Wednesday, April 17, 2024 | 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.
A total of 642 mosques and prayer grounds witnessed the faithful converging from early morning. PICTURES: Thajudheen and Shaji Kayamkulam.
Qatar marks Eid al-Fitr with prayer for Gaza victims

Prayers, fervour, festivities, social gatherings, family reunions and festive meals marked Eid al-Fitr celebrations across Qatar Wednesday.A total of 642 mosques and prayer grounds witnessed the faithful converging from early morning. Chants of Eid Takbeer, expressions of praise to God, filled the air at mosques and prayer grounds showing devotion and resonating with spiritual elevation.Eid congregational prayer started at 5.30am followed by the special sermons, in which the clerics asked the faithful to keep the spirit of Ramadan intact and celebrate the delight of Eid al-Fitr with piety and righteousness. The sermons also had special prayer for the war torn Gaza.The Ministry of Endowments (Awqaf) and Islamic Affairs, in co-operation with the Ministry of Interior (MoI) and the Ministry of Municipality, made essential arrangements to facilitate the prayer at mosques. MoI deployed traffic and security personnel to ensure smooth traffic movement for the convenience and safety of the faithful.The Grand Mosque, Msheireb Downtown Doha (MDD), Education City Stadium, Al Arabi Sports Club Stadium and Al-Wukair Grand Mosque along with numerous prayer grounds received thousands of worshippers.After the prayer, the faithful exchanged Eid greetings with warm hugs. “This congregation beautifully portrays the unity that transcends creed and colour. While standing in the crowd, one can feel the tranquility descending. This is the spirit and delight of Eid,” said Abdul Rasheed, after offering Eid prayer at Al-Wukair Grand Mosque.“We are blessed to have the opportunity to gather here and attend the prayer. The congregational prayer helps feel God's love and brings feelings of peace and joy,” said Mohamed Jaseem, who offered prayer with his family at the Grand Mosque. Kids were given gifts by Awqaf as part of its ‘Eid Joy’ initiative after the prayer at various prayer grounds.With exciting activities, festivities and events, the tourist places, beaches and public parks received visitors from the afternoon.

PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam
Gift shops, online stores add delight to Eid spirit

With Qatar readying to mark Eid al-Fitr, shops are offering a range of Eid gifts to help spread joy.Shops and online platforms are luring buyers with gift ideas that range from chocolates and food hampers to greeting cards.“Eid is the occasion of fervour and glee, and many express their joy by gifting,” said Tomas Avila, who runs the Royal Classic shop at Matar Al Qadeem. “Ahead of Eid al-Fitr, we have started to see more customers picking gifts for loved ones.”His shop offers different types of gifts: food hampers, gift boxes, cards, sweet treats, wooden plaques, toys, sweets, cakes, toffees, tea and coffee sets, perfumes, stickers, nuts and thermos flasks.Sporting greetings and Eid decorations, boxes and trays are available in different sizes as per the requirement and budget.Prices normally range between QR100 and QR1,000. There are boxes sold for as much as QR10,000.“We customise the gift boxes after adding the items chosen,” Avila said. “We wrap them beautifully and adorn them with greetings. They can be also bought empty and filled accordingly.”Made of wood or cardboard, these boxes contain different types of chocolate and candy along with toys, perfumes, oud and greeting cards.Some customers opt to place cash within the boxes.Qataris, according to Avila, make up the majority of the buyers, and they start to flock to the shops during the last ten days of Ramadan.Oriental sweets remain favourites, with many opting to have their boxes filled with date cake, saffron cake, baklava, goulash, Ghariba and basbousa in addition to petit four confectionery and basima.Some, according to shop owners, go for the mix of oriental sweets with Western flavours.The shops also feature collections of bouquets of fresh flowers.Displayed in glitter netting and wrapped elegantly, these bouquets are gifted along with the boxes.Online platforms are also seeing demand for gift boxes.Sharmeena Fazil says her page “Our_momentz” is receiving orders to prepare customised gift boxes.She takes orders both from Qatar and abroad.“In Qatar, there has been a trend where the residents order gifts to be sent to relatives abroad to share the joy of Eid,” Fazil said. “Personalised boxes are prepared here and shipped.”

Gulf Times
Qatar’s faithful throng mosques to offer special night prayers

With Ramadan having entered the final ten days, mosques across the country are witnessing the faithful thronging to perform the Qiyam-ul-layl (voluntary night prayer).“The last ten days of Ramadan is a divine opportunity to achieve the greatest benefit from Ramadan. Also, it’s the opportunity for those who got less engaged in worship during the first two parts to benefit from the holy month.Attaching yourself to the mosque during the night lends a spiritual elevation,” said Jabir bin Abdulrahman.Mosques host special night prayers. Named Qiyam-ul-layl, the prayer is considered by the faithful as one of the best acts of worship that bring one closer to Allah. “To stand in front of the almighty with devotion and dedication and listen to the Imam sweetly reciting the Qur’an make your nights worthwhile and filled with fervour,” said Abdul Rasheed.The last ten days of Ramadan are blessed by Allah with unique virtues. Among such virtues is that Laylat Al-Qadr (the Night of Decree) is among them. Many prefer to remain in the mosques to perform I’tikaaf (staying in mosque) and recite the Qur’an while expecting Laylat Al-Qadr. “I opt to stay some hours inside the mosque where I can draw myself close to Allah and gain such immense feeling about him,” Jabir said.The Ministry of Endowments (Awqaf) and Islamic Affairs has allocated 189 mosques in various regions across Qatar for I’tikaaf (staying in the mosque) during the last 10 days of Ramadan. Awqaf published the list of the names of the mosques where worshippers can practice I’tikaaf. Awqaf has published a set of guidelines and urged the worshippers to follow them while going for I’tikaaf.Meanwhile, scholars have urged the worshippers to make use of the last ten days of Ramadan and engage in good deeds.Ali Mohyi al-Din al-Qaradaghi, president of the International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS), while talking to Qatar TV, urged the believers to increase good deeds and charity. “Islam recommends Muslims to pay Zakat al-Fitr during the last ten days of Ramadan to ensure that Zakat is paid properly,” he said.

The flag of the BIE is handed over by Qatar to the organisers of Expo 2027 Yokohama, the next horticultural expo, at the closing ceremony of Expo 2023 Doha.
Expo 2023 Doha attracts more than 4.2mn visitors

After attracting more than 4.2mn visitors, setting new records and hosting a slew of exciting events and activities, Expo 2023 Doha concluded tonight at Al Bidda Park.The valedictory ceremony was held in the presence of HE the Minister of Municipality Abdullah bin Hamad bin Abdullah al-Attiyah and other dignitaries including Expo 2023 Doha commissioner general ambassador Bader Omar al-Dafa, Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) president Alain Berger, International Association of Horticultural Producers (AIPH) president Leonardo Capitano, ambassadors of various countries and representatives of various government entities.HE the Minister of Municipality noted that Expo 2023 Doha marked a historic milestone at the international level to be the first AI-generated expo while receiving the largest number of visitors and sponsors. HE the Minister noted that the event attracted more than 4,200,000 visitors throughout 179 days with participation of countries from across the world.“Expo 2023 Doha has set a new record while surpassing the figures of such previous events. The exhibition discussed the innovations and the ways to combat desertification and the threat being posed by climate change,” HE al-Attiyah said noting that the successful organisation of the expo has underscored Qatar’s commitment to support the efforts to preserve the environment and achieve the objective of becoming a sustainable country.Berger noted that Expo 2023 Doha was successful in organising and showing the world innovations. Capitano hailed Qatar for its efforts to host a successful event. The ceremony also marked a cultural gala and fireworks.Under the theme 'Green Desert, Better Environment', Expo 2023 Doha focused on modern agriculture, technology and innovation, environmental awareness and sustainability. The event promoted sustainable innovations and ways to combat desertification through activities and celebrations.In addition to introducing innovative new products to global markets and sports events, the expo hosted workshops, educational activities and discussions with leading experts to concerts and theatrical performances at its International, Cultural and Family zones.The Doha Expo 2023 was not just a showcase of horticultural wonders; it was a testament to Qatar's commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship. The Expo site itself was a marvel of green design, featuring sustainable architecture, renewable energy solutions, and innovative water management systems.Visitors were not only treated to breathtaking displays of flora from every corner of the world but also educated on the importance of preserving our planet for future generations.

PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam
Specially adorned Garangao bags favourites at Souq Waqif

Special goody bags for kids with glamorous traditional artistic touches have turned out to be favourites of Garangao purchases at Souq Waqif. The bags, painted with images of festivities, draw the kids who flock to the Souq to grab their Garangao gifts.“This year, the special bags with gitfs in them, are the favourites of kids. The bags have nuts, sweets, toys, chocolates, toffies and lights that are gifted during the festival,” said one of the shop owners Mohamed Ali. The price for the bags ranges between QR 70 and QR140 at Souq.Grangao, which falls on the night of Ramadan 15, is an occasion for children to celebrate. Wearing traditional clothes, children take to the streets and they are received in houses with gifts. House premises are lit up with lights and decorated with Garangao decors while sweets, nuts, gifts and toys are given to each other after Maghrib prayer. The idea behind the festival is to gift the children for their efforts while fasting during the first half of Ramadan and encourage them to continue the spirit during the second half.Garangao kits at Souq Waqif are available from QR 50 to QR 600, according to the features and quantity. There are special toys that sing special Garangao songs. Children use these during Garangao celebrations while walking on the streets.Souq Waqif is recording a huge turnout from Qatar families that flock to the market to buy sweets and gifts for their children. The sales have gone up manifold for the past few days with preparations going on to welcome the festival. Souq receives huge crowds after Iftar.To suit the options of the buyers, shops at Souq Waqif offer a wide range of gift kits. “Customised kits are available for buyers to meet their budget and requirements,” said another merchant adding sales have gone up. “Due to this, we offer kits at reduced prices,” he said.Also, Garangao clothes are displayed from the beginning of Ramadan until the middle of the night. Some opt to make preorders for the dresses and they are prepared as per the requirements and size of the children. Children’s dresses are available from QR50.

Hassan al-Hajri
Body language gives away drug traffickers, GAC official

Customs officials are capable of identifying drug traffickers from their body language, a senior official at the General Authority of Customs (GAC) has said.Head of the Main Passenger Terminal Department at Hamad International Airport (HIA) Hassan al-Hajri, told Qatar TV in an interview that the officials are trained to detect passengers carrying drugs in a professional and sophisticated manner.“HIA Customs plays an important role in combating the ongoing smuggling while keeping pace with new developments in detecting drug trafficking,” he said while explaining that GAC is equipped with the most important customs training centre regionally and globally.“The centre provides the GAC officials with special training courses to identify and detect drugs and monitor the methods of smuggling. The officials with their expertise and by using advanced devices monitor passengers and luggage to detect violations and smuggling of forbidden objects. They seize prohibited goods and materials. This is achieved through continuous efforts by HIA, which improve and develop new methods to thwart drug trafficking,” al-Hajri said.The process of raising the efficiency of employees, according to al-Hajri, requires hard and continuous work. This is attained by providing them with the latest training courses to detect smuggling. GAC, al-Hajri added, is making greater efforts and working more to combat and detect smuggling operations by working to use new technologies and new methods to thwart smuggling by checking travellers and goods quickly and smoothly.Regarding the country's multiple ports, al-Hajri said that GAC spares no effort to provide training, expertise and tools to customs officers at all land, air and sea ports to prevent the entry of any harmful material to the country.

Snapshot from the Riyadtee event. PICTURE: Thajudheen
Riyadtee sports meet brings together specially abled students

Specially abled students from across Qatar came together Saturday at the American School of Doha for an event full of excitement and learning. The students marched, staged performances and took part in competitions at the Riyadtee sports events for children with disabilities, organised by HOPE Qatar Centre for Persons with Disabilities together with the Department of Educational Centres in the Ministry of Education and Higher Education (MoEHE). Parents watched with pride as their children took part in the activities, while teachers and volunteers lent a helping hand to the specially abled participants, keeping their spirits up. The special sports event was aimed at providing an inclusive platform for 86 students from 11 special needs educational centres across Qatar. Riyadtee, which means “My Sport”, witnessed the participation of students with autism, as well as wheelchair athletes from 26 nationalities engaging in 27 athletic and modified sports competitions. HOPE Qatar founder and managing director Dr Rajeev Thomas said the initiative offers tailored sporting opportunities to children with disabilities in Qatar, emphasising its adaptability to the unique abilities of each participant. "Our goal is not only to foster inclusivity but also to provide a platform for these remarkable children to showcase their sporting abilities,” he said. Dr Thomas said that the event was conducted according to Special Olympic Guidelines with all awards and prizes based on these guidelines. Independent judges monitored each event and the conduct of each contest in line with strict published rules and regulations. MoEHE Educational Services Centres Department director Eman Ali al-Naimi said that caring for people with disabilities is one of the ministry’s priorities to ensure that people with disabilities obtain the rights that Qatar has ratified in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The meet began with a march, followed by a cultural demonstration by students of the host institution HOPE Qatar. Mohamed Jamisha, a senior student of HOPE Qatar, led the oath-taking on behalf of all participating athletes. Undersecretary for Shared Services at the MoEHE, Mohamed Ali Kareeb, Indian ambassador Vipul, Bangladesh ambassador Mohamed Nazrul Islam, local sports enthusiast Khalid Fakhroo, former Indian Cultural Centre (ICC) president PN Baburajan, and American School of Doha director of operations David Finney were present.

Mexico's Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Dr Victor Manuel Villalobos Arámbula speaking to Gulf Times. PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam.
Mexico looks to prospect investment and co-operation with Qatar

Mexico is looking to prospect investment and co-operation with Qatar by streamlining the mutual relations, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Dr Victor Manuel Villalobos Arámbula has said.“The relationship between the two countries is showing an upward trend in various sectors and we are looking to further strengthen it by initiating steps to encourage cooperation and knowledge sharing,” Arámbula told Gulf Times during an exclusive interview.“Mexico’s agriculture sector is growing while integrating many innovations to fight climate change, ensure sustainability and increase production. Several forestry projects and agricultural initiatives are being implemented across the country to help the rural area grow. The country has left an impressive model in agriculture, especially in developing the arid lands. These models can be adopted by Qatar and GCC countries as a sustainable practice to achieve the development goals in the agriculture sector,” Arámbula said noting that Mexico held 12th rank in food production with with a quantity of up to 301.3mn tonnes of production last year. The country, he said, is one of 17 highly diverse countries, being home to about 10 per cent of the world's registered species and it has established exporting relations with 190 countries across the world.Citing sustainability is among the top priorities of his country, Arámbula said efforts are put into implementing effective water planning models. “This has become an essential part of water resources management and we have developed strategies that are worth implementing in GCC with water scarcity,”Mexico has implemented six priority social programmes to promote farming under the supervision of Arámbula. These include fertilisers for wellbeing, production for wellbeing, guaranteed prices, the programme to provide direct economic aid to fishermen (Bienpesca), rural supply and social supply of milk, through which support has been provided directly to vulnerable families, benefiting more than 2mn small farmers, cattle ranchers and coastal fishermen every year.The Mexican minister hailed Qatar for promoting sustainability pointing out that ventures like Expo 2023 Doha contribute to the global efforts to materialise the idea of a green future. The Mexico pavilion at Expo Doha highlights Mexixo’s sustainability and bioeconomy initiatives and the country’s approach towards making use of technological resources.Qatar’s investment in sports also earned praise from Arámbula, who said the country showed the world its ability to successfully host mega events while making FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 a memorable event. “The country transformed the mega tournament into a reality and made it a unique event while leaving a lasting legacy,” he said.

Jordanian artist Hussein Alazaat at the exhibition. PICTURE: Thajudheen
Jordanian artist Hussein Alazaat's ‘Memories of the Coming Day’ deciphers his art oeuvre at ‘Arab Design Now’ exhibition

While giving vent to creativity through his art oeuvre and book trove, Jordanian artist Hussein Alazaat has left a mark at the ongoing ‘Arab Design Now’ exhibition, held within the programmes of the first edition of Design Doha Biennial at M7 of Msheireb Downtown Doha (MDD).Named ‘Memories of the Coming Day’, Hussein’s exhibition puts the focus on multi-dimensional Arab art, calligraphy and typography while shedding light on the vividity of styles and techniques. The exhibits are the testaments of how Alazaat’s artistic journey from a young age to mastery evolved while learning and showcasing his artistic skill.“As a child, I exhibited a fascination with creativity and engaged in drawing with an obsession with Arabic calligraphy, design and Islamic art. I am blessed with a love for the world of archaeology and a sense of history, personal initiatives, and enlightened collaborations. It’s a great honour to mark my journey of creativity at ‘Arab Design Now’. To design the letters and calligraphy on the banknotes of my country is a dream that came true,” Alazaat told Gulf Times.‘Memories of the Coming Day’ resonates with the idea of preserving memory, which, according to Alazaat, is the oldest and best weapon. “Memory is also our gateway to tomorrow. Without the past, there is no future; this is the simple reality,” the Amman based designer and calligraphy artist said. Known for the multi-dimensional approach, Alazaat’s works incorporate design, calligraphy, and visual identity to highlight the Arabic identity.‘The Beautiful Books Trove’ at ‘Memories of the Coming Day’ is a homage to modern-era graphic design and typography from the Arab world. Originally housed at Alazaat’s Elharf House in Amman, ‘The Beautiful Books Trove’ at the exhibition offers a curated selection of reproductions of children's publications from the 1960s, '70s and '80s. It reflects his passion for typography, illustration and literature.Alazaat started to collect books and printed matter from a young age. He has a penchant for skimming through bookshops, flea markets and warehouses in search of rare books and printed matter, which he calls the hidden gems. “My journeys helped me secure the exquisite collection of rare books,” he said. At the exhibition, Alazaat has earned praise from the visitors for his relentless efforts to add rare books to his collection. For many book lovers, most of the books here lend a feel of nostalgic old good days of reading.Alazaat runs ALAZAAT Studio in Amman to activate the Arabian identity in design, cultural experiences and contemporary art practices through the integration of innovative interaction concepts. It’s a place of creative consultation services that allows him to keep the charm of Arabic art intact.

Polish ambassador Janusz Janke inaugurates 'Taste of Poland' promotion in the presence of LuLu Group International director Dr Mohamed Althaf and other officials. PICTURE: Thajudheen
LuLu unveils 'Taste of Poland' promo

LuLu Hypermarket has unveiled the ‘Taste of Poland’ promotion in its branches across Qatar. To run until March 1, ‘Taste of Poland’ is a unique cultural and culinary celebration that features numerous Polish foodstuffs ranging from fruits to dairy products.The Poland-themed decor adds colours to the festive atmosphere. The inauguration ceremony, held at the LuLu Pearl Island outlet, was led by Polish ambassador Janusz Janke in the presence of LuLu Group International director Dr Mohamed Althaf and a Polish delegation.There was live cooking and sampling of traditional Polish dishes at the kiosk of Polka restaurant, the first Polish restaurant in Qatar. While addressing the inaugural ceremony, ambassador Janke thanked LuLu Group for initiating steps to organise the ‘Taste of Poland’ promotion that gives a boost to Polish products in Qatar.“The promotion underlines the cooperation between Poland and the LuLu Group. The promotion assumes significance as it unveils the rich vividity of Poland’s food and farming sectors. Poland is known for its quality dairy products and taste. Poland features many of these at LuLu. With its potential of attracting buyers and easily reaching the customers Lulu is the best place to sell Polish products,” the envoy told Gulf Times.The first of its kind initiative in Qatar, Janke said, Taste of Poland lends the visitors an opportunity to explore Polish cuisine. Exuding confidence that the Taste of Poland promotion will open a new door for Polish products to Qatar and the Middle East, Janke said Poland is keen to further strengthen its ties with LuLu in the region to find a market for the food products. "Qatar is an important market for Poland and it’s the gateway to the regional market. We are looking to bring in more products to the region and expand the areas of cooperation with LuLu Group and the government entities while tapping the potential of the regional market,” he said, adding that such initiatives will be beneficial for farmers and business entities in Poland.While talking to Gulf Times, Dr Althaf said LuLu is glad to feature Polish products and Taste of Poland is a strategic steptowards Lulu’s expansion plans to the Central European Region.“Our presence is currently there in various European countries. We are stepping into the Baltic region as the first international retail chain. LuLu’s idea is to start from Poland which is an emerging hub of food production. The country is a shining star when it comes to production,” he said, adding that LuLu will host the Taste of Poland promotion in upcoming years with additions.Dr Althaf noted the promotion is the continuation of a LuLu delegation’s last year’s visit to Poland and a prelude to the upcoming ventures. “Poland is the country where LuLu is eying on further expansion, with plans to establish sourcing and export hubs. We have cooperation with several European countries where the group is setting up sourcing and food processing units. This is to ensure food availability, uninterrupted supply, and stable prices in the market.”The Lulu Group international director said Lulu is keen to support the local production initiatives and farmers in Qatar and across the world while implementing innovative initiatives. “LuLu does its utmost to ensure global food security while spreading its wings to more areas,” he stated.The promotion featured a diverse selection of products from renowned Polish brands, including exclusive items specially imported for the event. It was pointed out that LuLu Group signed two MoUs with Poland government entities, Olsztyn Mazury Airport, and the Polish Investment & Trade Agency, further solidifying its commitment to the Central European region. Under the first MoU, Lulu will establish a facility at Olsztyn Mazury Airport to source, pack, and export fresh produce, such as apples, berries, cheeses, meat, and other packed food products to the Mena, India, and Far East regions. The second MoU with the Polish Investment & Trade Agency will streamline investment and operational processes for Lulu Group in Poland, opening new opportunities in various business sectors.

HE the Minister of Transport Jassim Saif Ahmed al-Sulaiti looks on as QAA director general HE Sheikh Jabor bin Hamad al-Thani and Incheon International Airport Corporation vice president Hyoung-Wook Jeon prepare to sign the MoU. PICTURE: Thajudheen
QAA signs pact with South Korean entity to boost aviation sector programmes

In a bid to develop and implement training programmes, exchange of students and trainers, cooperation activities, joint marketing, promotion and hosting of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) courses in both countries, the Qatar Aeronautical Academy (QAA) and the Incheon Airport Aviation Academy in South Korea (IAAA) Sunday signed a memorandum of understanding.In the presence of HE the Minister of Transport Jassim Saif Ahmed al-Sulaiti and other officials from both sides, the MoU was signed by QAA director general HE Sheikh Jabor bin Hamad al-Thani and Incheon International Airport Corporation (IIAC) vice president Hyoung-Wook Jeon.HE al-Sulaiti said the agreement assumes significance as results in refining and developing the knowledge and skills of students and members of the academy’s programmes through access to the latest means of education and training in the field of civil aviation in addition to exchanging experiences between the two sides.“The Ministry of Transport (MoT) supports all aspects of cooperation with the world’s leading educational institutions to develop the work path of QAA to build promising generations capable of meeting the requirements of the civil aviation sector in a way that serves society and meets its needs in line with achieving the objectives of the Third National Development Strategy and implementing Qatar National Vision 2023,” HE the Minister said.The QAA director general said the MoU will play a strategic role in pushing the cooperation relations between the two sides to broader horizons by providing training, marketing, and promotional programs in the field of civil aviation in the interest of developing the performance of QAA.“QAA’s membership in the ICAO TRAINAIR PLUS programme will qualify it to work alongside IIAC in the Republic of South Korea and will enable it to open a new window to view Intellectual and academic diversity between both sides,” he said.This collaboration with the Korean side is expected to bring new opportunities for work and innovation, incorporating the latest methods and practices to enhance educational and training systems for both parties. It will create an atmosphere of openness to broad fields and extensive prospects for aviation training.The IIAC vice president said: ‘’Through this collaboration, our institutions will leverage their expertise and excellence in the aviation field to utilise complementary strengths, contributing to the cultivation of global aviation professionals. We are prepared to share knowledge and experiences, broaden our mutual understanding, and open a new chapter of cooperation for the advancement of the aviation industry.‘’We are confident that this cooperation will contribute significantly to supporting the training and exchange of expertise between the two sides in the field of civil aviation, and our joint efforts will play a vital role in creating a brighter future for the aviation sector in both sides,’’ he added.

Dignitaries at the opening of AgriteQ 2024 Wednesday at Expo 2023 Doha. PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam
AgriteQ 2024 opens with 259 exhibitors from 80 countries

Under the patronage of HE the Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohamed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim al-Thani, HE the Minister of Municipality Abdullah bin Hamad bin Abdullah al-Attiyah Wednesday opened AgriteQ 2024 at Expo 2023 Doha premises with the participation of 80 countries.AgriteQ, in its 11th edition, features 259 local and international exhibitors at the Cultural Zone of Expo. The inaugural ceremony was in the presence of HE the Minister of Endowments and Islamic Affairs (Awqaf) Ghanem bin Shaheen bin Ghanem al-Ghanem, HE the Minister of Culture Sheikh Abdulrahman bin Hamad bin Jassim bin Hamad al-Thani, HE the Minister of Environment and Climate Change Dr Abdullah bin Abdulaziz bin Turki al-Subaie, HE the Minister of Social Development and Family Mariam bint Ali bin Nasser al-Misnad, HE the Deputy Speaker Shura Council Dr Hamda bint Hassan al-Sulaiti, HE the President of the Central Municipal Council Mohamed bin Ali al-Athba and HE the Chairman of Qatar Tourism Saad bin Ali al-Kharji along with ambassadors, senior officials from government entities and representatives from international agricultural bodies.HE the Minister of Municipality, while addressing the inaugural ceremony, said Qatar is committed to enhancing and supporting the agricultural sector and improving its productivity to strengthen food security in the country in line with the Third National Development Strategy, which represents the final phase towards achieving the goals of Qatar's National Vision 2030.“The exhibition is annually held within Qatar's commitment to providing an important platform for showcasing the latest global agricultural technologies and innovations, stemming from the significant interest the state places in this vital sector under its wise leadership,” he noted.“Qatar has made qualitative leaps in agricultural, animal, and fish production in recent years as a result of the continuous support provided by the wise government,” HE the Minister said. Since 2017, Qatar has been supporting agricultural producers in addition to the projects and initiatives implemented by the Ministry of Municipality as part of its strategic plan over the past five years. These are aimed at achieving food security while ensuring efficient resource management and maintaining strong food safety standards.HE the Minister pointed out that the support provided by the state, alongside the efforts of agricultural producers, has resulted in a significant increase in productivity in recent years. The sector marked a nearly 98% increase in vegetable production compared to the previous five years.The area under greenhouse cultivation rose to about 700 hectares with an increase of nearly 35% compared to 2019. This has led to an increase in the self-sufficiency rate of local vegetables from 24% in 2017 to 42% in 2023 with an overall 75% increase. These are in addition to achieving full self-sufficiency of 100% in fresh dairy and poultry products. The increase in the self-sufficiency of egg production reached 37% in 2023 from about 14% in 2017 with an increase rate of over 164%. The self-sufficiency rate of fresh red meat rose from 13% in 2017 to about 19% currently.AqriteQ 2024, which features events and activities covering agricultural, animal, educational and entertainment fields, will conclude on February 27.

UDST president Dr Salem al-Naemi and HE the CEO of QMC Sheikh Abdulaziz bin Thani bin Khaled al-Thani at the signing of the MoU. PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam
QMC, UDST sign MoU to foster cooperation in digital communication and media production

The Qatar Media Corporation (QMC) and the University of Doha for Science and Technology (UDST) have signed a memorandum of understanding to foster co-operation. The agreement comes as a significant development for the fields of digital communication and media production in Qatar and marks an important step towards enhancing the educational and professional landscape of media and technology in Qatar.It was signed by HE the CEO of QMC Sheikh Abdulaziz bin Thani bin Khaled al-Thani and UDST president Dr Salem al-Naemi in the presence of officials from both entities.Addressing the audience, Sheikh Abdulaziz al-Thani emphasised the mutual benefits of the agreement. "By joining forces with UDST, we are setting a new standard for media education and professional development in Qatar. This MoU will enable us to share valuable experiences, conduct joint research, and develop targeted training programmes that will significantly contribute to the growth and sophistication of our media landscape," he said.The MoU outlines a comprehensive scope of work, emphasising the development of a hybrid track in Arabic and English within the University's Bachelor of Science in Digital Communication and Media Production (DCMP) programme, housed at the College of Computing and Information Technology. This track will be available to students in the Fall semester of this year and is designed to attract more Qatari students and to equip graduates with the necessary skills to deploy the latest digital technologies in media production and to lead A/V technical teams, excel in all media production professions on stage or behind the scenes, and contribute effectively to use of technology and the communication departments of both public and private organisations.Dr al-Naemi highlighted the significance of this partnership, stating: "Our collaboration with QMC aligns with the Third National Development Strategy and significantly contributes to our nation's growth by attracting more Qatari students to this field and developing professionals capable of steering future career paths. We are not only providing our students with the opportunity to harness Al and the latest in new media technology but also preparing them to become productive leaders in this rapidly evolving industry," he explained.The partnership focuses on several key areas aimed at fostering leadership in media production and communication. Both signatories will initiate an exchange of experiences in education, training, and development to enhance learning outcomes and undertake joint scientific and informative research initiatives. The agreement represents a strategic alliance that will not only benefit the University of Doha for Science and Technology and Qatar Media Corporation but also the Qatari community at large by nurturing talent and innovation in the fields of digital communication and media production.

Gulf Times
Huawei AI ICT Academy Lab opens at UDST

The University of Doha for Science and Technology (UDST), in collaboration with Huawei, has unveiled the AI ICT Academy Lab. The collaboration, which marks a significant stride in Qatar's educational landscape, was inaugurated on Thursday at the UDST and atteneded by government officials, underscoring the pivotal role of public-private partnership in advancing AI capabilities in Qatar. UDST president Dr Salem al-Naemi emphasised the monumental importance of the partnership. "The launch of the UDST-Huawei AI ICT Academy Lab represents a pivotal moment in our dedication to nurturing innovation and excellence in education,” he said. “This collaboration underscores our commitment to empowering students with the requisite skills and knowledge to thrive in the digital era." As artificial intelligence (AI) is ushering in the fourth industrial revolution, upskilling initiatives to address the AI-powered digital divide will be fundamental to driving innovation and cultivating a skilled workforce to drive Qatar's digital future. Coupled with Huawei Cloud capabilities, the AI ICT Academy Lab is targeted at unlocking the potential of AI in the education sector, empowering students with advanced AI skills necessary to transform their competence to new levels in line with Qatar’s National AI Strategy focused on six pillars: education, data access, employment, business, research, and ethics, that will guide Qatar towards the transition to an AI future. Central to the opening ceremony was the presence of an AI avatar, symbolising the convergence of technology and education. This dynamic showcase vividly depicted the transformative potential of AI in fostering digital ambassadors and revolutionizing educational paradigms, laying the groundwork for a future where innovation thrives. Huawei Technologies LLC chief executive Alex Zhang highlighted the collaborative effort in propelling technological advancements forward. "Huawei takes immense pride in partnering with the UDST to inaugurate the AI ICT Academy Lab,:” he said. “Together, we are empowering students to explore the limitless possibilities of AI and spearhead Qatar's digital transformation journey." Dr Khalid Abdulla al-Ali from the Ministry of Education and Higher Education (MoEHE) said that the collaboration between the UDST and Huawei underscores the critical importance of fostering excellence in AI education. “This partnership will undoubtedly fortify Qatar's endeavours in cultivating a skilled workforce for the future," he noted. The ceremony marked the UDST and Huawei jointly felicitating the ICT (information and communications technology) academy professors who attained certification as Huawei ICT Academy Instructors. UDST students were praised for their exceptional performance in Huawei’s "Seeds for the Future" corporate social responsibility (CSR) programme. Securing third place in the Middle East and Central Asia region Seeds for the Future 2023 which was held in Qatar last September, these students have earned the opportunity to partake in a digital tour in China. An official statement said Huawei is slated to organise a Hackathon aimed at honing student capabilities in leveraging Model Arts in education through the Huawei Cloud. This collaborative endeavour underscores Huawei's commitment to fostering educational initiatives and empowering students with practical skills in AI and cloud computing. “The launch of the UDST-Huawei AI ICT Academy Lab heralds a new era in Qatar's journey towards becoming a leading digital hub, the statement said. “Through strategic partnerships, innovative initiatives, and a shared vision for the future, the UDST and Huawei are paving the way for a brighter, more connected future for generations to come.”

Noufal at the finish line of the 90km Doha-Dukhan ultramarathon.
Doha-based ultrarunner chases Ironman dream

A Doha-based ultrarunner is eyeing more achievements while imparting strong messages on health awareness.Indian expatriate Noufal C C is all set to take part in the upcoming Riyadh and Mumbai marathons.“My dream is to achieve the Ironman title after completing the series of long-distance triathlon races that consist of a 2.4-mile (3.9km) swim, a 112-mile (180.2km) bicycle ride and a marathon 26.22-mile (42.2km) run,” Noufal told Gulf Times.In December 2023, Noufal completed the 90km ultramarathon from Doha to Dukhan. He finished first among the 120 runners. For Noufal, his accomplishment in the ultramarathon was the fruit of years-long training and practice, under coach Rajendra Yadav.“I start my training and practice early in the morning. I start to walk randomly after parking my car somewhere. Sometimes, I need to take a taxi to reach my car after walking for hours,” he recalled.Little did Noufal know when he reached Doha in 2013, that years later he would venture into ultrarunning. “Covid-19 changed everything and left us all more health conscious. I started to engage in physical activities to beat the lifestyle diseases.”Later, Noufal joined Wellness Challengers, a group of walking and running enthusiasts in Qatar, and started to attend health awareness programmes while taking part in regular physical activities.At Wellness Challengers, members use Strava app to track exercise. The status of physical engagement is shared in the app along with pictures of the location. Wellness Challengers helped Noufal get acquainted with like-minded people and to be instilled with a passion for conquering new heights. Noufal owes much to his friends at Wellness Challengers, his wife Adila Marjana and sons Zahran Mohamed and Mohamed Zayn for their support of his ventures.“I want to inspire and draw more people towards walking and running. Physical engagement is inevitable for both physical and mental health,” Noufal added.

Ahmed Bin Ali Stadium
Stadium taxi rank locations

Stadium Taxi Rank Locations:1. Ahmed Bin Ali Stadium : Al Bayt Stadium : Al Janoub Stadium : Al Thumama Stadium : Education City Stadium : Khalifa International Stadium : Lusail International Stadium Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium :

HE Deputy Chairman of the National Human Rights Committee Dr Mohamed bin Saif al-Kuwari.
'Qatar spares no effort to eradicate global hunger'

Qatar spares no effort to eradicate hunger in the world, HE the Deputy Chairman of the National Human Rights Committee (NHRC) Dr Mohamed bin Saif al-Kuwari has said. While talking to Qatar TV, al-Kuwari said NHRC is currently focusing on the upcoming Food Justice Conference.Under the auspices of Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs HE Sheikh Mohamed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim al-Thani and in partnership with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI) and the Arab League, NHRC will hold the conference on February 6-7. The conference will be held from a human rights perspective.“The conference aims to emphasise the importance of food reaching every person without discrimination. Eliminating hunger is the first sustainable development goal by the year 2030 and the conference is one of our efforts through which we exchange opinions and thoughts with the world about eliminating hunger. We must try by all means and methods to eliminate global hunger by the year 2030,” he said.While explaining the main topics to be discussed in the conference, al-Kuwari said the most important focus is reviewing the legislation and laws that stipulate food and its importance. “It’s an inherent right of every person in any country, state or province, to have sufficient, safe, sound and healthy food available to each of them,” he said.He explained that Qatar is the first country to serve any cases of hunger in the world, whether the cause is climate change, wars or conflicts. “You will find that Qatar’s planes do not stop. The planes are heading to the needy in Gaza to provide their food needs. Qatar spares no effort in providing assistance to eliminate hunger in any country in the world. Qatar helps and strives to solve the problems of others,” he said.

PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam
Save Coral Reef pavilion opens at Expo 2023 Doha

The Save Coral Reef pavilion at Expo 2023 Doha sheds light on the sustainable practices of marine conservation and environmental awareness.Set up by Mubadara for Social Impact, the pavilion features Interactive displays, educational programmes and immersive experiences, aimed at raising awareness of the significance of coral reefs and the need to conserve them, while inspiring a global movement for coral reef preservation.The pavilion was opened formally Tuesday at the Cultural Zone of the expo in the presence of dignitaries including Mubadara president Dr Saif al-Hajari, director Ahmed al-Meer and general manager Jack Saba, and Blue Marine Life general manager Tony Vargas.“By 2050, 90% of the world's coral reefs could disappear, and we will lose 25% of all marine life,” Saba said.“The consequences could be catastrophic,” he continued. “Rise in the temperature of the seas due to climate change, pollution caused by coastal development, overfishing and destructive fishing practices pose a threat to the survival of coral reefs.”“The scenario needs active intervention and Mubadara, in co-operation with various stakeholders, is taking up efforts to restore coral feeds,” Saba said. “The pavilion is an attempt to make the public aware of the cause.”The experts at the pavilion explained coral aquaculture, which is coral farming in aquariums.“Coral aquaculture contributes to the conservation and protection of corals and marine life through research, restoration, education and awareness,” Saba said.The pavilion features a coral reef aquarium, which has a presentation on coral reef cultivation, and interactive tanks for marine life species.The pavilion spreads awareness about endangered coral reef species and discovers the wonderful world of these amazing creatures.“Coral reefs are vital for the ecological balancem,” Vargas said. “There is a direct relationship between coral reefs and food security, as the fish species in the seas need coral reefs to grow and live.”“The decrease in the number of coral reefs could lead to serious negative repercussions on the economy as it results in a decline in marine fishing production,” he continued. “Relocation and farming coral reefs are sustainable practices to ensure the survival of coral reefs.”Al-Meer led a session to showcase coral reef farming and relocation.The pavilion discusses the threats faced by coral reefs and raises the alarm over the consequences.It also suggests ways to protect the coral reefs and the marine environment.“Natural reefs are strongly declining, creating a worldwide need for multi-purpose artificial reefs protecting coasts while at the same time enhancing the natural system,” the messages at the pavilion note. “Worldwide, climate change is causing sea levels to rise and, in combination with increased land subsidence, placing many communities at risk.”“Reefs reduce wave energy, protecting coasts and urban areas while at the same time enhancing the natural system and biodiversity.”