Author

Thursday, June 13, 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
 Kamran Rehmat
Kamran Rehmat
Kamran Rehmat is the Op-ed and Features Editor at Gulf Times. He has edited newspapers and magazines, and writes on a range of subjects from politics and sports to showbiz and culture. Widely read and travelled, he has a rich background in both print and electronic media.
Ansar Burney speaking at the Awaaz book discussion in Doha
Qatar
Ansar Burney’s 'Awaaz' reaches Doha

It would have made perfect sense for Ansar Burney to skip or even postpone a visit here last week after the Ansar Burney Trust office was completely gutted in a raging fire resulting from a short circuit on March 28. But such is the commitment of the champion human rights lawyer, activist and world renowned social worker that he simply smiled through the adversity of losing all data pertaining to his work in Karachi and flew into Doha a day later to attend a book discussion.Held at the Club House, Ewen Gardens, the event drew hordes of fans on a fasting day, who were excited to meet the man whose just released official autobiography 'Awaaz: Echoes of Freedom and Justice' has been co-authored by two prominent Doha-based Pakistanis, Shehar Bano Rizvi, an award winning Amazon best-selling author, and Tasneem Premjee Chamdia, a Special Needs Educator. The memoir was launched in Karachi late February with the first print selling out within days.Moderated by Mohsin Mujtaba, who impressed both Burney and the audience with poignant couplets and wit-laden conversation, the book discussion took on a flavour of its own with frank admissions of the stellar stature of a wife in the life of a husband. This drew much amusement for teenage sweetheart and later accomplished better half, Shaheen Burney – his pillar of strength – who, on a more reflective note, told the audience that supporting her husband given the challenging nature of his work was the least she could have done for him.Shehar Bano and Tasneem Chamdia said they felt privileged to bring Burney’s story to the world after a chance encounter the former had with Burney where she admitted being embarrassed at how little she had known about the human rights icon.Burney’s engagement with the audience was a rendezvous to remember, where he opened up on difficult and often challenging subjects and views related to fundamental human rights with the benefit of often disturbing firsthand experience. He recalled being jailed for 10 months on an unfounded charge of inciting the people against military dictatorship at a venue where he wasn’t even present!This was just the beginning of a life of trials and tribulations, but which made Burney determined to do something for the thousands of people he felt were actually innocent or unfairly prosecuted for minor crimes whilst languishing in jails under abysmal conditions.Burney, Pakistan’s first human rights minister, recalled a handful of cases from memory details of which appear in 'Awaaz', the memoirs currently making the rounds. The sheer scale of injustice in the narrated cases shocked the audience despite the understood public lack of distrust in the system back home.Regardless, and in the face of huge odds – the pursuit of which also put his life on the line several times – the indefatigable Burney went on to fight these cases, leading to the freedom of 900,000 documented prisoners – a parallel hard to find in modern history.So what led the man with over 250 awards, including the Paul Harris Fellow Award, Mother Teresa Memorial Award and two of Pakistan’s biggest civilian awards, Sitara-e-Imtiaz and Hilal-e-Imtiaz, to take on the impossible with such uncanny determination and gumption?“I have always sought (service to humankind) as a service to God. Mother Teresa, who inspired me, had once said as much when she was asked what led her to humanitarian work,” Burney recalled. “I’m (also) doing this for God.”He said along the way, attempts were made on his life and on a number of occasions, he was warned that he wouldn’t survive the wrath of the powerful people he would be taking on in his attempt to help and rescue folks who were said to be their victims.Burney, who was elected unopposed as Expert Advisor on Human Rights in the UN, said he never wavered in his faith in Allah and it came as no surprise that those very powerful people later met him to settle disputes.A strong theme of the discussion remained his single-minded focus on 'Huqooqul Ibaad' – the rights of human beings, which Allah has ordained even over and above rights of Allah that His beings are obligated to.In response to a question whilst talking to Gulf Times, Burney said the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was his greatest inspiration in life, emphasising however, that his strong faith meant he or any human being was not supposed to discriminate against any on the basis of religion. He underlined that service to humankind was paramount.Burney however, lamented the degradation of values in society and said despite being on the right side of humanitarian causes, it was never easy for him to follow the path, and which, at an early stage, led him to officially establish the Ansar Burney Trust – because his name was being misused for vested interests and thus damaging the cause.Dilating on his strong faith, Burney said there were times in his journey when he was at the end of his tether with no resource or solution in sight, but somehow help would arrive at the eleventh hour and things would move. This strengthened his resolve to continue the journey, which he felt was a reward in itself.The premier advocate for victims of human trafficking, bonded labour and other forms of exploitation, recounted his often daring – and, at times, life threatening – drive to have child jockeys banned in the Middle East whilst rescuing a large number of them and reuniting them with their families back home. For this, he was honoured as an Anti-Human Trafficking Hero by the US State Department.Burney concluded with a note of thanks to his co-authors for going out of their way to research and piece together the details and highlights of his fulfilling journey. Later, he signed dozens of copies for the audience.• 'Awaaz' is available at all Liberty bookstores in Pakistan and on amazon.com worldwide.

Goal-Oriented: "I made it my mission to choose roles that would have these empowering messages for women," says Sanam Saeed
Qatar
Close encounter with the versatile Sanam Saeed

In the pantheon of Pakistani entertainment, few names resonate as profoundly as Sanam Saeed’s. An actress of rare versatility and depth, she has carved a niche for herself in an industry that is both vibrant and competitive.Perhaps best known for her role in the critically acclaimed drama 'Zindagi Gulzar Hai' which made waves both in her native Pakistan and across the border in India, Sanam has showcased an exceptional ability to bring complex characters to life, earning her a dedicated fan base and critical acclaim both domestically and internationally.Beyond reel life, she is a real life hero, too, lending her time and energy for humanitarian causes. Sanam was in town over the weekend for something similar – raising awareness about cancer – at the annual Ramadan event organised by Friends of Shaukat Khanum Memorial Trust (Qatar) in Doha.In an exclusive interview with Gulf Times, Sanam spoke at length about the cause she so fervently espouses, her love of Qatar, and, last but not least, her dynamic acting career across television, cinema, theatre, music and now, web series.Born on February 2, 1985, in London, UK, and raised in Karachi, Pakistan, her journey from a budding theatre artist to a leading television and film actress mirrors the evolving landscape of Pakistani entertainment.Excerpts from the interview:Q: Before we venture into your career as an artist, please tell us about how you came to espouse a real life role such as being an ambassador for Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital (SKMCH)?I knew about SKMCH and the healthcare they were providing to cancer patients and how it was a huge support system for people in need. Personally, I experienced it closer home with my mother diagnosed with breast cancer, and so I could resonate with the cause and was passionate about trying to spread awareness on prevention through early detection.Television and media are powerful mediums. I was able to learn quickly about the influence and impact our roles on television have on the public, especially young women, not many of whom are exposed to avenues of information from where they could learn about their fundamental rights. In fact, I made it my mission to choose roles that would have these empowering messages for women. We made dramas on child abuse, mental health issues, and the like. And so that is how my “social work” is done through my work. Secondly, anything I believe in strongly, I’m happy to contribute as ambassador.There’s Shaukat Khanum, The Citizens Foundation, Kiran Foundation, Hunar Foundation and the like that each cater to different needs whether it’s cancer treatment, free education, vocational training centres or improving the community’s overall well-being. These organisations just need that extra push and support to spread awareness and raise funds. I’m grateful to have the honour of being their voice where needed.I think there’s more awareness and recognition now, which is all very important given that Pakistan is a country with one of the highest breast cancer rates in the world. With all the work it does, SKMCH has enabled the message to reach across homes in Pakistan.How is your Qatar experience? What is it that you like most about the country?My Qatar experience is serene. It’s a beautiful country. I have a very close friend here so it feels like coming home. I was busy at the time of the FIFA World Cup, but I heard about the enriching experience it was. It was lovely see the whole world come to Qatar and respect the local culture and appreciate the hospitality. So there were big takeaways from their trip to Qatar. It is always a pleasure to visit Qatar.From your initial start in TV with a supporting role in 'Daam' to playing complex characters in serials like 'Zindagi Gulzar Hai' and 'Diyar-e-Dil', how do you think your acting approach has evolved over the years?It evolves with every project because every project brings a new director, which brings a new approach, which brings a new aesthetic, a new style. So I’m constantly learning and evolving through my directors, scripts and definitely, through the energy that the cast brings. And then, difficult as it is to watch one’s own past work, I’ve been doing that to learn (from the experience) and see what works and what doesn’t. I think it was the greatest way I could teach myself and evolve as an actor.Your portrayal of Kashaf Murtaza in 'Zindagi Gulzar Hai' received widespread acclaim and numerous awards. What do you think made your character and this serial resonate so strongly with audiences in both Pakistan and India?Kashaf Murtaza’s character was the story of any young girl in the subcontinent who experiences certain biases, whose path is riddled with obstacles, particularly father issues, financial issues, low self-esteem issues. And finally finding a suitable life partner. This is something many young girls experience, which is why I think people felt very close to the character as they could relate to it.You've successfully transitioned from TV to film, receiving critical acclaim for your roles in movies like 'Cake'. How do you prepare for these different mediums?Television is a very ‘close-ups’ medium; there are lots of close-ups and so your expressions come into play with tighter lens so that the people size up the expressions, emotions and the feelings actors are going through. In contrast, in cinema, you have wider lens, wider shots and open space. And because you have a huge screen, you can show the environment in which the characters perform.Technically, on the big screen you have to be aware of your movements and body language, given that nothing is hidden in terms of detail from the viewer. On television, you might still get away with things, but not on the big screen, where the tiniest flaw can stand out like a sore thumb. The theatre background helps a lot with the latter as you learn movements. In terms of preparations, a lot depends on the director: how much they want you to act, emote: do they want it loud, understated, very suttle, or very deadpan.You had four film releases in 2016, which in itself is a statement. These must have been in the works, but how did you juggle different roles in that length of time?Indie films – or art films as they are sometimes referred to – were shot over several years, but they all happened to come out at the same time, which is interesting. This underpins my love for doing diverse roles.Finally, what is your take on the current fare on the small screen in Pakistan? Are they substantive in terms of content or suffer from formulaic inertia?You can’t have great content all the time; at any given time, there will be one diamond in the rough, may be two that stand out in the crowd and make an impact. But you have to keep going at it. There’s a lot of talent in terms of actors, directors, writers. The channels are there to provide the platform – so we’ve got a lot of potential. The fact is that, in Pakistan, what has really helped the economy in our field is television, sustaining the media industry.There is speculation that you’re doing web series and something big is coming up. What can you tell us about that?I have been doing web series more recently only out of my love for diversity; hopefully, the projects will come up before the end of 2024 on several different online streaming platforms.

EPIC JOURNEY: Ansar Burney, left, with co-authors Shehar Bano Rizvi, centre, and Tasneem Premjee Chamdia at the launch of 'Awaaz: Echoes of Freedom and Justice' in Karachi recently.
Opinion
Interview: A journey of rights, resilience

DOHA: Ansar Burney, a name synonymous with human rights advocacy in Pakistan and beyond, is a pioneering figure whose life’s work has left an indelible mark on the global struggle for human dignity and freedom.Born on August 14, 1956, in Karachi, Pakistan, Burney embarked on a journey of activism at a young age, propelled by a deep-seated belief in justice and equality. His legal education provided a solid foundation for what would become a lifelong commitment to combating injustices and championing the rights of the oppressed.As the founder of the Ansar Burney Trust in 1980, he has tirelessly worked to eradicate human trafficking, slavery, child labour, and to provide support for prisoners of war, and the wrongly incarcerated. Recognised as Pakistan’s first and foremost human rights lawyer, Burney’s efforts have transcended borders, making him a venerated figure on the international human rights stage.Gulf Times spoke to Doha-based award-winning Pakistani author Shehar Bano Rizvi and her co-author Tasneem Premjee Chamdia, who both combined with Burney to launch his autobiography entitled Awaaz: Echoes of Freedom and Justice in Karachi recently.Excerpts from the interview:What inspired you to co-write Ansar Burney’s autobiography?Shehar Bano: In December 2018, I met Burney Sahib during his visit to Qatar for the Doha Forum. As he shared his stories, I was deeply impressed by the magnitude of his work in the field of human rights, leaving me in awe of his faith, courage, and resilience. However, I felt embarrassed that, as a Pakistani, I wasn’t aware of this real-life hero who had been recognised as an Anti-Human Trafficking Hero by the US State Department.When I asked him if he had ever considered writing a memoir, he graciously invited me to undertake the task. After a series of exclusive interviews, I realised the complexity of this project and approached my friend Tasneem. Inspired by Burney Sahib’s story, Tasneem agreed to join me, and together we started working on the manuscript. Our primary aim in documenting the legacy of Ansar Burney was not only to ensure that future generations would know about him but also find inspiration and valuable lessons from his life. The world needs individuals like Ansar Burney to remind us of what a driven individual is capable of and that we belong to the tribe of humanity before any other.Can you share a surprising or lesser-known fact about him that you discovered during your research?Tasneem: Writing this book has been a journey filled with surprises and revelations. One particularly intriguing discovery was that the character portrayed by Salman Khan in the Bollywood blockbuster Bajrangi Bhaijan was inspired by Ansar Burney, based on one of his cases. Despite the movie’s widespread popularity among millions of Indians and Pakistanis, his connection to it remains largely unknown. It’s both surprising and dismaying that despite Burney Sahib’s extensive work on cases spanning from Japan to Africa, he remains relatively unknown globally, continuing to be an unsung hero.What impact do you believe he has had on philanthropy and beyond?Shehar Bano: Burney Sahib has touched countless lives globally by championing human rights causes, irrespective of borders, beliefs, or political views. While many dedicate themselves to humanitarian causes, his unparalleled fearlessness sets him apart. His tireless efforts in combating human trafficking, aiding oppressed individuals, and advocating for prisoners’ rights have not only led to the release of over 900,000 innocent people from illegal captivity but have also raised awareness. However, I believe the story of a man like Ansar Burney needs to reach a much wider audience worldwide to have an even bigger impact.Were there any aspects of Burney’s life or work that particularly moved or inspired you?Tasneem: For me, the entirety of Ansar Burney’s life and work has been deeply moving and inspiring. Woven into his memoir is a central theme: faith. Despite starting with very little in terms of resources, he always possessed a vast wealth of faith — a deep-seated belief that if he set out to do the right thing, God would provide whatever he needed to complete the job. This meant taking risks that some might view as utterly insane, but he was willing to take those chances because, to him, ensuring justice for the oppressed was worth it. We see this faith shining through the book as he navigates through some very challenging situations.Did your perspective on Burney change during the course of this work? If so, how?Shehar Bano: Before meeting Burney Sahib, I knew very little of him, mainly associating him with the Ansar Burney Trust’s work to reunite missing individuals with their families. However, when I undertook this project, I was warned by some of my well-wishers about him having a “controversial” persona. Despite warnings, I followed my heart and spent five years closely collaborating with him.Working with Burney Sahib, I realised that people are quick to judge others without verifying information sources or knowing the whole story. I also learned that working for human rights is completely different from social welfare. Being a human rights activist means standing up for the weak, against oppressors, which can upset influential people and create enemies. Unfortunately, we’ve seen many great names tarnished in the past due to this.Many rumours about Burney Sahib were debunked while writing this book. For instance, some people perceive him negatively because of his past involvement in student politics and time spent in jail. However, few know that his jail experience was pivotal, and a turning point in his life. He left politics, studied law, and founded Prisoners Aid Society to advocate for prisoners’ rights.Through this memoir, he provides a candid, vulnerable and honest insight into his life, which I believe have the power to alter many people’s perceptions of him and his work.What do you hope readers will take away from your work?Tasneem: It is my hope that our readers will go beyond merely enjoying Awaaz as an interesting story. I want them to consider Ansar Burney as a role model and feel inspired to raise their voices for humanity whenever the situation calls for it. To be honest, I cannot think of a more relevant time than today, with a genocide unfolding before our eyes in Gaza. Can we too make sacrifices and risk speaking up for those enduring injustice, regardless of their ethnicity or religion? I certainly hope so.

Gulf Times
Qatar
Legendary Burney’s Awaaz strikes a chord

Doha: Recently, at a well-attended event at the Karachi Press Club, a stellar work on the life and times of Ansar Burney, titled Awaaz: Echoes of Freedom and Justice was launched.The autobiography offers an in-depth look at Burney’s journey from a student leader to a globally recognised champion of human rights. Co-authored by Burney himself — along with prominent Doha-based Pakistani author and photographer Shehar Bano Rizvi, and first-time writer and Special Needs Educator Tasneem Premjee Chamdia — the memoir shares his experiences in advocating for prisoners’ rights, combating human trafficking, and working towards the reform of Pakistan’s justice system.The first print was sold out within no time.Awaaz recounts his establishment of the Ansar Burney Trust in 1980 amidst threats to his life, his legal battles within Pakistan’s legal framework, and his co-operation with authorities to secure the release of numerous prisoners.Burney’s story is also one of personal growth and the challenges he faced, including his notable 17-year struggle against the use of child camel jockeys in the Middle East. The memoir delves into his personal relationships, encounters with fellow humanitarians, and his role as Pakistan’s first Minister of Human Rights and a UN Expert Adviser on Human Rights. It highlights his successes, vulnerabilities, and the insights he gained throughout his life, aimed at inspiring anyone interested in humanitarian work or personal development.Talking at the launch, Burney recounted the struggles that has made him a household name in philanthropy.“After spending a lifetime in the service of humanity and raising my voice for human rights, I have learned that everything that I have done has been because of God’s will. I have served God by serving humanity, His creation. Often, I did not have the means to help a prisoner, or someone stuck in illegal captivity, but always at the 11th hour, someone would come forward to help and join hands for the cause.“ This book also has happened in a similar way. I can’t explain how Shehar Bano, and her friend Tasneem came together to write this book with me. I just want to thank them for their relentless effort in helping me share my story.”The autobiography also captures Burney’s dedication to justice and human rights beyond the borders of Pakistan. It narrates his efforts to secure the release of individuals unjustly imprisoned, his campaign against child exploitation in the Middle East, and his role in reuniting the real-life inspiration behind the Bollywood movie Bajrangi Bhaijaan with her family.In real life, Burney campaigned to get Geeta — the real Munni — a Hindu girl stuck in Pakistan, to reunite with her family in India after many trials and tribulations. The Bollywood superhit switched the roles to portray how Bajrangi — essayed by superstar Salman Khan — helped get a Pakistani girl stranded in India back home to Pakistan.Burney’s life and work serve as a testament to the power of empathy and compassion, demonstrating his belief that every individual deserves dignity and rights regardless of their background.Burney has won more than 250 awards throughout his journey, including Outstanding Young Person of the World Award, Mother Teresa Memorial Award, and Pakistan’s highest civilian awards Sitara-e-Imtiaz and Hilal-e-Imtiaz. US State Department also declared him an Anti-Human Trafficking Hero.Awaaz is not just a memoir but a resource for social and humanitarian workers, offering insights into the life of a man who dedicated himself to serving humanity and advocating for the oppressed. It is a tribute to Burney’s belief in humanity’s collective action to usher in a brighter tomorrow, showcasing his enduring commitment to justice and human dignity.For more detailed insights into Ansar Burney’s life and legacy, the autobiography is a compelling read that underscores the importance of compassion, courage, and the relentless pursuit of justice in today’s world.Talking to Gulf Times, the award-winning author Shehar Bano Rizvi, who has a previous Amazon best-seller Virsa: A culinary journey from Agra to Karachi to her credit, said: “It was my distinct honour to co-author Awaaz with Ansar Burney. It was very challenging to capture such a diverse array of stories and struggles for human rights. Each story is captivating, moving, and incredible. The book will undoubtedly inspire readers.”Her co-author, Tasneem Premjee Chamdia, was equally sanguine about the iconic work: “Awaaz is an excellent resource not only for social and humanitarian workers but also anyone pursuing personal growth. The world needs great souls like Ansar Burney to exemplify what a driven individual is capable of and that we all belong to the tribe of humanity above all others.”Awaaz is available across Pakistan at Liberty Book locations and online, and globally through Amazon.com

INTERACTION: An attendee banters with a prototype robot at the MWC24 in Barcelona. (GSMA photo)
Opinion
MWC24 and future prospects

Barcelona: The Mobile World Congress and Barcelona have virtually become synonymous and the festive air at the 2024 edition was no different. Sunshine and clouds played hide and seek outside the world’s largest and most influential connectivity event, but inside we were all warming up to the breathtaking technology and innovations taking place across the world — on display on a single stage.In all, four days of vibrant discussion and networking saw industry leaders and attendees from across the mobile ecosystem making the most of the opportunity.Mobile Economy Report 2024To mark the opening of MWC Barcelona, the GSMA launched its annual Mobile Economy Report, spotlighting the latest trends shaping the global mobile ecosystem with recommended areas of investment to help the industry expand mobile access and improve service quality.The key findings include:? By 2029, 5G is projected to represent over half (51%) of all mobile connections, with its adoption rate increasing to 56% by the decade’s end.? At the close of 2023, 58% of the global population, or 4.7bn individuals, were accessing the Internet via mobile devices, marking a rise of 2.1bn users since 2015.? Despite having access to mobile broadband networks, 3bn people do not use mobile internet, highlighting the critical ‘Usage Gap.’ This emphasises the need to tackle adoption barriers, such as the cost of mobile devices and the lack of literacy/digital skills, as pointed out by the GSMA’s ‘Breaking Barriers’ initiative.? In 2023, mobile technologies and services contributed to 5.4% of the worldwide GDP, translating to an economic value of $5.7tn.? The global economy is poised to gain over $930bn from 5G by 2030, with the manufacturing sector (36%), public administration (15%), and services industry (10%) standing to benefit the most.Commercial 5G services: the future l By January 2024, 261 operators across 101 nations had initiated commercial 5G services, with over 90 operators from 64 markets pledging to future rollouts. Among these services, 47 operate on 5G Standalone (SA) networks, and there are 89 upcoming deployments that will leverage advancements such as network slicing, ultra-reliable low-latency communications, and the streamlined architecture of 5G SA networks.? The expansion of 5G SA networks, alongside enhanced capabilities for private and dedicated networks, is set to significantly increase the number of connected devices, pushing forward the global vision for the Internet of Things (IoT) in the enterprise sector.? According to GSMA Intelligence, the enterprise segment currently boasts 10.7bn IoT connections, surpassing the consumer segment’s 10.5bn. This trend is anticipated to surge, with enterprise connections expected to more than double to 38.5bn by 2030. Smart buildings and smart manufacturing are projected to constitute 34% and 16% of these enterprise connections, respectively.? The introduction of 5G-Advanced, following the 3GPP Release 18, marks another pivotal milestone in IoT development. This advancement is set to trigger new 5G investments from 2024 into 2025. Reports indicate that over half of the operators plan to start deploying 5G-Advanced solutions within a year of their availability, focusing on essential use cases like 5G multicast services and affordable IoT support.? There are also forecasts for a fourfold increase in mobile data traffic from now until 2030, highlighting the crucial role of expanding 5G coverage and capacity and underscoring the necessity for ongoing investments in infrastructure. Expectedly, the average monthly global mobile data traffic per connection will rise from 12.8GB in 2023 to 47.9GB by 2030.? The surge in Generative AI (GenAI) utilisation — currently being tested by 56% of operators — will likely contribute significantly to this data traffic increase. This growth will be fuelled by various applications, such as the deployment of GenAI-powered chatbots for customer service and the expanding production of AI-generated video and music content.GSMA Open Gateway: Unlocking 5G potential The Global System for Mobile Communications Association (GSMA) has highlighted the strides taken by the sector and its allies towards realising the vast capabilities of 5G and making network Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) commercially available via the GSMA Open Gateway project.Unveiled at the MWC Barcelona event in 2023, the Open Gateway aims to boost the development of digital services and applications by granting developers worldwide access to telecommunication operators’ networks. In the past year, this initiative has garnered the support of 47 mobile operator groups, which account for 239 mobile networks and 65% of worldwide connections. Collaborating with tech giants such as AWS, Infobip, Microsoft, Nokia, and Vonage, the initiative has successfully launched 94 APIs for enterprise developers in 21 markets spanning Africa, Asia-Pacific, Europe, the Middle East, and the Americas. These APIs have been developed for various applications, including fraud prevention and identity verification.Talent ArenaThe Mobile World Capital Barcelona successfully conducted the first-ever Talent Arena hackathon at MWC Barcelona 2024, a newly introduced zone focusing on digital expertise. Over the course of two days, 48 tech experts took on the challenge to innovate and shape the future of telecommunications through their projects.The Talent Arena, with its primary goal of fostering connections between digital professionals of varied disciplines and leading Barcelona-based companies, served as a hub for discovering emerging trends and career possibilities within the digital domain.The hackathon, lasting 48 hours, resulted in three standout projects. The first-place project introduced a collaborative system for reporting issues to public administrations and confirming their locations. The second-place project was a streaming platform designed to enhance live video viewing experiences for users. The third-place project proposed a solution to improve healthcare for individuals in foreign countries who face language barriers.In conclusion, Mats Granryd, Director General, GSMA noted: “Hearing truly compelling industry insights from the conference programme, and experiencing the innovation, ingenuity and optimism from the show floor, is why we meet in Barcelona every year. This event is about providing a glimpse into the future and demonstrating how AI, 5G and APIs are unlocking new possibilities, thanks to collaborative initiatives like GSMA Open Gateway.”THE MWC24 IN NUMBERS? Over 101,000 unique in-person attendees from 205 countries and territories? Over 59% of attendees representing industries adjacent to the core mobile ecosystem? Over 2,700 exhibitors, sponsors and partners? Over 1,100 speakers and thought leaders, including over 40% female speakers? 51% of attendees at director level and above, of which 21% were C-Suite? 26% female attendees? Over 2,600 journalists and industry analysts from around the world? The GSMA Ministerial Programme convened over 180 delegations from 140 countries, including two heads of state, over 70 ministers, nearly 120 heads of regulatory authorities and over 40 intergovernmental organisations? 4YFN, which this year celebrated its 10th anniversary edition, welcomed 930 exhibitors, 450 speakers and over 1,000 investors with collective funds totalling €50bn? MWC Barcelona has been certified as carbon neutral for 10 years. And this year, use of the complimentary public transport pass given to all MWC attendees increased by 42% compared to last year. With the GSMA’s Environmental Programme, the aim is to minimise the environment footprint of MWC? At the time of writing this, over 400,000 unique viewers of the keynotes and live sessions on the MWC Barcelona website, Mobile World Live and media partners platforms and media outlets

Fang Liangzhou
Qatar
Huawei launches Smart VPP, SmartDC for faster ICT green transition

Barcelona: At Mobile World Congress 2024, Fang Liangzhou, Vice-President of Huawei Digital Power, unveiled the cutting-edge ‘Site Virtual Power Plant (VPP) Distributed Energy Storage System (DESS) Solution’ and the ‘SmartDC’ for large-scale data centres, advancing the shift towards green, low-carbon operations for service providers.Huawei's VPP solution – a pioneering end-to-end system featuring energy aggregation platforms, smart gateways, and lithium batteries – enables operators and tower companies to create streamlined, intelligent, VPP networks for effective power service expansion.The system’s design allows for quick, straightforward deployment across various settings, leveraging intelligent technologies for precise, efficient power management and supporting diverse services like peak shifting and frequency response, with software algorithms enhancing VPP efficiency.Simple: This solution uses the self-networking mode to decouple electric power services from telecom services on the live network. The VPP system can be installed and deployed within one day. It is applicable to all scenarios and can be smoothly deployed to all sites.Intelligent: Multiple intelligent technologies are used to achieve high concurrency, quick scheduling, and high precision, meeting high requirements for power regulation.Convergent: One VPP system can participate in multiple services, such as peak staggering, demand-side response, and frequency response. In addition, software algorithms are used to intelligently optimise energy scheduling, improving benefits of VPP services.During the event, Liangzhou introduced a white paper focusing on integrating telecom site storage into the power market, a first in the telecom sector aimed at fostering innovative telecom-energy sector convergence and bolstering the energy transformation infrastructure.Addressing the demands for high density and computing power, Huawei's SmartDC solution for data centres integrates power supply, modular construction, and distributed cooling to create dependable, simplified, eco-friendly computing environments, pushing forward carbon-neutral goals. The solution’s features, including a compact, efficient power system, modular outdoor PowerPODs, and an innovative cooling system, contribute to operational efficiency, reduced environmental impact, and high reliability.Integrated power supply: The power system adopts integrated design. One power system is provided in one row, reducing the footprint by 30%. The full-link efficiency is improved from 95.4% to 98.4% in S-ECO mode, reducing loss by 70%. Based on the iPower feature, all links are visible, and the devices can be monitored with the service life predictable, evolving from passive response to AI predictive maintenance.Prefabrication: Huawei's outdoor PowerPODs adopt modular design and provide integrated and prefabricated cooling and power equipment, implementing on-demand outdoor deployment and flexible capacity expansion. Through prefabrication and pre-commissioning before delivery, the system is instantly available upon connection, shortening the delivery period by 40% and achieving optimal time to market (TTM). Five-star quality is ensured through product design of engineering and standard production and quality inspection.Distributed cooling: The cooling system maximises free cooling sources, supports one heat exchange, automatically switches between three working modes, and automatically adjusts cooling capacity based on the load, saving water and electricity. The Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) can be reduced to 1.15.In addition, the system uses a distributed cooling architecture and has a small fault domain, ensuring that the fault of a single system does not impact the entire system. This brings high reliability, with system availability reaching 99.9999%.

Huawei's "0 Bit 0 Watt" solution won the GSMA GLOMO 'Best Mobile Technology Breakthrough' award.
Qatar
Multiple awards for Huawei at MWC24

Barcelona: At the 2024 Mobile World Congress (MWC) held here, Huawei was awarded the GSMA GLOMO 'Best Mobile Technology Breakthrough' for its "0 Bit 0 Watt" solution, marking a first for network energy efficiency recognition. This solution, now implemented in over 30 networks globally, cuts daily energy use by up to 38% and significantly boosts user experience.Huawei's RAN Digital Twin System (RDTS), part of its IntelligentRAN, also won the 'Best Network Software Breakthrough,' highlighting its innovative approach to wireless network autonomy and digital transformation. The RDTS, a pioneering development with AUTIN (a portmanteau of ‘automation’ and ‘intelligence’), creates a detailed digital twin of RAN environments, enhancing network decision-making and efficiency.The award highlights Huawei's commitment to transforming software solutions tailored to customer needs, facilitating the creation of autonomous wireless networks and propelling the global digital and smart evolution of operator networks.The GSMA judges praised the solution, noting that "Huawei's IntelligentRAN, by integrating digital twins into wireless networks, activates 5.5G inherent intelligence. This innovation continuously aids operators in reducing capital and operational expenses while boosting efficiency."The collaboration between State Grid, China Unicom, Huawei, and TD Tech earned the 'Best Private Network Solution' Award for their 5G smart grid solution, demonstrating large-scale commercial advancements in 5G-powered smart grids. This solution leverages deterministic slicing and Reduced Capability (RedCap) technology for secure, cost-effective 5G deployment across power grids.Meanwhile, China Unicom Guangdong and Huawei's 5G live streaming service received the 'Best Mobile Operator Service for Connected Consumers' award, showcasing the potential of 5G uplink bandwidth to enhance live streaming quality and user experience, setting a benchmark for global operators.The service was designed to fulfill users' ultra-high uplink bandwidth requirements. They allow users to enjoy HD and uninterrupted live streaming experience, and set an example for other global operators looking to monetise 5G uplink bandwidth.The Global Mobile Awards (GLOMO) was founded in 1996 by GSMA, the organiser of MWC, to recognise all those who have made positive contributions to the development of the mobile communications industry. As the highest honour in the mobile communications industry, GLOMO focuses on recognising the industry's most original and outstanding technologies and products.

Li Peng during his address at the MWC in Barcelona
Qatar
Huawei unveils 10 industrial digital, intelligent transformation solutions

Barcelona: Amidst the buzz and innovation that defines the Mobile World Congress (MWC) of 2024, Huawei Industrial Digital and Intelligent Transformation Summit became a beacon of collaborative innovation. Gathering a global assembly of customers, partners, and thought leaders, the summit under the grand theme of ‘Leading Digital and Intelligent Infrastructure, Accelerating Industrial Intelligence’ served as a fertile ground for the exchange of revolutionary ideas and practices in the realm of digital and intelligent transformation, with a special focus on industries and small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).Huawei's unveiling of 10 industrial digital and intelligent transformation solutions, alongside a fleet of new flagship products, marked a significant milestone in the journey towards industrial evolution. These innovations were designed to cater to the diverse needs of customers at various stages of their transformation journey, showcasing the Chinese tech giant's commitment to leading the charge in the intelligent world.Li Peng, Corporate Senior Vice-President and President of ICT Sales & Service at Huawei, encapsulated the transformative spirit of the age, stating, "From the information age to the digitalisation age, each transformation has unveiled immense possibilities. Now, as we navigate into an intelligent world, the key to foreseeing the future lies in our ability to create it. We are poised to redouble our efforts in delivering more intelligent digital infrastructure products and solutions, thereby accelerating the intelligent transformation of industries."Leo Chen, President of Enterprise Sales at Huawei, emphasised the importance of managing the trifecta of data "computing, transmission, and storage" in a harmonised manner. By integrating data across different scenarios into a unified cloud data foundation, Huawei aims to extend its reach to more traditional industries and core businesses, supporting numerous industry customers on their digitalisation journey towards an intelligent world.Chen further illustrated the transformative power of digital and intelligent change using the metaphor of 'Phase transition' from physics, suggesting that such transformation brings not only higher levels of growth but also ushers in a new economic dynamic. "By achieving greater efficiency and productivity, we can ultimately forge a better life for every individual," Chen observed.In 2023, Huawei introduced the intelligent transformation reference architecture, guiding industrial customers through their digital and intelligent transformation. Focused on ICT products and technologies, Huawei is building an open ecosystem to gather partners and developers, thereby creating leading digital and intelligent infrastructure. Recognising the need for differentiated solutions across various scenarios, it is committed to helping customers navigate through their digital and intelligent transformation phases.For large-scale industrial customers facing diverse services and complex scenarios, Huawei has introduced 10 industrial digital and intelligent solutions, including National Cloud Solution 2.0, Smart City, Smart Classroom 3.0, and several others, addressing a wide range of needs from medical technology digitalisation to smart infrastructure and safety management solutions. Additionally, Huawei has unveiled product portfolios like the Campus Digital Platform and Multilayer Ransomware Protection (MRP) 2.0, tailoring its offerings to meet the specific needs of its customers.For SMEs with simpler business scenarios, Huawei leverages its best practices in collaboration with partners to develop open, lightweight, and scenario-specific solutions that are cost-effective, differentiated, and serviceable. This initiative has led to the development of over 30 scenario-based solutions, aiding SMEs in achieving their digital and intelligent transformation objectives.In 2023, the launch of the HUAWEI eKit brand marked a significant step towards providing accessible, easy-to-use products for a broad range of applications, from SME offices to schools and healthcare facilities. David Shi, Vice-President of ICT Marketing and Solution Sales at Huawei, emphasised the company's dedication to understanding and addressing the unique challenges and needs of each customer. "As the journey of digital and intelligent transformation progresses, Huawei remains focused on delivering scenario-based, cutting-edge, green, and low-carbon products and solutions," Shi stated, highlighting the company's forward-thinking approach.By the close of 2023, Huawei's global partnership network had expanded to over 40,000 partners in the enterprise market, playing a pivotal role in driving customer success. Ernest Zhang, President of Global Partner, Commercial & Distribution, Enterprise Sales at Huawei, articulated the company's ongoing commitment to its partners. "Adhering to the principles of shared benefits, integrity, and clear rules, Huawei will continue to optimise partner development policies, foster healthy and win-win partnerships, and collectively stride towards a shared era of success," Zhang concluded, echoing the collaborative spirit that defines the tech giant’s approach to navigating the intelligent world.

Cao Ming speaks at the Mobile World Congress 2024 in Barcelona on Monday.
Qatar
Commercial 5.5G: 8 innovation practices unveiled

Barcelona: On the opening day of the much anticipated Mobile World Congress 2024 here, Huawei introduced eight 5.5G innovations to assist operators in developing multi-path 5.5G networks.Cao Ming, Huawei's Wireless Solution President, announced the start of 5.5G commercialisation, highlighting the Chinese tech giant’s comprehensive 5.5G offerings featuring "Native Giga" and "Native Green" for global operators. This marks the transition of 5.5G from concept to reality, with all necessary standards, services, and policies in place, signalling the acceleration of 5.5G deployment worldwide. Operators in the Middle East have already scaled 5.5G commercial use, while those in Europe, Asia Pacific, and Latin America are testing 10 Gbps speeds for 2024 commercialisation.The 5.5G evolution involves all bands, utilising both test-driven development (TDD) and feature-driven development (FDD) networking to achieve ubiquitous 5 Gbps and hotspot 10 Gbps speeds. Huawei's 5.5G GigaGreen products and solutions, which are "Native Giga" for performance and "Native Green" for energy efficiency, are already supporting the global rollout of high-performance, energy-efficient 5.5G networks.Following are the eight innovation practices that Huawei has introduced:(1) The 64T MetaAAU with Extremely Large Antenna Array (ELAA) supports multi-band operations, achieving 5 Gbps everywhere by combining high and low bands. Implemented in China and the Middle East, it simplifies site construction by verifying multi-carrier TDD with bands like 3.5 GHz, 2.6 GHz, and 4.9 GHz.(2) The Hepta-band RRU upgrades FDD to support seven bands from 700 MHz to 2.6 GHz, reusing 100 MHz bandwidth for 5 Gbps networks. The solutions enhance FDD efficiency, with the triple-band 8T8R and Massive MIMO significantly improving coverage and capacity in Cambodia and Malaysia.(3) The mmWave technology, essential for 5.5G's 10 Gbps, features the industry's largest AAU with over 2,000 antenna elements, offering four times the beam density of competitors and overcoming coverage challenges. Successful implementations in China and Finland demonstrate smooth 10 Gbps mobile experiences.(4) LampSite X supports up to 1.6 GHz bandwidth in sub-6 GHz and mmWave bands for indoor 10 Gbps. In Hong Kong, it enabled a 10 Gbps business area, enhancing AR experiences and boosting network traffic and merchant revenue.(5) Huawei's "0 Bit 0 Watt" approach for 5.5G equipment, based on "Native Green" design, improves energy efficiency tenfold. Verified in Zhejiang, China, it significantly reduces power consumption in both idle and active modes, achieving all-day energy savings.(6) MAGICSwave enables Microwave 2T in all scenarios, reaching up to 50 Gbps to support 5.5G evolution.(7) Signal direct injection feeding (SDIF) is applied to all antennas, enhancing energy efficiency by 20% across bands.(8) Huawei IntelligentRAN utilises large communication models and digital twin systems for L4 network intelligence, optimising costs and efficiency.Cao Ming underlined the obtaining performance and energy efficiency."As we keep walking the walk, we can reach our goals. Huawei's GigaGreen full-series solutions provide the most powerful performance with minimal resource consumption, aiding operators in maintaining their success during the 5.5G era with networks known for their unparalleled performance and energy efficiency," he concluded.

George Gao delivering a keynote address at the Mobile World Congress 2024 in Barcelona on Monday.
Qatar
Road to the future: Huawei launches first 5.5G Intelligent Core Network

Barcelona: At the grand inauguration of the Mobile World Congress (MWC24), an electrifying new product solution event was hosted by Huawei. George Gao, President of Huawei's Cloud Core Network Product Line, unveiled the groundbreaking 5.5G intelligent core network solution.This year marks a monumental milestone in the realm of telecommunications with the advent of 5.5G, heralding a new era of commercialisation. The 5.5G intelligent core network, a cornerstone of this technological evolution, weaves together the threads of service, network, and Operation and Maintenance (O&M) intelligence, promising to elevate the realms of business value and developmental prospects to unprecedented heights.The previous year witnessed the pioneering deployment of New Calling, reaching an impressive milestone by catering to over 50mn subscribers sprawled across 31 provinces in China. Its success didn't just stop at the borders of China; it extended its verification credentials to regions including Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, and the Asia Pacific, setting the stage for its commercial debut in these territories within the year.Gao introduced Huawei's New Calling-Advanced solution, a trailblazer in the industry boasting enhanced intelligence and data channel-based interaction capabilities. This innovation is a leap towards the dawn of a multi-modal communication era, offering telecom operators a golden opportunity to revolutionise their service frameworks.In a bid to enrich the calling experience, Huawei also lifted the curtains on its Multi-modal Communication Function (MCF). This cutting-edge feature empowers users to animate digital avatars with their voice during calls, introducing a layer of personalisation never seen before. Enterprises are not left behind; they can tailor-make their own digital ambassadors, leveraging this for brand promotion like never before.The quest for traffic monetisation on mobile broadband (MBB) networks has been long and arduous for operators. They faced three formidable technical chasms: inaccessible user experience, lack of dynamic optimisation, and absence of closed-loop operations. Huawei’s answer to these challenges is the pioneering Intelligent Personalised Experience (IPE) solution, designed to enable operators to weave experience privileges into service offerings, thereby unlocking new avenues for monetising differentiated experiences.Traditionally, the core network's user plane would handle each service flow with a single virtual CPU (vCPU), struggling under the weight of high-demand services like 2K or 4K HD video and live streaming. This often leads to vCPU overload and resultant packet loss. Huawei's response is the revolutionary Intelligent user-defined graphic (UDG. This industry-first solution promises a seamless 10 Gbps experience across the board.The introduction of the Digital Assistant & Digital Expert (DAE), powered by the multi-modal large model, is set to transform O&M from a traditional "experts+tools" model to an intelligence-driven "DAE+manual assistance" paradigm. This innovation is poised to automate 80% of trouble tickets, a significant leap from the erstwhile fully manual processes. Moreover, DAE champions intent-driven O&M, sidelining manual decision-making.In an era where expert cultivation in a domain could stretch over five years, the multi-modal large model stands out with its ability to be trained and updated in mere weeks.With the launch of 5.5G in 2024, Huawei is embarking on a collaborative journey with operators and partners globally, aiming to spearhead novel innovations in networks, cloud, and intelligence. This collective endeavour is set to catalyse the 5G business landscape and nurture a vibrant industry ecosystem, paving the way for an intelligent digital transformation that promises to redefine the future.

Pakistan ambassador Muhemmed Aejaz hoisting the national flag
Qatar
Pakistanis celebrate Independence Day with zeal

Pakistanis all over the world celebrated the country’s 77th Independence Day with traditional fervour Monday. The same exciting pitch was evident at a colourful event hosted by the Pakistan embassy on its premises to mark the occasion.On a bright morning, hundreds of expatriate Pakistanis in Doha converged to join the spirit of freedom.Ambassador Muhemmed Aejaz hoisted the crescent-and-star flag to the tune of the national anthem, sung in unison by the audience, after a smartly turned out contingent of the Pakistan Army presented a salute..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%;}}Pakistan ambassador rendersnational songAnyone acquainted with Pakistanis and their trademark celebrations on Independence and National Days would know how joyfully they partake the occasion. For millions of Pakistanis back home and the Diaspora, these milli naghme — or national songs — are a staple diet. Most Pakistanis know the ones rendered by famous artistes by heart.Ambassador Muhemmed Aejaz, it turns out, has made a personal score.Talking to Gulf Times, he disclosed that he had himself sung, composed and produced the national song entitled Mein Hoon Pakistani (I’m a Pakistani). It is pivoted around the determination of an inspired nation to succeed whatever the odds. It captures the rich — and breathtaking — diversity of landscapes and people of different ages and background that give the country its pluralistic bent.The foot-tapping score playing in the embassy’s auditorium Monday won liberal praise from the audience. It is available on Youtube: https://youtu.be/NjbXMBEoySkThe proceedings began with the recitation of the Holy Qur’an. Officers of the Pakistan embassy read out messages of the President and Prime Minister.In his message, President Dr Arif Alvi congratulated the nation and underlined the need for introspection. “We should reflect on the nation’s progress so far, prevailing challenges, and opportunities for growth. It is a time to renew our commitment to building a stronger and more prosperous Pakistan as envisioned by the Father of the Nation Quiad-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah,” he said.The president exhorted Pakistanis to work for the welfare and uplift of deprived sections of society and pledge to uphold the principles of democracy, freedom, equality, tolerance, forgiveness, socio-economic justice, and moral and ethical values, as enunciated by Islam.“There is a need to unite to cope with the social, political, economic and security challenges facing the nation today. So let’s resolve that we will not hesitate to offer any sacrifice for the security, prosperity, and development of the country,” President Alvi said.Whilst also congratulating the nation on the Independence Day, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, who later in the day passed on the mantle to Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar at the end of his government’s tenure, recalled the two lessons in the freedom struggle that he felt stood out in the creation of Pakistan.“One, unity was one of the most remarkable aspects of Pakistan's independence that emerged from a diverse tapestry of cultures, languages, and ethnicities. The 14th of August is not only a celebration of political freedom; it is a testament to the ability of a nation to come together to overcome mammoth challenges. Pakistan's flag, with its green representing the Muslim majority and white symbolising religious minorities, embodies the principle of unity in diversity that continues to shape the nation's identity,” the outgoing PM said.“Second, no obstacle is too insurmountable to be overcome if a person is driven by a deep sense of purpose. Self-belief ignites the imagination of nations and powers their journey towards the destination,” he pointed out.In his message on the occasion, Ambassador Muhemmed Aejaz felicitated fellow Pakistanis, saying the day refreshes the enthusiasm and rejuvenates the resolve of the nation to work for the progress and prosperity of the motherland.“The day serves as a reminder of the immense sacrifices rendered by our forefathers to achieve a sovereign, independent Islamic state. It inspires all Pakistanis to serve the country with greater dedication in order to carry the national flag, which symbolises nation’s hopes and aspirations even higher,” he said.The ambassador commended the Pakistani community in Qatar, which he said was imbibed with the love of their country and eager to participate in its progress and development. He expressed the confidence that the Pakistani community, which is a “living bridge” between Pakistan and Qatar, in their practices and dealings would present the true image of Pakistan in keeping with the ideals and teachings of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah and National Poet Dr Allama Muhammad Iqbal in their true spirit.Ambassador Aejaz expressed his thanks to His Highness Shiekh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani and the leadership of the State of Qatar for hosting the Pakistani community in Qatar and providing them with excellent employment opportunities and living conditions.The ambassador highlighted the strong fraternal bonds between Pakistan and Qatar, which he said are based on a shared faith, heritage and culture. He was especially sanguine about the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries this year, pointing out how it was reflected in the enduring relationship that had grown from strength to strength.He assured the community that the embassy would continue to serve the Pakistani Diaspora with utmost dedication.The celebration concluded with a cake cutting in the colours and contours of the green-and-white national flag in the presence of children mostly attired in similar colours, with prayers offered for the solidarity, progress and prosperity of Pakistan.

Jens Stoltenberg
Region
The Stoltenberg rendezvous

Jens Stoltenberg received a much anticipated nod from the 31-member bloc on Tuesday to continue to helm the transatlantic security organisation that he has served so well since 2014. It is a measure of how much rests on his stewardship — Nato obviously saw sense in continuity given the multifarious challenges stemming from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the alliance’s own unity — that this is the fourth extension he has received in the job.Stoltenberg, who was twice prime minister of Norway — from 2000-2001 and from 2005-2013 — had indicated in February that he was no longer in the run, but will now lead the strongest military alliance in history into its 75th anniversary when the US and the bloc summit in Washington next year.Much is already known about Stoltenberg’s widely acknowledged leadership, but one would like to share both a professional and personal account that, at once, shines a light on the person, leader and the country he comes from.In 2005, I interviewed Jens Stoltenberg in the same office of the same building which was rocked by a bomb blast on July 22, 2011. The explosion came as a rude shock to Norwegians, who were world famous only for being generous hosts to leaders seeking a quiet retreat to settle global flashpoints in the 90s. Oslo was deemed too cold for heated exchanges in a manner-of-speak.Meeting the-then prime minister made for a fond memory. Just a month after the devastating earthquake rattled Pakistan in the winter of 2005, yours truly was requested — and air dashed — to interview Stoltenberg.The conversation in scenic Oslo preceded his visit to Islamabad in what was a poignant gesture from a great friend by statistical bent alone: Norway was the second highest donor behind the US in trying to get a Pakistan on her feet again.The Oslo sojourn, in hindsight, seems like the work of a magician given the frantic pace at which it was conjured: sounded out one late night, visa stamped early morning the next day and off I went along with fellow scribe Nusrat Javeed in the evening.At -18C, it was my first severe test of the dead of European winter as we arrived in Oslo and the day stretched to 27 hours thanks to the time difference.The common sense recourse would have been to stay put in the cosy hotel where we were lodged, but an apparent need forced me out: I had forgotten to bring a neck-tie and felt it would seem less than formal to go and interview a head of state, especially a foreigner in his own land, in an informal attire.Emerging from the nocturnal embrace of Oslo, I awakened to a world awaiting discovery. The sun’s golden rays spilled over the city, beckoning me forth. Determined, I ventured into the wintry streets, my breath forming crystalline trails in the frost-kissed air.Shivering to the last bone and struggling to hold steady on inches of snow, I somehow made it to a nearby superstore, reading from a map — against advice from Nusrat, who joked the heavens wouldn’t fall if I didn’t make the “editor’s cut”.Having grabbed a genuine article from Italy, no less, I returned to the hotel feeling triumphant only to discover that I had grossly miscalculated the currency conversion and paid at least 10 times more than I had thought!The interview was delayed by a day but that was the least of our worries. What had us in a bit of shock was when our contact, an official of the prime minister’s office, told us politely but firmly that we were to drive down to the office ourselves!We were of course, given directions but in a nutshell, the message was that while the tour was guided it wasn’t “protocol-driven”. It took us a while to get the drift of this egalitarian bent. In due course, one would come to admire, not just appreciate, the order of things.So we flagged a sleek Volvo for a private cab, and soon enough discovered that while the distance wasn’t much, the tab certainly was. But we didn’t have time to ponder over deep holes as we surveyed the surroundings.As would be expected of a stranger in a strange land, we soon reverted to the tested and tried method: asking a local to guide us to the PM’s office.We were told that the building a few yards ahead was where the most powerful man in Norway worked. We looked at each other in disbelief as he pointed to some floor on the building where Stoltenberg served time. I had a serious apprehension over the “unofficial roadside guidance” and even suggested to Nusrat that our guide was probably poking fun but he felt we wouldn’t be the wiser without giving it a shot.Running out of time, soon we were in the building, walking ever so bewildered to the reception manned by just two persons in security uniform. We introduced ourselves and were immediately asked for supporting document and passport copies in a business-like fashion. Once again, we couldn’t believe our eyes or ears, when one of them directed us to take the elevator and reach the floor mentioned by the guy we had sought directions from down the road.When we reached there, we could see another reception desk, where the officer on duty simply matched the Xerox of our passports he had most likely received from downstairs while we were in the elevator. A staffer then ushered us into a room nearby and offering drinks requested us to wait while the PM emerged from a meeting.Five minutes later, in walked Mr Stoltenberg — just like that!The PM apologised profusely for being ‘late’, which he said, was because the weekly meeting with the monarch had taken slightly longer!The whole phantasmagoria bordered on virtual disbelief. We had come to meet a prime minister in a private car, sought directions to his modest office on some floor of a building that resembled a mall — courtesy an ordinary Norwegian on a roadside — and reached our destination and the man guiding Norway’s destiny without any physical check. And he’s apologising to us for being five minutes late!The interview itself was a walk in the park but it was Stoltenberg’s unassuming side that was impressive. He seemed genuinely interested in knowing if we were at home and how much of Oslo we had seen and would be seeing in the days ahead.I was able to even broach an issue concerning the local Pakistani community — noteworthy for being the largest expatriate population in Norway — and assuring me of his whole-hearted support, he gave me a brief of how parliamentary committees work in Norway and how he intended to use his party’s influence to get Pakistan enhanced and sustained assistance post-earthquake.The prime minister’s down-to-earth demeanour stirred a kindred spirit within me, reinforcing the view that true leaders emerge not from the ashes of grandeur but from the embrace of humility.l The writer is Op-ed Editor. He may be reached at [email protected]

Winners: From left, Tamina Vogel (half marathon winner); Alexander Scherz (marathon winner) and Harvey Mitchell-Divers (half marathon winner)
Qatar
Qatar-based adventure-travel entity breaks Guinness World Record

* Registers highest trail running event at Kilimanjaro, eclipsing 35-year-old feat by Everest Marathon   In a proud moment for Qatar, a 35-year-old record held by Everest Marathon has been broken by Z Adventures, a Qatar-based adventure-travel company, which successfully organised the highest trail running event at Kilimanjaro, Tanzania. The Uhuru Peak Challenge held on July 15 consisted of four events; the V1000, Half, Full and Ultra Marathon. A strong group of 30 runners from 12 different nationalities touched down at Arusha, the gateway to Kilimanjaro, on July 8 to take part in this gruelling adventure race on the "Roof of Africa". A winner receiving the race medal At 5,895m, Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain on the African continent, and also the world's highest free-standing mountain. The group consisted of some highly experienced marathon runners from around the world, and also a few first-timers who signed up for this adventure. After going through the mandatory trek briefing and gear-check, the participants started their five-day acclimatisation trek towards the peak — the Kilimanjaro trek involves trekking through 5 distinct climatic zones to reach Uhuru Peak. The Bushland Zone is the initial part of the climb taking runners up to 1,800m. The following day, participants trek through the rainforest zone to camp at 2,800m. Day 3 of the trek takes runners through the Moorland / Heather zone as they camp for the night at 4,000m. Thereafter, the two toughest parts of the journey begin as they reach the Alpine Zone at 4,980m to prepare for the start of the races. Ultra marathon winner Jack Haug The first race was V1000, a 1,000m vertical climb through the Arctic Zone to Uhuru Peak. The V1000 course was certified by the International Skyrunning Federation and is considered the highest Skyrace in the world. Covering a distance of 4.3km, the runners climbed 1,000m from 4,980m to 5,895m to reach the top of the mountain. This was no ordinary feat as runners had to endure below freezing temperatures, thin air and altitude sickness as they soldiered their way to the top of the peak. Jack Haug from Switzerland won the men's event while Tamina Vogel from Germany finished first in the female category. Marathon winner Cara Nelson Once at the top, runners lined up for the customary summit pictures at the top of the peak before starting the next race; the Half, Full or Ultra Marathon. Jaded and cold, they slowly embarked on the next phase to run down the mountain with the hope of completing the distance and being part of the historic record-breaking event. The International Trial Running Association certified course was not for the faint-hearted. The downhill race involved rocky terrain, slippery slopes and sheer drops in altitude as they ran through all 5 climatic zones in one day to reach the base of the mountain to complete the race. The youngest member of the group, 17-year-old Scottish runner and World Spartan Age-Group champion, Harvey Mitchell-Divers, won the Half Marathon (male) event in a time of 3:22:58 whilst Tamina Vogel finished as the 1st female. In the Marathon and Ultra Marathon, it was an all Swiss victory with Jack Haug winning the Ultra Marathon and Alexander Scherz the Full Marathon. Cara Nelson from the US won the female marathon race. For most runners, it was a life-changing experience and even the most experienced marathoners found the race to be the toughest of their running career. Guinness World Records approved the three races as the highest altitude trail Half, Full And Ultra Marathon, thereby breaking the 35-year old record held by Everest Marathon. By successfully organising the race, in collaboration with Kiliwarrior Expeditions, Z Adventures now holds six Guinness World Records in high-altitude running events. In 2019, they organised the World's Highest Altitude Road Half, Full and Ultra Marathon at Khunjerab Pass, Pakistan at 4,693m. The company organises marathons in more than 40 countries and across six continents. In Qatar, they organise more than 30 events a year under Qatar Running Series, with regular events in various parks and trails. The stellar achievement pleased Ziyad Rahim, who is the brains behind Z Adventures, no end. He himself holds 10 Guinness World Records in long-distance running and is the first athlete in the world to complete an Ultra Marathon, Full Marathon and Half Marathon on each continent. Talking to Gulf Times, Ziyad said: "Uhuru Peak Challenge was a tough undertaking, and it took me two years to plan and successfully execute the race. Being the highest altitude running event in the world, it involved extensive risk assessment. I'm so proud of all the runners.”

MANTRA: u201cI consider myself an artist. Every day, I stand in front of my audience and start afresh. But it involves hard work. I believe in preparation. And how I work keeps evolving,u201d said Qaiser Abbas. Photos supplied
Qatar
‘Finding a purpose in life is pivotal’

— Qaiser Abbas, acclaimed leadership coach, tells Pakistan Education Forum seminar Pakistan Engineers Forum (PEF) organised an engaging leadership seminar at the TNG School Al Wakra campus this week with the keynote speaker and international award-winning leadership coach Qaiser Abbas. A business psychologist, who is also an international bestselling author, Qaiser shot to fame with his seminal work Tick Tick Dollar. He is also the recipient of the Brian Tracy International Excellence Award 2017.   Predictably, Qaiser stole the show, with personable and engaging interaction with his audience. He drew generously from his own inspirational success story to make the point that if he could overcome the odds and achieve what he has, anyone could.     Born into poverty, Qaiser recalled his difficult childhood and the accompanying tribulations. “I was a loner in a class of 59 at school, unable to meet anyone in the eye or give out an introduction as simple as spelling out my name. In a family of eight siblings, I was the youngest. To be frank, we weren’t assured the next meal. All this devastated my self-confidence. I couldn’t speak for lack of confidence even though I topped the grades every year. My parents promised to buy me a bike every year, but they could never fulfil their promise.” Qaiser is an author of 10 books, bestsellers amongst these. Being recognised by his peers is one thing, but life coaches and bestselling authors he looks up to, also speak highly of his prowess.  “Qaiser is the future of motivational speaking. He is an inspiration to millions around the globe,” observes Brian Tracy, the world’s most respected authority on personal development. Dave Ulrich, the world’s premier management guru and influential HR Thought Leader, on the other hand, endorses Qaiser’s credentials thus: “Your personal story is very impressive. You have clearly lived the purpose, passion, performance logic you write about.” But it was far from a cake walk.  “Back then, even after I had grown up, I had to serve time in the canteens of newspaper offices of Jang Group, Pakistan’s biggest media house, to make a living when in fact, I had gone to seek an opportunity to write. But today, I write bestsellers, of which my latest, Made in Crisis has been nominated for the ‘Business Book of The Year’ award,” Qaiser noted with pride.  How does he see himself, then? “I consider myself an artist. Every day, I stand in front of my audience and start afresh. But it involves hard work. This is my 100th session on Tick Tick Dollar (a programme I created) and I still have sleepless nights! I believe in preparation. And how I work keeps evolving.” Explaining Tick Tick Dollar, he jokingly said it should not be confused with money just because the title suggests so, and that, it is a life philosophy.  “My work has taken me to some 40 countries and everywhere, people come back to me and say how Tick Tick Dollar changed their lives. The pivot of this philosophy is finding a purpose. The first tick of the clock is to remind yourself to live your life on a purpose. The second tick is to live your passion. I encounter so many people who do not even know what their passion is — or, simply put, what their job entails is different from their passion.”  Qaiser felt a lot of people confuse goal with a purpose or use them as interchangeable descriptions.  “There is a marked difference. A goal is something you seek and are driven to get on a personal scale. Purpose and goal are, a bit like, give and take: the former involves giving, and the latter taking. For instance, when you focus on a goal, achieving it gives you joy, but it is temporary. However, when you focus on a purpose, this joy is long lasting. There is an outright distinction between the two: for a goal, there is a starting point and an end. With purpose, there is a starting point, but no finishing line. You can accomplish a goal, but you can never accomplish a purpose. Simply put, a purpose is not limited to yourself; even future generations may benefit from it,” Qaiser said, in a matter-of-factly mien. “Have you thought about your life’s calling,” he, then, asked the audience. “During the course of my work, I get to meet a lot of successful people — some in their 50s, 60s and even 70s and they tell me they don’t know what the purpose of their lives is! I appreciate their honesty, but it seems they were so busy making a living, they forgot or just didn’t understand what that purpose was!”  Qaiser, then suggested a more meaningful way to look at finding a purpose in life. “What is that one thing in your life that you can give up for it? How would you like to be remembered after you’re gone? What role are you playing to make this world a better place than you found it? Once you begin to focus on these questions, you automatically begin to focus on the purpose of your life. I have a metaphor for it — I call it a compass — because the compass gives you (a sense of) direction. You just have to dig deeper.”  So how does one pursue the purpose of life? “The answer is passion. It is the second tick. Purpose is where you want to go and why; passion is your vehicle to it. My metaphor for passion is heart. You need to connect with your heart here.”  And how do you make purpose and passion work? “Commitment. It is what enables you to go the whole distance. But nothing substantial is achieved without getting out of your comfort zone. You should be willing to take risks to accomplish your goals and respond to the purpose in your life. Finally, it’s about stretching yourself — going the extra mile to achieve the ends. And that’s why, coming back to business, you will note that determined entrepreneurs persist with new ideas and strategies against the run of play, because they believe in themselves and those ideas, and more importantly, are willing to take risks to make these successful,” Qaiser drove home. Talking of purpose, he looked at the audience and also underpinned the aftermath of success: “When you have found your calling, and if and when money starts to follow you, it’s important not to be distracted and lose sight of that purpose. Never forget what made you and where you go with it.” Giving an insight into his area of expertise, the renowned leadership coach said, trust and rapport is fundamental to help the CEOs achieve their professional objectives. “These people, at the top, are very lonely. Often, they don’t really have someone to share their story with, particularly with regard to insecurities and concerns. If they did that with the board (of governors), they might even get dismissed, and if they did with their colleagues, they might come across as ‘weak’ leaders.” How do the CEOs view Qaiser as a leadership coach? “Once the CEO of a major league company told me: ‘Qaiser, you are like a mirror to us’. Yes, I do think my job is to show them a mirror. My job is to make them focus, not be distracted. The qualities of an effective coach is to earn the trust of their clients, respect them and develop a rapport in order to achieve the desired objectives.”  So how far has Qaiser traversed on this journey? “I have trained more than 200 coaches, who are now working across four continents. I have also had the opportunity to work with Pakistan’s national cricket team multiple times and coached all 24 coaches involved in the national set-up. During my work, I have so far coached top-of-the-line business professionals from 55 different industries.”  But despite leading a tiresome life, he never loses his passion for what he does. “I do a lot of research and write every day to keep abreast of the developments. In fact, the first thing I do when I wake up and go to bed is write. So far I have written 10 books.”  Talking about his works, Qaiser said, the cheapest comes at US$35. And what does he do with all the money?  “You’ll be happy to know that my entire earnings from books go towards the education of underprivileged kids across Pakistan. I also have a foundation called ‘Possibilities’, a programme under which underprivileged children to get to study in a school of their choice for which my foundation pays. There’s yet another programme entitled ‘My First Bike’ through which we give out bikes to under-privileged children,” he said. Asked by a member of the audience if he himself had coaches, Qaiser pointed out that he believed in coaching and would encourage CEOs to invest significantly into it.  “Since I believe in coaching, and it is every bit worth, I have not one, but three coaches for myself, too. Suppose you sit with a CEO for an hour of conversation and get paid $10K. What does that arrangement imply? It implies that there is something significant to gain from the exercise. At the end of that talk, it will have the kind of impact and outcome that makes it worthwhile. I still have my first coach, Arif Nafees, by my side. He has been coaching me for 20 years. Every year, we sit together with a new agenda and we have teams. We have been able to accomplish many things together,” Qaiser noted.  The seminar was graced by Syed Mustafa Rabbani, Deputy Head of Mission at the Embassy of Pakistan in Qatar, and Nasser al-Maslamani, Director HR at Baladna, both of whom also spoke on the occasion. Fawad Rana, the Managing Director of QALCO, was also present. Members of the Pakistan Engineers Forum, led by its president Riyaz Ahmed Bakali, who is also the director of TNG schools and organised the event, along with a large number of Pakistani community members attended the event.

Guests of Honour Syed Mustafa Rabbani, Deputy Head of Mission at the Embassy of Pakistan in Qatar; Nasser al-Maslamani, Director HR at Baladna; Fawad Rana, QALCO managing director; Riyaz Ahmed Bakali, PEF president and Director TNG schools; and PEF luminaries and members in a group poser.
Community
“Finding a purpose in life is pivotal” — Qaiser Abbas, acclaimed leadership coach, tells audience at PEF seminar

Pakistan Engineers Forum (PEF) organised an engaging leadership seminar at the TNG School Al Wakra campus this week with the keynote speaker and international award-winning leadership coach Qaiser Abbas. A business psychologist, who is also an international bestselling author, Qaiser shot to fame with his seminal work Tick Tick Dollar. He is also the recipient of the Brian Tracy International Excellence Award 2017. Predictably, Qaiser stole the show, with personable and engaging interaction with his audience. He drew generously from his own inspirational success story to make the point that if he could overcome the odds and achieve what he has, anyone could. Born into poverty, Qaiser recalled his difficult childhood and the accompanying tribulations. “I was a loner in a class of 59 at school, unable to meet anyone in the eye or give out an introduction as simple as spelling out my name. In a family of eight siblings, I was the youngest. To be frank, we weren’t assured the next meal. All this devastated my self-confidence. I couldn't speak for lack of confidence even though I topped the grades every year. My parents promised to buy me a bike every year, but they could never fulfil their promise.” Qaiser is an author of 10 books, bestsellers amongst these. Being recognised by his peers is one thing, but life coaches and bestselling authors he looks up to, also speak highly of his prowess. “Qaiser is the future of motivational speaking. He is an inspiration to millions around the globe,” observes Brian Tracy, the world's most respected authority on personal development. Dave Ulrich, the world's premier management guru and influential HR Thought Leader, on the other hand, endorses Qaiser’s credentials thus: “Your personal story is very impressive. You have clearly lived the purpose, passion, performance logic you write about.” But it was far from a cake walk. “Back then, even after I had grown up, I had to serve time in the canteens of newspaper offices of Jang Group, Pakistan's biggest media house, to make a living when in fact, I had gone to seek an opportunity to write. But today, I write bestsellers, of which my latest, Made in Crisis has been nominated for the ‘Business Book of The Year’ award,” Qaiser noted with pride. How does he see himself, then? “I consider myself an artist. Every day, I stand in front of my audience and start afresh. But it involves hard work. This is my 100th session on Tick Tick Dollar (a programme I created) and I still have sleepless nights! I believe in preparation. And how I work keeps evolving.” Explaining Tick Tick Dollar, he jokingly said it should not be confused with money just because the title suggests so, and that, it is a life philosophy. “My work has taken me to some 40 countries and everywhere, people come back to me and say how Tick Tick Dollar changed their lives. The pivot of this philosophy is finding a purpose. The first tick of the clock is to remind yourself to live your life on a purpose. The second tick is to live your passion. I encounter so many people who do not even know what their passion is — or, simply put, what their job entails is different from their passion.” Qaiser felt a lot of people confuse goal with a purpose or use them as interchangeable descriptions. “There is a marked difference. A goal is something you seek and are driven to get on a personal scale. Purpose and goal are, a bit like, give and take: the former involves giving, and the latter taking. For instance, when you focus on a goal, achieving it gives you joy, but it is temporary. However, when you focus on a purpose, this joy is long lasting. There is an outright distinction between the two: for a goal, there is a starting point and an end. With purpose, there is a starting point, but no finishing line. You can accomplish a goal, but you can never accomplish a purpose. Simply put, a purpose is not limited to yourself; even future generations may benefit from it,” Qaiser said, in a matter-of-factly mien. “Have you thought about your life's calling,” he, then, asked the audience. “During the course of my work, I get to meet a lot of successful people — some in their 50s, 60s and even 70s and they tell me they don't know what the purpose of their lives is! I appreciate their honesty, but it seems they were so busy making a living, they forgot or just didn't understand what that purpose was!” Qaiser, then suggested a more meaningful way to look at finding a purpose in life. “What is that one thing in your life that you can give up for it? How would you like to be remembered after you're gone? What role are you playing to make this world a better place than you found it? Once you begin to focus on these questions, you automatically begin to focus on the purpose of your life. I have a metaphor for it — I call it a compass — because the compass gives you (a sense of) direction. You just have to dig deeper.” So how does one pursue the purpose of life? “The answer is passion. It is the second tick. Purpose is where you want to go and why; passion is your vehicle to it. My metaphor for passion is heart. You need to connect with your heart here.” And how do you make purpose and passion work? “Commitment. It is what enables you to go the whole distance. But nothing substantial is achieved without getting out of your comfort zone. You should be willing to take risks to accomplish your goals and respond to the purpose in your life. Finally, it's about stretching yourself — going the extra mile to achieve the ends. And that's why, coming back to business, you will note that determined entrepreneurs persist with new ideas and strategies against the run of play, because they believe in themselves and those ideas, and more importantly, are willing to take risks to make these successful,” Qaiser drove home. Talking of purpose, he looked at the audience and also underpinned the aftermath of success: “When you have found your calling, and if and when money starts to follow you, it's important not to be distracted and lose sight of that purpose. Never forget what made you and where you go with it.” Giving an insight into his area of expertise, the renowned leadership coach said, trust and rapport is fundamental to help the CEOs achieve their professional objectives. “These people, at the top, are very lonely. Often, they don't really have someone to share their story with, particularly with regard to insecurities and concerns. If they did that with the board (of governors), they might even get dismissed, and if they did with their colleagues, they might come across as 'weak' leaders.” How do the CEOs view Qaiser as a leadership coach? “Once the CEO of a major league company told me: ‘Qaiser, you are like a mirror to us’. Yes, I do think my job is to show them a mirror. My job is to make them focus, not be distracted. The qualities of an effective coach is to earn the trust of their clients, respect them and develop a rapport in order to achieve the desired objectives.” So how far has Qaiser traversed on this journey? “I have trained more than 200 coaches, who are now working across four continents. I have also had the opportunity to work with Pakistan’s national cricket team multiple times and coached all 24 coaches involved in the national set-up. During my work, I have so far coached top-of-the-line business professionals from 55 different industries.” But despite leading a tiresome life, he never loses his passion for what he does. “I do a lot of research and write every day to keep abreast of the developments. In fact, the first thing I do when I wake up and go to bed is write. So far I have written 10 books.” Talking about his works, Qaiser said, the cheapest comes at US$35. And what does he do with all the money? “You'll be happy to know that my entire earnings from books go towards the education of underprivileged kids across Pakistan. I also have a foundation called Possibilities, a programme under which underprivileged children to get to study in a school of their choice for which my foundation pays. There's yet another programme entitled 'My First Bike' through which we give out bikes to under-privileged children,” he said. Asked by a member of the audience if he himself had coaches, Qaiser pointed out that he believed in coaching and would encourage CEOs to invest significantly into it. “Since I believe in coaching, and it is every bit worth, I have not one, but three coaches for myself, too. Suppose you sit with a CEO for an hour of conversation and get paid $10K. What does that arrangement imply? It implies that there is something significant to gain from the exercise. At the end of that talk, it will have the kind of impact and outcome that makes it worthwhile. I still have my first coach, Arif Nafees, by my side. He has been coaching me for 20 years. Every year, we sit together with a new agenda and we have teams. We have been able to accomplish many things together,” Qaiser noted. The seminar was graced by Syed Mustafa Rabbani, Deputy Head of Mission at the Embassy of Pakistan in Qatar, and Nasser al-Maslamani, Director HR at Baladna, both of whom also spoke on the occasion. Fawad Rana, the Managing Director of QALCO, was also present. Members of the Pakistan Engineers Forum, led by its president Riyaz Ahmed Bakali, who is also the director of TNG schools and organised the event, along with a large number of Pakistani community members attended the event.

Clockwise from left: Ambassador of Pakistan Syed Ahsan Raza hoisting the national flag, Ambassador Raza with the personnel of the Pakistani military, and Ambassador Syed Ahsan Raza and officers of the Pakistan embassy cutting the celebratory cake with children.
Qatar
Expatriate Pakistanis celebrate Independence Day with zest

Pakistanis all over the world celebrated the 75th Independence Day with traditional fervour yesterday. The same zest was evident at a colourful event hosted by the Pakistan embassy on its premises to mark the occasion. Ambassador Syed Ahsan Raza hoisted the crescent-and-star flag to the tune of the national anthem, sung in unison by the audience, after a smartly turned out contingent of the Pakistan Army presented a salute. Officers of the Pakistan embassy read out messages of President Dr Arif Alvi and Prime Minister Imran Khan. In his message, the president praised the resilience of Pakistan as a nation that had achieved tremendous successes in various fields. He made a note of how the country fought a long drawn out war against terrorism and defeating the menace. He felt the nuclear deterrence was a great achievement that made the country’s defence impregnable. More recently, President Alvi expressed his satisfaction at the laurels Pakistan had won globally for handling the Covid-19 pandemic for which he credited the doctors and paramedics, media, National Command and Operation Centre, security forces and the entire nation. Whilst congratulating the nation on the Independence Day, Prime Minister Imran Khan exhorted his compatriots to resolve to uphold national values of unity, faith and discipline envisioned by the Father of the Nation Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah. “Pakistan today, can stand tall among the comity of nations. Our policies towards reviving the economy, handling the pandemic and protecting the environment have received universal acclaim,” he pointed out. Emphasising his government’s policy, the prime minister said: “We want peace within and without, to pursue our socio-economic agenda. The Naya (new) Pakistan has shifted its focus from geo-politics to geo-economics, with the wellbeing and welfare of our people as the topmost priority. He also underlined that 14th August inspired all Pakistanis “to serve the country with greater dedication in order to carry the national flag, which symbolises the nation’s hopes and aspirations, even higher”. Hailing the 170,000-strong Pakistani community in Qatar as a “living bridge” between the two countries, Ambassador Syed Ahsan Raza exhorted them to present the true image of Pakistan in their practices and dealings by following the ideals of the Father of the Nation Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah and National Poet Dr Allama Muhammad Iqbal. He felt the community had it in them to continue to contribute to the development and progress of both countries majorly. He assured them of the embassy’s complete support to help achieve the desired objective within the framework of resources available at its disposal. The ambassador also expressed his gratitude to His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani and the Qatari leadership for hosting the Pakistani community with excellent employment opportunities and living conditions. He felt that His Highness the Amir had great affection for Pakistan and Pakistanis and that the leadership in the two countries were committed to boosting the existing fraternal ties. In this context, he recalled the fruitful visit of the Amir to Pakistan in 2019 and Prime Minister Khan’s visits to Qatar the same year and in 2020. The celebration concluded with a cake cutting in the colours and contours of the green-and-white national flag in the presence of children mostly attired in similar colours, with prayers offered for the solidarity, progress and prosperity of Pakistan.    

IMPERATIVE: Ultimately, in our current digital society, being connected is no longer a luxury, but a necessity in our professional and personal lives.
Opinion
The significant role of ICT in economic uplift

Even before the Coronavirus pandemic engulfed the world last year — majorly upending the global economy — Information and Communications Technology (ICT) was rapidly transforming the rules of business. Thanks to its size and nature of products, the ICT industry, including telecommunications operators, computer and software producers and electronic equipment manufacturers, are playing a significant role in boosting economic growth. This growth is fuelled by the ease of business in the workplace and convenience for the individual end-user thanks to the outreach of technologies that have spurred connectivity and a strong productivity base. In 2020, China officially surpassed the US in its number of patent applications, with its spending on R&D climbing 10% to $378bn. China had also outstripped the US in putting out research papers in the natural sciences, according to data released in the third quarter of 2020. A significant such story is that of Huawei, which despite a lack of level playing field in the West, especially the US, over geo-political considerations has not been able to stop its smart-solution, innovative march — pivoted on hi-tech accessibility and affordability — on a global scale. In 2020 alone, the company invested about $20bn on R&D, with $100bn to be invested in the next five years. It also launched 13 open labs in the world. A Global Competitive Index conceived by the tech giant in collaboration with Oxford Economics that evaluated the scale of digital traction from ICT investment cites that every dollar invested in digital technologies in the last three decades added, on average, $20 to the global GDP. This is massive when compared to the non-digital investments that only fetched, on average, $3 to a dollar. So how has ICT created a better and more convenient life at business and pleasure? Here’s a look at some of the transformational aspects. Swift and accurate information process The sheer scale of how much Information and Communications Technology is now a part of our daily lives is astounding although we probably never stop to think too much about it since we take it for granted. From the government sector to private entities and from individuals to institutions, almost everyone and everything is dependent on its enabling structures and systems. From the literal click of a button, you can transact end-to-end in comfortable environs with efficiency and performance at its heart. Superior communication It probably goes without saying, but just to underline the import, communication has never been easier, cheaper and effective thanks to ICT. While it makes life enjoyable for social media users in particular, its far-reaching beneficial impact is in the domain of business. ‘Far reaching’ therefore, is a literal explanation for the open source and private platforms the technology provides to keep employers and employees no matter how far in terms of physical space connected and thrive. Globalisation According to a report published by STL Partners, a major league consultancy, the new generation of connectivity — premised in the 5G application — can fuel GDP manufacturing growth by 4%. The technology will cut costs and unlock new streams for manufacturing, making it easier to track production in real time using far more data than ever. Economy This is probably, the most fascinating of all advances made possible by ICT. Whole economies are now interconnected — from private entities to states — and doing business at an unprecedented scale. In fact, it is well-nigh impossible to conceive of economy today, without unlocking the potential of doing business minus the constraints of time and space. Unsparingly, any entity worth its salt has an online presence trading goods efficiently and quickly. Specific to digital economy, according to a 2019 study by IHS Markit, a London-based American-British leading source of critical information, 5G will enable $13.2 trillion of global economic output — 7.4% of global GDP — by 2035. Job creation With all the buzz around technology, is it any surprise that the demand for IT professionals is increasing by the day across the field and globally. There is now greater emphasis on computer learning system analysis, Big Data, software and hardware development and web applications. Significantly, emerging economies are more invested in ICT than ever before — understandable given the near and long-term future. The IHS Markit study predicts that the global 5G value chain will enable 22.3 million jobs by 2035. Improved healthcare Tele-medicines, electronic health records and health grids have made quick inroads make public health both easily accessible and affordable across distances. This has been especially true in the post-Covid-19 era where the entire range of services had to be revisited given the present and clear danger of infections. While ICT had already enabled improved healthcare, the virtual healthcare applications have gone a long way in connecting people to do the needful to look after their individual health. This is likely to grow further. STL Partners predict that 5G-enabled use cases globally could enable healthcare professionals to treat more than 850 million extra outpatients per year in 2030, while also making available more than 4 million extra bed days for use in hospitals. Learning One of the areas where ICT has made a major impact, especially in the post-Covid-19 era is education. Whilst traditional methods of teaching had already largely given way to scientific learning courtesy information and communications tools, the virtual environment set up that replaced physical learning in classrooms deemed impossible by many became a reality. And while physical learning will not become passé anytime soon — and probably shouldn’t for various reasons — the “impossible” has been taken out of the equation thanks to systems enabled by technology. News dissemination The business of news, above all, has been revolutionised. Never before in history has dissemination of news in real time been more apparent. And while news coming out from known capitals has always been par for the course, it is now standard to have it from locations around the world, which would have been considered taboo in terms of accessibility and censorship under authoritarian regimes. Smartphones are now the weapon that do not become the first casualty of truth — thanks to accessibility enabled by ICT. Accessibility The ultimate benefit of ICT is the shrinking space. Last year, because of the prevailing Covid-19 situation, we were forced to work from home — an idea, which seemed pretty common sense, but guess what: I had already pitchforked the idea as a smart solution at least half a decade earlier with my management whilst envisaging where information and communications technology was headed. The eventual resort — even if it was borne out of a necessity — did not come as a surprise. In less than a couple of days, we had a conveniently arranged smart system up and running at home enabling remote working just as efficiently, if not more, at the physical office — minus all the noise! We are in the midst of a technological revolution in which AI, 3D printing, virtual reality and other technologies are converging. No industry and economy on the planet will be able to progress without it. Considering the undeniable importance of ICT for economic growth, policymakers would do well to build an environment that helps government and private entities reap the benefits by removing the barriers affecting demand. It is however, instructive that in order to derive the benefits, policy action must entail making effective use of ICT in supporting GDP such as e-commerce by SMEs and e-governance by public administrations. Ultimately, in our current digital society, being connected is no longer a luxury, but a necessity in our professional and personal lives. With openness, collaboration, and shared success between individuals, private and public sectors, ICT organisations, and any relevant party, we can build a healthy ICT ecosystem that benefits everyone. •The writer is Features Editor. He tweets @kaamyabi    

Pakistan ambassador Syed Ahsan Raza, right, hosting the national flag to mark the Independence Day of Pakistan Friday on the new embassy premises. PICTURE: Shemeer Rasheed.
Qatar
Expat Pakistanis mark Independence Day with solemnity

Pakistanis all over the world celebrated the country’s 73rd Independence Day with solemnity on Friday. A function to mark the occasion was held early morning on the premises of the new embassy of Pakistan here that saw a restricted attendance in compliance with the local guidelines. Ambassador of Pakistan Syed Ahsan Raza hoisted crescent-and-star Pakistan flag and later cut the celebratory cake. The ambassador, accompanied by children, also planted a sapling. This follows Prime Minister Imran Khan’s initiative of the largest tree plantation drive in Pakistan’s history last Sunday, with 3.5 million saplings being planted in a single day, a national record. At the end of the event, members of the media were shown around the new building of the embassy and briefed about the state-of-the-art facilities being provided at the consular section. The spacious new consular hall can accommodate up to 300 persons at a time. It has dedicated counters under one roof with reduced waiting time for services sought. The inauguration of the new embassy took place in February this year, but because of the situation arising out of the coronavirus outbreak, the shifting of consular services had to be halted. Now, these services have been shifted to the new premises and will be available from Sunday, August 16. The ambassador felicitated fellow Pakistanis on the occasion stating that the day refreshes the enthusiasm and rejuvenates the resolve of the nation to work for the progress and prosperity of the motherland. He said the day inspired all Pakistanis to serve the country with greater dedication in order to carry the national flag, which symbolises nation’s hopes and aspirations, even higher. “While we were celebrating our Independence Day, our brothers and sisters in the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu & Kashmir were facing human rights violations. The Pakistani nation stood resolutely with the Kashmiri people in their rightful struggle for self-determination and freedom,” he noted. He praised the Pakistani community in Qatar, which he said was imbibed with the love of the country and filled with the zeal to participate in Pakistan’s progress and development. He expressed the confidence that the Pakistani community, which is a living bridge between Pakistan and Qatar, in their practices and dealings would present the true image of Pakistan in keeping with the true spirit of the ideals and teachings of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah and Allama Muhammad Iqbal in their true spirit. The ambassador expressed gratitude to His Highness Shiekh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani and the leadership of the State of Qatar for hosting the Pakistani community in Qatar and providing them with excellent employment opportunities and living conditions. He highlighted that strong bonds of fraternal relations between Pakistan and Qatar based on historical bonds of a shared faith, heritage and culture. The visits by His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani to Pakistan in June 2019 and by Prime Minister Imran Khan to Qatar in January 2019 and February, 2020 have further strengthened these relations. In his message to the nation on Pakistan’s Independence Day, Prime Minister Imran Khan said that despite Covid-19 pandemic, the country’s economic indicators were improving to herald a better time ahead and paving way for an industrial Pakistan. He spoke of improved economic indicators like surging exports, revenue and stock market besides a historic agreement with power producers to bring down the generation cost. “Despite coronavirus, our tax collection in July is above the set target. I foresee an even better situation,” the PM said. He felt no country had maintained a balance (between lives and livelihood) as effectively as Pakistan and that consequent to the government’s decision of smart lockdown, the coronavirus cases were on decline and the economy in revival. “The war (against coronavirus) is not yet over. The challenges still persists,” the premier said, advising people to keep adhering to precautions of social distancing to avert the resurgence of the virus. Felicitating the nation on the Independence Day, President Dr Arif Alvi called upon the Pakistanis to stand firm and work for the progress and prosperity of country. The president said the current Independence Day was being celebrated in extraordinarily difficult times as the entire world was affected by the coronavirus pandemic that had adversely impacted all sectors of life, including economy, health and education. He felt the pandemic brought enormous challenges for Pakistan, but thanks to a resilient nation that followed the government’s effective strategy of smart lockdown, the country was seen as an international success story. He paid tribute to doctors, nurses and healthcare workers, who saved the lives of people by putting their own lives at risk during the pandemic.