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Thursday, February 02, 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.
Moroccan fans celebrating at Souq Waqif. PICTURES: Thajudheen
Qatar
Arab fans pin World Cup hopes on Morocco

Arab fans are upbeat and celebrating every moment with the Moroccan national team set to take on Spain at Education City Stadium Tuesday at 6pm.Lions de l’Atlas (Atlas Lions) is the lone Arab team still in the first World Cup in the Middle East.This is also the first time since 1986 that a North African country has entered the last 16 stage.The fans, most of them Moroccans, are thronging streets, fan zones and markets where they cheer for their team.“We are hopeful that our team will enter the quarter-finals, beating Spain,” Moroccan fan Issam Laabi told *Gulf Times.Moroccans in Qatar are feeling the love from all over the Arab world ahead of their match against Spain.Most of the fans of teams Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Tunisia are supporting Morocco after their squads exited the World Cup during the first round.“Our country is representing the whole Arab world in the second round,” said Noureddine Ameur. “And we feel the love and support of our Arab brothers in Qatar and across the world. Our players will achieve what we want while meeting our expectations in the tournament.”For many Moroccans, PSG player Achraf Hakimi and Chelsea star Hakim Ziyech are the favourites.“Indeed, both players are in good form and the duo will take our team to the next level. We support our team with our soul and body,” Laabi said.Fans said that Morocco is making steady progress while improving their performance after every match.“We have a good team of strikers, midfielders and defenders, whose performance level is going up,” said Dinia Illies. “Being Arabs, they have a feeling of being home.”Monday Souq Waqif, Katara – the Cultural Village and fan zones across Qatar witnessed Moroccan fans who celebrated with songs, dancing and cheering.“We got every reason to celebrate since our team has added an incredible achievement to its credit,” Laabi added.The Qatar News Agency (QNA) reported Monday that the Moroccan squad is entering the match with high spirits, after having topped Group F with seven points, surpassing Belgium, Croatia and Canada, to repeat their 1986 World Cup achievement."Being the only Arab representative in the knock-out stage, the Moroccan squad is looking tomorrow for their fifth victory in World Cup finals,” the QNA said. “Morocco's first victory in the World Cup came in the 1986 edition in Mexico, when they defeated Portugal 3-1.”“Then it was 12 years before they achieved their second victory by defeating Scotland 3-0 in the 1998 edition in France,” the QNA added. “And now they have defeated Belgium and Canada in the current World Cup edition."

Gulf Times
Qatar
Al Bayt Al Saudi beckons fans with activities, exhibitions

Despite the Saudi Arabia team’s exit in the first round of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, fans continue flock to Al Bayt Al Saudi (Saudi House) to watch matches on big screens and explore Saudi’s cultural legacy and art exhibition.Located at the Sheraton Park, Al Bayt Al Saudi gives visitors the opportunity to learn about the Saudi identity and attachment towards football.The venue also houses cultural programmes daily, while the playgrounds allow children and adults to take part in sport activities.Al Bayt Al Saudi boasts of a total of 10 pavilions, in which 21 activities are held.An official said that these are aimed at enriching the fans’ experience in the World Cup.The fan zone hosts fans across the world from 12 noon to 12 midnight.“We receive many fans from Western countries, and they spend time here in Saudi dress with *Ghutra and *Iqal, the traditional headwears,” the official said.The area has dedicated pavilions representing various geographical zones of Saudi Arabia, featuring the cultural specialities of each zone.Many Saudi artists are part of the exhibition, which features live painting, weaving and calligraphy making.Visitors can also take a look at the calligraphy collection on show.“The exhibition here is an opportunity for the artists who can get international visitors here,” said artists Saleh al-Qarni. “The artists try to speak to the world about Saudi’s rich culture and love for the arts.”One of the highlights is a football exhibition on the achievements of Saudi Arabia in international tournaments.The photo exhibition features Saudi football legends.The activities area provides fans with the experience of playing football with the top players via Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality, in addition to the experience of getting photographed with members of the Saudi national team.The area also contains a special store for everything related to collectibles.There are cafes and restaurants that promote Saudi cuisine.

A group of Mexican fans on their way to Hamad International Airport. PICTURES: Shafeeq Alingal
Qatar
Saudi, Mexico and Tunisian fans upbeat despite their teams not entering second round

Fans of Saudi Arabia, Mexico and Tunisia are upbeat even though their national teams did not make it to the second round of FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022. Some of the fans have decided to stay in Doha while enjoying and exploring the country while some left Doha on Thursday. Some fans are planning to go home in the coming days.“I am glad that our team performed well while making efforts to enter the second stage. Unfortunately, this is not our turn,” Mexican fan Jorge told Gulf Times. He left for Mexico Friday.Mexico and Saudi Arabia are among the countries that recorded high demand for the World Cup while Tunisia's match in the Education City Stadium on Wednesday witnessed thousands of fans cheering in red. Tunisia defeated France 1-0 but the victory wasn’t enough to help the team enter the second round. Mexico beat Saudi Arabia at Lusail Stadium on Wednesday but both countries failed to make it to the last 16.“We supported and cheered for our team and we will continue to do it. We are glad and proud that Saudi Arabia shined in the World Cup by defeating Argentina. We got enough reason to cheer up,” said one of the Saudi fans.Another fan Mohamed al-Ghanim said that they would have stayed some more days in Doha if Saudi Arabia made it to the second round.“Mexican fans believe that the team will bounce back soon. The next World Cup is coming home and our team will leave its mark through stunning performance,” said another Mexican fan Armando Castro.Some of the Mexican and Tunisian fans have decided to visit neighbouring countries like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE, Oman and Bahrain.

Football fans in a Qatari majlis (screengrabs from Qatar TV)
Qatar
Qataris welcome fans in true spirit of hospitality

While extending a warm welcome reflecting Qatar’s spirit of hospitality, many Qataris have opened their camps and majlises to the World Cup fans so as to enlighten them on Arab values, customs, traditions and cultural heritage. Among the new trendsetters are Khaled al-Ajmi and Adel Lary, who have opened the doors of their majlis to football fans from various countries.Talking to Qatar TV, al-Ajmi, who receives guests from 4pm to 10pm, said that the initiative is aimed at introducing Qatari hospitality to the visitors. Al-Ajmi and Lary treat the guests with traditional Karak tea, Qahwa and Qatari sweets while acquainting them with the Qatari traditions and attire.“The guests enjoy the food, snacks and the Oud perfume,” Lary said. The fans, while thanking their Qatari hosts, said that they were pleased to spend the time at the majlis while getting to know the Qatari culture and heritage.Talking to local Arabic daily 'Arrayah', the Qatari citizens said they are keen to welcome the World Cup fans to their winter camps and majlis to get to know the Qatari people closely. They said the tourists’ contact with the Qataris during the tournament will show them on the ground to what extent the Arabs are a great nation and have a great heritage of morals, values, tolerance and acceptance of others.They noted that coexistence is closer and truer in conveying perceptions than the lies of the Western media while pointing out that the tourists will be surprised by the good reception, Arab magnanimity, generosity and hospitality. “They will witness great values ​​that are lost in the whole world except in the Arab nation,” they said.“Our hands are extended with affection for others,” said Ghaith al-Kuwari, a resident of Al Shamal. “I have been camping at Al Maroona Beach for 15 years. I welcome families, friends and cousins ​​throughout the camping period for fishing,” said the citizen who is ready to host the fans at his winter camp.“We welcome Qatar's guests to our camps to know us closely, and see our religious rituals, customs and traditions that we cherish, hoping that this will have a positive impact on visitors to Qatar. We cannot change anything in people's thoughts by force, but we can offer kind words, good reception, Arab hospitality, traditions and values ​​that express our civilisational identity," al-Kuwari explained.Abbas al-Khayat said that the campers are honoured to receive the guests of Qatar. “Welcome to Qatar. Qataris are able to change the wrong stereotype about the Arabs and the Gulf with their morals, good reception and honouring of their guests,” he said.Ali Mohamed Rabia said that the World Cup gives the tourists an opportunity to get acquainted with Arab values, Arab civilisation and Arab heritage closely. “The coexistence is closer and truer in conveying perceptions than the lies of the Western media,” he said.Yousef Rashid al-Mohannadi said: “Our majlis are open to any guest or passerby, and the hospitality is available for all visitors to the country,” He pointed out that the masses will see a reality different from what the Western media drew in their minds about Qatar."They will see for themselves the Qatar of goodness, the Qatar of love and tolerance, and the Qatar of generosity, morals and values," he added.

Aasim Velimanna
Qatar
Accessible stadiums, facilities win wide appreciation

The range of services and facilities in place to ensure connectivity and mobility for specially-abled fans from across the world at FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 is winning praise for the country, especially for making the mega tournament an inclusive event.“I am able to explore Qatar by enjoying the matches and tourist destinations. I can do things on my own. Qatar’s transport network is fully equipped to meet the requirements of fans like me,” Hassan Ameera, a football fan from Jordan told Gulf Times. He has so far attended five matches while using metro, buses and taxis to reach his destinations.When Ameera was planning the trip to Doha, he was told that the most accessible World Cup edition awaits him in Qatar where all facilities are provided for specially-abled fans.“My experience in Qatar testifies the claims by the organisers. The buses are accessibility-friendly while the metro is easily accessible with lifts everywhere. I faced no challenge while travelling and accessing the stadiums,” he said.In an ideal atmosphere suitable for children with autism and neurobehavioural disorders, the World Cup stadiums are equipped with sensory rooms for people with intellectual disabilities. These help the children enjoy the matches in a safe space equipped with all advanced tools and devices.The stadium lobby is equipped with the latest assistive technology and educational and rehabilitation equipment. Besides, the facilities help blind and partially sighted fans listen to audio descriptive commentary in Arabic at World Cup matches. The service is accessible through a mobile application and available at all eight stadiums.Aasim Velimanna, a specially-abled football fan from India, narrated a similar tale of a great experience while attending the matches and travelling to the stadiums.“Inside and outside the stadiums, we were assisted by trained volunteers. Also, we were given rides from the stadium to the metro station,” said Asim’s father Saeed Yamani, adding that toilets are accessible while the staff and volunteers helpful.Parking was convenient and accessible, he had designated wheelchair seating with his son, and accessibility to the seat was also seamless. Mowasalat (Karwa) has provided a new fleet of wheelchair accessible taxis to expand the volume and availability of travel options for passengers with disabilities and limited mobility. These taxis have a dedicated drop-off point close to stadium entrances. Doha Metro has level access boarding with dedicated seating for people with limited mobility and spaces for wheelchair users. The shuttle buses have accessibility features and Mowaslat has a fleet of low-floor buses with ramped access for wheelchair users and wheelchair space inside.

Mohsin Abdulla Bukshaisha
Qatar
Qatari fan on a mission to set record of watching most World Cup matches

For Mohsin Abdulla Bukshaisha, the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 is all about driving from stadium to stadium and watching matches, irrespective of the teams and the timing. The Qatari fan is on a mission to break the Guinness World Record of watching the most World Cup matches during an edition.“My plan is to watch more than 32 matches and break the current record of 31, set in South Africa. “This record is for Qatar. I wanted to contribute towards my country’s success in hosting a wonderful worldcup and set an almost unbreakable record,” Bukshaisha told Gulf Times in a chat. South African football fan Thulani Ngcobo watched 31 matches during the 2010 World Cup hosted by his home country. The Qatari fan had the idea for more than 10 years and he started to plan things after Qatar won the World Cup bid. The idea kept growing in his head since he felt that watching more than one match a day would be possible.Yesterday, Bukshaisha completed his 16th match at Al Janoub Stadium, between Cameroon and Serbia. The Qatari fan, who is an official with the Public Works Authority (Ashghal), has bought tickets for 42 matches. Asked about how he manages to reach from one stadium to another, he said that he currently uses his car. “I am looking to switch to Uber or motorbike to make it fast and easy,” he said.The match between Saudi Arabia vs Argentina at Lusail Stadium on November 22 has so far turned out to be the favourite of Bukshaisha. He takes photos and videos in order to record them for the Guinness World Record. Also, he marks the number of the games on his cap after finishing the play. Bukshaisha says he is inspired by his kids, whom he barely meets these days. “I take home for them the complimentary flags as a gift,” he said. Also, he is grateful to his family members, friends, Qatari officials in the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC) and in the heritage committee and the friends at Phiit Training Studio for their support to accomplish the mission.Taking cue from the inspiration he got from the current mission, Bukshaisha is planning to set the record of most matches in all World Cup tournaments. He thanked the current Guinness record holder Thulani Ngcobo since he inspired him. “I wish I had a little more support in moving around just like the ones accorded to the bloggers, who are given passes and parking privileges. If so, I could have attended more matches. Now I walk for about 15km per day which is really exhausting,” he added.

Aasim Velimanna at a World Cup stadium in Qatar.
Qatar
World Cup accomplishes Indian specially-abled boy's dreams

The FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 has turned out to be a dream fulfiller for Mohamed Aasim, who had been keenly waiting to attend the international event for long. Better known as Aasim Velimanna, the Indian boy, suffering from 90% physical disability, attended the inaugural match in addition to the Saudi Arabia - Argentina and Portugal-Ghana matches. Known for his determination and the ability to inspire, Aasim also met Ghanem al-Muftah, the Qatari icon, who shared the World Cup opening ceremony stage with Hollywood legend Morgan Freeman.“I am grateful that my dream came true and I could meet Ghanem al-Muftah while sharing the experiences and plans. I want to help and reach out to the children like me while trying to improve their lives,” Aasim told Gulf Times. Asim along with his father Saeed Yamani was received at al-Muftah’s residence at Al Wakra on Saturday.Aasim got the opportunity to watch the World Cup through a sponsorship after he expressed his wish during an event of Generation Amazing, the flagship FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 legacy programme, which he inaugurated back in Kerala.“I wanted to come to Qatar upholding and spreading the messages of the Aasim Velimanna Foundation while meeting people and attending events,” he said. Upholding the motto 'embracing the inclusive excellence,’ the foundation functions to promote social engagement and social equality to all children, as well as children with disabilities, and to shape a community educationally.Aasim, who wants to be a social activist, works to materialise his dream of inclusive education and excellence.The 15-year-old boy from Kozhikode district of the southern state of Kerala, was born without hands, one leg impaired, jawbone crooked, and having problems with his teeth, mouth and hearing. While moving about on a wheelchair with the help, Aasim has added several achievements to his credit.Earlier this year, he swam across the Periyar river in Kerala after two weeks of training, scripting an inspiring story. He is often invited to empowerment and excellence programmes across Kerala where he delivers speeches.Aasim has won several recognitions including the Inspiring Indian Award 2018 for his indomitable spirit as he campaigned to upgrade his school, the Ujjwala Balyam Award 2017 for his exceptional achievements in social activities and the Unicef Child Achiever Award for his achievements amid difficult situations in life. He was the International Conference on Parallel Processing (ICPP) 2021 finalist.In Doha, Asim attended various events while sharing his ideas and experiences as a young activist.

From the unveiling of Ball Story at City Center Doha yesterday. PICTURES: Shaji Kayamkulam
Qatar
Ball Story artwork aims for spot in Guinness World Records

A huge plastic artwork, Ball Story, was unveiled yesterday by the Ministry of Culture at City Center Doha.Created by prominent plastic artist Emad al-Salehi, *Ball Story is nominated to enter the Guinness World Records as the largest work of art, the ministry said in a statement.The unveiling included a video presentation and a review of the main features of the painting, which has been created over an area of 9,600sq m, the equivalent of a football field.“The painting tells the story of the FIFA World Cup from its inception in 1930 until the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022,” al-Salehi told Gulf Times. “It combines culture, history and sports and embodies the landmarks and icons of all the World Cups.”Ball Story will be displayed at Qatar University on December 7.Al-Salehi spent five months working alone to finish the artwork.Director of the Department of Culture and Arts at the Ministry of Culture, Maryam Yaseen al-Hammadi, said that the artwork will add colour to the ongoing World Cup celebrations.“The artwork has been launched within the framework of the ministry’s keenness to support creativity, respond to distinctive initiatives that are related to lofty goals, and sponsor experiments that enhance the link between science and work,” she said.Al-Hammadi said that the artist embodies in his work different stages of Qatar’s achievement from 2012-2022.Sheikh Khalid bin Faisal bin Qassim al-Thani, a member of the board of directors at Al Faisal Holding, said in statements to the Qatar News Agency (QNA) that the company is pleased to support al-Salehi’s artistic work.This will enrich the art scene in Qatar, which is internationally known for its interest in art and exhibitions, and City Center Doha's hosting of this great work is an addition to the art scene in Qatar, especially during this special period of the World Cup, he added.

Argentina fans wearing the ghutra and igal.
Qatar
Thobe, ghutra and igal – the latest fan trend in Qatar

The first FIFA World Cup in the Middle East is helping to keep Arab tradition intact in every sense, with many foreign fans opting for traditional Arab garb.The traditional long-sleeved and ankle-length robe *thobe, the headscarf *ghutra and the small woven ring *igal have gone trendy within the stadiums and without.Many wear traditional Arab clothes to acquaint themselves to the culture of the region.“This part of the world isn’t very familiar to us,” Brazil fan Felipe Esteves told *Gulf Times. “We are here to explore while enjoying every moment.”Esteves and his friend Rodrigo Camara bought *ghutra and *igal (also spelled *iqal and *agal) from one of the shops at Souq Waqif, where the merchants have put a large collection of traditional clothes on display.*Ghutra, *igal and *thobe are available in colours matching the flags of countries participating in the World Cup.Shops selling multicolour *ghutra and *igal are also at metro stations, Msheireb Downtown Doha, Old Doha Port, and Katara.“We catch the attention of the crowd while donning the traditional clothes. These are quite affordable and everybody wants to get one,” Camara said.Qatar has focused much on adding the authentic Arab colour to show its heritage in World Cup activities.The official World Cup mascot La’eeb is the Arab *ghutra or the famous Qatari-Arab costume, embodied in a person and flirting with football.The official main poster focuses on the football itself, featuring the *igal alongside typography expressing the voices of a cheering crowd.“Countries tend to show their heritage while highlighting their customs, traditions and clothes,” said Argentina fan Juan Estrada. “We wear these since we are in Doha and want to adhere to the local tradition.”

At Saudi House. PICTURE: Shemeer Rasheed
Qatar
Green Falcons fans occupy streets to cheer for Saudi team

One of the most exuberant groups of supporters are the Saudi fans, whose enthusiasms and vocal support for the national football team can be seen at various places in Doha. The Saudis have come to Qatar in large numbers to cheer on their team. Singing, chanting and dancing -- they are ensuring that the Green Falcons - as the Saudi team is known -- have their full support both in stadiums and beyond.Pumped up following their team's stunning victory over the mighty Argentina, the fans are looking forward to another stellar Saudi performance -- this time against Poland. The Group C match takes place at Education City Stadium at 4pm Saturday. Be it Souq Waqif, Katara, fan zones or metro stations, the Green Falcons fans could be seen singing and cheering for their team everywhere. “We have every reason to celebrate in Doha. We had a historic win against Argentina. The weather is good and the ambiance is exciting,” Saudi fan Mohamed al-Mutairi told Gulf Times.Hailing from capital Riyadh, al-Mutairi came to watch Saudi’s first match in the group stage against Argentina. After the win, al-Mutairi and his friends decided to stay in Doha to explore the city. The Saudi fan said many of his friends are expected to come to Doha to join the festivities. Many fans opt to visit Saudi House (Al Bayt Al Saudi), which is open daily from noon until midnight at the Doha Corniche. The Saudi Football Association set up Saudi House on an area of ​​​​18,000sqm featuring 10 pavilions and some 21 events. It was done with the aim of enriching the fan experience and introducing the Saudi culture, while also showing support for the Saudi national team."Saudi House is at the centre of our celebrations and everybody wants to spend some time there for our nation,” said Azzam al-Muneef while heading there on the Doha Metro.Saudi House allows visitors of all nationalities to participate in the events from noon until midnight. Visitors can enjoy the experience of playing football with top players virtually in the Dream Pavilion through augmented reality and virtual reality. Also, a number of Saudi artistes are performing on the Saudi House stage.Al-Muneef, who is staying in Doha with his brother, said his friends and relatives will soon join them to feel the football fever.Mowasalat (Karwa) has made all arrangements to transport Saudi fans from the Abu Samra border to the stadiums and Doha. On its part, the Ministry of Interior has made all arrangements to welcome World Cup fans at the Abu Samra border where up to 4,000 travellers could be received per hour. The facilities there have been enhanced while increasing the number of immigration counters and setting up elaborate parking facilities that can be used free for 24 hours.

Gulf Times
Qatar
Effective public transportation impresses the fans

The public transportation continues to impress the fans with effective operations around the clock with the highly trained team while serving stadiums, airports and tourism destinations with the buses, metro, tram and taxis. The Ministry of Transport (MoT) on Wednesday tweeted that Doha Metro and trams at Lusail, Education City and Msheireb handled 2,294,604 passengers after the World Cup began. A total of 674,172 passengers were transported by both the Metro and Tram on Tuesday. On Tuesday, a total of 9,662 passengers used the Msheireb Tram and the Education City Tram while exploring Doha and visiting various spots.MoT said 3365 air movements have been recorded at both Hamad International Airport (HIA) and Doha International Airport (DIA) since the World Cup began on November 20. More than 900 air movements, according to MoT figures, were recorded at both HIA and DIA on Tuesday, the third day of the World Cup. Meanwhile, according to figures, released by Mowasalat (Karwa), 10,127 public bus trips transported 19,911 passengers on Tuesday. The operations were carried out with more than 2600 buses for transporting almost 146000 fans during the thor day of the tournament.Karwa has deployed vehicles that meet the transport needs of the fans arriving at Doha International Airport (DIA) and Hamad International Airport (HIA). Bus services to stadiums and other tourism places are available from the airports while Karaw has deployed an optimum number of taxis and limousines at the airports. Karwa on Tuesday transported fans from Saudi Arabia from Abu Samra border to Doha and Lusail Stadium where the Saudi national team faced Argentina in the first Group C match of the tournament.The company has intensified its operational preparations for the World Cup while mobilising its fleet with specialised technical teams to ensure a comfortable and smooth transportation experience for the tournament.About 4,000 buses will be operated during the tournament, of which about 3,000 are dedicated to transporting fans, including more than 800 fully electric buses that operate with zero carbon emissions.

Football fans from across the world and Qatar residents throng Souq Waqif round-the-clock. PICTURES: Thajudheen
Qatar
World Cup fans throng Souq Waqif

Cheering fans, cultural events and music performances – the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 fever is gripping every corner at Doha's Souq Waqif.Thousands flock there spend their evening, strolling through the corridors, with many taking the opportunity to sample Arabian dishes.One of the prime tourism destinations in Doha and a favourite heritage attraction, Souq Waqif has its walls adorned with flags and sporting artistic installations, with big screens installed at various places.The corridors are decorated with sculptures that reflect the spirit of the World Cup.“The souq is the place where one can truly sense the World Cup joy the country is now experiencing,” a shop owner told *Gulf Times. “We are witnessing a huge flow of visitors from afternoon to midnight.”On Wednesday Souq Waqif hosted cultural programmes by Senegal fans and Afghan community members who danced in tune to the traditional music.Souq Waqif is located at the heart of Doha, near tourist spots such as Msheireb Downtown Doha and the Corniche.The authorities have set up bus services from various parts of Doha to Souq Waqif, while shuttle services are available to various tourism destinations.There are volunteers and staff to guide members of the public to the nearby Souq Waqif Metro Station, which is always busy with visitors as well as Qatar residents.Discover Qatar has also opened a counter at Souq Waqif to offer information and brochures to tourists.Souq Waqif is also hosting heritage events that celebrate and highlight local and Arab heritage, introducing Qatari and Arab customs and traditions.“We came here since we didn’t want to miss the vibe,” said Daniel Hervey from the US. “The souq is really enthralling with its features that include the architectural structure and warm hospitality.”Souq Waqif is open 24 hours during the World Cup.

HE Sheikh Mohamed and Blinken sign the letter of intent. PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam
Qatar
5th Qatar-US Strategic Dialogue explores ways to strengthen relations

The fifth Qatar-US Strategic Dialogue began Tuesday in Doha where HE the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohamed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken discussed current political issues while contemplating ways to strengthen cooperation between the two countries.The opening session addressed several regional and international issues, especially the developments in Palestine and the negotiations to return to the joint action plan, Russian-Ukrainian crisis, energy and food security, cooperation in the human rights field, and several issues of common interest.At a press conference, HE Sheikh Mohamed said that the two parties discussed the developments in the Iranian nuclear agreement, Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan and the Palestinian issue. "We discussed several issues,” HE the Minister said while thanking the US for its support to Qatar in hosting the World Cup.“We are partnering in the region and abroad to resolve differences, end conflicts and deepen economic relations,” Blinken said, adding the current stage is the peak of US-Qatar relations. “We meet at what is a high point of the five decade-long diplomatic relationship between our countries on every issue that matters to our nations. Our collaboration, fair to say, is deeper and our people are the better off for it. We're also deepening economic ties from civil aviation to renewable energy. Qatari and American businessmen and innovators are creating new opportunities for people in both of our countries. Qatar has provided economic assistance to the Palestinian people, helped pay the salaries of security forces in Lebanon, and brokered peace in Chad,” he noted.HE the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the US Secretary of State signed a letter of intent between the government Qatar and the US government on the World Cup Legacy (2022-2026).Under it, both parties announced their intention to exchange World Cup knowledge and the drawn conclusions and build on the success of Qatar in making the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 accessible for persons with disabilities and apply the learned lessons in future tournaments, including the FIFA World Cup 2026 that will be held in the US, and find places that allow more inclusion and accessibility for people with disabilities.Both parties also affirmed their intention to increase technical exchange and exchange of knowledge to combat human trafficking, including those with regards to sporting events, and work together to introduce and implement fair employment practices to protect migrant workers, exchange knowledge in the field of the labour protection, and establish a joint work group to develop specific steps to enhance the current letter of intent.HE Sheikh Mohamed also met with Blinken on the sidelines of the Fifth Qatar-US Strategic Dialogue.During the meeting, they discussed the close relations between the two countries , international issues of common concern, especially the developments of the negotiations to return to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with the United States, the situation in the Palestinian territories, Iraq and Lebanon, and the repercussions of the crisis between Russia and Ukraine and ways to resolve it peacefully, in addition to several issues of common interest.Blinken praised the distinguished organisation of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022. (With inputs from QNA)

Gulf Times
Qatar
Transport sector registers record number of passengers

With the ball rolling for FIFA World Cup Qatar, the country’s transportation sector is registering a huge flow of passengers at airports, bus and metro stations. According to figures released by the Ministry of Transport (MoT), more than 1,500 air movements have been recorded at both Hamad International Airport (HIA) and Doha International Airport since the mega sporting event.“Qatar is expected to see a significant increase in the number of passengers and aircraft movement with the mass arrival of fans and visitors to the global sporting event,” MoT said in a statement. “Years ago, the Qatar Civil Aviation Authority carried out comprehensive development plans in the Qatari airspace in terms of increasing the number of air routes for inbound and outbound airplanes, to and from Qatar, and upgrading all the systems and technologies used in air navigation,” it was explained.Doha Metro, the prime option for fans and visitors to access stadiums, tourism destinations and accommodation places, is witnessing a steady increase in number of passengers. Doha Metro and Tram, according to the figures from MoT, transported around 567,000 passengers transported on the first day of the World Cup. Doha Metro has extended its operational hours from 6am to 3am from Saturday to Thursday and from 9am to 3am on Friday. Free metrolink buses run useful routes within 2-5km of stations and some of the stations have dedicated car parks to reduce traffic during tournament time.Mowasalat (Karwa), on Sunday, transported 118,805 passengers while the company operated 2,787 services to ferry fans to the stadiums and tourism spots across Qatar. Karwa has intensified its operational preparations for the World Cup while mobilising its fleet with specialised technical teams to ensure a comfortable and smooth transportation experience for the tournament. About 4,000 buses are being operated during the tournament, of which about 3,000 are dedicated to transporting fans, including more than 800 fully electric buses that operate with zero carbon emissions.

Ghanim al-Muftah with Morgan Freeman during the opening ceremony yesterday.
Qatar
Ghanem al-Muftah shines at World Cup opening

Amidst the glittering celebrations, Qatari youngster Ghanim al-Muftah captivated audience at Al Bayt Stadium during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 opening Sunday.He enthralled the crowd while sharing the stage with Hollywood legend Morgan Freeman.Al-Muftah, while encouraging dialogue on inclusion and diversity, quoted the Qur'anic verse: “O, people! We created you from a male and a female, and We made you races and tribes, so that you may come to know one another.“The best among you before Allah is the most righteous. Allah is Knowing and Aware.” (Surah Al Hujurat: 13)Asked by Freeman “how can countries, languages and cultures come together if only one way is accepted”, al-Muftah said: “We were raised to believe that we were scattered on this earth as nations and tribes, so we could learn from each other and find beauty and differences.”“With tolerance and respect we can live together,” he said while welcoming all to Qatar.Al-Muftah was born on May 5, 2002 with a rare condition known as Caudal Regression Syndrome (CDS), a disorder that impairs the development of the lower spine.An inspiration to many, he is exceptional with his ability to overcome obstacles with positivity and leadership.An active participant and enthusiast in scuba diving, skateboarding, and rock climbing, al-Muftah is currently pursuing his university degree with focus on political sciences.“Football spans the world, unites nations in their love of the beautiful game. What brings together nations, brings together communities," Freeman said.The opening ceremony had BTS's Jungkook and Qatari singer Fahad al-Kubaisi on the stage.

Gulf Times
Qatar
World Cup joy for 180,000 refugees at fan zones in 7 countries

As many as 180,000 refugees in seven countries will cheer for their favourite teams and share the joy while watching the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 on big screens, thanks to Qatar Charity (QC) and Qatar Red Crescent Society (QRCS).The humanitarian gesture comes as part of the 'FIFA Qatar 2022 for All: Sharing the Joy of Refugees and Displaced People' initiative. In collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA), Qatar Fund for Development, the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy (SC) and beIN SPORTS, the initiative is launched in Jordan, Syria, Iraq, Sudan, Kenya, Bangladesh and Somalia.Tents set up by QC and QRCS will broadcast games live at various refugee camps in these countries. The aim is to enhance the role of sports in alleviating suffering, promote a culture of peace and social integration, mentally support displaced people and refugees while sharing the joy of the world cup with football fans around the world.HE the Assistant Foreign Minister Lolwah bint Rashid AlKhater, while launching the initiative Friday at a press conference at the Host Country Media Centre, said that Qatar has always believed in sport as an effective vehicle for nations to unite and cherish peace dialogue and transparency. “The fan zones reflect our firm belief in sport’s ability to make a positive social change that boosts sustainable,” she said.QC's chief global programmes officer Nawaf al-Hammadi said that the tents are set up in co-operation with the authorities concerned and local agencies. “This is to alleviate the sufferings of refugees and to promote integration, protection and psychological support towards affected communities while enhancing social cohesion,” he explained.There are over 89mn refugees and Internally Displaced People (IDP) in the world according to the UN statistics. “These include 41%, or 35mn, minors or children taking the brunt of displacement,” the official pointed out while adding that 'sport is a right for every human being, whoever and wherever he is, for the sake of peace, harmony and development of all societies'.QRCS' Relief and International Development Division director Dr Mohamed Salah Ibrahim added that the agency will install large public screens to display the games and hold sports, fun and informative activities for the beneficiaries.

David Mundo
Qatar
Fans are having a good time in Qatar: French fan

Qatar is a good place to celebrate the World Cup while exploring the tourism destinations, French fan David Mundo has said.“We are keen to watch The Blues’ matches while cheering for them,” he said. “My friends are set to go to Qatar to support our national team. The fans are here not only to watch the matches. Exploring Qatar is on the top of our do list.”During the group stage, France will take on Australia on November 22 at Al Janoub Stadium, while the second match is scheduled against Denmark on November 26 at Stadium 974 in Group D.The last match is against Tunisia at Education City Stadium on November 30.Mundo said that France will make it into the final even though it will be tough.“We are worried that some of the players are injured. Still, we have high chances to win the tournament,” he added.

HE the Minister of Municipality Abdullah bin Abdulaziz bin Turki al-Subaie
Qatar
World Cup a catalyst of green practices and tourism: Municipality Minister

While reiterating that Qatar is fully prepared to host the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, HE the Minister of Municipality Abdullah bin Abdulaziz bin Turki al-Subaie said that the tournament will boost the country in several aspects.The minister, while talking to beIN Sports, said Qatar is ready to organise an exceptional version of the most important sports tournaments that’s expected to be attended and followed by millions of spectators, including fans, visitors and viewers around the globe.“The huge preparations and great achievements at the level of infrastructure were achieved with an ambitious vision and vigorous follow-up by the wise leadership, which set plans and harnessed all capabilities and support to reach this high readiness. Qatar loves challenges and has great experience in organising major tournaments over the past decades. And we look forward to organising a distinguished version that will remain in the memory of the world, and we have great enthusiasm to raise the name of Qatar and make a positive impact on the world level. The World Cup projects are an economic, social and environmental legacy for the people of the country. The large real estate stock will be a mainstay for the advancement of the tourism sector,” the minister said.He noted that the green spaces in Qatar had doubled during the past 12 years after Qatar won the World Cup bid. “We have launched great initiatives and the number of public parks in the country doubled from 56 in 2010 to 148 with an increase of 250%. Furjan parks and new residential cities were built with green spaces. The green areas in Qatar have doubled from 2.5mn sq m in 2010 to 43mn sq m with a 16 fold increase in green spaces,” he explained.“We were keen to pay attention to the quality of the trees. We focused on local trees for their alignment with the geographical nature and their low consumption of water. Also we invested a lot in environmental sustainability solutions in the establishment of these gardens. As much as 70% of our gardens are irrigated with treated water while using the latest techniques. This helped save 80% of the water allocated to irrigate gardens and green spaces. We have been keen to provide advanced services and facilities in gardens and green spaces with suitable floors for children, advanced pedestrian and bicycle paths and fitness stations,” he said.HE the Minister explained that parks witnessed new elements such as the air-conditioned walkway and other sustainable solutions including the use of solar energy. “Qatar has witnessed a great development of infrastructure not only for a championship. We are building a legacy for the people of this country to benefit economically, socially and environmentally, through World Cup projects,” he said, adding that the country owns a large real estate stock.“We have a large number of hotels that have recently opened and this will certainly be a mainstay for the tourism sector. Today we are talking about food and beverage outlets and the hospitality sector, which in turn will enhance the services of the tourism sector. These will have a tourism, economic and developmental return that will bring benefits to the country in the future,” the minister said.HE al-Subaie also pointed out that Qatar has pledged that the tournament will be environment-friendly and carbon-neutral, noting that steps are taken to reduce carbon emission during the tournament. “We expect the tournament to generate 800 tonnes of waste per day. As much as 60% of this waste will be recycled and used again. The remaining 40% will be food residues and other non-recyclable things that will be converted into fertilisers. All of this comes within the framework of preserving natural resources and preserving the environment,” he added.