alaraby TV's officials during a media tour at its new home at Burj Alfardan in Lusail City Wednesday. PICTURES: Thajudheen.
Alaraby TV to offer 'the best news service possible'

Qatari company Alaraby Television will provide 'the best news service possible' to its audience, featuring documentaries, investigative stories, and TV programmes, output manager Mahmoud Omar said. Alaraby TV network is moving both its channels Alaraby and Alaraby 2 to the new studios in Lusail City. The multi-platform entertainment and cultural channel, offers Arab viewers a bouquet of programmes ranging from music, art, society, comedy, drama, films and documentaries. The total headquarters area is about 6,500sq m, of which 4,500 sq m are allocated for studios and service areas. “In our editorial agenda, we have a special interest in human stories, and in matters that interact with people’s daily lives, in addition to the big stories,” he said on the sidelines of a media tour Wednesday at the new headquarters. Alaraby TV will cover the latest in politics, sociology, business, culture, and the arts, a statement said. The political news channel will follow developments, presents news, and analyse the various dimensions and implications of events, and prioritise integrity and objectivity. Alaraby TV provides accurate information in its news and political segments, fortified by a sober and in-depth reading that relies on diverse points of view, it was explained. “Our grid starts with a morning news show and ends with an analysis news show. In between everything that matters to our viewers here in the Middle East and beyond will be dealt with,” Omar said. Mahmoud Omar About its new home at Burj Alfardan in Lusail, he said: “We have the very latest in the TV industry, this is a plug-and-play facility, also a full IP (internet protocol) TV. We have the best in terms of camera robotics and editing software, including the latest in Avid for the newsroom.” Equipped with the latest in broadcast technology, Alaraby’s new studios add “fascinating visual effects to professionalism and objectivity, in pursuit of competence and excellency”. The total headquarters area is about 6,500sqm, of which 4,500sqm are allocated for studios and service areas, particularly the 360-degree technology. It is supported by smart cameras and screens, and the OLED transparent screens, marking a debut in a live news studio. This comes alongside devices that support Virtual Reality, and the latest lighting systems. Content creators at work in Alaraby TV's digital department. Omar said that Alaraby TV, which broadcasts interactive news bulletins, covers news round the clock, and features a range of talk shows, political satirical programmes, documentaries, and investigative films, has about 70 reporters around the world and plans to increase its network of reporters and correspondents. “We cover internationally but obviously we have a special interest in the Middle East and it's a first,” he said. Alaraby TV’s two-hour morning news show, Sabah Jadeed, underlines the latest events and developments, as well as presents interesting technology, economy, and social media-related content to its audience, especially Arab viewers, the statement said. Alaraby accounts on social media platforms are among the most followed, with a number exceeding 45mn on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.

Rehan Ali Syed (L), Mosaad Moustafa Eleiwa
Easing of travel policy to further boost Qatar's tourism: experts

Recent updates to the country’s Covid-19 travel and return policy will help attract more visitors in the lead-up to the 2022 FIFA World Cup, further boosting Qatar’s tourism sector, industry experts have said. “This is a very timely move by the authorities to tell the world that Qatar has taken the utmost precautions to ensure the virus is kept under control. Opening up the country is extremely important as we are just two months away from the historic 2022 FIFA World Cup,” Tawfeeq Travel Group CEO Rehan Ali Syed told Gulf Times. With several pre-FIFA activities lined up in the remaining weeks before the prestigious event, he said the number of visitors, along with friends and families, who want to explore the country before watching the games is expected to rise. Syed noted that some people from ‘Red-listed’ countries resisted coming earlier due to quarantine protocols but are now welcome to be part of the celebrations. He lauded the efforts of the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) for its consistent monitoring and working round the clock to ensure the safety of citizens and residents, as well as visitors, from any health hazards. Part of MoPH’s policy updates, which took into effect on September 4, includes removing the list of countries subject to Covid-19 ‘Red Health Measures’ and quarantine requirements for all travellers arriving from abroad. However, people who test positive for Covid-19 are required to undergo isolation and quarantine based on the procedures followed in Qatar. Outing Qatar founder and managing director Mosaad Moustafa Eleiwa shared a similar view, saying that the latest MoPH policy updates will help entice many visitors to come to Qatar this year and beyond, positively impacting local tourism and other sectors. With the ease of implementation of such measures, he said Outing Qatar and its partners are planning to provide a unique VIP experience to guests, especially those from neighbouring GCC countries. “We are experiencing a significant increase in our bookings compared to the previous months. Further, our helicopter tours are almost fully booked until the end of September,” he said. The company offers curated and luxury experiences (sea, sky and land) to discover Qatar’s beauty through car rentals, yacht charters, dunes adventures and helicopter tours. According to Eleiwa, the number of stopover tourists who plan to experience authentic Qatari and Arab hospitality, in addition to visiting museums, cultural centres and stadiums, is also expected to increase with the new MoPH policy updates. “Globally, all the current indicators show that we are moving from what is called the new normal to our normal life since the end of 2019. Leisure and business travel are almost back,” he said. While countries have been lifting travel restrictions and tourism is slowly restarting in many parts of the world, Eleiwa underlined the importance of co-ordinated health protocols that protect travellers, workers and communities.

Indonesian ambassador Ridwan Hassan with Qatar-Indonesia Business Council Farhan al-Sayed at the recently held Indonesian Cultural Day. PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam
Resort being developed by Qatar in Indonesia 'to be ready by 2024'

A new resort being developed by Qatar will rise in 2024 in Labuan Bajo, Flores island in the Nusa Tenggara region of east Indonesia, Indonesian ambassador Ridwan Hassan said. Speaking to reporters recently, the envoy said the Qatari side and one of the Indonesian companies promoting the local tourism industry are working closely, especially in building the facilities. “Hopefully, if everything goes on well, by 2024 it (the resort) will be operational… For this reason, the Indonesian government introduced a new policy. We call it 'New 10 Balis destination', so we copy Bali as the basis and then we develop it into other islands with some modifications. “Then, among them is the island of Lombok, the Mandalika area, and next to that island, we have the island of Flores, which is close to the Komodo island and one of the areas we call Labuan Bajo, so this new hotel will be in that area,” Hassan said, adding that this area is a gateway to many exotic destinations in the eastern part of Indonesia. According to Indonesia’s ministry of investments, the '10 New Balis' project consists of 10 destinations in Indonesia that are assigned to be 'the next Bali' – projected to attract a large number of visitors. The '10 New Balis' includes Borobudur Temple (Central Java), Belitung (Sumatra), Mount Bromo (East Java), Labuan Bajo (East Nusa Tenggara), Lake Toba (North Sumatra), Thousand Islands (Jakarta), Mandalika (West Nusa Tenggara), Wakatobi (Southeast Sulawesi), Tanjung Lesung (Banten), and Morotai (North Maluku), the ministry said, noting that each of these destinations has its unique features and scenery “that even Bali cannot provide”. Visitors can explore several exciting places surrounding the Nusa Tenggara such as the Batu Cermin Cave, Rangko Cave, and Cunca Wulang Canyon Waterfalls, among others. “Indonesia is very famous for tourism especially if you are talking about the island of Bali. But Indonesia consist of thousands of islands and if you are just focusing on Bali it is not enough because Bali is not really big enough to accommodate all the foreign tourists coming to Indonesia,” the envoy said. While Qatar has invested in Indonesia’s telecommunications (Ooredoo) and banking sectors (QNB), among others, he noted that tourism has become one of the most interesting sectors to be developed lately. Hassan said the resort being developed by Qatar in the Labuan Bajo area is one-of-its-kind. He expressed optimism that “there could be some other things coming up”. The envoy also underlined the strong relations between Qatar and Indonesia, saying that His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani visited Indonesia twice - in 2017 and 2019, further cementing the close and deepening ties between the two countries. The envoy added that Indonesia is continuously witnessing an increasing number of visitors from the Middle East, including Qatar, both citizens and other nationalities. “As you may know, Qatar is a hub and Qatar Airways is already flying to Indonesia, now to Jakarta thrice daily and it is always fully booked; and to Bali so far one flight daily and maybe it will return to twice a day,” he said.    

The Lusail Marina Food Arena offers a picturesque view of uniquely-designed buildings. PICTURE: Thajudheen
Drive, eat and drink: Lusail Marina Food Arena a leisure hotspot

The Lusail Marina Food Arena has continued to attract a large number of customers even during the hot summer months, providing a variety of food offerings via dine-in and drive-thru options at a scenic location. A unique way to experience dining, this concept has enticed many residents and visitors in Qatar to explore an array of local and international cuisines at their convenience. The number of visitors is expected to further increase as the weather improves, making it one of the many touristic hotspots in Lusail City. “Normally during the weekend, this place is packed but customers also keep coming in even during the weekdays. We hope to receive more in the weeks ahead, and especially during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022,” said a staff member at a café, which offers a variety of drinks and specialty coffee. She added that the growing popularity of the recently launched e-rickshaws (three-wheelers) in Lusail also helps bring mall-goers from Place Vendome to visit and try a wide range of food and beverage selections in the Food Arena. These environment-friendly vehicles in Lusail transport people between Place Vendome, Lusail Marina Food Arena and Katara Towers from 7pm to 3am. A 15-20 minute ride costs QR60, and each vehicle can seat up to four people, including the driver. The Food Arena hosts more than 65 food and beverage outlets, which offer different food and beverage choices: from burgers, pizzas, sandwiches and 'karak' to noodles, pastries, pancakes and healthy options such as salads, smoothies and fresh juices, among others. Dining and hanging out in the Food Arena have become a habit for many visitors, especially those who frequent Lusail Marina for a late afternoon or evening walk or jog. “It’s accessible, there are plenty of parking spaces and a lot of food choices, either a full meal or just a light snack with family or friends. Sometimes I use the drive-thru option but on several occasions, I have my dinner here before going home,” said a Filipino expatriate, adding that Lusail City has emerged as a popular tourism destination in the country. Apart from the numerous coffee shops, juice stalls, street eateries and restaurants, the Lusail Marina Food Arena also offers visitors a picturesque view of the Katara Towers, the promenade, Place Vendome, and the uniquely-designed buildings that surround the place.    

mbassador Ridwan Hassan hands over a memento to Aysha al-Mudahka at the event.
Indonesian Cultural Day celebrated in Qatar

An array of traditional performances, activations, and live demonstrations marked the Indonesian Cultural Day at Education City’s Multaqa Plaza on Thursday. The event, which also forms part of the 77th Independence Day celebration of Indonesia, was organised by the Embassy of Indonesia in Doha with the support of Qatar Foundation and the Association of Indonesian Communities in Qatar (Permiqa). The celebration started with a Tumpeng cutting – led by Indonesian ambassador Ridwan Hassan. A popular Indonesian cone-shaped rice dish, Tumpeng symbolises the gratitude of the Indonesian people for the blessing of independence. A series of cultural dances took the centre stage such as Legong Condong, Gemufamire (East Nusa Tenggara Sajojo), Pendet, Si Patokaan, and Kebyar Merah Putih, in addition to traditional musical presentations such as Angklung demonstrations and saxophone performances by cultural groups such as Puspa Qinarya, Indonesian Ladies Angklung and Sanggar Seni Messaied. Visitors had the opportunity to explore a wide range of traditional Indonesian cakes and snacks such as Kue Jagung (steamed sweet corn coconut layer cake), Dadar Gulung (coconut pancake), Onde-onde (fried sesame balls), Pempek (fried fish cake), and Kue Angku (glutinous rice steam cake), among others. Speaking at the event, Ambassador Hassan highlighted the strong and deep-rooted relations between Qatar and Indonesia not only in the area of politics and economy but also in social and cultural fields, including people-to-people contacts. The envoy underlined the importance of co-operation in the cultural field to enhance bilateral ties between the two countries, saying: “We perceived cultural diplomacy as an important part of our mission. Building trust and understanding among nations could be started through cultural diplomacy.” Apart from dance and musical performances, the event also featured coffee demonstrations, traditional games, and the uniqueness of Indonesian batik weaving. Batik is traditional Indonesian clothing painted with night candle liquid using a tool called “canting”. In 2009, Batik was acknowledged as one of the Masterpieces of Intangible Cultural Heritages by Unesco. Special guests at the Indonesian Cultural Day included Aysha al-Mudahka, director of Strategic Initiatives and Partnerships, Qatar Foundation (QF); Faycal Haman Adama, directorate of Cultural Diplomacy, Qatar Museum; Alexandru Rosca from QF’s Communications Office; and Farhan al-Sayed, chairman of Qatar – Indonesia Business Council. Representatives from various embassies attended the event, including Wipawan Khanthahiran (Thailand), Daphne Sohan (Singapore), Fazlinda Fuudzil (Malaysia), Farhanah Suhaili (Brunei Darussalam), and Tran Phuong Thao (Vietnam); as well as the members of the Asean Committee in Doha Working Group.    

Tawfeeq Travel Group CEO Rehan Ali Syed
Visitors can expect curated Arab experience during World Cup '22

Visitors of the upcoming FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar can expect memorable and curated traditional Arab experiences throughout their stay, an industry expert has said. “Since we are managing a large number of group arrivals into Qatar, we are ensuring that we are adequately staffed and have various services for the visitors,” Tawfeeq Travel Group CEO Rehan Ali Syed told 'Gulf Times'. He said the industry is well-equipped and prepared to provide an array of offerings for World Cup visitors during the tournament and beyond. The much-awaited event is set to take place from November 20 to December 18, and the country will be hosting 1.5mn visitors. Excitement has been building up across Qatar starting from the 100 days countdown last month, and football fans can expect more than 90 special events – from music festivals, cultural displays, and street performances – on the sidelines of this prestigious international football competition. “We are working hard to get the ground transportation in line to extend to our customers so that they can seamlessly enjoy the game and the other post-game activities. We plan to brand some of our retail outlets close to the stadium with a football theme especially the new one opening in Lusail Promenade,” Syed said, adding that their new camp at Sealine will be ready to host guests and give them a traditional Arab experience. He lauded the programmes of Qatar Tourism, saying it has always taken initiative to ensure that customers are provided with the best quality services. According to Syed, the programme will extend free tour guides to local residents, assisting and answering all the queries of the clients. “With the ‘Qatar Specialist’ online programme, it will encourage more people to enroll and be part of this historic event." “We are extremely busy with many people coming to Qatar as a pre-event visit in order to finalise their trip and stay in Qatar during the World Cup," he added.    

One of the rickshaws in operation in Lusail on Sunday evening.
E-Rickshaws offer trendy, environment-friendly transport option in Lusail

Trendy rickshaws (three-wheelers) have become the latest popular mode of transportation in Lusail City, ferrying people between Place Vendome, Lusail Marina Food Arena and Katara Towers. An employee told the Gulf Times that at least five electric rickshaws have been operating since July between the three destinations and are usually stationed at the I Love Lusail statue, the Food Arena and Place Vendome. Operating from 7pm to 3am daily, he said the demand for rickshaw rides continues to rise, especially during the weekend, when families and children like to roam around the area. The environment-friendly e-rickshaws, which can also be operated manually by pedalling, run at speeds between 15kmph and 23kmph. They provide an opportunity for visitors to explore the three popular sites conveniently. A 15-20 minute ride costs QR60, it was learnt. Each rickshaw can seat up to four people, including the driver. "We try not to be go fast for the safety of everyone as there are also a lot people along the way, and we want them to enjoy the ride," said a driver. At least two rickshaws stay at Place Vendome station, another two at the Food Arena, and one at the I Love Lusail 'station' - they can also be used for any emergencies. With a six-hour charge, a rickshaw can run for at least seven hours, but "most of the time," the driver said, " we only charge it for an hour or two because we have too many customers." Passengers, the driver noted, have been enjoying the rides, which also allow them to relax, listen to Qatari music and take pictures of the beautiful scenery. Some visitors hope that the number of environment-friendly vehicles like rickshaws will increase in Qatar particularly, in the run-up to the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, providing a convenient service to more people who want to visit places and boosting the country's tourism, food & beverage, and retail sectors. The demand for such modes of transportation is expected to further increase during the colder months, attracting local and international visitors. An employee of a food outlet at the Lusail Marina Food Arena said they saw that many of their customers took a rickshaw ride from Place Vendome. "With these rickshaws, we expect the number of customers to increase more in the coming weeks once the temperatures start to go down. We have seen that a lot of people love to roam around in these vehicles, which we really find very attractive," she added. A 15-20 minute ride costs QR60, it was learnt. Each rickshaw can seat up to four people, including the driver. With Lusail emerging as a tourism hotspot in Qatar with various attractions, this new mode of transportation is expected to draw more crowds in the coming days - giving people one more reason to visit the place.    

Designs by seven local designers are highlighted at an exhibition at M7.
M7 fashion exhibitions inspire connoisseurs, enthusiasts

An array of collections from three exhibitions at M7 provides fashion connoisseurs and enthusiasts in Qatar an opportunity to draw inspiration, igniting creativity, further collaboration, and environmental awareness. The Across Borders: Textile Heritage pop-up exhibition, designed by Lauren Michelle Morell, along with weaving collaborator Sarah Hannibal, puts a spotlight on Qatari Bedouin and indigenous American textile traditions through cross-cultural garments, raising awareness of the environmental impacts of fast fashion. This exhibition features “a collection of 10 innovative, upcycled garments” such as pillow covers, scraps, and curtains, among other materials that “draw from the classic Qatari Al-Sadu weaving and the indigenous American weaving patters”. “The works feature bold, geometric designs and acknowledge the natural creation processes with local available resources,” the organisers said. “In contrast to modern fashion production, the garments embody traditional environmentally friendly textiles while promoting the legacy of these zero-waste processes.” “The series invites the viewer to trace the traditions of Qatar and the Americas and reflect on sustainable sourcing and application of textile and fabrics,” the organisers added. “The exhibition focuses on heritage preservation, sustainability, and diversity, achieving the ethos of cultures in harmony.” The exhibition, sponsored by the US embassy in Qatar and the US State Department, marks the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Qatar and the US. It will conclude on August 30. The second edition of Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams exhibition, which runs until August 31 at M7, highlights the works of seven local designers: Mashael al-Naimi, Mona Saad, Alia al-Obaidly, Nada al-Sulaiti, Maryam al-Majid, Laila al-Ansari, and Haitham Sharrouf. The organisers noted that following the success of the first edition, the participating designers from Qatar “were tasked to reimagine luxury and aesthetics in the lens of a local contemporary designer”. Some of the collections include al-Sulaiti’s designs, such as accessories – from belts and scarfs to brooches and sunglasses – aimed at preserving Qatari heritage while reflecting “the taste of the modern woman”. Al-Obaidly’s design, meanwhile, showcases “a romantic bridal gown that tells the story of pearl diving, one of Qatar’s most treasured traditions”, while al-Majid’s jewellery design reflects her diverse background and mix of two rich cultures: Qatar and India. M7, in collaboration with Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts in Qatar, also showcases Najla al-Eida’s collection at the lobby. “I feel like my collection screams ‘This is me, and these are my thoughts,” the 2022 Bachelor of Fine Art in Fashion Design graduate said. “My collection Confessions of a Local, offers a platform for expression under the uniform of the thobe and the abaya. I used the essence of my culture to create an altered khaleeji anti-form.”    

Doha Environmental Actions Project (Deap Qatar) has launched its free environmental educational packs for primary (elementary) and secondary schools, which forms part of its efforts to raise environmental awareness in Qatar and the rest of the Gulf region.
Deap Qatar launches free environmental educational packs

Doha Environmental Actions Project (Deap Qatar) has launched its free environmental educational packs for primary (elementary) and secondary schools, which forms part of its efforts to raise environmental awareness in Qatar and the rest of the Gulf region. “If you are a school teacher or someone leading an eco-club, these materials are for you. They contain several mini lessons that can be included in your school’s curriculum or serve as an extension for extracurricular activities such as beach and desert cleanups or eco-club educational activities,” Deap Qatar posted on its social media pages. Deap Qatar noted that the publications, in English and Arabic, are specially tailored for Qatar’s natural landscape and ecosystem. The group thanked the UK’s Centre for Environment Fisheries and Aquaculture Science for helping them develop the materials. Deap Qatar, in collaboration with the authorities and organisations concerned, has been holding beach clean-up drives year-round across the country, bringing together volunteers from various sectors to #keepqatarclean. Despite the many challenges such as the Covid-19 restrictions, Deap Qatar has organised a total of 100 clean-up drives in a year. Thousands of volunteers from different companies, schools, embassies, government, and non-government entities have taken part in these initiatives. Just recently, the group collaborated with members of the Philippine Professional Organisation Qatar and the Philippine Institute of Environmental Planners Qatar Chapter for a cleanup drive, which gathered 70 volunteers who collected 200kg of trash.    

More unique, picturesque locations in Qatar have been added to the Explorest app since its Middle East debut in June, helping residents and visitors to explore with ease while enjoying the beauty of the country.
Photogenic locations in and around Qatar

More unique, picturesque locations in Qatar have been added to the Explorest app since its Middle East debut in June, helping residents and visitors to explore with ease while enjoying the beauty of the country. Many of the best spots come from Souq Waqif, such as its market stall, featuring a wide range of colourful lighting, souvenirs, and other glowing items; pottery; the Abdullah Bin Zaid Al Mahmoud Islamic Cultural Centre, where handmade pottery by artisans are on display; and the tapestry and rug market. The app also highlights the country’s captivating indoor locations such as the Qatar National Library bookshelves and book room (view from above), Mondrian Doha Hotel’s spiral staircase, Villaggio Mall’s Gondola canal, Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art’s shattered glass floor exhibit, and the Museum of Islamic Art’s glass window view of the Doha skyline. Qatar’s stunning outdoor sites feature breathtaking architecture and natural wonders, in addition to eye-catching art installations, which have been attracting many visitors even during the summer season. Some of the scenic spots pictured in the app include the Katara Towers, serving “as a symbolic representation of Qatar’s national seal with an ode to the traditional scimitar swords”; Zekreet’s rock formation, renowned for its geological splendour such as mushroom-like hills and magnificent view; the radiant colours of Box Park’s containers at the old Doha Port; and Lenny’s Lagoon at Desert Falls Water and Adventure Park. The other spots presented by Explorest include the Heenat Salma farm, illuminated archway in Al Rayyan, weaved concrete wall near Msheireb Mosque, Qanat Quartier’s colourful buildings, Hilton Salwa Beach Resort and Villa’s view of the lighthouse, and Al-Attiya sand dune in Al Wakra. BOX: The Qatar debut of Explorest follows the success of its launch in some of the world’s most photographed cities such as Los Angeles, New York, London, Paris, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Shanghai. Explorest has more than 250,000 users, with over 150 Explorests who have built out more than 2,000 Location Insights across these destinations.    

u2018Abstraction: Subverting Realityu2019 at Gallery 4 showcases more than 25 art pieces of 11 multidisciplinary contemporary artists.
Doha Fire Station fosters creative exchange

Qatar Museums (QM) chairperson HE Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani has put a spotlight on the Doha Fire Station’s key role in fostering creative exchange, as well as showcasing the works of local artists. “Since it opened in 2014, the Doha Fire Station has been an incredible hub for creativity, and I am always so proud to see the diverse and inspiring works made by our talented artists in residence," HE Sheikha Al Mayassa posted on Facebook. “This year is no exception, and the two exhibitions currently on display in our galleries, Abstraction: Subverting Reality, and Beyond the Rules showcase the very best in local creative talent. I encourage you to visit and enjoy before it closes on September 24,” she said. The two unique exhibitions at the Fire Station feature the works of a group of established and emerging Doha-based artists. Gallery 3 hosts 'Abeer Al-Tamimi: Beyond the Rules ’, a solo exhibition by the artist that focuses on her interest in human interaction and behaviour while ‘Abstraction: Subverting Reality’ at Gallery 4 showcases more than 25 art pieces of 11 multidisciplinary contemporary artists. These include Noor Abuissa, Amna al-Baker, Shaikha al-Hardan, May al-Mannai, Hassan al-Mulla, Ebtisam al-Saffar, Ryan Browning, Sarah Jayyousi, Jesse Payne, Michael Perrone, and Twiggy Shmeissany. The Fire Station announced it will be holding a Youth Summer Programme – a workshop on Fabric Patterning and Design with Paula Bouffard – scheduled from August 28 to September 1 at its Education Studio. Participants will learn “how to print on fabric using different techniques, explore several surface design basics, carve printing blocks, and experiment with simple shapes and colours,” in the final week of the programme, according to the Fire Station.    

ACD chair Shamzari Shaharan and ambassador Ibrahim Yousif Abdullah Fakhro, along with Asean ambassadors, led the cake-cutting ceremony on Tuesday to mark the 55th Asean Day in Qatar, held at Holiday Villa Hotel & Residence Doha. PICTURE: Shameer Rasheed
55th Asean Day celebrated in Doha

The Association of South East Asian Nations (Asean) Committee in Doha (ACD) marked the 55th anniversary of the union’s establishment in the country on Tuesday, underlining the strong relations between Qatar and Asean. “Although Qatar’s political and socio-cultural relations with Asean as a group is still nascent, its trade with Asean has been robust, and averages at around $10bn annually, with Singapore and Thailand among Qatar’s top trading partners,” Malaysian ambassador and ACD chair Shamzari Shaharan said at an event. The celebration was attended by ambassador Ibrahim Yousif Abdullah Fakhro, chief of protocol, Qatar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA); Yusof bin Sultan Yousef Laram, director of the Asian Department; Ali bin Khalfan al-Mansouri, director of International Organisation Department; Dr Hanouf Abdulrahman al-Thani; assistant director of International Organisation Department; ambassadors of the Asean member states in Doha; and members of the Working Group of ACD. “I believe that despite global economic challenges and geopolitical uncertainty, there is prospective economic co-operation to be explored between Asean and Qatar, especially pertaining to enhancing the supply chains that were disrupted due to the Covid-19,” Shaharan said. He added that digital infrastructure, industrial automation, robotics, energy, Islamic finance, tourism, digital manufacturing, and halal industry are some of the many potential areas to be developed for trade and investment between Qatar and Asean. The envoy said Asean’s 670mn population market - the third-largest after China and India with a total combined GDP of more than $3tn - may provide an array of opportunities for Qatar, “as Asean would be on track to become the fourth largest economy in the world by 2030”. Asean, in line with the celebration’s theme ‘Stronger Together’ this year, looks forward to a more substantive and meaningful engagement with Qatar’s MoFA and the Qatar government to explore practical co-operation under the three pillars: political security, economic and socio-cultural, Shaharan said. According to the ACD chair, the occasion also marks Qatar’s successful accession to the Treaty of Amity and Co-operation in Southeast Asia, which took place on the sideline of the 55th Asean Ministerial Meeting in Phnom Penh on August 3, signed by Qatar’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs HE Sheikh Mohamed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani. “The signing of the treaty marked an important milestone for Asean – Qatar relations and reflects Qatar’s commitment to Asean in the coming years. The recent visit by HE Sheikh Mohamed to Asean is seen as a positive development in this aspect too,” he added.    

Mexican MoFA official Alfonso Zegbe at Katara on Monday. PICTURE: Joey Aguilar
Mexican centre to be opened at Katara for World Cup

A Mexican centre in Qatar will serve as an extension of the embassy, providing information and consular assistance, among other services, to Mexican football fans during the FIFA World Cup 2022 in the country, Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) Strategy and Public Diplomacy Unit executive director Alfonso Zegbe has said. “Thanks to the excellent relations between Mexico and Qatar, we will be operating a Mexican Centre at Katara - Cultural Village, from November 15 to December 21, due to the large number of Mexican fans expected in Qatar for the World Cup, ” he told Gulf Times on the sidelines of his visit to Qatar on Monday. It is estimated that the number of Mexican football fans who will be travelling to Qatar could exceed 80,000, which will be the largest presence of Mexicans in a Middle Eastern country in history. Such strategy consists of two stages: a preventive campaign before the trip and the opening of the centre in Qatar with a multidisciplinary team drawn from MoFA, the National Guard, and other federal agencies. Zegbe, who is also the co-ordinator general of Mexico’s Strategy for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, said the Government of Mexico has been delivering messages to Mexican fans through social media platforms. He added that Minister of Foreign Affairs Marcelo Ebrard also announced preventive measures on “what you can do, what you cannot do, but also how important it is to learn about the cultural context in Qatar.” “We want people to be well informed and prepared but also what requirements they need to come to Qatar such as about the Hayya card, their medical coverage, hotel bookings, and the Ehteraz app, among others. “What the Mexican government is doing through the MoFA is informing people that there’s a travel guide where we update all the information about Qatar and other countries for Mexicans, what they need, what's happening there… and there is also a system for Mexicans to register when they go abroad for protection measures,” Zegbe said, adding that a web platform called “My Consulate” can be used in seeking for assistance. He noted that the Mexican football team will be arriving two to three days before the start of the tournament, and will be playing on November 21 against Poland; November 26 against Argentina; and November 30 against Saudi Arabia. About how special is the tournament for Mexico and its people, Zegbe said the World Cup in Qatar is important as it already broke prejudices, organising it for the first time in the Middle East – in a country of Arab culture and Islamic tradition. “The legacy of Qatar is very important for us, it’s a learning process, we are learning a lot because it’s a different world from where when Mexico was organising the World Cup in 1970 and 1986,” he said, highlighting the importance of keeping people safe during the tournament. Zegbe noted that it will be the first time a country like Mexico to host three World Cups: 1970, 1986 and in 2026 (together with the US and Canada). “It’s historical because Mexico will be by then the only country to organise a World Cup three times. Also, historically, this will be the first time that three countries together will organise the tournament and this will show how we work together as North American countries not just for trade and value chains and also for tourism and international events. That's part of the North American spirit,” he added. Zegbe, who has been visiting Qatar for the last five years, lauded the country’s World Cup preparations, saying he was impressed by the transportation system, infrastructure and new buildings, and stadiums.    

Prof Khalid bin Ibrahim al-Sulaiti, along with Claudio Cravero, Dr Salah Khaled, and a number of ambassadors, touring the exhibition.
‘Coffee for Two - Cultures in Dialogue’ exhibition opens

A unique exhibition, titled ‘Coffee for Two – Cultures in Dialogue’, opened Sunday at Katara – the Cultural Village, featuring a selection of around 50 artefacts that put a spotlight on the beverage as a universal language and symbol of generosity.  Evolution of coffee •    The exhibition underlines the evolution of coffee over time and its modern adaptation. •    Archival photos from FBQ Museum’s collection, compared with contemporary snapshots of coffee-to-go consumption, show how knowledge and traditions constantly merge to create a culture of social interaction and exchange. Katara general manager Prof Khalid bin Ibrahim al-Sulaiti, Unesco Gulf States and Yemen Office director Salah Khaled, and Sheikh Faisal Bin Qassim Al Thani (FBQ) Museum director Claudio Cravero led the opening, which was attended by a number of ambassadors from various embassies in Doha. “The exhibition is a multicultural project that wants to unite people in their diversity and shed light on what exactly unites us. Coffee for sure is the natural consequence or revolution of that exhibition because as we said before, coffee is a universal language, we sit down over a cup of coffee, we invite people over a cup of coffee,” Cravero said. He said the show is the continuation of a long-term project that Sheikh Faisal bin Qassim al-Thani started in 2018 dubbed “The Majlis – Cultures in Dialogue”. It was launched in France and has toured various European capitals, including Paris, Vienna, and Valletta, among others. (From right) Claudio Cravero, Prof Khalid bin Ibrahim al-Sulaiti, and Dr Salah Khaled, along with ambassadors from different embassies in Doha at the event. The exhibition ended in Madrid during the Covid-19 pandemic, and it resumed at Alhambra in Granada, according to Cravero. The collection on display, which includes photos, videos, and quiz games such as coffee pots, coffee thermos (1940), 20th-century glass mixer bottle, Arabic coffee fryer, and sieve, among others, “explore the cultural practices related to the home-roasted Arabic coffee (Qahwa) and the functions it performs for the communities.” A number of artefacts on display at the ‘Coffee for Two - Cultures in Dialogue’ exhibition. Cravero thanked Katara for hosting the exhibition (running until September 21 at Hall 47), saying there is no better place to open this show related to Qatari culture than in such a place (Katara), and Unesco for providing cultural support and patronage. Speaking at the event, Dr Khaled said the “Arabic coffee, a symbol of generosity” was inscribed on the Unesco Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2015, based on the nomination submitted by United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Oman, and Qatar. PICTURES: Shaji Kayamkulam He noted that the element of Qawah was inscribed in 2015 together with the Majlis, while the third element that is of Qatar – falconry – was inscribed a year later. “We have three elements here. In Unesco, we are working hand in hand with the different authorities, with different institutions to popularise this heritage, to make it known. Qawah in particular is an international language, it doesn’t stop here. “You can see, this is a majlis, we are all gathered around Qahwa to discuss, to exchange for intercultural dialogue, inter-religious dialogue, for social cohesion and this is the most important of it. Being an element of the intangible cultural heritage of humanity not only here in Qatar or the region. It has become an intangible cultural element of the entire humanity. “It is important to have these kinds of elements that facilitate or catalyse dialogue especially with the current challenges that the world is facing,” Dr Khaled said.

A young visitor tries to 'Beat the RoboKeeper'. PICTURES: Joey Aguilar
3-2-1 Qatar Olympic and Sports Museum a big draw

  The 3-2-1 Qatar Olympic and Sports Museum (QOSM) has become an integral part of the rising football excitement in Qatar, attracting a large number of visitors since the 100-day countdown to the 2022 FIFA World Cup tournament began. Described as the world's most sophisticated museum dedicated to sport, the 3-2-1 QOSM was one of the most visited museums in Qatar even during the summer season. The 3-2-1 QOSM visitors at the Olympic Theatre Families exploring the 3-2-1 QOSM. From families and groups of friends to students and individuals, museum-goers have been spending hours visiting all the seven gallery spaces that “reveal the cultural impact of sports through multiple perspectives: the history and contemporary significance of the Olympic Games, the inspiring journeys of global sports heroes, and the development of sports in Qatar”. Young visitors enjoying the interactive games at the 3-2-1 QOSM. The 3-2-1 QOSM's Gallery 4: Hall of Athletes features a number of tennis stars. For adults, the museum’s Gallery 2 (A Global History of Sport) and Gallery 3 (Olympics) kept them engrossed in the various collections and the way stories are presented, while Gallery 7 (Activation Zone) attracted young visitors. Gallery 2 houses nearly 100 objects and reproductions, ranging from the 8th century BCE to the early 20th century – backed by graphics, audiovisual and interactive digital elements. The Official Torch in the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, designed by Carl Diem and Walter E Lemcke The “Olympics” gallery offers visitors a trip down memory lane, “from Greek Antiquity to the present day”, and an opportunity to explore “the Ancient Games through the birth of the modern Olympics” via an immersive video at the Olympic Theatre. Some of the collections at Gallery 3 include the actual torches used in the Olympic Games, including the Official Torch in the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, designed by Carl Diem and Walter E Lemcke. An autographed running shoe from Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt, known as the 'fastest man alive' is seen at the 3-2-1 QOSM. A family visit to 3-2-1 will not be complete without going to its Activation Zone, which allows children to explore and engage in a range of interactive exhibits and physical games, such as the *Beat the RoboKeeper. According to Qatar Museums (QM), “the Museum’s final gallery promotes physical activity across Qatar and encourages healthy and active lifestyles”.  Some of the museum collections include an authentic costume of a Kemari player. “This interactive gallery experience begins with the inspirational stories of local people who have made the decision to adopt healthy and active lifestyles,” the QM said. “The gallery encourages continued engagement with the Museum through its exciting and innovative programme of events, challenges, and activities.” A bat from the legendary baseball player George Herman "Babe" Ruth is exhibited at the 3-2-1 QOSM. Besides the galleries, the museum’s café and Naua restaurant, which offer healthy and delicious choices, also drew many customers, especially during the weekend. Museum-goers can also find many interesting and exclusive items at the 3-2-1 gift shop.  A Breal Cup replica on display at the museum.  PICTURES: Joey Aguilar

The BMW Welt features fascinating and futuristic architecture while the BMW Museum displays a wide range of groundbreaking vehicle models. PICTURES: HE Sheikha Al Mayassa Facebook page
Ideas for the future Qatar Auto Museum

A recent visit by Qatar Museums (QM) Chairperson HE Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani to the BMW Welt and BMW Museum in Munich has given her ample ideas for the upcoming Qatar Auto Museum. “It was such a pleasure to visit the @bmwwelt Museum in Munich, and to see the evolution of such an iconic company from airplane war engines to motorbikes and finally cars and all this teaches us about science and engineering, creativity and design. “Seeing the historic vehicles presented throughout the museum has given me lots of ideas for the future #QatarAutoMuseum which will showcase an incredible collection of vehicles and explore the history and impact of automobiles on our culture,” HE Sheikha Al Mayassa posted on Facebook. BMW Welt is the company’s experience and automobile customer delivery centre and features fascinating, futuristic architecture. It hosts an array of exhibitions for all the BMW Group brands, virtual tours showcasing groundbreaking vehicle models and unique architecture, and a one-of-a-kind drone flight. The BMW Museum provides a unique presentation of the company, brand, and BMW product history. Spanning an area of 5,000sqm, it displays about 125 of the brand’s most valuable and attractive automobiles, motorcycles, and engines, (source: The 30,000sqm Qatar Auto Museum in Doha, meanwhile, is “a new project that will bring Qatar’s car community under one roof and one mission: to drive culture forward and to inspire the next generation of innovators, designers, engineers, collectors, and policymakers through a shared passion for cars,” QM noted. The Qatar Auto Museum, designed by the Office for Metropolitan Architecture led by Pritzker Architecture Prize-winning architect Rem Koolhaas, will feature permanent galleries that track the evolution of the automobile from its invention through today, and how it has influenced culture in Qatar. The temporary exhibition spaces will display high-profile vehicles – from supercars and limited editions to racecars and classic cars. Other facilities of the museum will include an Edutainment Centre and Workshop Spaces, as well as areas dedicated to children’s activities such as driving simulators, mini car mechanics, and kids' driving areas, among others. The Qatar Auto Museum will be located along the Lusail Expressway between the 5/6 Park and Katara – the Cultural Village, in the former exhibition centre building that hosted the first Qatar Motor Show in 2011. “If you have not visited yet, A Sneak Peek at Qatar Auto Museum Project exhibition is currently on display @nmoqatar until January. The display features a fascinating selection of vehicles on loan from Qatar’s community of automobile enthusiasts – definitely worth a visit if you love cars,” HE Sheikha Al Mayassa said.    

South Korean ambassador Lee Joon-ho.
Qatar, S Korea sign mutual visa exemption agreement

Qatar and South Korea signed Wednesday an agreement on mutual waiver of entry visa requirements, a move that will take the friendly bilateral relations between the two countries yet to a greater level, South Korean ambassador Lee Joon-ho has announced. The agreement was signed by Qatar’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs HE Sheikh Mohamed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani and South Korea’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Park Jin during the former’s visit to Seoul Wednesday. “The meeting, taking place in four years since minister Mohamed visited Korea in August 2018, will mark a meaningful milestone for our solid bilateral relations,” the envoy told a press briefing at the embassy in Qatar. Joon-ho said the new visa waiver is a legally binding agreement, which will take effect 30 days after its signing. It aims to ensure visa-free entry and short stays of nationals of the two nations for up to 90 days. The envoy expressed confidence that this new accord will increase the level of people-to-people exchanges between the two countries. “Indeed, as World Cup is getting closer, a lot of Korean football fans are showing greater interest in Qatar, and it will make it more convenient for Korean nationals who want to visit and explore Qatar before, during, and after the World Cup. “And it will facilitate Qatari citizen’s travel to Korea not only for business but also for tourism as there is the great enthusiasm in Qatar towards Korean cultural contents, especially K-pop and K-dramas,” Joon-ho added. “I believe that our enduring partnership, shared values, and vibrant people-to-people ties will ensure our friendship remains strong in the years to come.” The envoy said Qatari visitors will only be required to obtain a Korea Electronic Travel Authorisation (K-ETA) before travel by providing personal and travel-related information through the K-ETA website (or mobile app) in advance. Around 1,800 to 2,000 Qatari tourists visit South Korea annually before the number of visitors dropped due to the spread of Covid-19 in the last two years, according to Joon-ho. However, the number has increased by twofold this year when the (previous) visa-free entry scheme for Qatari citizens resumed in April. The envoy pointed out that the new visa waiver agreement, which the two foreign ministers signed in Seoul Wednesday, is different from the previous visa-free entry scheme (which has been based on reciprocity). He said more than 13,000 Koreans visited Qatar in 2019 before Covid-19 broke out and during the pandemic, around 4,000 to 5,000 Koreans visited Qatar. The envoy pointed out that they expect the number of Korean visitors will sharply increase as Covid-19 situations continue to improve especially when the visa waiver agreement enters into force. On the importance of the agreement to the World Cup fans from South Korea, Joon-ho said: “As the Qatar World Cup is getting closer, our football fans are also taking an even deeper interest in Qatar. We expect at least thousands of Korean fans to visit Qatar during the tournament.” On the country’s preparations for the prestigious tournament, he said: “Qatar has done an exceptional and impressive job in organising this first-ever World Cup in the region. It has dealt very well with all the aspects of the tournament such as public transportation, world-class stadiums, accommodations, and even environment protection as the first carbon-neutral World Cup. “I am very pleased that Korean companies have contributed to Qatar’s preparations for the World Cup by joining various infrastructure projects such as highway, Doha Metro, Al Thumama stadium and the iconic Lusail Plaza Tower. “And Qatar already showcased to the world its ability to hold major international football events successfully even amid Covid-19 such as the AFC Champions League and FIFA Club World Cup. I am sure that Qatar will host an unforgettable World Cup this year.” On enhancing trade and economic co-operation, Joon-ho said Qatar and South Korea have developed mutually beneficial economic partnership since establishing diplomatic ties in 1974. He said Qatar has been the largest supplier of LNG to South Korea and consistently supplying LNG for the last 20 years while South Korea is one of the major trading partners of Qatar as well. The envoy stressed that the sheer volume of trade between the two countries, which recorded $12bn in 2021, shows how strong the economic relations are and the visa waiver agreement will further strengthen this. About the prominent Qatari investment sectors in South Korea, Joon-ho said: “Based on such long-standing economic relations, our two countries are working closely together to diversify fields of our co-operation into new areas such as smart city, information and communication technology (ICT), agriculture, healthcare, education, and climate change. “For example, Qatari investors can find attractive investment opportunities in areas related to green energy and ICT in Korea. With new economic co-operation opportunities, I hope to see more Qatari investments in Korea and vice versa in the near future”.