Wednesday, July 17, 2024 | Daily Newspaper published by GPPC Doha, Qatar.
Subscribe now for Gulf Times
Personalise your news and receive Newsletters!
By signing up with an email address, I acknowledge that I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy .
Your email exists
 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.
The demand for luxury items in Qatar, especially jewellery, surged during the hosting of several major events
Luxury segment flourishes amid booming tourism

Qatar’s retail sector, particularly in the luxury segment, has experienced a significant upswing fueled by the country's thriving tourism industry, it is learnt. From the final quarter of 2023 to February of this year, demand for luxury items and experiences has surged, drawing visitors from neighbouring GCC countries, as well as from other regions.Employees of luxury retail establishments at major malls and shopping centres across Doha reported a huge increase in their sales, attributing the trend to the influx of tourists seeking high-end products and curated experiences.A supervisor of a jewellery and watch shop at a prominent mall disclosed that many customers, many from neighbouring GCC nations such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Bahrain, are particularly interested in Arab-inspired pieces and designs.She noted a substantial rise in their sales during the hosting of the Doha Jewellery and Watches Exhibition (DJWE), held at the Doha Exhibition and Convention Centre in February. “We exceeded our targets this year during the same period last year. There was a big footfall at our shop, and as expected, we received a lot of new and returning clients here and from different countries, including Europeans and Asians,” she added.Echoing this statement, another supervisor from a luxury retail outlet highlighted how various events hosted by Qatar, such as the DJWE, the AFC Asian Cup 2024, and the Expo 2023 Doha, spurred spending on jewellery and high-end watches. He noted that the influx of football players and enthusiasts, including visitors from Korea and Japan, among other participating countries, contributed remarkably to the surge in sales, with a preference for gold bracelets, necklaces, and precious stones.Expressing optimism about the future of tourism in Qatar, he underlined the potential for continued growth, attracting visitors from diverse regions. This upward trend, he added, is expected to have a ripple effect, benefiting multiple sectors, especially retail and hospitality. Further proving the surge in luxury retail sales, an employee from a luxury apparel boutique cited the exceptional performance during the AFC Asian Cup, followed by sustained gains from events like the DJWE, Web Summit, Qatar International Food Festival, World Aquatics Championship Doha, and WTA/ATP tours, among others.The employee highlighted Qatar’s rising popularity as both a tourism and shopping destination, noting the positive impact of various sporting and cultural events hosted throughout January and February.

The Fire Station. Image Courtesy of Qatar Museums
Design Doha’s array of exhibitions this Ramadan

An array of exhibitions and installations will be open to the public at various locations during the holy month of Ramadan, Design Doha has announced.Design Doha, Qatar Museums (QM)’s new biennial showcase for excellence and innovation in the design community of Qatar and the Mena (Middle East and North Africa) region, is presenting an exhibition titled “Arab Design Now", a comprehensive survey of 74 Arab designers that features 38 commissioned works.In a press statement, the QM noted that this exhibition is a tribute to the diverse cultural heritage of the region, exploring themes that resonate with the unique geographies and values of the Levant, the Gulf, and North Africa.Visitors can also explore five other exhibitions curated by the QM.These are “Colours of the City: A Century of Architecture in Doha”, “Weaving Poems”, “100/100 Hundred Best Arabic Posters Round 04”, “Crafting Uzbekistan: Tradition in Threads”, and “Cultural Kinship”, as well as three commissioned works titled *Desert by Amine El Gotaibi, *Doha Dragon by Joris Laarman, and *Afterimage of the Beginning by Choi Byung Hoon.In addition, the QM noted that Pipilotti Rist’s “Electric Idyll” exhibition is also open to visitors.As the artist’s first survey exhibition in the Middle East, this exhibition was designed specifically for Fire Station’s gallery spaces and features historical works alongside new productions by the renowned Swiss-born artist. It will be on view until June 1.A special exhibition, “Golden Spider Silk”, will be presented by the Museum of Islamic Art from March 19, offering insight into the extraordinary history and properties of this unique material.This exhibition complements the ongoing showcase “Fashioning an Empire: Textiles from Safavid Iran”, which is open until July 6.Apart from these new showcases, the QM said that visitors are encouraged not to miss out on several ongoing exhibitions across various museums in Qatar.These include “De/Constructed Meanings”, “The Bicycle and the Future of Mobility”, “The Voyager is the Narrator”, “Pipilotti Rist: Your Brain to Me, My Brain to You”, “Distilled Lessons: Abstraction in Arab Modernism”, “Mehdi Moutashar: Introspection as Resistance”, “Cities Under Quarantine: The Mailbox Project”, “Shattered, 2023”, “Berber Jewellery Collection from the Royal Palace”, “Zidane, a 21st Century Portrait”, and “A Sneak Peek At Qatar Auto Museum Project”.During Ramadan, the QM noted that revised hours are in place for visitors to enjoy the permanent collections at the National Museum of Qatar, 3-2-1 Olympic and Sports Museum, Museum of Islamic Art, and Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art.

World-class padel facilities at The Dome Padel Club. PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam
Padel competitions at Education City

The Dome Padel Club is poised to host padel competitions post-Ramadan, capitalising on the sport’s growing popularity in the country, according to its head coach and sports manager, Edu Franza.“People who play padel here in Qatar are so interested in the sport, not only to play in a friendly way but also they like to compete so we are planning to organise some kind of ranking,” he told reporters at a recent tour to the padel facilities at Education City.Franza said they also intend to host major tournaments at The Dome Padel Club and at Education City Golf Club, which saw the construction of several world-class padel courts. Teaming up with Adidas Padel, he noted that these indoor and outdoor sports facilities (including dedicated ladies-only courts) at Education City offer superior turf and exceptional materials, promising unparalleled quality and performance.Open to Qatar Foundation members and non-members from 7am to 12 midnight, Franza said people can book lessons and play through the Playtomic application. “We are also working on some kind of membership so people can enjoy the bookings and the lessons,” he said, adding that discounts would also be offered. About the sport’s increasing appeal and rapid growth, Franza highlighted its strong social aspect as it draws people into the vibrant padel community.“It’s not that you need a long time to learn the right technique, people can easily pass the ball to the other side and enjoy (the game). It doesn’t mind your level (of play), your age, and you can enjoy the sport from the very beginning. It is one of the many things that makes padel very attractive,” he pointed out. This kind of accessibility, Franza said, led to a surge in players, underlining the sport’s inclusive nature and its emphasis on enjoyable learning experiences. He noted that the country has just hosted one of the most important tournaments during the year, the Ooredoo Qatar Major Premier Padel 2024, held recently at the Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Complex.Franza stressed that Qatar has solidified its status as an international hub for padel, as Qatar Sports Investments now owns the professional circuit, World Padel Tour. With dedicated efforts to foster the sport’s expansion, he said the country is at the forefront of advancing padel worldwide, making it the premier destination for players and enthusiasts.

Mohamad al-Mulla
Qatar emerges as a premier maritime destination

Qatar’s potential as a premier maritime destination was highlighted at a recent event showcasing the state-of-the-art facilities of Old Doha Port and other marinas across the country.During a recent media interaction for the upcoming Qatar Boat Show 2024, the organisers noted that currently providing 1,877 berths with plans for an additional 400, Qatar’s maritime infrastructure is poised for expansion to accommodate the growing demand.According to the organisers, with six iconic marinas marking its coastline – Old Doha Port, Lusail, Ritz Carlton, Pearl Island, Four Seasons, and Doha Marriott – Qatar has a wealth of maritime services, offering not only berthing facilities but also an array of touristic experiences.The appeal of Qatar’s maritime sector lies not only in its infrastructural prowess but also in its ability to cater to the elite, organisers noted. Hosting 108 Superyacht berths ranging from 40m to 160m, Qatar has become a favoured destination for luxury yacht owners seeking opulent harbours.The landscape is further enriched by ongoing waterfront projects such as the West Bay North Beach and Lusail Waterfront Projects, promising unparalleled experiences for seafarers and tourists, organisers added.Underlining the importance of the maritime sector, the organisers stressed the key role it plays in Qatar’s economy. The Old Doha Port alone, which has a total area of 800,000sqm, accommodates 450 berths for boats up to 160m in length. During the 2022 FIFA World Cup, the port welcomed around 20 superyachts, setting the stage for a wave of tourism that continues to surge.Old Doha Port chief executive Mohamad al-Mulla underscored Qatar’s commitment to providing exceptional touristic amenities, noting that the upcoming boat show would further solidify the nation’s position as a premier tourism destination. The event is scheduled to take place at the Old Doha Port from November 6 to 9.With an anticipated $73.91bn in consumer spending predicted for the current year and estimates soaring to $91.03bn by 2029, Qatar's maritime industry emerges as a symbol of economic growth and vitality.Hosting major international events such as the 2022 FIFA World Cup, Geneva International Motor Show and FIFA Arab Cup among others, Qatar Boat Show organisers noted that Qatar has cemented its reputation as a global hub for entertainment and commerce. Attracting in 4mn visitors in 2023 alone, Qatar has the fourth-highest GDP per capita globally, with an average annual income reaching $200,000.The boat show, imeanwhile, poised to attract 495 exhibitors and brands alongside more than 20,000 visitors, aims to further boost the private sector, particularly maritime commercial entities, while fostering knowledge exchange to propel the sector forward.The event will showcase 95 boats and watercraft, including locally-made vessels, highlighting Qatar’s commitment to innovation and excellence in the area of seafaring.

Old Doha Port chief executive Mohamad al-Mulla speaking at the launch event of Qatar Boat Show 2024 Tuesday. PICTURES: Thajudheen
Qatar Boat Show set to welcome more than 20,000 maritime enthusiasts

The Qatar Boat Show 2024 is set to take place from November 6-9 at the Old Doha Port, bringing together 495 exhibitors and brands and welcoming more than 20,000 visitors, it was announced Tuesday.Organised by Old Doha Port in collaboration with Gulf Marine Services, the event will feature 95 boats and other watercraft, including Made in Qatar vessels, both on land and water, in addition to shedding light on Qatar’s marine facility.“The Qatar Boat Show 2024 is a strategic milestone that aligns with the long-term vision of Old Doha Port and our nation," Old Doha Port chief executive Mohamad al-Mulla said told a press conference. "This grand event will be a remarkable showcase of the marine world and unparalleled luxury in true Doha form.”Visitors will have the chance to explore a variety of world-renowned yacht brands and shipyards, showcasing cutting-edge marine services and accessories.They will also encounter a diverse range of yachting lifestyle brands, water sports, retail and culinary offerings, diverse entertainment, and engaging activities for all types of visitors.Apart from local, regional, and international yachting brands and shipyards, the Qatar Boat Show 2024 is also set to shine a spotlight on the essence of luxury yachting and innovation.This event is supported by the Ministry of Transport as the strategic partner, Qatar Tourism as the destination partner, Al Kass Channels as the media partner, Mwani Qatar as a gold sponsor, and QTerminals the silver sponsor.The initial kick-off Tuesday at Old Doha Port showcased a panel discussion on *Middle East Yachting Overview, featuring key industry figures including Yachts1 managing director Salim Tayssoun, Benetti Middle East manager Nabil El Jammal, Feadship chief marketing officer Farouk Nefzi, and Ocenaco Group marketing director Paris Baloumis.The discussion highlighted the importance of organising a major event such as the Qatar Boat Show, which creates a platform for exchanging experiences of various maritime entities in the country.It also underscores Qatar’s huge potential and increasing appeal as a maritime destination and investment hub.Organisers noted that the Old Doha Port has emerged as the prime location for the boat show, with 800,000sq m space and 450 berths that cater to boats of up to 160m in length.It also has two top-tier marinas and an array of retail, dining, and hospitality offerings.

The MCIT recently launched the Digital Agenda 2030.
Digital Agenda 2030 aims to attract global talent and investments to Qatar

From vibrant communities to enhanced education and a flourishing digital work sector, Qatar’s populace, especially the next generation, stands to gain immensely from the ongoing digital transformation With the recently introduced Digital Agenda (DA) 2030, the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT) noted that Qatar positions itself as a frontrunner in shaping the global digital landscape. The Agenda promises a conducive environment for growth in the business sector, underpinned by a sustainable and diversified economy. With a focus on fostering a world-class business ecosystem, Qatar aims to minimise economic volatility, bolster infrastructure, cultivate a digital-savvy workforce and to enact favourable regulations, positioning itself as a hub of innovation with unparalleled access to regional and global markets. Startups are poised to thrive in Qatar’s nurturing environment as the Agenda unlocks an array of incentives, ranging from access to venture funding to startup-friendly regulations and a growing digital workforce. This initiative, the Agenda states, positions Qatar as a prime destination for new companies seeking to establish themselves in the digital landscape. Investors too stand to benefit from the Agenda as it presents a range of exciting digital ventures and companies ready for investment. Supported by transparent laws and regulations, investors can capitalise on a diverse range of investment options, further fuelling Qatar’s digital revolution. The Agenda states that part of its goals is to attract global talent, expanding the ‘HyperGeneration’ and offering employment opportunities across major corporations and promising startups. With an enhanced quality of life, robust security measures and a vibrant cultural heritage, Qatar continues to draw top-notch talent from around the world. Government entities are not left behind as the Agenda spreads throughout the entire government ecosystem, making public services digital and ensuring efficiency, compliance and satisfaction for all citizens. The six strategic objectives outlined in the Agenda – Cutting Edge Digital Infrastructure, Booming Digital Economy, Thriving Digital Innovation, Seamless Digital Government, Nurtured Digital Technologies and Future Leading Digital Society – are underpinned by the hyperpowers of HyperConnectivity, HyperComputing and HyperAutomation. HE the Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs HE Sheikh Mohamed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim al-Thani said: “Digital transformation enabled through the DA2030 will not only support further development of the ICT and digital sector, but will also unleash a spillover effect across all sectors of the economy. The Agenda will contribute to transforming our national talent pool into a workforce-of-the-future and transitioning government services to a greater level of excellence. “In tandem, digital transformation will provide for a safer Qatar with better healthcare and happier people. Ultimately, the DA2030 will empower the Qatari society with the digital skills needed to leap into the future with confidence.” Echoing HE Sheikh Mohamed’s statement, Minister of Communications and Information Technology HE Mohamed bin Ali al-Mannai underscored the Agenda’s role as a catalyst for growth, productivity, innovation and societal transformation. “The span of our efforts is wide – infrastructure, innovation, regulations, government services, economy and society. Our bold ambition is to contribute 40bn QAR to the non-hydrocarbon GDP of Qatar and create additional 26,000 jobs in Qatar’s ICT sector by 2030. Today, we are beginning the journey to becoming global leaders in the Digital Future,” HE al-Mannai said.

Dimdex 2024 will see several visiting warships from various countries docking at Hamad Port, including Italy's Federico Martinengo F596 (Screengrab photo)
Dimdex 2024 opens Monday

The stage is set for the 8th Doha International Maritime Defence Exhibition and Conference (Dimdex 2024), scheduled to open Monday at the Qatar National Convention Centre (QNCC).The three-day biennial event, under the patronage of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani and organised by the Qatar Armed Forces, promises to be a key gathering for the international maritime defence community.The Organising Committee noted that Dimdex 2024 anticipates the participation of internationally renowned platform companies, to showcase their latest capabilities and products.With a focus on fostering co-operation among stakeholders and addressing emerging challenges in maritime security, this flagship event is poised to attract key decision-makers from across the globe.In a statement released on the Dimdex website, HE the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State for Defence Affairs Dr Khalid bin Mohamed al-Attiyah underscored the significance of the event, saying: “Dimdex 2024 aims to lay the groundwork for increased co-operation among relevant stakeholders. Its main goal is to build partnerships and alliances that focus on establishing security and stability in our seas and oceans, positively affecting the economic and social well-being of nations and communities.”Aligning seamlessly with Qatar’s strategic priorities, Dimdex serves as a vital platform for safeguarding maritime security and integrity. Dimdex chairman Staff Brigadier (Sea) Abdulbaqi al-Ansari highlighted the event’s evolution, saying: “This year, Dimdex continues to build on the successes of past editions, further solidifying its leading position as one of the major players in the fields of defence and international maritime security.”Dimdex’s reputation as the only specialised maritime defence exhibition in the Mena region has seen exponential growth since its inception in 2008. The event is celebrated for its role in facilitating commercial success for exhibitors and fostering military co-operation and collaborative partnerships in the defence and security sector.The Organising Committee stressed Dimdex’s vital role in providing a platform for knowledge exchange at the highest levels between industry and government. With a focus on the latest technological advancements and expert panel discussions, Dimdex 2024 is set to contribute significantly to the global maritime defence and security sector.

Luminous Festival 2024 at Al Sa'ad Plaza, Lusail Boulevard. PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam
Vibrant events line up for March

As the calendar flips to March, Qatar gears up once again to host an eclectic mix of events, catering to diverse interests and passions.Following a vibrant February filled with international engagements such as the AFC Asian Cup and the Web Summit Qatar, the country continues its momentum with an array of activities set to attract and engage both residents and visitors.One of the highlights is the Luminous Festival 2024, which illuminated Al Sa’ad Plaza along Lusail Boulevard since its launch on February 21. This dazzling event, organised by Qatar Tourism (QT) in collaboration with Qatari Diar, will conclude Saturday. It showcases mesmerising light shows, interactive installations, and live entertainment, blending Qatari heritage with contemporary culture.Thousands of attendees marveled at the fusion of creativity and innovation, marking the conclusion of QT’s winter offerings.Meanwhile, the Arab Design Now Exhibition, part of Design Doha, has been captivating audiences since its opening on February 24 at M7 Msheireb. Curated by Rana Beiruti, the exhibition celebrates design excellence across the Levant, the Gulf, and North Africa, offering insights into regional creativity and innovation.Simultaneously, another exhibition titled ‘Crafting Uzbekistan: Tradition in Threads’ at M7 Msheireb showcases Uzbekistan's rich artistic heritage, featuring rare artefacts and modern handcrafted treasures. Visitors have been treated to a journey through the evolution of Uzbekistan's applied arts, witnessing the fusion of tradition and contemporary design.Art enthusiasts have been flocking to the Fire Station: Artist in Residence to witness ‘Electric Idyll,’ Qatar Museums’ (QM) first survey exhibition dedicated to Swiss artist Pipilotti Rist in the Middle East and North Africa. With over 650 sq m, the exhibition offers a hypnotic digital landscape, showcasing Rist’s celebrated works alongside new participatory pieces.The Doha International Maritime Defence Exhibition & Conference (Dimdex) will be held at the Qatar National Convention Centre from March 4 to 6. With the theme “Igniting the Future of Maritime Security and Beyond,” Dimdex promises to showcase the latest innovations in maritime defense, drawing enthusiastic participation from both domestic and international exhibitors.Sports enthusiasts can look forward to the adrenaline-pumping MotoGP Qatar Airways Grand Prix 2024 at the Lusail International Circuit from March 8 to 10. The night-time spectacle promises thrills and excitement as riders take on the unique challenge of the illuminated track, marking a highlight in Qatar's sporting calendar.In addition, the Arab Agro Forum returns as part of Expo 2023 Doha at Al Bidda Park from March 6 to 7, gathering specialists and experts to discuss the future of agriculture and food security in the Arab world.

Gulf Times
Invest in talent, says Snoonu boss  

The success of a business centres on investing in top-notch professionals, coupled with qualities like perseverance, collaboration, and a commitment to ongoing innovation, Snoonu co-founder and CEO Hamad al-Hajri has said.“Get someone who you believe in and believe in you, get a team, you will never be able to do it alone,” he told attendees of Web Summit Qatar 2024 yesterday.He spoke at a session, titled “The mindset of an entrepreneur”, sharing insights from his own entrepreneurial journey. He also discussed the merging of entrepreneurship and innovation, citing the limitless opportunities presented by the tech-driven future.Al-Hajri recounted Snoonu’s own struggles, including a setback during their initial Series A funding round. This ultimately led to a triumphant turnaround through an unwavering focus on the customer and the resilience to overcome obstacles.He underlined the key role of talent in driving success, citing his experience of investing in top-tier experts despite the initial financial strain. He noted that this decision paid off, propelling Snoonu to establish itself as one of Qatar’s leading delivery platforms, marked by considerable profitability.“We are the highest recruiter from Qatar Foundation,” al-Hajri said, highlighting Snoonu’s role in fostering entrepreneurship and benefiting thousands of businesses within its ecosystem. His message shed light on the transformative power of allocating resources to talent.He said Snoonu now employs around 68 nationalities, which contribute significantly in achieving the company’s objectives and goals.Al-Hajri also stressed the importance of understanding oneself and choosing a path less ordinary. He presented two distinct routes: the usual path versus the ‘champion’ path of extreme dedication, noting that challenges are the stepping stones to greatness.“Path number one, I would call it the ordinary path. You go to work, you do exactly what you have been ordered, you have a chill life, normal life, eight hours working every day. But when you are 65 years old, you will look back and see it was a boring life.“And there’s the other path: Work extreme, work very hard, have a big dream, it’s stressful, but that stress is what's gonna stretch your muscles, you're gonna be stronger, you become better every day, and that's what you'd be in your mind.“When you’re 65, you’re gonna look back, you'll feel proud and that path, it’s called the ‘champion’ path. You'll be champion only through challenge. Living an uncomfortable life will make you comfortable, you have to live that one,” al-Hajri said, encouraging aspiring entrepreneurs to embrace adversity and maintain a positive outlook.Web Summit Qatar 2024 opened on February 26 and concluded yesterday (February 29) at the Doha Exhibition and Convention Centre, attracting thousands of participants from various parts of the world.

Gulf Times
Qatar Museums joins forces with Microsoft to offer digital solutions to enhance visitor experiences  

Qatar Museums (QM) announced yesterday that it has signed a MoU with Microsoft to enhance QM’s intelligent experiences to facilitate seamless, tech-savvy encounters for residents and visitors across QM entities.The signing took place at the Web Summit in Qatar where thousands of international entrepreneurs, investors and leaders are gathering to connect the tech world and drive innovation.Microsoft’s offerings will include leveraging its Azure services, introducing partners in Smart Museums Experience, collaborating with Microsoft's AI digital center, technological support, exploring smart exhibits using AI, AR, and VR, and introducing OpenAI for innovation.QM and Microsoft have previously collaborated to facilitate the National Museum of Qatar’s migration to Microsoft Cloud enabling them to develop new visitor experiences including augmented, virtual, and mixed-reality.

Gulf Times
Loren Gray highlights genuine connection with viewers

Loren Gray, a successful content creator, social media personality, and entrepreneur, highlighted the importance of prioritising genuine connections with the viewers while remaining steadfast to personal values.“I didn't start social media from a place of looking to build a business. I was a lonely pre-teen in my room, and that audience followed me through my childhood and teenage years,” she told attendees of the Web Summit Qatar yesterday (February 28).From a bullied teenager to a global influencer with more than 50mn followers on TikTok, Gray was sharing her insights on the natural expansion of her social media following at the session.She pointed out that this foundation was built through shared experiences and personal growth, fostering natural engagement and loyalty over time. Her entry into social media, she added, was not planned but stemmed from a desire for connection as a lonely pre-teen.About staying relevant and ahead of the curve in both social media and music, Gray said her brand is an extension of her authentic self, making it easier to gauge what content resonates with her audience without compromising her comfort or values.“I’m not going to do something that makes me uncomfortable just because I think it’s going to get numbers,” Gray said, underlining her commitment to authenticity as a key factor in her longevity as a content creator and musician. She recently released her debut album, marking another milestone in her multifaceted career.Regarding her presence on a number of social media platforms, she revealed a selective approach, focusing primarily on TikTok, Snapchat and Instagram. She explained that creating original content for every platform was impractical and opted for syndication, tailouring content to platforms that align with her audience and interests.“I focus on the ones that excite me, that my audience loves, that my demographic loves and I syndicate content from there. Facebook I don’t have the app on my phone, that is why,” she said.Gray also shared her experience with YouTube, recognising the challenges of balancing long-form content with the demand for consistent short-form content. She noted the platform’s shift towards shorter content formats and emphasised the significance of doing what excites her than conforming to trends or platforms that don’t align with her strengths.For aspiring content creators grappling with self-esteem and public scrutiny, she offered advice based on her journey, suggesting finding a balance between online presence and personal well-being. She urged them to establish boundaries and prioritise self-care amid the pressures of social media.“In the beginning, especially being so young, it was really difficult for me. But with time, I’ve learned to separate my self-esteem from public opinion,” said Gray, who began her career at the age of 13.

HE Sheikh Jassim bin Mansour bin Jabor al-Thani and Shadi Kandil at the MoU signing at Web Summit Qatar 2024 Wednesday. PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam
GCO, Tiktok pact to expand Qatar's digital footprint

Qatar's Government Communications Office (GCO) and TikTok signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) at the Web Summit Qatar 2024 Wednesday to expand Qatar’s digital footprint, while showcasing and growing its creator economy on the global social platform.Under this MoU, TikTok will establish the first creative studio in the country, supporting locally with the creation of assets for world-class TikTok campaigns. Additionally, creative workshops will be designed to upskill local talent, contributing to strengthening the creative ecosystem.Following the MoU signing, GCO director and the Web Summit Qatar 2024 Organising Committee chairman HE Sheikh Jassim bin Mansour bin Jabor al-Thani, said Qatar has proven to be an ideal environment to attract investments, based on its commitment to adopting best practices and achieving digital transformation, which is essential to realise the Qatar National Vision 2030."Signing this agreement with TikTok, one of the world’s most important digital platforms, is a step in the right direction and we are confident that our collaboration will yield tangible outcomes that align with our shared goals and aspirations.”Shadi Kandil, general manager Global Business Solutions at TikTok METAPEE, said: “Qatar is witnessing remarkable development in terms of digital infrastructure, making it a leading tech hub in the Middle East and Asia. This MoU with GCO underscores our commitment to the local creative ecosystem, and we are excited to be part of Qatar’s growing tech industry.”The MoU comes in line with Qatar’s Third National Development Strategy, which focuses on developing the country’s digital infrastructure, nurturing innovation, and creating new opportunities for young entrepreneurs and creators to leverage digital platforms toward expanding economic diversification and achieving sustainable development.For the next five years, Qatar will host the globally renowned Web Summit, bringing the illustrious brand to the Middle East and Africa for the first time. Web Summit Qatar converges the brightest entrepreneurs, investors, and tech leaders to shape the future of technology and the world at large, while linking the startup ecosystem in Qatar and the region with international markets.Official Qatar News Agency reported that over the second day of the Web Summit Qatar 2024, HE Sheikh Jassim met with representatives of the world's largest technology companies participating in the event. These included Meta Group officials Kojo Boakye (head, Strategy, Operations and Public Policies for Africa, the Middle East and Turkey Region), Anas Metwally (head, Public Policy in the Gulf Cooperation Council), Basma Ammari (regional director, Public Policy for the Middle East and North Africa) and Andy O'Connell (vice president, Product Policy and Strategy), Google's Middle East and North Africa CEO Anthony Nakash, Government Affairs and Public Policy director Poliana Geha, Ascential CEO Philip Thomas, Omnicom Group CEO John Wren, Candle Media co-CEO Kevin Mayer, Tubi Media Group CEO Paul Cheesbrough, and Blockchange Ventures general partner Ken Seiff.The discussions revolved around the active participation of these companies in the Web Summit Qatar 2024 and its various activities, which included panel discussions, educational sessions and presentations highlighting their latest developments, in addition to their pavilions which attract thousands of attendees.The meetings reflect Qatar's strong relations with major international companies, and its continuous efforts to develop the technological ecosystem to serves the objectives of the Third National Development Strategy - the final stage of Qatar National Vision 2030.The meetings also reflect the importance given to the Web Summit Qatar 2024 by major global technology companies wishing to promote their presence in Qatar and the region. This underscores the importance of the current edition in introducing the Arab world and the role these companies would play in opening up opportunities for youth and entrepreneurs in this geographical region and beyond, QNA added.

HE the Minister of Communications and Information Technology Mohammed bin Ali al-Mannai speaks at the launch event Tuesday. PICTURE: Thajudheen
MCIT's Digital Agenda 2030 aims at QR40bn ripple effect, 26,000 jobs

The Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT) unveiled the ambitious Digital Agenda 2030 Tuesday, aiming to unleash a ripple effect valued at around QR40bn and generate more than 26,000 new job opportunities by 2030.Speaking at the event, HE the Minister of Communications and Information Technology Mohammed bin Ali al-Mannai,said: “Digital Agenda 2030 will serve as our guiding compass towards establishing a robust digital economy and shaping a future brimming with innovation and progress.“This future will lay the basis for a knowledge-based society and set an inspiring example for generations to come,” he stressed.The debut of Digital Agenda 2030, under the patronage of HE the Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim al-Thani, marks a crucial step in Qatar’s comprehensive digital evolution.The Minister highlighted the initiative’s six strategic pillars: Digital Infrastructure, Digital Government, Digital Technology, Digital Innovation, Digital Economy, and Digital Society. Comprising 23 strategic programmes, it aims to transition towards a novel, diversified, and sustainable economic model.Al-Mannai noted that these programmes are expected to strengthen the compound annual growth rate of the existing GDP to 7.8%, while enhancing the contribution of the ICT sector to the gross product, potentially achieving a rate of up to 3.5% in non-oil GDP.“The programmes and initiatives shaped by the Digital Agenda 2030 carry the potential to generate comprehensive positive impacts across various sectors of the national economy, spanning from industry to energy, tourism, logistics, financial services, and education,” the Minister said.HE al-Mannai underlined MCIT’s commitment to shaping Qatar’s digital landscape aimed at keeping pace with global digital advancements. He said: “With the introduction of our Digital Agenda 2030, we are actively positioning ourselves to lead the digital age. Success hinges on ensuring our digital society is poised to adapt to the rapid changes in the digital sphere”.With its deployment, MCIT expects that its latest initiative will boost the efficiency of both the digital economy and society, expediting economic transformation and competitive efficiency. This is facilitated by embracing innovative digital strategies that prioritise inclusivity and foster sustainable prosperity in the digital age.“The Digital Agenda 2030 is an integral part of the Third National Development Strategy and the goals of the Qatar National Vision 2030. This agenda seeks to lead a comprehensive shift, continue the ambitious digital transformation process, contribute to achieving sustainable national development goals, and ensure the continuation of decent living for the people of Qatar, generation after generation,” the Minister said.According to MCIT, the Digital Agenda 2030 also aims to transform Qatar into a formidable digital player across various domains such as smart cities, e-government, cybersecurity, and emerging technologies like artificial intelligence, metaverse technology, and the Internet of Things. This transformation is poised to yield substantial economic dividends.MCIT noted that to realize these aims, the government is dedicated to attaining advanced educational milestones, including graduating over 18% of students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields, and ramping up investment in research and development to foster innovation.

HE Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim al-Thani speaking at the Web Summit Qatar 2024 Monday.
Innovation, AI in focus as Web Summit Qatar 2024 opens

Web Summit Qatar 2024 opened its doors Monday at the Doha Exhibition and Convention Centre (DECC), bringing together thousands of entrepreneurs, investors, and global leaders from across the globe.The historic four-day event, being held for the first time in the Middle East, sets the stage for a convergence of creativity, innovation, and technological advancement, according to the organisers..text-box { float:right; width:450px; padding:10px; border:1pt solid black; margin-top: 10px; margin-right: 15px; margin-bottom: 5px; margin-left: 20px;}@media only screen and (max-width: 767px) {.text-box {width: 65%;}}PM announces $1bnQIA investmentBased on the directives of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, HE the Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim al-Thani announced a $1bn Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) investment in international and regional venture capital funds to support local and international entrepreneurs.“This is Qatar’s first venture capital (VC) Fund of Funds, a strategic investment programme to foster innovation in Qatar and kicks start technologies of tomorrow,” HE Sheikh Mohamed said during his address at the opening session of the Web Summit Qatar 2024.Speaking at the opening session, HE the Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim al-Thani highlighted the significance of the event as a milestone in the journey of technological evolution.“Web Summit Qatar 2024 serves as a milestone on this incredible journey of technology evolution, a moment to reflect on our progress and envision the steps that we must take to chart the course ahead, he said. “It’s more than just a gathering, it is a melting pot of the brightest minds in our world today. Coming together to form the future in a region with unlocked potential”.HE Sheikh Mohammed underlined Qatar’s efforts and resources to establish a unique platform for fostering innovation, creativity, and human potential. In the last 20 years, he noted that the country witnessed remarkable advancements across various sectors.He announced that Invest Qatar recently launched ‘Startup Qatar’, an online platform for information, support and opportunities offered to startups. This programme, he noted, provides startups a single portal to access funding, support services and incubation programmes, government grants and networking events.Web Summit CEO Katherine Maher expressed her excitement about hosting this first international event for this year, with attendees from more than 118 countries engaging in record-breaking pre-event interactions.She underlined the unprecedented turnout of startups, with nearly 200 African startups and a remarkable 328 women-founded startups participating in the summit, indicating a diverse and inclusive platform for innovation.“We see tremendous activity, appetite and hunger from startups. In fact, Web Summit Qatar is already in its very first year the largest ever gathering of international startups in the region’s history. We are absolutely blown away by the incredible turnout,” Maher stressed.With representatives from more than 81 countries, including startup ecosystems from Egypt, Brazil, Italy, the US, the UK, and India, among others, she said Web Summit Qatar 2024 promises a truly global perspective on the future of technology and entrepreneurship.The Web Summit CEO noted that trade delegations from countries such as Canada, Turkiye, Bahrain, Pakistan, Nigeria, and Kenya further contribute to the global exchange of ideas and investment opportunities.According to Maher, the event’s agenda features more than 380 speakers across multiple stages, covering topics ranging from cutting-edge technologies to the future of entrepreneurship and global supply chains.In addition, the opening ceremony featured renowned comedian, author and media personality, Trevor Noah. It also showcased presentations by a number of startups focusing on cancer treatment, the future of retail in Africa, smart reports, and more, underscoring the diversity and innovation driving discussions at Web Summit Qatar 2024.

Japanese ambassador Satoshi Maeda
Japan, Qatar strengthen bilateral co-operation

Japanese ambassador Satoshi Maeda has highlighted significant advancements across multiple sectors on the progress of bilateral co-operation between Qatar and Japan, echoing the commitments made during Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s visit to Doha in July last year.“As a follow-up to the visit, especially on the security field, Japan and Qatar had the first military-to-military dialogue between the two countries in October 2023,” he said..text-box { float:right; width:500px; padding:10px; border:1pt solid black; margin-top: 10px; margin-right: 15px; margin-bottom: 5px; margin-left: 20px;}@media only screen and (max-width: 767px) {.text-box {width: 65%;}}'Qatar a reliable LNG exporter'Japanese firms are in talks with Qatar for “specific purchases”, expecting the scope of transactions to expand beyond liquefied natural gas (LNG) to include condensate and helium, Japanese ambassador Satoshi Maeda has said.“From the perspective of energy security, we recognise the importance of purchasing a certain amount of LNG from Qatar, a reliable LNG exporter, and maintaining good relations with Qatar,” the envoy said.Addressing a recent press briefing, Maeda noted that the visit of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida to Qatar in July last year underscored the commitment of both nations to bolster energy ties and economic co-operation.He said that Japan aims to enhance relations with Qatar in promising investment areas such as semiconductors and batteries.In line with Japan’s goal to double inward foreign direct investment stocks by 2030, the envoy outlined priority areas for co-operation, including digital transformation, green transformation, and bio/healthcare.Regarding collaborative initiatives to enhance economic ties, Maeda cited the Japan pavilion at Expo 2023 Doha, which attracted more than 100,000 visitors.He underlined Japan’s efforts to promote its culture and increase tourism, aiming to strengthen economic relations between the two nations.“The pavilion features Ikebana fresh flower arrangement that rotates on a weekly basis, and its outdoor Japanese garden where you can enjoy a Zen atmosphere,” Maeda said. “We also collaborated with Katara – the Cultural Village and held cultural events such as the kimono parade and Japanese movies night as part of the activities during the Asian Cup.”He stressed that cultural exchange initiatives remain a cornerstone of bilateral relations, with Japan actively promoting its culture in Qatar through various events and collaborations.The ambassador underscored the importance of projects funded by the Qatar Friendship Fund, established to support areas affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake.Projects ranging from children’s education to fisheries have contributed to the recovery and rebuilding efforts, symbolising the enduring friendship between Qatar and Japan.According to Maeda, initiatives such as Japanese government scholarships for Qatari students and academic partnerships between universities further strengthen ties between the two nations.On renewable energy co-operation, Maeda said that Japan’s technological expertise in waste management and energy efficiency presents opportunities for collaboration with Qatar as it ventures into the renewable energy market.Projects like the Al Kharsaa power plant highlight the potential for mutual benefit and advancement in clean energy initiatives.“Additionally, the Mitsubishi Research Institute is conducting a study with the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change to help achieve the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” Maeda said.“Japan has excellent technology in waste management and energy efficiency & conservation, and could contribute to Qatar’s goals,” he added.“We exchanged views on regional situations, defence co-operation and exchanges, etc,” Maeda said. “This dialogue will certainly be a great step for Japan to further promote defence co-operation and exchanges with our strategic partner Qatar.”He was speaking to reporters at a recent press briefing at his residence in Doha on the occasion of Japan’s National Day celebration in Qatar, scheduled to take place today.The envoy also announced that Japan Airlines is gearing up to launch daily direct flights between Tokyo and Doha, starting March 31, aimed at further strengthening economic ties and cultural exchanges between the two countries.Maeda noted that this move marks the first direct flight route to the Middle East region operated by a Japanese airline.It is expected to stimulate tourism, foster economic growth, and deepen cultural interactions between Qatar and Japan.The envoy cited other initiatives that to promote people-to-people exchanges, such as the visa waiver agreement for Qatar’s ordinary passport holders signed last year.In addition, the Japan National Tourism Organisation's unveiling of the “Japan Travel House” in Qatar in October last year aims to catalyse inbound tourism from Qatar to Japan, further enriching bilateral ties.In the area of investments, Maeda said that Japanese companies have expressed keen interest in Qatar’s New IWPP project, focusing on the construction of thermal power generation and desalination facilities.About the transition towards carbon-free energy, the envoy said that Japan has been actively investing in initiatives aimed at achieving carbon neutrality, noting that Japanese companies are intensifying efforts in hydrogen and ammonia as carbon-free energy alternatives.He pointed out that in the Middle East, collaborative endeavours, including demonstration tests for transportation, are underway to reduce hydrogen supply costs.“I understand that efforts are underway in Qatar to expand exports of Direct Reduced Iron, which can reduce *CO2 emissions by up to 40% during steel manufacturing,” he said.While acknowledging concerns regarding regional geopolitical tensions, particularly in light of Japan’s energy dependency on the Middle East, Maeda said that both countries remain committed to enhancing co-operation across political, economic, and security fields.He said that Prime Minister Kishida’s recent meeting with His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani at COP28 underscored a shared commitment to strengthening bilateral ties and collaborating on humanitarian and regional stability issues, including Qatar's mediation efforts concerning the Gaza Strip.

The 11-day 'Luminous Festival’ at Lusail Boulevard’s Al Saad Plaza, features dazzling light shows, an array of interactive and immersive installations, and live entertainment. Running until March 2, from 5pm to midnight daily, the event is described as the country's largest light festival. PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam
Luminous Festival opens at Lusail Boulevard

Qatar Tourism’s (QT) ‘Luminous Festival’ kicked off Wednesday at Lusail Boulevard’s Al Saad Plaza, featuring dazzling light shows, an array of interactive and immersive installations, and live entertainment.Running until March 2 from 5pm to midnight daily, the 11-day event, organised in collaboration with Qatari Diar, is described as the country's largest light festival. It offers a fusion of Qatari heritage and contemporary culture through performances by acclaimed entertainment groups Candela and Boogie Woogie.According to the organisers, the staging of this unique festival also marks the end of QT’s winter offerings that started last year, combining creativity and innovation suitable for all ages and tastes.The lineup of activities, live music, and stage performances by international and regional artists at the festival is set to enthrall a large number of spectators and attendees. They will also have the opportunity to explore the festival’s five distinct zones.The first zone, The Gateway, is crafted to ignite curiosity, narrating the festival’s tale through dynamic lights and expansive projections; while the Earth zone, adorned with garden-themed installations, enchants visitors with its fluorescent and interactive lighting that symbolises various elements of nature.Organisers noted that the Water zone draws inspiration from various marine elements, especially the Darb Lusail Plaza Whale Shark. This section offers visitors an opportunity to discover the marvels of the ocean further.The Fire zone provides warmth and luminescence with interactive installations inspired by ignition and fireworks; while the Air zone exhibits artworks themed around air and space.The first part of the light shows feature LED ballerinas, scheduled until tomorrow (February 23) while glowing jugglers are set to captivate visitors from February 24-25. Other attractions include the Laser Man (February 29 to March 2) and the illusionist (March 2), in addition to other enchanting scenes, creating a spellbinding atmosphere throughout the festival grounds.Apart from musical performances such as glowing water drums (daily except February 26 and 27), a three-hour DJ set (daily), and live sounds from Caravan Dream (February 21-24 and from February 29 to March 2), attendees can also engage with the educational and entertaining Tesla Interactive Science Show from February 25-27, featuring scientific displays.Adding to the festivity are speed painting demonstrations by a talented artist (February 23-24) and glow-in-the-dark face painting for children (daily), ensuring a memorable experience for all attendees.QT noted that it remains committed to broadening its events calendar in line with Qatar’s growing popularity as a top family destination. Its collaboration with Qatari Diar to host this unique festival further solidifies its partnerships with various entities in the tourism sector.

Geekdom 3000, taking place at the Geekdom Building in Lusail Boulevard, features an extensive lineup of programmes. PICTURES: Shaji Kayamkulam
Geekdom 3000 empowers Qatar's creative community

Geekdom 3000’s extensive lineup of programmes this year underlines its growing popularity and role in empowering Qatar’s vibrant creative community, founder Abdulla al-Mosallam has said.“There is a huge demand every year. When we opened the registration, we realised that the number keeps growing, people want to participate... we're trying to accommodate everybody. There is so much talent in Doha that deserves showcasing,” he told Gulf Times.The festivities return this year at the Geekdom Building in Lusail Boulevard. It features gaming tournaments, screenings, live concerts and escape rooms, among other activities taking place from 3pm to 11pm daily until February 24.According to the organisers, “Sixth Dimension”, a pioneering and interactive space at Geekdom that harnesses state-of-the-art digital technologies to inspire imagination, creativity and innovation, will run until March 14.Among the highlights, according to the Doha Film Institute, include the Gaming Tournament, powered by Showdown; and the annual cosplay competition, in partnership with Nakama.Citing Geekdom’s positive impact on Qatar’s creative talents, he said Qatar’s premier pop culture event is not just a treat for gaming fanatics and die-hard enthusiasts but also a platform for local creatives to flourish and launch their businesses.He recounted Geekdom’s journey, from its inception to becoming a catalyst for the community's growth, saying: “I’m so proud like 11 or 12 years ago there was no opportunity for the creative people in pop culture here in Doha, they had to travel and be part of other events outside Doha.“Once we opened the first event here, it was very widely accepted and hugely popular to the point that people kept pushing and asking for more, and we're happy to be the catalyst for these creative people”.Al-Mosallam noted that a series of workshops, in collaboration with Qatar Development Bank and various organisations, was held. He said this aims to refine participants’ skills, particularly in financial management, inventory control and pricing strategies.Some participants, he pointed out, transitioned from hobbyists to successful home-based entrepreneurs, while others managed to open their businesses.“It helped them operate their business, make it more profitable not just for fun... So we’re very proud to be part of this ecosystem,” al-Mosallam said.Looking towards the future, he said he envisions Geekdom evolving into a global hub for creativity, attracting international talent and companies to Qatar. With its grassroots approach and focus on local talent, he said Geekdom aims to foster innovation and collaboration while enriching Qatar’s economy.

Officials announce details of the Match for Hope at Ahmed Bin Ali Stadium Sunday. PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam
Match for Hope football match to support EAA projects

The charity football event, ‘Match for Hope’, set to kick off on February 23 at the Ahmed Bin Ali Stadium, aims to generate more than $1mn to support various Education Above All (EAA) initiatives in Mali, Rwanda, Tanzania, Pakistan, Palestine, and Sudan, the organisers said Sunday.At a press conference at the stadium, Match for Hope project manager Qassim al-Jaidah highlighted the significance of this initiative, saying: “This gathering of cultures from around the world, for the love of football, love of sports is very important.”The event, a collaboration with EAA and the Qatar Football Association, promises to be a star-studded affair, bringing together renowned content creators and former World Cup legends at the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium.Renowned personalities AboFlah and Chunkz have been announced as the team captains, utilising their extensive social media presence to amplify awareness and garner backing for EAA's educational endeavours.The EAA Foundation, established in 2012 by Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, is dedicated to transforming lives through education. With a belief in education as the cornerstone for poverty reduction and societal progress, EAA aims to unlock the full potential of every child, aligning its mission with the Sustainable Development Goals.According to al-Jaidah, the choice of content creators as team captains is strategic, tapping into their wide-reaching influence among youth and football enthusiasts. With entertainment activities planned in collaboration with Katara Studio, including a modernised reproduction of FIFA Qatar World Cup 2022 artwork, a concert, and a fan zone, the event promises to captivate audiences both in-stadium and through live broadcasts on Al Kass, BeinSports, and YouTube.EAA’s Abdullah al-Bakri underlined the organisation's commitment to providing education opportunities to marginalised children worldwide. With more than 100 projects and 15 million beneficiaries to date, EAA’s focus extends to addressing key issues such as access to quality education, aided by the support garnered through initiatives like Match for Hope.“In EAA, we believe that sports is a key tool that is known and recognised in achieving goals of development and peace, respect.“The donation and funds raised will be fully dedicated to support education initiatives led by EAA so as to guarantee precious education opportunities for marginalised children in Palestine, Sudan. Besides, the funds raised will overcome challenges that hinder the education of the children of Mali.“The returns will also help in aiding Pakistan dealing with gender educational gender gap and high school robotry. Moreover, the youth in Tanzania will benefit from our project that aims to reach zero out-of-school children rate,” al-Bakri said.The venue manager of Ahmed Bin Ali Stadium, Ali al-Sulaiti, underscored the venue’s esteemed history of hosting major events, including the recent FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.He noted that the stadium is of World Cup standards, and “has a very good record of history of hosting big events such as the Arab Cup and the biggest sporting event, World Cup Qatar 2022”.