Tuesday, March 28, 2023 | Daily Newspaper published by GPPC Doha, Qatar.
 Shafeeq Alingal
Shafeeq Alingal
Shafeeq Alingal is a Staff Reporter with Gulf Times. He has mainstream media experience of six years. Health, environment and wildlife are among his specialties.
 Caption: Mina District is offering numerous Ramadan activities. PICTURES: Thajudheen.
Mina District beckons visitors with Ramadan activities

With an elegant atmosphere and Ramadan decors, the Mina District is beckoning visitors to be part of numerous Ramadan activities. The popular landmark offers visitors traditional Arab cuisine at the cozy eateries facing the shore while being caressed by the cool breeze.The newly opened Souq el Mina embodies Qatar’s culture in every sense while imparting a great ambience and a journey of tastes in a fusion of tradition and modernity. Spread over the area and the adjacent Box Park, Mina District has 20 Ramadan activities each giving unique experience for residents and tourists alike.Ghabga, the late-night meal, is available at Mina Market where friends and family can gather. Mina Majlis is another place where the art workshops can be enjoyed while relishing the Arab architectural features of the heritage buildings.“The vibe is amazing and Mina District has turned out to be a destination for all. Our kids find Mina as the best place to spend the evening,” said one of the visitors.The Ramdan activities are held with the participation of more than 80 local commercial institutions and some well-known brands. Mina District is expected to receive more than 15,000 foreign tourists in six cruise ships during Ramadan.The Souq el Mina is selling traditional Arab clothes at fair prices. Also, the souq has outlets of international brands where visitors can buy souvenirs.During Ramdan, Mina District also provides an opportunity to practice marine activities in the evening before Iftar by providing kayaks, paddle boards and marine bikes for rent. Other marine sports are practiced at the Box Park until Iftar. The traditional dhows provide unique services including Iftar and Suhoor meals in an exceptional experience for the visitors of the port.Mina District has cannon firing to announce the Iftar time at the garden opposite the Box Park. The cannon firing is one of the oldest popular legacies that mark the holy month.The port also provides owners of yachts and marine vehicles moored outside the port by providing a temporary mooring service to enjoy Ramadan events and experience the facilities and commercial units.

Faithful partake in a mass Iftar in a tent in Al Wakra.
Iftar tents come alive across Qatar

The Iftar tents came alive across Qatar Thursday on the first day of Ramadan hosting thousands of faithful, after an interval of three years.During the Covid-19 pandemic, the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) and the Ministry of Endowments and Islamic Affairs (Awqaf) had suspended permits for the Iftar tents as part of the efforts to curb the disease spread.This Ramadan, the General Directorate of Endowments at Awqaf has opened ten Iftar tents across Qatar reaching out to the needy while the Qatar Red Crescent Society (QRCS) and Qatar Charity (QC) opened tents at several locations where meals and food kits were distributed to those fasting.“We are glad to see the tents are open after a long interval and we can find meals easily. The tents are so helpful for fasting persons as they provide good meals, which many the low income workers cannot afford,” Mohamed Shafi told Gulf Times at Al Wakra where he visited Awqaf’s Iftar tent to break the fast.Awqaf has chalked out a plan to provide Iftar meals for 10,000 fasting people daily in its various tents while distributing meals with the support of endowments and contributions from the public.“In fact, the tents are places that treat everyone with respect. They reflect the true spirit of Ramdan while extending a helping hand to the needy,” said an Al Wakra resident.QRCS is planning to reach more than 720,000 people inside and outside Qatar while distributing meals and food kits. The society will host Iftar for tens of thousands on a daily basis while targeting the labour community in various areas of Doha, Al Rayyan, Al Khor and Al Wakrah.QC has distributed vouchers to about 10,000 low-income families, widows and expatriate families and set up 40 tents for workers during the holy month. QC also gives out Iftar kits with snacks, dates and water which benefit motorists and travellers.A number of Qataris are also hosting mass Iftars at various locations in their private capacity. Many hailed the mass Iftars describing that such good initiatives reflect the Qatari society’s compassion and kindness.

Gulf Times
Tomorrow is first day of Ramadan; preparations complete for holy month

The holy month of Ramadan will begin Thursday, it was announced on Tuesday.The Crescent Sighting Committee at the Ministry of Endowments and Islamic Affairs (Awqaf) said March 22 is the final day of Sha'ban and that March 23 (Thursday) will be the first day of Ramadan.This came in the committee's statement after its meeting at the headquarters of the Awqaf ministry yesterday evening under the chairmanship of Sheikh Dr Thuqail al-Shammari, the official Qatar News Agency reported.The committee said the Ramadan crescent was not sighted yesterday and, as a result, announced that Thursday would be the first day of the holy month.The committee extended greetings to His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, His Highness the Father Amir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, and His Highness the Deputy Amir Sheikh Abdullah bin Hamad al-Thani, as well as the esteemed government and people of Qatar and all Muslims, on the advent of Ramadan.Preparations have been finalised for the holy month, with the Awqaf ministry readying some 2,150 mosques across Qatar. The ministry has also made separate arrangements for women in 120 mosques. Arrangements are in place for Itikaf, the practice of secluding oneself during the final 10 days of Ramadan.Besides, the ministry has announced various Ramadan activities while Iftar meals will be distributed for fasting people and food kits will be given to the needy. Awqaf has also lined up religious lectures and cultural and educational competitions across Qatar.Speaking to Qatar TV, al-Shammari urged believers to seek repentance from God and do more good deeds and charitable acts. “It’s the season of worship and discipline,” he said.Al-Shammari advised people to take advantage of the holy month by doing good for all, reading the Holy Qur'an, doing charity and strengthening family relations.Sheikh Mohamed al-Mahmoud, a member of the Crescent Sighting Committee, noted that the believers must take advantage of the holy month as it is a "virtuous and great" occasion.Fareed al-Hindawi, preacher and imam at Awqaf, also told Qatar TV that Ramadan is the season of goodness and discipline, and urged believers to invest in goodness during the holy month.

Officials making the announcement. PICTURES: Shaji Kayamkulam
Lusail University launches two master programmes in collaboration with UN agencies

As part of Lusail University's expansion of academic programmes at the master’s level, the university yesterday launched master programmes in International Criminal Justice and in International Affairs and Public Policy. The first is in collaboration with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) while the second is in collaboration with the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR).The Master Programme in International Criminal Justice is the culmination of a strategic partnership with UNODC aimed at enhancing crime prevention through education for sustainable, peaceful and inclusive communities. Lusail University's objectives and willingness to raise awareness on the prevention of organised crime, corruption and terrorism in accordance with existing international conventions, standards and norms have coincided with UNODC's efforts and contributions to national and international efforts to prevent and combat crime through many approaches. These include the promotion of human well-being through educational measures.While addressing a press conference at the university, Professor Nitham Hindi, President of Lusail University, said that the objectives of the International Criminal Justice Master programme is helping students develop the tools and skills in drafting plans, legislation and writing reports. The programmes will prepare students to acquire the legal skills in criminal justice, cross-border crimes and counter-terrorism initiatives in a complex international context while encouraging analytical, critical and creative thinking skills, and providing the student with an extensive theoretical and practical knowledge in the area of criminal justice and human rights. It will also increase awareness of professional ethics and social values to underline the impact of crime on international relations,” he said.The International Criminal Justice Master Programme is based on promoting community awareness of crimes as a sustainable development goal that Qatar is pursuing. The programme was also an effective response to the contents of the Doha Declaration 2015, which emphasized the importance of education as a tool for crime prevention and urged support for the rule of law. The programme also reflects the goals of the Education for Justice Initiative E4J which is supported by Qatar and seeks to transfer knowledge and achieve a deeper understanding of rule of law issues.The programme will have an English and Arabic track. It’s also benchmarked with international programmes and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime oversight. It’s a two-year programme consisting of 36 credit hours distributed over four semesters. The programme has four concentrations. These are combating money laundering and terrorism financing, anti-corruption, human trafficking and migrant smuggling and cybercrime.Prof. Nitham said that the programme learning outcomes are “to demonstrate in-depth knowledge of the principles of organised and international crime, and to participate in the planning and drafting laws and legislations, to write academic research and legal reports, in addition to demonstrate knowledge of human rights, the rule of law, and the principle of justice, as well as knowledge of the court appeal processes related to international crime within national and international courts, and to determine areas of cross-border crime and its international jurisdiction.”This high-quality programme will provide an opportunity for all students with a bachelor's degree in various disciplines to study criminal justice. It is also designed in line with the laws applicable in Qatar and focuses on applied legal studies and practical and experimental programmes in order to refine the student's skills and prepare him for the labour market.The Master of Arts in International Affairs and Public Policy programme is offered by Lusail University in co-operation with its strategic partner UNITAR. This programme comes in response to the high demand in Qatar and the region for a Master of Arts in International Affairs and Public Policy. It addresses the needs of the workforce in the domestic, regional and international labour market, especially as the field of international affairs and public policy becomes increasingly important with the growth of the world and its interdependence through trade and business. It’s also an interesting topic with a heavy focus on the economy, culture, education and political science and examining its impact on society. This unique programme addresses two critical areas: international affairs with its various issues and public policy with its decisions that create the outcomes of the political system.The programme has many advantages, as faculty members serving in the programme have significant experience in teaching and international work and they are well-known and qualified. The programme will be made available with two tracks with first in Arabic and second in English. The programme aims at engaging students to work collaboratively with international experts in multidisciplinary and multicultural contexts, develop students' competence in dealing with challenges through the design public policies and their implications at global, regional and national levels, enhance students' technical, analytical and research skills to contribute to the generation of knowledge in the fields of international affairs, public policy and diplomacy, demonstrate to students the philosophies, theories and principles as well as key issues and concepts in international affairs and international relation.Prof Nitham said the master programme in International Affairs and Public Policy is the first and only programme in the Middle East in co-operation with UNITAR. "The programme will begin in August 2023 (Fall semester 2023). This comes as part of Lusail University's strategic plan. The programme is characterised by the fact that it supports the Qatar Vision 2030 while stressing the need for an educational system that rises to the level of distinguished international educational systems and provides citizens with what meets their needs and the needs of the Qatari society and includes educational curricula and training programmes that respond to the needs of the current and future labor market. It’s also based on an analysis of the needs of the local labor market and has high quality in terms of the teaching and learning process, indicators of quality assurance and international accreditation, and is taught by a specialized group of faculty members," he said.Regarding the admission criteria, Fatma al-Mesleh, Vice- President for Student Affairs, said the candidate must have a bachelor's degree from a university accredited by the Ministry of Education and Higher Education of Qatar with a GPA of at least 2.0/4.0 (C) or equivalent in case of at least three years' practical experience after and should pass the personal interview with the admissions committee.The application for the two master's programmes can be submitted online at the university's website with all personal and academic data, experience certificates and a curriculum vitae.Al-Mesleh said the applications are transferred to the Interview committee, noting that the application is open until April 27,and the interviews will be held from April 30 to May 30, while admission decisions will be announced on June 7 and studies will begin on August 20.Dr. Moulay Hicham Idrissi, Dean of the College of Law said the master's programme in criminal justice, which is the first in the region, aims to meet the need of Qatar to promote the principles of international criminal justice and the rule of law at the educational level. “As the programme is considered an actual response to the contents of the 2015 Doha Declaration, which emphasised the importance of education as a tool to prevent crime and support the rule of law,” he said noting that this programme embodies the goals of the "Education for Justice" initiative, which is supported by Qatar in an effort to impart knowledge and achieve a deeper understanding of issues related to the rule of law.Dr. Ramzi Nasser, Dean of the College of Education and Arts, said the Master of Arts programme in International Affairs and Public Policy is important because it focuses on studying the impact of economics, culture, education and political science on society. He added that the programme aims to provide students with theories, philosophies and concepts in international affairs and relations, in addition to improving their technical, analytical and research skills.Lusail University is witnessing remarkable development since it opened its doors for the first time in September 2020. In addition to being the first national private university in the State of Qatar, the university has been known for being responsive to the needs of the workforce, in addition to the success of the current high-quality academic programmes, which witnessed the enrollment of about 2,000 students full-time student since opening in fall 2020 and is known for its ability to maintain high academic standards. The university offers 15 undergraduate programmes in various academic disciplines from 4 colleges: the College of Education and Arts, the College of Law, the College of Commerce and Business and the College of Information Technology, and in three languages: Arabic, English and French.

Saad al-Mana
Mazzraty features wide range of products at AgriteQ 2023

The National Group for Agriculture and Animal Products, a subsidiary of Al Mana International Holding Group, has made a strong presence for the Mazzraty brand with a wide range of poultry, dairy and vegetable products at the ongoing 10th Qatar International Agricultural Exhibition (AgriteQ) 2023 at the Doha Exhibition and Convention Centre."Among the attractions showcased by Mazzraty is the newly introduced marinated fresh chicken, available in five flavours," Saad al-Mana, executive board member, National Group for Agriculture and Animal Products, told Gulf Times yesterday on the sidelines of the exhibition.A wide range of poultry products available at the Mazzraty pavilion at AgriteQ 2023 inludes fresh whole chicken, fresh chicken wings, necks, thighs, whole legs, tenderloin, gizzards, hearts, livers, feet, drumsticks, breast fillet, mixed parts, fresh chicken minced meat and Chicken shish tawook.Dairy products including fresh milk, flavoured milk, labneh, cheese, yogurt, instant full cream milk powder and a variety of juices are also available at Mazzraty's booth number B109 at the event concluding on Sunday.The products from Mazzraty farms meet the highest quality standards without any chemicals or antibiotics and they are processed using state-of-the-art technology.Al-Mana said Mazzraty is carrying out research and marketing analysis in order to introduce more high quality products at competitive prices.Mazzraty uses a fully environment-friendly production cycle while trying to raise environmental awareness and encourage the Qatari community to join efforts for sustainability and combating climate change.The other Mazzraty products at AgriteQ 2023 include honey, varieties of dates such as Zahidi, Malaki, Khudry, Safaawy,Sukkary, Suqa’ey, Khalas, Fard, Barny and Berhi, fresh vegetables such as parsley, aubergine, bean, cucumber, squash, tomato and okra, organic fertilisers and feeds for livestock and birds.In partnership with Kidzania, Mazzraty lends kids a first hand experience of farming and dairy production by making use of Augmented Reality, a blender bike, arts and crafts.Also, the pavilion has a live cookery show where exquisite dishes are prepared by chef Ahmed al-Zamel.Al-Mana said AgriteQ 2023 is an ideal venue for Qatari farmers and entrepreneurs to showcase and market their products and share experience while taking new lessons.

AgriteQ starts with stress on food security

The 10th Qatar International Agricultural Exhibition (AgriteQ) 2023 started at the Doha Exhibition and Convention Centre on Wednesday with the participation of more than 55 countries.HE the Minister of Municipality Dr Abdullah bin Abdulaziz bin Turki al-Subaei opened the five-day exhibition. HE the Minister of Environment and Climate Change Sheikh Dr Faleh bin Nasser bin Ahmed bin Ali al-Thani, HE the Minister of Transport Jassim Saif Ahmed al-Sulaiti, HE the Minister of Commerce and Industry Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad bin Qassim al-Abdullah al-Thani, Qatar Airways Group CEO and Qatar Tourism chairman HE Akbar al-Baker, Lebanese Minister of Agriculture Abbas Al Haj Hassan and Georgia's Minister of Environmental Protection and Agriculture Otar Shamugia were the other dignitaries present.“Qatar places great emphasis on the agricultural sector in its various fields and works diligently to support and assist this vital sector in order to stimulate it to enhance food security and achieve sustainable agricultural development," HE Dr al-Subaei said on the occasion.Describing the agricultural sector as one of the most strategic in the country, he said its importance has increased in light of the recent regional and international challenges and developments and highlighted the several qualitative initiatives undertaken to develop the agricultural sector.“The major initiatives included the implementation of the Agricultural Census project, tissue culture research, reducing food waste, developing laboratories and veterinary quarantines at Hamad and Ruwais ports and operating the new fish markets in the cities of Al Khor and Al Shamal, expanding the fishing ports in Al Wakra, Al Khor, Al Dhakira and Ruwais, sustain marine fishing and fish farming at the Aquatic Research Centre in Ras Matbakh, as well as developing clusters of farms and studying the impact of treated water on animal feed agriculture," he pointed out.AgriteQ 2023 has brought together industry experts, researchers, and innovators from around the world to showcase the latest technologies and products in agriculture, horticulture, and animal husbandry. The exhibition has participation of more than 675 companies, including 523 from outside Qatar from the agricultural, food and animal production sectors, spread over an area of 29,000sqm.Out of the more than 55 countries participating in the exhibition, 30 are attending through official national pavilions and the others through companies, embassies and commercial offices in Doha. More than 10 entities from the private sector and government agencies are sponsoring the exhibition.The event, which runs until March 19, offers a unique opportunity for visitors to explore the latest trends, engage with key players in the industry, and discover new solutions to enhance their agricultural practices. With a focus on sustainable agriculture and food security, AgriteQ is an essential event for anyone involved in the agricultural sector.“This edition of AgriteQ is considered the biggest ever, with the participation of more than 100 farms, and that's the biggest number of farms to gather in Qatar in one place” said the Organising Committee chairman Mohammed Ali al-Khouri.

Michael Isikoff, Dina Hussein, Amy Larsen, and Zach Schwitzky at session on ‘Countering Extremism, Hate and Disinformation Online’ in Global Security Forum.
Global Security Forum discusses online threats and steps to counter effectively

The Global Security Forum (GSF), which concluded yesterday, discussed the current nature of the threats and the measures taken by governments, communities, and the private sector.A session on ‘Countering Extremism, Hate and Disinformation Online’ threw light on the looming threats while analysing the ways to counter extremism and hate citing disinformation as a critical priority for states and organisations to counter effectively.Also highlighted were the mechanisms to confront malicious adversaries and to mitigate the influence of violent extremists and terrorist groups while implementing measures that range from tackling the technical aspects of disinformation to the narratives and strategies used by violent groups.Moderated by Michael Isikoff, chief investigative correspondent, Yahoo! News, the session had Amy Larsen, director of strategy and business management, Microsoft; Dina Hussein, global head of policy development and expert partnerships, Meta (Facebook) and Zach Schwitzky, co-founder, Limbik.Dina noted that Facebook is in constant contact with governments while working to fight disinformation and online hatred. “When civil society objects to some publication or wants to report something, we have channels dedicated to dealing with these matters. We have law enforcement teams that communicate with different governments around the world,” she said.Dina added that Facebook has created its own definition of terrorism after consulting with the UN and other stakeholders. “Our definition allows us to look at multiple indicators and is ideologically agnostic.”Amy Larsen noted that Microsoft’s information ecosystem pillar involves working on restoring and rebuilding journalism and protecting journalists, while also producing media literacy content and providing educational resources.“The pillar of our vital information system is based on working to rebuild the press and protect journalists, while at the same time producing media training content and providing educational resources,” she said, noting that Microsoft could see the increase in cyber activity from its headquarters in Redmond before the first shots were fired in Ukraine from Russia.“Whether or not something is actually true, if it’s believed by a segment of the population, it’s potentially consequential,” said Zach Schwitzky. He noted that even proven truths can't hold up in an info space when the audience doesn't trust the messenger adding Limbik is coming up with creative ways to mitigate disinformation before it spreads.

Panellists during the session on ‘Evolving Security Challenges and Threat Landscapes’ at the Global Security Forum.
"Need to focus on cyber attacks threat in line with the change in cyber security landscape"

The cyber security landscape has changed and the countries and agencies need to focus on the looming threat of cyber attacks, experts told the Global Security Forum (GSF) on Tuesday.While attending the session on ‘Evolving Security Challenges and Threat Landscapes’, Anjana Rajan, assistant national cyber director for technology security, The White House, said the cybersecurity landscape has fundamentally changed and noted that the future conflicts may include cyber warfare.“An hour before Russian troops set foot in Ukraine, there was a state-sponsored Russian cyber attack on an American satellite company. The future of global conflict now includes outer space, and the weapon will include cyber warfare,” she stated.Moderated by Mark Mazzetti, Washington investigative correspondent, New York Times, the session discussed the significant changes over the past two decades in security challenges and threat landscapes. It was noted that concerns about the potential of terror outfits to motivate and inspire attacks remains a persistent concern.The session also discussed the increased focus on domestic violent extremism, racially and ethnically motivated actors, including with international connections, and evolving partnerships on counterterrorism.“What we are seeing are individuals picking up scattered ideas from multiple sources online and the result is a diabolical mixture of violence. And as a result, you see terrorist tactics being used by individuals who display very little cognisable ideology,” noted Rebecca Weiner, assistant commissioner of the Intelligence and Counterterrorism Bureau, New York City Police Department.Retired Col Chris Costa, executive director, International Spy Museum and former special assistant to the President and senior director for Counterterrorism, US National Security Council, said countries have to be concerned about anti-government terrorism and noted that the US Government continues to focus on counter terrorism while taking up efforts to eliminate the Jihadi threats.Gregory LoGerfo, deputy co-ordinator for Regional and Multilateral Affairs, US Department of State, said there is a looming threat of cyber terrorist attack that needs to be countered.

The session in progress.
Russia-Ukraine conflict accelerated energy transition, say experts at GSF

By Shafeeq Alingal Staff Reporter The energy crisis caused by the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict has resulted in energy source diversification while accelerating energy transition, experts opined at the Global Security Forum (GSF) on Monday.Addressing a session on ‘Fostering Energy Security Amid Shifting Geopolitical Dynamics’, Dr Damilola Olawuyi, professor and Unesco chair on Environmental Law and Sustainable Development, Hamad Bin Khalifa University's College of Law, noted that the Ukraine events showed diversification of energy sources with many European countries looking to Qatar and Nigeria for oil and gas.The session reflected on the global energy situation and the implications of regional dynamics and implications of the ongoing war in Ukraine for Europe, the Middle East and other actors.“The world can’t rely on one source any more.Qatar was able to step in to address the crisis.It resulted in energy transition,” he said, adding that the events underlined that without energy security there is no global security.He said there should be focus on the climate change emergency just like the energy poverty emergency, and explained that these emergencies, if not addressed, are going to worsen the threat to global security.While talking about the energy transition, Dr Olawuyi said there is a trend in the making where renewable energy superpowers are being formed.“Qatar is leading the new trend.The country is investing over $1bn in a blue ammonia project and a number of innovative projects are in the making to promote renewable energy.Countries in the region are taking the lead while concentrating efforts in energy transition,” he said.“Several institutions are engaged in research on renewable energy and energy transition, and Qatar will be a hub of research on renewable energy."Dr Carolyn Kissane, assistant dean, New York University Centre for Global Affairs, said the energy crisis is not over, noting that the crisis is ongoing in Eastern Europe and there is a real concern looming over next winter.Scott Modell, CEO of Rapidan Energy Group, said the world is witnessing protests due to oil price hikes that emerge due to wars.Frank Fannon, former US assistant secretary of state for Energy Resources, noted that political unrest creates high energy prices.He explained that the energy crisis is accelerating the energy transition, adding that there is a need for constructive and comprehensive engagement with producing countries in the Gulf.Paul Wallace, Middle East Energy and Commodities, Bloomberg, moderated the session.

HE Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani and HE Akbar al-Baker with other dignitaries at the opening of QIFF 2023 Saturday. Supplied picture
A world of delicacies: Qatar Tourism opens 12th edition of QIFF

The annual Qatar International Food Festival (QIFF) is back, this time at a new venue. Qatar Tourism (QT) Saturday celebrated the opening of the 12th edition of QIFF at the newly-minted Al Sa’ad Plaza in Lusail Boulevard, in the presence of HE Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani and with opening remarks presented by Qatar Tourism Chairman and Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive HE Akbar al-Baker.Featuring delicacies from around the world, QIFF 2023 also has an area dedicated to Indonesian cuisine, in celebration of the Qatar-Indonesia 2023 Year of Culture. Indonesian ambassador Ridwan Hassan was also present at the opening Saturday along with other dignitariesRunning until March 21, QIFF is Qatar’s longest-running food and beverage festival and is a headline event in the country’s annual social calendar. In partnership with Qatar Airways, more than 80 culinary vendors will attend the 11-day festival, which is expected to attract more than 7,000 visitors a day, Qatar Tourism has said in a statement.QIFF 2023 will run daily from 4-11pm on weekdays, and from 4pm to 1am on weekends. Entrance is free, with pre-registration available on the Visit Qatar website ( for this year’s edition are talabat, Ooredoo, Askar, Qatar Museums: the Qatar-Indonesia 2023 Year of Culture, and Expo 2023 Doha Qatar.HE al-Baker said Qatar International Food Festival is a celebration of the country’s unique and diverse melting pot of cultures, and for more than a decade has shone an essential spotlight on its thriving culinary scene. "With so many recent world-class restaurant openings, Qatar’s gastronomic landscape is incredibly exciting, and we are delighted to showcase all that’s on offer to residents and visitors this March," he said.From live cooking masterclasses to Le Petit Chef, QIFF 2023 has in store plenty to eat, see and do.Phil Lawrie, general manager of IN-Q Enterprises, the commercial arm and wholly owned subsidiary of Qatar Museums (QM), said: "Our decade of partnership with world-renowned Michelin-starred chef Alain Ducasse has brought to Qatar elevated dining experiences through IDAM at the Museum of Islamic Art (MIA), Jiwan at the National Museum of Qatar (NMoQ) and Café #999 located at Doha's artist hub - the Fire Station. Our restaurants offer a variety of menu options, from French to modern Qatari cuisine to authentic Italian, to satisfy the varied cravings and diverse culinary preferences of the local populace and visitors. We are grateful to be a part of QIFF 2023 because it is an opportunity to introduce more people to the signature flavours and pleasures, our outlets are known for.”Francisco de Sousa, managing director of talabat, said: “We are once again delighted to be participating in one of the key food festivals in Qatar, as well as in the region. With diverse culinary offerings, this festival is a testament to the country's commitment to promoting local and international cuisines and fostering cultural exchange. At talabat, we believe in the power of food to bring people together, and we are honoured to be part of this exciting event that showcases the best of Qatar's food culture.”Expo 2023 Doha, represented by its secretary-general, Mohamed Ali al-Khouri, saw a great opportunity at the festival to raise awareness about the Expo, its pillars and what it stands for especially when it comes to putting horticulture and innovation and technology at the service of sustainability. He also highlighted that sustainability extends to food waste and leftovers and that QIFF is the perfect forum to start this conversation.Sheikh Ali bin Jabor al-Thani, CEO of Ooredoo Qatar, said: “We’re delighted to partner with Qatar Tourism for this year’s Qatar International Food Festival. We’re committed to supporting our communities and our country, and helping showcase the many incredible events and activities on offer in Qatar, and we’re sure QIFF will - once again - be a hugely enjoyable experience for both residents and visitors.”QIFF 2023 will offer five daily live cooking theatres, which will feature some of the region’s most dynamic and respected chefs, including 29 of participating chefs.Food-loving festivalgoers can also attend ticketed interactive food masterclasses where they will have the unique opportunity to sharpen their skillset with some of the industry’s finest. Some industry favourites include Rachel Allen, chef Wan, East Levant and more.There will be a host of unusual - and delicious - dining options available for guests. Attendees can also enjoy their own high-end Harrods afternoon tea.The festival’s customary cornucopia of world cuisine food trucks will make a return for 2023. From sumptuous Mexican tacos to gorgeously flavoursome Filipino Kare Kare, guests are sure to find something mouth-watering amongst the melee of carts.In a true tribute to international cuisine, QIFF will see an area dedicated to Indonesian cuisine, in celebration of the Qatar-Indonesia Year of Culture 2023. Finally, an entire section of the festival will exclusively house vegan cuisine, and healthy food options.A suite of varied and lively entertainment options for the entire family will be on offer at QIFF 2023. Throughout the festival, there will be roaming acts, a nightly fireworks show and a publicly-accessible VIP section.Guests can get their skates on with a custom-made skate ring, and an entire Kids section will be available for the little ones, with entertainment organised by Aura Entertainment.QIFF 2023 can be easily accessed by metro (Lusail QNB station) and car, with several parking options in close proximity to Lusail Boulevard. On a daily basis, all leftover food will be collected and distributed by the festival’s charity partner, Hifz Al Naema.

Dr Lazarus Chakwera at the closing session.
Qatar earns international praise for hosting LDC5

The UN officials and international leaders were all praise for Qatar while hailing the country’s hosting of Fifth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries (LDC5), which concluded in Doha on Thursday.While addressing the closing session, Dr Lazarus Chakwera, President of Malawi and current Chair of the Group of LDCs noted that Qatar is an amazing host and the efforts by the country made the conference fruitful and productive. “Qatar not only hosted the conference, but also made valuable contributions both in terms of the ideas and financial assistance,” he noted.As many as 5,000 participants attended LDC5, including 47 heads of state or government and 130 ministers and vice-ministers. They called for developed countries to urgently provide the most vulnerable countries with the assistance they need to drive socio-economic and environmental development.Corporate leaders together with civil society, youth and other partners shared plans, innovations, and recommendations in several areas: from enhancing the participation of LDCs in international trade and regional integration to addressing climate change, strengthening global partnerships, supporting graduation, and leveraging the power of science, technology and innovation.UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohamed and UN High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States Rabab Fatima also hailed Qatar for being a wonderful host. She also praised Qatar’s efforts while hoping that the adoption of Doha Political Declaration will have positive impacts on the lives of 1.2bn people who live in the LDCs.

Rabab Fatima, Amina Mohamed, Dr Lazarus Chakwera and HE Sheikha Alya Ahmed bin Saif al-Thani at the closing press conference of LDC5. PICTURE: Thajudheen
LDC5 adopts Doha Political Declaration

The Fifth UN Conference on the Least Developed Countries (LDC5), held under the theme ‘From Potential To Prosperity’, yesterday adopted the Doha Political Declaration, reinforcing the international community’s commitment to the Doha Programme of Action (DPoA). The conference, while adopting the declaration, presented a unique opportunity to translate the vision of the DPoA into tangible results with countries and stakeholders showcasing a host of commitments, ranging from improving biodiversity and tackling malnutrition to resilience building in the LDCs.A 10-year plan to put the world’s 46 most vulnerable countries back on track to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) was adopted while bold commitments were made at the conference marking a transformative turning point for the world’s poorest countries, whose development has been hindered by crises, including Covid-19, climate change and deepening inequalities. The declaration outlines a transformative agenda to tap into the potential of the LDCs. Measures include the development of a food stockholding mechanism for LDCs with an online university focusing on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education, especially for women and girls along with an international investment support centre, a sustainable graduation support facility, comprehensive multi-hazard crisis mitigation and resilience-building measures for least developed countries.HE the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Sultan bin Saad al-Muraikhi, who presided over the plenary session on Adoption of the Doha Political Declaration, said DPoA and the Doha Political Declaration constitute an important legacy for Qatar and the international community for co-operation in the field of development as part of the humanitarian duty towards the people of LDCs. The goals in the declaration should not remain on paper. They must be translated into actions and tangible results by taking practical measures to bring about the desired transformation in the lives of the people of LDCs,” he stressed.“Achieving the SDGs in the Least Developed Countries is a litmus test for achieving the 2030 Agenda writ large, including by ensuring that no one — and no LDC — is left behind” said UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohamed. “That is why the DPoA must be seen as a vehicle for SDG acceleration,” she added.“We have closed LDC5 with renewed commitments towards achieving the DPoA,” said President of Malawi and current Chair of the Group of LDCs Dr Lazarus Chakwera exuding his confidence that the conference will be a changer for the backward countries across the world. “The adoption of Doha Political Declaration will result in LDCs achieving the goal of graduation and a more prosperous and sustainable future,” said the Secretary-General of the Conference and UN High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, Rabab Fatima.HE the Permanent Representative of Qatar to the UN Sheikha Alya Ahmed bin Saif al-Thani noted that Qatar will provide needed assistance to follow up and monitor the implementation of the declaration by joining hands with the international community.

Kahramaa president engineer Essa bin Hilal al-Kuwari and other dignitaries at the launch ceremony yesterday. PICTURES: Thajudheen.
Kahramaa launches AI enabled platform to ensure better customer experience

In a move that will improve operational efficiency, the Qatar General Electricity and Water Corporation (Kahramaa) yesterday launched its new Artificial Intelligence (AI) and cloud computing enabled large-scale platform.To be implemented in collaboration with Microsoft and KPMG, the new platform will ensure better experience.Kahramaa president engineer Essa bin Hilal al-Kuwari unveiled the platform at a function in Lusail City in the presence of Microsoft Qatar general manager Lana Khalaf, KPMG Qatar senior partner Ahmed Abu Sharkh and country senior partner and head of digital and innovation Nizar Hneini along with other representatives from government and private entities.Al-Kuwari said adopting advanced technologies to upgrade the quality of all operations and reach unprecedented excellence in delivery is strategically important. He noted that integrating AI and machine learning represents a new step towards achieving the corporate vision of global leadership in performance.“Kahramaa places great significance on comprehensive digital transformation and is keen on achieving corporate excellence in line with the development pillars of the Qatar National Vision 2030 and Qatar Digital Government Strategy. This project adds tremendous value and represents a new model in government institutions. It supports transparency, accelerates modernisation processes and encourages advanced digital solutions’ adoption and localisation, contributing to the Qatari excellence which has become a global standard of competence,” he said.Lana Khalaf described the project as a world class best practice in terms of leveraging cloud and AI technologies to accelerate innovation, drive efficiencies, optimise operations and provide high-quality and sustainable electricity and water for better living in Qatar.Ahmed Abu Sharkh noted that Qatar has occupied a distinctive leading position in cloud transformation and commended the aspirations of the country to pioneer in adopting these technologies and optimise AI. He expressed his deep conviction that such advanced technology would enable Kahramaa to improve operational processes and enhance customers’ experience.Nizar Hneini said that Kahramaa, by launching the new innovation, has officially taken the first step on the roadmap to an AI-informed development of services and operations.“This digital initiative will enable the corporation to enhance operational efficiency and strengthen reliability. We trust this will represent a quantum leap in customer experience at different touchpoints,” he said.While addressing a press conference at the event, Kahramaa's IT Smart Solutions assistant manager engineer Mohamed Mubarak al-Badr said the innovation will improve customer experiences. “Such technology will further develop the cloud computing services integrated in Kahramaa’s work, especially in relation to big data analysis and machine learning. The platform would also play a role in analysing patterns of electricity and water consumption in the country, enabling well-informed decision making and strategic planning for production and distribution of services, which guarantees an upgrade in the levels of sustainability and reliability of services and operations,” he said.Kahramaa is considered a pioneer in digital transformation in Qatar by providing customers with a wide range of facilitated digital solutions.The corporation is also carrying out a set of ambitious projects aimed at enabling a diversified and flexible Qatari economy and supporting the country’s development priorities with modern, reliable infrastructure.

Thomas Ostros, Somachi Chris-Asoluka and Reekelitsoe Molapo at the press conference Monday. PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam.
European Investment Bank to invest €100bn in LDCs

The European Investment Bank (EIB) has pledged to support the development and sustainability efforts in the Least Developed Countries (LDCs).“The European Union (EU) is committed to invest €300bn in the coming years and the EIB will provide one third of this amount,” EIB's vice president Thomas Ostros said.He was addressing a press briefing Monday at the ongoing Fifth UN Conference on the Least Developed Countries (LDC5): From Potential To Prosperity at Qatar National Convention Centre (QNCC).The EU and EIB are committed to invest in the LDCs while supporting these countries enrich in various sectors, Ostros said while explaining that the details of the allocation will be announced during the conference.The fund is expected to be spent for the development of private sector, green energy, water and health in the LDCs. “We are committed to accelerating sustainable infrastructure which is built on solid foundations, literally and metaphorically: good design, high standards, best practice and transparency,” he said. The investment will come on favourable terms to create jobs and opportunities, particularly for women and young people.Somachi Chris-Asoluka, CEO of Tony Elemuele Foundation (TEF), noted entrepreneurship is the only model that lends true, lasting and dignified prosperity in the African continent. “We must prioritise the African young people and uplift the countries from poverty,” she said while calling for investments and financial support to the African countries.Headquartered in Lagos, Nigeria, TEF has helped empower African entrepreneurs from across the continent while distributing grants for seed capital and supporting entrepreneurs from all 54 African countries through its proprietary digital platform. Asoluka said thousands of jobs were created by TEF while thousands were given business management training.Environmental activist and social entrepreneur Reekelitsoe Molapo from Lesotho stressed the importance of tapping the potential of the youth for the development and prosperity of the LDCs. She has co-founded and directs Conservation Music Lesotho. Her organisation confronts environmental collapse through the power of music in the developing world and beyond. “Young people are very instrumental and their meaningful engagement in decision making can bring changes,” she added.

HE the Permanent Representative of Qatar to the United Nations Sheikha Alya Ahmed bin Saif Al-Thani at the press conference yesterday. PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam.
LDC5 an opportunity for international community to reinforce commitment towards DPoA

“The LDC5 is an opportunity for the international community to reinforce its commitment towards implementing the Doha Programme of Action,” HE the Permanent Representative of Qatar to the United Nations Sheikha Alya Ahmed bin Saif al-Thani has said.While addressing the opening press conference at the Fifth UN Conference on the Least Developed Countries (LDC5): From Potential To Prosperity at Qatar National Convention Centre (QNCC) Sunday, HE Sheikha Alya said the implementation of Doha Programme of Action (DPoA) could be achieved with the participation of international organisations and other stakeholders.“Efforts and international participation are needed to achieve the objectives of the Doha Programme of Action for the least developed countries,” she observed.Sheikha Alya noted that the Covid-19 pandemic has affected the progress towards achieving the DPoA agenda while having a negative impact on education, health and food security. The Doha Political Declaration will be adopted at the end of LDC5 in order to reinforce the efforts to implement the Doha Programme of Action with the support of member states, she said.Dr Lazarus Chakwera, President of Malawi and current Chair of the Group of LDCs, stressed the need to intensify viable investments for the LDC community.Rabab Fatima , High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States and Secretary-General of LDC5, said the conference can support LDCs in their journey towards progress with exciting sessions that address a range of key issues, including access to finance, job creation, technology transfer, entrepreneur development, and long term sustainability that will support implementation of the Doha Programme of Action.“Every agency in the UN is going to be invested in implementing the Doha Programme of Action,” she said. She thanked Qatar for hosting the LDC5 while facilitating the contemplations.Brad Smith, vice chair and president of Microsoft, said the full potential of the LDCs can be realised through science, technology and innovation noting that technology, innovation and investment by the private sector can accelerate the development of the LDC community.“Digital tech powered by electricity, connectivity, and skills will play a critical role in sustainable development where it’s needed the most,” he noted.

The House will function as a platform for all UN agencies to work more closely with Qatar while facilitating increased cooperation between the country and UN agencies.  PICTURES: Thajudheen and supplied.
United Nations House opened in Qatar

While affirming Qatar's commitment to the United Nations and its support for the efforts to maintain international peace and security, Qatar on Saturday witnessed the opening of United Nations House at Lusail in the presence of HE the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani and UN Secretary General António Guterres.The house coordinates regional functions of International Organisation for Migration (IOM), International Labour Organisation (ILO), United Nations Education, Sciences and Culture Organisation (UNESCO), Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), Office of the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict (SRSG CAAC), United Nations Office of Counter Terrorism (UNOTC), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and World Health Organisation (WHO).The House will function as a platform for all UN agencies to work more closely with Qatar while facilitating increased cooperation between the country and UN agencies.The United Nations House will host UN offices that cover the countries of the region while promoting development and consolidating human rights. In 2018, an agreement was signed by Qatar and the UN regarding the establishment of the UN House in Qatar.HE the Foreign Minister, while addressing the gathering, said the United Nations House makes Doha a place and a platform for dialogue and a positive step for cooperation between Qatar and the UN. "We look forward to the United Nations House being a successful model for laying the foundation for action and dialogue," he said, adding that Qatar’s goal will remain for Doha to be a centre for multilateral action and a platform for dialogue.The house coordinates regional functions of International Organisation for Migration (IOM), International Labour Organisation (ILO), United Nations Education, Sciences and Culture Organisation (UNESCO), Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), Office of the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict (SRSG CAAC), United Nations Office of Counter Terrorism (UNOTC), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and World Health Organisation (WHO).Through their projects and initiatives, these offices will empower, develop and enhance the capabilities of the region through training opportunities, projects and seminars while providing expertise and technical assistance in their fields of specialisation.The UN Secretary General noted that the house will work as a centre that coordinates UN functions in Qatar and beyond while strengthening the agency’s works and diplomacy in the region."These challenges cry out for collaboration on a global scale. They demand that all countries stand in solidarity to find solutions. This spirit of collaboration and solidarity has defined the UN’s partnership with Qatar from the very start," he said.He hailed Qatar’s generosity to assist the most vulnerable and valuable contribution to the work of the UN fighting terrorism and violent extremism."With the Doha Programme of Action, this city is now synonymous with a roadmap for the world to deliver progress and results for the hundreds of millions of people who call Least Developed Countries home," he said.

Franck Muller has several expansion plans in Qatar and the GCC, says CEO Nicholas Rudaz. PICTURES: Thajudheen.
Franck Muller showcases high-value watches at DJWE

With its Qatar limited editions and novelty items, Franck Muller is showcasing high-value timepieces at the Doha Jewellery and Watches Exhibition (DJWE) 2023. Among the top-notch watches, is the Franck Muller Vanguard, which is evoking a good response from the buyers at DJWE.“With a wave of proactive energy, the Vanguard model is an edgy, fashion-forward timepiece with a dial featuring Franck Muller’s iconoclastic numeral in several colours. Vanguard boasts the signature numerals and trademark tonneau case of Franck Muller,” Franck Muller CEO Nicholas Rudaz told 'Gulf Times'.At DJWE, the Vanguard collection calls for clean and innovative aesthetics. The distinctive applique numerals have been meticulously hand-polished and hand-brushed with dial and crown to give the final touch to the sporty elegance and unique aesthetic of the watch. The strap is cleverly integrated inside the case in order to maintain and extend the curved aspect of the timepiece, the result being a stunning and sporty timepiece with a unique design.The Vanguard collection features numerous designs including Classical, Tourbillon, Grande Date, Skeleton, Yachting Anchor Skeleton, Yachting Crazy Hours, Camouflage, Gravity, Golf, Master Banker and Master Banker Skeleton. Rudaz said this year marks the 30th anniversary of Franck Muller Crazy Hours brand which is the most emblematic timepiece. With Crazy Hours, the order of the numerals on the dial isn’t in the traditional order and it features a wonderful mechanical movement that allows the hour hand to cleverly jump from one hour to the next in the correct order. Rudaz said that the Crazy Hours got many buyers at DJWE.The Grand Central Tourbillon offers a pure and spectacular spectacle, placing the Tourbillon in the centre of the watch while the Cintrée Curvex draws many buyers at the exhibition. Franck Muller has several expansion plans in Qatar and the GCC while launching exclusive limited edition brands that suit the Arab taste and opening new outlets across the region, Rudaz added.

Renowned TV anchor and actress Mahira Abdel Aziz unveils Damas' Alif collection at DJWE 2023.
Damas unveils unique Alif collection at DJWE

Damas Jewellery presented its new Alif collection at the Doha Jewellery and Watches Exhibition (DJWE) 2023 where renowned TV anchor and actress Mahira Abdel Aziz unveiled the unique brand on Thursday.“The collection has been created and inspired from the majestic first letter of the Arabic alphabet while amazingly signifying strong roots. It very much suits the Arab aesthetics and taste while integrating the classic with modernity,” Damas chairman and CEO Luc Perramond told Gulf Times."Alif is the most-awaited new high jewellery piece," he stated. Damas has designed Alif, a simplistic and modern collection, to honour the women's strengths and achievements as the integral pillars of today’s society.At Damas Exhibition Salon, Alif Unity features necklaces, bracelets, and for the first-time, double motif drop earrings. The necklaces offer various designs with full link chain or double rolo chain or Y rolo chain while the bracelets offer double rolo chain design and full link chain. The pieces in this edition feature a singular hero Alif motif fully studded with brilliant diamonds further elevating the design.At DJWE, Damas is showcasing its latest collections while lining up a great collection of high-end jewellery featuring some of its timeless pieces. Damas Exhibition Salon features the brand’s new identity while mirroring the design recently rolled out in Qatar. The collection includes the Dome and Lace collections inspired by Arabic architecture. Also, there are the high-end collections of Kallista, Revolve, Fireworks, Kanzi and Qamar that beckon the Arab women with bespoke pieces and much more.Perramond said that Dome is inspired from the rich heritage of the Arab region’s architecture, specifically the diverse and intricately designed ‘domes’ of the mosques and royal palaces and their beauty.“Inspired by the Arabic architecture, Damas has transformed its products into vibrant and modern medallions which make a statement of beauty and elegance,” he explained.The Dome collection, which celebrates the empowered Queen within every woman, is described as the essence of regal elegance and transforms the beauty of architectural domes into designs of confidence and self-love. Each design is made around a gemstone.Dome uses vivid gemstones intricately cut to represent the dome silhouette while exposing the natural beauty and characteristic of each stone and liberating its power. "Dome will become the favourite of Arab women with its distinctive features," the Damas official said.The exclusive Revolve collection has been designed with the repetition of delicate layers, radiating with diamond brilliance and gold shine. The Revolve collection has an array of jewellery with diamond embellishments that add sparkle to the signature overlapping discs of gold, creating a simple and classic piece.Damas’ collection of Kanzi, which means treasure, is made in celebration of love. Kanzi uses coin shaped motifs which hold at their centre semi precious gemstones - Raspberry Rhodolite, Orange Citrine and Purple Amethyst - while brilliant diamond embellishments further attenuate their fascinating beauty.Qamar, meaning the moon in Arabic, reflects the lunar cyclical patterns in a nod to the kinetic jewellery as the pieces feature two interlaced adjacent panels in crescent shape that transform and move to reflect the phases of the moon.The Fireworks collection includes a range of jewellery embellished with a combination of differently shaped and cut diamonds adding glamourous detail that emits radiance. The classic designs are reimagined adding a flair of sparkling firework shapes that spiral into the sky while captivating celebratory showcase of life.